Marketing Psychology Report
Web Marketing Psychology Report is a publication of the
Marketing Psychology Group / Scottsdale, written by Dr. Gary A. Witt.
FOUR BUSINESS STORIES THAT CAN HELP YOU SELL MORE ONLINE:
LYNN AND MARGARET opened their
dot com site with great hopes of selling higher priced products for
babies, like strollers and cribs. But sales were flat. People were
visiting, but not buying.
Then Lynn heard about a research study that found NEW buyers have a
much harder time making a decision about products because they don't
know how much importance to give to each of the attributes of the product.
"I see," said Margaret. "Our new moms don't know if
they'll be happier with a heavy but sturdy stroller or one that's
lightweight but more flimsy."
"Right. And if we help them make a wiser decision, we should get
more sales. We do have good prices."
So Lynn surveyed a group of moms and found over 70% of them ranked
weight as a more important attribute than sturdiness. They ranked six
other attributes of strollers, too. Margaret created a Web page where
visitors could check out how experienced moms ranked many attributes
of their products, and which products they liked the most. And she
put a "Buy" button next to each of the choices.
Within a few weeks they could see that sales were climbing. And that
a large number of them coming directly out of their
RESEARCH LESSON: People don't just buy products, they buy all of the
attributes of those products. The less they know about which
attributes will give them the greatest satisfaction, and which will
cause the greatest dissatisfaction, the more likely they are to keep
hunting until they have a "feel" for that information. If
you give it to them, you're more likely to get the sale.
ALAN AND FRED'S FLORIST SHOP was
doing OK, but they wanted to get more out of their new Web site. They
were getting visits and orders, but more at the lower end of the
price spectrum. Then one day Alan heard about a research study on
'self-prophecy' which found that people who BELIEVE they will take a
certain action in the future, like voting, are more likely to do so
than others who aren't asked-like a self-fulfilling prophecy.
"Fred, we can use this idea," said Alan.
"How? Give discounts to voters?" asked Fred.
"No. We'll set up a little two-point rating scale next to each
picture of an expensive arrangement and ask people to give us their opinions."
"What would it say?"
"Choice one would say 'I'd buy this' and choice two would be 'I
wouldn't buy this.' Keep it real simple and fast for them."
"We'll get some good information, but so what?"
"Don't you see? If they consciously rate an arrangement as one
they'd buy, then they have unconsciously made a prediction about
future behavior. Like role playing."
"I get it. They sort of see the arrangement in their home or
wherever and decide they like what they see. So they're more likely
to buy it. Pretty clever, Alan."
Alan and Fred did exactly that, and their Web site sales of high-end
arrangements took a big jump.
RESEARCH LESSON: Imagination is a powerful selling tool. Get buyers
to rate your product, make a 'make believe' decision or even guess
which product they'd like most. That's a big step toward making the
sale. Like the car dealers say, "Imagine yourself driving this
MARIA AND LUIS have a successful
online business selling gourmet food. Last year they wanted to
increase sales, and give something back to the community. They
remembered that Ben & Jerry's Ice Cream gave a part of each sale
to help save the Amazon rainforest.
"Let's do that," said Luis. "We'll give a percentage
to the March of Dimes."
"We're not Ben & Jerry's, Luis." said Maria. "How
do we know it will work, and which products will we offer the deal on?"
Luis replied, "Let's ask Roberto."
Their son Roberto was a senior at the local University. A week later
he told them about research which showed people are several times
more likely to buy products tied to a charitable gift if they were
"personal pleasure" items, like candy, ice cream, visits to
a spa, etc. When the offer was made on more utilitarian items like
soap or haircuts, it wasn't very effective.
The research showed it didn't seem to matter how big the gift was -
the research used 5% and 50% of the price. "They think,"
said Roberto," that a lot of people feel a little guilty
spending money for 'personal pleasure' items, and this is a way to
make the purchase more acceptable. In fact, they'll even pay a little
more if most of the increase goes to charity. It doesn't even seem to
matter which good cause, as long as its well known."
Maria redesigned their Web pages to show that 5% of the purchase
price was going to the March of Dimes, but she limited the offer to
gourmet items that seemed particularly "pleasurable," like
expensive truffles. And sure enough, the sale of those items
increased. They even got several e-mails complimenting them.
RESEARCH LESSON: Charitable donations as a marketing strategy can pay
off, but it probably won't work on auto parts or dog food. Picking a
"personal pleasure" item is your best bet for increasing
sales while doing good.
MONA AND ROLAND's dot com health
foods business was struggling. "We're getting the hits that
could make us a living if we could get the sales," said Mona.
"What can we do?"
Later that day Roland showed Mona a report he'd found online.
"Here's a research study that says just listing the good points
about our vitamins isn't enough. We need to 'inoculate' our visitors."
"Inoculate them? Why?"
"What happens is they leave our site thinking our products are
good, then they're persuaded to buy from someone else."
"So what do we do?"
"We pick some of the selling points used by competing Web sites.
And we show how our brand is superior to them on each of those points."
"In other words, it isn't just comparisons, its like 'search and
destroy' their key selling points?"
"Right. Like, if they say their brand of calcium is great, we
point out that doctors say calcium needs lysine for maximum
absorption, and their brand doesn't contain lysine, but ours does."
"So when they get to another site, they've already been
inoculated against the sales pitch."
Roland's new Web pages pointed out their competitors' claims, then
refuted them with backing from independent, scientific sources. And
it worked. Sales started to climb as more people returned to buy
RESEARCH LESSON: Try inoculating your visitors against future
persuasive arguments by competitors. Point out the problems your
competitor's brand causes, then show how yours does as good or better
a job without the problems. One important point - studies show people
don't like you to be personally derogatory. Like Joe Friday said,
"Just the facts, ma'am."
Dr. Gary A. Witt
Marketing Psychology Group, Inc.
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