When you visit the Kenney College web-site, you’ll notice it doesn’t look like other college web-sites. We intentionally take a minimalist approach to web-design, and pretty much instruction in general. Let me explain why using a metaphor.
Have you ever been in an airport, placed your boarding pass in your pocket and two-minutes later can’t find the boarding pass? Maybe you then go to your hotel, check-in, and can’t remember where you put your room key. Then, after a few frantic seconds you find it. Why does this happen? Thank your unconscious mind.
When in a new environment your unconscious, unbeknownst to your conscious mind, is processing hundreds of bits of information. Putting your boarding pass in your coat pocket gets blended with other bits of information (like going through security, listening to overhead announcements, and seeing ads for $12.95 grab-n-go sandwiches). It isn’t until your conscious mind realizes your boarding pass is needed that this vital information is differentiated from noise and clutter.
Now, imagine a customer feeling the same way walking into your business — or visiting your web-site — for the first time. He/she experiences a flood of stimuli. Just like the airlines at an airport, your business is taking people from where they are to where they want to go. The only difference is that you are facilitating arrival at some other preferred destination. In our case, the desired destination is the acquisition of knowledge. For your business, it will be something else. Yet, every entrepreneur is in the business of transporting customers to a desired state of mind.
It seems logical to flood a web-site, or showroom window, with a lot of content. It is tempting to fill web-pages with image, after image, after image. However, this is often counter productive. If your goal is to help people understand anything, it is best to remove as much visual noise as possible. Try to place yourself in your customer’s unconscious mind.
Here are a couple of tips to help crystallize a consumers cognition, so that he/she is focusing on what you want him/her to focus upon:
- Ask visitors if they are return customers. First time visitors may need more time to acclimate to the stimuli they are processing.
- Give customers your name; ask theirs; and refer to customers by name often. This will enhance both communication and the customer’s recall. Entrepreneurs who jump right into sales mode without establishing inter-personal rapport will blend into the consumer’s subconscious. Essentially, they will block you out until their conscious mind is ready to accept the value proposition. As a customer, have you ever dealt with a salesperson at retail store, and a week later have no memory of the person’s name or what they told you? This is likely because they didn’t connect with you the correct way. They missed an opportunity to make a mutually beneficial connection, likely, because they focused on selling their product….not meeting your needs.
- Focus on the person, not the product. People generally visit a business with a desire to learn more, or buy something. Thus, entrepreneurs cut-to-the-chase and start talking about products. Remember this: The product is incidental. Focus on the customer’s needs and desires and they will buy more often than if you simply focus on the product. Entrepreneurs (and professionals in general) often know everything about their products…and nothing about their customers. When you understand how your customers think, you’ll be better prepared to market your goods and services. This process is easier to begin when we resist the temptation to inundate the consumer’s unconscious mind with a lot of unneeded clutter. Just give customers what they need to make an informed decision….that’s all they want.