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Jerkbaits, Treble Hooks, and Your Website

Your website needs to be something much more than a billboard. Many of you may recall one of Kevin Costner’s better movies, “Field of Dreams.” While walking in his cornfield, novice farmer Ray Kinsella hears a voice that whispers, “If you build it, he will come” and he sees a baseball diamond. Let’s substitute your website for the baseball diamond.

Jerkbaits, Treble Hooks, and Your Website

Land Big Fish with Better Online Content

By Bill Leonard, Ignite Marketing

(Originally published in the June 2014 issue of Recognition Review.)

Your website needs to be something much more than a billboard.

Many of you may recall one of Kevin Costner’s better movies, “Field of Dreams.” While walking in his cornfield, novice farmer Ray Kinsella hears a voice that whispers, “If you build it, he will come” and he sees a baseball diamond. Let’s substitute your website for the baseball diamond.

If you just build a website for your business, will more prospects come to your door and use your services? I contend they will not. Sad but true. If all you have created is a weak, ineffective, boring website that fails to compel your prospects to read on and take some type of action, then your time, effort, and dollars have gone right down the drain. So let’s bring in jerkbaits and treble hooks.

A jerkbait is used by bass fishermen to coax a fish out of cover when the water is cold and the fish are inactive. The flash and movement of the jerkbait attract the attention of the fish. The jerkbait is your website. The fish are your prospects. The jerkbait’s barbed treble hooks latch onto the fish when it strikes, giving it little opportunity to escape. The barbed treble hooks are your website content.

Most awards and recognition industry websites lack the barbed treble hooks to keep prospects on their website for more than a few seconds. Your prospects and customers are busy and just don’t read anymore. They scan. Unfortunately, most industry websites that I have visited are sites created with a barbless hook. They are great for product search and catch-and-release in the fish conservation world, but poor at reeling in your prospects.

What can you do about it? Here are a few tips (there are many more) to help you create grabber-type Web content, stoke interest in your services, and land customers in your fishing net.

Ask yourself…

  • Does your first screen give your website visitor a compelling reason, in 5 or fewer seconds, to stay and read on? If not, it’s time to revisit your home page. Your logo, company name, graphics, and other nonselling features should not take up a sizeable chunk of your first screen. 
  • Do you have a headline that stops your readers dead in their tracks? Think of your headline as the label on the package, the sign on the door, or the frosting on the cake. It is the deciding factor in whether your reader will open the package, open the door, or eat the cake. Per well-known copywriter David Garfinkel, with a good headline, you stand a fighting chance of having anything from minimal to overwhelming success. But without a good headline, your chances of success are next to zero. 
  • Does your headline convey a benefit of interest to your target audience? Your headline must answer your reader’s unspoken question, WIIFM: “What’s in it for me?” 
  • Is your Web copy written in a conversational style and easy-to-read language instead of corporate speak? Remember, most website visitors do not read; they scan. It’s always a good idea to use bulleted lists to summarize content. Consider highlighting selected keywords by bolding, italicizing, or underlining (but not all three) to help scanners move through your Web copy. Present one idea per short paragraph. 
  • Does your Web copy employ the use of testimonials? People like to do business with people they trust and have confidence in. Testimonials strategically placed in areas where they reinforce your content are a smart idea. Testimonials also serve as a reinforcement of purchase. Do you have a mechanism to capture your Web visitors’ contact information? You have a website visitor that has taken the time to visit your site. You want to know who that person is. It is smart business sense to capture this warm lead so you can do the follow-up.
  • Do you state clearly on your website what you want your prospect to do? This is the call-to-action. Don't assume your prospect is going to pick up the phone or send you an e-mail. Tell them what to do.

A quote from Patricia Fripp, a sales presentation trainer and speaker, helps sum up the above: “It is not your customers’ job to remember you. It is your obligation and responsibility to make sure they don’t have the chance to forget you.”

Your website holds the potential to bring you more customers and make you more money. Invest the time and effort to make your website content memorable, compelling, and persuasive. Your reward will be enhanced lead generation and a better opportunity to capture the sale.


Bill Leonard presented an educational seminar at the 2014 ARA International Awards Market in Las Vegas. Leonard works with clients to transform their Web and ad copy into compelling content that generates leads and captures the sale.

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