Do you watch home improvement or house-hunting shows? My wife and I have been watching them for years. We’re always interested in the latest trends in interior styles and remodeling. Lately though, we’ve become bored with the whole lot, with the realization that the main theme is to knock down every interior wall to create an open concept, and paint every wall Agreeable Gray. Then the stagers come in and clutter the house with furniture and tchotchkes that would not survive one day of real-world living. And with that, you have American Gothic 2020 by HGTV.
The opposite extreme in home decorating was “Trading Spaces,” where cheap chic was the pinnacle paramount of individuality. (Who can forget Hilde’s feather room?)
So where is our imagination? Is our life a series of episodes where we do the same thing, follow the same pattern, and vary things only by location?
Curb Appeal in Website Design
If you are selling a house, one of the first things to do is take an objective look at the exterior and enhance the curb appeal. Cut the grass, trim the shrubs, take the couch off of the front porch. Your website needs curb appeal as well, so make sure it’s pleasing and has good up-to-date content. Often overlooked is an out-of-date trade show calendar or blog. Whomever is responsible has to maintain relevance for the site.
A recent article at Fast Company, “Science confirms it: Websites really do all look the same,” discusses the fact that websites are becoming very similar in design due to the standardization of design libraries used in website development. While diminishing creativity, the author acknowledges that standardization improves accessibility and usability since visitors can transfer familiarity of navigation from one site to the next easily. Standardization has been facilitated by consolidation in website platform providers — and let’s admit that it’s easier to work within fixed formats and templates than to create unproven designs.
To a great degree, uniformity is acceptable, and it’s the actualization we gravitate towards in all design. Uniformity in automobile design is evident with the demise of chromium bumpers and the acceptance of bland urethane fasciae. While people may not know or care what their car looks like, marketers should strive for distinguishing elements on websites to make a memorable impression for their audiences.
Shades of Agreeable Gray?
If you take a look around at your marketing footprint, marketing materials, and campaigns, are you seeing too much uniformity? If you are, then it’s time to bring in a neutral third party who can give you an objective review of your marketing presence. Thematically, your campaigns offer the greatest opportunity for creativity and differentiation, so engaging a consultant or marketing agency to collaborate on a campaign minimizes risk, and can bring a fresh perspective and new direction. One potential area of conflict is with your corporate branding and style guidelines, but hopefully, you have a brand and style guide to share, because style guides are essential to building and preserving brand equity. They’re an essential tool for anyone who creates customer-facing material.
Ultimately, you have to create memorable campaigns, and it’s getting harder and harder to cut through the clutter to reach your audience. Here are three tips for cutting through the clutter:
- Don’t rely on one campaign element to deliver your message. A great example for mixing things up is the “Mail – Call – Mail” tactic, which starts with an email or postal mail outreach. Within a few days of mailing, follow up with a call, and then a few days later, follow up with another mail. In this pandemic, it may be difficult to reach someone on a phone. It amazes me that many companies have not modified their phone systems to direct calls to employees — some people are literally unreachable.
- Use social networks to reach people if they don’t respond to direct email or advertising. LinkedIn works best for business and professional communications.
- Take the path of least resistance and maintain your networks. Review your contacts, make sure you are reaching out on a regular basis, and asking for referrals and additional contacts. Company newsletters and blogs are critical communication tools at this time, and they should be engaging and interesting. It’s no longer business as usual!
- Every Opportunity is an Opportunity
The world is in a state of flux right now with the pandemic, and people are struggling for direction and looking for solutions to challenges that didn’t exist in January 2020. If you are a marketing leader, now is the time to assess your marketing programs and see if they are in need of a complete remodel — or maybe just a new coat of paint (hopefully not Agreeable Gray). Don’t waste an opportunity to position yourself for growth — as a company, as a leader, and as a person.
If you need help with a marketing review, contact us for a 30-minute consultation.