Is Your Site Suffering from Premature Elaboration?

blue pill

Premature Elaboration is a fantastic term that’s frequently used by a friend of mine, Doug Theis. Doug uses it when he discusses a how some salespeople have the completion of a sale in their grasp and then lose it because they continue talking after the prospect was ready to sign. They just couldn’t shut up!

It’s not just sales, it happens in marketing, too.

blue pillThe easiest target to poke fun at is pharmaceutical commercial advertisements. When the commercial displays a beefy silver-haired stallion hitting on his beautifully maturing wife overlooking a mountainscape and holding hands in adjoined bathtubs… I’m thinking…

Hey… this is the magic pill for me. I’m going to ask my Doctor about it!

But then the fine print and quick voice over happen…

Could cause a rash; hives; itching; difficulty breathing; tightness in the chest; swelling of the mouth, face, lips, or tongue); confusion; decreased urination; fainting; hallucinations; loss of coordination; memory problems; menstrual changes; muscle twitching; new or worsening mental or mood problems (eg, depression, irritability, anxiety); overstimulation; red, swollen blistered, or peeling skin; seizures; severe dizziness; severe or persistent trouble sleeping; suicidal thoughts or actions; trouble speaking (eg, stammering, stuttering); yellowing of the eyes or skin, or possibly death.

This is premature elaboration. They had me on the frisky part… but then they spoke of seizures, blistering skin and death. They lost me with premature elaboration. They should have left the cautionary advice for the Doctors to explain.

Doug Theis is the VP of Lifeline Data Centers. Lifeline has been a long-time customer of mine… in fact, they were my second customer when I started the business. When we first started, the company’s focus was on outbound sales so they hired telemarketing help and dialed for dollars day after day. In the meantime, working with a small budget, Doug continued to strengthen their incredible email nurturing program and the fantastic content they were pushing on their site. We worked on promoting them, optimizing their content, and providing them with additional ideas.

At implementation, we converted them from an expensive content management system and reduced the content on the site to a fraction of the pages, showing them that they had no visitors to over 90% of pages. We integrated some additional monitoring tools to help Doug mine the data better. The new site does okay, but we’re about to go into a redesign again that reduces it even more. The telemarketing effort is out and the money is now reinvested in online marketing, where the majority of valuable (cold) leads found their way to Doug.

Included in the new strategy will be more whitespace, cleaner layouts, and more media. Lifeline Data Centers is now the largest Data Center in the MidWest, and they’re currently integrating low-cost, high-tech commercial real estate to the mix. They’ve already signed regional and federal government agencies in the office space. And all of this has been accomplished converting an abandoned mall on land that was once a blight to the community (they’re slowly renovating the monstrous site, too). If we wrote a thousand pages, we couldn’t possibly elaborate enough on each of their Data Center locations, the services and the products that Lifeline provides its customers.

You folks know I’m a huge advocate of companies sharing online, relaying customer stories, blogging aggressively, promoting through social media and getting those leads inbound. If the foundation of all of those efforts happens to be a bloated website, with terrible navigation and too much information – you’re not attracting leads… you’re pushing them away with premature elaboration.

Your site should should be a tasty, delicious appetizer for your visitor… not the entire meal. Doug Theis is an amazing salesperson. I don’t want the site to sell the person – I want Doug Theis to sell the person. Why? Because he’s amazing at it and can effectively listen to the client’s needs and respond accordingly. A web site can’t listen. A web site can’t sell like Doug can. That’s what inbound marketing is all about… getting great leads into Doug’s hands where he can close the ones that make sense!

We’re developing an online presence for Lifeline Data Centers that doesn’t suffer from premature elaboration.


  1. 1

    I presume that with pharmaceutical companies their premature elaboration is enforced through the law? Tell me if I’m wrong, though! Still, nice example – and good work on the Lifeline Data Centers site!

    • 2

      Hi Optilead, I actually did some research and it was the Pharmaceutical industry that started tagging their products in the hope of pre-empting lawsuits. Interestingly enough, in 2009, there was a case (Wyeth v. Levine) ruled by the Supreme Court. They basically said – warning or not, the drug company is still responsible. In other words – we hear all this crap for really no reason. The FDA approves the labels, but I’m not sure that the FDA asks for them.

  2. 3

    I presume that the premature elaboration which happens with pharmaceutical company ads is law enforced, though tell me if I’m wrong. Still, nice example to illustrate the point – and good work on the Lifeline Data Centers site!

  3. 4

    Doug, you had me at the title of your article. Great hook. When a sale is lost as you described, then it is clear the salesman can’t read body language. Sounds more like the rep had issues of inadequacy and felt he needed to keep talking as a way to impress the prospect with “knowledge.” Kinda like trying to pick up a girl at a bar.

  4. 5

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