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Ideas are the Only Currency in the New Economy

Don’t act like a Used Car Salesman in your Online Business

May 29th, 2012 · No Comments · Ideas

 Big Ideas:

  • Don’t buy make money online programs or get rich quick schemes.
  • It is not worth lying to make a quick sale. The life time value of the customer will likely be worth more than the short-term profits, unless you are a criminal.
  • 1/5 of online information product sales are never downloaded by the purchasers. Is it because sellers are misleading customers?

Are you a Used Car Salesmen?

Why do used car salespeople get such a bad rap? Many of us have expectations of being sold a lemon, being over-charged or being pushed into something we don’t want to buy. Of course, those feelings are not only for used cars. We have this idea of ‘snake-oil salesmen’ in many industries, especially for online information products.

How Not to Make Money Online

Seth Godin had a great article on How to Make Money Online. It is a great list to read in it’s entirety but here are the first three items.

  1. The first step is to stop Googling things like, “how to make money online.” Not because you shouldn’t want to make money online, but because the stuff you’re going to find by doing that is going to help you lose money online. Sort of like asking a casino owner how to make money in Vegas…
  2. Don’t pay anyone for simple and proven instructions on how to achieve this goal. In particular, don’t pay anyone to teach you how to write or sell manuals or ebooks about how to make money online.
  3. Get rich slow.

All Consumers are Suckers

I have read or heard a few times now, that about 20% of purchases of online products are never downloaded. People pay their money, but for some reason never actually get the product they gave up their money for.

On a popular marketing podcast, the two announcers joked about how so many of their customers were retirees in Florida and probably don’t even know how to turn a computer on. They seemed to be quite happy with the fact that their sales techniques were so effective in getting customers that many were buying even though they had little ability to benefit from the product.

While some responsibility has to be taken by consumers themselves to not purchase products or services they are not going to use, I can’t help but feel that many businesses, online and off, hint of snail oil salesmen. How many information products have you bought that didn’t pass the used car salesman test?

The Used Car Salesman Test

Have you ever purchased a product that failed one or more of the following three tests?

1. It was a lemon. It didn’t match it’s over-hyped sales pitch.
2. You were screwed over. It was over-priced for the quality you received.
3. You were squeezed. It was sold through pushy sales tactics like false-scarcity (limited time offer, only 10 more at this price), or emotional appeals (When are you going to stop beating your head against the wall? Doesn’t your family deserve this?).

Most information products I have purchased haven’t lived up to their claims. Why does a self-published ebook sell for $97 or more when a print book, that has been vetted by agents, editors and the marketing process go for typically less than $30? The ebook publishers will tell you that it is not the price you pay, but the value you get out of it. Bullshit.

A $97 price, has nothing to do with the value of the ebook. That price point is chosen solely because it maximizes profits for the writer. Sadly, that is the way most business is done. Prices are chosen to maximize profits, not value for customers.

Action Items:

  1. We all need to make a living, so by all means create value for others. Companies that create the most value, deserve to make the most money. That is fair. Misleading customers is not.
  2. If your customer can’t use or doesn’t need your product, don’t sell it to them. The life time value of trusted relationship is greater than the profits from a single one-off sale, unless you are a fraud or a criminal and don’t care about the future business.
  3. Scarcity tactics work. More people will buy when there is a time limit. However, if you are going to use scarcity tactics, be honest about it. If the sale is one-time only, make it one-time only. Act with integrity and keep your word.
  4. The same goes for the long sales pages on websites. They work. That is why they are used. If you are a publisher and you know that 20% of purchases are never downloaded,  you still have a responsibility to those customers. Make sure the purchaser knows exactly what they are buying in advance. Have a fair return policy that you honor.
  5. Profits don’t have to trump ethics. Do the right thing.
  6. As a consumer, don’t buy “How to make money online products,” “No money down real estate courses” or any of that instant millionaire nonsense. They are designed to make the authors rich, not you.





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