Times may seem a little tough and I'll bet that
for some, I'm not telling you anything you didn't already know.
People certainly aren't in a "buy-happy" mood these days.
So let's talk more about what we can do with our Web sites to reach our
potential customers and reassure them. Can we benefit by slightly
changing our thought processes to help visitors feel more confident even when
the business we're in may feel slower than normal?
Let's give you some easy suggestions and study examples and go from there.
1. Layaway Plans
Sears is bringing back layaways as a way to help customers buy what they want
and need. I don't know how long it's been since Sears has done away with
layaways, but I do know that many companies don't do layaways any more for
Layaways are something the customers like, however. They don't have to use a
credit card, which they may or may not have. There's no interest involved with
layaways. They can pay so much per month on their purchases. Customers may
purchase more at a store if they could put it on layaway.
As business owners, one of the most important things we can do is listen to
our customers. Sears' customers want layaways. What do your customers want?
If you have an online store, have you considered offering layaways?
Is it something you could try on a small scale to see how it might work?
Or, you may want to check into eLayaway.com
2. Even during tough times, we still buy what we need, don't we?
It's those things that we want that we often pass by. As merchants, however,
it's important that we write compelling copy to turn those wants into needs.
For example, candles aren't something we need, or are they? In this
nerve-wracking world, we each do what we can to make our personal lives less
stressful. Candles certainly have a calming effect, don't they? Even
the gentle motion of the flame is soothing. There's nothing quite like walking
into a lightly scented, candlelit room, sinking into a comfortable chair, and
enjoying the sanctity of our homes, away from the hectic lives
we all lead.
Think about your own products and services. Do your customers really need that
expensive new piece of exercise equipment, or is this a good time for them to
purchase a new car? If you can turn your customers' wants into needs and prove
that the benefits far outweigh the expense, they'll certainly consider it.
Sometimes the very items your customers quit buying are the very items they
need. Excellent examples are search engine optimization training and services.
Without targeted traffic to a site, no matter what you do on the site won't
3. Do you offer payment plans for your products or services if they're
large ticket items?
If you don't want to offer the financing yourself, check with finance
companies to see if they would handle the financing for you. Make sure you
offer a PayPal option, which is so popular these days. In other words, offer
as many payment options as you can. Again, you're appealing to your customers.
4. Review what your competitors are doing and make sure you're in the
Then determine what you can do to set yourself apart. What makes you different
from all of the other businesses who sell what you sell?
As an example, let's look at Amazon's Prime Shipping. For $79 a year, you can
get free two-day shipping on in-stock items. If you're going to buy from
Amazon more than a couple of times in a year, it's a great deal.
On the merchant's side, they're collecting the money and the customer.
Customers may buy more if they know they don't have to pay shipping.
Can you add a value-added service that would appeal to your customers? For
example, can you increase the access time to your technical people for a
software program? Or, can you offer free upgrades for two years instead of
5. Now may be the time to introduce changes to appeal to new target
audiences or to add services you've been hesitant to add.
For example, maybe your services have focused on mid-sized companies. If
you've had requests from smaller companies, could you offer a less expensive
package that would appeal to small companies?
Or, maybe you've had customer requests to add a less expensive product line to
your offerings. Again, listen to your customers. This might be a good time to
offer a range of products or services to appeal to many
6. Once a potential customer lands on your
Web site, everything about the site needs to reassure them.
Is content written and presented in such a way to establish trust? Can
customers easily find what they're looking for? Are products and services
described clearly and completely? We all know where the back button is. If
there's anything about a site that bothers us, we click the back button and
As an example, what's missing from this vase description, besides the size:
"This vase is the perfect replicate of modern elegance and architectural
beauty. Simple yet elegant, this unique design lets you chose how to decorate.
Put vase gems, polished stones, marbles, or pebbles into the vase with
flowers, or use it as a dramatic centerpiece for your table. The clean
architectural shapes will bring formal beauty and charm to any
It doesn't tell you what it's made of. It looks like glass in the picture, but
is it a hard plastic? Don't you think that's important for potential buyers?
The site may be losing sales by not including this information.
Get test customers and have them look for a particular product on your site.
When they find the product, will they know exactly what they're buying? See
how easy (or difficult) it is for them to find the product and go through the
buying process. Have them take notes about the entire experience.
Then have them go through the same process on a competitor's site. Compare
Even when it feels like everything about the economy may scream uncertainty
there are things you can do to help your Web site whisper reassurance.
the naysayers and the media, now is a great time to make subtle changes
and you can be well on your way to setting the stage for a successful
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