As more marketers see their Web site as the hub of their marketing efforts, reviewing that site before calling on them becomes essential. But you are not an expert on their business. What can you actually speak credibly about that a client will listen to?

Simple. Talk about your readers, their site visitors. Look carefully at their home page and think about your magazine/brand’s readers and how they would respond.

Never criticize your client’s Web site. The marketing manager you are calling on could be its architect. But if you can engage your client in a dialog about trends effecting your readers and advocate prioritizing future content, you can help advance their online marketing goals.

The sad truth is that many Web sites are not constructed with a company’s customers—your readers—in mind. Many Web sites fulfill internal political goals first. Or they are designed against the claims of competitors. Primary reader benefits can take a back seat. Sharing your reader’s point of view, in noncritical way by talking about future content, can make you a marketing hero.

At the recent "Selling Online Subscriptions" conference put on by MarketingSherpa, Linda Ragano, from ThomasNet, shared this a piece of research that documented a disconnect between what manufacturers posted on their Web sites, versus what the targeted buyers actually wanted to see.



If you sense this kind of disconnect on your client’s site, use Linda’s slide as a third party example to make the point in a noncritical way. Say "In some industries (read: not yours) there is disconnect between what readers/visitors want to see on a Web site and what gets posted." Show the chart. Then share insights you have about your readers/their site visitors might like to see in the future. Focusing on the future is a good way to share your knowledge without being critical of the present. Your client can then go to management and say, "Look what we can do to improve things in the future." Both you and your client become marketing heros.