This guest post is by Barb Sawyers, of Sticky Communication.
In one corner of the ring, we have me, a new online marketer who has bought into the content marketing philosophy of trust. I hope I can go the distance! In the other corner is the nimble Ninja, who swings fast and furious to end the match quickly.
Who’s your money on?
Experience, backed by the many limited-time offers I receive every day, suggests that Ninja is your best bet.
But let me explain why I think you should place your wager on people like me.
I keep reading advice from people like the Web Marketing Ninja who, in this recent post, applies the traditional marketing principle of urgency. He even advised online marketers to threaten to double the price. At least he didn’t tell them to try the fake scarcity punch, as many hard-liners do.
But what if you’re selling something that’s neither urgent nor scarce? What if you don’t feel comfortable raising and lowering your prices or pulling products off and on the shelves to whip up buyer frenzy? What if you don’t want to look like a late-night infomercial huckster? What happened to all those books and blogs about building online trust?
Maybe the answer lies in the middle. Maybe urgency—and scarcity—can be deployed to provide a little nudge, as long as they are grounded in reality. No knockout punches, please.
What to do if you’re new
So I thought about how I could apply authentic urgency and scarcity without eroding trust to boost sales of my ebook,.
I’m thrilled when somebody visits my site and immediately buys the book. But I think people are more likely to purchase if they’ve read a few of my posts, and maybe scanned the reviews. When they’re in a panic about that white paper or whatever their boss has told them to write, they’ll be back, brandishing their credit cards. I’ve kept the price low enough that people don’t need to wait for a fire sale.
How I fixed my pitch
Still, my approach wasn’t an overnight success. So I went back to my pitch page, ready to apply some advice from the masters.
People who don’t buy my book today will not die a horrible death. But they could get in trouble with the boss for not finishing that white paper on time or with their loved ones for being stressed and cranky. If their problem is urgent, the solution must be quick.
So my authentic urgency is based on the buyer’s immediate need and my fast-acting solution.
I revised the page to explain that they could expect to start seeing results—in terms of easier, faster, and friendlier writing—as soon as they started applying the three steps from the book. To be catchy, I added that they needed to buy it “before another sentence falls flat.”
Scarcity was more challenging, as I’m not going to yank an ebook that I just started selling. But what if, like urgency, I consider scarcity from the buyer’s point of view?
Products are authentically scarce if they are unique.
My product is scarce because it’s the only one that bases writing advice on something people are already comfortable with: talking. Instead of forcing them to relive high-school English, or memorize and apply 173 tips, as some other books do, it focuses on the big common writing pitfalls to avoid and the most powerful memory-enhancing steroids.
In addition to my concern that extreme urgency and scarcity tactics will erode trust, I don’t think this old bag of marketing tricks always works.
Like many shoppers, I love to find a bargain. But I won’t buy a new dishwasher simply because there’s a good deal this week, unless mine has died. If I need a dishwasher, I will scan the flyers for a sale.
On the other hand, I will respond to a limited-time offer if I’m looking for an excuse to buy those cute shoes or if I’m already looking for an online course like yours. I also go for the specials when I’m grocery shopping—a big expense with two teenagers to feed—but only on items we eat regularly or might like to try.
The limited-time offer, or urgency, gives me a little push. That’s all.
Let me stress that I will not buy your ebook or SEO software because you are threatening to double the price next week or soon as I leave the seminar room or site. I’m too smart for the nimble Ninja. I think my buyers are too.
Like me, I hope they would rather buy one thing they really want than ten things they were pressured into buying.
What’s more, I believe manipulative tactics are for commodities where cheaper is always better, rather than for intellectual property that smart people will talk about around water coolers and on Twitter.
And let’s not forget the ancient wisdom of Aesop and his fable about the tortoise and the hare. Slow and steady wins.
Sustain the success
So maybe the Ninja is going to rack up a few quick knock-outs. If the money is on only one match, I’d place my wager with him.
But if we’re betting on who’s going the distance to maintain the champion title, I think people like me stand a better chance. Then again, I’m not yet a proven online marketing success.
Are you? If so, please weigh in. I have teenagers to feed.
Barb Sawyers believes that business writing should be friendlier, easier and more fun. She blogs at http://www.stickycommunication.ca/blog and summarizes her wisdom in her ebook “Write like you talk—only better, 3 steps to turn good talkers into great writers.”