December 1, 2006

Nick Usborne on Writer Accountability

I've been receiving Nick Usborne newsletter for some time. The latest contains his article entitled: Should writers be held accountable for web page performance?

Good question. Nick points out that he came from direct mail marketing — a sphere in which the participants have a good understanding of audience, good designers who understand the medium *and* the audience, the right mailing lists, and other factors that play into their success — and thus he was comfortable with being judged against his successes.

But Nick points out (rightly, in my opinion) that the Web hasn't matured to that level yet. While there *may* be direct mail people and what I'd call trained sales professionals involved, most clients cannot give you that kind of time-proven data. In my experience (and having been trained in sales), it's much easier to design and build a website if your clients have good information that would contribute to sales.

That said, direct mail is the sales piece; after that, you just need people manning the phones who know how to answer questions properly and finish the sale. On the other hand, websites are also the sales piece, but if the purpose of a particular website is to get sales leads, then a writer's (or designer's) success is contingent upon the company's handling those sales leads properly.

Not sure what anyone else's thoughts are. But my thought is that you can design/build a website that could pull in sales leads by the dozen, but if the offer isn't right, then the results will reflect that fact. If you do pull in leads in a sufficient quantity, you're also dependent upon how the client's company handles those contacts.

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