I’m musing about value – and how to get it across to someone else.
It feels like there are lots of people with many ideas.
There probably always were – if someone looked into it, they’ll probably find that the percentage of people with ideas has stayed the same over time.
It’s just that there are more people to start with, and it’s easier to talk about our ideas, what with social media and email and all that kind of stuff.
But most of us have had no real training in telling the difference between a good idea and a bad one, a profitable idea and a money pit, something worth doing well and something not worth doing at all.
Our brain plays tricks on us as well. It’s well known that people fall in love with things they have done themselves – the IKEA effect – where we regard our amateurish creations as at the same level as professionals.
But then – we also need to remember that experts aren’t always right – amateurs often invent things that go on to revolutionise industries.
For example, the Wright Brothers worked with bicycles but built the world’s first successful aeroplane.
But, on a more down to earth basis, what do you need to know in order to sell something?
There are seven key factors that, according to the Institute of Direct Marketing (IDM), are key to selling anything.
1. A product or a service
That seems obvious – and you possibly have one already. Whatever it is, you need to be able to talk about its features, advantages and benefits.
What can it do, why is it better and what will it do for your customer.
2. Aimed at a target audience
You can’t sell to everyone. In fact, there will be a small number of people who need what you have, want it more than they want the money in their pocket and actually want to talk and buy from you.
Everyone else is milling around, getting in the way while you get to that core group of people – your customers.
The better we know and understand our target market, the better we will be at…
3. Creating an offer that they find irresistible
You can sell anything. Cow dung is valuable – it’s a heating fuel, organic fertiliser and floor covering…
It comes down to price – how much, discounts – what percentage will you take off, and terms – how quickly, what quality.
Someone will bite – and you just need to make those terms as attractive as you can.
4. You need to think about how they’ll see it
Are you going face to face, sending letters or reaching out electronically.
The format is simply the way in which you put the information in front of someone but…
5. The creative is how it looks when it’s there
Many people think pretty pictures sell – but the mistake is thinking that’s all you need.
You need something your prospect can read easily, understand quickly. The harder you make it, the more people you’ll lose.
Plus – you need different approaches for different people.
6. And they’ll be ready for it at different times
Fashion is the perfect example of seasonal selling – following the weather and what you need – and helping you make impulse decisions.
But there are other things that matter – budget cycles are important, common renewal dates are worth targeting and there is an overall business cycle in many industries.
7. But nothing matters if people don’t come back to you
The final part of the selling puzzle is making it clear how to come back to you.
The other day I nearly walked away from a purchase I had already decided to make because the person I was talking to explained everything about what they were doing, except how to order.
They talked about the website to the point where I thought that was the only way to order.
It was only as I was about to walk away that the point about signing up now came up – and that rescued the sale.
Customers need to be told what to do to order. In detail.
More is nice… but the basics are essential
These seven steps are crucial when trying to sell anything – and I’m going to keep them in mind when assembling any piece of product or service marketing from now on.