Do aggressive marketing practices repel you?
Or make you more likely to buy?
Is it a cultural thing? For example, does hard sell work in some cultures, but not others?
Personally, when I experience the hard-sell, I immediately become suspicious that the product is worthless. After all, shouldn't the product or service, if useful, pretty much sell itself?
Having said that, I have, on occasion, bought from people using the hard sell. Curiosity sometimes gets the better of us all :)
The fact that aggressive sales strategies are used so often tends to indicate such approaches do work. Let's take a look at some of these tactics, and if you can think of more examples, please add them in the comments. Also, if you've had success using such tactics yourself, please share your experiences.
The Time Sensitive Offer
A time sensitive offer, as the name suggests, is an offer that has a specific time limit.
Typically, the more time people have to think about something, especially impulse buyers, the less likely they are to take action. So the time sensitive offer will always create a sense of urgency - combined with jeopardy. People feel they might miss out if they don't act immediately. Like many hard sell tactics, it is based on fear. In this case - the fear of missing out.
- Limited places available: "Only ten places left!"
- Limited stock available: "STOCK CLEARANCE!! WE ONLY HAVE A FEW OF THESE LEFT!! GET IN QUICK BEFORE THEY SELL OUT!"
- Deadlines: "This offer will end at midnight, tonight! After then, we close the program" (Of course, they re-open it again at regular intervals)
The hype level of the hard sell is usually off the scale compared to most legitimate business offers.
I recall an offer last year where the hype level for a vaguely SEO-related service was getting quite ridiculous. Like many other people, I was getting bombarded with emails at every step of the sales process.
They were going to launch in a few weeks. They were just about to launch. They launched. They had launched, but there was still time to sign up!
The aim is to create an event.
The advertiser also needs to make some fairly outrageous claims. Trouble is, when everyone is making outrageous claims, then s/he needs to make even bigger ones in order to get noticed.
It sometimes helps if you print a lot of zeros on an over-sized check to really ram the point home.
How do you avoid getting sucked in?
Hard work was intoxicating.
But sitting in the ‘counting house’ counting money was frankly even more appealing. I frankly don’t know how much money and time I spent before I got wise. Or should I say wiser.
The moment of wisdom came when I started recognising the red flags.
- I started avoiding anything ‘instant.’
- I started avoiding anything that offered ‘tsunamis of customers’
- I started avoiding anything that had fancy cars, surfboards, planes, jets, boats.
- I started avoid anything with graphics of cheque books and bank balances.
Secret Or Unfair Advantage
Everyone loves to know something the next guy does not. Or gain an advantage. Anything that creates a shortcut to effort. And creating an air of mystery or invitation to a select club is very enticing.
Of course, if the secret or unfair advantage was significant, you've really got to wonder why anyone would sell it for $89.95 to faceless unknowns.
Social Proof Of Value
Social proof involves making the assumption that other people are better informed that you. People like to go where other people have gone, as it feels less risky that way, unless they all happen to be buying tickets for the Titanic, of course.
Social proof takes the form of case studies, personal recommendations, and, as often happens on the internet, shilling. Ever tried to look for a review of a product that has been sold hard? Chances are the only reviews of the new $2,000 course that ***will change the world forever*** you'll find are from affiliates.
Example (combined with time sensitive offer): Server Issue: "Our server crashed (yeah, right) due to the number of responses. We're so sorry to all those who missed out! So we've extended the offer for one more day!"
Some merchants warm up an email list by giving away prizes in exchange for testimonials as you get closer to the launch date. They even let you know that the more outlandish the testimonial is the greater the chance of being featured and winning a prize. Such false endorsements are meant to fool the rest of the list into thinking they are missing out on a once in a lifetime opportunity. And anyone who contacts them during the sales pitch gets a special link ***only for them*** to place their order the night before the general public.
Any Idiot Can do it, Fast, Easy, & Nearly Automatically
A friend recently got this via email, which captures the essence of the 'anyone can do it' pitch.
We gave you solid PROOF. Proof of how 37 people walked in our office on a Monday morning in May with:
- NO product
- NO website
- NO technical experience
And they ALL walked out Friday at 4 p.m. with their very own Internet business. Amazing, isn't it?
Now, listen to this very carefully:
If you are remotely interested in attracting more wealth into your life at a faster speed, our elite Internet marketing team can transform your life forever. It sounds clichéd, but it's true.
In some cases during the sales process you will see testimonials from teenagers, senior citizens, AND people with severe disabilities. They are showcased and exploited to remind you that if they can do it then surely you can too.
My friend also had a call with one such group about their 'mentorship program' where it was a tiered list of interviews that were made to look like qualification interviews, but were actually more like boiler room sales sessions, where certain people's times were limited and they just happened to open up right now if you have $5,000 of space on your credit card.
One group asked Aaron banal SEO questions via email one month, and was then selling a how to SEO course less than a month later. They went from completely ignorant to masters in record time. So long as they sell to desperate, inexperienced, and/or stupid people it is a strategy that works. For that target market they only need to be confident and know slightly more than your prospective customer to pry a few dollars out of their wallet.
Cross selling involves selling an additional product or service to an existing customer.
This is not just a method used to hard sell, it's a highly efficient way to market. It is cheapest to market to those whom you already have built up a relationship.
Intimacy & Relationship Building
Guerrilla Marketing is an approach to marketing that has become very popular on the internet, mostly to get over the barrier of anonymity.
One aspect central to Guerrilla marketing is the importance of building up a personal relationship, so the sales pitch will often be personality driven. It involves telling personal stories about familiar situations and problems that have been overcome. It is the polar opposite of the anonymous, depersonalized copy of the sales brochure.
Some "business opportunity" merchants create fake "application forms" which accept everyone with a credit card and a pulse.
Hard Selling is Not All Bad
There are many potential bad customers who take take take and have no intent of doing any real work. Get rich quick ponzi schemers offer a more compelling offer to them than you or I ever would, and so they filter them out of the marketplace *
I was getting better clients thanks to the get-rich-quick merchants.
They were weeding out the people who simply wanted it easy. They were weeding out those who got impatient because they tried something for 10 minutes and weren't getting results.
They were weeding out all those for whom hard work is like a disease.
* If your price-point is one of the lowest in your market and you do not charge recurring fees and the get rich quick folks enter your market then you will likely need to increase your prices and/or change your business model to filter out that bottom tier of customer and restore your faith in humanity. Even having 1 in 10 customer interactions be unpleasant can become unbearable.
Many hard sell techniques cross over into softer-sell conventional marketing and sales. We recently added a pop up to this site offering a free SEO course via email, and it did increase our conversion rates. The proof of any marketing technique can be found in the bottom line: did it make more money than other techniques?
I'd be interested to hear your experiences. Do you use these techniques? Have you bought from people using these techniques?
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