Website 101 for the creative types

You are a Musician. You are a Band. You are a Writer. And you want to set up a website for yourself; your book, your music, your life. Heck, Everybody Else Is Doing It, So Why Can’t We?

So I was speaking with this friend of mine from college, a musician. It surprises me that it took him this long to break away from the staid stable corporate job and chase his musical dream.

This post comes out of a couple of back-and-forth emails…. All you musicians, bands, writers: please take note.

The first point to understand is that the website is merely a tool, a medium. It’s a medium to reach out to your audience, to reach out to your would-be-sponsors, to get published, to be hired, to be loved (and your end-product to be purchased. And read / listened) by people. That’s why you are here, right? Or why are you here? Put your novel up on a blog. Put your music up on Myspace.

The second is that the website is just one of the many tools you use. An email is a tool. Your Facebook and Mypace pages are tools. Your tweets are tools. Your live gigs are tools. Your book-reading sessions are tools. Your Youtube video is a tool.

Third: What sets the website apart is that most often than not, it is the first thing that your would-be fan sees when (s)he types your name on the search page. It is first impression, and you would like to make a good one.

Okay? Now back to your website. First, answer these questions.

1.       What are you offering?

You have a band. You have had a couple successful gigs; a few fans; a stalker … You are on your way. Answer this, then. What does your band stand for? Not the simple ‘Avante-garde-pop with a bit of punk and some Ali Farka Toure influence” or the “A bildungsroman on growing up in the capital city of India”– that’s what you do. That’s what you have created. Who are you? What do you stand for? What is your promise to your audience? What should they expect from you?

2.       You are a brand. What’s that brand? What is your brand image?

You are a mystical sufi-influenced rock band. You are an anonymous writer. Then why do you want to make yourself public, like a frog? It’s self-defeating. If you are Where’s Fluffy, you should not have a twitter feed, leave alone a web-page. You understand what we are getting at?

3.       What do you want to achieve via the website? Why should you have a website? What purpose does it intend to serve you?

This is important. The first question should not be ‘why not a website too’, but rather ‘why a website’? My friend is, in my opinion, a genius; and I feel he needs to have a website. But I am a fan and a friend. He is the artiste; he is the one in charge of his image. If the website does not add to his image, then why invest the energy into it? If the website does not help in reaching out to the influencers (music producers, record labels, publishing houses et al) or the audience (readers, listeners); then why have a website?

4.       A one-liner.

Now write a one-liner about your offering to the world. Your world-view, your music, stems from that one-liner. Your website obviously is an extension. Think about the above three points, when you are getting at this. Speak with your agent if you have any. Ensure you are coherent and consistent; in all the media outlets.

Now fill in the gaps and create your website.

  • There are hundreds of places from where you can buy your domain. (GoDaddy etc are common ones)
  • There are myriad website templates that you can pick up online. Google them. Ensure that they mirror your image. A spartan wordsmith should not have an orange-and-red-and-green flames-and-popups, and a glam-rock band should not have a plain-white background, bare-details website.
  • Link all your other tools into the website.
  • Your twitter feeds into your website.
  • Your Facebook posts do the same.
  • I should, with one click, go to your Myspace page where your music could be listened to.
  • I should, with one click, read a sample story or an excerpt of your soon to be published novel.
  • You should have a homepage that gets the attention you want. And is brief.
  • You should have a page which mentions what other people are saying about you.
  • Normally, you should have a page which gives your detailed contact information.
  • If you have a blog, link to the website.

And that’s just the basic stuff.

But you are on your way already. You know what you are looking for; I don’t think you need any more advice from this uncreative old suit.

You are the creative mind. So show the creative.

Wow us!

Last Question: What is our pedigree? Why should you listen to us?

There is an option. Don’t. But we’d read through a bucket-load of information on this topic available on the internet, spoke on this to a few creative people we know, and this piece is well-researched. And well, we have been marketers. Not books, not music bands, but other things; companies, products and services.  Some of them were excellent companies, super services and mind-blowing products. Some of them were rank bad. Just like there are good and bad writers, and good and bad musicians…

And good and bad marketers.

So do some more of your own reading, and get at your website. Or don’t. But don’t go in blind, please…

Incredible India and the Chocolate Stores in US Shopping Malls

This is a guest post, speaking about servicescape and managing the customer experience for something as intangible as a country – for tourism

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It will probably be safe to say that India has historically been poor at Servicescape and Customer Experience – there is almost always a preference for very cost-conscious, no frills service – and I cannot say that they are wrong. I will be happy to be proven wrong, but there are few examples of non-elite services that have been successful due to the customer experience.
However, I would like to speak about one specific brand, which in my opinion, has done extremely well, better than many other…. due to the servicescape experience managed by the ads (and the tagline as well) and that is Brand India, by the Indian Tourism department. Making something which is very intangible- tangible, so tangible that you can literally sense it… that’s a great ad.

Did you ever see the Incredible India ads on the tele? If you haven’t, please visit youtube and check out some of them….
What does the image of India conjure up, for you?
A riot of sights, smells and colors… of cultural diversity… an old country of temples and mosques; and a new country of IT and a thriving economy? See the ad below. You cannot make them touch and smell the stuff… but with the below ad, you can make them imagine. Go take a look, this is right there in youtube.

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A great example of using smell as a Servicescape medium are the chocolate stores at the US shopping malls. I have a bit of a sweet tooth. there is this wonderful fresh, warm whiff of chocolates that emanate from this store that it literally dims out every other smell in the ambiance… and get you drawn in to the shop. And then, coming in, a free sample or two….
Yes, I am health conscious, yes, I desperately tried to control my urge….. but had to make a $200 chocolate buying micro-spree.
And they were good!

Entrepreneur.com : How to get your name out there as a Startup // Suggested read : No Money Marketing

This is a fine short video (from Entrepreneur.com) on getting your name out there, which is especially important for a Startup. Do take  a look.

A follow-up read I would strongly suggest is the book ‘No Money Marketing” by Jessie Paul. Jessie is the ex-CMO of Wipro, and is now the owner and MD of Paul Writer, a marketing consulting firm. She was the marketing consultant to Anthelio, one of our previous organizations (in fact, the only company where all three of us worked together). Learnt a lot from working with her, of course.

Will be shameless in telling you that I read most of this book standing in a bookshop waiting for a flight … but well, I did buy the book eventually. So there, we can be (almost) freeloaders sometimes.

From HubSpot : the 6 marketing metrics your CEO actually cares about

Another of our now-famous (eh, not quite yet) ‘Please-Read’s. This is from HubSpot’s Internal Marketing Blog – which we have been following with interest.

Please Read This; Link Here.

This post talks about the 6 marketing metrics your CEO actually cares about. One of us has been in Sales-and-Marketing consulting, and he vouchs that this works everytime with client CEOs.

Especially the first two. As for the M%-CAC benchmarks (as suggested by HubSpot) we can tell you that the first and the third are good thumb rules – that’s around the ballpark numbers that our organizations followed.

Comments?

Business proposal management and RFP response- Part 3

The Characters in a Proposal Management endeavor, and their responsibilities:

  • Leadership

—  Recommend / Approve pursuit team resources

—  Makes final call Bid/No Bid decision

  • Pursuit Lead (from Operational Vertical or Sales)

—  Owns the Business Opportunity

—  Determines sales strategy and win themes (working with Leadership)

—  Performs content review

—  Complete executive summary (working with Proposal Specialist)

—  Provide direction to pursuit team

—  Responsible for overall soundness of final proposal

  • Sales (The Sales representative could be chosen to be the Pursuit Lead in many cases)

—  Explains the client scenario and provides client viewpoint

—  Communicate key issues within client that affect win / loss

  • Solution Architect

—  Develop tie between prospect’s business and host organization’s capabilities and solutions

—  Develop delivery approach, service and technical solutions

—  Provide costing and pricing support

  • Proposal Manager (Sometimes the Proposal Manager doubles up as the Pursuit Lead)

—  Schedule internal governance checkpoints

—  Timelines and milestones management for RFP

—  Action items tracking and escalation to Practice Leads

—  Issue Management and escalation to Practice Leads

  • Proposal Writer

—  Provide presentation development support: to sub-teams and Solution architect; documentation edit – theme alignment

—  Analyze incoming client RFP requirements and ensured response is compliant

—  Coordinate research, editing, writing and production with designated staff (along with Proposal Manager)

—  Follow-up on missing information (along with Proposal Manager)

—  Manage content (along with Proposal Manager)

  • Other Stakeholders

—  Finance / Legal / Compliance etc.

 

 

*Previously on Business proposal management and RFP response: Expectation Setting. Introduction. When NOT to bid.

Interesting! Why Small Text Size will lose you business…

You already know that we as a group and as individuals are passionate about the whys and wherefores of communication. One of us takes regular training sessions on ‘getting ideas communicated’.. and articles such as the one here are definitely the ones that pique the imagination.

Text size on websites. Often ignored. But important. Rear this, from makethemclick.com.au

Why small text size will lose you Business (MakeThemClick)