In affiliate marketing, selling stuff isn’t easy, not when you have competitors offering the same stuff as you and customers becoming more savvy and finicky about their purchases. Salespeople and marketers have invested a lot of time and money in understanding consumer psychology, or what makes people do four things:
1. Buy stuff.
2. Buy more stuff (i.e., recurrent sales).
3. Buy more expensive stuff (i.e., upsell sales).
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4. Buy other stuff altogether. (i.e., cross-sell sales).
During my time in tech support, I wasn’t required to sell anything; however, that didn’t mean my department wasn’t closely involved in generating sales. Our marketing folks instructed us in some rather ingenious ways to qualify potential customers who would be willing to buy our stuff without putting any kind of sales pressure on them. These most-likely-to-buy customers came in two flavors:
1. Newbies. These customers are just getting started in some new venture, be it buying a home, going back to school, starting a company, etc. They are looking to buy stuff and require your help and advice on those new items. Setup profits from newbies can be substantial and are a great way to generate not only affiliate product sales but recurrent product sales.
2. Problematics. These customers have tried a product and are unhappy with it. Ideally, that product is a competitor’s, giving you an ideal opportunity to poach your competitor’s disgruntled customers. This “disgruntle factor” allows you to not only sell your products but also upsell more pricey products and/or cross-sell unrelated products. Even if you have the touchy situation of a customer using your own product and being unhappy with it, you can still fix the situation by using psychological tactics to upsell and/or cross-sell your products.
Once you qualify your newbies and problematics, it’s time to reel them in by employing the following psychological tactics:
How to Win Newbies
Give information. Newbies can be an easy win if you know what makes them tick. Most newbies do not have a lot of information on hand in order to make the best purchasing decision; for example, consider the guy or gal who is out shopping for an engagement ring. This customer is going to be initially more focused on price than buying a quality diamond; however, if you provide him or her with useful content about how to grade a diamond and the risks inherent with buying cheap diamonds (e.g., “feathers” are actually cracks in your diamond), you’re almost guaranteed that this customer will plunk down 50%-100% more cash on the purchase.
Capitalize on insecurity. Newbie customers may act like they know everything about the product- but deep down inside they are very insecure about their purchasing decision. You can take advantage of this insecurity by asking what they are most concerned about and then upselling a better- and inevitably more expensive- product to stem their fears.
Provide support. If at all possible, provide your newbies with a support forum or network that can help answer their questions post-purchase. Supporting newbie customers not only cuts down on future problematics but also allows you to generate recurrent sales. And of course, stating that you offer support helps win those newbies over in the first place.
Address budget concerns with value. In the marketing world, budget-conscious customers are notorious for being the hardest customers to win over. Ironically, you’ll also never win them over by discounting the prices of your items (unless you give your stuff away for free). Rather than downplaying money, you actually need to talk about it- extensively- in order to win these folks over.
Start by acknowledging that your product is a big investment of $X and that with today’s tough economy and so forth, such a purchase can’t be done lightly. However, the product, though expensive, is a good value for the money because it will last much longer than cheap knock-offs. Alternately, the product is expensive- but it comes with a money-back guarantee. Alternately, the product is expensive, but it comes with all these extra free items. In essence, emphasize and deliver on the promise of value and you will have won over your budget-conscious customer.
The Newbie Acquisition Strategy
Start populating your affiliate marketing website with quality content and white papers that describe your products and how they can be used by a first-timer. The more complicated your products, the more more information you should provide. Even if your products are “simple” (e.g., face cream), provide background information on what makes them so great or what the products actually accomplish. Having a few case studies, if you can round them up, drives home the point that your products perform well and actually live up to their potential.
Also, expert marketers often use the “I am better than you” psychology ploy when winning newbies over to their product line. You can use this tactic by appealing to newbies’ egos and stressing how your products beat the products their friends own. In fact, your products are so good, those friends will actually be come jealous. For example, if your products are niche items such as gelato makers, you might infer how a newbie will appear to be a sophisticated homemaker like Martha Stewart by serving homemade gelato at family get-togethers.
How to Win Problematics
Acknowledge the problem(s). On the other side of the spectrum are the problematics, those customers that have already tried a product and don’t like it. Even worse, those customers may have tried a product that you yourself sell. A big part of your strategy here will be to pinpoint and discuss common issues with your affiliate products as identified by problematics.
Even if you don’t have a ready solution on hand, the key here is to recognize the problems and address them. To this end, you could review certain products and provide pros and cons with each item. You could also provide detailed case studies of specific customers and how their issues were resolved.
Feature product improvements. The biggest reason software upgrades and those “new and improved” products exist is because something was wrong with the previous versions. Thus, whenever a new version of product X makes its debut, it’s imperative that you, the affiliate marketer, describe what is so great about this product.
For starters, what previous problem(s) does this product solve? By developing content around the latest and greatest products to hit the market, you can better ensure that disgruntled customers give that product line another shot.
Provide comparison studies. You can prevent a lot of disgruntlement by comparing your products against those of the competition and defining their advantages and disadvantages. Doing so also goes a long way towards winning over budget-conscious customers because they will now know what their hard-earned dollars are buying. You should also compare your cheaper items with the more expensive ones and bring up possible or reported issues with the cheaper items. This allows you to upsell products that a typical customer would normally not consider buying.
The Problematic Acquisition Strategy
Attract and win problematics by offering a solution to their problem; i.e., a way out of their current pain. This way out may entail buying a better and thus more expensive product; however, at this point in time, problematics won’t care that they’re spending more money. Their main concern is to stop the pain. This is a great opportunity for you to not only upsell but also cross-sell products.
Don’t ignore negative feedback on products; it can be a veritable goldmine in terms of acquiring bigger customers. On the other side of things, act professional and don’t badmouth the competition or its defective products. Instead, offer objective product comparisons and reviews. Show how you are actively dealing with negative feedback of your own products. In sum, don’t ignore or shuffle away those customers that may not be as pleasant to deal with as the newbies.
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Newbies and problematics are your two best and most lucrative customer groups because both of these groups have an actual need to buy your stuff. However, you need to take the right approach with either group, capitalizing on hidden desires and fears, in order to make those sales happen.
Provide the right content, feedback and resources and you will be well on your way to winning these customers and their dollars.