3 web strategy lessons from New York Dolls

My music wall with among others NY Dolls

Intro: New York Dolls for dummies

Morrissey once described New York Dolls as “the unluckiest band on the planet”, and he was right. Every time they were on the brink of success, they were hit by death, internal fighting or managers with a completly different agenda. Like the notorious Malcolm McLaren, who was really more of a situationist than a manager. Dear Malcolm dressed them up in red leather and made them use a Soviet flag as backdrop… America was not ready for a «communist» band in 1975. (Two years later McLaren did a more successful situationist style setup with the Sex Pistols…)

New York Dolls layed the foundation for punk with their raw energy and simplistic approach. They inspired bands like Ramones, Kiss, Smiths, The Clash, Guns ‘n’ Roses and a host of others we all love and cherish. Everybody should own a New York Dolls album.

But what the heck can they teach us about web strategy?

Well – for those who know how to listen, everyone is a guru – and these three songs I find illustrate some of the more important things to consider if you want to succeed online.

1. Personality Crisis (Content Strategy)

Have you be sold on so much trendy crap that you can´t really see your content from all the bells and whistles? Is your company one of those who seem really cool and friendly on Facebook or in banner ads, but your web or mobile site is stale and unresponsive?

  • “Personality Crisis – you got it while it was hot
    But now frustration and heartache is what you got”

Originally written – I believe – as a digg on a growing «Let’s go to the shrink» trend in seventies America, but it’s the same with websites today. There are too many companies using their website as a digital graveyard for old initiatives and outdated content. Others have one look and feel on their business site, another on campaign sites and a third on Facebook where they let the social media guys run amok.

If you jump on every trend, if you create content without foundation in a solid core strategy, you’ll end up with a scizophrenic website / online presence, overgrown with functionality and content you can’t possibly maintain.

What you should do:
Develop a web strategy rooted in your company’s mission and values. Find out how you are going to use online to reach business goals and make decisions on new stuff based on that strategy. Remember that everything that doesn’t contribute to reaching your goals, ACTIVELY contributes to NOT reaching them.

Puss n boots (Graphic Design)

Puss in boots is originally a french fairytale about a cat helping his penniless master to win the princess. He succeeds in this by portraying his master as handsome, rich and generous.

Appearance is important. And online doubly so. If you don´t look trustworthy users will bounce straight back to Google or wherever they came from in a second.

The look and feel of your website is crucial to building trust, to building your brand and getting not only conversions, but return visitors. To reaching that demographic you´re aiming for.

Also – Your marketing budget might not compete with the big guns of your industry, but you CAN have a better looking website. You can LOOK LIKE one of the big guns.

As New York Dolls put it:

  • “.. you´re walking just like you’re ten feet tall!”

And they continue:

  • “Just like Puss ‘n’ Boots:
    I hope you don’t get shot for tryin’”

Which hints at another lesson: Online is about trying different stuff and doing more of what works. Try different designs. Different call to actions. Different wording. Different pictures. Different ads. But be fast to pull the plug and move on to the next idea when something doesn’t work.

3. Looking for a kiss (Call to Action)

David Johansen shows the way to a better website
Are you getting loads of traffic, but not generating any leads? Are your users disappearing without reading your well crafted content or buying your great products? Are you not pointing them in the right direction?

David Johansen have a question for you:

  • “Won’t you tell me why those kids are moving so slow?
    Is it just that they don’t have a place to go?’”

Are you giving your users

  • a button to push?
  • a link to follow?
  • a number to call?

or are you leaving them hanging around by themselves.. «Looking for a kiss»?

It´s called «Call to action» for a reason, you have to call attention to the stuff you want your users to do. «Sign up for newsletter!», «Call us now», «Read this!» «Buy now»

Thing is. And this might be a Norwegian problem: I encounter a lot of people who are afraid to sell. Afraid to «ruin» their presentation or copy with a «You can buy this here» message. But all they do is building up a need and not providing a way to fulfilling it. And how annoying isn’t it when you are ready to buy, but can’t for the life of you find out where?

  • “If I say I’m in love,
    you best believe I’m in love!”

The people who come to your website might not necessarily love you, but reading your content is a signal that they WANT to love you. So show them some ways they can express this love. Some are ready to jump in bed with you straight away and are looking for the «Buy now» button, while others want to take it slow and need some courting through newsletters or a link to some other content. Either way, your job is to make that connection easy for them.

So make your call to actions clear and available where your users need them.

Now share this article on Facebook and Twitter and then:

Author: Kåre Garnes

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