Tuesday, December 27, 2005

Engaging Stories Sell Products Effortlessly

John Forde ran a nice newsletter feature yesterday on the importance of storytelling in marketing. If you don't already subscribe to his newsletter, I recommend it. I learn at least one important new thing each week or am reminded of something that I should pay more attention to.

His article reminded me of an eBay selling example from the book, too. The following is one of the storytelling sections of "The 7 Essential Steps to Successful eBay Marketing":

Storytelling Sells
Stories capture buyer attention, bring in wide ranges of audiences, and provide an engaging context for explaining almost anything. You can tell all kinds of captivating stories on eBay. They can be one line long or the fill up three conventional, mythological acts. The best dramatic stories involve a dilemma, a struggle for truth or reason, and a solution.

Many typical eBay stories involve cleaning out an attic or finding a rare item at a swap meet. These are often true stories, and they reinforce the uniqueness of the item. If your products have interesting stories attached to them, especially stories that motivate shoppers, be sure to include them.

The following are five proven story formats for selling on eBay:
• Stories of product origin
• Stories of product scarcity and uniqueness
• Stories of customer life improvements
• Stories of product development, engineering, and/or production process
• Stories of artistic creation

Here’s an example of telling a story, selling the dream, and selling value in a listing for rare Roman coins:

“Imagine Owning a Piece of History from the B.C. Era for Less Than TWO DOLLARS Per Coin!”…”The Romans built an empire which lasted over 500 years (from 27 B.C. to 476 A.D) and encompassed a quarter of the world. Think of all the gladiators, nobleman, and soldiers that have come into contact with these coins! Many of these coins were buried more than 1500 years ago by Roman soldiers who were going off to battle. Many did not return, and thus their money (these very coins) were left in the ground only to be discovered millenniums later by archeologists.”

A story like this attracts far more bidders than one that simply says, “Please buy our coins. We think you’ll find that they’re nifty.”

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Thursday, December 15, 2005

Web Usability, Fonts and Readability

This is an interesting read about fonts and web usability/readability. If you want people to read your ads and product descriptions comfortably and stick with what you're saying, you need to consider some of the ideas in this article. There are a lot of factors to consider, but you can vastly improve the experience by making just a few simple choices.

In search of: The Best Online Reading Experience

P.S. Amazon.com and Walmart.com have the lowest prices for
"The 7 Essential Steps to Successful eBay Marketing" (McGraw-Hill, 2005)

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Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Bananas in the Cereal Aisle

I saw a great example of cross-selling today. I was in the super market stocking up on nog, grog and duraflame logs, when I made a wrong turn on the cereal aisle. Right smack in the middle of the Apple Jacks and Count Chocula was a rack display with bananas on it. It shocked me a little at first, but then I thought “why didn’t someone do that years ago!”

I’m guessing that it works. It probably took the chain years of focus groups and data analysis to figure it out. It’s a natural, though.

Are you cross-selling across your product line and with strategic partners? If not, why not?

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Monday, December 12, 2005

Copycat Selling Technique

Dr. Robert Cialdini's Inside Influence Report covered an interesting topic today. It's about how mirroring helps you sell. Check it out. Waiters and waitresses use this technique in restaurants. You can certainly follow the same guidelines in email communications and confirmation emails. If you take phone inquiries, you can use it there, too.

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Thursday, December 01, 2005

5 Tips For Hiring A Marketing Writer

1. Find someone who knows marketing writing, not a manual writer, a programmer or a graphic design firm. (If you hire a design firm that provides writing, make sure that their writers are professionals with skills that demonstrate a high level of ability and experience.)

2. Find a marketing writer that knows your industry. Go even further, and see if your prospective writer can get technical and speak with your employees and product managers. Get a specialist.

3. Find a writer with EXPERIENCE. The best way is to ask for clips. Good writers/geeks should have a Web page, with links to pdfs and writing samples.

4. Determine whether the freelance writer you want to hire is truly professional. Don't waste time on hobbyists who may or not be around when you want them in on conference calls, interviews or meetings.

5. Get a marketing writer with good people skills. Even if they're not going to be working on site, people skills count. Oftentimes, individual writing projects turn into larger projects which require project management skills and team-oriented organization.

P.S. Amazon.com knocked 32% off the cover price of "The 7 Essential Steps to Successful eBay Marketing" (McGraw-Hill, 2005). Walmart.com sells if for 36% off!

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