I recently created this graphic to illustrate the main components of marketing, as I see it.
There are 3 components to it, these include
Winning or buying ATTENTION.
Selling – transacting
Let’s have a closer look at each of these.
Winning or buying ATTENTION
Winning attention requires being present, wherever your prospective customers are hanging out, and where they are more easily targeted.
Most people are online these days, in some capacity, so having an online strategy makes good business sense. This might be via social media platforms such as Facebook, Instagram or Linkedin to name just a few. As I write this post, there are literally dozens of social channels to target.
To be able to effectively target your prospects, you must know and understand who they are, what they want, and how to best engage with them. Without this understanding you’re fumbling around in the dark.
Being in the right place is the first part of the equation, but then you have to stand out in some way, from your competitors, who are also trying to convert your prospects.
There are a number of strategies here, depending on where you’re actually marketing. If you’re able to use visuals (images and graphics), they should allow you to stand out from your competitors enough to draw attention, but not so much that they look out of place.
Your headlines should encourage prospects to stop and consider what you have to say. You can do this by inducing curiosity, or saying something that resonates with your prospects.
Test your approaches to see what works best on the various platforms, either by split-testing or just testing various approaches.
Once you have the attention of your prospects, you have two options, you can either try to sell to them straight away, or you can look to build brand.
Selling directly is okay for those actively searching for your solution at this very moment, but the difficulty you have is building confidence and trust enough for them to risk engaging with you or buying from you, without knowing much about you previously. Reviews and testimonials are good trust builders, because prospects can see how you have serviced previous customers. Case studies, name dropping well known past customers can also help out in this respect.
There will be a large number of prospects that are not looking to buy just now, but will in the next 30, 60 or 90 days. This provides an opportunity for you to build your brand with them, so that when they come to wanting to buy, you have already build up some goodwill.
To do this you have to provide some value up-front. This might be in the form of free advice, information, entertainment, insight or access. It needs to be value that is relevant to what you’re selling, otherwise it won’t make sense to the prospect and won’t be deemed relevant to what you’re actually selling and you won’t get that associative goodwill you require to get the sale.
Selling – transacting
Hopefully your brand building activities have built up some trust and liking in the minds of your prospects. This will make it easier to get the sale, because you’ve already proved yourself to be a trustworthy and generous supplier.
If you’ve not had the opportunity to build brand, you need to use reviews and testimonials and other 3rd party endorsements to help you build some trust, quickly.
You must look credible,even expert and able to deliver on your promise. How do you look credible or expert? Well maybe do some “How to ..” video tutorials, so that prospects can see you in action, doing what you do best.
You must look stable, by having a physical address, a shop is more credible than working from home in many prospect’s minds. In the same way a website looks more credible than just having a social media page.
If you’ve got a lot of follows on social media or a good ranking on Google search results, this demonstrates you’ve been around for a while and this will make the prospect more confident in you.
For prospects to buy they have to WANT or NEED some form of CHANGE. They have to have a REASON to move from the status quo, to being willing to part with their hard earned cash in exchange for what you are offering.
Most purchases are done emotionally, but justified rationally. So helping them to justify why buying is a good thing, is your job as a marketer. How will your solution solve their problem? How will your solution make their life better? What’s the benefit of what you are offering?
Lastly you MUST deliver on your promise. Don’t over promise and under deliver, because this will result in bad reviews. It is your job to manage expectations to avoid disappointment. It’s much better to under promise and over deliver over the long term.
Getting visitors to opt-in to your mailing list (via your website) provides a great way of directly communicating with them at a later time, in fact it should be one of your on-line marketing priorities. Imagine if you lost your Facebook page or Twitter account (and it can happen), how would you contact your audience?
Having a list of email subscribers keeps control in your own hands, rather than relying on a third party platform, and gives you a direct path to people that, by subscribing to your list, have qualified themselves as being interested in what you have to say. If they arrive on your site, read a little and leave you have nothing. As the old adage goes “the money is in the (email) list” and this is unlikely to change any time soon.
What you’ve first got to think about is that, from your visitors point of view, why would they want give you their email address? They usually won’t want to be contacted unless you have something interesting or useful to say or offer.
If you think you can simply add an opt-in form to your site and people will immediately fall over themselves to sign-up, then you’re sadly, misguided. Try it for yourself and see what happens. There needs to be something else in place to get that all important email address, and incentives are a great start.
So you’ve got to give visitors some incentive, provide some benefit to them in return for their email address. They have to want to get communication from you for some perceived advantage. Generally, people don’t like to be sold to, so you need to get over to them that you’re looking to help them to either solve a problem or achieve a goal rather than sell them something, and communicating the benefit of your offer is vital if you’re to succeed. Answer the question “What benefit is in it for them”.
Benefits can be short-lived, and particularly relevant to one piece of content (content upgrade) or could be more long term focused and offer ongoing value. If you capture an email because of a content upgrade you should look to keep them as a long term subscriber by having a strategy in place to provide ongoing value and support, otherwise they will simply opt-out straight away. Check out my in-depth list of opt-in incentive ideas.
Sell the benefits – Use wording within your opt-in form that sells the benefit of this incentive to your visitor. “Increase productivity with my 5 efficiency hacks” or “5 efficiency hacks that will increase productivity”, obviously make it relevant to your particular incentive, answer the question. “Why do my visitors need this incentive?”
Don’t promise something you can’t produce or provide and never ever try to mislead subscriber’s. Be honest, and reliable at all times. Once you break trust it is unlikely, unless you have history with them, that they will ever forgive you, and why should they? Check the section about credibility, capability and trustworthiness (below), for more information.
Offsetting the risk for subscribers
If I am the visitor on a new website I consider the risk reward balance of becoming a subscriber. Asking myself “If I give this person my email address can I opt-out if I change my mind?” So adding some text to your opt-in form saying that subscribers can opt-out easily at any time, and will not be pestered thereafter, will help to reduce this concern.
The main fear for many visitors, that prevents them from subscribing, is being swamped with spam emails that don’t offer any value to them and that become a pain to get rid of. Knowing they can click a button and never see your mail again is a big risk reducer. “One click to unsubscribe at any time – guaranteed!”.
Another concern is email addresses being sold onto third parties without the subscribers permission, and this should never happen, but sadly does. Make sure you state that there is no risk of this happening if they sign up with you. “We will never spam you” or “We will never share your email address with anyone else” or a combination of the two will help.
Adding extra value
When a visitor lands on your page they probably don’t know you, they don’t particularly care about you and your brand, or want to build a relationship with you, what they want is to get some benefit from you and your site. It’s your job to answer their question, “What’s in it for me?” The benefit should be so good they just can’t resist to sign up. The promise of insider information, better quality bonus information, discounts, rebates etc. and they’ll get that exclusively if they sign up.
This content can be hidden on your site, free from being indexed like your other content, on a page rather than that a post so it doesn’t appear in the blogroll. There are a number of WordPress plugins that will help you keep this content off your sitemap or navigation. Contact me for more information about this.
Other considerations for getting email opt-in’s are:
Getting people to see your page in the first place is of paramount importance, but the traffic volume alone is no good, you need traffic that is interested in your offer, so targeted traffic is what counts. Laser focus your marketing messages to speak to people who are interested in your niche and only them. Check this post for more information.
Once they arrive on your site, you need them to stay around long enough to see your opt-in box, so having content that will keep them engaged and on your site long enough to get the chance to opt-in is another big part of the jigsaw.
There needs to be some demonstration of value in your content that makes the visitor think, “I like this enough to sign up”. Think about it, if the content on a site you visit is not engaging or of high quality or relevance, are you going to sign up for their email newsletter?
You need to be thinking “I can get some value from this person” to even consider signing up. There’s got to be an interest from the visitor in the subject matter, and then they have got to like your take on that subject matter to want to stay around and hear more from you.
Placement of opt-in
You should consider placement of your opt-in form, do you put it in the sidebar, and if so at the top, middle or bottom? In the post itself, and again where is best? There is no definitive answer to this, the best advice is to test for yourself and see what works best for your audience. Some ideas for placement testing include:
Sidebar – top, middle, or bottom separately and altogether,
within the post itself – above the fold or bottom of post or both
It’s great to include an opt-in form on both the “homepage” and “about us” pages, and again test multiple locations and see what works for you.
Make it stand out
As well as considering the location, it’s important, wherever you place your opt-in form, to make sure it stands out and is noticed. Use the rule of contrast, and make your form the opposite colour to the rest of your website. Visitor’s must be drawn to your opt-in form and the human brain is hard-wired to notice things that don’t match the rest of the environment, that stand out.
Number of fields
Think about how many fields you’re asking the visitor to fill in – my testing shows the fewer fields the visitor has to complete the more subscribers you will get. On the flip side I have seen research that suggests converting subscribers to paying customers (further down the sales funnel) tends to be better from leads who originally opted-in via forms with more fields, so as always test variations and see what works for you.
Credible, capable and trustworthy
Credibility, although last to be discussed here, is without doubt the most important element you need to sell anything online. If you can prove you know what you’re talking about, you know your niche, your product or service, you’re three quarters of the way to achieving online success.
Credibility builds trust, and gives your audience confidence you can deliver the results they are looking for. Credibility comes in the form of customer testimonials and reviews, case studies, demonstrations, free samples, free trial periods, social media following and interaction, before and after photos, published income statements, in fact anything that shows you can do what you say you can do, and the better you can demonstrate this the easier selling will be. Think of why you shop at Amazon (for instance), is it because of their stunning website design, the colour of their sidebars or footers?
You buy from Amazon, because you trust them, you know they can deliver what they say they will, and when they say they will, you can check out product reviews, you can return it if you’re not happy with it when it arrives. If I didn’t say it before “Credibility is key”.
There needs to be so much more in place to get subscribers onto your email list than just having an opt-in form on your site. Without subscribers, selling online, while not impossible, is much more difficult for some type of businesses. This varies depending on the type of niche you are involved in of course, my photography studio business sells lots of experience vouchers online without needing to get subscribers (although I still collect the emails of visitors to send promotional offers to), but this seems to be very different for none physical businesses that sell things like digital products and solutions, where getting subscribers is much more important in the sales process.
Below is a list of elements you will need to get visitor’s email addresses.
You’ve got to get targeted traffic to your site in the first place,
Provide good relevant content to engage your visitors and keep them hanging around, also the more of this content there is and the longer you have been around helps in the perception of credibility
Have an opt-in form generator such as Thrive Leads to capture your visitor’s email address and an auto responder such as Mailchimp or Aweber to deliver the relevant incentive promised,
An opt-in incentive and the wording used to sell the incentive to your visitors. Also think about an ongoing strategy for offering continuing value that requires staying subscribed to get access to it. (list of ideas here)
Risk reducers – using reassurances such as:
We will never spam you
We will never share your email address
You can opt-out with one click at any time, but please give us a try
Positioning of the opt-in box:
On the home page
Within post above fold and end of post
On the “About us” page
In the sidebar
Don’t overdo it though, sometimes less is best.
Number of fields the visitor has to fill in – keep to a minimum.
Make sure your opt-in box stands out, use the rule of contrast when deciding what colour to use, which involves looking at the predominate colour of your website and picking the colour opposite on the colour wheel
Most importantly – being perceived as credible, capable and trustworthy – trust elements, money back guarantees, free trial periods, income reports, testimonials, review, case studies, list of major brands you have done work for, TV appearances etc. Without credibility, I doubt having all the other elements in place would lead to much success, it is the single most important ingredient of selling online, and off-line for that matter. If you were to consider what to spend most time on improving, it should be this. As I said earlier, I sell lots of photo experience vouchers online, and the main reason for this undoubtedly being seen as credible, capable and trustworthy.
Once you have all the elements, described in the preceding paragraphs, in place you have a fighting chance. Test all of the variables to see which is more effective with your audience, it’s an on-going process of testing, and re-testing. There is no magic bullet, and what works for one doesn’t guarantee will work for someone else. Don’t assume you know best either, use your hunch as a starting point and test against it.
Just a word of warning regarding testing. Don’t change more than one element at a time and make sure you are getting sufficient volume to make the results meaningful. This will be hard when starting off, because you will obviously not have the volume of visitors, but online success is not achieved overnight, and measuring performance from the start is what will give you an edge over other newcomers, and ensure you have taken a solid first step.
It’s all very well getting lots of traffic onto your website, but if it’s not targeted traffic, then you’re not going to earn much money from all those visitors. If you’re selling dog collars for instance and getting people to your website who are looking for holidays, then all that will happen is those visitors will bounce off your site and go elsewhere. So think laser focused targeting for all your marketing messages. Appeal to prospects that actually want what you have to offer. Find out who they are and where they hang out, and deliver your message to them and only them. To test the depth of knowledge you need to have a about your audience, can you answer these questions?
Who is your ideal reader/visitor
What do they look like, talk about, care about, hate, fear, desire
Who do they hang out with, talk to, argue with, ideolise, want to be
Where do they hang out online, in person, want to go, not want to go
What products, brands, personas, do they love and hate
How do they talk, formally, passionately, analytically
What lingo do they use (ie keywords)
Why are they coming to you?
Why should they listen to you instead of everyone else
What problems are they looking to solve
Where to find your audience
Does your audience frequent Facebook or Twitter. Do they love to spend time on Youtube surfing the “How to…” videos in your niche? Would it be more productive to target them via the major search engines such as Google and Bing? If so then you would need to consider Search Engine Optimisation (SEO), and getting your site up the Search Engine Results Page (SERP) rankings. If you want to get yourself in front of your audience fast, then Pay Per Click (PPC) might be the way to go. Think very carefully about your acquisition strategy because getting it wrong can cost time, effort and money. To summarise:
Optimise your site to make it search engine friendly,
Use PPC – make sure you know what you’re doing with this method,
Participate in forums,
Get active in Facebook groups,
Network on Facebook and Twitter,
Guest post on blogs in your niche (good for reputation, traffic and SEO),
Attend events and conferences – great off-line method,
Link out to other valuable resources/sites.
Getting yourself a home
Don’t rely on making your main internet home Facebook or Twitter, because although these are great platforms to engage with your audience, relying solely on these could wipe your business out overnight should these platforms decide to change the rules, as many software companies have found to their costs. For instance Shortstack started off providing engaging Facebook competitions until Facebook decided to cut them out and do it for themselves and although Shortstack have evolved away from Facebook to some degree, they recently wrote a blog post detailing their acknowledgement of the mistake of over-reliance on a third party to support their business.
I now use WordPress for all my sites, it’s free to use (except for the hosting of course if you’re using a self hosting option), comes with lots of plugins to add functionality to the site, is loved by Google and is ideal for SEO and has tons of free themes to make it look original. Most of the modern themes are also mobile responsive which is a must these days for both ranking and user experience.
Building relationships – Email Marketing
Provide Great Content
Once you get targeted audience to your website, you need to have something interesting, useful, unique and most of all, helpful for them to read, look at and engage with. Look to help them with some problem they have or to achieve something they want to achieve. Great content should:
Be valuable (don’t waste peoples time)
Be delivered in multiple formats if possible
Be as short as possible but no shorter
Solve problems by providing solutions
Attract an audience
Above all – be results oriented.
To do this you must understand their wants and needs. Use surveys, interact with them via email and find out their pain.
Tips about Content generation
Think about what someone in your niche is going to need to follow in your footsteps. Think about your progression and map this out for your audience if they are trying to replicate you.
Use easy to remember forwarding URLs for certain topics to make them easier for your audience to memorise, these can be purchased as domain names and pointed to any page on your site. Promote this easy to remember URL in your marketing messages.
Use the medium that best suites your site. Look what the competition are using and do it differently and better.
know the product – be a sales agent for it, if you haven’t used it and found it useful don’t try to sell it. Become a resource of information for using that product. Give your audience tips and tricks for getting the best from it. Show the product being used, “un-boxing the product” is a popular type of video content. Ask yourself “Can I trust the product to be good for my audience?”. Become a source of information for that product. “How to….” videos and articles, show you using it for your own purposes, helpful tips and advice, and reviews
know what you want your audience to achieve by using your website what is their goal, then design a road map to help them achieve that goal, show them how using your products will help them get to their goal.
Build deep relationships with your subscribers. The deeper the relationship the shorter the pitch required. Speed up the building of relationships by:
Be personable – easier to connect. Use video and podcasts,
Tell stories and entertain,
Random Acts Of Kindness – reply to comments, give them a special deal, put comments on their blog,
Build trust first:
Give lots away for free, add value without charging. If your seen as a giver people more likely to respond positively,
Get others to recommend you
If you don’t currently use the product yourself, get in contact with the owner of the product and ask some questions about the product and write a post about the conversation.
Get a special deal just for your audience, or give a rebate (using part of your affiliate earnings) back to the purchaser if they go through your affiliate link.
Create an epic post about the product. A ONE Stop shop resource,
Multiple Youtube videos about different aspect of using the product,
Hold a webinar for the product,
Publish a webinar replay – Be sure to record your live webinar so that you can embed it on your website as a replay for those who didn’t watch it live, and those who did watch it live but want to get the information again,
Use an indirect social push – link to a post or a resource that will engage people beforehand about the product or a video about it, not directly to an affiliate link
Keep track of your click through’s – use pretty links or crazy egg,
Indirect email list promotion – For me, I like to indirectly promote on my email list – like I do with social media – it’s all about giving people as much high-value content as possible, and on the email, it’s exactly the same. I don’t directly promote anything on my email list – and if there are any links in my emails they all point back to my blog,
Indirect promotion on other people’s sites,
Be honest and disclose that they are affiliate links,
Thank people in advance for going through your affiliate links,
Review and compare products of the same type,
Focus on how it will help your audience (benefits not features),
Believe in your recommendations,
If it doesn’t work try another offer,
Test, test and test again,
Make your own product instead,
Be patient. Trust is built over time,
Provide a resource page full of all your affiliate products and links,
Offer a bonus
Extra content (i.e. extra skins for a opt-in box)
Discount price, rebates,
Tips and tricks document included,
How to use document included.
Email Sign ups
Encourage visitors to opt-in to your email list so that you can keep in touch with them and continue to help. You need to have an opt-in box on your website to do this. I have them dotted around my site in the sidebar and footer of most of the posts. I encourage you to do the same. Only ever provide great content and assistance, don’t ever spam them with endless sales pitches. We all hate that, don’t we?
You can use what are known in the trade as opt-in bribes to encourage subscriptions. An opt-in bride is something of value that the visitor has to exchange their email address for. This could include:
Tips and tricks information
A white paper
A resource list
In fact anything that adds value, and is perceived as being valuable and relevant to your visitor. If they don’t want it, they won’t sign up. If they do sign up always make it really easy to unsubscribe from your list as a matter of courtesy.
Note: If you sign up for our newsletter, feel free to respond to any of the emails we send you asking for our “Lead Magnet List” which will give you more ideas for what to use as Lead Magnets.
Have something to sell
Ultimately we are looking to build a business from our online endeavours, so we need something to sell. Something that will help our audience, something that gives more in value than it asks for in payment. Think of saving your audience time, effort, money wherever possible. Look to help them make money or solve some problem or pain they want to remove from their lives.
You can look to sell your own products or be an Affiliate and sell other people’s products. There are literally thousands of such products available to sell from physical products, services to digital products and everything in between.
If you’re starting out in online marketing, it is probably wiser to sharpen your marketing skills before investing a great deal of your resources in developing your own products, and Affiliate Marketing is an ideal option. Products can be found via networks such as Clickbank, Commission Junction, Amazon and JVZoo to name but a few.
summary of where to find products to sell
Amazon affiliates / associates but look for high value products,
Odigger.com or offervault.com,
Commission junction you can be an affiliate or sell your product through them,
Think about what you use yourself,
Directly approach the company yourself, ask if they do affiliate program,
Forums and ask for ideas to the likes of web warrior forum and digital point forum,
If you cant find a product make one yourself.
Where to use affiliate links
Put affiliate links in an Ebook
Put affiliate links within content section and as many natural links as possible, without overdoing it. Not everyone will read the full article
Create own advertisements, use text widgets to rotate text links,
Affiliate links in your images.
Keep the conversion going
Keep providing help to your audience, otherwise they will move on and leave you behind. If you’re only looking to service a narrow band of people at a certain stage in their development and don’t intend to offer support for them later, than that’s fine as long as you know how to keep the flow of new recruits coming to your website. Have a plan and work the plan.
To be truly successful in Affiliate Marketing you need to build an audience that keeps coming back to you for more, I’ve heard it described as building a tribe or engaged community, even raving fans – whatever you want to label it, it’s about engaging on a regular basis and building a relationship with them. In order to achieve this you must provide great, unique, valuable, and actionable content that your audience needs and wants. This should be your major focus. Without an audience you can’t hope to build an affiliate business.
If you’re looking at doing it as a sideline, or full time business you will probably want or need to earn money from it by selling something. I prefer to use a method that adds value and genuinely helps people. I love to talk about Marketing and Business so write about it a lot. I have to make a living but have decided to only sell products that are relevant to my audience, I would be proud to have developed myself, and that are of genuine use. If I don’t like it I won’t try to sell it.
If you’re getting into affiliate marketing then pick a niche you are passionate to write about, otherwise you won’t enjoy it and will likely give up if the going is tough. Don’t do it just to make money, do it to help others. The side effect of adding more and more value is you tend to make more and more money.
If you’re business is not currently online, you’re potentially missing out on lots of business, which is going straight to your competitors.
Is business good? Well it could be so much better with an online presence.
My photography business survives without any passing trade, it’s all done online and of course word of mouth.
It’s not enough to just have a social media profile business page. What if it goes away or get’s hacked. What you need is your own website, a based from which to grow from, that’s your own.
Next you need to be found in search results.
You can still use your social media channels, if you have them, but your website and search is a whole new marketing channel.
Staying as you are is of course an option, after all you’re in your comfort zone. But remember if you do what you have always done, you’ll likely get what you’ve always got. Well that’s not entirely true, because more and more business is being conducted online these days.
You’ve got to be where your potential clients are hanging out. This is online, sure, on social media, but also on Google search. People search for things on Google and other search engines. You have got to be there to be found and you won’t be via Facebook or Instagram.
Appearing in search means..
You need a website (hosting)
You need to find out what you prospective customers are searching for (keyword research)
You need to have your site optimised for search results (SEO)
You need to fill in the gap between going live and being found in search, through advertising via PPC (Google Adwords)
You can convince yourself that you’re okay with the way things are, that you can manage without the need to go online, but really you’re ignoring all the potential business you’re giving up.
Why settle for okay when things could be great with more business coming through the door?
It’s easy to make excuses, after all they make us feel better about dealing with things as they are.
Here at Get Lasting Results, we call them coping excuses, and while they are justifications for dealing with our current behaviours and allow us to feel better about the way the land currently lays, we can all do better and demand more.
Once you deal with the discomfort of making the initial transition online, you’re there. After the initial effort it gets easier, it becomes part of your normal work routine.
In fact we can hold your hand throughout the whole process, and do it for you, from hosting, keyword research, SEO to PPC.
For more information follow this link (sign up), fill in your email and we’ll get the conversation started.
I recently read an article by Seth Godin about there being 2 kinds of marketing
“There’s the kind that no one can possibly like. The popups, popunders, high-pressure, track-your-private-data, scammy, spammy, interruptive, overpriced, overhyped, under-designed selfish nonsense that some people engage in.
And then there’s the kind that inspires us, delights us and brings us something we truly want.
We call them both marketing, but they couldn’t be more different.”
I completely agree with Godin’s assessment, marketers shouldn’t steal time away from or rudely interrupt people using pop ups or make them wait through adverts for the thing you promised them or for the thing they actually came for.
Give them their time back. Help people who want your help, who want what you’re selling. Be where they are looking.
If people land on your site, show your offering, have it close at hand but don’t try to beat them around the head with it. Let them know it’s there. If they are interested they’ll look, if your headline is tempting enough.
But don’t bait them with the promise of interesting content and then withhold it behind your bullshit offer. It’s wrong, your wrong and quite frankly you deserve nothing from them other than their scorn.
Don’t do it because everyone else is doing it either. Marketing has a bad name because marketers have a habit of abusing trust and taking things too far. There will be a backlash at some point, or at least some degree of bad feeling from prospective customers, towards you and your brand. You might enjoy some limited success, in the short term, but your reputation, in the long term, will be compromised and tinged with negativity. Don’t be that kind of marketer.
When I first started my business many years ago, I found finding my USP, one of the hardest things to get to grips with. A unique selling proposition (USP) is something that differentiates you from all of your competitors. It’s what makes you so different or unique in a particular way that customers and prospects will opt to do business with you over any of your rivals.
One of the biggest mistakes you, as a business owner, can make is not finding something that makes you unique, especially in a very competitive market, where customers have an abundance of choice and where differentiation becomes increasingly difficult other than through pricing.
To survive, you have to stand out and differentiate in the eyes of your prospects. Your USP is what explains to the world why you are different.
The more clearly you can communicate you USP, the more you will stand out from you competitors
So how do you go about finding or choosing your USP?
Think carefully about opportunities within your market that are not currently being catered for. If you base your USP on these opportunities you are much more likely to be successful. Another way to look at this is, identify a demand that is not being supplied, and centre your USP around this. Examples can include:
Genuine convenience – such as instant availability, handy location and so on.
Large selection of stock items,
Longer than usual opening hours, or more convenient opening hours,
Longer than normal warranty or guarantee,
Reputation for honesty and integrity,
Personal service and assistance,
Privacy and security,
Another way to identify your USP is to have a good answer to the following customer question:
Why should I do business with you, instead of any and every other option available to me, including the option of doing absolutely nothing at all?
Another way of asking the same question from your point of view is:
What do you uniquely guarantee?
When you have a really powerful answer to these two questions, your adverts practically write themselves. When you have a really powerful answer to these questions, people will line up to buy from you.
A third method to identify your USP is to answer the following questions, again these questions are taken from your customers point of view:
Why should I read or listen to you?
Why should I believe what you have to say?
Why should I do anything about what you’re offering?
Why should I act now?
A fourth method of identifying your USP is comparing yourself to your competitors over a range of criteria, and focusing your USP around the areas where you score higher. The following table is an example of how you might set out your analysis. Score you and your competitors 1-5 on each of the criteria listed below, or add your own.
Ease of ordering
Speed of delivery
First understand the Characteristics that Customers’ Value – Evaluate your strengths and significant competencies. Take a good look at the features and benefits of your product or service and then decide what differentiates you and your business from the pack.
What services and/or products do you provide?
To whom do you provide these services/products; who are your customers?
What needs do you fill for your customers?
How big a problem you solve?
What benefits do they appreciate most and which do they actively look for?
What makes you better than other companies?
Is it the value you provide, your experience, know how, customer service, delivery speed and so on?
Rank yourself and your competitors by these criteria – Check on competition by reviewing leading trade publications, analyse newsletters and search the internet for news and trends about your niche, particularly social media pages.
Here’s another great tip: survey your customers to gather data.
Identify where you rank well – Take your top match(es) and use it to position yourself and your product in the market. Summarise the results into one compact, compelling, motivating phrase that will persuade your clients to trade their cash for the benefits presented by your products/services. Your significant product benefits and the way in which you structure your offering is your ‘Unique Selling Proposition’ or ‘USP.’
Once you have identified your USP, you need to think about the ways in which you can use it. These could include:
Sound-bites or elevator speeches
Marketing messages online and offline
Brochures or flyers
Keep your USP as the central theme throughout all your marketing, and through repetition you will become known as the business to use for that particular USP. Be careful not to try and be all things to all people. Selling to everyone is selling to no one.
When you stand side by side with your competitors in a publication, a directory or in a pay per click (PPC) advert, you have to have something that makes you stand out, to get noticed. There needs to be something that jumps off the page and smacks your prospective customers right between the eyes. One of the best ways to do this is to use “contrast“.
If you have the luxury of being able to use images in your advert you can make use of contrast in a number of ways using size, tone, colour, value, direction, shape, type, position and texture within your advert. The key to making an impact is being as different visually, to your competitors as you can be. If they are using bright colours, use black and white, if they are displaying a particular style do something that looks very different.
If, as in the case of PPC ads, you don’t currently have the benefit of using images to stand out, you have to make sure your wording provides the contrast. If your competitors are offering discounts, then you should reframe from doing so and approach it from a different angle say something like:
“No Sale Here, just great prices all year round.”
“We Don’t Need a Sale to…”
“Giving You the Best Prices – Order Now.”
If they’re not displaying prices, then you show prices, if they are showing prices then you reframe from doing so. If they are using lots of words, then you use less and make use of white space to stand out, and so on.
Using Contrast to sell
You can make use of CONTRAST on your landing pages or in your sales copy by using the rule of contrast – this is based on perceptual contrast and happens when you introduce 2 vastly different alternatives in succession. It distorts and amplifies the perception, making them seem to be more different from one another than they actually are. It works due to the fact that people need to establish a benchmark for comparison to make judgements especially in unfamiliar situations.
The passage of time reduces the effect of contrast. So timing is critical when using this method. The second offer should be presented immediately after the first to get the full effect.
The Door in the face close is a great example of the rule of contrast where a larger initial request is followed by a smaller request – the prospect feels they are getting a better deal than they were originally and are more likely to make the purchase.
A slight variation of this rule is the Comparison effect which presents an undesirable version first and follows it up with the sellers “intended offer” at the same price. This is often used by realtor’s when selling houses, they present a run down property first followed by the one they really want to sell, and at the same price. The prospect feels the second property is vastly superior in comparison to the first, and so is a bargain.
Using CONTRAST helps you stand out from the crowd and allows you to differentiate yourself from your competitors. It also allows you to anchor your prospects perception of value, helping them feel they are making a more informed decision.
Hope you found this article useful. For more marketing information, check out our marketing guide.
One of the most important things I’ve learned about Marketing is, you can’t and shouldn’t try to sell to everyone. Doing so means you’re not actually selling to anyone. The point is perfectly illustrated through the following tale:
The boy, old man and a donkey tale – don’t try to please everyone.
An old man, a boy and a donkey were going to town. The boy rode on the donkey and the old man walked. As they went along they passed some people who remarked it was a shame the old man was walking and the boy was riding. The man and boy thought maybe the critics were right, so they changed positions.
Later, they passed some people that remarked: “What a shame, he makes that little boy walk.” They then decided they both would walk!
Soon they passed some more people who thought they were stupid to walk when they had a decent donkey to ride. So, they both rode the donkey.
Now they passed some people that shamed them by saying how awful to put such a load on a poor donkey. The boy and man said they were probably right, so they decided to carry the donkey. As they crossed the bridge, they lost their grip on the animal and he fell into the river and drowned.
The moral of the story? In Marketing, if you try to please everyone, you might as well… Kiss your ass good-bye.
Instead of marketing to everyone, look to focus your marketing to a particular customer profile, who buys a particular product from you, maybe for a particular purpose. For example, mobile phones are a “must have” these days but who would be a typical customer for a mobile phone, and why might they look to make a purchase?
If I think about myself, a middle aged man, I want a phone to be functional by allowing me to make calls when I need to (network coverage), and offer a good payment plan (cost and value). I rarely purchase anything from the internet on my phone, so that is not one of my considerations when making a purchase. So in summary my buying criteria for a phone purchase would be:-
Connectivity (phone and internet works when I want it to, which I guess would be a universal requirement)
Payment plan deal – value for money
Cost and affordability
My buying decision doesn’t consider:-
How the phone looks
How well it plays games
How many text messages I get with it (I hate texting)
Internet access and social media connectivity (although I am finding myself spending more and more time doing these)
All the technology info ( I don’t care how it works, just that it does)
So if marketing to someone like me, Companies would have to make sure their marketing ticks my buying criteria. If instead they talk about how the phone looks and feels, and how well games play on it etc, then they are not appealing to me in any way.
If on the other hand they were marketing to my 12 year old daughter they would have to aim for a whole different buying criteria, where style and brand would be very important factors, as would texting and social media functionality
To further complicate the point, what if I am buying for my daughter as a gift. The phone company would have to consider my buying criteria as well as my daughters in this instance. They would have to appeal to my money consciousness, security issues, and my concerns about her ability to make calls in an emergency, while still providing the style my daughter would demand.
So it’s important to know who you’re trying to sell to and focus on them.
Is it a parent searching for a phone for their child? (security, able to make calls in emergency), is it the child searching for themselves? (functionality, popularity of model, visual appeal), is it a geek buying a phone? (technical specifications). Each would need to be targeted differently. Speak to each in their language.
Hope you get something from this article, check out our marketing guide for more information.
There needs to be at least two parties involved in the persuasion process, these being the…
Sender of message
Receiver of message
For the purpose of this article, we are going to look at how persuasion is used within MARKETING although it is used in many other real world situations, with good or bad intentions. One of the best ways to protect yourself from its influence, is AWARENESS. If you know how it works, you can defend yourself against it.
As Marketers we are, in our role as “sender of message” ultimately hoping to persuade the “receiver” to buy our product, there are a number of ways we can do this. The bare bone approaches being:
If we have power over the receiver we can use this to pressure them to buy. Power can come from..
Using your authority, if you have it,
The lack of options open to the receiver (no substitutes or alternatives available),
If receiver is desperate,
The scarcity of time to make the decision.
The receiver may feel their hand being forced, which might well lead to a feeling of resentment and resistance and is not likely lead to any kind of ongoing relationship, loyalty and bonding between the receiver and sender. I personally, don’t like to be pushed, manipulated or forced into buying, and I’m sure most people feel the same.
Hard sales tactics are often used by the sender, when trying to invoke some level of control over the receiver, and are common in the following circumstances:
When PRODUCT is temporary, limited use, or one-time use: fads, fashions, entertainments, seasonal clothing, equipment, perishable foods, collectables
When SELLER is temporary: door-to-door selling, telephone solicitations (“boiler room”), fly-by-night operations (“one shot”), con games (“pigeon drop”)
When BUYER is temporary, that is, in an unfamiliar area or condition: tourist, travelers, newcomers, inexperienced, immature
When a sense of CRISIS exits (a real or imaged emergency, time limit, or deadline): pain, genuine close-outs, elections, TV “shopping clubs”
When GUARANTEE (refund, or return of goods) is missing: unknown companies, “fronts”
When DEMAND exceeds SUPPLY: SURPLUS situations
Let’s look at a couple of real life examples: Some caravan parks limit the maximum age of caravans on their site, to say, 10 years old and then force caravan owners to buy a replacement new caravan from them, rather than from 3rd party suppliers.
Cinemas often discourage or even stop customers bringing their own refreshments into their venue, so they have to buy them from the foyer, at inflated prices. This control is enforced by the venue as a condition of using its facilities.
“Convincing” the receiver of your message to take a particular course of action, takes more effort than the “control” method, but is more ethical and rewarding. Getting attention is the first objective, followed by, creating a convincing argument that promotes your case and negates the alternatives. This is illustrated in Professor Hugh Ranks “Intensify and Downplay schema (see below).
If we present a clear cause and effect appeal to the receiver we will find our message more readily accepted from a rational perspective. So we must communicate the benefits and features of our offering and answer any objections that the receiver will inevitably have.
However emotional appeals have proven to yield better results because receivers engage the right-side of their brain more when emotionally aroused, as a result, they think less rationally, and are prone to act without thinking it through fully.
Intensify and Downplay Schema
Professor Hugh Rank’s model of persuasion, describes how promisers (marketers) intensify their own good and downplay their own bad. This model shows how marketers only tell receivers of product benefits using composition, association and repetition, But downplay any negative aspects by omitting this information, diverting attention away from it or trying to confuse. If you want to learn more about Hugh Rank’s model check it out here.
Pros, cons and objection handling
When I’m putting together a marketing message I look at the pros and cons of the product and note each down. I view the “cons” as possible objections and try to answer these objections, turning them into positives where possible. I also look at the benefits of using the product compared to not using it. Here is an example I have done recently for Thrive Landing page WordPress plugin to illustrate the process I use myself.
Positive/pros/for – ask why would they want to buy the product and keep asking why to dig deeper
No coding needed – drag and drop
No design skills needed – pre-defined templates
One off fee – No monthly recurring cost
One interface for website and thrive themes – within WordPress site
Professional looking landing pages
Better than many of competition because no subscription needed
Great support – fast replies via online forum
Lots of tutorial videos provided by Thrive themes
Negative/cons/against/objections (Turn these into positives where possible using law of opposites)
It isn’t free and costs $49 – better than having to pay monthly subscriptions like some of the popular alternatives such as Leadpages.
Negatives if not using product
Need to get a designer to do for you or learn HTML and have good design skills
Other options seem to include monthly subscription charges which mean when you stop paying you can no longer use the landing pages, with Thrive there are no monthly costs anyway, but the landing pages are built into your WordPress site so can be used forever.
With some suppliers you have to login to a remote interface to access your landing page editor
If you’re doing the HTML yourself and if you don’t have any coding skills these can be time consuming, look amateurish, and have limited template options
From this information I can now sell the benefits of the products
If you’ve done any marketing in the past, you’ll know about selling the benefits of your product. Getting these benefits over to receivers as early as possible is crucial to marketing effectiveness. Benefit seeking is the main driver of customer motivation. If receivers (customers) are looking for investment opportunities, their main motivation is “making money” or “preserving the value of their money”. So if you’re selling an investment product of any kind you need to communicate the making money aspect of your offer to appeal to the receiver of that message.
It is important to get the product benefits over to the receiver as early as possible, so it grabs their attention. The first thing a receiver sees on most marketing material, is usually the initial headline. Some examples of good headlines include:
You’ll never have Y (without X)
• You’ll never make money from your website (without having professional landing pages)
Buy X to achieve Y
• Buy Thrive Landing pages and make money from your website
How to achieve Y with less effort/cost/time
• How to make money from your website with less effort, cost and time
The Only Way to [Do Something Desirable] Without [Doing Something Undesirable]
• The Only Way to build landing pages Without learning to code HTML
[Do Something Hard] in [Period of Time] or [Promise]
• Make stunning landing pages in minutes or get your money back
[Do Something Desirable] Like [an Expert] Without [Something Expected & Undesirable]
• Make stunning landing page like a marketing expert – without any design or coding skills
• How to Win Friends and Influence People
• How to Save Time and Get Things Done
• 7 Reasons Why List Posts Will Always Work
• 10 Ways to Beat the High Cost of Living
• Do You Recognize the 7 Early Warning Signs of High Blood Pressure?
Who Else Wants [blank]?
• Who Else Wants a Great WordPress Theme?
• Who Else Wants a Higher Paying Job?
The Secret of [blank]
• The Secret of Successful Podcasting
• The Secret of Protecting Your Assets in Litigation
Little Known Ways to [blank]
• Little Known Ways to Save on Your Heating Bill
• Little Known Ways to Hack Google’s Gmail
Get Rid of [problem] Once and For All
• Get Rid of Your Unproductive Work Habits Once and For All
• Get Rid of That Carpet Stain Once and For All
Here’s a Quick Way to [solve a problem]
• Here’s a Quick Way to Get Over a Cold
[Do something] like [world-class example]
• Speak Spanish Like a Diplomat
• Party Like Paris Hilton
See How Easily You Can [desirable result].
• See How Easily You Can Learn to Dance This New Way.
• See How Easily You Can Own a Lamborghini Miura.
This is the hardest of the three ways to persuade. Attempting to convert someone’s beliefs and values is really difficult because people hold them tightly and often associate their very being with deeply ingrained value and belief systems. If you’re message contradicts such values and beliefs you will need to provide hard factual evidence to back-up your message to have any chance of converting the receiver. However not all values and beliefs are made equal, and we may convert some, using emotional appeals that do not need complex reasoning to back them up.
The role of Emotions
Emotion makes people act in irrational ways and prevents them thinking clearly, and marketers know this and attempt to use it to their advantage. Many big organisations with vast marketing budgets look to get some incite into their customers inner workings, finding out what they like and dislike and what presses their buttons. They track shopping habits and develop marketing messages designed to get them to take action. Even small businesses need to have an understanding of who their customers are and what they want. The easiest way to do this is carry out surveys, hang out where prospects hang out, ask existing customers for feedback and run test campaigns online offering searchers a choice between options and measuring what choices they take.
Many large companies try to associate their products with popular celebrities, hoping some of that popularity will rub off on their brand. They know that if our idol tells us it’s good, we are more likely to act on their endorsement. On the flip side, if a celebrity encounters controversy, brands are quick to cut ties, and end sponsorship deals so that they are not cast in the same negative light.
If people are made to feel fearful that their family might be in danger, they are more likely to buy a security system, if they are scared their family will be left to struggle if they were to die, they are more likely to buy life insurance. If someone describes how we can live life on a sunny beach, having an amazing time with our families and have no money worries ever again, working a job that takes just thirty minutes a day, simply by reading a $99 Ebook, or joining the latest magic money making system, yes you got it, we will buy the Ebook, if we believe what we are being told.
The emotions of greed and fear are the most often targeted ones, but other emotions like curiosity are often used to pull the reader into marketing messages.
“Check out the one plugin that will turn your website into a money making machine”,
“If you’re not enjoying success online, this is the one thing you NEED to become a success”,
“What Everybody Ought to Know About making money online”.
People are very curious creatures, it is hard-wired into the human psyche and it’s very difficult to ignore curiosity laden statements or headlines. However the subject needs to be relevant to the interests of the reader. or it won’t work.
Persuasion is a fascinating subject, and the more that is understood about human psychology the more sophisticated the marketing messages will undoubtedly become. The key points to remember are:
Have a clear understand of who your customer’s are or are likely to be
Craft marketing messages from your customer’s point of view (what’s in it for me)
Sell the Benefits of your product, this is the core reason for them to buy
Pre-suppose their objections and tackle these head on
Find an answer to this prospects question “Why should I do business with you, instead of any and every other option available to me, including the option of doing absolutely nothing at all?”
Try to evoke emotion from your prospects to take action NOW
Add value, don’t try to manipulate your audience, try to persuade them that doing business with you is a win win situation, and make sure you mean it.
Manage expectations – Disappointment is based on expectations. Under promise and over deliver.
If you would like to learn more about marketing, check out our marketing guide.