Online marketing can learn a lot from what worked in the past in sales. There’s a lot about marketing that hasn’t changed in generations. Small business can enhance their website marketing strategy with the layered approach that was perfected by successful door-to-door salesmen.
For example, back in the day, Fuller Brush Men sold brushes and related cleaning supplies door to door (and in those days, it was mostly men selling to women). If he didn’t sell, he didn’t get paid.
Everything he did was focused on selling as efficiently as possible. He used the school of hard knocks to fine tune his selling system. He learned how to turn strangers into loyal customers. He had a crystal clear understanding of the sales process and his place in it. He had to.
You can use the same, time-proven system to improve your sales funnel.
So let’s break it down. What did the door-to-door salesman do that you can apply to your website marketing strategy, and how can we use his sales strategy for a more effective website?
The Sales Funnel Starts with the Introduction: Keep the Door Open
He told the woman who answered the door that he was from the Fuller Brush Company, but he didn’t have to tell her what the Fuller Brush Company was. The company’s advertising in magazines and on television did this for him. He didn’t waste her time telling her what she already knew.
Instead, he told her that he had something new, interesting, and valuable that would make her life easier, more fulfilling, and more enjoyable. He told her how he would solve her problem.
He had many ways to engage the interest of the customer, but he didn’t just pick an approach and go. He tailored his pitch to reflect his relationship with the woman at the door. He used one technique if they hadn’t met before, and he used another approach if she had purchased from him in the past. A one size fits all didn’t work for him.
Above all else, in the introduction phase, he needed to keep that door open. At this point, nothing else was important. He never lost sight of his primary goal. Regardless of the approach he used, he emphasized the benefits she would receive from their conversation.
Design Your Advertising to Be the Introduction
Banners, social media ads, and search engine marketing have only one job to do, and that’s to get clicked. Don’t ask advertising to do more than it can do. Let the landing page do the selling. Equally, don’t ask the landing page to support the brand. Be like the door-to-door salesman: craft each of your marketing techniques to a set goal in a way that will keep that door open.
Keep the Door Open
Follow the five-second rule – you have five seconds to do three things:
- Communicate that the consumer is in the right place.
- Show them what they’ll get if they stay.
- Make it crystal clear what they should do next.
The Sales Presentation: Showcase Your Product or Services
Once she was receptive and a conversation had started, he used colorful brochures to show his customer how his products would benefit her. He emphasized how they would make her life easier, more worthwhile, and more satisfying.
He used product features to support his claims. He demonstrated the product many times. He also used testimonials to give everything he said a ring of truth because product features were easy to duplicate or dispute.
A testimonial was gold, and demos and third-party testimonials were his most effective tools. A one-two punch that was hard to beat. If he could, he provided a testimonial from a neighbor because hearing what someone this woman might know and trust had to say was his secret weapon.
No hard sell here, just a friendly presentation of the facts.
As the conversation warmed, he was careful to reveal only as much information as was required to make and support his point. He would ask open questions so that his prospect would fill in the blanks, she would describe the challenges she faced. He used what she told him to highlight the benefits of the products he was selling in the colorful brochure he carried for each product. He would use the product’s features to support the benefits of the product, as reasons to believe what he was saying. But he didn’t give the entire pitch. He paused. He let her tell him what she was interested in. Then he would present another layer of information.
Use Your Website Marketing Strategy to Showcase Your Products Benefits
Use this insight to develop your website marketing strategy. Make it easy for users to self guide themselves through the website. Make it easy for them to dig into what interests them. The deeper they go, the more interested they are, so giving them more information will be valued.
The Argument: Solve Your Customer’s Problem
This part of the conversation focused on making the sale. Nothing else mattered at this point. It had to be about how the product solved her problems.
When the woman was intrigued and engaged, he would present the argument. For each product benefit, he had three to four salient “reasons why.” Three was often enough, and he never used more than four. The selection was tailored to reflect his relationship with the woman, and it was a delicate balance.
The Fuller Brush Man was wise enough to know that it wasn’t about the products. It was all about the woman he was speaking with. He needed to give her the information she needed to convince herself that purchasing his products was the most sensible and reasonable thing that she could do today. No more and no less. Too much information and she would shut down and close him off.
Make Your Landing Pages as Relevant as Possible in Your Sales Funnel Stages
- If your ad talks about left-hand widgets, then the landing page should as well.
- Use benefits to make the argument. Reserve product information for support.
- Only use as much information as is needed.
The Call to Action: Make it Easy to Buy
Finally, he would ask for the order.
He supported “the ask” with assurances about how easy it was to buy. There was a brief reiteration of product benefits and the offer. If this was a repeat customer he would pre-fill the forms. He closed with the extra benefits she would receive if she took action right now.
For example, he might say, “It only takes a moment to complete your purchase. Then you can enjoy the benefits immediately. Plus, you get everything at the low, limited time, introductory price. And if you buy two, I can give you the third for half off.”
Make it Easy to Buy
Toward the end of your sales funnel, ask for the sale but make it easy:
- Don’t bury the CTA below the fold.
- Don’t ask for too much information.
- Don’t put your customers through too many steps.
- Add extra incentives.
During the sales process, he would take a moment to learn a bit more about the woman and her family. He’d learned that his customers were surprisingly open while filling out forms. He also took note of his surroundings. He was always on the lookout for problems the woman faced. These were new ways he could help.
For returning customers, he asked questions about the neighborhood. Who else would like in his products? Would she be willing to provide him with a reference or testimonial?
Add Extra Benefits to Your Product or Service Offer
When the check was in his hand and the product delivered, he wasn’t done. He gave his customer a small token of his appreciation. This was often a sample product, perhaps something that was soon to be available. He told her that since she was such a good customer, he had one just for her.
By adding extra benefits, he demonstrated, in a tangible way, how much he valued her patronage. Good customers expect to be rewarded. He wanted her to look forward to his next visit. Why? He knew that there was something even more valuable than the first sale.
The Most Important Sale is the Second Sale
He made notes about what he learned:
- What his customer bought
- What he observed about the home
- Who else in the neighborhood he should visit
He used this information to inform his next visit. When he next appeared at the door, he didn’t want to be the door-to-door salesman. He wanted to be a valuable partner in his customer’s household enterprise.
Invite Interaction in Your Sales Funnel Stages
Capture information about the customer. Record what they are saying through their actions, what they do. Use it to improve future conversations.
A Website Marketing Strategy that Sells – Conclusion
Your website marketing strategy should follow a process.
Craft each step to be efficient and effective at its job. And don’t expect any single step to do all the work. Understand your sales funnel and its corresponding flow of information. Reveal only what’s needed, when it’s needed.
Design your advertising to be the introduction.
Don’t ask advertising to do more than it can do. Use your advertising to generate interest and to drive traffic to the website. Let the landing page do the selling. Use your website to support the brand.
Keep the door open.
Remember, you only have five seconds to let the customer know they are in the right place, show them what they’ll get if they stay, and give them a clear call to action.
Use your marketing strategy to showcase your features.
Make your argument using your benefits, and reserve product information for support. Only give as much information as is needed. Outside in, not inside out.
Make landing pages as relevant as possible.
Each ad should land on an associated landing page. If the Facebook ad or marketing email talks about lamps, send the traffic to a page that features lamps.
Make it easy to buy.
Ask for the sale. Don’t bury the CTA below the fold. Repeat the CTA throughout the landing page. Don’t ask for too much information, and don’t put your customers through too many steps.
Add extra benefits to your product or service offer.
A consumer’s interest doesn’t vanish as soon as they buy. In fact, it’s extremely high immediately before and after they purchase or take some other action. Use this to introduce additional purchase options, “would you like fries with that,” to reinforce the buy decision and to introduce related products. Set up an email automation that’s triggered by the website action.
Your website is a fulcrum. It’s an opportunity for your customers to gain value from their interaction with you and it’s an opportunity for you to gain value through your interaction with them.
Capture information about the customer and use it to improve future conversations.
The application of these time-proven techniques will contribute greatly to an effective website marketing strategy. Let us know what you use in the comments.
Author: James Hipkin
CEO, Managing Director
James brings over 30 years of professional sales, marketing, and marketing consultation services to the table. Serving global brands along with small businesses, Hipkin leads a highly-skilled team of full-time developers, producers, and project managers who are committed to your success.
An excellent communicator and inventive problem-solver, his creative vision and bottom-line sensibility have proven successful at building productive, long-term partnerships with both employees and clients.