Before a story is even written, it’s easy to imagine the beginning and the end. Say, for example, in the beginning, a girl finds a bag full of hundreds of thousands of dollars. A lot of things happen. By the end of it, the girl is bloodied, and emotionally and physically exhausted by the events that had occurred just hours beforehand. The hundreds of thousands of dollars she had is now gone, and she doesn’t really care about it anymore. She’s happy she’s alive.
See, those things do matter. What happened in between where the story of this girl began, and where it ended? Why is she covered in blood? Where did the money go? Who is she?
On the web, knowing the beginning and the end is great. The beginning, in this case, is almost always the project and the fact that it needs to be executed. There’s a 25% of the story right there. Yay. And the end, of course, is when that product is finalized and introduced to the public for mass-consumption. Designed in an effort to achieve the end-goal of selling more products, or services, or drawing more attention to a particular brand. And with that, you might have roughly 50% of everything.
But the stuff that happens in the middle — the elements that get added or subtracted in the design process — is just as important as knowing the beginning and the end, because it supplies that project with a purpose. And a purpose is something that provides a motivating force behind a project. And as much as some people might downplay the importance of having a purpose, particularly in marketing — “Just have at it!” they say — that idea can, more often than not, work as a guide in all of your marketing efforts.
And whether that idea is simply a motto, a message, or a particular piece of information that you are trying to convey to an audience, it can often be crucially important in any project — web-based, or otherwise. Here’s why.
A Purpose Will Provide Direction
Having a purpose, regardless of the scope of your project, is perhaps one of the simplest ways to provide direction for a project. For example, if you’re building a venture capital fund — let’s take Google Venture, in this case — you don’t want to simply say that the entire purpose of your fund is simply to give start-ups money.
Instead, your purpose should be to provide funding to help create ideas that matter. Or to have ideas grow. Or to enable brilliant minds to do brilliant things.
Having a central purpose will help you to recalibrate when something isn’t going well — why isn’t this new approach working? — and will help guide you in all of your efforts in the near future. It will help you better understand the things that you need to pursue, and those that you should most likely avoid.
Basically, ask, what are we trying to accomplish here, and why does it matter? Doing that even before you begin any project can be hugely beneficial.
A Purpose Drives People
As much as blindly throwing darts at a map can occasionally yield some interesting results, it probably isn’t the most efficient way to create something that people truly care about. A purpose, on the other hand, is easy for people to get behind, particularly if it contains values that those people ultimately find important.
A lot of the time, web design can feel lifeless. Maybe that’s simply because we’ve become so used to web design from the late 90s and early 2000s that is without purpose, and exists simply to market ‘things’ without necessarily understanding how it wants to market those ‘things’ or even why.
But I think that just like the late 50s and 60s marked a serious revolution in advertising, resulting in such brilliant ad campaigns as the Volkswagen Lemon campaign, online marketing is evolving in a similar vein. Consumers are increasingly less likely to respond to forms of online marketing that don’t necessarily resonate with them, and exist purely for the purpose of marketing stuff. But websites that are fun, and social media campaigns that are engaging and that have an essential purpose will start to attract consumers more than anything.
In terms of marketing yourself online, what is your purpose?