May 23

One of the most important part of a web site’s digital strategy is the use of an electronic newsletter (Merge often refers to as an eletter).

This isn’t brain science, but it’s a recommendation I’ve seen prospects becoming less receptive to and quite frankly, I’ve noticed that I get less newsletters from my personal network.


Newsletters are hard to do. They’re time consuming, and you have to think about the content to put a good one out. Some of our most successful clients use a newsletter, and here are 3 advantages that they reap from sending out their newsletter:

(1) Top of mind. A newsletter sent on a regular basis (at least quarterly), at its root, serves simply as a reminder for “hey, we’re still out here.” Simple but powerful-you rise to the top of your customer’s and prospect’s mind for that all important mind share.

(2) Brand Extension. The consistently sent newsletter is a simple way to get another brand-touch out to your audience, helping you solidify your differentiation and value proposition.

3. Drive Traffic, Increase Conversions. Your newsletter will have links (of course) back to your web site. If you have compelling content, the user will click through to your web site, where your web site is then optimized to for conversion.

These are just a few of the advantages. Merge highly recommends you incorporate a newsletter campaign as part of your overall digital strategy, even though it will be an investment (mostly of time). I’ll have future posts with more advantages and the overall process for creating a successful newsletter campaign.

Apr 19

We’ve all heard it and said it. But if there was a test where your life depended on it, could you define the following terms?:


Ok, values and measurement are easy. But I sense you’re nervous about vision and mission. Defined:

-Mission (Why we exist)
-Values (What we believe and how we will behave)
-Vision (What we want to be)
-Strategy (What our competitive game plan will be)
-Measurement (How we will monitor and implement the strategy)

What I love about business blocking and tackling is it relates so well to your digital strategy. Why does your web site exist (8 out of 10 execs don’t have a good answer for this). How are your values communicated through your web site? What do you want it to be (the vision)? We often ask, in two years from now, what would you like to say your web site did for your company? What is the overall strategy-how are you going to competitively compete amongst 100’s, if not 1,000’s of other web sites? And lastly, what is your plan for measuring the web site’s results?

Mission and Vision. Strategy and Measurement. How does your web site measure up?

Oh, there’s so much to having more than just a web site. For your web site to matter, it will need to answer these questions.

adapted from HBR’s 2008 article Can You Say What Your Strategy Is?

Apr 10

My wife bought a new Dyson vacuum to replace our 10-year old Hoover which was no longer cutting it.

Dyson’s strategy: Make the product look cool (so it doesn’t “domesticate”) and show all of the dirt the vacuum cleans up. The result: You feel cool vacuuming and you see it working right before your eyes.

I couldn’t help but make the correlation with selling services, whether it’s consulting, branding or web design. Show the prospect your super-cool process (Dyson’s cool design, the engineering). Then show them as much visually as possible (Dyson’s see through “results chamber,” where the dirt goes).

Too often (maybe I’m just speaking for Merge) we are selling concepts and what could be, but we try to paint the picture using words. Instead, use as many images as possible so the prospect can see the vision instead of trying to “get” the vision.

PS, by the way, I’m still learning. I realized after I wrote this blog, that maybe I should show a Dyson? Brother. By the way, my wife recommends Dyson.

Apr 07

Merge is talking to several prospects right now, and for a couple of them, there’s a clear advantage to be had if they’ll take the time to create content and position themselves as their industry’s expert.


The web site isn’t the most expensive part of the solution. It’s the time the business needs to take to create the content.

“They” say content is king. Web sites aren’t magical-they need the content mojo that makes the web site valuable. Your prospects want value. Invest in content and give the prospects what they want.

Apr 04

Merge is proud to announce the launch of a new brand and web site for Carruth Homes.

Merge provided the brand positioning “Mountain Homes Crafted by Carruth,” the logo, copy, web site design and programming.

Feb 28

Yesterday I had a low tire. It needed to be plugged (not patched, as I had requested and was corrected). I pulled into a Goodyear store. It was 5 pm, and I didn’t want to sit there for an hour for them to fix my tire, so I asked if they could do it quickly. “Nope, it would take us about 45 minutes.” I couldn’t wait that long (or rather, I wasn’t willing to wait that long) so I asked if they knew of any one else who could fix it. Their reply, “Probably not anyone this late in the day.”

I thanked him and turned around to leave the store. From the lobby of their store, I could see three other tire shops. I didn’t know they were there until I was looking for them (that’s a whole different blog altogether). I ignored his advice and drove to Bridgestone. Guess what? They fixed my tire in about 3 minutes, looked up pricing to replace my tires so I knew the price when I needed new wheels and they were extremely friendly and hoped that I could come back to visit them soon.

One company won a customer that day and an other lost a customer. Goodyear failed to notice that I had choices. They failed to notice that there were 3 other competitors within site of their lobby that would offer the same service, only 15 times faster.

It’s no different-actually it’s worse-on the web. If your web site doesn’t provide a solution to your potential customer NOW, they are one search or one back button away from being your competitor’s customer.

Don’t pull a Goodyear. Make sure your site is offering everything it should be offering and don’t assume your customer’s going to wait for you to get your act together. They have choices. Plenty of choices.

Feb 20

The web, or New Media, has been mainstream for a solid ten years now. We’re still calling it new. Probably because “new” is sexy and it makes it easier for marketers to peddle. You know, Web 2.0 = new. Web 3.0 is now being thrown around. Sigh.

There’s no doubt, the web is changing quickly and its changing the business landscape even faster. At Merge, we’ve been seeing a paradigm shift over the last 18 months. Business owners used to think of their web site as “just a web site.” A mere novelty; a necessary evil at best.

Now, companies are getting serious. It’s passe to say the web is here to stay. We all know that, and we know it’s also more than that. It’s not only here to stay, but it is now and it is the future. “New Media Novelty” has now become the key marketing strategy. And it’s not only figuring out how to market using this medium, but it’s also about how companies must change internally to coincide with the medium. (Read Meatball Sundae by Seth Godin).

Sure, throw up a web site. But the tail will no longer wag the dog.

Feb 11

Most web sites are created to have a nice, high-impacting home page. The home page gets the user to the next section. But the site usually stops directing traffic at this point.

Don’t do that. Keep the momentum going.

Web sites are not linear. They aren’t a book or a brochure that the user will take an A-B-C-D-E path. It’s more like, A-E-C-B (yep, they never even see ‘d’). So the remedy?


Keep offering the user the choice to go to another section of the site. Always include the ultimate call-to-action (i.e. the famous “contact us”) with the momentum creating calls-to-action. The user is going to click, click, click as long as you keep them interested and offer them the opportunity. You never know when they’re going to be ready for the “ultimate click.” Keep them going throughout your site, and you will greatly increase the probability that A) they’ll get the information they were looking for and B) they’ll become a converted visitor instead of just another visitor.

Jan 28

We said it back in October 4 of 2007:

“Progressive companies are going to embrace web sites as commercials instead of brochures. You’re going to see much less content, and much more video…”
Post: The new web

Take a look at Nintendo Wii’s site. They don’t only use video on the home page or as a flash introduction, they use video throughout their WHOLE site. There is no copy. All of their content is video. They want to show their “customers” (okay, models) using their product. They are showing the user experience. Anything a company can do to get you to experience the product online, that much closer they have you to buying their product.

Words alone aren’t going to work any more. Just pictures? Nope. Video. And when “they” can figure out how to deliver touch and smell, then it will be a wrap. And those might be here sooner than you think.

Jan 04

Yesterday, Merge was visiting with a prospect, who had their senior salesperson at the table.

We asked, “If your web site had to establish trust-highlight your company’s expertise and credibility-what would it communicate?”

The veteran salesperson looked at us with a blank stare. He slowly replied, “I don’t know. When I sell, I’m selling myself. People work with people. If they don’t trust me, then they don’t trust the company. So I don’t know how a web site would establish trust.”

It was an interesting outlook, and one that was not lost on us, because he made a good-but not totally accurate-point. To Merge, we believe a web site is quite capable of establishing an adequate level of trust. For 9 out of 10 companies, a sale is still going to involve human interaction. But the relationship with your company will begin on your web site.

The question is, does your web site extend the personality (your brand) of your company, or is it just a web site? Depending on who you believe, 70% of prospects will check your company out on the web before they ever contact you. Your web site is the first “person” from your company that they will meet. Don’t let your web site be the last person they visit. Do what it takes to communicate your brand, expertise and credibility and you will build the trust necessary for them to take the next step to speak with someone who counts-you.