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Sunday, November 15, 2009

Trying to sell something online? There are a variety of barriers, both physical and emotional that keep people from buying. Over the weekend I received a wonderful testimonial from someone who recently finished reading my book. It reminded me of the power of testimonials.

When individuals are considering a purchase, they pass through various stages in order to make a buying decision. These steps include: problem recognition, information search, alternative evaluation, purchase decision, and post-purchase behavior. Regardless of the product you're selling, consumers move through each of these stages and they do so at varying rates.

Although you have the opportunity to differentiate yourself and your offering at any stage of the decision making process, the biggest barriers often occur when evaluating alternatives. Consumers put different weight on different elements associated with the purchase.

For example, someone may be considering two different automobiles and each has features not offered by the other. However, some of those features will be more important. Perhaps one car offers a bumper to bumper warranty and the other offers none. If this is one of the most important decision criteria, other criteria that are not met are often overlooked.

To help consumers overcome obstacles and make a buying decision, differentiate your offering and remove risk. These are some of the most powerful tools you can use from a marketing perspective to improve purchase behavior. Testimonials are a powerful way to give the impression of risk reduction. When consumers see the value others have received, they begin to lower their guard. Add a no-hassle guarantee and much of the risk is removed.

Testimonials are powerful when users can find others in similar situations (had the same need or problem) that were helped by your solution. We buy based on references. So create references that support your business. Ask customers for testimonials and publish them to your web site(s), emails, and brochures.

Remove risk with a guarantee that's clear and meaningful. I recommend testing your offers with a guarantee versus no guarantee. No-hassle guarantees are similar to rebates in that they are rarely abused but do a lot to lower purchase barriers.

Reassure your prospects that they are going to make the right decision. Testimonials and guarantees are essential for giving them buying confidence and security. Cultivate testimonials and add a guarantee to your offering to grow revenue and improve conversions.


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