I was reading an article that popped up in my google alerts about copywriting today at http://webcopythatpeopleread.com/ and one of the questions posed is what the purpose of having websites are for. For a lot of people, it’s basically an online business-card/brochure, and when people get there they ultimately want somebody to buy something. The thing is, people are modelling websites off their retail outlets, when our society has changed enough I think that we should be working the other way around.
This kind of reminds me of the shop experience I had at Harry Rosen last weekend, which I’d been meaning to blog about but completely forgotten. I was wandering the streets of Toronto after a night on the town, the buddy who I was staying with was still passed out and probably on his way to a terrible hangover (thank God I don’t get those), and my copywriter’s curiosity led me to drop into the store, see how the big boys of men’s clothing are doing in this recession and maybe get some decorating inspiration for a client. Here’s the analogy I’d make to the web:
– filling your store with salesmen twiddling their thumbs is like pasting your site full of your own tacky banners, they’re all wearing your clothes or sporting your logos, nobody’s going to think you’re busy, in fact you’ll look like quite the opposite
– while I appreciated the two compliments from the salesman in the basement on my attire (dress shirt, suit jacket, jeans and Ray Ban classic-style shades), the overwhelming number of them who’d come up and ask if I needed help every time I changed a location was like getting hit with a pop-up ad whenever I clicked on something
– nothing says you’re struggling like carrying products that don’t fit your brand image, the pseudo-silk-screened sweaters and canvas trillbys and plaid shirts just screamed mid-life crisis. Harry Rosen appeals to yupsters who want to look successful at the office, and white-collar men who want youthful-yet-classic styles, slim-cut suits and loud patterns should be your nod to current trends. I said nod, not Obama-bow.
– this edgy street stuff doesn’t even fly on casual days and even though they’re in your demographic, your consumers would still rather drop by Urban Outfitters rather than pay over $130 for a frayed fedora. Online it’s like… actually I don’t even know, I’m sure whoever tried it has died or has paid a lot of money to wipe that event from our collective subconscious. Actually, plenty of online brands try this, from Google to Youtube to Facebook, but they’re different, they’re in the R&D tech business, and even so, you don’t see them hawking tacky frayed Kerouac shirts either do you?
These days browsing online and browsing off the street are becoming synonymous. Few people in our generation want personalized service unless they’re actively looking for something. Even then nobody wants to feel like the lone seed in coop full of chickens. A nod from the clerk and they should be allowed to wander. If they need you, they’ll find you.
What do I want my site to be like? Maybe it’s because the Habs are out until next year, but I’ve thought of this place as like me playing pickup hockey. It’s sort of a dream, but the ideal scenario is kind of like in those sports movies where the cigar-chomping manager sees little Maurice launching pucks between two garbage cans in a back alley with his munchkin pals and says “get me that kid, I must have him on my team!”
One can dream right? In the meantime I’m gonna do some more skating.