I was driving down Upper Wellington on the weekend and I saw a sign for a shop that said, "Bicycle and Lawnmower Repair".

This is a very focused message. It only advertises repair services for two things.

But in spite of that, I instantly knew all of the other services they would provide, and I bet you do too. If your hedge clipper was broken, would you go there? What about if you had a broken tricycle? Would you walk in, or at least give them a call to find out if they could help?

Of course you would, because you would reasonably expect that they could fix most equipment that comes with a small engine or a pair of pedals.

They were focused because their sign didn't have much room. There's no way they could abuse your attention the way many websites for service-based companies do that feature a giant list of every service the business can possibly provide.

This kind of focus is great for a couple of website-related things. First, it's great for home pages. You've got lots of room on a home page, sure, but your audience doesn't have much time. Pare your content down to a core message, supported by a few key points, and make that your home page. You can always put more information on other pages.

Second, it's essential for mobile websites. Just like a physical sign, a mobile device's screen doesn't have much real estate. Use this to your advantage by keeping things clear and simple.

The opposite of this approach is search engine optimization (SEO), which tends to create lists of absolutely everything. This is like the joke that made the rounds on Twitter recently: "An SEO expert walks into a bar, bars, beer garden, hangout, lounge, night club, mini bar, bar stool, tavern, pub, beer, wine, whiskey..."

This is absurd, but I often see this, no doubt guided by SEO "experts". We think you should optimize for people first and search engines second. Otherwise, the end result is totally unbalanced.

Focus brings some key benefits:

  • It lets people do some of the figuring out on their own. People aren't stupid. If you provide services in a certain category, they'll automatically understand that you likely provide services in closely related categories.
  • It creates a bit of mystery, and that can be a good thing, because it prompts people to want to find out more. People who want to find out more will call you or email you, establishing the direct contact that ultimately creates sales.
  • It leads to clear and direct messages that you can use everywhere: in your elevator pitches, in your newspaper advertising, in your radio ads, etc.


In the age of the information firehose, your audience craves simple, clear and direct communication.  Give them what they want!


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