One of our favorite projects to work on with clients is writing copy for their marketing site homepages. We provide information architecture (IA), layout, and copy for clients by starting out in a google doc wireframe and then moving to whatever platform they’re using for deploying. Since we’re not a typical marketing consultancy, we’re just as comfortable opening pull requests as we are adding google doc comments – which helps a lot. Even still, there is often a big lag between when we provide copy and layout, and when the final product ships. Over time, we’ve identified some of the top reasons why these pages don’t ship, and we hope that writing them out here will help remove barriers and get everyone shipping more regularly.
Myth #1: It has to be perfect
Let’s face it, perfectionism is a thing. Most of our clients are exceptionally talented, high-functioning badasses who wake up every day and execute on their often ambitious entrepreneurial goals. It’s no wonder that changing the words on their website gives them pause – if they don’t feel comfortable doing it, and they can’t do a perfect job, it often stands in the way of progress.
The reality of this myth is that your homepage will never be perfect, and is never really finished. Your homepage, like other vital foundational marketing assets, should be considered a living document that you update as you learn lessons from your core audience. Getting in the habit of making minor, regular updates to things like wording, product descriptions, diagrams, etc. will put you in the best possible position to learn from and build on the data you’re getting back from the market. Just as you wouldn’t let your product sit and languish over time for fear that making minor changes might disrupt things, you shouldn’t let your homepage sit in the same state it’s been in since the night before your launch. Build your muscles now, and benefit later.
Myth #2: It’s someone else’s responsibility
Internal organizational challenges can often be a big issue when it comes to making changes to central assets like your marketing site homepage. When internal responsibilities are diffuse, not explicit, or just plain confusing, often times the result is that changes just don’t get propagated.
The reality of this myth is that you can and should feel empowered to make changes, today! I’m not advocating for wiki-style homepages that anyone in your company can edit, but I am advocating for explicit ownership. Waiting around for marketing or sales or product or the CEO to step up and do the work to write new copy, think thoughtfully about messaging, and then ship the damn updates is too wishful for our tastes (and we’re pretty wishful thinkers, to be honest). Make goals and set benchmarks – product updates should include homepage updates, or the page should be updated so many times per quarter. In this case, like in most things organizationally speaking, explicit is always better.
Myth #3: It’s better to be stealth
Every time we hear from a client who is in “stealth mode,” we get serious heartburn. We’re not sure where exactly this idea came from, that telling people about your product lessens your chances for success, but we wish it would just go away entirely. We’re big believers in the idea that ideas are great, but people win on implementation. If your idea is great, it’s almost inevitable that someone else has had it, is currently working on it, or has already failed trying.
The reality of this myth is that successful companies become successful by communicating early and often about their products or services. Controlling the story early on, selling your unique point of view, and putting a stake in the ground are all great reasons to throw your stealthy aspirations out the window and start talking publicly today! And the best place to do it? Your homepage, naturally.
Myth #4: It’s too technically complicated to ship updates
Ok, we admit that this one isn’t always a myth. To be more precise, the myth isn’t so much that it’s too complicated to ship updates (believe me, we’ve seen marketing site setups that would melt your brain), it’s that it needs to be, or that this is a valid reason to avoid shipping more updates.
The reality of this myth is that if it’s too complicated to ship updates, it doesn’t have to be that way forever. If you’re experiencing this problem in your organization, you should really fix it ASAP. It’s never been easier to ship static websites (we love Netlify for this), and decoupling your marketing site from your application stack is a quick and obvious win to help you get shipping more often – and paves the way for you to use more sophisticated Marketing Automation tooling in the future if you’re so inclined.
Myth #5: We’re not ready to hear from customers
Yes, yes you are! Grinding day in and day out on your product and not updating your external facing marketing material is not the golden path to success. If you think you aren’t ready for feedback, or you want to focus on communicating specific things and leaving out others, there really is no better place to do this than your marketing homepage.
The reality of this myth is that if you’re not ready to hear from customers, you shouldn’t be grinding on product. This ties in to Myth #1 about perfectionism – your product doesn’t have to be 100% ready, your homepage is never going to be 100% perfect, and there’s always some type of feedback that it would be valuable to get from your core audience. If it’s not feedback on an end-to-end product experience, that’s fine! Getting in the habit of telling your story, tweaking your product, getting feedback, and then tweaking your story is how the most successful entrepreneurs we know have successfully brought products to market.
Tell us about your reality
Have you had experiences trying to ship homepage updates in organizations and come up against one or more of these myths? Do you think we’ve got it totally wrong, and that homepage updates don’t matter? Or that changing them too often isn’t a good thing? We’d love to hear from you either way! Send us an email – firstname.lastname@example.org – and thanks as always for reading.