Category Archives: Education

Beyond all hype: The 3 simple things
to get right with your company’s homepage

O.k. I’m sure you don’t need just another of these How-To-create-Your-Killer-Homepage-Today guides, as web portals appear to be fed with all day. I also don’t believe that any kind of magic or spiritual inspiration is required. Once you combine, match and melt down all these hundreds of pages of guidance, it (almost) always comes down to the same few priciples.

Fighting irrelevance and ambiguity

There are uncounted homepages of businesses of all sizes and industries, who cannot answer every visitor’s most pressing question: Am I right here?

Lots of homepages cannot tell if the business is an investment bank, a pharmaceutical or tool manufacturing company. Non-telling images along with ambiguous headlines, such as Beating The Competition In Every Single Field do not demonstrate anything but corporate PR hybris.

So always makes sure your homepage appearance immediately reflects your industry and value proposition to any visitor stopping by.

Avoiding the Paradox of Choice

This is the opposite extreme (and a widely discussed issue): A website trying to be everything to everybody and thus leaving alone the most relevant ones, overwhelmed and helpless. Hey come on — you’re not Yahoo! or some other general web entry-point. Instead admit your visitors some intelligence and trust them to be able to figure out, if your company’s offering is right for them or not.

Have your homepage provide descriptive entrance points (ideally no more than 4, with one pre-selected a.k.a. The Power Of Defaults) leading prospects deeper into your site, where you provide them the means to refine their search, so you can guide them to the relevant infomation much more reliably as a one-size-fits-all homepage could ever do.

Catering to the wrong half of the visitors’ brain (in all the wrong places)

You likely have learned at school already, that both halfs of the human brain take care of different aspects of your daily life: To most people their brain’s right half is heavily involved handling body perceptions along with the more emotional data to be processed, while the left part caters more to the rationale.

Since, just as with your eyes’ fields of view, the processing of visual impression crosses and overlaps, which is why it has turned out to be wise to place visual information more left in the viewer’s field of vision, while adding the facts (e.g. product USPs to its right). If you like, visit Amazon to learn how to do it.

And now: Have fun adding impact to your own site.

In Defense of AIDA (and other 1@1 concepts…)

— a modern e-tailer’s takeaways from early 20ieth century hardselling theory

Undoubtedly there are things that get better the more often you cook them up: e.g. sour kraut, bean stew or chili con carne. And then there are those whose state tremendeously degrades away from “desireable” with every re-heating, but that nonetheless are getting boiled-up over and over again. Deep-frozen pizza and marketing-paradigms obviously belong to the latter.
 

Salesology in the early 1900s
 

It was no sooner than in 1898 when one of the early experts of American sales theory, Elias St. Elmo Lewis, came up with the concept, that described the structure of a typical selling process as it may be encountered by a typical salesman of its time:
 

Attention
which needed to be grabbed, in order to spark the customers’
Interest
for which it was the salesman’s job to turn it into
Desire
for the customer to buy the product, and thus taking the necessary
Action
to complete the deal.

 

This is the way A.I.D.A. has been taught ever since. Over the years, however, many people forwarded and developed the idea without any regard of its original intention: Some praised it as instructional guide, which it isn’t as it only shows the stages of a sale, rather than any advice on how to reach them. Others thought it to provide a universal structure for largely any kind marketing/sales process, which it cannot deliver as well, since it has been constructed for a mainly direct-selling audience with their particular requirements in mind.
 

So shouldn’t we finally put this thing to rest in our history books as a 19th/20ieth century legacy item? Hm. Not so fast…
 

It wasn’t until the advent of the internet and e-commerce, that for many industries the ability to deliver perfect direct-buying experiences has become essential to both their survival and everyday business. This comes to matter even more, since most online-experts and first-class web citizens like programmers, designers and writers have never encountered any type of selling education. Many of them are now trying to make up for it in rather expensive ways (notice the boom in web analysis and multivariate testing within recent years…!?), and a lot of people nowadays become ”experts“ on the run at challenges that had actually been believed to be solved for an entire century now.
 

Among the most impressive tools for modern-style product show-offs (probably beside video keynotes shot in front of large audiences… ;-)) is the pitchpage.
 

A forever-long/high-running webpage, that concentrates solely on selling a single product or service by deploying the entire arsenal of modern online technology, including (but in no way limited to) detailed imagery and packshots, video presentations, animated visuals, interactive 360°/panoramic images, customer credentials, along with fact sheet and demonstration downloads.
 

Crafting a working pitchpage is an art, which (as of now) only few have really mastered.
 

Different from other kinds os online presentation, pitchpages provide the necessary linearity required for a show to successfully build up suspense and momentum — which is hard to achieve otherwise and has for long been missing from non-linear interactive media.
 

Keeping that in mind, skilled authors finally have the means to make use of proven rhetoric concepts for their online promotions and sales. Just as they have aleady got used to offline e.g. by deploying the Heath brothers’ SUCCES(S) framework, Zig Ziglars long-running/going hardselling encounters or Cialdini’s ”50 Scientifically Proven Ways“ to get to ”Yes!“.
 

Hamburg and the Semantic Web Paradigms

Joining a seminar session on practical semantic web applications yesterday evening, I found myself in a conference room at Hamburg’s Haus der Wirtschaft, mostly among what seemed to be scientists, consultants and librarians.
 

While the talk by a Adobe representative’s talk on XMP did not exceed much what can be found on their respective websites, Hans-Peter Schnurr, CEO of Ontoprise GmbH, brought in not just some very insightful experiments with the audience, but also impressive case studies showcasing their Service Resolution Management software, a structured and centralized repository of technical repair information to help companies fulfilling contracts all over the world learn from mistakes.
 

If you like to take a peek at the lecture yourself, I recommend having a look at the video documentation on the event organizer’s website.

Fascinating Insights from the First Ontologist Workshop at Max-Planck-Institute Leipzig

 
Having joined the OBML workgroup‘s 1st workshop at the University of Leipzig Max-Planck-Institute of Evolutionary Anthropology for the last two days, I am left quite impressed.
 

Not only by the presenters’ track records, but also by the sheer number and diversity of researchers and practitioners Prof. Dr. rer. nat habil. Heinrich Herre managed to bring together for the event. Commonly such gatherings here in Germany would consist of ten people at most ;-) — this time there were more than 50 experts, including international guests, from institutions and companies all over the country.
 

Nevertheless, something extremely re-assuring that I am taking away is not only the obvious development progress in the ontology sector, but also the fact, that even the most renowned experts in the field struggle with the very same technical insufficiencies as we do, when designing new data models for our SemaWorx application base.
 

Therefore we also had a very enlightening (entertaining goes without saying…) evening at local Cafe Madrid, where over the delicious meal discussion focus lay more on the practically achievable short-term benefits of current semantic modeling approaches, rather than their long-term optimization wishlist (hopefully I didn’t get this imprecise now… ;-)).
 

 

 

 

 

Book Review: Never Eat Alone — with Keith Ferrazzi

 
Do you know, what it’s like to drive a real Ferrazzi ?  Well, as far as this book is concerned (with a German Edition available as well), this Ferrazzi (model "Keith") clearly is driven by making both a connection and a difference.
 

Once you got used to sentences starting with expressions such as "networking super-hubs like me" ;-), you find this book to be a suprisingly complete guide to Book cover: "never eat alone" by Keith Ferrazzienhancing your very own interpersonal skills — always one connection at a time.
   At the beginning Keith Ferrazzi convincingly explains, why he believes reaching out to other people and offering your help being together the most effective (if not the only) way towards a happy as well as successful life, constantly telling examples from his own experience. You learn how to define your personal goals and then identify the right people to help you complete it. Then one gets instructions on how to get into the right mindset, while avoiding common pitfalls.
   Afterwards, Keith Ferrazzi teaches you the trade of how to successfully making connections, from in-advance research on the people you would like to meet, over pre-warming "cold" phone calls and adding meaning to small talk by showing some vulnerability, to detailed Book cover: "never eat alone" by Keith Ferrazziadvice on how to make sure, the people you once contacted won’t forget about you, while you still successfully survive the information flood caused by phone calls, appointments and contacts you gather.
   Then you proceed to the advanced concepts, containing guides to mastering typical business scenarios: You learn to systematically expand your network by e.g. finding "anchor tenants" out of other social groupings, getting most out of conferences by adding your own events and finally, well, not eating alone by inviting other people for dinner.
   Here it has to be said, that Keith Ferrazzi knows the art of pulling together the right people inside out and that his single chapter of tips on running successful dinner parties probably makes up for more substance than some entire magazines devoted to solely that topic.
 

Though some of the author’s advice may need some adjustment to your particular cultural environment, following his guidelines building your own brand by neither giving in to hubris, nor getting boring, will inevitably allow you to get along with other people in your own life much more joy- and successfully.
 

Want to give Ferrazzi’s practical approaches a try ?  Take this video as an example:
 

 
Unfortunately the book-accompanying website has been replaced by the one of its reportedly even more renowned successor Who’s got your back ?. But it’s still worth a visit, especially for Keith Ferrazzi’s blog, containing a multitude of valuable networking tips (many of which "never eat alone" discusses in greater detail…), and its community section where you can connect to and exchange with many other people practicing Ferrazzi-style business networking.