Establishing your Perceived Value

Perceived ValueWhile most marketing principles of days gone by are just as valid for online businesses, there are a few that have taken on an increased importance in this Internet Age. Signs, flyers and billboards were intended to attract attention and inspire interest – not to actually sell.

In old school marketing, consumers were enticed to take a closer look at a product, but it wasn’t always the case that a customer would walk into a brick & mortar with cash in hand, their decision already firm. They wanted to see, to feel, to touch the product – they had to feel that they could trust the product to meet their expectations. And they wanted to get a feel for the person selling them that product – to decide whether they could trust them to live up to their promises.

When they found someone they trusted to deliver real value for their dollar, they returned. They recommended them to their friends. They were loyal.

When you think about it, it’s really rather amazing that consumers have so readily adapted to buying products without seeing them first. Judging quality and overall value by an image and a product description, after all, isn’t as certain as actually holding it in your hand.

Perhaps more importantly, the lack of face-to-face contact with a sales person removes a critical element from the decision process. The ability to “read” the credibility and sincerity of the seller, for many, was the deciding factor. With the advent of online buying, that ability was removed.

Or was it?

True ValueBuilding Value

There are many ways that a business can build trust with consumers, even without the warm smile and firm handshake that Dale Carnegie rightfully touted as so critical. People are still affected by the same signals of reliability and honesty as always… those are just now coming via a website, rather than from a flesh-and-blood salesman.

Think about it… what traits make a positive impression on you when you’re talking face-to-face with a salesperson? Here’s a few common ones, to start with:

  • Knowledge – the representative must possess the necessary knowledge of the product and its use to be able to address all your questions and concerns. They have to be able to effectively allay your fears regarding safety, ease of use, warranty issues, cost comparison, durability, etc. – in other words, they can show you the value.
  • Service – they must be able to make you feel as though it is your satisfaction that is most important to them, both at that moment and after the sale… and that they are able and willing to do what it takes to ensure that satisfaction.
  • Credibility/Sincerity – the perception of sincerity is built through friendliness, eye contact, openness in sharing both pros & cons, and a perception that their driving interest is to provide you with the product that will best satisfy your needs, not whatever will help fulfill a sales quota.

Obviously, that’s not a comprehensive list… but it covers the most important traits that make most of us comfortable with a person we’re about to hand our money to.

So… how do you convey those characteristics when you’re essentially invisible? Surprisingly, it’s not as difficult as you might think. Here are a few tips:

Knowledge – Make all the necessary information to answer any probable questions available and easily located. Cost comparisons are useful – including not only the purchase cost, but also costs of operation, supplies and service, if applicable. Safety considerations should be made clear prior to purchase, as should warranty and exchange terms. A set of clear instructions on the product’s use can sometimes be of value in helping prospective buyers make a decision. Product specifications, weight, dimensions, power requirements… these can all answer concerns that might be making a buyer hesitate. The days of peddling a Mystery package are long gone.

Transparency is the key here… if you’re not sharing the information that a particular visitor is looking for, you may lose them to a competitor that does. People that can’t find information that they feel is important may wonder why it’s not being shared. Never let customers wonder if you’re hiding something from them.

Service – This can be somewhat subjective, to be honest. Some buyers like being led by the hand through the entire process and others just want to be left alone and shown the bottom line. What I like to do is to provide them that bottom line, with the high points, then a <more info> link. Too much information for users that don’t need/want it often clouds their real issues, making it harder for them to click that BUY NOW button.

Giving the impression to each user that they are your most important customer is an age-old marketing skill, and it’s just as valid in the online world. You can accomplish this via your copywriting, near-instant response to emails or contact form and an exemplary live chat experience. Effective customer service begins at first contact and will often be the most lasting impression a business can make. Make certain it’s the right one.

Credibility-likeability-idealCredibility/Sincerity – This is probably the most difficult, since online, we’re not able to use a warm smile, firm handshake and direct eye contact to instill trust. But there are ways to convey those e-traits. My favorite is to not try to sell to the customer. That’s right! NOT sell. I let the product and its benefits do the selling, but gently. Putting the right information in front of the customer and letting him convince himself has seemed to me to be the most effective technique, overall. Many people immediately put up a wall of resistance to any effort to sell them something – adding to that resistance probably shouldn’t be a part of your strategy.

Everyone, of course, may not prefer such a low-pressure technique, but regardless of your style, be honest and straightforward, answer questions clearly, if your business has made a mistake, own up to it and immediately ask what you can do to make things right and finally, be consistent. Those are probably the most important behaviors I would recommend to convey credibility and sincerity.

Focusing on the above three elements can help you achieve the trust of your prospects and turn them into customers. How you treat them after their money is in your hand will determine whether they’ll return to buy from you again and whether they’ll send others to you.

Regardless of the product you’re offering or even its price, these three aspects of your online style will improve your customers’ perception of your value. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard, “Yeah, they’re a little more expensive, but their [insert "quality", "service" or "warranty" here] is great!”

Of course, the flip side of that can be, “Yeah, their widget is cheap and it works, but their [insert "quality", "service" or "warranty" here] sucks!”

And none of us want to be on the flip side, right?

About Sheldon Campbell

Doc Sheldon is co-founder of Top Shelf Copy – a content strategy and SEO services firm with offices in San Diego, California, and Albany, New York – where he specializes in technical SEO and Content Strategy. Doc has over 30 years experience in marketing and professional journalism bolstering his 9 years online marketing background. In addition to his primary interest – the Semantic Web and the technologies to achieve that end – Doc also performs organic search optimization services for Top Shelf’s clients worldwide, specializing in content strategy services.

Comments

  1. This is a great article, thanks for sharing Doc. The only thing I would add is the power of recommendations and reviews when it comes to online sales. I couldn’t agree more that the physical element of seeing and touching a product has been removed, I feel that it has in fact been replaced by other peoples recommendations.

    You may not be able to touch the product but that guy who left a 2 out of 5 star review did and said it wasn’t very good.

    I feel that keeping your clients happy is the best way to win new ones, like it has been for time immemorial

Trackbacks

  1. Evermind says:

    Il triangolo del valore di un ecommerce: conoscenza, servizio, credibilità. Fatevi su le maniche! http://t.co/XzQSmecn

  2. A.R.Karthick says:

    Establishing your Perceived Value http://t.co/yIaIQsWk | via @level343 by @DocSheldon RT @glenn_ferrell

  3. A.R.Karthick says:

    Establishing your Perceived Value http://t.co/yIaIQsWk | via @level343 by @DocSheldon RT @glenn_ferrell

  4. Carla Young says:

    Establishing your Perceived Value http://t.co/soMBgbLU via @SEOcopy

  5. Carla Young says:

    Establishing your Perceived Value http://t.co/soMBgbLU via @SEOcopy

  6. Establishing your Perceived Value http://t.co/3FZ7ZrTl via @SEOcopy

  7. Jeff Jacobs says:

    Establishing your Perceived Value http://t.co/3FZ7ZrTl via @SEOcopy

  8. Jeff Jacobs says:

    Establishing your Perceived Value http://t.co/3FZ7ZrTl via @SEOcopy

  9. Establishing your Perceived Value http://t.co/Dy824sK1 via @level343

  10. Paul Morin says:

    Establishing your Perceived Value http://t.co/YxGOptm7 via @SEOcopy

  11. Social Terra says:

    RT @rebekahradice: Establishing your Perceived Value http://t.co/yGswBB9g via @level343

  12. Social Terra says:

    RT @rebekahradice: Establishing your Perceived Value http://t.co/yGswBB9g via @level343

  13. Establishing your Perceived Value http://t.co/PPvKqZHt via @level343

  14. Establishing your Perceived Value http://t.co/PPvKqZHt via @level343

  15. Establishing your Perceived Value http://t.co/PPvKqZHt via @level343

  16. Establishing your Perceived Value http://t.co/PPvKqZHt via @level343

  17. Establishing your Perceived Value http://t.co/HG6QvGmG via @level343

  18. [...] While most marketing principles of days gone by are just as valid for online businesses, there are a few that have taken on an increased importance in this Internet Age. Signs, flyers and billboard…  [...]

  19. Establishing your Perceived Value via @level343 by @DocSheldon http://t.co/gQ73ghwN

  20. Establishing your Perceived Value http://t.co/C76bF89X via @SEOcopy

  21. Establishing your Perceived Value http://t.co/mLqA1DI9 via @SEOcopy

  22. Establishing your Perceived Value http://t.co/Dq5S7Hv2 via @SEOcopy

  23. Establishing your Perceived Value http://t.co/ckReriLA via @SEOcopy

  24. Establishing your Perceived Value http://t.co/C76bF89X via @SEOcopy

  25. Establishing your Perceived Value http://t.co/C76bF89X via @SEOcopy

  26. DemandCon says:

    Establishing your Perceived Value http://t.co/AsI8LDza via @SEOcopy

  27. Joe Prasad says:

    Establishing your Perceived Value http://t.co/7yH4vfV1 via @SEOcopy

  28. Joe Prasad says:

    Establishing your Perceived Value http://t.co/7yH4vfV1 via @SEOcopy

  29. Establishing your Perceived Value http://t.co/GimP4HXA via @SEOcopy

  30. Amy Vernon says:

    Establishing your Perceived Value http://t.co/ByIxIemN via @SEOcopy

  31. Establishing your Perceived Value http://t.co/7VICExu1 by @DocSheldon

  32. Rynnah says:

    Establishing your Perceived Value http://t.co/LO6K3Gjo

  33. Establishing your Perceived Value http://t.co/EG6D6TEj via @level343

  34. Establishing your Perceived Value http://t.co/EG6D6TEj via @level343

  35. Ching Ya says:

    How to Establish your Perceived Value http://t.co/hB1rzfKP via @SEOcopy

  36. Ching Ya says:

    How to Establish your Perceived Value http://t.co/hB1rzfKP via @SEOcopy

  37. From earlier today on Level343 – Establishing your Perceived Value – http://t.co/kMLFAezo

  38. DocSheldon says:

    From earlier today on Level343 – Establishing your Perceived Value – http://t.co/kMLFAezo

  39. Establishing your Perceived Value – Categories:Online MarketingTags: CredibilityWhile most marketing principles of d… http://t.co/UwZlZV4f

  40. Establishing your Perceived Value http://t.co/bDyYX6Q4 by @level343

  41. Establishing your Perceived Value http://t.co/SYUlCPfK via @SEOcopy

  42. Establishing your Perceived Value http://t.co/SYUlCPfK via @SEOcopy

  43. Robin Moss says:

    Establishing your Perceived Value http://t.co/duAxlfTZ

  44. Bonnie Burns says:

    Establishing your Perceived Value http://t.co/uQ79Ruyr via @level343

  45. Bonnie Burns says:

    Establishing your Perceived Value http://t.co/TJwSklVt via @level343

  46. Establishing your Perceived Value http://t.co/Z5L1DpuE via @SEOcopy

  47. Establishing your Perceived Value http://t.co/2wxoY5Pv via @SEOcopy

  48. Establishing your Perceived Value http://t.co/2wxoY5Pv via @SEOcopy

  49. Establishing your Perceived Value http://t.co/Dg4r2TLs

  50. Establishing your Perceived Value

    http://t.co/fKUamjhl

  51. Merlinox says:

    Il triangolo del valore di un ecommerce: conoscenza, servizio, credibilità. Fatevi su le maniche! http://t.co/XzQSmecn

  52. Establishing your Perceived Value http://t.co/Ryzertrl | Fresh Squeezed post…thanks @DocSheldon

  53. Establishing your Perceived Value http://t.co/Ryzertrl | Fresh Squeezed post…thanks @DocSheldon

  54. Establishing your Perceived Value http://t.co/cblYlpVK :: @web-designs.gr

  55. David Harry says:

    RT @SEOcopy Establishing your Perceived Value http://t.co/fewIZ17w

  56. Rich Austin says:

    Establishing your Perceived Value http://t.co/8GYBCsfV

  57. Ana Hoffman says:

    Establishing your Perceived Value http://t.co/1U0uVnOP via @SEOCopy

  58. RT @SEOcopy Establishing your Perceived Value http://t.co/kp68Po5d

  59. Establishing your Perceived Value: While most marketing principles of days gone by are just as val… http://t.co/UMco7RCk via @level343

Speak Your Mind

*