It is no secret that I’ve really been struggling with marketing and customer development for BrainTrust (a conversation management tool for companies and teams).

Along with trying to start a mastermind group to get myself some help, I’ve also been reading a ton of marketing books (All Marketers are Liars, 22 Immutable Laws of Marketing, Web Startup Success Guide, and the Copywriters Handbook) to get better at this.

This entry outlines what I’ve learned after reading a handful of these books and after carefully looking at some of the most successful sell/landing pages out there.

As a follow-on the my principles for defining a freemium model, I’ve distilled what I’ve learned into a set of principles for creating an effective homepage that can sell your product.

Goal: Convince the customer to purchase your product

The most important thing to keep in mind

Don’t think of this as a website. Think of this as a kiosk at a crowded mall. How would you design your kiosk to attract attention?

How would you make the potential customer feel comfortable even though you are not a huge established department store?

How would you, in 30 seconds explain what your product is, if you were speaking to the person?

And most importantly, if the potential customer’s interest does pique, how do you make sure you sufficiently answer all of their questions?


  1. Have a clear tagline that identifies and categorizes your product in the viewers mind
  2. Do not tell them what it is, show them
  3. Establish credibility, why should the viewer trust you?
  4. Tell a story. A good story communicates the problem you are trying to solve, and explain the benefits of using your product
  5. Define what you are delivering. Don’t try to explicitly define, relate it to something that is already defined in the viewers mind. Use “like” not “is”
  6. Have a clear call to action that leads directly into achieving the goal
  7. If the user has taken an action beyond initially landing on your page (eg clicking on a call to action) you’ve mildly piqued her interest, and chances are she has questions. PEOPLE ARE ACTUALLY READING AT THIS POINT. Have an extensive FAQ visible anticipating and answering all pertinent questions.
  8. Put off as many decisions as possible, make it frictionless to achieve the goal.
  9. Make it easy + encourage viewers to help spread your story

I’m still working to apply these to BrainTrust’s homepage, but it always helps me to establish principles before designing, so I’m posting them here for debate/discussion.