One of the most frequent questions I am asked is how to diagnose and fix slow sales during a product launch (or any other time).
What follows is a framework of questions I use to flush out the holes in the operation and find the opportunities for improvement...
Prepare for the pain, some of this is going to hurt, but your wallet will be much better for it.
1) What are you doing to attract potential customers?
No, "running PPC", or "using Search, Find, Buy giveaways" is not an answer.🙄 Those are an example of throwing things at the wall and hoping something sticks.
If you sat in my office, and that was your answer, I'd charge you double on account of your lazy foolishness.
If you want to make real money long term, and not approach this whole "have your own business" thing like a half assed amateur, you'll need more than that.
Ask this instead...
- Is there a written out methodical strategy? I've done most of the legwork for you in my free Full Funnel Framework. If your plan isn't that clear then you're "best guessing" with your cash.
- Do you have any idea which metrics you're aiming for as a means to determine the consistency and health of your efforts?
- If yes, can you use those metrics to identify any bottlenecks?
Be real with yourself. If you can't stop the scroll like the prefect prom dress in a store window stops a teenage beauty queen walking by, then your efforts are only meant to serve as the background noise we all expect when cruising the internet.
2) What is your "launch" strategy?
Launching is NOT bringing something to market and posting said widget for sale. Instead, "launching" implies getting something off the ground and soaring into the realm of big sales numbers.
Unless you've got people lined up and waiting for your product to become available, like mothers with parental guilt waiting for the latest gaming console outside an electronics store on Black Friday, it isn't a "launch strategy".
Ask this instead...
- Is it really a "strategy"? If yes, what is the defined aim?
- Is it in stages? If so, what are the milestones that tell you when the next stage is supposed to take place?
- What are the metrics you're using to monitor things?
- 💣How does your strategy affect other factors of your operation like cashflow?
- 🙄Does your strategy support the brand positioning you're striving for, or is your strategy to just drop your pants for anyone who will take it from you (the rebate game)?
- 💰Do you have the cash to sustain your operation beyond launch with your strategy?
3) What is your value proposition?
Nobody gives as shit about your "about us" story. Nor do they care about the technobabble of your product features.
Much like being in a terrible codependent relationship, they think they're the center of the universe and (rightfully) only care about "what does it do for me."
In other words, do you have a clear issue you're trying to service with your product?
Ask This Instead:
- How clear do I make it to them which problem I'm solving?
- Can I make it so clear, a 5 year old would understand it?
4. Have you made it CRYSTAL clear exactly whom you're trying to service?
(No...no you probably haven't)
I'm talking nailed down to a point. Not "people who cook", as example. I'm talking more like "Mom's who are into composting and want to save time in the kitchen"....THAT is defined.
This greatly affects all of your touch points, especially your listing copywriting (meaning, doing this well prints you boatloads more cash😎).
Ask this instead...
- Is your value prop really aimed at a defined target audience and at an underserviced gap in that market you've uncovered or is it just some extra product feature you coughed up after guessing at the opportunities on a product catalog like Helium10?
- How much do you know about the real end users?
- What are their other related hobbies? In this example, a composting mom also likely is into organic food, holistic living or medicine, healthy children and them being as chemical free as possible. All of those things are unreal leverage points we can include in this example.
- Have you made a mind-map of those things to help you flush out who you're really servicing and what they value?
- If you want to really get good at this, see the book "The Pumpkin Plan" by Mike Michalowicz. It is one of the best biz books you'll ever read.
5) How well is your listing tailored to that specialized market?
Toyota is aimed at servicing very different people than Rolls Royce. Similarly, private jet charter services aren't trying to get the business of the guy hunting Expedia for discount travel bundles to take his dismissive wife and ungrateful children to Disney World for the family vacation.
Ask this instead...
- Are you overly broad here and trying to serve too many interests at once?
Are we sending a congruent message across all touch points at precisely whom we specialize in servicing?
As example, if you're selling skincare products, are we selling to women of color who are brides to be or outdoor female athletes? Pick one and win. 😳
6) How easy it for people to understand the usability of your products and their need for them?
The more your visitors have to think about how something works or where it fits in their lives, the less you're going to sell.
In reality, you've forgotten more about the product than they'll ever care to know, so treat them like the darling kindergarteners they are and spoon feed them.
Remember, this is YOUR industry, not THEIR lives, so treat them like a dummy, dummy!
Ask this instead...
- Do they have to take ANY time to think on how this is going to benefit them directly, or have you made things self evident?
If they click through to the listing, they are reacting to a call to action from somewhere else. If what they find once they do so isn't confirming their reaction was a good one, then you are asking them to think.
Thinking = consideration = more things to use an excuse to say no.
7) Do you have a "test-drive" presence beyond your listings?
People have trust issues. Especially when it comes to giving their money to a stranger (or a random internet company they've never heard of).
If you only have a presence on Amazon, you're asking people to not only consider your buying proposition, but also whether they should trust you, only by your listing (a criminally foolish error).
Trust must come before the offer.
Trust comes before the purchase as part of the consideration phase of the buyer's journey👇
Ask this instead...
- Does your presence include a community of enthusiasts where you can use the power of the crowd to trigger confirmation bias in people and leverage it to your advantage for conversions?
Remember when we talked about having a crowd of people waiting for your launch or it isn't a "launch"? They are eagerly waiting because you've built trust with them beforehand.
People want to do business with people they know and are trusted by their comparative peers. Tap into that and you're deadly.
💣In other words, give the space a chance to see what interacting with you is like and how they will be treated should they decide to do business with you. This is what I mean by having a "test-drive" presence.
- As a follow up to that, ask yourself if your presence is overly "product-centric" or do you expand your content to include non-product related conversation drivers as an effort to push people down the buyer funnel?
Again, people only care about what's in it for them. If your social presence or content always sounds like a sales letter, people are going see you in the same light they see an inauthentic greasy car salesman - and they're probably right.
8) Do you know their deeper desires better than they do?
(In other words, are you selling to the REAL root of their problems?)
Much like my 12 year old daughter, people have a hard time telling you exactly what's wrong when you ask them directly. (I promise you, just ask my fellow "girl dads").
This underlying "I don't know what's wrong but I want you to fix it" is what drives purchase demand for the solutions offered in your space.
Your customers want you to know what they need without them having to tell you (or admitting it directly if it's something embarrassing).
As example, that mother who loves to cook and is into composting from point 4, earlier in the article. Maybe you're selling something that can save her time in the kitchen but what is her deeper reason for composting, or being into organic food, or needing to save time in the kitchen with your gadget?
💣👉The underlying reason is because she sees her children so busy with their own lives, it pushes her to go the extra distance in giving them the best meals possible. For her, this is one of the greatest expressions of love she can give her growing family.
I'd add it is likely her family dinner time with them is one of only a few opportunities where she can get them to slow down for her, and deepen the bond they share (which is the "root" of which I'm speaking).
You aren't selling her something to lessen her labor in the kitchen. You're selling her the magic bridge to get more "1 to 1 time opportunities" with her growing children, instead of being stuck in meal prep.😳
🔥 Drill it down like that if you want to start winning big.
Ask this instead:
- Are there underlying fears, desires, or things they would love from their world?
- Are there things they hate and want to see eradicated from their lives?
- Are there things they claim are in their way of getting to some milestone or desired state of being?
- Are you doing EVERYTHING in your power to foster those irrational desires and paint pictures in people's minds that your products and brand can satisfy those desires?
9) Is your product page having to do too much educating?
"Creating your product in your garage and engaging with potential customers later, is the reason why 90% of start-ups go bankrupt." - Joe Pulizzi, Content Inc.
That's right, just because you think your products are the greatest, this doesn't mean your potential customers will understand (or even care about) what it really means to them.
If you're trying to sell to a market that isn't actively seeking solutions to their problems, you're going to have a bad time.
If you're trying to sell to a market that won't admit their problems, you're going to have a REALLY bad time.
You need your targeted end users to be both problem aware and product seeking if you want to get sales into high gear.
For more on this see The 5 stages of Buyer Awareness by legendary copywriter, Eugene Schwartz.
10) Are you sending the right messages, at the right time?
Exactly like the dating game, there are multiple interactions before someone commits to you. The trouble is that most people suck at navigating those interactions authentically, and without being as awkward as an Octopus climbing a tree.
This only compounds when we take our metaphor to the Ecom world and have to go through this dating process with multiple thousands of people at a time.
By only having a "buy now" touch point, you're the weirdo who goes to speed dating events and tries to "close the sale" on every girl you meet for the first time. "cringe"
Consider this, Casanova, everyone who buys from you formed their opinion on what to buy by consuming information from somewhere. Why isn't is coming from you?
People search for clarity of their problems and which common cowpath's already exist to solving those problems, well before they compare your product against what else is available (the prepurchase phase in the above diagram).
A "cowpath" is the path of least resistance between two points most commonly used by the group. Needing reviews to add validity to your listing is proof enough your end users are simple herd creatures.
If your product is far off the path from your customer's chosen herd, you're not just battling other product features, you're battling the habits of the herd as well.
Ask this instead...
- Do you have separate content and touch points for the different segments of the buyer's journey?
- Are the links to your listing reserved for the people with the highest commercial intent?
- Are you giving them a chance to get to know you and build trust in your ability to see things from their eyes as a member of the market? This key point greatly increases the chances they'll buy from you and break from what the herd is already doing.
11) How crowded is the text on your listings?
When people click through to your listing, it only goes one of two ways:
You're either giving their inner 5 year old a puppy for their birthday, or you're visually punching them in the face.
When people click through a link to your listing, they have a rough idea in their mind of what they want to see on the other side of that click, to trigger them into buying.
Show them you have what they want, without asking them to use their brains to see why, and you've got "puppy selfies and songs of praise" (meaning lots of sales and positive reviews).
Alternatively, forcing them to read the details in the giant wall of text on your listing - and then having to infer how your product solves their problems - is as cruel as inviting people to an ice cream party, only to force them into reading mortgage documentation before they get their scoops and sprinkles.
You know who you are. Stop being such a monster.
Ask this instead...
- Can they quickly SCAN my listing and tell who my product is for and precisely how it fits into their lives?
This is called secondary reading paths, and I did a video about it you can see here
- Can they tell who this is NOT for?
- Are you telling them what your product IS or what your product DOES for them? (the latter is all that matters)
Take a look and you can quickly see how they wrote the listing into the customer's life instead of asking them to think.
12) Are you priced too low and being seen as a cheaply made commodity good?
What comes to mind when you consider the phrase "Dive Motel"?
Quality? Luxury? Safety?...I'm guessing not.
To say that expectations for such an experience are "low" would be the same as saying the Sun is "yellow".
Additionally, committing a full self-wedgie to your brand by not realizing how absolutely damaging bottomed out pricing is to how people view your products.
Something you need to realize about shoppers: the poorest and most desperate of the group, are usually the loudest and most negative.
Yes, they value the lowest price possible but in doing so willingly give up 80% of other features most people would like to have in a similar product (and they do so knowing there is a high probability they will have purchase again in the near future)
Also, these depressing dog turds in the rose garden of life are only about 10% of shoppers in any given market, and are responsible for the majority of your negative reviews. Avoid them accordingly.
This is the reason most businesses don't follow the "Dollar Store Model", and why all of those stores are strategically setup near low income areas only - there is certainly a market, but it isn't the majority of the market.
Flat out, being the lowest price, only makes your shoppers wonder where you're sacrificing. Meaning, they only think of what risk they are having to take on in considering buying your products. Overcoming this hurdle makes scaling sales a nightmare.
On the other extreme end of the spectrum we have another 10% of the market who always filter by top of market, no matter the cost. These are your "Rolls Royce" buyers.
But what about that other 80% in the middle?
You mean "normal people"? These people want 2 simple things:
- To buy as much quality as they can afford in one shot, the first time, without feeling like they are compromising on quality, or long term usability.
- To feel like they are getting a fair value for the price they are paying (which is different than "most stuff for the smallest price"). This is the classic "medium popcorn at the movies" pricing.
The golden part about this crowd is they'll gladly pay more to satisfy both of the above points.
Meaning, they are screaming to see reasons which make your offer valuable to them that have nothing to do with pricing.
From what I've seen, these folks have a pricing sweet-spot in the 65 - 75% region of a relative market, when choosing to buy among comparable offers.
So price yourself away from the discount crowd and leave them to your competitors. It is one of the best ways to help your competition go out of business.😈
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