Marketing, marketing for authors, writing

Paradigm Marketing Shift: Rule 1


This post started for me, as these things sometimes do, by something that was wrong on the internet jarring it loose in my brain. I saw the post below, and protested it. It’s wrong. It’s wrong on several levels. And it is also right on a couple of points, but the worst lies are carried by small truths they contain within them to point at an say ‘that? that’s real!’ but it doesn’t make it all true. 

My immediate comment on this was:  “Why the no prices thing? I’m not going to post anything about my business – I have one, have had more than one for decades, but marketing is tricky. I see this copypasta post from time to time and have never understood the ‘no prices’ and often I also see ‘no links.’Here’s the thing I know from twenty-odd years of running a business: the easier you make it for the customer to buy, the more likely they are to buy. Also, the corollary for this is that customers appreciate price transparency. They do no like having to reach out and get a quote, only to realize it is way out of their budget. They might be able to afford it, but the fear is that they won’t, so more often than not if they can’t see the price, they won’t even go looking for it, much less ask.”

Here’s the thing about that particular little post. It’s not original. It’s not connected to support for those impacted by the pandemic. It’s been around for years, and I tend to see it shared by people (but not always) who have been sucked into an MLM (for the purpose of this post: MLM are neither small, nor your business). I suspect it’s one of their little basket of tricks they hand off to their ‘consultants’ and say ‘here, go market yourself!’ Except that it violates several of the rules of small business marketing. 

Rule 1: Make it easy

The easier it is for your customer to get what they want, the better. This is why posting stuff online with no price, and worse, no link where a customer could go to look at it in more detail is bad. That line in the meme about customers contacting you? They won’t. Or they might, but if they aren’t already your ‘friend’ on social media the message will be suppressed. Customers contacting you through the original poster? This is where I make disapproving noises. There are better ways to collect personal data. But not many that come with this level of trust already built in. Introducing a middleman in this transaction is unnecessary and makes me (on the outside looking in) unhappy.  

I turned to social media myself, and asked my ‘friends’ list, which is over 2K strong at this point, to give me some links to their small businesses, with a warning that I was going to be doing a teaching post, not just a ‘buy their stuff!’ post. However, I got some great and diverse exemplars, not just authors, although I’ll start with one. 

Christopher Woods’ first link is a great example of ‘make it easy’ on the customer. It leads right to his Amazon author page, and all his books are right there, prices, reviews, everything. Boom. His second link takes you to his website, which generates an auto-popup asking for a sign-in. It’s for a newsletter, and it’s an impediment to the customer getting to the product. Yes, I know newsletters are all the rage, and yes, I agree they are a powerful marketing tool handled correctly. But. An awful lot of consumers are either going to close the tab if you have a popup on your site, or they will at least close the popup. Asking for a newsletter signup requires a bit more buy-in than the initial visit. Also… does that popup keep coming back every time you visit the site? Even if you have signed on for the newsletter? Things to think about. Make it easy. Don’t throw roadblocks in their way. 

The next example, from Bokerah Brumley, is of her bakery. Online? I’m intrigued! If you click through you are rewarded with a lovely website, full of mouthwatering photos. Right on the splash page where you land are links for the purchases, or you can scroll for photos and more information. Now I’m sad that I’d have to be in Cisco County, Texas to subscribe to their services. But if you are! You should check this out. She’s got her pricing right up front, too. 

One way to make it easy on your customers is to interact with them. This also builds trust, and return sales. Having a running conversation, as Keith Clinton does with the patrons of his deli, is a fantastic way to make it easy on them to keep coming back. Building an online presence is easy for the business owner with the Facebook pages, and doing things like the owners of Rock Top Bookshop and Bindery do on their page is one way to get past the throttles applied to posts on pages. Although sharing memes isn’t always the best way to let your customers know what you do, it’s one way to get your name out there attached to them. 

Sometimes, customers don’t want to build up a cozy relationship with their small business. They want to get in, get it (whatever it might be) and get out. Like those who would shop at State Defense Supply. In a good example of small business agility, they are already selling masks for the pandemic, in snazzy (coff, sorry, got a little sarcastic but I’m not mad at you, SDF! you just know your market) camo colors. Sometimes making it easy is hard. Outdated websites mean spending time and money to get them up to what the kids are looking for. Unless you are in such a niche market you aren’t worried about looking slick, because you have something very few else can supply… Except Amazon. Which is what I’d worry about, in the Superlux company. Finding your niche market and making it easier than Amazon? Oof. Not easy. 

Service businesses don’t have to compete with Amazon, though. And they can’t always be transparent with pricing, because it depends. My sister runs an organization service (she’s perfect for it. My sister could be Mary Poppins. Me? Notsomuch) and her way of breaking that resistance point is to offer a free consultation. The customer gets a chance to find out what it could cost, and talk to her, which is part of constructing that trust so necessary in a long-term service arrangement. One thing I’d love to see with service businesses is more online presences that make them easy to find when looking locally (I’ll tell you about finding an electrician in the next post) but also accessible to remote clients. Ruby Moon Investigations, for instance, doesn’t make it clear if you can use their private investigation services only in Colorado, or further afield. I’m going to pester my sister to offer video consults (not free!) because sometimes you just need a little encouragement to get past your own sticking points. In the home, or in business. 

Which is where building a relationship with your customers come in. But that, I’m going to talk about tomorrow. I have made this quite long enough! 

Takeaway for today: Your customer’s time and energy are valuable. Treat them like that, and make it easy for them to commit to a sale. Look at your marketing and point of sale, and kick any roadblocks to the curb. 


7 thoughts on “Paradigm Marketing Shift: Rule 1

  1. I realize I’m a bit on the cynical side, but this looks more like a “social engineering” attempt to garner leads for spam and “let us help you sell” messages.

    1. Doug, I don’t think you’re wrong but I’m also a “bit on the cynical side”.

  2. ” Unless you are in such a niche market you aren’t worried about looking slick, because you have something very few else can supply… ”

    In my case I am in a market that many others are also in, even though it is a narrow niche (microphones and wireless microphones). How I distinguish myself from all the others that sell these products is my knowledge and expertise. I literally wrote the book on microphones. That means I can provide a level of customer support others can’t. As a one man operation, I try to provide support both before and after the sale that I would want if I was the customer.

    “Except Amazon. Which is what I’d worry about, in the Superlux company. Finding your niche market and making it easier than Amazon? Oof. Not easy.”

    Yes Amazon competes with me, and I lose sales to them. However, they only sell a small part of the products I sell, and often what is sold through Amazon does not have a USA warranty, and/or might not even be legal to sell or use in the USA (this is a big problem with wireless mics).

    Please keep on giving us ideas on how to improve our businesses.

    1. I think that superlative customer service you can provide is precisely the point that makes your business special. And it’s what I’d planned to talk about tomorrow.

  3. If you click through you are rewarded with a lovely website, full of mouthwatering photos.

    No kidding.

    The donut one looks like one of those classic “paintings of food” things that use to be so popular– the kind of thing that has me wondering how hard it would be to get a Windows theme (wallpaper collection) based on it.
    No, not of practical value.
    Just pretty.

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