If you’re in direct sales, as either a direct seller or a corporate executive, you know what I’m referring to in the title of this post. The pity purchase is the purchase a customer makes at a party because they feel that they should buy SOMETHING. So they locate the cheapest item in the catalog and buy it. If you’re a direct seller that depends on pity purchases to build your business, you are not creating a sustainable business model, and I dare say that if you’re not creating value for your customer, you will not be in business long.
When you begin to market your business through social media marketing, you need to realize that you’ve entered a realm where the pity purchase does not exist. Not to mention, the pity purchaser is not a repeat purchaser. People have a vast array of products available to them, and they can comparison shop to their hearts’ content. They can compare product features, costs, shipping, and more. They can read what other people have had to say about each product their considering. In short, if you’re not providing a superior value at a decent price, it’s hard to compete.
So how do you use social media marketing to your advantage in this type of environment? First, you become someone that provides value for free. Yes you heard me. For free. How do you do this? My favorite way is through a blog, just like this one. Give out tips, advice, links, guidance, and more, that can be immediately implemented. Why do you do this? Because you position yourself as an expert, and you build relationships with your readers. A purchase (or a recruit) is more likely when a person knows, likes, and trusts you. So provide valuable content, related to your product line, and you will find that people will come read your content, and will refer their friends to you as well.
Once you’ve established yourself as an expert that provides value, give people a chance to get more from you, and get to know you. This can be through social networking sites such as Facebook and Twitter, through your newsletter, or through communities that you build in places such as Facebook groups. By giving people a chance to interact with one another, with you at the center seeding conversations and providing value, you continue to provide people with a reason to trust you. So when you do make product recommendations, or talk about your opportunity, people have a reason to listen to you. Help THEM first. Then they’ll consider what you have to offer.
Finally, once you’ve got people signed up for your newsletter, or participating in your groups, gently provide them with the oppotunity to be introduced to your company and your product line. Make special offers, just for them. Provide online events (such as online wine/food pairing chats, decorating ideas chat, online party, etc.) that give education as well as the opportunity to buy.
By investing some time in providing value, you build a sustainable business model that does not rely on the “pity purchase.” And that’s a business that you can feel good about.
What do you think? How has this strategy worked for your business? I would love to read your comments below!