Small businesses often wonder why their product isn’t selling better (or at all).
When you’ve got a great idea for a product or service, or even a brand new business, what do you want to do? You want to rush out and tell everyone, blurt out what it is, tell people why they should want it and buy it from you and show off all its excellent features.
That’s natural. After all, isn’t your idea always the best idea and something everyone must have?
However, it doesn’t then always work out, does it?
There are of course many factors to marketing and subsequently selling your offering, from the classical basic 4Ps of price, product, promotion and place (ever more important in these days of digital marketing) to reviewing your competition and prices.
But what I’m going to briefly touch upon here are two key words.
You’ve got an amazing new product – so what?
It can do this and do that – so what?
My website is really good and tells everyone who looks at it all about me, what I’ve achieved in the past, what I can do and it looks absolutely amazing!
So. B****y. What?
That stuff’s all fine on the third of fourth page of your website, once the reader has come in and feels a bit warm and comfortable (always think of your website like a shop!), but you wouldn’t stand at the front of your shop and as people open the door start bombarding them with information about everything you sell and telling them how great you are, so why do people do it on their websites?
One thing I always ask clients is if they have asked themselves those two words. And work out what you should really be asking: “what does it mean for the potential customer?”
Have you heard of the WIIFM factor? What’s In It For Me?
Ironically enough I first came across this acronym in a management role whilst partaking in an excellent Change Management training programme. My organisation at the time was going through a lot of cultural change, and a move in focus and it needed to bring its employees along for the ride. As the Leadership team, we had to understand firstly why we would want to be involved in such a change (WIIFM – for me) and then create approaches and tactics to ensure our team members also wanted to be a part of it. What was key was for them to all know what was in it for them what’s their WIIFM?
And if you think about it, that scenario bears a strong resemblance to selling your product or service. You have to sell in any sort of change for it to be successful, for people to buy into it. Telling my team that it was all going to be great in the future and we just had to do it would have made just a marginal impression. If I wanted them to change behaviour, attitude and performance and truly join us on that journey, adding value along the way, then I knew they’d want to know what their WIIFM was. I needed to find out their needs, so I could present a solution.
And it’s the same with your potential buyers. Find out what their WIIFM is – what is their need and then explain in as clear as possible language what value they’ll gain from what you have to offer.
With your offering will they be more efficient, improve their workplace or sell more products if they’re in a B2B environment?
Why they should attach a value to it? Sell the ‘why’, not the ‘what’ first. This is your Value Proposition, your marker in the sand to explain why your product or service is unique. Once they’re convinced of that, they will start to form a value in their head as to what it is worth for them to have it.
Don’t tellthem they HAVE to buy what you have to offer, give them enough reasoning and explain how they’ll benefit so that they can come to that decision themselves.
Once they’re dragged in with that teaser, once they’ve stopped and looked in your shop window, perhaps walked through the door – physical or digital – then you’ve got the opportunity to go in more depth about what the actual service is.
Take a fairly common service provided – graphic or website design – as an example.
So what, if you’re a great graphic designer? So what, if you build amazing websites?
If someone doesn’t feel they need new materials, they’re going to nod politely at you whilst you talk to them and move onto one of the other 100 things on their mind.
You need to sell them the reason why they should look into it, the value they can gain with improved materials and impress on them the urgency of the situation.
Explain the improvement in sales typically offered by refreshing a website or brochure every couple of years. Show them how their materials are a little dated compared with their competition and thus may be affecting sales. Explain that the latest trend is seeing an uplift for businesses using it of XX% and then they’ll start listening.
THEN you can tell the how great you are, how much you can help them and beat off the competition you face. Although to be honest, if you’ve gone to the initial effort in the first place of getting their head in that space, they’re probably a long way along the buyer’s path towards you already.
Selling products through technical specifications, attributes and dimensions is fine if you’re trying to sell a fridge-freezer in an electrical store to someone who knows they want a new fridge-freezer. They’re already a fair way along the buying journey, but what about those people who have an adequate existing product that’s only a few years old? What can you find to say, or demonstrate, or explain to get those people thinking “hang on, I DO need a new fridge freezer and I can find the money for it because it’s just so essential”?
That won’t just be because it’s shiny and new.
Check your website and make sure it’s customer-focused from the first view. Make sure you’re presenting the value people will gain from what you offer as opposed to just showing off how shiny and great you and your services are.
Check your marketing materials and think about ways in which you can tweak the wording or change the images in use and the content to give the people reading them something to really think about. Make sure your wording is addressing a genuine customer need – to improve sales, to reduce costs, to make staff happier, to control costs, to just bloomin’ well improve their lives! Whatever it is, find the emotional handle that customers might attach to it.
Review your customer journey pre-, during- and post-sale and make sure you’re offering value to customers all the way along. Make sure they’re bought into you because of how much you can improve their lives.
And always ask yourself; So What?