“When you’re going to launch a new business, it’s really important that you try to understand not just the product you’re selling, kind of the key features, but also what it’s gonna bring to you customers’ life.”
From today’s episode, you’ll learn how to sell online. This topic include:
Welcome to the Business Sidekick, a podcast dedicated to growing your online business!
In the previous episode, you’ve learned: basic SEO definitions, how to find out what are the most important keywords for you and how to divide content on your website so it’s optimized for SEO.
In today’s, fifth episode, my guest is Jonny Everett, the Director of Customer Development and co-founder at The Chat Shop. Jonny shares with you knowledge about how to plan online selling - right from the start.
Justyna: Hello Jonny, I’m happy to have you here!
Jonny: Hi Justyna, great to be here, thanks for having me.
Justyna: Maybe we could start from the basics of selling and that’s understanding your customer’s needs, right?
Jonny: Yeah, definitely. I think when you’re going to launch a new business, it’s really important that you try and understand not just the product you’re selling, kind of the key features, but also what it’s gonna bring to you customers’ life. So, if you’re gonna be selling a bed, they might be able to sleep better, which means that they’re going to be able to be more productive and so forth.
Justyna: So this is something that people forget about that we need to stop selling products, and we need to start selling values and benefits, right?
Jonny: Indeed. Sometimes it seems to more conceptually difficult in some areas than others, if you’re selling certain books, for example, you might think: “God, what on earth is the benefit of having a book? But if you think back to what someone’s going to learn from it, or what someone’s gonna get from it, or maybe you’re running kind of a book club experience where someone’s going to be a part of the community, where they can talk about that book, kind of share new ideas and thoughts, meet like-minded people.
There’s lots of other kind of hidden benefits and it’s kind of a game when you have to sit down, really rack your brain and a common favorite I have is “which means that”. So if you’re talking about something, you can ask yourself “which means that.” For example: I’m going to be selling books, which means that people are going to be able to read, which means that they’re gonna learn new things, which means that they’re gonna be better professionals in their careers, which means that they’re gonna get paid more money, which means that they’ll gonna buy house of their dreams…
So if you’re keep going back, so the “which means that” game, you’ll start to get your real product benefit rather than just product feature.
Justyna: And this is the description of your product that you should place on your website, isn’t it?
Jonny: Yeah, I think when we talk about things like product descriptions, it’s really key to understand a couple of things. One is obviously the benefit, which we’ve just started talking through, so not just positioning it in a too much of a functional way but also one of the big things is: what information does someone need to understand to buy that product.
So we talk about a different example, maybe you’ll gonna start selling mattresses for beds and bed frames. You’re going to need to have really detailed information on what mattress fits what frame, how big the frame is, how hard the floor, whether it’s double or single, what the measurements for each of those are, because, people aren’t going to be able to buy it if they can’t be sure that it’s going to fit in their homes.
So, from an information perspective, there’s really two key bits: one is the functional bits of what I need to know in order to be able to buy the product because I’m not going to buy something I don’t understand. And the second thing is what value is that product going to bring to me: is it purely functional or are there some benefits, some more exciting things that are gonna impact my life that we can actually talk about in that description as well.
Justyna: But there is also another thing that we need to add to our website, right, it’s a high-quality photo of a product, yes?
Jonny: Yeah, yeah, definitely, good point. So, photography is often seen as something, especially when you’re starting out, you know, costs are tight and you kind of think: well, where can I maybe cut some corners, or make some economies. Maybe I’m going to use some Getty Images or some, do a Google image search or even use the retailer’s product imagery. Photography really is an asset. And if you invest in high-quality product photography, it is something you can use to stand yourself apart.
Photography also can play a role of interest and once you start to have a customer base, so obviously in the world of social media: Instagram, Facebook, even Twitter, you can start using some user-generated photography content to really help sell your product. A great example of this, actually Justyna, is Apple. You’ve probably seen their big billboards around, right, where it’s a certain beautiful photo and it will be a photo taken on the iPhone 6. That’s a really clever idea in terms of getting really awesome photography and seeing your product in situ and it helps the customers to kind of visualise it in their lives as well because it’s not just studio photography,it’s also end-user photography: me drinking from my cup, or me using a football I bought or whatever it is I’ve bought from you guys.
Justyna: Yes, it’s also a great practice to share photos of your customers, isn’t it?
Jonny: Most definitely. I’m using them as attraction, to grow a base, to grow more interest, identifying, for example, the relevant hashtags for your market, so you know, if you’re selling dresses, you might add the #fashion and the #fastfashion, I’m not up on dress hashtags by the way, so you might want to research this yourself, but understanding where are my audience and propagating end-user content and sharing it and resharing it with the relevant hashtags to get it to wider community as well.
Justyna: OK, we have pictures, we have a description but it’s not all because we also have to have an e-commerce platform, right?
Jonny: Yeah, indeed, definitely. So, depending on how you want to get started, there’s a couple of options. I’d probably recommend going with a built-for-purpose e-commerce platform so, a good example of one is Shopify.
Good friend of mine Alex over at WeMakeWebsites, they are a good Shopify expert if someone wants to check them out. Shopify is a really simple tool. Comes with a payment system out of the box,comes with analytics out of the box and the transaction fees are normally much better, so you need a way to have a system that’s going to give you the reporting you need, there’s going to be built with e-commerce in mind and, preferably, have some payment options right out of the box so you can just get going with it and start making some money from day one.
Justyna: So all you have to do is to contact Shopify for example and they will do everything for you, right?
Jonny: Yeah. You get the platform, it’s already plug and play, and it has the kind of cool features you’re going to need to get started with your store, so yeah, Shopify is one. You could also check out Magento or Bigcommerce, but Shopify is a very good platform and if you want some more good tips on selling products and stuff WeMakeWebsites is a good site to check out as well.
Justyna: Some e-commerce shops like you to register even if you want to make only one purchase. Do you think it’s a good idea?
Jonny: It’s a tough one, isn’t it? So I think there’s always going to be a trade-off between what’s valuable to you as a business owner and what’s valuable to your customer. So from a customer’s perspective I want something to be easy and from a business owner’s perspective, I want as much information on you as I can get so that I can identify you and market to in the future and so forth. If someone’s purchasing something from you anyway, you need to have things like their billing address, their shipping address.
Doing little things like for example, if you’re putting in your billing address, assuming that’s your shipping address as well, for example, so you don’t have to type that out twice. And also thinking about the level of information I need from you, so: I need your email address so I need a way of contacting you. Do I need your mobile phone number or, you know, your dog’s name, or kind of your brother’s wife’s name or whatever it is. I think it’s just about: if you’re asking for something, be very clear what the value of the customer giving that to you is for them.
So if you want their mobile phone number, is that because you’re going to give them real-time delivery updates by text message? You can position that, for example, as an opt-in service and therefore: OK, if I want that, I’m going to give you my number because I’m going to get value from it. But if you’re just requiring my number for some arbitrary reason, that’s when I think it gets a bit frustrating.
So, just be very clear on why you’re asking for you’re asking for and also what the value is for the customer giving you that name, email address, and address – physical address makes sense because he needs to know who I am, he needs to take my money from me, he needs to send me something, but anything above that can be a little bit frustrating.
So just give people the options to opt-in to things and if you want to gather more information, consider stuff like, what’ called “progressive profiling,” which basically means that first time I ask you for the bare-bones basic stuff, you know, how do I get this product to you, where do you live and I get that information and the next time maybe I ask you for something else that’s relevant, and the next time maybe I ask you for something else that’s relevant.
So you’re building their trust, the more that they trust you, rather than just kind of going “OK, all up front, tell me everything about you since you were born to date in order to buy this, you know, t-shirt.” It just has to be relevant to the purchase and has to be clear in terms of value for the consumer to give it to you.
Justyna: So once you have the customer’s data: it is very important to stay in touch after the purchase, isn’t it?
Jonny: Yeah, I mean, so building a list, especially in areas like e-commerce is invaluable and I definitely suggest doing it from day one. There are some good free, email grabbing tools out there, company called SumoMe, they have some good products you can check out, which, basically, give you opportunities to grab people's’ details.
Again, I think, you need to understand why would they share their email addresses with you, why would they sign up for a newsletter. A lot of retailers we work with would normally get some sort of discount so maybe a discount for likes on Facebook or maybe a discount for an email address and once they opt-in, you know, a voucher once they buy something next time, which is a good incentive.
Once you have the contact details, I think it’s about what’s the frequency of the newsletters you’re going to send out and again what’s the value you’re gonna add to them. I mean I have an inbox I just use for signing up to newsletters because otherwise you get so many, but I think that’s a part of the problem, right, is that those newsletters aren’t really adding much value to my life as a consumer. We get so bombarded with information.
What is it about your newsletter, what is it about your communications that are going to make me look forward to getting that newsletter each month rather than just the repetitive? Here’s what we’ve got this month, here’s what we’ve got this month, buy this, buy that, buy the other. What kind of value you can add to your customer through your content, through your newsletter communications?
Justyna: It’s not building a relationship with customers, is it?
Jonny: Yeah, most definitely! And you know, being selfless, right, you want to sell stuff, which is cool, that’s fine, we can all get down with that, but someone has to want to buy it! And if someone wants to buy it, part of that is about giving value to get value, right.
So, being a bit selfless, thinking about them first, and then you’d be surprised that at the, an end benefit you get from that, because we’re positioning ourselves as someone interesting, valuable, that someone wants to be a part of and therefore some, you know, we’re building a brand there, essentially, rather than just selling product.
Justyna: OK, thank very much for this chat and thanks for being here!
Jonny: No problem, thanks for having me Justyna!
To sum it up, online selling is not only about gaining customers and making them pay for your products. If you have listened to the third episode of Business Sidekick, The Secret of Damn Good Copy That Sells, you remember that you cannot sell only your product, you need to sell its benefits rather than just features. But you also need to remember that you need to give some functional information about your product: how heavy it is or how it can be used.
The next thing you need to focus on is good quality of product pictures. People won’t be able to get to your store to check if they like what they see, so it’s very important to make good pictures that show different angles of your product. And don’t you think about using stock photos! You can use your customer’s pictures instead and, actually, it’s a good way of promoting your business on social media.
Once you have your website prepared, you need to have an e-commerce platform so customers can purchase your products and be able to pay for them. Shopify, Magento or Bigcommerce can come in handy here.
Remember to gather information about your customers from day one, but maybe don’t try to do that at one time. In the beginning, you can ask them to provide you shipping address and their email. Later you can ask them for more information that will be relevant for you.
Last but not least, remember to think about your customers first. Don’t send them emails with information what kind of new stuff you have, think about what value you can give them, so they look forward to your newsletters.
You can give them discounts and vouchers; maybe you can give them tips and tricks that will be useful for them. Just make sure that your customers see that you want to give them value for your communication and thanks to that you will build a bond of trust between them and your brand.
That’s all for today!
I hope you liked this episode of Business Sidekick and that you’ve learned something valuable from my chat with Jonny.
Hear you in two weeks, take care!
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