Today’s post is about something that's becoming a bit of a pet peeve. I've noticed a disheartening trend lately.
Many small businesses are using media, online and print, to promote themselves. Nothing wrong with that, right? In fact, it's a good thing. What's not good? Setting up a nice path for a reader to follow, then ending it abruptly.
This is what happened to me the other day — not once, but twice, and both with local (Windsor, Ontario area) businesses.
In the first instance, I come across a magazine profile of a local person. I'm interested, so I go looking for more information. There's no obvious link to find out more about the person, so I just do a general search on his name and his business name. And land on an obviously unfinished, information wasteland of a website.
Instead of finding out who this person is and what his business is all about, I'm looking at a website template. Screech. Crash. First impression ruined.
A few hours later, I see a trade show being promoted on LinkedIn. The message just says to email the sponsor for more information, and of course there is an email address given. Perfectly fine, if my interest is really high.
But it’s not really high, it’s moderate, so I want to find out more about the show without emailing anyone. So I search for the website with the domain name indicated in the email address. And find a website, this one half done as well. The show is listed, but there is very little information about it, just a location and date, which I already know from the original message on LinkedIn.
Think ahead and imagine the whole process
Now, I'm definitely not saying that you need to have everything in perfect order and every little” t” crossed before you start trying to connect with people. But you do need to think ahead about what a reader might see if she should decide to explore further.
If there’s something unfinished, make it invisible to the public, if possible. Don’t just assume no one will see it. Many people will look for information beyond what you’ve provided, and it looks unprofessional to have a half-baked website out there.
Conventional wisdom holds that people are generally lazy and won't be bothered to so much as scroll down a page unless you make them. While that is sometimes true, I think if you’ve done enough to provoke their interest, they will explore further. And if you’re willing to invest in the effort it takes for the first step, you should think through what might happen from the reader’s point of view and make sure the follow-through is there.
Don’t go to the trouble of landing a date then show up wearing sweats and bad hair. The only message that sends is “I don’t care.”