If You Build It, They WON’T Come.

September 23, 2015


One hundred years ago, if you wanted to sell something, you had to build a store. People could walk into the store, see the product, and if they wanted to buy, they could buy. With the development of direct mail and toll-free numbers, you could forget the store. Just have a phone and a garage or warehouse. With the development of the internet, you could forget the phone and the direct mail. Just build a website.

Today… forget the website.

(Ok, not entirely. You should probably keep your website around, but…)

Don’t expect your website to be the big driver behind your brand’s message.

The Problem With “Build It & They Will Come”
To stick with the metaphor, the problem is a simple one: we already have too many places to go. Every one of us – and I’m not speaking to just marketers or business owners here – are incessantly tapped on the shoulder. Ad retargeting, promoted posts on social, pop-up ads, email newsletters, commercials… these messages peck at us all day long from all of our devices. We are spread thin. We are tired.

So, when you build your own platform – whether that’s a website, an app, or something else – what exactly is going to motivate a user to intentionally type in a URL or download your app? Your answer must be compelling, because the average member of your target audience is too busy to be bothered about stepping out of his comfort zone and going somewhere new.

We Aren’t Against Building Your Own Platform…
We’re just realists. If you create something of true value, then some of your hardcore target audience will use it. We all download new apps, try new services, and visit new websites. Our experience, however, is that the platform must be extremely compelling, as most people (even those who are within your identified “target audience”) already have a lot on their plates.

So, go ahead. Build your platform. But don’t stop there…

Meet People Where They Already Are.
This is the most effective way you can reach the masses. Most people use just a small handful of apps on a daily basis; they visit just one or two social networking sites per day. It’s your job (or your agency’s job) to identify what those apps and sites are.

That’s where you need to be.

So, instead of building with the unrealistic hope that your audience comes to you, consider the reverse: Find out where your audience already is, and then go there. Go share your message… your product… your service… your app… whatever it is you want the world to know. Don’t build with the assumption that people will come. Meet them where they already are.

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