Some marketing feels almost impossible to resist.
Your favorite product is 85% off! This really smart expert is only offering advice until Monday! This service will change your life or your money back!
Smart marketers know how to reduce risk, boost urgency, and tempt our wallets with irresistible offers.
But are there times when those techniques work a little too well?
Have you ever been so excited by great marketing that you bought something you just plain didn’t need?
I’ll give you an example. As I was cleaning out my closet this morning, I came across a pair of shoes that I must have bought in another life.
They weren’t my style, I had nothing to wear them with. And — worst of all — they didn’t fit. Why did I buy them?
There was nothing wrong with the shoes. For another person with a dressier wardrobe, a flashier style, a higher pain tolerance, and smaller feet, they would have been perfect.
Some clever shoe store had managed to entice me with a great sale — only for me to wind up with a product that was a bad fit in every possible way.
Are you helping your customers get a good fit?
There are lots of strategies to persuade people to buy. (I mentioned a couple of them in the first couple of paragraphs above, and you can find a lot more in those “resource” links to your left.)
But if too many people buy something they don’t actually want (or need), what happens?
They get their shiny package and realize it’s not for them. At all. They’re frustrated, disappointed, and feel sort of dumb for being taken in.
They may not ask for a refund. They may not say anything to you at all.
But the next time you have a product for sale, they’ll be far less likely to buy it.
That’s why the really smart marketers, the ones who have fantastic customer loyalty that lasts for years to come, let prospects know immediately who the product is for … and who it’s not for.
To figure out whether it’s better to give up the sale or urge your customer to make a purchase they won’t regret, ask yourself a few questions:
Who, specifically, is it designed for?
If you offer a training program for people who run small businesses, and wouldn’t be useful for those who don’t, you’ll want to specify that in your sales page.
If someone asks if your product would work for a freelancer or a large business, tell them it wouldn’t be the best fit — but you’d be happy to tell them about new products that might work for them.
It’s a bit like selling flashy designer shoes to a lifelong Birkenstock wearer. If it just doesn’t suit who they are, they won’t get any use out of the product — and they’ll be unhappy you convinced them to buy.
How much prior knowledge do they need to benefit from your product?
If your product is a 101 guide, it’s just going to bore and annoy advanced users.
And on the other hand, if your product requires an advanced degree to be able to understand and use it, don’t pitch it to newbies or you’ll just frustrate the daylights out of them.
Don’t sell five-inch stiletto heels to a woman who’s only ever worn flats in her life. Sell them to someone who has the entire Sex and the City box set and could climb Everest in her Jimmy Choos.
Let your customers know beforehand what level of expertise is required for your product, and they’ll be able to tell if they’ll enjoy owning it.
Is it location-specific?
If your resource list includes only US and Canadian locations and all of your buyers are in the UK, you’re going to have a bit of a problem.
Or if you’re explaining something that varies from country to country, you could actually wind up leading people astray.
Some sneakers are meant for gym use only; some are great for trail running.
If your customers don’t know where your product is designed to work, they might wind up getting hurt — or at the very least, annoyed and frustrated.
Cultivating customers for the long haul
I recently had someone give up a sale he could have made to me — and I was so grateful I became a longtime loyal customer.
I wanted to buy a specific e-book as a Christmas present, and sent a quick e-mail to the author to ask if it would be a good fit for a relative beginner. He quickly responded to let me know that the information was really intended for a more advanced audience.
This was in 2007. Although he did not get this particular $99 sale from me, I’ve since bought four other products from him.
Giving up a few sales that will make your customers unhappy isn’t just good karma, it’s also a good long-term strategy for customer loyalty.
Tell someone the too-small shoes look great on her, and you’ll sell a pair of shoes your customer will always regret buying.
Tell the same person the shoe doesn’t really fit, and you’ll have a customer for life.
About the Author: Yael Grauer is a freelance writer who owns a lot of shoes. Find her at www.yaelwrites.com.