The other day I went to a local seminar on "internet marketing". I honestly didn't expect a whole lot; it was one of those "how to make money on the internet" things, which promised to tell you tips on how to use the search engines to your advantage, yada, yada, yada. But I have to say I was surprised, at least from the first 30 minutes of the 90 minute seminar.
What surprised me was that the seminar on "how to make money on the internet" that was really nothing more than a sales pitch for an all day seminar they would be holding several weeks later. And boy, did they have that pitch down!
I left after the first 30 minutes. It felt like we were still in the introduction stage of the presentation. Kind of like they kept making promises of all the things they'll be covering but never really covering them. I think that was just the point. This presentation wasn't about providing information on how to make money from the internet, it was about how you can learn everything you need to know about how to make money from the internet by coming to the NEXT seminar.
The presenter was professional and he didn't come off as a hack. He was actually very engaging. And interestingly they covered the "get rich quick schemes are a scheme" ground too. It was a very effective 30 minutes. I almost wanted to sign up for the next seminar. Maybe I would had if I had not left!
Pre-Selling Is A Legitimate (And Effective) Sales Technique
While I don't care for this type of pre-sales schtick, it got me thinking about how we go about selling those things that we sell. In fact, any good website uses some kind pre-selling technique regularly. Think about it, rarely does our home page actually sell the products or service we offer. That page is just an overview, an introduction, a flowery summary of what we or our products are all about.
As we click further into the site we get closer and closer to the actual selling, but depending on the breadth and depth of the site, we are often just pre-selling as visitors click deeper and deeper in. This pre-selling, regardless of what page it is on, does the job of routing each visitor closer to the destination which is the sales page while continuing to build expectations as they move through the site.
And how does all this pre-selling happen? Text. Content. Words.
The Product Should Not Have To Sell Itself
Many sites, especially e-commerce sites, feel that words are unnecessary and that the product should sell it self. They'll throw the specifications onto the product page and believe that tells the visitor all they they'll ever want or need to know. Okay, fine, lets say the product does sell itself. But what about the pages that lead to the product? Surely you have pages that lead to the product pages, no? If your site has any kind of depth visitors generally hit the home page first (provided they didn't enter via a search that dropped them right on the product page). From there they have to (want) to click to a category of their choosing, and then they can click on individual products. That's two whole pages before the "sales" page, at best. For some sites there are more.
So let's analyze those pages. What makes a visitor want to click past the home page? Is it pictures? Maybe. But I'd bet there is (or should be) some text on that page that gives comfort to the visitor and assures them that they came to the right place to find what they are looking for. Pictures are pretty and all but you got to make them want to click through.
If you've done your job on the home page then the user will click into a category that suits their needs. What does this page tell them? Is it just a list of products or have you taken the time to fill the visitor with more information specific to the products in this category? Surely you can say something compelling about your battery chargers that is different from your batteries, or have content describing your snowboards in a way that doesn't sound like you're selling ski gloves!
That's the pre-sell process. They are on their way t the sales page, but don't let them get distracted... keep feeding them the content that gives them the desire to keep moving through the site.
Help Yourself Sell That Thing You Sell
You may think that you do not need sales content on each page, but let me tell you, it helps! The people who ran that seminar probably didn't need the pre-seminar in order to get people to come to the longer one. But they knew that a free 90-minute seminar is an easier sell than a $20 all-day seminar. Once the get them in the door then they have 90 minutes to make the case for the all-day seminar to follow.
In the same way, you may be able to sell your products on specifications alone, but you have your audience on your site, why not use every opportunity to you can to give them information that fills them with the desire to purchase your products... long before they ever find the product they are looking for. That's a much easier sell!
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Stoney deGeyter is the President of Pole Position Marketing, a leading search engine optimization and marketing firm helping businesses grow since 1998. Stoney is a frequent speaker at website marketing conferences and has published hundreds of helpful SEO, SEM and small business articles.
If you'd like Stoney deGeyter to speak at your conference, seminar, workshop or provide in-house training to your team, contact him via his site or by phone at 866-685-3374.
Stoney pioneered the concept of Destination Search Engine Marketing which is the driving philosophy of how Pole Position Marketing helps clients expand their online presence and grow their businesses. Stoney is Associate Editor at Search Engine Guide and has written several SEO and SEM e-books including E-Marketing Performance; The Best Damn Web Marketing Checklist, Period!; Keyword Research and Selection, Destination Search Engine Marketing, and more.
Stoney has five wonderful children and spends his free time reviewing restaurants and other things to do in Canton, Ohio.
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