When was the last time you saw a B2B website that really impressed you? A site that captured your imagination or one whose mix of the written word and visual language took you on a journey that caused you to take an action? If you have an answer to that, please comment on this post and include the URL. I will gladly post these examples in a subsequent post.
As the leader of a web design and marketing agency, while I feel that every website we create is well designed and architected, not all, in my estimation, stand above the noise. Why is that?
The best website creation experiences for us have been like winning a Super Bowl; all the right ingredients meld in perfect proportion at the right time and in the hands of the right people, resulting in a transcendent experience. Following are the ingredients present in every breakthrough we've had and which I think are universal.
CLIENT CONDITIONS FOR SUCCESS
Compelling Value Proposition
I sometimes fail to remind myself that the word "Branding" can strike fear into a B2B client that is typically under-funded, short on time, thin on organizational support and held accountable for results "now and not later." In a business culture within which disruption is the new normal, the idea of allocating time and dollars to an outside resource who can objectively help with strategic messaging is anathema.
With that said, when a business does find a way to allocate the necessary resources to work with an agency qualified to help articulate their brand message and gain consensus on their compelling value proposition, it always ends well.
"I want one of them," is what many clients say while pointing to a collection of websites all based on the same pre-existing Wordpress theme. It's become so easy to reuse what is already available and what one knows will be acceptable, the incentive to reach beyond has lowered.
Our most successful clients, on the other hand, have a vision, not always perfectly articulated at first, but clearly they believe they are onto something and that our collaboration will bring that vision to life in a unique way. They look at competitors' sites, admire features here and there, but will not be satisfied with "one of those."
Invested in the Effort
Here, "invested" means intellectually, emotionally and financially. Intellectual and Emotional investment are two sides of the same coin. Good design, be it web design, logos, user experience, furniture, architecture or anything with which people interact, requires an intellectual yearning and the passion to solve a problem. If you think words like "yearning" and "passion" seem excessive when referring to a B2B website for say, a security software firm or manufacturing company, I disagree. Not conveying that kind of attitude toward whatever you do, is to signal that status quo is acceptable, maybe even desirable.
Now, more than ever, clients needs to decide if they need and / or value strategic thinking, exceptional creative and dedicated service.
AGENCY CONDITIONS FOR SUCCESS
Agency is Strategic
With mobile technology and pre-existing Wordpress Themes having homogenized the look and feel of today's websites, it's never been more important for strategic content and thought leadership to break through. The agency that pushes for clear and compelling messaging, helps clients identify and leverage thought leadership and discovers visually compelling ways to amplify quality content, is the agency that will be successful generating leads and building awareness and preference for clients brands.
Agency Goes the Extra Mile to Avoid Formulaic Solutions
Shrinking time frames and budgets, relentless competition, greater demand vs. supply of talent and a shortage of client support for marketing, all conspire to let an agency off the hook when it comes to creating breakout work. But this is really not different from most other times over my career; it's the speed at which we are all moving that makes it seem more so.
"We never want a client to have to call to ask for something related to a job we're working on... we always want to be on top of what they need so that never becomes necessary." That philosophy, which enables clients to feel like their agency is an extension of them, and that engenders trust, which is an incredible motivator, results in stand-out work.
The word "Relevance" has taken an outsized place in today's business vernacular. The way businesses are valued and found on the web is through Google's Relevance Algorithm. Essentially, the better, more bountiful and more continuously updated your web content is, the more relevant it is deemed, thus people will easily find you when conducting a search.
In order to create a website that cuts through the swarming noise that surrounds it, both the client and the agency need to be driven by the relevance of the task. Absent that, we will see continuous generations of homogenous websites until they are all machine-generated, which like the driverless car, is around the bend.