14 Web Design & Marketing Tips from Paul Newman, Pt. 1

by | Jan 25, 2010

Paul Newman As an actor, entrepreneur and humanitarian, Paul Newman found numerous ways to dazzle an audience, from the silver screen to the kitchen table. Before his rise to stardom, those baby blues overlooked a lifetime of hard work.

After working his family’s sports store, Newman served as a radio operator in WWII, and sold encyclopedias in between visiting agents. From these humble beginnings, he went on to donate hundreds of millions in profits from his “Newman’s Own” company to numerous charities.

A man of many talents, Newman’s old-school advice rings true through the world of web design and Internet marketing.

1. “I picture my epitaph: ‘Here lies Paul Newman, who died a failure because his eyes turned brown.'”

Understand what makes you special. You don’t want your site to end up looking like Template Site 101. Are you playing up your strengths?

Take careful inventory of what your customers love most about you. Incorporate it into every aspect of your web design and marketing, both online and off.

Do you know what your top selling points are? Why not ask your customers? You might pick up a good set of testimonials in the meantime. Also ask your sales staff what really turns clients on about your product or service.

2. “If you don’t have enemies, you don’t have character.”

If you set out to please everyone, you’re guaranteed to reach no one. Focus on your best target demographic. Create a web design that speaks to them. Build your navigation and structure with them in mind, align your website design to their taste, and don’t worry about the people who can’t or won’t do business with you.

3. “The embarrassing thing is that the salad dressing is outgrossing my films.”

When you’re considering a website redesign, or looking for ways to develop your site, be sure to keep an eye on what turns a profit. With the analytics available for websites, email, and online advertising, you can get a bird’s-eye view of popularity shifts, positive and negative.

Keyword research, website traffic trends, and purchase history offer a gold mine of insights. Without this information, you may be overlooking opportunities and changing winds for your business.

Google Analytics is a great tool to discover these hidden gems. If you find one of your web pages generating five times the traffic as the others, you may want to expand your offerings, or punch up the promotion for that item. Follow the traffic.

4. “Who’s to say who’s an expert?”

With a website design, you may hear conflicting opinions from every member of your staff. This can lead to confusion and fuzzy-mindedness, and even worse, an unfocused site. Marketing may want more product offerings, the CEO may just LOVE lens flares, and IT may want to dump in as many bouncing, scrolling scripts as possible.

Take all advice with a grain of salt, and choose a designer you can trust. They can help you prioritize and make sense of all that input. It’s their job to focus on the “expert” that really matters: your customer.

5. “If you’re playing a poker game and you look around the table and can’t tell who the sucker is, it’s you.”

Know what the competition is doing online. Only very rarely will you be alone in your given niche. You need to find out where the bar is set in terms of website design, search engine optimization, site content, technology, and social media integration.

Study what the other players are doing, and find a way to position yourself uniquely. For example, if your competition has “lowest prices,” consider playing up the importance of quality and the dangers of cheap products or services.

6. “The most important ingredient was not taking ourselves too seriously.”

If your site looks and sounds as dry as cardboard, then your odds of keeping a customer’s attention are pretty slim. Give your design a spark of life, and use a voice that will keep your visitors’ attention.

Don’t take yourself so seriously, but take your customers VERY seriously. People respond to authenticity. They expect transparency and personality online. You need to strike a balance between professional and boring in your website design, language, and focus.

7. “You can only put away so much stuff in your closet. Give something positive back to our society.”

Become the go-to resource for your customers and prospects. Answer their questions, help them make the right decisions, and they will trust you with their purchases. Give away free content and resources that help them save money, avoid mistakes, do a better job, or improve their quality of life.

You can require a registration for some of these to capture contact information, but be sure you have a wealth of free information available as well. This show of faith gives visitors a reason to trust you with their information. They know it will be worth it.

Check back in on Tuesday for the second half of this series!