I think for people who are looking to compete with internet sellers, one of the things they can do is say, “Yeah, you know, now anybody can set up a website. Anybody can say anything they want. But what if something goes wrong? Who are you going to talk to? You know, if you and I are working together, if there’s a problem, I’m going to be the one to handle it. Do you know who’d be handling it on the other end?”
David: Hi, and welcome to the podcast. In today’s episode, cohost Jay McFarland and I will be discussing how to compete with internet sellers. Welcome back, Jay.
Jay: Thank you, David. So glad to be here, and this is a big deal. I’ve found sometimes I don’t even know that there’s an internet seller that I’m competing with.
In fact, the other day I was trying to send somebody to our website and we found out somebody had grabbed a domain very close to ours. They’re offering a close product of ours. And now, every time somebody mistypes in our domain, they’re going to go to one of our competitors. And I’m incredibly frustrated by it and dealing with that very situation right now.
David: Yeah. Squatters, they call them. Domain squatters. Very frustrating.
David: Yeah. Well, I know a lot of people, particularly people who have brick-and-mortar businesses, for the most part — but they may have an online presence — often struggle with the fact that internet sellers can sometimes seem to create better deals. Because they have lower overhead or they have more connections, or they have different connections. Or because of the fact that the client themselves are doing more of the work.
Because if somebody can go to a website, pick something out, order it and not involve a human being, they can certainly save money if they’ve got that technology set up.
But there are limits, and depending on the industry you’re in, depending on what you’re selling, very often human beings can have a bigger advantage, and human beings can also justify higher prices because of the level of service they provide.
And I think that’s something that people tend to forget about. They tend to think in terms of, “okay, I can’t compete with this. These online sellers are able to provide stuff faster and cheaper.” But faster and cheaper is not always everything that people are looking for.
Jay: I would say most times faster and cheaper…
Jay: is not. But I also think that we’ve kind of accepted faster and cheaper in a lot of ways. You know, it’s another one of those things that’s changed with the pandemic. I think one of the other problems is that you can put anything on a website. You can say anything.
It’s not like when you walk in a store and you can see how clean the store is. You can see. You can feel the quality of the product. You have all of this tangible nature to it. That’s all gone and we’re ordering stuff that we just see pretty pictures of. That makes it very hard to compete on the internet.
David: It can, but actually that knowledge and the ability to communicate that can also do something that’s very important for terrestrial sellers, shall we say. People who operate in non-internet businesses.
And that’s that they can. Or so the seeds of doubt, they can basically say pretty much exactly what you said. Yeah. You know, there’s a big difference between seeing an image on your screen and then getting it, and having it arrive, and having it be different or look different, you just don’t know that.
And that even goes back to printed catalogs. There are a lot of times you get a mail-order catalog, you look at something and go, Wow, that looks great. And then you order it and arrives and it seems nothing like what it is that you thought you ordered. So I think for people who are looking to compete with internet sellers, one of the things they can do is say, Yeah, you know, now anybody can set up a website.
Anybody can say anything they want, which is pretty much what you were saying. But what if something goes wrong? Who are you going to talk to? You know, if you and I are working together, if there’s a problem, I’m going to be the one to handle it. Do you know who’d be handling it on the other end?
Now, if you’re dealing with a company like Amazon that is very good at what they do in terms of getting stuff delivered consistently, that’s a challenge. Because people then know, yeah, if I order it, I’m probably going to get it in a couple of days.
Now, today I finally had to request a refund for something that I bought because it got lost in the mail. It wasn’t the vendor’s fault, but it didn’t show up. So that type of thing can happen as well. And who’s responsible for chasing that out? I am, right? Because I bought it online. I own that problem.
And so for people who actually appreciate the value that other human beings bring to the table, they will continue to interact with humans. But you’ve got to make sure that they understand the differences, pretty much as you articulated.
Jay: Yeah, I think so. I, I find this continual frustration that It’s so hard to talk to a human now, online. You know, I’ll get one of these chatbots and it’s not a human. At first, I think they’re human, and then I’m like, Oh no, this is not a human.
When you’re on Amazon. I don’t even know how to speak to the seller initially. So, we actually live in a world, and I’m glad you brought up the catalog. Because in some ways we’ve changed a lot, in other ways we haven’t changed at all. Because you’re exactly right. You’d look at that catalog, you were never talking to an employee or anything like that. So in some ways, we’ve evolved in other ways we haven’t.
David: Yeah. One of the other things that I find is that when people are competing with online entities, they tend to make excuses for themselves.
Saying things like, “Well, I can’t compete,” and “they get better pricing. They’ve got all this leverage” and all this sort of thing. But the reality of the situation is that a lot of people tend to overestimate the ability of these online sellers. And they’re afraid they’re going to lose business and. It causes them to maybe not even approach people that they could and should be approaching.
And I’ve seen people participating and posting things on different user groups where they talk about how the internet is very difficult and they hate losing business to internet businesses. But the question they should really ask themselves, first of all, is “did this just happen once? Is this happening all the time?”
In a sense, the question is, “is this an event, or is it an epidemic?” Right? Because if it happened a couple of times over a period of years, well, that’s pretty much like any other competitor you’re likely to have. If it’s happening every single time, then you really are going to have to start to rethink your primary positioning statement, your selling proposition.
What is it that makes you better and different? Because if you’re not able to communicate that and you’re losing out to these companies consistently, you’re going to have to change your messaging. One of the things we focus on with our clients in our Total Market Domination course is what I refer to as the MVPs of marketing.
And just like in sports, MVP stands for Most Valuable Player. In marketing, it stands for Message. What’s the Message I’m communicating? V stands for vehicle. Which combination of marketing Vehicles am I using to communicate the Message? And then P stands for People or Prospects. Who are the people or prospects that I’m communicating this message to?
And if you are losing, whether it’s to other companies just like you, or whether it’s losing to businesses online, you’ve got to get those three things really dialed in.
In terms of the MVPs, the messaging has to be great in terms of why you’re better than online alternatives. The vehicles have to be enough to get you in front of enough of those people so that they’re seeing the message. And in terms of the people, there are people who are just going to buy online.
Those people are no longer really prospects for you. So you really need to tune in who you’re going after. Who are the prospects? Who are the people you’re targeting? Because it’s the difference between hiring a contractor and going to a hardware store and buying things and doing it yourself.
If you’re dealing with a do-it-yourselfer who wants to order online, that’s not a good client. It’s not a good prospect for you anymore. But if you are good at what you do, then your job becomes finding the people who understand and appreciate that and who are going to be willing to pay you to do it.
Jay: Yeah. and I also think if you’re worried about these internet competitors being a problem, you know if you can’t beat ’em, join them. There are so many businesses out there that have started with people who just do TikTok videos. And all they’re doing is they’re showing their product on TikTok. Or YouTube videos and you see these things go viral.
Or an Etsy channel. They’re a business, but they have an Etsy channel. So they’re competing both maybe as a brick-and-mortar and online. I think you have to be able to pivot. And in today’s world, you probably need a combination of both.
David: Yes. And if you think of TikTok videos or YouTube videos or anything like that that you might be doing in terms of the MVPs, okay, the vehicle is the video, the vehicle is TikTok.
What’s the message you’re going to convey on TikTok or on YouTube or on your blog or wherever it is that you’re putting that message? And who is it going to reach? Who are the people? And if you focus on those three things, if you really focus on what’s the message I want to communicate, which combination of marketing vehicles am I going to use to communicate it, and who are the people or prospects I’m going to target to reach with this message?
Then all of those things become advantageous for you. And they allow you to compete more on that level. That doesn’t mean that people are still going to be able to just go to your site and order stuff without your involvement. You may still need to be involved. But you can leverage yourself through the technology by, as you indicated, a video.
I can record a three-minute video in three minutes, or if I take four or five times to do it, it might take me 15 or 20 minutes. Right? But once that’s done, that could be seen by hundreds of people or thousands of people. So you can literally get hours and hours worth of face time with potential clients in the space of recording a 15 or 20 minute video.
Jay: Yeah. Absolutely.
David: Or a three-minute video that takes 20 minutes to do.
Jay: Yeah. Depending on your editing skills as well.
Jay: But you know, then there’s the other piece of that puzzle, David, and that is tracking. You know, knowing like if you have a website, knowing where those links are coming from, are you getting hits from TikTok or whatever else?
And what’s happening with those leads? Because you may get thousands of views from a particular source. But it turns out they’re not your target client and they’re not buying. And so you’re spinning your wheels in a certain way.
David: Yes. And in order to track those sorts of things, you want to build that into your messaging.
You want to make sure that your call to action will allow you to identify where that came from. So if you’re doing a TikTok video and whatever the theme is of it, when you get to the end and you say, “If you like more information, Enter the word ‘bingo’ below,” right? Well, that means it came from the TikTok video. And if you’re running the same thing on Facebook, you tell them to enter a different word below and then you can know where they’re coming from.
So it’s not that hard to do. And I think people get intimidated with the idea of tracking their leads because they don’t know how to do it. But it’s really very simple. If you look at the direct response ads on TV, there are a lot of products that are just sold directly on TV.
One of the things that they’ll do is they’ll have a different 800 number for the different channels that it’s on so that they know which channel is generating that sale or generating that lead.
Or they’ll give you a code to use to type into the box and the code is specific to that channel. It’s really not that hard, but you have to want to do it, and you have to actually build it into your process.
Jay: Yeah. And if you don’t do it, you’re going blind.
You really are blind and shooting in the dark and you could be missing some incredible opportunities and not even know it.
David: Yeah, exactly. So I feel like for people who are struggling with the idea of competing with internet sellers, ask yourself, you know, is it happening a lot? Is it an epidemic? Are you selling pure commodities?
Because if you are, that’s going to be a lot more difficult. And that’s going to require you to figure out how you’re going to explain and express what you do in a way that is going to be more appealing. You know, do you add any value to the transaction at all, or are you literally just shipping out exactly the same product as everyone else?
What can you deliver that they can’t? Is it the surety that it’s actually going to get there? Is it the confidence they have in you to deliver for them? Who are you approaching? Is it the do-it-yourselfers or is it people who actually will value your help?
And if you make all of that part of your qualification procedure, you can really save yourself a lot of time and save them a lot of time because if you decide, determine upfront that you’re dealing with a do-it-yourselfer, you can save yourself and that person a whole lot of time by leaving those people to your competitors.
Jay: Yeah, excellent point. I think I mentioned this on a previous podcast. But one of the companies I work with, we started doing Google AdWords and our leads on our website went through the roof. It was just insane. We couldn’t believe it. But it turns out none of them were our potential customers. They were looking for free advice, you know, all of these things.
And so we spent weeks and weeks and weeks redefining what those keywords are, so that we could learn how to target our specific customers. And now we’re to a point where we’re doing so well that we can almost guarantee what they’re going to ask when they contact us. That’s an amazing place to be, but it took a lot of work.
David: And it lines up exactly with what we were talking about before in terms of the MVPs. The messaging is going to determine the type of people that you attract. The vehicle that you’re using is going to reach certain people that other vehicles won’t. And it’s all about getting to the right people who actually have the need, the desire, and the budget, and the willingness to spend with you.
And by tuning in those other things, the first two things, the messaging and the vehicles, that’s what’s going to allow you to get to those people. Particularly when you’re dealing with marketing vehicles like Google or Facebook that have the capacity to get you in front of a lot of people, most of whom can’t buy from you,
Jay: That’s right. Most of whom they just, they’re not going to do anything. You also mentioned something and I think it’s worth an entire podcast in the future. Call to action.
I think that is one of the most critical aspects of a website or any sales process. What is it that you’re asking the customer to do?
Are you trying to harvest an email? Maybe that’s just part of your initial plan, and then you’ll contact them through an email newsletter. Maybe it’s the sale, first off, I think fine-tuning that call to action is really going to have an impact on your close rate and your relationship with your customers.
David: Yes, and merely having a call to action in nearly every communication is very important. Because if you’re not doing that, you’re putting out content and they don’t know what to do next. So all they’re going to do is they’re going to keep scrolling or they’re going to keep watching something else.
They’re going to tune to something else. If you give them an opportunity to do something, take some sort of next step, ideally some sort of non-threatening action they can take that it’s not going to all of a sudden feel like they’re going to have a salesperson sicked on them. If you can do something like that, that creates value for them, then it becomes very helpful.
Jay: Yeah, I absolutely agree. I think we should dive into that a little bit more. How do people find out more about our topic today?
David: Well, that brings us right to our call to action, doesn’t it?
Jay: Yes, it does.
David: You can go to TopSecrets.com/call. You can schedule a call with myself or my team. We can figure out where you are, what you’re looking to do, how you’re trying to get there, and see if we can help with that.
Also, if you’re not ready to even have a conversation, you can just go to TopSecrets.com and we have a lot of free resources on there. We’ve got different white papers, we’ve got different videos. We’ve got these blog posts, we’ve got all sorts of material that you can use to get a feel for what we’re all about.
See if it’s helpful. If it is, have a conversation with us. If it’s not, then don’t keep going back there, because why would you?
Jay: All right. Fantastic. David, I can’t wait till we talk next time.
David: Yeah, me too. Thanks, Jay.
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