The Eiffel Tower. Symbol for Paris. Icon of a nation.Forging 7,300 tons of steel into the tallest building in the world was an unprecedented feat, even for the experienced Gustave Eiffel. His masterpiece endured 127 years and is said to survive another three-hundred. Despite his architectural genius, the key for the tower’s resilience was puddled steel.
Unlike its brethren, puddled steel goes through a strenuous refinement process to eliminate impurities and make it structurally more sound.
Marketing is like puddled steel
Marketing, a specific form of communication with the final goal of selling your products and services to your customers, has to undergo a similarly vigorous process. That applies to your website in particular, because you don’t have the luxury of a conversation where you can react to your your customer. Every kink has to be worked out in advance. Let’s take a closer look at the process that forges iron into steel and your website into a razor-sharp selling tool.
First up is the mining process in order to get the raw materials. Whether you are writing a blog post or the text for your home page, you have to gather ideas. But not all ideas are of the same value. When brainstorming, the first ideas often represent the treaded path. They come up first because someone else did them before.
Similar to the iron ore, if the surface layers are depleted, you have to dig deeper to find something of real value. The longer you brainstorm after your run out of initial (and obvious) ideas, the more unique they become. That is especially true when you leave some time between brainstorming sessions so that your unconsciousness has a chance to get involved.
Once you have several ideas you can choose the best among them to continue with the second step of the refining process.
Right after the iron ore has been extracted from the earth, it will be heated. This removes the biggest impurities such as sulfur and excess carbon.
In marketing, this is the first draft where you expand your idea. That’s where most people who don’t write professionally get tripped up. The urge to produce well-written paragraphs clashes with the creative drive and we get stuck in limbo.
Rather then submitting to the battle between your rational, left-brained self and your intuitive right brain it’s more productive to leave the reigns to the latter. Bringing your streams of consciousness to paper, unfiltered and even if they don’t make sense, leaves you with a rough draft. Once it has something to work with, your intellect can get to work in the next stage: hammering.
Once the steel comes out of the oven, it’s being hammered into a workable shape, then reheated and hammered again. This serves to distribute the remaining weaknesses in the steal evenly, to make it structurally more sound.
For the marketing message, the job of the hammer is done by your intellect. Not that it has something to sink its teeth in, the editing becomes more focused and efficient. In order to tighten the message, you add the necessary and remove the excess, as well as correcting the grammar.
By splitting the first draft and the editing into two separate stages, each part of our brain can work without distraction–allowing you to work faster. Now that the text is finished, it has to be shaped to fit your website.
Once the refinement is done, the metal needs to be shaped into its final form.
Marketing-wise, this means breaking up the text into reasonable portions, formatting it, as well as adding fonts and images to make the whole message appealing and easy to digest. This concludes the last step of the refining process. By now your website should feature a razor-sharp message.
You keep talking about text, but what about design?
Design is important, too. Nobody wants to look at an eyesore of a website. But when confronted with the choice between useful content and good-looking design, customers regularly prefer the content, even if the presentation is ugly. If you look at hugely successful websites from Google, Amazon or Craigslist, you can see how content is put front and center.
What makes your website and the Eiffel Tower resilient
Going back to the example of the Eiffel Tower, the original idea is the foundation it is built on. The content, as an extension of this ideas, is represented by the 7,300 of puddled steel. And the design is the coat of paint put on top of it. While the color changes every couple of years, both the idea and its expression in words are what make your website outlast the competition. The same way the Eiffel Tower outlasts most other buildings.
Now it’s up to you: build the next straw hut…or engineer the next website marvel.