Are marketers flaky wimps?

I just love David Meerman Scott’s recent post, headlined Branding is for Cattle.

Have a read of this point about content and aesthetics:

Marketers who obsess about brand usually focus on aesthetics over buyers. They are more interested in the color scheme of the Web site than in meeting their buyers’ needs with a content marketing strategy. They care about logos not buyers. They research color schemes instead of the market. Countless marketers got their knickers in a twist about the outward manifestation of an organization’s brand–including logos, image ads, and tchotchkes–all at the expense of buyers and what they need to understand the company — especially the content found on the company’s site. Well, they are flaky wimps if that’s what they do.

Couldn’t agree more. I’m intrigued by the way online marketing differs from traditional marketing, and the extent to which it relies on content. My personal view is that content is king (and queen). For people to buy online, they need trust. In some cases a brand may help build trust (and I’m talking brands like Apple or IBM here). Not the kind of brand assets usually available to small business. Without a well recognised brand, you need to be able to build trust online using content. Heck, even with a well recognised brand you have to build trust with excellent content.

There is an argument that runs in online marketing circles that ugly sites sell. Well, sort of.

I think its that sites built with the primary purpose of selling will sell better than sites built to look great. Spending a lot of time focussing on how your site looks means less time to work on how well it sells. And perhaps an ‘ugly’ site that has had a lot more attention to selling than looks will perform better. Its not the looks – pretty or ugly – that will swing it. Its how well designed it is for selling, and how well the content is executed. Besides, ugly is relative. Sites that are pretty for some are ugly for others.

How well a site markets and sells is tied mainly to its content and structure, not its look. A site should still look professional, but it doesn’t have to take a lot of time or money to achieve this. We’ve launched a new site recently called Histology Online with what I term our ‘$2 design’. Its called a $2 design because we use an image from iStockPhoto (for around $2) as our site header, tweak the font and colour as needed, and that is it. Most of the time that goes into site design is spent considering how the site is to function, and how information needs are going to be met.

So spend your precious time and money on structuring your site to sell and using great content. With your marketing, focus on the buyer. Who are they? What are their wants and needs? What benefits does your product or service offer to them? How will you use content to communicate to your buyers? How will you test whether your content is effective? Hard questions. Not for the flaky.