A few weeks back, I had a rather bizarre experience while visiting a large B2B company’s headquarters. I bring this up because as marketers we live in a world where we understand the importance of a brand and brand experience, and here was a situation in which the company’s brand was being badly neglected. I was surprised because I had always associated this company’s brand with high quality and innovation. I am glad that I made the trip because you can only learn so much about a company without actually visiting it and seeing firsthand how it operates.
What caught me off-guard was that the structure was pretty old. Not old in a “this place is about to collapse” sort of way. Rather, I began to wonder if Mike Brady had done the architectural design work.
It wasn’t just the outdated design that caught my eye; there were other peculiarities as well. The first thing I noticed when I went inside was the lack of attention that I received. I was taking time out of my day to visit and there was no one there to talk with or help me. In fact, I came across a sign with an email address. Apparently I could get the prompt attention I wanted by shooting an email to info@...com with any questions. To their credit, they did have signs all over, but I still had difficulty figuring out which way to go. By now there was no doubt that I was going to have to find my own way through this place and frustration was beginning to set in.
After heading down a few wrong paths, I finally found the department that I was looking for (deep sigh of relief), but things didn’t get better. Even when we were interacting it was like I wasn’t even there. It seemed like they couldn’t take the time to stop and listen to my needs or challenges; instead, they just kept driveling on about the features of their products. All I could think was, “Remind me again why I came here?” All I wanted was for them to understand me, my issues and my problems and give me the direction that I needed. They just kept spouting stuff that I could have gotten from their brochure or their PR boilerplate.
Luckily for me, leaving was pretty easy. It only took a click of the mouse — since the structure I was visiting was actually the company’s website. The company’s physical location is architecturally stunning, and over the past year has played host to 34 prospective customer visits. The slow and outdated website, on the other hand, which was void of user-centric content and obviously did not include user testing, had more than 60,000 unique visitors (including the 34 who visited the physical building).
This leaves me with a few simple questions. With the understanding that the web presence and especially the website of a B2B company that is selling a product or service of significance is a common experience for all prospects: