Marketing would appear to be the great buzz word of the decade. Every self-respecting business team talks about it, yet many of us aren't even sure what it is, and even more are uncertain of how they should be doing it.
In Marketing -the next level we looked at some of the most important definitions, and pointed out that marketing is simply about bridging the gap between the producer and the consumer. It's not about what you're trying to sell, it's about who you're trying to sell it to, what they want from you, and how to give it them. It really is that simple.
This is all very good in theory, but one of the main problems with marketing is that while it makes complete sense when reading about it, applying it to the real world can often prove to be a different matter. One of the simplest and most effective ways to do so is to focus on the consumer.
How to attract new customers to your product and website is the constant quandary of many businesses, small or large. But the fact is that no matter what method you use to do so, it's a hard, slow and often expensive process. Logically, we can therefore assume that we should, and indeed must, apply some of our energies to retaining existing customers.
The question is why we lose so many potential customers before they've even had a chance to reach for their wallets. There could be many reasons for this. Some may no longer require what you're selling, some may simply forget about you, and inevitably, some may feel (rightly or wrongly) that you don't provide what they need or want.
While there is little that you can do if they genuinely have no need for the product or service you're selling, everything else is completely under your control.
Why Are You Losing Customers?
If, for example, a customer did use your product in the past, but no longer has any need for it, then something must have changed. Is it perhaps new technology that you're not keeping up with, a gap in your product, or incompatibility with other software? Identify what's changed, and if possible, address those needs.
If the reason is a competing product, then go after the product's features with a vengeance, and build on them. Don't constrain yourself by only providing the bare basics of what the consumer wants. Give them what they could use, and show them features that they've never even thought of before. While no-one in their right mind goes shopping for a new car based on the stereo and seat linings, the fact is that sometimes these add-ins may prove to be the make-or-break features in choosing their purchase. Throw them in.
On the other hand, if the potential customer doesn't even realise what you're offering, then you're doing something very wrong. Have you ever come across a site with the make-or-break fact that persuades you to buy the product, hidden away four clicks into the web site? I certainly have, and it's far from rare.
Realistically, chances are that a large number of your website visitors won't go beyond the front page, so don't hide the juicy details buried in the depths of your site. The most important sales facts should be plain to see from the moment your main page loads. A book may not be judged by its cover, but a website certainly is. Catch their attention the moment they arrive, entice them in with tasty titbits, and you've got them.
Sell The Benefits, Not Just The Features
I've said it many times before, and I'll say it many times yet. You have to sell the benefits of your software, and not just it's features. A long feature list looks great to the person who's thinking about buying the software, but until they realise that they need or want it in the first place, it'll barely even register.
Take an imaginary graphics file viewer as an example. If the front page for the product is one long feature list, with an impressive 60+ supported formats on display, that's all very well and good. But will the three-second-a-site visitor be interested? Probably not. They're not looking for what the software is capable of, they're looking for what the software can do for them.
If however you sell the fact that the file viewer can SAVE TIME AND MONEY, ALLOW YOU TO ACCESS YOUR COLLEAGUES FILES and VIEW ALL YOUR EMAIL ATTACHMENTS, then you're far more likely to grab their attention.
Feature lists are for shareware sites and magazine reviews. People want benefits and solutions. Again, it goes back to the consumer.
Once you know what they're looking for, spoon feed it to them in just the right way, with all the information and details they need, and a little bit of icing never goes amiss either.
As for the people who click on the features list, chances are that they don't need convincing that they may have a use for the software, they're looking for more reasons to buy it. They're looking for as many facts as possible to satisfy their wallet, boss, spouse or conscience. Give them what they want.
And remember not to go for too blatant a sales pitch. People are strange, and although the average person loves to buy things, they hate being sold to! The difference? Make them want what you're selling, don't just shout BUY at them! Satisfy their needs, meet their requirements and show them that you're the answer they're looking for.
Never forget that you're not selling to objects. You're selling to people. In order to reach them, you have to start thinking like one of them!
Spend time finding out how your existing customers use your software, what made them choose your product, and why they continue to use or enjoy it. See if any patterns emerge, and use this information to focus on your strengths and also your opportunities. Then apply what you've learnt to your product literature, your banner ads, your email signature, your advertising campaigns and above all your website. Be seen, be sold.
Copyright 2005 SharewarePromotions Ltd
Dave Collins is the CEO of SharewarePromotions Ltd. , a well established UK-based software and shareware marketing company. Are your software sales slow? Find out how to promote your software across the web and multiply your sales level at http://www.sharewarepromotions.com