Last Tuesday I wrote about the market as people engaged in many activities. The marketplace is not solely or even mainly buying and selling. Maybe online marketing would give you that impression but look closer at what is happening.
Online marketers are right. A website that doesn’t sell is a waste of time. But what does it mean to sell? The early retail co-ops not only sold quality food but also education, campaigning against adulteration of food and financial support for families. These co-ops were social institutions first and that is why they succeeded.
Buying and selling is about building relationships and so is everything else worth doing online, just as in real life. Without building relationships, nothing will sell. So, if your website is in support of a cause or educational, you still need to build those essential relationships. Without them no-one will visit your site or rate it as worth a visit.
I have written about avatars and how to develop at least one avatar for your business or cause. Your avatar is a typical customer. The idea is if you address your avatar when you write for your website, your customers will respond positively to your message. The aim is to get away from jargon and to reach your audience through the words they use.
Your avatar helps and the more detailed and real it is in your mind the better. However, there are two things all avatars should have in common.
They must be able to respond to your offer. So, if you’re selling something for £500 your avatar must have at least £500 disposable income. Money is the most obvious but there are other ways in which an avatar may need capacity, for example:
- Where do they live and how far are they likely to travel to your events? If you offer accommodation, are they more likely to attend?
- Do they have time to attend your event?
- Do they understand your offer? Your avatar might lead you to simplify your content.
- If you want them to write a letter, do they have the information they need?
The second thing they must have is a positive view of your offer. You are not delivering a website for people who disagree with you. They might visit but they are not likely to respond positively. If they do respond positively it will be because your site is particularly persuasive and that will be because you have made the case to your positively inclined avatar.
However, your avatar need not know anything about your offer or even the problem your offer addresses. If your avatar is a middle-aged employed woman and a socialist, you might be able to persuade her to donate towards a campaign against modern slavery, even if she is ignorant of the facts before she encounters your site. A similar avatar with a more extremist political view, might be less sympathetic.
The point is: run with an avatar who is sympathetic. If you’re building a following for your website, you need to speak to the people who are likely to follow.