- Free. Offer a free trial or free demonstration or free sample and it immediately takes the risk out of trying something new. It's an offer with high perceived value.
- Ask for referrals. Don't be shy about asking your customers (fans) for referrals. Birds of a feather really do flock together. B-to-B and consumer referrals are much more likely to respond than cold prospects. Ask for permission to reference the person making the referral.
- No obligation. These are powerful words. Remind those responding to your lead generation message that there's no obligation to buy, no obligation to meet with a sales person.
- Highlight your guarantee. A rock solid money-back guarantee is important because it means you stand behind your product/service. Your guarantee is particularly important to prospects because it eliminates the financial risk for first-time tryers.
- Eliminate stumbling blocks. If you're doing one-step selling (not two-step lead generation), make sure you know your prospect's top three buying objections and address them - sooner rather than later.
- Make it easy to respond. When prospects have trouble with your shopping cart, printing out your coupon, using your order form, or clicking on a link that doesn't click through, you've lost 'em. Make it quick and easy to respond; prospects have less patience than established customers.
- Share customer reviews. Provide credible customer reviews that mention both pros and cons, not just glowing testimonials. People pay more attention to reviews that provide solid insights that will help them make more informed buying decisions.
- Differentiate. Help new customers comparison shop by differentiating yourself from your competitors and communicating the differences. Use comparison charts, customer comments and survey results to explain and support what makes you different.
- Ask to be a "back-up." It probably sounds counter-intuitive to most marketers, but when prospects already have established relationships with competitors, there's value in asking to be their second choice or back-up. Sooner or later, they will need one. I've seen this technique work for commercial banks offering business lines of credit, real estate agents, HVAC contractors, auto service shops, house cleaning and lawn care services.
- Establish rapport. The longer the sales cycle and higher your product's price tag, the more likely it is that you will need to invest more effort in establishing rapport. Ultimately, it helps you gain your prospect's trust. That's why it pays to send a series of messages offering something of value such as an industry article, link to a podcast link or YouTube video demo, or a special white paper. Become your prospect's ally first, then ask for the order.
- Remember that people buy from people ... not companies. And when all things are equal (price, quality, guarantee, etc.), people buy from the person they like the most. This is why establishing rapport is so important.
- Test. Last, but never least for direct marketers ... test these tips. Test adding customer reviews to your landing page. Test emphasizing your guarantee on your website or in your next prospect mailing. Testing will show you which of these "little things" can make the biggest difference.
Pat Friesen writes for direct mail, email, blogs, catalogs, the Web and other direct response media. She's also a sought-after copy coach, workshop presenter and columnist for Target Marketing magazine. Contact Pat at 913.341.1211 and email@example.com.
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