Martine Rolls: Stay fresh to hold our attention

By Martine Rolls

It never ceases to amaze me how people, myself included, get sucked in by clever advertising and ingenious marketing campaigns.

One of the best examples must be the Whittaker's van that crashed into the 7m L&P; bottle in Paeroa last week.

Initially, it was believed to be a real traffic accident.

It had Paeroa locals and police officers duped for awhile but was later revealed to have been a publicity stunt to advertise a new L&P-flavoured; chocolate bar.

With the tagline "It's an accident New Zealand's been waiting for", I thought it was a brilliant product launch.

I even shared the video on Facebook, along with at least another 2900 people. Good prank guys, and effective too as it instantly left many Kiwis wondering about the taste of the new chocolate.

My kids are white chocolate and L&P; fans and they practically begged me to buy it for them.

I also thought this combination would be a winner.

So off to the supermarket we went and guess the first thing that landed in the trolley? I made the boys wait until we got home to try it, though. Oh, the anticipation.

They were given a small piece and spat it out. I had a nibble and found the taste of lemon overpowering, but what put me off more was the popping candy. Why an adult taste (lemon) and a juvenile touch (fizz)?

We concluded the product over-promised and under-delivered but, of course, that was merely our opinion.

It was backed up by someone who posted on the Whittaker's Chocolate Facebook page: "Your L&P; chocolate takes me back 30 years to when I was 5 years old ... and my mouth was washed out with soap for being naughty! Yuck, yuck, yuck!"

The opinions on the company's Facebook page are mixed. Fans have posted praise and recipes for muesli bars and chocolate mousse using the product.

I'll have to try something like that as I doubt anyone in my household will take a second bite of the 250g block we bought.

I am not a huge chocolate consumer, but I am a web-junkie and I love what Whittaker's Chocolate does online.

Its online presence is like its product launch: a little more edgy than the rest. That's why I like and follow the firm's profiles on Facebook and Twitter.

The chocolate-maker's website is also cool. It's built in Flash, but there is a separate html site to use on mobile devices. Everything I see Whittaker's do online just shows me they are on to it. The company keep things fresh and exciting.

One of the things I like about the internet is that it's changing all the time.

The developments in web technology are a lot to keep up with, but it's fascinating to see how it is changing society and the way we do business.

Unfortunately, I still see plenty of websites that are out of date, not optimised for mobile, uninspiring, that lack search engine optimisation, or are simply eyesores.

If you have a website for your business or other reasons, I can only recommend you have a good look at it and be as objective as possible.

Test it on mobile devices, too. If it's not performing as well as it should, do something about it.

It's like the American business magazine Forbes has put it: "Web surfers have the attention spans of drunken gnats."

There is no way today's web savvy consumers will recommend, let alone do business with, an organisation that presents an ugly or outdated website.

The good news is that a lot can be done to enhance your presence online without the need for budget like Whittaker's.

Talk to your web developer, ask a digital strategist for assistance, or take some time to fix things yourself. Google has a wealth of information on how to practically improve websites and you don't have to be a geek to do it right.

Do it this way, and the only investment required is your time. The main thing, and it's a golden rule for any website viewed on a desktop, laptop, tablet, mini-tablet or phone, is to make sure it has quality content and offers a compelling user experience.

If those things are lacking then I, along with the rest of your potential audience, will look elsewhere.

Martine Rolls is a Tauranga writer and digital strategist -

- Bay of Plenty Times

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