If you hate HYPE and hard-sell, use these soft-selling strategies for a more subtle and friendly approach to promoting and selling your products.
Offer free projects that require your products. To add convenience and generate sales, facilitate the purchase of the recommended products by displaying product shots linking to an order form.
Williams-Sonoma, a home furnishings supplier, provides recipes on their website. The images of the tools used to prepare the dish are tactfully displayed on the sidebar and linked to individual product information pages containing an order form. (www.williams-sonoma.com)
‘Ask the Expert’
Encourage visitors to submit their questions to the ‘Expert’. You can either supply the answers yourself to demonstrate your expertise or invite an outside expert to reduce your workload and provide a valuable recommendation for your products. Weave product information into your answers and advertise related products on the webpage.
The ‘Online Vet’ of Purina ONE®, a pet food manufacturer, answers pet owners’ questions on behaviour, health or nutrition. The ‘Ask a Vet’ feature encourages return visits and increase branding exposure to their products. (www.purinaone.com)
Provide advice and recommendations based on your customer’s individual needs. This personal approach enables you to tailor the offering.
Drugstore.com provides an advisory service called ‘Dr Weil recommends’. Visitors receive a free personal assessment and recommendations from the ‘Vitamin Advisor’ based on their answers to a set of health and lifestyle questions. (www.drugstore.com)
Problem & Solution
Create and document a database of ‘troubleshooting’ solutions to problems that your products can fix. Visitors will welcome the solution to their problem and value your suggestions.
Do It Best, a hardware store, provides advice on home maintenance. Each recommended product is linked to a product information page with an order form. (www.doitbest.com)
Supply tips and applications for your products to reveal their versatility and usefulness. Make your product desirable and indispensable.
Kodak, in their section ‘Doing more with Your Pictures’, provide instructions on how to create online albums, photo cards, screen savers, etc. For greater effect, they appeal to emotions with “you can delight friends with pictures of the pranks you pulled at your family reunion”. (www.kodak.com)
All the above strategies can apply to sales of products or services. They empower visitors so don’t forget to strategically place your calls-to-action. Who needs to HARD SELL?
© 2005 Henriette Martel-Lawson
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