Who do you like better: Batman or Superman?
I’m partial to Batman. Don’t get me wrong, as a kid I loved Superman the best: super strength, flying, invincibility, x-ray vision, heat-ray vision, he was the ultimate superhero. As I grew up, however, I learned to appreciate the depth and finesse of Batman. Here was a normal guy, trained to the height of human perfection in his athletic and combat abilities, a master detective and brilliant combat strategist who fought a host of super-psychopaths with often only his wits to save him.
So what does this have to do with marketing basics and selling stuff online?
There are mainly two types of marketers selling online: those working for large organizations with all sorts of powers at their disposal, and entrepreneur style marketers who have less in terms of “powers” but more flexibility and creativity than the big guys. I like to think of the corporate marketers like Superman and entrepreneur marketers like Batman. This post will take a look at how these Dark Knights operate and provide some basic moves to help you kick ass in your own entrepreneurial marketing.
Batman Has a Mission: Who Are Your Sales Targets and What’s Your Focus?
For those who do not know the story of Batman, he is really Bruce Wayne, a Gothom City billionaire whose parents were murdered in front of him by a mugger when he was only 12-years old. That traumatic event drove him to become the worlds greatest weapon against crime, putting himself through rigorous training for 15-years before hitting the streets. He donned the costume of a bat and employed unusual weapons to become something bigger than life, instilling complete fear in his targets.
Marketers must view their job as a mission, much like Batman. You have something of value to sell, so you need to find the right buyers and make the sale happen by presenting your product in a way that captivates them. Use all the tools at your disposal:
- Research your targets and know everything about them
- Plan your activities to get the targets
- Create captivating headlines that grab them and don’t let go
- Use masterful copywriting where every move has intention to get to the goal
- Deliver an unforgettable user and customer experience that keeps them talking about you long after you disappear into the night
Besides just knowing who you are going after, you need to know their modus operandi: what will be effective in the fight? Are there certain style choices that increase your chances of making the sale happen? Daren Rowse from Pro Blogger offered a list of tips to increasing indirect sales, which included: using bigger font, creating squeeze pages to capture leads, ask for what you want up front, applying the less is more concept, and introducing yourself to the customer and many others. Batman doesn’t just know his targets – he knows how to get them.
Batman Has a Batcave: Setting Up a Landing Page as a Base of Operations
Batman couldn’t operate without a base of operations. He does all his planning, training and analysis from the comforts of his Batcave. For the marketer selling online, your Batcave is the landing page or opt-in form where you are going to capture leads and sell the product.
The main difference between a landing page and an opt-in form is size. Landing pages contain more information to convince people to join the list and buy your product. The opt-in form usually has a few lines of text and a sign up form. You will typically use an opt-in form earlier in the product launch process to capture leads for later follow up. A landing page can also be used to generate leads or for direct sales.
A typical landing page will include the following components:
- Captivating image to create immediate interest, trust and identification
- Smashing headline to bring them into the page
- Importance to the user up front with a strong introduction (“I’m Batman”)
- Undisguised call to action clearly stating what you want the user to do next
- Trustworthy testimonials that show the hero in you
The text of the landing page can be long or short depending on your audience. On a site like Copyblogger, who sells premium products and courses to marketing professionals, their landing pages are long, content packed sales pieces. If you look at a video game sales site like Play-Asia, they have very short copy with pictures and video to make a quick sale. Whether long or short you need a base of operation for your sales.
Batman Has Gadgets: Tools for Selling Your Product Online
“Where does he get those wonderful toys?” – Joker, Batman movie (1989)
Batman is known for the tools of his trade that he carries in his utility belt. From batarangs to grapple guns and anything else he might need for a tight situation, Batman comes prepared to get the job done.
To sell online you will need a way to fulfill orders, deliver the products and accept payments online. This section will focus on setting up a platform to deliver digital goods like eBooks, mP3 audio recordings, videos and other content. Selling “real world” products has a different set of delivery mechanisms, considerations for fulfillment and nuances in marketing, and if you are interested in doing so then look into Google Checkout or Amazon.
For digital goods, e-junkie reigns as one of the best deals out there for both delivering your products and running affiliate programs (more on that below). There are plenty of sites you can use to sell online such as Clickbank, FatFreeCart and Bigmerce. You can also look into using WordPress plugins like Cashie Commerce if you are selling from a blog or website, or get creative selling your products in mini-format on a site like Fiverr. The reigning champ for online sales in my opinion though is eJunkie.
E-junkie is an online shopping cart that allows you to upload your digital goods to their eJunkie server, generates a secure link that prevents people from stealing and sharing your digital goods (you can even set this to expire after a certain amount of time), and tracks your sales. It does not process payments so you will need to set up a payment processor like PayPal to handle that (we will discuss below).
You can try E-Junkie for free with a a 7-day trial before deciding to commit to a monthly plan. Some eJunkie advice from Dave Navarro, The Luanch Coach: before you sign up for your account “hop over to coupon site RetailMeNot.com, search for e-junkie, and you may find promotion codes that give you one to three months free on top of” your 7-day free trial.
Then follow these simple steps:
- Pick a service plan – ejunkie charges by the storage space per product and not by the amount of downloads (ex/50 MB for $5 per month, 250 MB for $15 per month, etc.). You will then need to add your email and PayPal account info.
- Set up your first product – you are now ready to add a product:
- Click the Admin link and hit “Add New Product”
- Put a name for the product (buyers see this so make it intuitive), add some product info, and click “More Options” if you want to change the amount of time the link will link will stay valid (default is 120 hours, but people sometimes don’t download an eproduct for longer)
- Upload you product and get your download links and buy now button codes. You can copy these codes to use directly on the landing page you set up for this product.
- Insert the eJunkie codes to your Landing Page and on any emails you are going to send out to customers.
That’s pretty much it for eJunkie. If you want a more detailed tutorial then check out the link to Dave’s post that I give above or go to the eJunkie site itself and look through the Help section. Nothing works like giving it a shot however so the best advice I can give is play around and make it work.
Batman Has a Batmobile: What’s Your Vehicle for Bringing Home the Money?
Besides gadgets and weapons on his utility belt, Batman has some pretty cool ways of getting around Gotham City. Perhaps the most iconic of these is the Batmobile. Equipped with the latest technology this vehicle gets Batman where he needs to go. For selling stuff online, your Batmobile is the way the money gets delivered to you, and for that you will need a Payment Processor. Just as Batman has options to getting around (Batmobile, Batwing, or Batboat) you have some options when it comes to getting paid online.
Direct Payment through your Bank
Setting this system up takes longer and has more requirements, but once in place it may be the smoothest transaction available. Here is what you need to do:
- Apply for an IMA (Internet Merchant Account) – “As a broad overview, your bank acts as the “acquirer,” which confirms available funds, authorizes transactions and exchanges funds with the issuing bank of the credit card (e.g. Visa, MasterCard), i.e. the card holder’s bank. The funds are then transferred to your account (the merchant), minus the applicable fees.
- Secure your site with the needed tools like Verisign, SSL Certificates, and other authentication tools as required by your bank
- Set up a Payment Service Process (PSP) – sometimes referred to as payment gateways “ handle the pages on a website where customers submit their payment details. PSPs provide a “virtual” cashier, or point-of-sale terminal, that collects card details, screens for fraud and securely passes the details to your acquiring bank for processing.” Note: some PSPs also provide IMAs and vice versa.
Using a Payment Processing Company
This is probably the most common form of payment for small business online as it includes solutions like PayPal and Google Checkout. These are easy to set up but getting the money out of the processing company account takes time (usually 4 to 8 business days).
- Advantages: easier to set up and doesn’t require a complicated site revamp with expensive security tools
- Disadvantages: takes the user out of your site to process payment, which can be a problem with impulse buys and possibly the user experience
The two main examples of Gateway Payments are Google Checkout and PayPal. Here are some points to consider for using these methods, which were originally published in an article on processing credit card payments online from Smashing Magazine:
- Variety of Integration Options
Google Checkout has some of the most versatile integration options out there. Sure, you can just set up a “Buy Now” button or two, but they also offer integration with custom shopping carts, pre-integration with existing shopping cart systems, a store gadget (that you can set up with a Google Spreadsheet), email invoices, and their own shopping cart solution.
- Google is a Recognized Brand
Google is recognizable all over the world, and is a trusted brand for the most part. This can be especially valuable to smaller, unknown businesses who might not have their own good reputation to ride on.
- API Developer’s Guide
Developer’s can have a field day with the developer API for Google Checkout. It means you can customize the Google Checkout experience to your heart’s content.
- Protection from Chargebacks
Chargebacks can be a big problem for some businesses, especially those in higher-risk industries. Google Checkout offers a Payment Guarantee that protects an average of 98% of all Google Checkout transactions. If your transaction falls under their guarantee, and there’s a chargeback, you won’t lose money.
- Recognizable Name
PayPal has become almost as big a household name as Google. Some consumers have gone so far as refusing to do business with online retailers who don’t accept PayPal.
- Solutions for Every Kind of Business
PayPal now provides a range of solutions for businesses, including fully-featured merchant accounts like those you’d find at a bank (Payflow Payment Gateway). Their Website Payments accounts provide most of what a gateway provides, including the ability to keep customers on your site through the entire transaction (with the Pro account). And of course PayPal also offers simple “Buy Now” buttons if that’s all you need.
- Immediate Payment
PayPal pays immediately for most transactions, which means that your payments go directly into your PayPal account when they’re made. (This is not always the case for certain businesses, or for accounts with a history of high returns.) In some countries, PayPal offers signature debit cards that can be used like a credit card and give you immediate access to your PayPal funds from any ATM.
- Easy Integration
PayPal offers a number of developer tools, both for facilitating payments and for accessing account information and reporting. Various PayPal payment processing products have different levels of difficulty when it comes to integration, but at the easiest end of the spectrum it involves just inserting a bit of code.
At the end of the day, the payment processing system you choose will depend on your time, size of business and level of sales. If you are a bigger operation with more regular sales then you may want to set up a system with your business bank account. For a smaller operation selling products here and there setting up a quick system and expanding as you go will be the better course. No matter what you choose be like Batman and use the right vehicle for the job.
Batman Has an Army: The Basics of Building an Affiliate Sales Force
Even though Batman likes to work alone, he has an army behind him. At times this has been just Alfred, his butler, but as the years went on Batman took others into his ranks. Of course everyone knows about Robin (fun fact – there have been at least 6 different people who assumed the mantle of Robin at one time or another: 1. Dick Grayson, 2. Jason Todd, 3. Tim Drake, 4. Stephanie Brown, 5. Damien Wayne, and 6. Carrie Kelly), but there are others such as Nightwing, Batgirl, Huntress, Oracle, and even Catwoman when she is on the right side of the law. Just like Batman has his army you need yours.
Think of affiliate sales people like your Bat Army. They are the troops who can help you defend the night. In basic terms, an affiliate is someone willing to sell your product on their site. Using eJunkie you can even provide them with a unique link that will let you track their sales performance. Anyone who clicks their link and completes the purchase has their sale attributed to that affiliate.
You can set up a general program that people sign up for on your website. For something like this you offer anywhere between 25% and 50% of the purchase price for any sales generated through their websites. If you want to approach someone with mega traffic on their site, you might offer an individual deal where they get 60% to 100% of the price (if you are looking to increase your traffic then giving away all the sales to this individual may be worth it).
Building an effective affiliate army goes beyond the scope of this post, but here are some quick tips to help you get started.
Quick Tips for Affiliate Marketing
- Know your product thoroughly
- Have access to an audience who will buy it
- Make sure the product is within your audience’s price range
- Avoid subscriptions for affiliate deals; one time fee works better
- Commission rate: make sure you are giving a good commission rate for the price
- For affiliates, show them how to convince the reader by providing documentation they can use on their own site – it can include things like: (a) how to make customers feel like they have made an investment not a commitment; (b) how to show customers they need the product NOW; (c) how to make customers feel like they are missing out if they don’t buy; (d) how to prove to customers the product has worked for you or someone else (testimonial)
- Encourage the affiliates to promote the affiliate product in (a) blog, (b) blog footer; (c) post footer; (d) sneeze page (a collection of post links on a topic), and (e) on social networks like Twitter, Google+, Facebook, etc.
The most important thing in running an affiliate army is managing it. Make sure your affiliates know what they are doing, have a reason to stay engaged and feel like they are part of something bigger. Everyone in the Bat Family has this and that’s why they are willing to risk life and limb for the Dark Knight.
The Dark Knight Rises: So Can Your Online Sales
The tips in this post are meant to help get you started in online sales. As you go along you will need to try things, develop new products and means of distribution, and fail at times. Don’t be discouraged. Look to Batman for your inspiration and remember that next time you can fail better. The important thing is not to give up the fight.