Trust is the most important factor in selling to a new customer, especially when you’re running a small online business. One of the most unappreciated elements of marketing strategy is the building of trust and credibility; most of the time small business owners simply focus on making their products desirable. However, if you do a great job on desirability but drop the ball on trust, then you simply fall into “too good to be true” territory.

 

High Desirability Low Desirability

High Trust

Winner

Unwanted

Low Trust

Too good to be true

Loser

 

In order to guarantee trust, you need to find effective ways of providing your customers with results in advance, without asking for anything up front. This is a popular retail strategy; we’ve all seen people giving out free samples. However, many small business owners simply can’t afford this kind of strategy, especially if you sell a high-ticket item.

I’ll give you an example from an industry that finds it very difficult to show results up front – consulting.

A marketing consultant was trying to break into a large account with a proposal worth $45,000. The target client repeatedly refused his offer to sign because they were already working with another consulting firm that was supposed to be helping them with lead generation. The other company had done a few basic things but the system they’d setup was only providing a trickle of low quality leads, even though they’d been engaged for over 8 months.

Instead of simply being persistent, the consultant got creative. He setup a lead generation system of his own that began generating quality leads. Just to ensure that what he’d built had value, the consultant got in touch with a few of the target clients competitors and sold them the leads he was producing. After a few weeks, he requested testimonial letters from them attesting to the quality of the leads he had generated. He then contacted the target client and showed them the results he was getting, as well as the testimonials he received from the competition. By the end of the week he had a $45,000 retainer contract, plus a fee for every converted lead.

It’s important for you to find ways to reduce the risk of purchase for new customers, especially when your company is new or you’re launching a fresh product. There are a few rules to creating risk-lowering offers:

 

  • Ensure you understand what your customer truly wants;
  • If you sell services, it pays to play hard to get;
  • Be honest, but not too honest. It’s okay to say, “I want you to try this for free because I want you to have peace of mind”. It’s not okay to say “I want you to try this for free and then give me $20 and be my customer for life”;
  • The offer should remove the vast majority of the risk involved in doing business with you;
  • Ensure that you weave in other benefits into your offer, beyond the lowered risk;
  • When they finally buy, over deliver;
  • At the point of sale, ensure you make relevant offers to increase your initial transaction size – this consideration will help offset the added costs of acquiring new business this way;
  • After the initial sale, make sure you follow up consistently to increase order frequency. You have their trust now; the next frontier is loyalty.

Managing Customer Beliefs

This is specifically important for every service provider, as well as any business selling a product that promises to “do” something for customers. When a marketing claim is made, unless it is particularly incredible, the average customers is thinking:

 

  1. I believe this is possible
  2. I believe other people can get this result
  3. I don’t believe I can get this result

 

Based on these beliefs, it’s important to ask yourself at the beginning of each marketing campaign:

“Exactly how much are you asking your customers to take on faith?”

I’d like to leave you with an offering sequence that will help you to present your product or service in a way that inspires trust, belief and desire:

 

  1. Attention – Get people to take notice.
  2. Explanation – Give them the justification they need to believe.
  3. Empathy – Demonstrate that you understand where the customer is coming from.
  4. Solution – Show your customer how what you offer solves a problem for them.
  5. Why Us? – Explain why your company decided to help with this problem.
  6. Evidence – Anything you can show to back up your claims (testimonials, reviews, research etc.)
  7. Benefits – Why should customers care about the features of what you offer?
  8. Offer – What exactly will your customers be getting?
  9. Trust – Your risk reversal components (guarantees, trial, samples etc.)
  10.  Shortage – If there is a legitimate limit on your supply, make this very clear to potential customers.
  11.  1st Call to Action – What should they do next?
  12.  Reiteration – Summarize everything that you’ve described thus far.
  13.  2nd Call to Action – This will be an appeal to logic.
  14.  Red Flag – Warn your customers of the cost of inaction. If you provide something of legitimate value to customers then you have a moral duty to outline exactly what they lose out on through inaction.
  15.  3rd Call to Action – This is an appeal to fear. I understand that many people may find this distasteful, but really it’s only distasteful if it’s done cynically without regard for customer welfare. If you’re selling smoke alarms, stop smoking aids or safety goggles then it’s not only appropriate but also moral and, often necessary to use fear.

 

The above sequence will allow you to sell anything up to a complex, high-ticket product or service. Depending on your business, your marketing materials or website landing pages may not need to be this detailed. My recommendation is to test, test, test and see what works best for you.

 

Got any questions about how this could apply to your business? Then feel free to post in the comments and I’ll answer any questions you have.

Obi Orgnot: Founder and CEO, OrgNot Ltd. Author of the Exponential Growth Manual. As a social entrepreneur he helps small businesses to grow through his company’s advisory service

Each week I like to post useful tools and resources that you may be able to use for your business.  The resources I post here are either free or available at a low cost.

I don’t go into much detail here, so feel free to check them out yourself and let me know what you think.  If you know of any great tools and services that will help small business owners, please share them in the comments below.

Digital Product Delivery – A digital shopping cart service that let's you simply copy and paste a buy now button on your website for an easy E-Commerce setup.  Great if you only sell a few products, digital or physical, but don't want to set up a full E-Commerce store.

E Lance – Need a web designer or someone to create a logo for you?  Need someone to write the copy for your next product brochure?  Search through thousands of qualified people through E Lance from all over the world.  Be sure to read the profiles and reviews carefully before hiring anyone.

Have questions about the best tools to use for your business?  Contact me with your questions and you can rest assured you will receive a response!  Contact me here

This week in the WordPress Roundup……..

15 WordPress Directory Plugins

Looking to add a directory to your site?  Whether it's a free or paid directory, these 15 plugins should give you enough of a selection to choose one that works for you.  There are alot of directory specific themes out there also, though plugins are great if you're happy with your current theme and still want a directory.

WP Help Plugin: Display Documentation In Your WordPress Admin

Need to keep some WordPress help documentation handy in the admin dashboard?  Useful for yourself or for clients.

Launchpad, Free Landing Page Plugin for WordPress

A great pre-launch landing page will help build interest and excitement for your new website, this free plugin provides alot of options for creating a nice looking landing page.

10 Helpful WordPress Plugins for Improving Readers Engagement on Your Blog

Trying to keep your readers engaged and on your website is one of the most challenging things as a blogger.  Check out some cool tools for keeping your readers on your site and exposing them to additional content.

3 Must Have WordPress Plugins for Festivals

Running an event or holding a festival?  Check out these must have plugins if you run and promote festivals in your area.

How to Add a Beautiful Gallery Carousel in WordPress without Jetpack

The Jetpack plugin offers a nice gallery carousel, but it also requires a WordPress.com account and comes with lots of other plugins that you may not need.  Check out this plugin that let's you create a beautiful image gallery without the need of the Jetpack plugin.

If you want to find even more great WordPress resources, follow us on Twitter!

Have a question about what plugin or theme you should use for your website?  Ask and you shall receive an answer!

If you're not using paid search marketing as part of your online marketing plan…..you may be missing out on a marketing goldmine.

I'm a big believer in Search Engine Optimization (SEO) and trying to build content that will help you get ranked in the search engines.  But I also believe that using a variety of online marketing venues to get your business in front of qualified customers is just smart marketing.

You'll get many diehard SEO's who will chide you for going the paid route, but the reality is, is that Paid Search Marketing or Pay Per Click Marketing works.  Sometimes it works really well.  Sometimes it works even better than ranking high in the organic search results.

A study conducted by WordStream, a search marketing firm, uncovered that most of the time organic search listing outperformed paid search listings, sometimes by a wide margin.  But it also uncovered that in searches with a high commercial intent (a search conducted with the purpose to specifically buy something), paid search listings outperformed organic listings in terms of clicks by a margin of 2.1.  This research was based on US searches and only with searches with a high commercial intent.

What does this mean?  Well, it means that when people are looking for information, organic search results win out most of the time.  But when searches are performed with the specific intent to buy something, paid listings can often times perform better than organic listings.

Why is this so?  Well, for one thing is that when someone performs a search for a specific product with the intent to buy, often times the organic listings have a mix of products, product reviews and even non related results.  This is ok for doing research, but may be frustrating when specifically looking to make a purchase.  Paid ads on the other hand, are usually only from businesses that are selling that specific product.  Only businesses that are trying to make money pay for listings, which in a way, is a good thing since it weeds almost all unrelated results since real money is on the line.

So my question is….if you're selling a product or service, doesn't it make sense to incorporate paid search marketing into your bag of tricks?  If you're not sure where to start, I wrote an article on several platforms where you can get started with paid search.  In the meantime, check out this infographic from WordStream that build a pretty good argument for doing some paid search marketing for your business.

paid search marketing infograghic

 

Persuasion: the key component in keeping your business alive. Without it, potential customers or clients won’t have a reason to choose your product or service over another business’. So how can you effectively convince people that you are the best choice?

Brochures and websites are two great choices for small businesses, because they pack a big persuasive punch in one small package. But before you sit down to create that eye-catching brochure or sleek, modern website, you should first consider the main purpose of these advertising tools and the words that will most effectively convey that purpose.

In the case of both, you should take a moment to answer these two questions: what am I trying to sell, and what do I want people to do after they read this? Decide if you want the brochure or website to sell your business in general or a particular product or service, and then figure out what you need to say to get readers to do what you want them to do.

Once you have done that, you can get started on writing the copy. For brochures, begin with the cover. Although it should contain the company’s name and logo, these things should not overshadow the title of the brochure. Believe it or not, the title is what will entice people to pick up the pamphlet and read, not the name of your business. The best brochure title will either ask the reader a question or explain a product or service with vague language that leaves the reader wanting to know more. For example, a retirement planning company could use a brochure title of, “How much you are paying your financial advisor?” Or a wholesale coffee company may use a title of, “Your Very Own Office Barista.”

The retirement planning company would then persuade readers that their firm is better, because they charge a rate that is significantly lower than their competitor. It would then instruct them on how to switch companies and still see the same rate of return on their investments. The wholesale coffee company would use their brochure to explain the benefits of having a single cup coffee brewer in the office (less employee trips to the nearby coffee shop, less cleanup than a traditional electric drip pot coffee maker, more drink choices, etc), and then provide them with information on how to learn more about prices and set up. As you can see, the cover title is really what drives the content of the brochure.

When the cover has been completed, you can then move on to creating content for the inside of the brochure. There are four things you must do when writing the copy of your brochure (and the copy of your website, too).

  1. Make sure you place the reader into the content by using words like “you”, “we”, “your” and “our.” This creates a connection between them and your business.
  2. Don’t use technical terms that require a lot of explanation. Instead, stick to explaining the benefits of your service or product using everyday language.
  3. Use a thesaurus to discover unique and catchy synonyms for overused language. For example, use “superior” in place of “better.”
  4. If relevant, provide a testimonial or recommendation from a former or current client or customer. These things can also be applied to website content.

Although there is a lot of pressure out there to create exciting and unique brochures, the main goal is to write sentences that are about persuading readers

to do something and backing it up with reasons why. Keep in mind that your copy must get its point across in as few words as possible. Short and sweet is the goal. Dividing the content into three or four smaller sections may help you meet this goal. You could also present the information using bullet points.

Place your business’ contact information on the back cover of the brochure and nothing more. And if the purpose of your business isn’t obvious, provide a very brief explanation inside the front cover of the brochure.

Websites should also contain short copy that is written with a purpose of showing potential customers the benefits of a particular product or service. However, unlike a brochure cover, the homepage of your website should showcase the name of your company first, so visitors will know they are on the right webpage. You will then use site tabs to direct customers to additional information. Some common tabs are “About Us”, “Services/Products Offered”, “Contact Us”, and “Testimonials”.

This is a Guest Post by Mariana Ashley. Mariana writes about educational topics for OnlineColleges.net. Reach out to her with any questions or comments at mariana.ashley031[at]gmail.com.

 

 

 

Each week I like to post useful tools and resources that you may be able to use for your business.  The resources I post here are either free or available at a low cost.

I don’t go into much detail here, so feel free to check them out yourself and let me know what you think.  If you know of any great tools and services that will help small business owners, please share them in the comments below.

SpringPad – A free online note taking service with a beautiful user interface.  Much like Evernote, SpringPad has mobile apps for your phone, as well as desktop and mobile apps so you have access to it whenever you need to save something or create a note.  Though i'm a diehard Evernote fan, you'll find the Spring Pad much more virtually appealing.

Simple Diagrams – A free web based diagram drawing program that lets you create simple diagrams.  Uses a blackboard and stick figure kind of layout, great for adding some fun and simplicity into your diagrams.

Have questions about the best tools to use for your business?  Contact me with your questions and you can rest assured you will receive a response!  Contact me here

We all know that content marketing is king.  Creating valuable content on your website (and on other sites via guest posting) is one of the most powerful ways you can drive traffic to your site.

As business owners or bloggers who have lots of other little commitments (I'm talking to you mommy bloggers), it can become a chore to find the time to write consistently.  It's not only the time to actually write, but the quiet time to actually think about what you're going to write about.  I've gone through periods (sometimes months), where I strain to write even the simplest article.  That's usually when you see alot of curated posts (see #1 on the infographic) from me.

But the great thing  about blogging is that you have the freedom to write how you want and to change things up when you feel stuck….or just brain dead.  The next time you sit down at the keyboard and the only thing you can think about is if you want a ham sandwich or a turkey sandwich for lunch, reach for this infographic courtesy of Copyblogger and let the content ideas flow!

ways to never run out of blogging ideas

 

 

Most small business owners know the typical advice for increasing online traffic. Having a blog, building a social media presence, targeted online advertising, and running discounts and promotions are all important online ways to build website traffic. However, few business owners think about going offline to build their online presence.

While traditional advertising may be dying (think TV, print, and radio ads), that doesn’t mean that traditional networking is dead also. Business owners are people, and so are their customers. The rules of person-to-person interaction will always be relevant in business. In fact, by going offline, you can build the personal connections and trust that will drive traffic and sales. When you become a face, a real person, to your customers, you gain a significant advantage over your online rivals.

Many small business owners like the idea of going offline to build their business, but they aren’t sure where to start. The key is to start small – just like online engagement, you can’t be everywhere all the time. Finding one or two places to be truly involved will yield a lot more fruit than being sort of active in five or six.

Trade Shows or Fairs. Depending on your product, this can be a great way to build exposure and maybe even make some sales. If you make crafts or small items, an art fair or craft show can be a great way to get known and showcase your work. Businesses can also get a booth at an industry trade show. Here are some ways to make the most of your investment:

  • Pre-Event Marketing. Make sure your customers and prospects know you will be at the trade show or fair. In addition, ask the organizer for a list of registered attendees. Review this list and contact folks who might be interested in your product. Believe it or not, postcards are generally the most effective way of contact in this case.
  • Business Cards. Yes, in the era of online everything, business cards still matter. Fortunately, they are not expensive. They should contain your business name, website, email, and any other contact information you have.
  • Giveaways With Your Website Listed. Handing out personalized pens, paper pads, and coffee cups with your company name and site may seem silly, but the reason so many folks do it is because it works. Find a useful item and put your site on the side. You’ll be surprised how much additional traffic it will draw.
  • Have a Conversation – Make Connections. The bottom line of why you’re there is to make the connections offline that will bring warm prospects to your online site. Be human, get to know attendees, and follow up with a thank you after the show.

 

Local Chamber of Commerce.This often-overlooked resource exists throughout every state. In fact, larger cities may have more than one. This is a great place to go and meet other business owners, and to take advantage of opportunities to let folks know about your business and website.

  • Subscribe to the Newsletter. This is an important first step before attending chamber meetings. Read them carefully – they can let you know what types of events the chamber sponsors and what types of businesses are involved. In addition, the newsletter will let you know what services the chamber can offer you.
  • Attend Chamber Events. Generally, the folks at chamber events will be other business owners. This is a good opportunity to connect with them and find cross-promotion opportunities, where they might promote your site and product to their clients if it’s a good match. In addition, the people themselves might be a good candidate for your product or service. They key is to build relationships.
  • Take Advantage of Chamber Advertising. Most chambers have packets that they send to folks who move into the city for the first time. This is a great way to get your business and website in front of new customers in a way that they will trust. In addition, there will be several other avenues of advertising through the chamber. All of it is backed by the chamber’s reputation, which makes prospects much more receptive.
  • Create a Partnership with the Chamber. Many chambers of commerce have a way for you to partner with them more directly. Perhaps they will exclusively promote your product to their members. Others will give you contact lists with the understanding that they will vouch for your trustworthiness. Regardless of the arrangement, it’s a great way to get access to prospects and let them know about your site and your company.

These two ideas are just the tip of the iceberg. Think about what business organizations or events you know about offline, and whether they could help you drive traffic to your online website. Then, get out there and meet people!

This is a Guest Post from Sara Morris at Myron. Myron provides high-quality promotional business gifts designed to maximize exposure and visibility for your business.

Each week I like to post useful tools and resources that you may be able to use for your business.  The resources I post here are either free or available at a low cost.

I don’t go into much detail here, so feel free to check them out yourself and let me know what you think.  If you know of any great tools and services that will help small business owners, please share them in the comments below.

Mitto – Have lots and lots of online accounts and passwords you need to manage? Mitto is a free service where you can save the passwords to all of your favorite websites, then log in to them by simply clicking a button.

iPrint – No, it's not an Apple product, but a free program that will save you money every month on your ink and paper costs.  This program lets you delete non essential pages and combines multiple pages together to save paper.  It will even keep a running tab of how much money you save in printing costs.  I wrote an article about iPrint and the costs savings i've had since using it.

Have questions about the best tools to use for your business?  Contact me with your questions and you can rest assured you will receive a response!  Contact me here

This week in the WordPress Roundup……..

5 Questions You Should Ask Your WordPress Developer

Find out some basic things you should find out before putting your hard earned money down for a website that you may find doesn't work very well.

Manage and Sell Tickets to Your Next Event with the Events Plugin

Manage and sell event tickets right on your won website without the need of a third party service

How to Boost Your Email Opt-ins with Newsletter Sign-Up for WordPress

Building an email subscriber base is a challenge at best.  Check out this plugin that lets you create ample opportunity for your readers to subscribe.

30 Highly Customizable WordPress Themes with Multiple Color Options

Some nice WP themes that offer color options usually found in premium themes.

Speed up WordPress by Soft Loading Social Buttons Like TechCrunch

Social media tabs can sometimes slow down your website as they need to load data real time data from a thrird party source.  This social media slider only loads when you hover over it.

If you want to find even more great WordPress resources, follow us on Twitter!

Have a question about what plugin or theme you should use for your website?  Ask and you shall receive an answer!