Are you daring to be different with your web presence?
Not different in the sense of getting in visitors’ way with a goofy flashy intro. Or different like one of those precious minimalist sites where the home page is a field of white or beige, with a tiny phrase or object in the middle, supposedly intriguing visitors to click through and discover more.
Different as in being all about delivering a unique content experience right at the top of your site. Daring in terms of having your differentiated positioning be more prominent than your core product. Then believing (trusting, daring) that visitors will click through to the core product and service information one or two levels beyond, when and if they’re so inclined and engaged.
On his Web Ink Now blog today, David Meerman Scott posted a video in which he and Tim Washer are shown wandering the streets and expo aisles of SXSW 2011. Sort of a modern-day Hope and Crosby road movie, with Austin, TX, as their backdrop. Some of you will recognize Washer as the creative mind behind, and co-star of, IBM’s spiral video series, The Art of the Sale. Washer now works as a senior marketing manager at Cisco.
Anyway, the video is fun in itself, but even more remarkable is this: It was shot and produced by two people working for The Roger Smith Hotel, a Midtown Manhattan property that positions itself as an “art hotel.”
When I clicked through The Roger Smith link on David’s post to learn more, I was greeted by what appeared to be the website for an eclectic modern art museum. Nothing even close to a traditional room-nights-and-breakfast-packages-and-yes-we’ve-got-a-pool hotel website.
In fact, I had to look a fairly closely to see the word “Hotel” on a tab in the main nav bar. Turns out this is something of a companion site — a side entrance, if you will. A site the hotel calls “Roger Smith Life.” If you Google “Roger Smith Hotel,” you’ll arrive at their more conventional site.
I don’t know whether the marketers at The Roger Smith are seeing sufficient ROI to justify keeping up two different, high-quality websites. Let’s assume so, or they probably wouldn’t be doing it.
What I can say with some certainty is that of the dozens (hundreds?) of hotels I might choose from when traveling to New York City, The Roger Smith appears to be promising something different. And if I’m the sort of persona who appreciates art, media, technology — and intersections, convergences and mashups thereof — The Roger Smith demonstrably wants to be my hotel of choice in Manhattan. And they’re apparently willing to travel to SXSW and shoot a video as one of the ways they can demonstrate that want to.
If your website and strategy are due for a rethink, or you’re pursuing what you believe is a differentiating positioning and strategy but you don’t feel it’s fully reflected in your web presence, here’s a little exercise: Check out David’s blog post. View the SXSW 2011 video. Click through to the Roger Smith Life site and poke around a bit.
Then think about how your organization’s web presence might dare to be different. Different in ways that would matter to and resonate with people you consider your sweet spot customers.
I bet you’ve got a favorite example of a website that dares to be dramatically different within its category. I’d love to learn about it. Please share it in a comment.