There is a lot that direct marketers can learn from sales techniques, says Amanda Lannert, president of Jellyvision Lab, an interactive firm. “My overall philosophy about communication is that if you are using a one-to-one rich media channel you should sound like a human being,” she said.
It doesn’t matter if you are conducting a lead-nurturing campaign, driving loyalty membership or sending e-mail blasts to existing customers — Lannert has three helpful tips for treating every customer uniquely and driving sales with clear, convincing copy.
Focus on needs, not profile. “Marketers always describe their buyers based on age or demographic. I have to tell them to stop — there is no need to miss out on a non-conventional buyer just because they don’t fit into one of your profiles,” explains Lannert.
There are dozens of assumptions about buying behaviors and preferences linked to every age group, social economic status and lifestyle stage. Often these are accurate, but getting unique information from every customer is even more accurate. Instead of relying on stereotypical demographic profiles in order to design your latest campaign, Lannert suggests looking at the potential needs of your prospective customers. Don’t assume that a person fits into a particular profile. Let them tell you what they like and self-select based on their expressed needs, Lannert says.
Use simple, conversational language. “Imagine having a one-on-one conversation with every single person that visits your site,” Lannert says. “If you keep the copy conversational, your copy will make the most impact.”
She asserts that the way copy sounds when read aloud is critical to how the prospective buyer will read it and how well it will resonate with him or her. Adapting copy in this way needn’t affect any search engine optimization strategy. Once a marketer finds the right voice for his brand and products, he can adjust the copy slightly to accommodate the most important search key words.
“The most important thing is making the most of the eyeballs that have come to your site,” Lannert says. “If it doesn’t sound like you are talking to someone, then you are just blasting them with marketing terms.”
Don’t sell past the sale. A practiced and successful salesperson promotes a portion of products with a standard, reliable set of attractive value propositions. In contrast, web copy and catalogs offer a wide array of products and often have the space to elaborate on numerous benefits to every product and specification.
Lannert says a good website should mimic the live salesperson and promote the most popular products most of the time. “Making a sale well is not about offering every possible product at any given time — it’s too easy to overwhelm the buyer,” she says.
“It’s okay for marketers to do some self-selection and not present all the options,” she continues. “Don’t sell past the sale. Sometimes one or two of the best features of the product or service is enough to sell the product, and giving more information can be overwhelming.”
Lambert’s advice is to focus on two or three benefits. Ancillary benefits or features of a product can be highlighted in follow-up marketing collateral that builds loyalty, she says.