How to sell what people want to buy

sell_what_people_want_to_buyOne of the hardest lessons I’ve ever learned is that people will only buy what they want to buy.

That sounds totally obvious, doesn’t it? In fact it wouldn’t be right or fair to persuade someone to buy something they didn’t want. So why is it so hard to actually sell what people want?

The first time I sold something was when I went to an agency and told them what I could do, which at that time was training on various software packages.  They would then match me up with an organisation that needed that temporarily needed that skill. So yes, I was selling what somebody wanted to buy.

But then I saw how much of my fee was being swallowed up by the agencies and I thought I’d try going direct to businesses instead. I created some course outlines based on what other training companies were offering and…well I didn’t get very far. A few days work here and there but that was about it.

The trouble was I didn’t stop to think about…

  • Which problem I was trying to solve for my customers
  • That they’d want a specialist rather than a jobbing trainer who did a whole range of courses
  • They’d be more likely to hire me if they’d  had a chance to get to know me first
  • I was trying to second-guess their needs. I could have just asked them instead.

That doesn’t just apply to trainers, by the way. It applies to anyone selling a service or a  physical product.

Fast forward a few years and I was putting together my first online training course. Actually it was a downloadable information product called Earn What You Deserve as a Mumpreneur. This time I got to know a community (mums running their own businesses), I listened to their challenges and created an online course to help them solve one of them. Big step forward compared to last time. And yes, I actually sold a good few of them!

But I still wasn’t doing the one thing that would make the biggest difference. To ask questions.

It sounds so simple but so many people don’t do it (yes, me included). Here’s why I think we avoid asking our audience whether they’d like a product before we even create it:

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Four reasons why social media is just like PR

social_mediaThere’s no doubt that there’s a lot of hype surrounding social media marketing. And if that gives you an uneasy feeling that you could risk spending hours tweeting, blogging and updating Facebook yet see very few results, then you’ll be reassured by what I’m going to show you in this post.

Social media is maturing, and that means that it is now being used by your average person out there (instead of just the geeks, kids, marketing types and other early adopters that used it a few years back), which in turn means you can reach more people now. It also means that it’s now being integrated into the other marketing methods that businesses have been using for years. It’s just one of the tools in your marketing toolkit.

Don’t get me wrong, social media an incredibly powerful marketing tool if used the right way. But you certainly can use good old-fashioned marketing common sense to make it work for your business – it’s not as new or radical as some experts would like you to believe.

A couple of weeks ago I was listening to Chartered PR consultant Penny Norton speak about using PR (public relations) in small business when I realised that social media works in the same way as PR. In fact it is part of PR. And if getting an article about your business in the local paper could bring in some new clients, then surely using social media effectively could do the same?

Here are four ways that social media is like PR, including some techniques we can borrow from PR to use in social media:

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