Most people’s websites are B-O-R-I-N-G! I’m talking zzzzzzzzz city! That’s no way to distinguish yourself in a competitive market. If you want people to remember your site and keep coming back to it again and again, it has to project a unique personality.
Two of my favorite examples: Demotivation.com and Despair.com. These sites are entertaining, against the grain – and loaded with personality.
For instance, Despair.com sells some of my favorite prints. And they are hilarious! For example, a print of the Great Pyramids has a caption that reads: “Achievement: You can do anything you set your mind to when you have vision, determination, and an endless supply of expendable labor.”
Check out the site yourself for more. When you do, you’ll immediately notice that the same irreverent attitude runs through the whole thing – even to the way the buttons are labeled on the navigation bar. There’s a button for “spin,” where you can view and sign up for audio and video podcasts. And instead of “customer service,” there’s a button for “disservice.”
Your website’s personality has to be plugged into every nook and cranny – and extend to your communications with customers and prospects. Here’s an excerpt from the way Despair.com does it with their order confirmation:
|Thank you for your recent order from Despair Inc.I’d like to personally welcome you to our growing body of
Dissatisfied Customers(tm), but to do so might evidence
some actual concern for service and protocol. This might
then lead to customer satisfaction, which would defeat
the purpose altogether. That is why you have received
this generic, form-generated email, written by some
nameless lackey in our marketing department.
Having established that any pretense of consideration
for *your* needs would be counter-productive to our
raison d’etre at Despair Inc., let us now ponder a
subject of greater interest to those among us who are
worthy of both of our collective attentions – that
person being me.[…]
If any of the information shown below is inaccurate,
please notify us immediately using our new Troubled Ticketing
We will rectify your error immediately, and on some occasions,
It is the least we can do, which, as a matter of policy,
is the most we can do.
I love it!
Now you might be thinking that you’d repel some customers with this type of treatment. You’re right. And that’s a good thing. You don’t want to be plain vanilla. Go ahead and polarize your prospects/customers to either love you or hate you. There’s no money to be made in the middle. Look at Howard Stern. Some people absolutely love him and pay Sirius radio a monthly subscription fee just to listen to their “god.” And a lot of other people tune in to hear what Howard says… just so they can hate him more.
But okay. Maybe this isn’t your style. Here’s another example of what I’m talking about.
CaliforniaTortilla.com is a local Mexican eatery that’s been expanding like crazy. They used to have two locations back when I included them in my “Million Dollar E-mails” e-book in 2001. Now they’ve blossomed into 20+ locations – in no small part, I think, to the fun personality of the restaurant and its website.
Take a look at this from their “About Us” page:
California Tortilla does a good job of bribing you to join their “prestigious” mailing list by offering a FREE taco. If you go to the site, notice the wording for “groovy” promotions and “secret” discounts. And see how their personality shines through in this excerpt from their newsletter:
4000 DAYS AND COUNTING!
California Tortilla has been open 4000 days. Isn’t that amazing? And while I’m not really sure that that’s any sort of a milestone, it does give me something to write about in Taco Talk – which, if the truth be known, is my sole goal in life. (By my calculation, I’ve written over 600 articles about burritos. And as you so painfully know, there aren’t 600 things to say about burritos. That’s why I make almost everything up.)
Anyway, it’s been a great adventure and I’d like to take this opportunity to share with you the highs and lows of those first 4000 days:
Day 1: California Tortilla opens. Nobody cares but us — and our relatives who eat for free.
Day 56: Bert Weiss from Mix 107.3 eats at California Tortilla. He loudly proclaims he hates the food. I run in the bathroom and cry.
Day 57: One of our neighbors suggests we turn the restaurant into a Chinese Buffet. We tell him we think that’s a good idea and then secretly plot his demise.
Day 92: Our first review comes out and it’s glowing. Three people read it.
Day 217: We buy an automatic tomato slicer. Angels sing in celebration.
Day 329: Ray Romano eats at California Tortilla. He tells me about a television show he’s working on called “Everybody Loves Raymond”; I tell him not to get his hopes up. (I wish I were making this up.)
Day 492: An employee picks up something off the floor without us asking him to.
Day 633: We get napkin holders that are actually the same size as the napkins.
Day 756: We open on Sundays. At the exact same moment all our employees become churchgoers.
Day 1243: We start serving breakfast.
Day 1244: We stop serving breakfast.
Day 1702: The police write us a Cease and Desist letter demanding that we remove a customer from the Taco Talk fax list. Back down to 11.
Pam, who is one of the owners, makes the California Tortilla newsletter personal as well as extremely entertaining. You can tell this is not your typical restaurant or faceless mega-corporation.
On my own sites and in my communications with customers/subscribers, I try hard to keep my personality at the forefront. I talk about my son Zak and my wife Missy and other personal things. Plus, anytime I go on a really great trip, I post some pictures or a video of the experience. (Check out InternetLifestyle.com/blog/ for a recap of where I’ve been lately.)
When customers/subscribers watch my videos or read my blog, they get a sense of who I am (a bit goofy, a bit adventurous). And that makes them feel like they “know” me even if we’ve never met.
If you have trouble coming up with “personality” for your website, here are some tips:
- Be yourself – and don’t be afraid to give people details of your life.
- Don’t try to hide the real you behind a plastic veneer of professionalism.
- Ask yourself how you can demonstrate that you’re the opposite of a big, faceless corporate bureaucracy.
People want to do business with REAL people. So show them you are real, and more sales will be headed your way.
Personality is the glitter that sends your little gleam across the footlights and the orchestra pit into that big black space where the audience is.”
Mae West[Ed. Note: Yanik Silver, an expert on creating money-making websites, reveals one of the most profitable “hidden” Internet income opportunities around in the Secrets of Easy Internet Money series. And make sure you check out his new book, Moonlighting on the Internet: 5 World-Class Experts Reveal Proven Ways to Make an Extra Paycheck Online Each Month.]