Prospects Complained About Your Website!

We send periodic e-mails to our registered agencies, and this one below raised some dander! I’ve found that bland subject lines and professorial “tomes” don’t cut it! I had to get their attention. Even though this was originally sent in 2009, it’s still true today … Here’s the text with some updating at the end:

I had to write; too many prospects are complaining about agency websites. After you surface as a qualified candidate in one of our client searches (meaning your agency has the vertical market experience, services, markets, size and location they want), they get to see your non-confidential AgencyFinder file. That’s where they find your selection of appropriate agency credits from more than 500 data fields. We give them a link to your website where they expect to find an enhanced and certainly colorful presentation of the data and essays they found in our data files. More often than not, they don’t! I’m not speaking about your website specifically, but I am writing because the newer generation of agency websites are often off-target, limited in scope, confusing and frankly – and really to the point, poor new business tools!

For example, when an “integrated marketing communications firm” surfaces because they claimed they offer public relations, media relations and technical advertising, but when the agency website makes no mention of any of that, guess what? Best case – the prospect complains to us. So we spend time (fighting on your behalf) and when we know for certain, we suggest they just “trust you!” Worst case, if we can’t confirm, you get dropped from consideration and we too are now suspicious of your data. Doesn’t do any of us any good.

In an email earlier this year, in the same vein, I wrote about “category experience.” Pardon me if I shout!!!, but a current client list is more often to your disadvantage than advantage. Clients are more likely to see what they perceive as a conflict than a reason to invite you. Beyond that, client names or logo-only links are time-wasters (unless the brands are abundantly clear – BFGoodrich, Wal-Mart, etc.) Clients do not have time to poke around an agency playground! The “legacy” listing is a great workaround. Bottom line: Build and place a “Category” tab on your site – for current as well as past client categories. Show their names and link it if you want. For services (i.e. public relations, media relations, technical advertising) – make a similar and all-inclusive tab or list.

Another pet peeve. All else being equal, clients select agencies for “chemistry”. Why then would any agency site fail to highlight (in photos and bios) their significant others? As I read again for the thousandth time “our (un-named, un-numbered, un-credentialed) staff has X years of experience”, I find myself about to choke! In this economy or ANY economy – Help us help you to a new client …

Update: There’s a new website design that’s been embraced by many agencies. It’s the wide-screen, in-your-face and sometimes video background where the entire site is accessed by scrolling up or down. Initially attractive, the “fun is gone” when it’s almost impossible to find anything! So far. the majority of folks (as in clients) accessing our site are on desktops, so the use of Smartphone navigation icons may pose a problem for some time. I also have found the agency “content” quite limited using this design. Am I wrong?

Here’s to useful, navigable agency websites …

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