Whilst the subterfuge might be necessary, it really pissed Dave off. He had changed trains twice and had made sure he left his mobile phone at home. Not having his mobile with him was enough to make him shiver. But here he was at last. He looked across the café and there was Terrance, eyebrows raised and a smug smile on his face. Dave walked over.
‘What have you got for me today? ‘ said Dave. He sat down and flicked open his laptop.
Terrance smiled and began ‘Today, my friend, I’m going to tell you about the Internet and in particular how the Spikes use it to control global commerce.’
Dave looked up, nodded then created a new document. ‘OK, lets go.’
Terrance began, ‘Have you ever wondered why so many companies go bust.’
‘Did you know that 50% of all businesses fail in the first two years ? Now, technically the reason why most fail is of course because they run out of money. But the Spikes certainly help these failures along and one of the main ways they help them fail is via their websites.’
‘How so?’ said Dave.
Terrance grinned, thought for a moment then began. ‘You know there are only three purposes of a website. Ecommerce, to enhance a companies’ credentials and to generate leads. Lets not worry about the first one; the Spikes already control Amazon et al. However to make the smaller guys fail they encourage really bad habits that cause the smaller companies websites to become ineffective.’
‘Have you ever heard the expression “form over function”?’ Dave nodded.
‘Have you also noticed how most websites look the same these days? Typically they look better and better every year. They are normally responsive design, simple background images, funky fonts, great pictures and easy to use. In fact they are gorgeous.’
‘So why is that a problem?’ said Dave.
‘Well it’s not a problem in itself, but the design is typically controlled by a certain part of the business. For most smaller businesses, the creative team are normally external and are motivated and driven by design. The designers will probably drive a mini cooper, design on an IMac, love Casablanca etc. In short they love good design probably more than they love the function of the site. ‘
‘Now, this is not in itself an issue, but it is a work of genius that the Spikes promote. They never discourage good design, but they make sure there is a gap between the designers motivation and the business needs. In short the messages that should be used to try and generate more leads are often lost in this gap. Even more than this they leave the impression in the mind of the CEO that the website is OK because the web team are all over it. The reality is that what the CEO knows as the businesses core strengths are often not represented on the website. ‘
‘How many websites have you visited and don’t understand what the business does. This happens all the time and results in a huge loss of lead potential for the business. Companies try hard to get people to visit their site. But, hey presto, when they do they visit they do not recognize that the company can actually help them.’
‘Sorry, I don’t understand, what do you mean? ‘ said Dave.
‘Well. Surely the purpose of most businesses is to help their customers. It must be. But, if you look at most websites they tend to speak more about the owner of the web sites rather than problems of their customers and prospects. They are self-obsessed. They will talk about all the great products they have, their companies’ offices, the brilliance of their staff and so on. It is the wrong focus. But hey, they do it in a really pretty web site!’
‘The prospect is forced to search around to see if this company can actually help them. Now this might work if the prospect was already known and directed to the website by one of the companies’ staff. But even so it would be better for the prospect if they saw their problem on the website along with how with company actually solves the problem.’
‘It’s even worse for product companies. Now most of them know that they should be selling benefit over feature. But do you know what, they do the exact opposite. There will be a list of products that the company sells along with funky names and icon’s. Products that the company is very proud of, but the visitor to the site has no idea of what benefit it would bring them.’
‘Often this is even on the home page !‘ He whispered.
‘In addition the copy is normally given by a technical resource and is copied verbatim onto the website. So the poor prospect is faced with a barrage of words like: framework, cloud, federated, big data etc. etc. They have no idea what it means for them, they are lost and typically seek the solace of a trusted brand. So, yet again the Spikes keep control and another company is on the train heading to oblivion!’ Terrance paused.
‘So there you have it. By promoting really bad messages really great products and services never see the light of day.’
Dave typed a bit then stopped. Looking directly at Terrance he asked ‘How do the Spikes control this behaviour, surely this is in the hands of the management of the company.’
‘Great question! They do it in many ways. Firstly, they create a number of operational issues for the business, like shortages of cash, performance problems etc. that put the team into firefighting mode. They then engineer changes to market conditions that affect the value of the company’s proposition. The management team reacts. But in doing so they lose sight of their strategy and forget to focus on the customer, as they are too busy surviving. The net result is that shabby web sites are allowed to flourish which permeates the problems of cash etc. It’s brilliant really.’
Dave sat back. It was true. If businesses kept a focus on their customers’ problems and offered great solutions they could change the game. But alas, unless they kept reminding themselves of this and reacting with their strategy, the situation would not change.
He sunk back into his chair and though.