My father had a point.
The issue in question: the headline on our freshly launched website.
The phone call went something like this:
ME: Dad, did you see the new Peaktwo site?
DAD: I did.
ME: Well what do you think? I told you we did more than just “work with computers”.
…when are you going to change that headline?
ME: What’s wrong with the headline?
DAD: Off-Piste? (Pronounced “awf pistay” in his best NJ accent.)
ME: It’s pronounced “OFF-PEEST,” and it means outside the lines, to deviate from the conventional and expected. We aren’t like traditional agencies, we do things differently, and we want our site visitors to know that.
DAD: You should change it.
My father worked his entire life in the furniture industry. I still remember the smell of the ink as he hand set type on the letterpress, creating ads for our local newspaper, the Somerset Gazette.
They weren’t overtly creative. They were straightforward and transparent: Sale. 30% Off All Couches and Loveseats. No guesswork required, no light bulb moment—like when you noticed the arrow in the FedEx logo for the first time. Just: Hey, there is a furniture store on Main Street. They are having a sale. I need a new couch. I should go to this store.
That was a long time ago. Today, everyone is tripping all over themselves to stand out—to head Off-Piste—and it got me thinking about how that’s not always a great thing.
We seem to have this untethered desire to stand out from the masses in a way that may serve our personal goals, but doesn’t always bring value to our customers. The pressure to be wildly creative and think outside the box can cloud our objectives. Compensation and budgets are often too closely tied to metrics that we can’t control, or ones that aren’t necessarily relevant. The overwhelming amount of must-have tools that track, automate, and measure our success has rewired our thinking.
Consider websites today.
How many sites are built so complex that the first 10 seconds of our experience is spent waiting for the page to load? Then when it finally does, it’s full of bizarre animations, confusing navigation, and yes, even meaningless headlines. Look, if you need a down arrow to explain how to use your site, something is broken.
Other sites want you to “SIGN UP FOR A FREE TRIAL” before you even understand what they do and what problem they can help you solve. Please don’t ask someone to try a demo and fail to mention what it might be a demo of. If your customer can’t even figure out what you do, the last thing they will want to do is complete your form.
In the past few years, we (as marketers) have placed our need for the lead in front our customers’ desire for the process. We’re so concerned with our CRM software that we ignore the basic principle of the sale.
You see marketing isn’t terribly hard, but sometimes we just forget the natural order of things. Alec Baldwin put it quite plainly in Glengarry Glen Ross: A-I-D-A, Attention, Interest, Decision, Action. Outbound commands attention. Websites create interest. Content leads to decision, at which point, finally, there is a measurable action.
Perhaps it’s that last “A” that has taken us so, um…off-piste. In the end, Dad’s gut reaction (he’d call it wisdom) made us reconsider the merits of what we were trying to convey against the value against what our potential customers want to learn.
So yes, Dad was right. The phrase – which was originally the name of our blog when I launched Peaktwo in 2008 – is back where it belongs, on our blog, and more importantly serves to remind us to prioritize our customers wants over our own needs.
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