Editor’s Note: Here is a guest post from someone I respect and admire. Please welcome Sarah Russell from Common Sense Marketing.
Sometimes, I shudder to think how many of my day-to-day thoughts are about me.
Does this shirt look good on me?
Did my co-worker really think my joke was funny?
What am I going to have for dinner tonight?
In fact, if aliens somehow managed to tap into my thoughts, I suspect I’d be pretty embarrassed at how self-involved I’d sound… (Okay, so maybe I’ve been watching a few too many Star Trek re-runs lately!)
The truth is, when I first started out online, I approached marketing from the same self-centered perspective. What niche is going to make me the most money? How can I get subscribers to opt-in to my email list? When will these website visitors hurry up and buy something already so that I can quit my day job and get on with my life?!
The problem with marketing this way is that it’s pretty obvious to your prospects. Some niches are more sensitive to this than others, but most web users are so tired of being sold to that they’ll bolt from your website at the first hint of a pitch.
The solution isn’t to stop selling – it’s to start selling in a way that emphasizes the value and benefit to the visitor, instead of the site owner. I call this marketing from a place of giving.
When you focus on improving your visitor’s life instead of your own, you’ll find that the money-making side of things takes care of itself. The old adage, “Give and ye shall receive,” is more true than most internet business strategists are willing to admit.
Consider the following ways to implement this concept in your marketing efforts:
1. Listen to Your Market – Are you selling the things that your market actually wants, or the things you *think* they should want? When you focus your efforts on understanding your target prospect’s deepest desires and provide them with content and products that meets these needs, you’re going to see a lot more success than you will trying to force them into accepting what you think is the solution to their problems.
When you hit that sweet point and figure out exactly what your target market is looking for, it’s what Michael Scott from The Office would call a win-win-win. Not only will you profit financially from well-targeted products, you’ll come to be respected as an expert in your niche, which will – in turn – lead to even more sales.
2. Be Honest – Start to think in terms of the importance of honesty in retaining a valuable lifetime customer – not the one-time payment you can get from unethically coercing a visitor into buying a single product.
I could go out and write an ebook that promises buyers the “super-secret formula” to make money while they sleep. If you’ve been online for more than a month, you’ve probably seen at least a handful of these sales letters that promise the stars and the moon – all for the low, low cost of $37 (or $47, or $97, or some other price ending in “7”). I’d market my ebook with flashy graphics and compelling headlines – but at the end of the day, if the product doesn’t live up to its hype, I’m never going to see that visitor on my site again.
On the other hand, if I create a valuable product and then market it honestly and ethically, I’ve got a much better shot at retaining the customer – and reaping the benefit of repeat purchases – than if I over-promise and don’t deliver.
3. Over-deliver – So many marketers and website owners do the bare minimum that it’s incredibly refreshing for visitors to find a site that over-delivers. It’s basically the difference between buying a t-shirt at Walmart and one at Bergdorf’s. The customer experience matters, and there are a number of different ways you can over-deliver in this fashion.
To start building this into your site, think about all the different ways you can help your visitor. Could you add more informative content, a FAQ or recommendations that answer their most pressing questions as quickly as possible? Is there a related topic you can cover that will save your visitors the time and effort of seeking out another site with content on that subject?
The more ways you can find to help your visitor, the more often they’ll return the favor with increased referrals and sales.
Now, if you’re just starting out online, this lesson might not seem immediately relevant. After all, how can you over-deliver and market from a place of giving if you don’t even have a website up and running?
Actually, I would argue that this is the most important time to start thinking about the concept of marketing from a place of giving. I’ve found that if you build a website from the ground up that incorporates these principles, you’re going to find success a lot faster than if you waste time (like I did) on sites that only serve yourself.
So what do you think? If you’re just planning your first website, what are your target market’s expectations and how can you over-deliver on them? Or, if you’re an experienced webmaster, are you marketing from a place of giving on your sites?
Sarah Russell is on a mission to bring ethical marketing to everyday people through Common Sense Marketing. She is especially passionate about helping beginning affiliate marketers launch and succeed with their own internet businesses, so stop by for more great tips, tricks and ramblings!