The First Five Seconds: How Your Website Can Grab Your Prospect’s Attention … Or Lose You Business

By · Filed in Marketing - General

At the end of the first year of the Corning Glass company having introduced safety glass, one salesman outperformed all the others by a huge amount. It turns out that all he did was meet with his prospect and find out the prospect’s needs and then he took out a sample of safety glass and put it on the prospects desk. He then hit the glass, as hard as he could with a hammer. The glass was undamaged and all he had to do now was ask the prospect how much glass he wanted.

In doing this he grabbed his prospects attention is such a powerful way that he won a disproportionate amount of business.

How would you like to grab your prospects attention in a powerful way that leads to you achieving the same in your marketplace with your website?

Well, you can! You simply need to understand what he achieved with his demonstration and apply it to your business.

This salesman grabbed the prospect’s attention with this display. But he did more than just grabbing his prospect’s attention; he grabbed it in a very powerful way. By hitting the glass with the hammer he demonstrated that:

  • he understood his prospect’s need (the prospect wanted glass that would not break)
  • he had a great solution to this need (he hit it hard with a hammer and the glass was unaffected) and
  • he did this right in front of the prospect. He did not send the prospect a 50 page scientific report discussing the impact tolerance of the glass … he hit it with a hammer!

If you are a business owner, there is a high likelihood that somebody is online right now searching for the kinds of products or services that you offer. And, you never know, they may come across your website.

However, it is unlikely that your website will be the only thing they come across. You are vying for attention alongside many other websites. So, when somebody comes across your website it needs to grab their attention and it needs to grab their attention within five seconds. Because that’s how much time, on average, a visitor will give any website. Your site either grabs their attention within those first five seconds and they decide to stay or it doesn’t and they decide to click the “back” button and that business is lost to you. And, if you can grab their attention in a powerful way then maybe you can grab a disproportionate amount of business.

So let’s look at what that Corning Glass salesman did and how you can do the same with your website.

1. Demonstrate that you understand your prospect’s need

The first thing that the salesman did was demonstrate that he understood his prospects’ need. The most common mistake that business owners make with their website is to immediately talk about themselves on their website and the features that they offer. When a prospect first comes to your site, they don’t care about you! They might do later but at that moment all they care about is themselves. They are looking for WIIFM (What’s In It For Them). So, tell them. Instantly engage with what the prospect is searching for, demonstrate that you understand their problem/need, talk in terms of the problem you are solving for them. You must be talking about them, using “you” not “we” in your headlines and text. And you must be talking about the benefits that they can achieve if they solve their problem/satisfy their need.

2. Demonstrate that you have a great solution

Tell your visitors, in a benefit-led way, that you can help them solve their problems. One of the most effective ways of doing this is by demonstrating credibility, especially third-party credibility. So publish your testimonials, case studies, awards, certificates, reviews, feedback, etc to show your visitors how great other people know you are. This is much more powerful that saying “We’re great because we say we are”!

And, these days you do not need to just use text in sharing these messages. How about showing a video demonstration or an audio testimonial or before and after photos. Text is boring and people love to be entertained through audio and video.

3. Do it in front of them

Your demonstration needs to be positioned so that it happens right in front of them when they first get to your website. They have analysed people’s eye movements when they first get to a website and usually the first place that people look is to the left, just a little below the top. Imagine you are reading a book, where would you look when you turn the page? That’s where most people first look at a website. There are things you can do to pull people’s attention to different places (eg by showing a face or using bullets and colours etc) but normally the best place to position the “first five seconds” content is at the left, just below the top.

The page must also be easy for them to understand and easy for them to see how they can navigate further into the body of the site for more details. So, for instance, if you offer multiple solutions to different client needs (eg a plumber who might fix leaks as well as install new bathrooms) then make it very clear what options you offer and give clear links for people to click on and follow to find out more.

Overall the page must be uncluttered and focused. Cluttered pages confuse people and confused people become unclear about what to do and head for the “back” button.

If you do these three things well , then more people will stay on your website and investigate you and your products and services more and you will increase the chance that more will become clients or customers.

You can find out how well your website is performing in the first five seconds (and also in attracting and converting traffic too) by requesting a free website health check: (


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