Ideas for Incorporating Audio Into Your Website

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Please, please, please, do not mention anywhere in my general vicinity that you are “referral based.” If I hear one more kitchen dealer or designer tell me they’re “referral based,” I’m going to scream. If you truly you are referral based, I’ve got a bridge to sell you.

Why am I so adamant that “referral based” dealers and designers have gone the way of tube socks? Because of the Internet, of course. Your new client may have told you that you were highly recommended by Mrs. Hickenlooper, and I’m sure that fact is completely true. But, if you think that after Mrs. Hickenlooper sang your praises, your potential client didn’t go out and Google you, or at least your company, I’ve got two bridges to sell you.

In fact, back in July, when I spoke to the Minnesota NKBA Chapter, one of the designers there told me that she Googles all of her potential clients!

But this month, I want to talk about how you can use the latest, greatest new idea to put your Website ahead of your competition. I want Mrs. Hickenlooper’s friend, when doing her background research on your company, to be wowed by your Website and see that it represents your company and your design skills in the best possible light – making her believe, hook, line and sinker, every good word Mrs. Hickenlooper said.

USING AUDIO
I believe the largest shift in the Internet is the movement from being a mostly visual medium to one that is both visual and audio based. If you think about it, technology, for a while, was an either/or medium. It was either audio based (iPods) or visual based (Internet). That’s no longer true. iPods now have visual capabilities, as do cell phones. And the Internet has audio.

All of this will impact your Website, and eventually, most of your marketing efforts. Oh, it’s not that there wasn’t audio on the Web before, but with all of the phone technology coming into play, what we are expecting from our technology is changing. So, why not add some audio to your Website – and I’m not talking music.

I’m not a fan of music on a Website…even if you present the reader with the obvious option of turning it off. Music on a Website garbles your message. If people like the music, they end up humming or singing along. If they hate the music, then they’ll concentrate on turning it off. Either way, it’s distracting from your actual message.

Still, I do believe audio has a place on a Website. Audio adds a new dimension to the site – as long as it serves an actual sales purpose. Currently, most kitchen dealers just have photos and verbiage on their sites. In fact, I recently searched for dealer Websites that had taken it to the next level and added audio – and could not find any. So, here’s a chance to take a step ahead of your competition!

Since I couldn’t find anyone in our industry to use as an example, I’m going outside the industry. Visit www.Forshaws.com and they give you a nice little audio intro when you hit the home page. Yes, at the end of the intro you do get a hit of music in their jingle, but it’s short and sweet and under words. What’s also nice about this company, which sells everything from gas logs to granite countertops, is that the voice-over is professional. The firm used a company out of St. Louis, MO called Business Audio Plus.

Whatever you do, please do not try to voice something yourself or with someone who works in your office. Voice-over professionals have years of professional training and have more often than not worked with coaches to train their voices.
On this site, if you click on the gas logs link on the left, you are taken to the page detailing information on the gas logs sold – and you hear the crackling of a fire an instant prior to seeing the page. It draws you in.

EFFECTIVE SOUNDS
Another idea for using audio is a verbal welcome, with a short overview of what you do or where you’re located. Dana Young, president of Business Audio Plus (www.BusinessAudioPlus.com) suggests creating ambiance on your site via sound effects, used in conjunction with a voice-over. If you’re designing kitchens in a lake or ocean community, add the sound of water. If you’re getting into designing outdoor kitchens, add the sounds of the great outdoors. “Add the sounds of a diving board and kids laughing,” Young suggests. This could add big impact to your site with a script that could read something along the lines of, “No one wants to be inside when the weather is gorgeous outside. Take advantage of family time and add an outdoor kitchen to your backyard. Kitchens By Karla has all the know-how. Don’t waste another minute, come in and see us today!” Just imagine the impact of that with the kids laughing and the diving board going in the background!

B. Terrell, also with the same company, suggests adding verbal testimonials or using a voice to point out specifics in a kitchen photograph. Taking that last idea to the next level, I envision having the voice tell us what we can’t see in the photo. For example, the consumer clicks to enlarge a photo of a kitchen on your Website and someone says, “What you can’t see in this photo is that the kitchen was designed for a young, growing family that loves to entertain. At Kitchens By Karla, we not only design your kitchen, we take into consideration your entire home and lifestyle. The left side of the kitchen used to be another room, which the family mentioned they never used. Since they’d been in the home for about a year, and they knew they eventually wanted to entertain here, we opened up the kitchen. We were able to add the great sitting area in front of the fireplace, which serves as a place for the kids to hang out while Mom is getting dinner ready or for guests to visit while everyone congregates in the kitchen during a get together.”

If you want to take it a step past just audio, you really need to hire someone who has the visual image you want your company to present. These aren’t home movies; you’re selling yourself and your company.

For inspiration, visit www.EggandMuffinToaster.com. Click on “Build Your Own” and foodie Paula Dean will demo how to build yourself a breakfast sandwich using this contraption. When you have seen enough, you just click her off!

How can this be translated to our industry? How about a demonstration of cabinet drawers that don’t slam shut thanks to the new drawer slide mechanisms? Run the very quiet dishwasher you want to sell next to an old one. The possibilities are as endless as your creativity.

Take note of the sounds around your showroom, and keep a mental list of these to later work into the audio portion of your Website. What’s next after audio? Hmmm, all I know is that if Mrs. Fields starts sending me emails with the smell of freshly baked chocolate chip cookies wafting out…I’m in big trouble!

Read past columns on Internet Connection by Karla Krengel, and send us your comments about this story and others by logging onto Kitchen & Bath Design News’ Website at www.kitchenbathdesign.com.

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