Differentiate

The other day I was visiting a couple of web sites of media production companies, and what you notice pretty soon is that they all look the same. Not literally of course, some designs are fancier than others, but the overall structure of the sites are very much the same. Which raises the question of why that is. And the answer is: That’s how it has to be. Not for me, but the one who had to decide how the page should be set up thought exactly this. And of course he got there by looking at the competition’s web page. And as always, the first one to achieve [whatever] sets the bar for the next in line. That’s how a common understanding or notion of anything is created: silent agreement and the fear of probably being ridiculed for standing out.

The obvious thing to do is to be completely different. People visiting your corporate web site do it for only one out of two reasons: they either want to buy or they want to be hired. They don’t really want to look at fancy photos of your staff. They don’t want to read pretentious online resumés. Both of these are exclusion criteria. It’s much easier to say “I don’t like how they look” or “they’re too old” or “they’re too young”. None of this information is intruiging in some way to make me buy your stuff. Neither is a job description for a creative professional that reads like a classified ad for a garbage picker’s job (but of course expecting the candidates to submit outstanding samples of work).

So what to do? It’s dead simple. Give your visitors a vivid experience. Have a video for customers and people looking for jobs. If you want to be on screen, be on screen! Talk to them. Say how happy you are that they’re here and give them the tour. Be real. Be tangible. Have one video for customers and one for job seekers. Both care about different aspects of your business and need different information. And for the job seekers, give them an actual task. Ad agencies have been doing this for long, almost every major agency has some sort of copy test available online that challenges applicants to come up with great ideas. Why not do this for designers or editors or even bakers as well? This helps you a lot more analyzing their future potential instead of their past. Maybe they just worked on silly projects that never challenged them to unfold their potential — do you want to do the same by turning them down up front? That’s what you do if you just read resumés.

So if you want to be as different as you claim in your copy, show it to everyone. Showing that you care is more than enough for starters.

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