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Are You Playing "What's My Line?" with Your Website?

By: Mary Sweeny

Mary Sweeny is a marketing writer and consultant who believes in studying her clients' businesses to maximize the power of the message. Mary owned a service business (employing 27 people) for ten years. Since selling the business in 1993, she's been writing advertising copy for, and consulting with, clients across the country. Her copy and strategies have brought sales increases of as much as 276 per cent for her clients. To learn more, visit her Web site at

Remember the game show of the seventies? "What's my line?" It was avery popular TV show! Remember? The guest had an unusual profession which the panel had to figure out by asking certain limited questions.

If the panel did not successfully guess the profession of the guest, the guest won. If they did figure it out, the guest lost. Great fun, and very popular!

It is NOT a popular game on the Internet!

Tell Them What You're About

When someone arrives at your homepage, how easy is it for them to"guess your line?" Do they have to GUESS? Or do you make it obvious?

This is extremely important - yet it's amazing how many Webmasters haven't figured this out! Think about the many sites you've visited, only to ask yourself: "What is this website offering?!" No quick answer? The next sound is that of a familiar "Click!"

You should be very sure that visitors to your site know IMMEDIATELY what it is you're offering. What is the theme of your site? What will they gain by staying for awhile? Have you made that obvious? If you visit at the top of the page you'll see my name, logo and the words "Marketing Writer & Consultant."

Even more prominent are the words: "Your Complete Marketing Success Site" and then, under that, you'll see: "The tools & information you need to increase the success of ALL your marketing!"

Could it get more obvious?

Right away visitors know what my site is about. That they'll find information about ALL kinds of marketing. And a couple of benefits are stated here, right at the top: "Marketing Success" and "Increase the success of ALL your marketing."

This is very intentional on my part. People surfing the web WILL NOT TAKE THE TIME TO PLAY "What's my line?" they will lose patience in a couple of seconds - and click away.

An Analogy

Let's pretend that you've scheduled an appointment with a salesman. You've seen a pretty impressive ad, called him and invited him to your office. He arrives on time. Off to a good start. But then he sits down and starts talking about the weather. Then he brings up the bean business. Then he blabbers for awhile about building custom homes.

How long will you tolerate this?

You called him here, based on his ad (in the Internet world this may be a search engine listing, e-zine ad, or a link from another website) thinking he could offer you great office equipment at good prices. He's been in your office for twenty minutes - and he hasn't shown any evidence that he knows one thing about copiers, fax machines and scanners! What's up with this?

How long will you let him sit there and ramble, wasting your valuable time? Not long, I'll bet. And on the Internet, it would be a matter of seconds.

That's how visitors to your site feel - if you haven't made it clear what you're offering - and if you haven't proven that you know your subject! They'll be gone before you can say: "Don't click..."

Offer FREE Information

Once you're sure your subject is clear, you need to quickly build your visitor's confidence in you as an expert in your field. You also want to build trust and good will.

You can do this by offering free information. In fact, Your site should contain a good 75-80% FREE information and only 20-25% promotional content. This serves to generate good feelings, position you as an expert, and "soften" prospects for what you have to offer.

Boiling It Down

Don't try to involve your visitors in a game of "What's My Line?" They haven't got the time. They haven't got the patience. And they'll quickly change the channel.

© Copyright 2000, Mary Sweeny

Other Articles by Mary Sweeny

The author assumes full responsibility for the contents of this article and retains all of its property rights. MarcommWise publishes it here with the permission of the author. MarcomWise assumes no responsibility for the article's contents.


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