5 Things Businesses Can Do To Increase Online Sales
(or, why I paid $997 for an e-course on launching when I didn’t even have a product to launch)
This January, I made the largest non-essential purchase of my small business career, and oh lord it was a doozy. Go big or go home, right? I’m not one to make major purchases lightly, so actually paying for an online (online!?) course that would teach me how to successfully launch a product when I didn’t even have a product to launch was just completely bewildering. I’m relatively new to both the small business and e-commerce worlds, so you’ll forgive me if these 5 “ah-ha” moments for me aren’t exactly as ground breaking as you would have hoped. Still, I maintain that if this online company, based somewhere in Far Far Away Canada, could get me to shell out nearly 1K for an e-course, then there is something to be learned – and shared – with my fellow entrepreneurs, freelancers, and small business owners.
And without further ado…The 5 Things Businesses Can Do To Increase Their Online Sales
- Understand That People Buy On Emotion And Rationalize Their Purchase With Logic.
This is something probably taught in Marketing 101, but since I’m a telecommunications/ English/sociology major, this was news to me. This insight made me stop and think particularly because I had just invested not an insignificant amount of money for a course that didn’t even apply to my business (yet). Why was that? Well, as the kids today would say, they got me in the feels. The course that was offered appealed to the eventual success that I wanted for my business and the ultimate trajectory of what I envisioned for myself. I then rationalized my purchase by logically going through everything that the course would do for my life and my business in the long run. By the end of this process, I had come to the conclusion that I had indeed made a great investment, and that I would absolutely be able to leverage the information I was learning through this course when working with my clients. But it all started with that initial emotional want, rather than a more rational need.
- It’s not (just) about the brand, it’s about the overall experience.
Probably another Marketing 101 idea, but again, the suggestion of giving my customers a unique experience rather than just a product or service was not something I had even considered. It’s a simple premise, and it’s something that I experience as a customer on a regular basis, but nevertheless, being offered an experience with my purchase was never something I was aware of until I read about it. Truth is, there are thousands of people doing what I do in general, and probably hundreds of people who are in my niche. What’ll differentiate me from everyone else is the experience that my customers will get from working with me and not someone else. Sometimes this comes down to basic personality compatibility, other times it has to do with our unique process of doing things, but often, the experience is something crafted and strategically curated by us business owners. When creating some sort of course, service, or product, don’t just think about how it will build your brand, think about the overall experience your customers will get from buying your product over someone else’s that might be nearly identical.
- It’s the little things.
It’s a cliché because it’s damn true. From the customer service, to personally answering emails within a day or two, to the quality Thank You note and surprise gift that came in the mail a couple of weeks after purchasing the course, everything that these folks did before, during, and after I bought from them (especially the after) worked to confirm that I had made the right choice. All of their thoughtfulness was especially important, I think, because they offered a refund for the course if I didn’t feel like it was right for me. It might sound silly, but in addition to learning a ton of useful strategies regarding launching a product, simply knowing that I had their ongoing support during this process was something that kept me from getting buyer’s remorse and asking for a refund.
- If your product or service warrants a payment plan, do it.
My thought process before buying this $1000 course went a little like this: If I email these guys about whether or not I would benefit from their course and they get back to me with a reasonable answer, I’ll probably buy it. If I email them back and ask about a payment option that wasn’t already offered and they work with me in order to pay for the course, then I’ll absolutely buy it. And well, the rest is history. Short story short, if I had to pay the full amount upfront or pay in monthly installments that would eventually make the overall cost of the course a few hundred dollars more when all was said and done, I wouldn’t have bought the course. I’m seeing this type of personalized payment option more and more with other online information products and courses. If you have the means to allow potential buyers personalized payment options, do it. Your customers will appreciate it, and chances are, the next time you offer a product, they’ll be more likely to buy it.
- Be real.
The folks who run this company have a style that I have yet to see anywhere else. They’re a little rough around the edges, but somehow very professional and trustworthy at the same time. This tip actually ties back to #2 which talks about the importance of providing an experience for your customers. There are a number of marketing companies out there – both online and offline – who will work with small business owners on their various marketing needs, but this duo really had something that I just didn’t get from the other online marketing options: a personality. When I first started my blog and put up my website, I felt like I needed to be hyper-professional with every single word. I felt that I needed to put forth a flawless and sterile image because that was what clients could trust. I’m a copyeditor after all, and people want that English teacher grammarian look and feel. Welp, that’s not me. I strive for perfection, sure, but we’re more likely to talk about your project in a coffee shop (or a quiet bar if you’re into that kind of thing), then we are in a conference room or office. This is mostly because I don’t have immediate access to a conference room, but you understand. Moral of the story, be real and let your personality show. You’ll attract the customers that will appreciate your style, and detract the clients that you wouldn’t want to work with anyway. It’s a win-win.
*For those who are curious, the course that I ended up buying is called Big Launch from the fine folks at IttyBiz (www.ittybiz.com). I’m two months into the 12-month course, and I can’t speak more highly of the entire experience. Naomi and Dave (and the Ninjas) are a pleasure to work with. In just about two more months, if you need support in launching your next product or business, contact me. I learned from the best.