Bridge shares at the top of its home page how much in sales the platform has delivered to indie stores: $133m.
Bookshop.org leads with how much it has raised for bookstores financially.
While eating a slice of coal-fired pizza at Arturo’s in Soho
yesterday, and getting an occasional whiff of Houston Street garbage, I had to admit: I was at a loss for insight to share with my coworkers this week. Each week, I send out a motivational message to my team that precedes a summary of what they accomplished. We call this report the Brick report. This would be my seventy-second Brick introduction: What else could I say--and would they miss it if there was not an introduction? Then I thought, “How about just leaving the Brick intro blank? Let’s see if anyone notices!" But they shouldn't get too excited, that’s not what I chose! Let's use my brief mental draught to glean some insight...
The introduction, or 'intro,' to the Brick—like many other openings—can be very important. Intros give context and provide motivation. Every Church service starts with almost the same intro: He died and then was resurrected. It’s a great intro: it's kept pews full for nearly 2,000 years. Think about your favorite movie: it likely has an intro that sets the stage for what is to come. For the movie The Dark Knight Rises
, the director Chris Nolan deemed the intro so important it was one of the trailers for the film
. (Watch the trailer featuring the bad guy Bane here
.) (If you've not seen it already, the new The Batman
film is recommended. I hope the sequel shows a bit more Batmobile and Batcave.)
What is an intro? If it's a book, it may be the first sentence, such as Charles Dickens' famous first sentence, “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times," from A Tale of Two Cities
. If it's a building, it may be the sumptuous art deco lobby of the Chrysler Building. If it's an email from me, it may a long-winded attempt to be relevant. If it's a website, it may be a fact or one-sentence mission statement near the top of the home page. Let's consider an e-commerce player that we admire: Bookshop.org, whose mission is to support indie bookshops. Their intro needs to convey just that: that they support indie bookstores. If we visit their site and don't get that intro, then Bane crashed their plane and abducted Dr. Pavel. When we visit their site, we see at the top:
"$20,422,563.54 raised for local bookstores."
This intro makes it clear: they’re about indie bookstores. $20m worth of help. Bookshop.org
has a strong intro.
If intros are so important, how is Bridge using intros? When one visits Bridge’s website, we share how much we’ve helped indie stores sell using a real-time counter. For example, today it displays:
“$133,107,159 sold for our indie merchants.”
If one browses no further than the top 1” of our site, they know that Bridge helps indie stores--and we’re good at it. To this end, we also recently updated our domain name to http://www.shoplocal.org
. A domain name can quickly convey what a business does and helps cement the first impression. After all, it’s often the top-most element on a web page.
But, our job is not done. Bridge’s bread and butter is to work behind the scenes to help one-thousand indie stores boost their online sales. We power their online Bridge Stores. We have to convey to millions of potential customers that that visit these Bridge Stores that they’re helping an indie store. How do we do that? This week Bridge is adding a new banner at the top of our client’s Stores that says: “Thank you for supporting your local shop and the people in your community.”
Sometimes an intro has to cover a few bases. A shopper may not be interested in shopping locally and instead has other objectives. Bridge takes steps to anticipate these other needs, too. At the top of each retailer’s Bridge Store, our software outputs the number of products available on the site, the number of gift registries, and the number of reviews. The intro we’re conveying to shoppers: you’re going to get a massive product selection here, we're really good at servicing gift registries, and you're welcome to read reviews supporting these facts.
To share the importance of an intro, please try this quick exercise:
- Please consider a topic that is important to you.
- Imagine you’re making a website for it.
- Please consider a small introduction banner for its home page. You get the top 1" of the site. What would it say?
- Now, if the topic has a website, please visit it. How does your intro compare with its site?
Intros are crucial to the larger experience--but I believe they should not be the height of it. I think The Dark Knight Rises’
intro was the best part of the movie, which may belie a larger issue about the movie. This brings us to another Nolan movie (...you can tell someone listens to Nolan soundtracks while working): The Prestige
. The characters express admiration for a magician’s ability to promise they’ll do something special (i.e. make something disappear), then do so, and then, the fun part: do something even grander (i.e. make an item reappear). This series of steps is referred to as: “The Pledge,” “The Turn,” and “The Prestige.” One could think of an intro as the pledge. When a customer visits a Bridge retailer, we pledge we’ll help them support an indie store. We then turn their indie purchase into a reality. Finally, we confirm that their order helped an indie shop. (Chris, if you’re reading this, feel free to contact my agent. We’ll do lunch.) Shortly after their purchase, they receive an email from Bridge letting them know they’ve succeeded in helping the indie store. Sometimes it’s as if we’ve performed a magic trick. More than fifty customers have emailed us praising Bridge for enabling little indie stores to rise above online retail giants.
So yes, I could've left the intro blank to this week's team summary, but I think more magic happens when the parts come together. When I write the weekly summary's intro, I'm the warm-up, intro act. The Pledge. Our Bridge team is providing the Turn and the Prestige. They are delivering the wow factor with their completed projects. Team, thank you for letting me introduce your prestigious accomplishments this week.
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