Twenty seconds.

That’s about the amount of time you have to grab a visitor’s attention on your website. To keep them there, you better have something great to say and it better be quick!  There are four messages you need to deliver in those precious moments that will determine whether somebody is a sales lead or a passerby:

1) Graphic impact. Everything you do (and don’t do!) communicates about your brand. So before they read a single word, the graphic impact of your site is already going to leave a big impression. How does the look and feel of your site contribute to the story of your brand? Is it buttoned up? Is it bold? Is it inviting?

2) The big deal. So the graphic impact has held their attention long enough for them to begin to read.  Way to go! The first thing you need to say to your visitor, powerfully and succinctly, is “I am different.”  Why should the reader go to the next sentence?  Tell them!   Are you the biggest, boldest, newest, safest, most innovative, best value, most experienced, wisest, or the most colorful?  What are you, and why should they spend their time here rather than going back to play Farmville?

3) The unmet needs. Now let’s get very specific.  Next you need to tell them how you serve them uniquely. What needs do you meet?  This is different than explaining what you “sell.”  Customers don’t buy what you sell. They buy what they need and want. Explain what problems you solve for them. For example, every caterer delivers delicious food. But what customers really WANT is a worry-free, memorable occasion that won’t break the bank.

4) What next? OK, you have their attention ever so briefly. Now give them a reason to stay on your site to learn more.  This is commonly known as the call to action. Ask them to call, respond, or register. Offer them a free white paper, menu, trial offer, consultation, podcast, eBook.  Ask them to view your portfolio, blog, testimonies, case studies. Create another touch point between you and this sales lead. Don’t let them go quite yet!

And really, that’s it. There’s not much more you can do in 20 seconds to give yourself a shot at creating a sales lead out of a visitor. I’m sure you have your own ideas, too. Please leave a comment with your own ideas, problems and questions!

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