Persuasive Websites Are Living Rooms, Not Bullhorns

April 11, 2011Leave a reply

Is your website a bullhorn, or a living room?

Publishing platforms, such as blogs, give you a bullhorn. Here’s the problem with that — no one likes to be shouted at.

The police use bullhorns, as do obnoxious activists. People get shouted at by parents, teachers, bosses, and other authority figures.

Pushy salespersons use an insidious form of shouting called hype and pressure.

Are these the types of people with whom you want your audience to associate you? Are these the types of people you’re drawn to and want to do business with?

Of course not. You, like everyone else, are drawn to people who serve you, who make you feel important. You feel good around people who are authentic without being pushy, who educate rather than manipulate and/or pressure.

You want long-term relationships with people who create genuine, consistent value for you, not those who try to hook you with once-in-a-lifetime you-don’t-want-to-miss-this special offers.

You feel comforted by people who give you space, yet are always there when you need them.

In the past, businesses could get away with being pushy, manipulative, and full of hype because mass media gave them the control.

But the Information Age has stripped business of that self-assumed crown and relegated it to the position of servant. Your customers are now in charge because they have power in the form of information and choice.

I’m not telling you anything you don’t already know. What many do not know, however, is that there are inadvertent forms of shouting with your website communications.

If you want to be perceived as a trusted friend, rather than an obnoxious salesperson or forceful authority figure, avoid the mistake of shouting at your audience.

Two Forms of Written Shouting

The two most common forms of shouting are capitalized letters and excessive use of exclamation points. These scream hype and propaganda and turn off your website readers.




Most of the time, these mistakes arise from passion. It’s important for you to be passionate about what you do. But that passion must translate into service and value, not shouting in people’s faces.

For persuasive websites, the wild stallion of passion must be bridled in order to do the bidding of the rider — your customer. Your passion must be used as a tool to cultivate an intimate relationship of trust.

Drop the Bullhorn, Sit on the Couch

For persuasive websites, bullhorns are cheap toys used by con artists, and intimate conversation is worth its weight in gold.

Your audience doesn’t want to be shouted at. They want to sit in your metaphorical living room, feeling comfortable and safe.

They want to see the authentic you, not an imposing facade. They want to relate with you. They want to trust you.

They want to be served and uplifted by you. They need assurance, not hype.

And if you don’t meet these needs, they have hundreds of other providers to choose from — and choose they will.

In the “living room” setting of truly persuasive websites, the examples of shouting highlighted above shift to the following:

“We want you to feel confident that you’re getting the best value for your money. This is why our software comes with a money-back guarantee. If it’s not the best software you’ve ever used, please return it to us. We’ll refund your money without question or hassle.”

“I’ve seen too many people lose money in real estate, and I want to make sure that doesn’t happen to you. If I could show you how to make more money on the sale of your home, would it be worth five minutes of your time?”

“Did you know that there are five common mistakes made by web design firms? Unfortunately, they cost businesses website traffic and sales. These five common mistakes are (fill in the blank). Our commitment to you is the highest standards of web design to ensure the greatest results for your business.”

In the living room setting, you put your money where your mouth is. You don’t shout to cover up a lack of credibility or shoddy workmanship.

Persuasive websites offer real value and discuss it plainly and calmly with customers. Your value stands on its own feet rather than being propped up artificially with hype and pressure. Your passion becomes artful, rather than forceful.


Capitalized letters and exclamation points are the written equivalents of shouting at people.

If you want to have lasting influence and build your market share, don’t shout at your audience — create genuine value for them. Use your blog and copywriting to build trust, not rain hype.

Serve instead of pressuring. Use other elements, such as bold letters and italics, to be more artful about stressing important points.

Most importantly, have something of real value to say. Value speaks for itself, and it doesn’t need to be coated with artificial “bling,” such as exclamation points.

Don’t use the wrong written elements to paint lipstick on a pig — replace the pig with the natural beauty of trust, value, service, and authenticity.

For persuasive websites, replace the bullhorn of shouting with the intimacy of a living room and your customers will be drawn to you.

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