This guest post is by Jill Chivers of www.shopyourwardrobe.com.
I found myself entranced recently by a “presentation” on a TV shopping network. I usually flip straight past these networks, as I was of the opinion that they were cheesy shows, presented by couldn’t-quite-make-it TV presenters, and that they pushed sub-par products onto poor, lonely, hapless, housebound consumers who didn’t know better. Not that I was judgmental about them in any way…
But this time I found myself stopping for a moment, just to see what they were about.
As the “presentation” (which is what they called it—at this stage, I was still thinking of it as a cheesy, garbage-pushing intrusion) unfolded, I found myself becoming fascinated by the sheer audacity of it.
These shows face an enormous sales challenge, the scale of which could appropriately be linked to climbing to Base Camp, possibly without an oxygen mask. While no-one could call their techniques sophisticated, they are effective. The home shopping industry is a multi-billion dollar industry and sales actually increased during the global financial crisis, when all other retailing was going down the toilet.
What can we learn from how the TV shopping networks sell their wares? Without becoming cheesy and surrendering all integrity, of course. Well, the short answer is: a great deal! Here are the top 10 tips that we can take away from those who sell from, and to, the couch.
The messages the TV shopping networks provide are repeated, over and over and over and over. They know that telling us once isn’t going to do it. Telling us twice is not enough either. We need to be told repeatedly about the product, the offer, the deal, the limited stock. They tell us—and they keep on telling us.
Ask yourself: How often are you sharing your message with your readers? We get bored with our own message long before our readers do. Don’t tell ‘em once, don’t even tell ’em just twice. Tell ’em over and over.
2. Funnel the info
Not only is the information repeated on these shows, but it’s funneled. They start off by overviewing the entire list of products and packages that are being presented. Then they go through each one in turn, detailing each product—what the product’s about, what’s in the deal, and what’s in it for us.
Ask yourself: Have you structured your information so it’s easy to digest? Have you overviewed your offering (helicopter view) first, and then dropped into the detail? Don’t expect us, your readers, to organize your information—lay it out for us.
3. Features and benefits
Aren’t you utterly tired of marketing gurus telling us not to share the features of our products and focus exclusively on benefits? I am!
The TV shopping networks prove how false a technique that really is. Features tell us the what, while benefits tell us the so what. Without the what the so what seems contrived, or made up. Features provide us with evidence—they’re the proof so many of us need. If all we hear is that the product is made from “all-natural products that smooths and brightens the skin with no harmful ingredients” we can find ourselves responding with, “Meh … aren’t they all saying that?” But when we hear the list of ingredients, or hear what’s not in the product, or hear any of the other details about the product, it provides us with proof.
Ask yourself: Are you explaining the what and the so what of what’s in your product or service? Are you making it easy for us to believe in your benefits by sharing at least something about the features?
The TV shopping network presentations show us the products in action. We see the Mink, marble-pressed mineral foundation with hydrating beads being dusted onto the model’s face—see how quick and easy it is to apply? We see the weight loss powder being mixed up with fresh fruit in the blender—see how “pantry friendly” the pack size is?
Ask yourself: Are you showing us how easy, quick, simple, effective, or whatever else your product or service is to use? What else can you do to put your product or service into action so your prospects get to see it in use before they buy?
The TV shopping networks not only demo their products so we can see them in real-time action. They also show us people who have been using the products for a long period of time (often years), and get them to tell us what a difference their products have made to their lives. This is different to the demo, which is in real time and could possibly be faked. Results from real people aren’t quite so easy to simulate.
Ask yourself: Are you showing us the results that people who use your product and service get? Your testimonials page is one of the best ways of doing this—but are you keeping the testimonials fresh and updated? Build your “mountain of testimonials” over time, and keep adding to them.
Throughout the presentation, the presenters gave us updates about how the product was selling. When a certain level of stock had been sold, we were updated that “this product has just gone limited,” signalling that only a few were left. This happened from minute one: the presenters signaled that the product was already selling. Combined with point 9 below, this creates a compelling case to pick up the phone.
Ask yourself: How fresh is your information about your products and services? Have you updated your product or service in some way, and forgotten to tell your readers and prospects about it? Have you sold a milestone number, such as 100, or 1000 products? Has your list reached a milestone number of subscribers? Share what’s newsy and make your prospects and readers feel part of the action!
7. Packaging and bonuses
These home shopping shows rarely showcase single products for sale. Even big-ticket items are bundled up with bonus products to sweeten the deal. Instead of a single bronzer being sold, they sell us the Forever Flawless package with 3in1 skin perfector and auto lip-liner in a choice of three colours with the Diamonds Are Forever dusting powder—all packaged in a lined satin make-up bag for touch-ups on the go!
Ask yourself: How can you add bonuses to what you already offer? Or how can you make clearer to your prospects the bonuses you already offer? Tell us how much we’re saving or the value of our bonuses, so the final sale price makes us feel fortunate to have been so smart.
These shows offer discounted pricing (although verifying that is problematic, giving the urgent timeframes they place on the offers); they sweeten the deal by offering some form of discount off ordinary pricing, however small. They also step out what we’re getting (the value of our whole package, with bonuses), and tell us what we’re saving.
Ask yourself: How have you explained your pricing? Is it a flat-footed statement of plain fact, or have you made an effort to show us what a great deal we’re getting? Even if you do not have a limited pricing offer, how can you make it easy for us to see how fabulous your pricing really is? Do you throw in postage and handling? Is your pricing less than some other poorer-quality, higher-priced competitor? What’s special about your pricing? How else can you position your pricing so that we feel oh-so-smart for buying what you’re offering?
Through the use of updates, limited availability, and discounted pricing, a sense of great urgency is created on these shows. Viewers of the TV shopping networks are lead down a carefully constructed path that leads inexorably to action. Namely: picking up the phone and ordering at least one, if not more, products. Sure, they educate. Yes, they demonstrate. But ultimately, they’re here for one thing—to sell their product. They aren’t embarrassed about it, either. There is no coyness in their communications, no hesitation in their message.
Ask yourself: Why would a prospect buy your product today? What have you done to make it easy for them to feel good about making a Right Now purchase, rather than making it easy for them to delay the buy? If you can only create a false sense of urgency (and that makes you feel sleazy), what else can you do encourage action now?
10. Recaps and the late up-sell
It’s never really finished with the TV shopping networks. The sell, that is. After the presentation ends, there are other messages (commercials on a home shopping network seem like the ultimate act of a snake eating its own tail, and yet they have them!). But they always come back for one more up-sell. Often it’s positioned as a Buyers’ Choice segment—a short segment that highlights one of the packaged up bumper-bonus deals that we’d be mad to miss!
Ask yourself: Where is there an opportunity for you to do a late up-sell in the education and sales process you offer? Where can you offer a “wait—there’s more!” opportunity that truly adds value and book-ends the sales message you are delivering?
TV tactics on your blog?
You may not wish, or even need, to use all of these strategies. The TV and home shopping networks are a particular breed that not all of us wish to emulate in full—their sales approaches are more sledgehammer than fine scalpel, for one thing. But they can teach us a lot about selling: how to position our products, how to present them, how to craft our communications, and how to make the sale. After all, that’s what they’re in business to do—make the sale.
Perhaps you aren’t using the right-kind-for-you aspects of these techniques as conscious convincers for your prospects. Perhaps all you need to offer is one more thing in one more way—a tweak rather than an overhaul—to increase your conversion rates.
Ask yourself: What more can I be doing to make this sale easy for my prospects? That’s what the TV shopping networks do.
Jill Chivers used to love shopping. After completing her own “year without clothes shopping challenge” in 2010, she created an award-winning website and international business that helps other women create a healthier relationship to shopping. Check it out here: www.shopyourwardrobe.com.