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: Tinu AbayomiPaul
Some sites are perfect for the Christmas season – their products fit easily into the idea of gift-giving. But what if the products and services you offer are for small business owners?
Or, as many of my clients ask, how do I survive the holiday season if I sell intangibles?
When a couple of people brought this question up to me in early fall, my answer was that Id probably make enough money in October not to have to worry about November and December at all. Prevention made sense to me at the time as being the best cure, but it also doesnt mean that Ive resigned myself to slow sales during the holidays.
On the contrary, I think that most people who have businesses that offer intangibles such as ebooks, downloadable software, or marketing services can just as much, or more money as the rest of the year by changing tactics slightly.
In other words, just because much of the world is more focused elsewhere doesn’t automatically mean that there is a smaller pool of available customers.
True, part-time small business owners may be more mindful of gift-giving and planning family gatherings right now, and anyone with family may sacrifice a new widget for themselves to get that special someone the gift of their dreams.
However, it’s important to remember that this doesn’t mean no one wants or needs your services right now. It may just mean that you need to think a little differently to make sales this time of year. Theres a number of ways that a few subtle changes in your thinking can bring you into a solution-oriented perspective.
For example, I’m an American. This constantly leads me to a tendency to forget that this isn’t the only nation on the planet.
If, like me, you are constantly forgetting that you can market to people worldwide, one small way you can attract more business is to think bigger. Instead of falling prey to the thinking that there isn’t any money to be made again until January, think about how your site can serve a wider audience.
For example, maybe you can make your site easier for people to translate into other languages using Alta Vista’s free Babelfish tool at http://babelfish.altavista.com/, or a link to Google’s Language Tools page at http://www.google.com/language_tools?hl=en – check your server logs and see if you have a significant amount of traffic that originates in a country other than yours.
This is just one of many ways you can widen your audience.
If you have a news or content feed, maybe you need to add a newsletter for the portion of your audience who has not yet started to use news readers. Or if you blog, maybe you need to promote your feed as much as your blog. If your site is mainly text, it could be time to add audio. Or maybe all the flash you put on your site for hi-speed users makes you miss out on dial-up visitors.
Just one small change can put you in front of an cross-section of potential clients you may not have had access to previously.
You can also use a study of the demographics of your current audience to get ideas for affiliate products that might help them. If youre not studying who your audience is from afar through surveys, or even better, getting up close and personal and talking to them directly, you should be. Knowing what their needs are is invaluable information in helping you to help them.
An example: If you mostly cater to women who are small business owners, with a little more investigating, you might find that they have a common need.
Many of them may be newly successful in their endeavors, and might be thinking about making a large purchase, like a house. You could join an affiliate program of a mortgage loan company and bring the two groups together. Youve done your audience a favor, the loan company is happy with the feedback, they pay you per lead, everyone is happy
Another way you might want to think differently is to use this time of year to focus in on one earlier step in the process of making a sale, instead of focusing more attention towards the later steps that are closer to a purchase.
While most merchants worry a little too much that advertising and marketing in the last few months of the year is a waste of time, there are some people who see this as true from experience. Although past experiences don’t necessarily have to translate into present expectations, I’ll agree that maybe if you sell one ebook about painting Easter eggs, that Christmas season sales really are a foregone conclusion.
However, even in cases like these, you can still isolate one step in the sales process and just say hello. Even if you make most of your sales from on-the-spot buyers, communicating with new arrivals at your site several times can help you increase the number of people who end up purchasing down the road.
Some studies show that most online sales, particularly of ebooks and software, are not impulse buys, and may take up to seven contacts before a purchase is made. So why not make those repeat visits occur as informatively – and as quickly – as possible?
You may find that simple well wishes, and the show of a sincere desire to help builds rapport between a you and your potential client. Touching base during the holiday season doesn’t need to be a formal or long communication either.
For instance, you can send a quick email out to your list, just saying hello, or offering them a coupon against future sales. Perhaps you’ve been on the receiving end of such a gesture. I know I have, and I always appreciated it.
A lawyer I used to work for sends Thanksgiving cards. He doesnt ask for any business, he just updates us on how his family is. As a result, he is hard-coded into my brain every Thanksgiving, and I look forward to his letters.
He’s also always at the top of my mind when people ask me to refer them to a good attorney. Sure it’s because he’s great at what he does – but his effort to keep his name at the top of my mind didn’t hurt either.
In Part Two, I’ll tell you about what I noticed about the subscription site model that helped me triple my income in one month, and how you can use what I learned to help you make more money this holiday season.
Copyright 2004 Tinu AbayomiPaul