What sells online, what doesn’t, and why

Something you need to do before you do any other Market Research when choosing what to sell online, is to assess whether or not that product is likely to actually sell online.

This has nothing to do with researching Demand, Competition, Price Point, Profitability, or anything like that.

The simple fact is that some products just don’t sell well online, for a variety of reasons. “Qualifying” a product is what we do to figure out whether it will sell well online or not, BEFORE we spend time researching the product in depth.

To Qualify a product, we look at two things: Demographics, and Points of Failure.

Understanding the Demographic

Understanding the product’s likely Demographic is the first thing we do in the Qualification process.
As we’ve talked about before, the word “Demographic” simply means “Statistical characteristics of a population”. In Ecommerce marketing, when we say “Demographics”, we’re referring to the characteristics of the people who might buy what we’re selling.

Some of those characteristics are Gender, Age, Income, Location, Career, Home Ownership/Rental, etc. Having a good idea what these things are helps us decide what other characteristics they might have.

For example, older people are more likely to be homeowners, likely to be more financially stable and are likely to be able to afford more expensive purchases. They’re good candidates for higher quality, more traditional products.

Younger people are more likely to follow popular trends but tend to have less money, so they’re better candidates for slightly less expensive but trendier products.

There are products that cut across all demographics to some degree or other, and products that are very specifically targeted to just one particular set of demographics.

Forming a picture in your mind as to who might buy the product you’re thinking about selling is extremely important, as you’ll see in this Lesson.

Points of Failure

Points of Failure are reasons why a product simply doesn’t lend itself well to selling online.
In this Lesson, we’re going to Qualify our potential product choices using some Demographic assumptions, and the 5 most common Points of Failure:

• Market Segment
• Size
• Integration
• Visualization
• Urgency

Let’s go through these Points of Failure and explain what they basically mean.

Market Segment

For our purposes, we’re concerned with three potential market segments. They are:

o Consumer – a product that’s designed for use by the average consumer.
o Prosumer – a product that’s designed for use by consumers who are semi-professional users.
o Commercial – a product that’s designed for commercial/professional use.


This refers to a product’s actual physical weight and dimensions. For example, products that weigh more than 150 pounds are over the standard UPS, FedEx and USPS shipping limits and have to be sent using special delivery methods.

Those special delivery methods (Motor Freight, LTL [Less Than Truckload], etc.) are more expensive, and their pricing changes weekly as fuel prices fluctuate. This makes it impossible to provide your customers with standard shipping rates, and that causes problems with customer service and sales.


Integration refers to whether a product is a complete product in itself, or if it is a component that has to be integrated with other components from other sources in order to function.

For example, a BBQ Grill is a complete product in itself, and can be sold without worrying about potential Integration. However, outdoor BBQ grill components that are designed to be built into a brick BBQ enclosure are not complete products in and of themselves. Somebody has to build the brick enclosure and Integrate the components into the enclosure in order for the BBQ to be used.


There are products that people are willing to buy without seeing and touching them, and there are products that people are not willing to buy without doing those things.

For example, it’s very difficult to sell Wedding Rings online. The Bride and Groom want to see the rings, inspect the jewels, try them on, have them sized, etc.

If a consumer can easily Visualize the product and doesn’t feel like they need to see and touch it physically before buying, that product doesn’t have a Visualization problem. Otherwise, it does, and is not a good candidate to sell online.


There are products that people are willing to wait for, and there are products that people feel they need RIGHT NOW.

There are also situations in which a single product can be both Urgent, and Non-Urgent. That depends on the consumer’s frame of mind at the time of the need. The best potential products are those that don’t generally associate at all with a sense of Urgency.

Understanding who is likely to buy the product (the Demographic) goes a long way toward telling us which, if any, of these Points of Failure might apply, and whether they apply enough to decide against selling the product online.

Applying a simple numeric 0 through 5 rating system to each Point of Failure is the best way to Qualify a product overall. 0 (zero) would be no impact at all, and 5 would be maximum impact, and an automatic disqualification of the product.

The “CIP (Cumulative Impact Point) Score”

Use the following system to apply a “CIP Score” to each of the Points of Failure when Qualifying your product:

Market Segment:

Consumer = 0 points.
Consumer products reach the widest possible consumer base. The fact that a product is a general Consumer product has no negative impact on its likely sales online.

Prosumer = 2 points.
Prosumer products reach a narrower consumer base and require specialized knowledge to sell, which makes them a less likely candidate for the widest possible consumer audience and creates a higher level of difficulty in sales.

Professional = 4 points
Professional products reach a MUCH narrower consumer base. These products require professional handling and expertise to use or install. Professionals who use them most likely already have their own physical-world suppliers, and they’re much more difficult to sell online.


0 Points if the product is under 150 pounds and the shipping dimensions are within UPS, FedEx and USPS limits.

5 Points if the product is over 150 pounds or over any of the UPS, FedEx and USPS limits on shipping dimensions (size of box, etc.) This is an automatic disqualification.


0 points if the product is stand-alone and no integration is necessary.

1 – 5 points if the product has to be built into or integrated into something else in order to function, with 1 point being simple integration and 5 points being something that has to be built into another type of product or enclosure in order to function. 5 points is automatic disqualification.


0 points if consumers regularly buy the product online and there is no need to “see and touch” the product.

I – 5 points if the product is something that consumers may feel a need to see and touch before buying, with 1 point being the slightest need, and 5 points being an absolute need. 5 points is automatic disqualification.


0 points if there is no urgent need to have the product in hand right away.

1 – 5 points depending on the potential need of the consumer to want to have the product in hand with some sense of urgency. 5 points is automatic disqualification.

Ideally, the product line you choose would have 0 (zero) CIP Score, which means it scores 0 on all Points of Failure.

Let’s go through a couple of examples of Qualification.

Example 1

Consumer-style Portable Hair Dryer


The basic demographic for this product would likely be women ages 15 and over of all income levels. While men do use portable hair dryers, it’s fair to assume that they are mostly purchased by women.
This demographic is very basic and wide. The product is generally not very expensive, and a tremendous number of people use them.

On the surface, this seems like a Qualified product, but we haven’t done a CIP Score yet.

CIP Score

Market Segment = 0 points.
This is a Consumer product, not Prosumer or Professional, so this gets 0 points for Market Segment.

Size = 0 points.
This product is well within weight and size limits for UPS, FedEx, and USPS, so it gets 0 points for Size.

Integration = 0 points.
This product doesn’t have to be integrated into anything else in order to work properly. Just plug it in and use it. So, 0 points for Integration.

Visualization = 0 points.
This is a widely used product that most people are very familiar with. There’s no need to “see and touch” the product before buying, the point score for Visualization is 0.

Urgency = 4 points
When we think about urgency, we have to think about how soon someone feels the need to have the product in their hands. Let’s look at it this way: WHEN do women buy a new hair dryer?

Usually when the one they currently have breaks.

How many women do you know who are willing to walk around with bed-head while they wait 4 days or more for UPS to deliver their new hair dryer?

I don’t know any. The woman whose hair dryer just broke wants a new one NOW, and she’s going to scoot right down to Wal-Mart or the nearest drug store and get a new one right away. So for me, Urgency is a big negative impact on considering this product for sale online.

Total CIP Score = 4 points.

In this example, the Total CIP Score for me is 4 points. Yes, I know that sites do offer hair dryers for sale online, but in my experience that’s simply big box stores who have the product in inventory anyway, and might as well list it on their web sites.

What we’re looking for here is a niche. We’re looking to build an entire web site around one single product niche.

Do I think I could build a successful online store selling only Consumer Portable Hair Dryers? No, because the Urgency score puts it out of reasonable consideration for me.

How did I come to the conclusion that Urgency was a factor? Because I took the time to think about whom my Demographic is. If my Demographic was mostly men, I might have given this product a lower Urgency score, because men are often okay without a hair dryer for a few days. They just need to know where to find the hair gel and a comb.

Women, though, react differently in that situation, and that’s why the high Urgency score.
Even though the Total CIP Score was not a 5, meaning automatic disqualification, it’s high enough that it’s not worth messing around with for me.

Example 2

Build-in BBQ Grill Components

These products are the grill, fridge, drawer and shelf components that get built into an outdoor brick or stone BBQ enclosure.

The demographic here is likely a male homeowner who earns a mid to high level of income and does a fair amount of entertaining in his home. He’s currently involved in some type of outdoor home remodeling. He’s probably not doing it himself, since stonework or bricklaying required to build an outdoor BBQ enclosure is a specialized skill.

The particular demographic that would buy these products is extremely narrow overall. I already know which way this is going to go just by looking at the products and thinking about the demographic, but I’m going to do a CIP Score anyway, because real business owners are nothing if not thorough!

CIP Score

Market Segment = 4 points.
This is a Professional product. It has natural gas fittings, so it needs to be installed by a professional even if the buyer knows enough to do the brick or stonework himself, so this gets 4 points for Market Segment.

Size = 0 points.
These are components shipped in separate boxes, so they are well within weight and size limits for US, FedEx, and USPS, so it gets 0 points for Size.

Integration = 5 points.
This product has to be fully integrated into a custom-built enclosure made of completely different materials, so this one gets 5 points for Integration, which is an automatic disqualification.

Visualization = 2 points.
This is a specialty product that will be built into a custom enclosure. However, since I have to assume that most buyers are working with professional installers and have probably seen samples and been given sizes, I would score Visualization at 2 points.

Urgency = 0 points
This is a part of a construction project, and as such there would not be much of a level of Urgency. Most people plan for delivery of components in construction projects when they’re ready, so I score Urgency at 0 points in this case.

Total CIP Score = 11 points.

In this example, the Total CIP Score for me is 11 points. This is WAY over the disqualification score of 5 points.

Example 3

Airline Pet Carrier

I see the demographic for this product as about age 25 and older, since people who both own pets and tend to travel enough to bring them along have a more stable home environment than people under 25. Although we’d probably be dealing with more women who would actually use the product, we’re probably dealing with more men (husbands, likely) who would be making the actual purchase. That’s simply because most women tend to defer to men to get the technical details figured out.

Nothing against women, who are more than capable of doing that, but that’s just the way it tends to play out and we have to be honest with ourselves about this research if we’re going to get it right.
This demographic would probably skew a little more toward people without young kids, or kids living at home. People with young kids living at home tend to travel more locally by car for vacations, and they tend to leave their pets at kennels when they travel.

People who are older who don’t have kids living at home become much more attached to their pets and want to take them everywhere they go.

So, while the demographic would include people 25 and up, the actual buyers probably skew more toward men age 45 or higher.

This is also a product that has an emotional component to the demographic, because of the often close emotional bond people develop with their pets. That means that the likely buyer will often be willing to spend more money to insure the comfort and safety of the pet.

On the surface, this looks like a Qualified product already, but let’s do a CIP Score to be sure.

CIP Score

Market Segment = 0 points.
This is a Consumer product, not Prosumer or Professional, so this gets 0 points for Market Segment.

Size = 0 points.
This product is well within weight and size limits for UPS, FedEx, and USPS, so it gets 0 points for Size.

Integration = 0 points.
This product doesn’t have to be integrated into anything else in order to work properly. Let the pet in and go! So, 0 points for Integration.

Visualization = 0 points.
This is a widely used product that most people are very familiar with. There’s no need to “see and touch” the product before buying, the point score for Visualization is 0.
Urgency = 0 points
While it’s possible that once in a while somebody would need an Airline Pet Carrier on short notice for an emergency trip, that’s not reason enough to give this product any points on the Urgency scale. Most people who are getting ready to travel know well in advance, and buy their tickets well in advance to keep their prices down. So I score Urgency at 0 points in this case.

Total CIP Score = 0 points.

In this example, the Total CIP Score for me is 0 points. This is a perfectly qualified product with regard to Demographic and Points of Failure.

Learn it and Use it!

Make absolutely sure you understand exactly how this process works.
When you get involved in Market Research, the best practice is to research several different product markets at once in order to choose one new product line for your business. Use this process every time you get into Market Research. It allows you to create a scoring system that can quickly and easily compare the likelihood of being able to sell the product online.

How do I know all this stuff?

I know it because I’ve been successful in ECommerce and online business for more than 20 years, and I’ve made millions at it.

Why should that matter to you?

Because there’s a lot you need to learn to run a successful Ebiz, and I’m the ONLY REAL successful person out here who is willing to work with you PERSONALLY to help you learn it all.

I’ve been running my Online Workshop and Mentoring Program for more than 6 years now. I can teach you more in a day than you’ve learned in all the time you’ve been in ECommerce, or have been thinking about starting in ECommerce.

THEN you’ll learn even MORE, because it’s a Lifetime program.

Learn how things REALLY work. Learn how the people who make real money online actually do it. I’m here, and I’m more than willing to teach you, whether you’re just starting out or have been trying for years.

Register Now and get a HUGE 75% Discount; but only until Midnight on Wednesday December 31st, because January’s Workshop seats are already selling out and that’s when the Discount ends.

Questions? Call me. 888-824-7476. I answer my own phone and I’ll be happy to talk with you.

Friday, November 7th, 2014 Surviving EBiz No Comments

Why Backorders happen and what to do about them

When you’re selling online, whether you use Drop Shipping or you physically stock and ship your products, Backorders from your supplier are always a real possibility.

They often seemingly come out of nowhere, and leave you holding the bag, trying to explain to your customer why you suddenly can’t deliver what they bought.

As a business owner, it’s really important for you to understand why this happens and what you can do to avoid damage to your online reputation.

So please bear with me as we go through a hypothetical Backorder situation, and a very real-world solution to that problem.

Let’s look at a very real scenario:

Let’s say you’re selling Coffee Makers.

The US-based Manufacturer of the coffee makers orders different parts for those coffee makers from different specialized suppliers around the world, and assembles those parts into the finished product in the US.

One day, somewhere in China, the machine that punches out the metal bands that hold the handle on to the coffee pot that comes with the coffee makers you sell breaks down.

As with many companies in China, it’s a very small manufacturing company using a very large, complex machine to punch out those metal bands. The breakdown is a crack in the pressure cylinder that drives the press, and the fix is very difficult. Parts for that machine are impossible to come by, because this small Chinese company bought the 50 year old machine at a cheap price from a Russian surplus equipment dealer and there aren’t any replacement parts to be had.

The Chinese company can’t manufacture the metal bands until they repair or replace the machine. They can’t replace it because there are no more cheap surplus presses to be had, and a newer machine is too expensive for this small manufacturing operation to buy.

The small Chinese company is down for 3 weeks while they remove the old cylinder and have a replacement specially made for it by an equipment fabricator in Thailand.
This one breakdown and repair delay sends a ripple effect across the entire Supply Chain for your coffee makers.

The small Chinese company is operating on a (very common) 3 month lead time. That means that the metal bands they make today, for example, don’t arrive on a ship and get offloaded to a US Customs Port for about 3 months.

Because they have that lead time, the Chinese company decides not to notify the US-based manufacturer that they have a problem. They’re afraid of losing their contract, so they keep the delay a secret for as long as they can while they scramble to fix the problem.

The US-based manufacturer happily goes along assembling coffee makers with the parts they have from the delivery of thousands of metal bands that just came in on the last shipment, unaware that one critical part is about to be delayed.

Because the Chinese company didn’t tell the US company that there would be a delay, the US company doesn’t go out and look for a replacement supplier for the metal band.

The Chinese company gets their machine back up and running 3 weeks later and works overtime trying to make up for the time they were down, but it’s impossible to catch up. The next order they send to the US company is going to be significantly short.

Months later, the next shipment of metal bands arrives at the US company’s facility, and it’s far fewer metal bands than it should be. The US company finds out what happened, and is forced to reduce the number of coffee makers they assemble and ship to their wholesale suppliers around the country until they can get their next full shipment of metal bands for the coffeepots.

The US company doesn’t want their wholesalers to go looking for other brands of coffee makers to sell, so they decide to delay telling their wholesalers about the upcoming shortage as long as possible until they can come up with a retention strategy that won’t cost them wholesalers. It takes them about a month to burn through their on-hand factory inventory, and then they start to notify their wholesalers that future shipments will be short for about 3 months or so.

Your wholesaler of the coffee makers you sell only has a fairly small quantity of the coffee makers in stock because they’re trying to manage their cash flow as carefully as possible during an economic downturn. They don’t bother to make a general announcement that the coffee makers will be in short supply for a while, because they don’t want to lose retailers. They decide to deal with their retailers on a case-by-case basis, offering discounts on other products in order to retain their retailers while they wait for their supply of that coffee maker to be fully available again.

Seven months after the initial equipment breakdown at the Chinese manufacturer of metal bands, you sell a coffee maker to one of your customers on your web site. You place the order with your wholesaler, only then to find out that the coffee maker is out of stock.

This is an example of poor Supply Chain management, specifically with regard to the transmission of information throughout the Supply Chain. However, it happens fairly often.

Now you have a customer that you can’t fill an order for, so you get mad at the wholesaler for not telling you their stock was running out. You’d be right; the wholesaler could have notified its retailers of the problem. However, the delay itself isn’t the wholesaler’s fault; the fault lies with that cracked pressure cylinder in China, and a couple of fear-based management decisions by other companies in the Supply Chain as well.

The Chinese manufacturer could have told the US company that there would be a delay, and the US company might have found a substitution for the metal bands. But, the Chinese company was afraid of losing that large contract if the temporary replacement supplier did a better job than they could.

The US company could have warned their wholesalers that the delay was coming, but they didn’t want their wholesalers shopping for other coffee maker brands from other companies.

The wholesaler could have warned their retailers that stock would be low to non-existent for a while, but they too were afraid to lose customers in a tough economy and decided to ride it out on a case-by-case basis. They also could have looked for other brands of coffee makers to carry, but for a wholesaler that can be a months-long process that gets very costly.

These are the kinds of things you need to understand and be prepared for.

When you’re in business, one of your primary jobs is to put out fires. They’ll spring up in the strangest places for reasons that are often a complete mystery, but the business owner who reacts well to situations like this is a business owner who succeeds in business.

Simply remember that every problem is an opportunity.

That’s an old saying, but it’s an old saying for a reason; it’s true, and has stood the test of time.

In the situation describe above, for example; what do you do to turn that problem into an opportunity?

Let’s take it step by step:

1. As soon as you find out that product is out of stock, remove it from your web site. Don’t mark it “out of stock” on your site; that’s a negative. Remove it completely until you can sell it again.

2. See if you can buy that same product from another web site; perhaps a big-box store that still has some in their inventory. If you can, buy it and have it shipped to your customer. Make sure you let your customer know what you did for them. The trust and goodwill that comes from that simple act far outweighs the few dollars you have to spend to buy the product elsewhere and send it to your customer.

3. If you can’t get the product anywhere else, contact your customer immediately. Let them know the product is out of stock. Offer them a choice; a similar replacement product at a discount, or an immediate refund.

Your immediate and effective response to your customer turns a negative into a positive every time. People will trust and respect a business that takes care of them as a customer.

It’s very important to understand that Supply Chains are complex and can be volatile, but the better you understand how they work and how to deal with the problems that arise, the more efficient and successful your business will be.

How do I know all this stuff?

I know it because I’ve been successful in business for 40 years, and successful in ECommerce and online business for more than 21 years. I’ve made millions at it.

Why should that matter to you?

Because there’s a lot you need to learn to run a successful Ebiz, and I’m the ONLY REAL successful person out here who is willing to work with you PERSONALLY to help you learn it all.

I’ve been running my Online Workshop and Mentoring Program for more than 6 years now. I can teach you more in a day than you’ve learned in all the time you’ve been in ECommerce, or have been thinking about starting in ECommerce.

THEN you’ll learn even MORE, because it’s a Lifetime program.

Learn how things REALLY work. Learn how the people who make real money online actually do it. I’m here, and I’m more than willing to teach you, whether you’re just starting out or have been trying for years.

Register Now and get a HUGE 75% Discount; but THIS DISCOUNT ENDS WEDNESDAY DECEMBER 31ST!

Dates for this incredibly successful online Workshop are already selling out. Please don’t miss it.

Questions? Call me. 888-824-7476. I answer my own phone and I’ll be happy to talk with you.

I hope you’ve enjoyed this short 3 day Ebiz series. Please remember this series is just the tip of a very large iceberg; there is SO much more you need to learn if you want to make REAL money in ECommerce!

Friday, November 7th, 2014 Surviving EBiz No Comments

Price It Right, Increase Your Sales [5 Critical EBiz Details, Day 1]

Like anything else, the ability to make real money in ECommerce comes from learning the details. Anyone can learn to do anything well. The key word there is LEARN.

There are a LOT of critical details that the 5% of EBiz owners who are successful understand and do well. The 95% who struggle every day and can’t seem to get anywhere don’t understand these things yet.

This 5 day series covers 5 of those many those critical details. Hey, it’s a start! Let’s jump right in.


When I teach ECommerce business owners about structuring their pricing successfully, we go through several stages:


This is actually part of a very different discussion, but it needs to be brought up here if we’re going to talk about pricing.

The worst thing you can possibly do to ANY small retail business is to put it squarely in the path of a crazed, charging herd of the most bargain-hunting consumers on the planet.

A small home-based EBiz simply can’t compete in a bargain-hunting situation. It doesn’t yet have the buying power that the much bigger companies do. That means that the home-based EBiz pays a higher wholesale price per product and can’t make any profit when competing on price with bigger stores.

IF YOU LEARN how to run a real EBiz successfully, you won’t be stuck paying higher wholesale prices forever. As you grow, your buying power will increase as well.

However, everybody has to start somewhere, and trying to compete right out of the gate directly against large retail companies is like bashing your head into a brick wall over and over again. It gets really painful really fast, and pretty soon you’ll fall down and begin to mumble unintelligibly.

This is why it’s so difficult for a small EBiz to succeed on eBay and Amazon. Over the past several years, these huge bargain-shopping venues have become favorite hangouts for large wholesale and manufacturing companies who sell directly on eBay and Amazon, often under anonymous seller names.

Ever wondered how so many of these large sellers can sell so cheap and still survive? They are mostly large wholesalers and manufacturers who sell right out of the warehouse. They can undercut any small business on price. They thrive in price-driven destination sites like eBay and Amazon, and that leaves you out in the cold. If you’re not making at least a 20% to 45% profit on your sales, you’re not going to make a living at it.

So where should you be selling?

The best place for a home-based EBiz is, always has been and always will be on it’s own web site.

Why? Because your best customers are those who are searching for what they REALLY WANT, not for the lowest possible price.

When consumers are bargain hunting, they tend to go DIRECTLY to eBay, Amazon, Walmart.com, etc. However, when they search for what they REALLY WANT, they go to Google.

Far, far more consumers search for products on Google than on eBay, Amazon and Walmart.com COMBINED.

Consumers who search on exactly what they really want are doing what’s called “Discretionary Purchasing”. When people are buying on a Discretionary basis, they aren’t nearly as concerned about price as they are about quality and getting exactly what they want.

THAT is the sweet spot for retail businesses either online or offline. Discretionary consumers far outnumber bargain-hunting consumers, and they will pay a reasonable retail price to get what they want. For a small business, that translates directly to reasonable profits.

I know, I know; you might be selling on eBay or Amazon. However, all that had to be said in order to talk about pricing. If you plan to continue to try to earn a full time living on eBay or Amazon, just keep plenty of Advil on hand for the future, and continue reading. The rest of this discussion pertains to ANY place that you’re going to set a retail price.


Ever wonder why so many prices end in 95 or 99 cents? Those are known as “charm prices”. They use what we call the “Left Digit Effect” to apply retail psychology to pricing.

That effect is the fact that a nickel, or even a single penny will have an effect on a retail buyer that is HUGELY disproportionate to the actual money value in the price.

Most people who sell online tend to use the Left Digit Effect without really understanding why, because we’re all exposed to it on a daily basis in our own lives. However, many also ‘mix and match’ pricing in that effect, and doing that throws off the consumer.

Consistency is the most important thing when it comes to the Left Digit Effect. Either always use it, or never use it. Either always use 95 or always use 99. I’ve consulted for an amazing number of EBiz sites that use 95, 99, 00, 50, 67, 97 and so on as Left Digits in their pricing ALL on the same site!

Psychology is an amazingly important aspect of retail sales. When consumers see a mix of Left Digit pricing, it throws them off. They feel like something isn’t right, but they don’t know what it is.

Any time a consumer feels like something isn’t right on your retail EBiz pages, your chances of making a sale drop tremendously.

99 and 95 are the most commonly used Left Digit Effect numbers, and you should stick to them but never mix and match; either always 99 or always 95.


Running a sale? Use 00 for your Left Digit Effect. Psychologically, the 00 doesn’t work well for normal everyday pricing. It tends to make the prices look high to us.

However, when it’s used sparingly in an occasional Sale Price, it looks low.

That only works, though, when you use the Sale technique SPARINGLY. Many of the sites I’ve consulted for use the old, hackneyed technique of making everything on their pages a Sale price. You’ve seen that, right?
EBiz pages that list the ‘Regular’ price, cross it out and list the ‘Sale’ price below it, then list the ‘You Save’ amount below that. On ALL their products.

Hey, maybe you’ve done that or even do it now; it’s very commonly used by those who simply have not been told any different. It’s no crime not to be aware of something. The crime is being aware of something that hurts your business and not fixing it!

The technique of making everything look like a Sale price no longer works. Online consumers are much sharper than they used to be, and view that technique as something designed to fool them.

When people hit your product pages and think you’re trying to fool them, you’d have better success trying to sell baby shoes to a rock.

So use 00 as a Left Digit Effect for actual Sale prices, but run actual Sales sparingly and only on a few items at a time.

You’ll have much better success with it.


Setting prices is all about research. I know; painful, right?

Hey, you know the old saying…no pain, no gain. That’s especially true for business owners.

Researching pricing means that you need to find the exact same product being sold by 6 of your most annoying competitors. Why are they annoying? Well, because they’re competing with you! How annoying is that!

In reality, competition is a GOOD thing. It raises consumer awareness that a product exists, and brings more people into the marketplace to buy it. However, it does mean that you have to compete for those customers.

The biggest mistake that EBiz owners make here is in trying to undercut their competitors. You don’t need to do that when you sell to Discretionary buyers. Selling is about providing your customer with what they need and want through proper presentation. If you can do that, price becomes secondary, especially to the Discretionary buyer.

Another point that’s important to make is that if you get into a price war with competing EBiz owners, that war only ends badly for both of you because it ends when there is no profit margin left in the product. Game over.

So, find 6 other web sites that sell the same EXACT product, add up their prices, and divide by 6. That gives you the average price of your competition, and that’s where you should be. Psychologically, a product that has a price that ‘blends in’ well with other prices in the product’s market shifts the consumers’ attention away from the price and toward the value and benefit statements you make in your on-page marketing.

If you have a web site, DO NOT use eBay, Amazon or Walmart.com to research competitive price points even if they do show up high in the search engines when you do your research. A well-marketed niche web site can beat eBay, Amazon and those big bargain stores in the search engines all day long if they know what they’re doing, and learning how to do that should be your goal as an EBiz owner.

Consumers who shop on a Discretionary basis mostly shop sites other than the bargain hunting destinations, and that’s where you should focus your research.

If you do all your research on eBay, Amazon, etc., the price competition results are only going to show you how little (if any) profit there is available there, and that’ll just give you a headache.

Genuinely sorry to say that if you’re an eBay or Amazon seller, because if you are you MUST do your research on eBay or Amazon. I hate to say it, but it’s the truth.


When it comes to actually setting the exact price for a product after you’ve done your research, it might be helpful to make a note of this URL: www.PricePoints.com. That site lists commonly used retail price points from 0.00 all the way up to 10,000.

Use it as a guideline, though, not as hard-and-fast rules.

PricePoints.com is a good place to get ideas for your RIGHT DIGIT price numbers; the actual dollars in your price to the right of the decimal point. Look at the average product price you got from your research, then find the closest dollar value in PricePoints. That is likely going to be an effective dollar value for you.

However, if it’s too far off the average that you researched, disregard it and use your average.

Then, apply either 95 or 99 to ALL your price points for the Left Digit Effect, and you’re good to go.

Remember to keep it consistent!

Note: some internet marketers make a big deal of the number 97 as a Left Digit Effect. That works much better for information sales than it does for physical product sales, so don’t get sucked into that idea!


Check out [Day 2] of this series, and we’ll talk about another critical detail you need to understand to actually make a living in this business.

Between now and then, check out my LIFETIME Personal EBiz Workshop and Mentoring Program. I’ve made millions in this business, I’ve been doing it for over 20 years, and I’ve consulted for and taught literally thousands of EBiz owners how to earn a full time living online.

You are more than welcome to join us. There is a LOT more I can teach you about the REAL world of online business if you really want to learn.

Right now, there’s a very limited time 75% Discount on this very successful Lifetime program, but it always sells out very quickly, so Register Now! I promise you’ll be glad you did. :o)

Questions? Call me. Yes, I answer my own phone. I’m a Teacher and a Business Owner, not one of those online junk dealers. You can actually reach me on the phone, any time, and I’ll be happy to talk with you. 888-824-7476.

See you in the real world!

Chris Malta

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Monday, October 6th, 2014 Surviving EBiz No Comments

Build Your Brand, Increase Your Sales [5 Critical EBiz Details, Day 2]

This is the 2nd post in this “5 Critical Details for your EBiz” series.


When I consult for ECommerce businesses or teach EBiz owners, one of the things that stands out the most to me is the total lack of an Identity Package for that ECommerce business. An Identity Package helps to set the tone for site design, marketing style, and the entire Brand Identity of the business.

A well-constructed Brand Identity is an absolute MUST for ANY business to be truly successful, online or offline.

For an EBiz, an Identity Package consists of three things:


I’m often surprised by the number of people who have taken bad advice or learned the wrong things and given their web sites names that will do nothing for their business at best, and hurt it at worst. I don’t blame the site owners; there’s a tremendous amount of bad info floating around out there. However, they do need to learn how to do it right.

How many times have you seen a site named something like “MyGreatBargains.com”, or “GreatBuys4U.com”, or “BigPlaceFullOfExcellentThingsAtLowPrices.com”? Okay, that last one is a stretch, but you know what I mean, right?

Actually, that was a trick question. You probably only rarely come across sites with a names like that. Why? Because they don’t rank well in the search engines, and hardly ever get found by shoppers.

The reason they don’t rank well is another topic altogether; perhaps a discussion for another day, but I’ll mention it here in passing. They don’t rank because they’re trying to sell a whole bunch of different products on the same web site. Those products all have widely different Keywords in their product names and marketing content. Google and the other search engines rank best on RELEVANT Keyword content; Keywords that they know are related to one another in some way.

So, when the search engines see a site that has page after page of words describing products that the search engine knows are NOT related to one another, that site doesn’t rank well. Period.

Yep, I know, big-box stores that carry widely varied stuff seem to rank pretty well, don’t they. However, that’s for different reasons altogether, and they can be beaten with highly targeted web sites.

For that reason and many others, small home-based EBiz sites need to sell ONLY one specific product line per site in order to do well in the search engines.

As I said, though, that’s a topic for another time. There are LOTS of details involved in making an ECommerce business successful, and we only have room for 5 of them in this email series! So let’s get back to our conversation about an Identity Package, with site names being the first thing to learn.

A site name needs to reflect what it sells. On a properly built web site, that will be something very specific. However, it can’t just be “Toasters.com”.

For one thing, that name is already taken, which most of the best product-descriptive names are. For another, though, a site name needs to connect with its consumer demographic. To connect with its consumer demographic, the business owner needs to know who that consumer demographic IS. We’ll talk about that in another email in this series. Back to names, now.

Let’s say that an EBiz owner sells a very specific line of toasters that is best suited for a female audience (a demographic) made up of older women who have a serious passion for baking and cooking. What site name do you think would appeal more to that consumer audience?

- BestToasters4U.com

- CheapToasters.com

- CozyKitchenToasters.com

If you picked the last one, you’re right. A site name, like everything else in marketing, needs to tell part of a story and also make an emotional connection with its consumers. CozyKitchenToasters.com evokes a warm, comfortable, familiar place where family gathers and great food is carefully made with lots of love.

The other two choices, well…don’t. So, you can see the difference between thoughtless, sales-gimmicky names and a carefully selected audience-driven name, right?

Good. That leads us to some of the other things a good site name does. It helps to drive site design. A name like that inspires a site with a warm, rich color palette, a cozy, comfortable graphic treatment and a very personally friendly space.

What else does it do? Among other things, it helps to inspire the creation of the second part of an Identity Package. The Tagline.


These used to be called “slogans”. Now we call them Taglines, or ‘Tags’ for short.

A business without a Tagline is a business that needs to get one, or close up shop. I cannot stress strongly enough that this is a critical part of your Identity Package, and your Identity Package is a critical part of your Brand. Your Brand is a critical part of your Marketing, and…well, I’m sure you get the idea!

In ECommerce, Tag Lines are generally best inspired by site names. The Tag needs to support the name, while at the same time telling another part of the Brand story.

Professional copywriters who create Taglines often go through dozens, if not more than a hundred different ideas before settling on a good Tag. This is not something to be taken lightly. Remember, it has to support the name, and tell more of the story of the Brand.

“You’ve tried the rest, now try the best!” isn’t gonna cut it. At one time, that Tag was clever. That’s when it was new, back before humans discovered fire.

A good Tagline needs to be short, memorable, part of a story, and supportive of the brand. It needs to CONNECT with people emotionally as well, just like the site name should.

Another rule of thumb is that a Tagline shouldn’t ever be more than 3 to 5 words. That makes them much easier for consumers to remember, and that’s what you want.

Think of some of the most memorable Tags you know.

- Don’t leave home with it (5 words)

- You deserve a break today (5 words)

- Just Do It (3 words)

- The quicker picker-upper (4 words)

- The King of beers (4 words)

See what I mean? Short, memorable, and telling part of a story. Let’s look at the first one; the American Express Tagline “Don’t Leave Home Without It”. This Tag is using negative reinforcement to create a scary imagined impact if you DON’T have the product.

Warning a fellow human being not to leave a safe, comfortable place and go out into the big, bad world without a taking specific thing along makes a very visceral connection with us psychologically. It subconsciously makes us feel like bad, BAD things are going to happen if we leave our home without this thing. Again, it’s psychology. As humans, we look to other humans to warn us of danger, and a need to pay attention to those warnings is deeply ingrained in our psyche.

So, a negatively reinforcing Tagline like that works very well.

What Tagline would we give our CozyKitchenToasters.com web site?

There are lots of possibilities, and there’s a serious amount of research to do before choosing one, but I’ll just throw one out there off the top of my head. (Excuse me while I remove my hat…)

Okay, how about:

Real kitchens bake with love

That’s 5 words. Yeah, I know, it sounds a little sappy when you look at it sitting there all by itself. Hey, I spent all of 30 seconds coming up with that; cut me a little slack!

BUT, put that Tag together with the site name ‘CozyKitchenToasters.com’ and the right graphic design, and I promise you it will look perfectly natural, make an emotional connection, and tell another part of the story of the site’s Brand.

There’s still one thing missing, though. The site name and Tagline will play a part in helping us to design the third and final part of an Identity Package: The Logo.


How many times have you seen a web site that just has text in the top left corner of each page that says something like ‘BobsWebSite.com’? Probably too often.

The top left corner of any page on your web site is the first impression your customers have of your Brand. We all know how important first impressions are. Because we’re raised to read left to right, top to bottom (in most Western cultures, anyway) the first thing we see when our eyes hit a new piece of media, like a web page, is the top left corner of the page.

That’s where our brains expect us to start reading, so that’s the first place our eyes go. Sometimes we don’t even realize that, but it happens every time. No matter where we THINK we looked first, our brains instantly register whatever is in that top left corner.

The brainiacs at MIT tell us that the human brain can register and recall an image that it sees for as little as 13 MILLISECONDS. That’s 13 one-thousands of a second!! So don’t think for a millisecond that your customers’ brains don’t take whatever is in the top left corner of your web site pages as their first impression of your business and Brand; they absolutely do.

If that top left corner is a flat, dry, no-personality lump of text that says ‘BobsWebSite.com’, you’ve already lost that customer in their first couple of seconds on your site. At that point even the customer doesn’t consciously realize it yet, but SUBconsciously they already know they’re not going to buy anything from you.

A good Logo completes your Identity Package and is a cornerstone of your site’s Brand. In a quick, visually symbolic way, a good Logo captures attention, tells yet another part of the Brand story, sets a mood for your customers and much more.

Professional designers charge thousands of dollars for a really good Logo, because they do a lot of research into your customer demographic and your product market and play with dozens of ideas before finalizing the design.

Don’t think you can get a good Logo from one of those five-dollar graphics sites. The graphic artists who do those dirt-cheap Logo designs literally time themselves and only devote about 10 to 15 minutes of their time to each Logo they create. How else can we realistically expect them to make any money otherwise? They’re not doing it for fun!

10 to 15 minutes isn’t going to get you a good Logo, though, and a bad Logo will sink your brand faster than a boat anchor chained to a dog biscuit. So where do you get a good Logo? Here are three suggestions, from best to worst case scenario.

It’s probably the last thing you want to hear, but any business owner who’s serious about building a successful business from the ground up needs to develop multiple skills. As an Ebiz owner, you need to have some familiarity with graphics software like Adobe Illustrator and Adobe Photoshop. If you spend some time with it, you can come up with a Logo on your own. Just make sure to study other successful Logos in your market and take your time.

Or, you could find a friend or family member who’s good at sketching or drawing and work with them.

Finally, if you must, you can try to find a designer who will spend more than 15 minutes on your Logo. You WILL have to pay them a reasonable amount of money for their time, though, if you expect a reasonable Logo in return.

Remember that your Logo will be greatly influenced by the other parts of your Identity Package; your Site Name and your Tagline, so they must be developed first.

Logos come in several forms:

Word Mark - this Logo form is simply the name of the company written out in a stylized font with no graphics. Think Disney.

Icon - this Logo form is simply a graphic that stands on its own. Think Apple.

Lettermark - this form of Logo is the initials of a company name in a stylized text font with no graphics. Think CNN.

Combination Mark - this form of Logo uses both a Word Mark and an Icon. Think Adobe.

Emblem - this form of Logo consist of words or letters inside a graphic design. Think Harley-Davidson.

Our CozyKitchenToasters.com site name could use any of these forms of Logo, as can most site name and Tagline combinations. As the business owner, it’s up to you to learn to provide the creativity to build a good Identity Package for your web site. Your real-world business success depends on it.


Check out [Day 3] of this series, and we’ll talk about another critical detail you need to understand to actually make a living in this business.

Between now and then, check out my LIFETIME Personal EBiz Workshop and Mentoring Program. I’ve made millions in this business, I’ve been doing it for over 20 years, and I’ve consulted for and taught literally thousands of EBiz owners how to earn a full time living online.

You are more than welcome to join us. There is a LOT more I can teach you about the REAL world of online business if you really want to learn.

Right now, there’s a very limited time 75% Discount on this very successful Lifetime program, but it always sells out very quickly, so Register Now! I promise you’ll be glad you did. :o)

Questions? Call me. Yes, I answer my own phone. I’m a Teacher and a Business Owner, not one of those online junk dealers. You can actually reach me on the phone, any time, and I’ll be happy to talk with you. 888-824-7476.

See you in the real world!

Chris Malta

Monday, October 6th, 2014 Surviving EBiz No Comments

Focus Your Customers, Increase Sales [5 Critical EBiz Details, Day 3]

This is the 3rd post in this “5 Critical Details for your EBiz” series.


One of the things I see quite often when I work with EBiz owners is the fact that most EBiz owners don’t think hard enough about the distinction between the physical world and the online world when creating web site pages. There are several important things to realize here.


There’s a process to traditional physical sales that’s worked very well since the first caveman sold a hunting rock to his buddy in exchange for a chunk of meat.

A really good salesperson in the physical world understands that process and does it very well. That means that salesperson makes good money in sales.

The process basically goes like this:

- You show someone a product.

- You ask them questions about what they desire from the product and then speak to those desires and how the product fulfills them.

- You talk price and close the sale.

That conversation is critical in good physical sales. If I go to Sam Ash Music in Orlando and ask a salesperson to see a specific guitar, any good salesperson is going to try to find out what I want from the product. He or she might ask me if I’m going to use the guitar for practice, for fun, to play on stage, to record with, etc. What kind of pickups do I like? What kind of tone am I looking for? What gauge strings do I like to use?

My answers to these questions allow the salesperson to either point out that the features I want already exist on that guitar or can be added to that guitar, or point out that I might want to check out a different guitar.

During that process, the salesperson is GUIDING ME THROUGH THE SALE.

If he or she does a good really job of controlling that process and guiding me through the sale, I’m most likely going to buy the product.

Online, though, there’s something very important that’s missing from this time-tested process. You can’t talk to your customer about what they desire from the product. You can’t physically guide them through the sale with questions and answers.

So what do you do?


When you think about it, the entire marketing process online is VISUAL. From your product pictures to your written site content, your articles, blogs, public forum participation, social marketing, video content…everything you do is ONE-WAY, from you to your customer, and it’s all VISUAL.

Just like it’s easy to mistake someone’s tone in an email when you can’t see their expressions and body language in person, it’s easy to visually confuse people on your site and in your marketing.

In the many years I’ve spent teaching Ecommerce business owners how to fix sites that don’t work, I can’t even attempt to count the number of times I’ve seen web sites that are so visually confusing that I feel like I’m looking at them through a psychotic kaleidoscope.

Most web site owners (and yes, eBay sellers too) tend to cram so much stuff onto a single page that it simply descends into visual chaos right from the top of the page. It’s not the site owners’ fault, because that’s what EBiz owners see everybody ELSE doing.

However, when you understand that literally more than 95% of the Ebiz sites online never provide a full time income for their owners, it’s easy to see that this is one of the reasons.

‘Busy’ pages don’t work well visually. They’re too confusing. Online shoppers move very quickly as a rule, and a busy, confusing page turns off an online shopper faster than their cat peeing on their keyboard.

We’ve already established that this is one-way visual marketing. You can’t stand over your customers’ shoulders and direct their attention through that confusion for them. Your pages need to do the visual directing all by themselves! They can only do that if they are clean, clear, intuitive, AND focused on one thing at a time.

Visual marketing is a PROCESS. In that process, EACH PAGE of your site needs to accomplish the following things for your customer:

- Professionalism

- Legitimacy

- Engagement

- Action

- Closure

You have 3 to 7 seconds to move someone’s eyes to a single focal point on any given page. That’s because people are at their peak level of interest and attention for anywhere from 3 to 7 seconds after they first hit a new piece of media (your web page).

After that first 3 to 7 seconds, their interest and attention begin to drop off, and you’ve lost that Magic Moment when you had your one BEST chance to capture their interest. That’s one reason that confusing web pages lead to miserable sales; it takes way too much time to wade through the confusion. Other reasons are that confusing pages are hard to follow, don’t speak well of your Brand, and are just too much work for the typical fast-moving online shopper.


I should point out that well-designed web pages are NOT the pre-built templates you get from an online store provider. They give you those templates to make building your web site SEEM simple and easy. In other words, the store provider just wants your money, and the simpler and quicker they make web site building SEEM, the more likely you are to give it to them.

Those templates are created by graphic designers who generally don’t understand marketing. They’re graphic designers, not marketing specialists; there’s a big difference! Sure, they’ll have slick graphics and pretty pictures, but they won’t move your customers’ eyes through the visual process that they need to follow in order to complete a sale.

The combination of any product and the particular consumer audience that buys it is always unique and different from any other product-audience combination.

Effective visual sales pages must take into account the uniqueness of your particular product-audience combination. When you do that, your pages have an effective visual process and create the emotional and other connections with your customer that are necessary to complete the sale.

One size fits all templates simply don’t cut it. You need to learn to either create your own pages, or modify the template you’re using. Unfortunately, most templates can’t be modified that much.


So how do you establish a visual process that leads your customer to a sale instead of chasing them away? Let’s explore that process again, with some added notes.

- Professionalism:

Your customers MUST feel that they are dealing with a professional company. Professionalism is immediately established (or not!) by the top left corner of any given page in your site. That’s where they Site Name, Tagline and Logo belong, as we talked about on [Day 1] of this email series. That’s your “Identity Package”. That’s what your customer will notice first, and first impressions are everything.

Make sure you learn how to put together a truly great Identity Package.

- Legitimacy:

Your customers must immediately feel that you’re a legitimate company. This is a function of how easy it is for them to contact you directly. It’s best established by a toll-free Customer Service phone number at the top right of every page on your site. It’s actually very inexpensive (about $20 a month) and it’s worth its weight in gold (sales).

- Engagement:

You have to create a SINGLE focal point on each page of your web site that contains the ONE THING that your customer needs to do on that page in order to further the sale.

This is why you can’t jumble up a nasty mess of multiple product buy buttons, “free shipping” exhortations, coupons, ads, flashy graphics splattered all over the page, and all the rest of that garbage. When you do that, you create multiple focal points for your customers’ eyes, and they get lost, confused, and then they leave.

Engaging a customer’s eyes means catching their attention with something that moves their eyes toward your focal point. You can do this really well by placing an image of a person USING your product near the upper middle portion of your page, above and usually slightly to the left of the focal point. That person in the image should be LOOKING TOWARD your focal point; your customers will follow the eyes of the person in the image.

- Action:

This is what happens when you successfully establish Professionalism, Legitimacy and Engagement. At this point, your customer has landed on the focal point of your page, and takes an ACTION.

On a Home Page, the focal point is usually images that clearly represent your categories. On a Category Page, the focal point is a group of clean, clear product images (NOT prices and buy buttons!) that represent the products in that Category. On a Product Page, the focal point is the product image itself, the description, and the Buy button.

If your page’s visual sales process quickly and effectively moves your customer to your focal point, your customer will click on it.

Get a customer to click on a Category image on your home page, and it’s much more likely they’ll click on a Product image in the Category, and then MUCH more likely they’ll buy the product once they hit the Product page. That is, if you effectively move their eyes through the visual sales process on each of those pages.

- Closure:

This is what happens when your customer buys the product and completes the sale.

Always keep in mind that most of your customers will land somewhere in the MIDDLE of your site, not on your Home Page. That’s just one more reason that EVERY page must be clean, clear and be built with an effective visual sales process!


Check out [Day 4] of this series, and we’ll talk about another critical detail you need to understand to actually make a living in this business.

There is a LOT more I can teach you about the REAL world of online business if you want to learn. In fact, I’ll bet I can teach you more in a single day than you’ve learned in all the time you’ve been trying to start or run an online business.

Check out my LIFETIME Personal EBiz Workshop and Mentoring Program. I’ve made millions in online business, I’ve been doing it for over 20 years, and I’ve consulted for and taught literally thousands of EBiz owners how to earn a full time living online.

Right now, there’s a huge LIMITED TIME 75% Discount on this very successful Lifetime program, but it always sells out very quickly, so Register Now! I promise you’ll be glad you did. :o)

Questions? Call me. Yes, I answer my own phone. I’m a Teacher and a Business Owner, not one of those online junk dealers. You can actually reach me on the phone, any time, and I’ll be happy to talk with you. 888-824-7476.

See you in the ‘real’ world!

Chris Malta

Tags: , , ,

Monday, October 6th, 2014 Surviving EBiz No Comments

Know Your Customers, Increase Sales [5 Critical EBiz Details, Day 4]

This is the 4th post in this “5 Critical Details for your EBiz” series.


This may be the most overlooked necessity for a successful business in all of Ecommerce. In all the years I’ve been helping people understand how to build a real business online, I have never come across even one person who TRULY understood the need to learn what their consumer demographic is. Successful retail businesses know their demographic down to the last possible detail.

So what’s a demographic, how do you learn about it, and how do you market to it?


Put very simply, your consumer demographic is a detailed picture of the people who are most likely to buy your specific product line. It’s your ‘consumer audience’; the people you should be able to sell the most of your product to.

Most online sellers believe that they simply need to put a product line out there, people of all kinds will show up and buy it, and the seller will make lots of money.

Nothing could be further from the truth.

While people of all kinds may be ABLE to buy what you’re selling, you need to market directly to the people who will MOST OFTEN buy your product.


Think about all the TV, radio, newspaper, magazine, billboard, internet and other advertising you’re exposed to on a minute by minute basis every day of your life. Now think about the TARGETS of all that advertising. Who is it aimed at?

Do you ever see Nike marketing running shoes to Senior Citizens? Chevy marketing pickup trucks to teenagers? Maybelline marketing cosmetics to men? Of course not.

These are broad examples, but these companies, like all successful retail businesses of all sizes, are well aware of who buys their products most often, thus who they need to market to.

While it’s possible that you COULD sell a heating pad, for example, to a teenager or a 20-something person, the fact is that those people are still out there doing the damage to themselves that they’ll need heating pads for LATER in life. You’re more likely to sell MORE heating pads to people in their thirties or above. You’re MUCH more likely to sell the MOST heating pads to people who are about 50 or older.

As I said above, you need to identify who is most likely to buy the MOST of your product line, and market directly to them.


Because you CAN’T market to ‘everybody’.

Not all at the same time.

Think about this: The music you listen to when you’re in your teens becomes the music you tend to like the most for the rest of your life. By the same token, the marketing styles and concepts you’re exposed to when you ‘come of age’ and begin standing on your own two feet, buying things for yourself, is the marketing style that you’re most comfortable with and RESPOND TO the best for the rest of your life.

Marketing styles and concepts change over time. The hippy-style “Uncola” 7UP soda commercials of the 70’s wouldn’t play well to a young audience today, but they worked really well then and are extremely nostalgic now for an older audience who were young in the 70’s.

Take a look at the changes in the 7UP Taglines (slogans) over the last 80 years or so (yes, it’s been around that long!):

You Like It, It Likes You (1936)

The Fresh Up Family Drink (1952)

Fresh up with 7 Up (1957)

Get real action, 7 Up your thirst away (1963)

Wet ‘n’ Wild (1965)

The Uncola. (1967)

It’s 7 Up, it’s Uncola (1975)

Feelin’ 7 Up (1980)

Put some Un in your life. (early 1990s)

Now that’s refreshing. (1990s)

6 Up was not enough. We went one louder. (1994)

It’s an up thing. (1995)

Make 7 Up Yours. (1999-2005)

Seven flavors in one drink. (2008)

Ridiculously Bubbly. (2010)

Be yourself. Be refreshing. Be 7 Up. (2011)

Don’t grow up. 7 Up. (UK 2012-)

For every change in those Taglines, there were accompanying changes in the style and concepts of the marketing that went along with them.

That’s a LOT of change over time, but it’s not at all unusual.

The changes in the 7UP Taglines over time reflect a much broader set of changes; the changes in marketing styles and concepts OVERALL during that long time period.

An ad for a 1940’s Buick back then looks absolutely nothing like an ad for a 2015 Buick now, for example. These changes in marketing are results of CULTURAL shifts over time.

Because of those gradual cultural shifts over time, different age groups are more comfortable with different styles of marketing; namely the ones they were exposed to when they came of age. There is no one style of marketing that fits everybody.

If you really want to be successful in business, your marketing must capture the attention of the people you sell to. Its style and concept must strongly connect with your customer, evoke emotion, tell a story, engender trust, and do all of that SO WELL that your customer never even thinks about looking for that product anywhere else.

Because different groups of people, especially along the Age demographic, perceive and respond to very different styles and concepts in marketing, you cannot possibly do all that for all those groups at the same time.

So, you learn who buys the MOST of your product, and you market directly to THEM. That’s where your largest profit potential is.


There is no perfect solution for a small business owner to figure out EVERYTHING about their demographic. That’s because really detailed demographic information is a matter of money, and LOTS of it.

The big kids, like Wal-Mart, Macys, Target and all of the thousands of other mega-advertisers out there pay for their demographic research. Companies like Forrester Research, for example, do the research for them.

Those specialized research companies can tell the big advertisers who their most likely customers are right down to their income, education, which cars they like to drive, what kind of food they eat and how tight they tie their shoelaces. However, research like that routinely costs tens or even hundreds of thousands of dollars. Obviously for a small business owner that’s not feasible.

It’s not really necessary for the ECommerce business owner either, though. As an Ebiz owner the most important thing for you to do is to concentrate on the two most important demographic areas; Age and Gender. These are things you can figure out for yourself.

It’s a subjective process, but it’s all about putting yourself in your customers’ shoes. Look to friends, family members, coworkers and acquaintances while thinking about the niche product line you sell. Which of them would be the MOST likely to need it and buy it? Everybody knows a wide enough range of people that they can identify somebody they know as belonging to the general age group that would buy their product the MOST.

How old is that person? That’s a much more important question, because the age of a person tells you a LOT about the type of marketing they respond to.


This aspect of demographics is again the most important for you to understand about your target consumer market.

Age is basically categorized by generation in marketing. There are several distinct generations that respond to distinctly different types of marketing. They are:

- Seniors: (Born 1930 to 1945).

Seniors respond to being treated like an individual, not a commodity. They like nostalgic imagery. They like personalization; “I use this” and I like this” goes much farther with them than “4 out of 5 dentists recommend it”.

They like coupons and discounts. The DON’T like too much hype, though. Seniors are the demographic that is most afraid of being cheated or ripped off online. They are traditionalists; they don’t like ‘newness’ as much as they like value. They like clear, step by step processes; simplicity wins the day with Seniors.

- Baby Boomers: (Born 1946 to 1964).

Boomers, as they’re affectionately called in marketing, have HUGE buying power. If there was ever a demographic to purposely AIM for when choosing which products to sell, this one is it.

There are seven dirty words when marketing to Boomers: Senior Citizen, Retiree, Aging, Golden Years, Silver Years, Mature, Prime of Life. DON’T use those words/phrases. The online world is generally not their preferred method of gathering information.

Like all generations, they still prefer the way they were marketed to in their formative years: television, newspapers, magazines, etc. Understand that relating your marketing to those kinds of formats helps, i.e. refer, compare and contrast a portion of your marketing content to TV shows and news items.

When they grew up, products were made with quality, to last a long time. They miss those days. Quality and Trust statements go a long way toward marketing well to this group. Help them feel hip, smart and sexy. Boomers don’t want to feel old. They want to feel that 50 is the new 30; 60 is the new 40. This is a generational group of rebels who grew up wanting to ‘do their own thing’. They like to blaze trails and they like instant gratification.

Make sure you use clean, youthful imagery when marketing to them. Never use images of people with gray hair, etc.

- Generation X: (Born 1965-1977).

Xers are typically more sardonic than Boomers. They grew up in a generation of downsizing, global financial problems, and many were latch-key kids. They’re more skeptical and disillusioned than other generations.

However, because of that they respond well to outside-the-box marketing. They like clever, original marketing. Make them laugh and you’ve got a good chance to sell them something. Sarcastic humor works well with them, so does sneaky humor; surprise twists in marketing.

They’re well educated, and tend to be a thrifty bunch, so informative value statements are important when marketing to them. They like personal connection and tend to distrust corporate images, so don’t try to look like a big business. Like Boomers, they too are beginning to feel nostalgic for a simpler time, so keep your message real and simple and you’ll do well with Xers.

- Generation Y: (Born 1977-1994).

Gen Y wants to have a say in what everybody does. Ask for feedback. Run surveys. They love a cause, so be sure to share your company vision with them. They love innovative approaches and clever turns of phrase much like Gen X does.

YouTube is a good marketing tool for this group. They like amateur-style shoot from the hip video. They also appreciate Infographics. Gen Y’s attention span is short because they like to multi-task. Get your message across in a short and sweet way, and they’ll listen to you.

Respond to their feedback and survey information by modifying your marketing accordingly. They’ll appreciate that and respond to you. They like Celebrity endorsement, so relate some of your social commentary to celebrities using the products you sell.

-Generation Z: (Born after 1994).

Gen Z is also referred to as Tweens, Baby Bloomers and Generation 9/11. When you market to Gen Z, keep in mind that many of them are under 18, so while you market to them, you’ve got to sell their parents.

Social presence online is huge to this group, so instead of marketing AT them, BE one of them. Peer endorsement is important to Gen Z. For example, when Nike markets to Gen Z, they talk in the social venues about favorite training routines, personal bests and friendly tips. Short, punchy commentary is the best way to stay tuned into this group.

Gen Zers are big on building their own ‘personal brand’ online as well, and the content they get from you can help them do that. If you help a Gen Zer who skis to ski better, you can bet that he or she will be sharing your content and singing your praises as they talk with their preferred online communities about themselves and what they like to do in life.

Trust is huge here. Clear, factually correct and complete (in and of itself) content goes a long way toward successful marketing to Gen Z. Gen Zers get the info they share online from the internet, and share that info with their friends. They don’t like it when they’re friends prove that any info they shared is wrong, and they don’t like information that doesn’t fully educate.

Keep in mind that Gen Z is a more difficult market to capture for home based business. It’s still an emerging group and even the big retailers haven’t quite figured out how to work with them yet.


As I said earlier, it’s pretty easy to figure out whether a product is better targeted at a male or female demographic. What kind of marketing tips do you need to keep in mind when marketing to men vs women? Remember that gender-based marketing tips need to be used in conjunction with age-based marketing tips!

FEMALE consumers appreciate value, honesty and straightforwardness. They want validation that they are appreciated as intelligent and valuable people who deserve to know the truth. They find quality and consistency valuable in a product. They like to save time. Direct benefits in clear statements work very well with women.

Don’t use pushy marketing with women. They don’t like to feel that they’re being forced. Positive empowerment and a low-key style work best. Give them the ability to comment in the areas where you market socially. They like to feel that they are a part of how your brand works. They don’t generally mind email requests for feedback; it makes them feel like valued customers.

Women are generally highly tech-savvy. Never talk down to a female audience. Women tend to do a lot of research before they buy, so make sure your marketing is content rich and informative. Good customer service is highly valued by women as well; it’s important if you expect repeat business.

MALE consumers like imagery that makes them feel strong and confident. Men see themselves as decision-makers, and their interests lie in power, control and individuality. They feel the need to ‘get it done’, and don’t like to spend a lot of time shopping, so your marketing to men should be more straight to the point. Lay it out quickly and cleanly and lead them to the decision point.

Men are competitors; branding and marketing that makes them feel like winners goes a long way. They hone in quickly on what they want. So your web pages need to quickly show them what they’re looking for. No-nonsense copy is best for men; they want you to get to the point of the conversation. Too much fluff in your marketing content will hurt your marketing to a male demographic.


As you can see, there’s a great deal to understand about your consumer demographic. There’s of course a lot more to the study of demographics, but this should give you a good start and some practical advice to apply to your marketing strategy.

Make sure you go out and get it done! Start thinking about who that one group is that is most likely to buy the MOST of what you sell, and market to that demographic!


Check out [Day 5] of this series, and we’ll talk about another critical detail you need to understand to actually make a living in this business.

There is a LOT more I can teach you about the REAL world of online business if you want to learn. In fact, I’ll bet I can teach you more in a single day than you’ve learned in all the time you’ve been trying to start or run an online business.

Check out my LIFETIME Online EBiz Workshop and Mentoring Program. I’ve made millions in online business, I’ve been doing it for over 20 years, and I’ve consulted for and taught literally thousands of EBiz owners how to earn a full time living online.

Right now, there’s a huge LIMITED TIME 75% Discount on this very successful Lifetime program, but it always sells out very quickly, so Register Now! I promise you’ll be glad you did. :o)

THAT DISCOUNT ENDS on Friday October 10th at Midnight Pacific Time. Please don’t miss it!

Questions? Call me. Yes, I answer my own phone. I’m a Teacher and an actual successful online Business Owner, not one of those online junk dealers. You can actually reach me on the phone, any time, and I’ll be happy to talk with you. 888-824-7476.

See you in the ‘real’ world!

Chris Malta

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Monday, October 6th, 2014 Surviving EBiz No Comments

Understand Images, Increase Sales [5 Critical EBiz Details, Day 5]

This is the 5th and final post in this “5 Critical Details for your EBiz” series.


We’ve already talked about product images in an earlier installment in this series, and you know why you can’t just slap them up all over a page and expect to sell something.

The images I’m talking about here are the images that make up the STORY of your product line, your business and your Brand.

Category images on your pages. Images in your blog posts, your social marketing and articles that you write for marketing content. Icons and graphics that appear on your site pages, like your Logo, and even the way you design your web pages with lines, corners, curves and backgrounds. All of this comes together to help tell the story of your brand, and why your customers should feel safe and comfortable buying from you.

Imagery can communicate very subtly, but VERY QUICKLY. They say a picture is worth a thousand words. Take that very seriously, because it’s absolutely true.


When people visit your web site, you should have them immediately focused on a single point of action on any given page. However, what SURROUNDS that point of action is just as important. That focal point’s SURROUNDINGS help to make the focal point stand out.

Those surroundings are the graphic imagery that is a part of your site design.

When those graphics match the mood and emotion you want to create for your consumer demographic (we talked about that in an earlier installment too) they create a comfortable place for your customer. If you can do that, you’ve won half the battle.

Graphic site elements like curves, graceful lines, rounded corners and soft backgrounds create an impression of elegance, warmth, safety, comfort and more. These graphic site treatments work well for sites selling, for example, baby products, clothing, cookware, and thousands of other products that have a positive connotation or use.

On the other hand, products like security cameras, motorcycle parts, rc cars and thousands of other products that have an edgier or more dangerous connotation are better served by hard lines, sharp edges, sharp corners and more severe background treatments.

Color plays a big role in your site graphics as well.

Warm colors like oranges, browns, yellows and pinks create a softer feel, and are best used with products that have positive connotations.

Cool colors like blues, grays, greens, etc. have a darker or edgier feel and are best used with products that have those edgier or more dangerous connotations.

Red is always a color that should be used VERY sparingly. It’s a ‘danger’ color much of the time (in the Western world, anyway!) and can push people away from a site page or site element rather than draw them toward it.

Make sure you NEVER let the graphic elements of your site pages stand out so much that they take away from the FOCUS of the page. It’s always tempting to use overpowering graphics. This is especially true in complicated background images.

Resist the temptation. The graphics elements of your web pages are there to COMPLIMENT and DRAW ATTENTION to the FOCUS of each page (category choices, a product, etc.), not the other way around.

Graphic elements can tell a story all by themselves, but more commonly tell a story in conjunction with all the other graphic elements you use on each page of your web site.

Logos, of course, are graphic elements of a different kind, but they tell their story in combination with your site name and Tagline, as we discussed in an earlier installment.


The wrong image can very easily tell the wrong story, which is why you have to be very aware of the imagery you use. Images can hurt your business just as easily as they can help them.

When carefully crafted to tell a story on purpose, an image is perhaps the most powerful form of communication we engage in as human beings. The entire range of human emotion can be evoked by an image.

When you consider that everything you do in Ecommerce marketing is a one-way visual communication with your potential customers, the importance of carefully crafted images cannot possibly be overstated.

Learning to properly craft those images is another of those major skills that is absolutely required in order to become a successful marketer.

You can tell an entire story, complete with a protagonist, antagonist, a range of emotions, a beginning and ending, and often even a surprise twist…all with a single image.

How cool is that!

Most of the time we look at images and feel a certain way, but we don’t really think about why. We don’t ‘decode’ the image in our rational minds, step by step. We simply feel what the image imparts to us.

Let’s take a look at just one image example and try to decode what that image suggests and represents, and how it makes us feel.

Here’s an image that might be used on a site that’s selling picnic baskets, for example:

Take some time to absorb this image and see how it makes you feel.

Now, let’s try to decode what this image does for us.

What’s the story? Well, at first glance, it’s a story about a family on a picnic, right? However, it’s deeper than that. Your brain doesn’t stop there when processing an image. It accesses life experiences, learned knowledge, social conventions, emotions and much more when deciding how to react to what it’s processing from visual input.

If you really deconstruct and decode this image, it’s a story about transient joy, the impermanence of life, and the inevitability of death. Wow, pretty heavy stuff for an image of a family on a picnic, right?

Let’s look at it step by step, though. First, who’s the protagonist in this image? A protagonist is the person or thing in the image for which the story means the most.

We automatically assume we’re looking at a family, right? There’s that brain of ours working on things without consciously telling us it’s working on things.

We also immediately feel empathic happiness and joy when we see this image. However, it’s a more of a melancholy joy. Why?

Let’s start with the source of the happiness that we identify so quickly.

Well, the Dad is happy and the child is happy, but it looks like the Mom is happiest of all. She has that great big joyful smile on her face. She’s also the dominant character in the story, with her hands in controlling positions on the Dad’s shoulder and arm. She’s in control here, and it’s clear the story means the most to her. She’s our protagonist.

Now take a look at the background.

Notice the ethereal light streaming down from the sky behind and above the child? How it lights the back of his head and gives him what looks like a little halo?

He’s NEW. He’s the beginning of a life cycle. Look at the green of the trees to the left of the image behind the child. The bright green grass underneath the family. That all speaks of beginnings.

Now, look at the background behind the parents. Moving from the left, behind the child, to the right, behind the parents, the background shifts from new to old. We see darker shades, dying leaves on the trees, a much older looking tree trunk. The background is showing us a passage of time from younger to older; child to parents.

On the ground, sprinkled all around, we see dead leaves, even though the grass looks like springtime grass. This evokes the realization that there is an end to life even among new life.

Eventually, we know that the child will grow up and replace the parents, and will eventually switch positions in life and BE the parent looking lovingly at another new child.

If the Mom is the protagonist, who’s the antagonist here?

The antagonist is time. The passage of time that leads from new to old, the transience and impermanence of life and the cause of this repeating cycle over and over again.

And the picnic basket? It lends context to the scene; it tells us why this family is laying on the grass in the middle of a field. It’s also quite sharp, crisp and new, very cleanly lit, which supports the newness of the scene on the side of the child as juxtaposed against the age and passage of time we see in the background trees behind the parents. It’s made of new wood as well, while the darkening tree trunks behind the parents are old wood.

This image, for most adults, will evoke emotions involving melancholy joy. Memories of days long past with their own parents, a longing to go back to an earlier time in their lives when things were so much simpler, and empathic happiness for the joyful Mom looking down at her child.

Like we said earlier, pretty heavy stuff, huh?

Melancholy joy and a desire to return to simpler times in life can be a powerful motivator for the customer viewing the image to want to experience what the family in the image is experiencing.

How better to do that than to buy the picnic basket from that web site and go on a picnic?

Again, a picture (or graphic image) is worth a thousand words. When you learn visual marketing, you get to choose the story the image tells.

It’s an awesome thing to be able to do.


I sincerely hope you got some useful information from this 5 day series.

These are only 5 Critical Details. There is a LOT more I can teach you about the REAL world of online business if you want to learn. In fact, I’ll bet I can teach you more in a single day than you’ve learned in all the time you’ve been trying to start or run an online business.

Check out my LIFETIME Online EBiz Workshop and Mentoring Program.

Right now, there’s a huge LIMITED TIME 75% Discount on this very successful Lifetime program, but it always sells out very quickly, so Register Now! I promise you’ll be glad you did. :o)

THAT DISCOUNT ENDS on Friday October 10th at Midnight Pacific Time. Please don’t miss it!

Questions? Call me. Yes, I answer my own phone. I’ll be happy to talk with you and answer your questions. 888-824-7476.

See you in the ‘real’ world!

Chris Malta

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Monday, October 6th, 2014 Surviving EBiz No Comments

FREE EBIZ VIDEOS: The 4 Critical Basics Most EBiz Owners Forget

Below you’ll find four videos about the most important basic rules that even the most seasoned eBiz owners forget sometimes. They’re silly, they’re short, but they’re extremely important to understand.

So check each one out and make sure YOU haven’t forgotten these critical basics as you work to build your ECommerce business!

Here we go…

Video 1: Arrows are Sharper than Beach Balls

So assuming that you actually watched the video and you’re not trying to skip ahead just to get this overwith, let’s talk about how Arrows are sharper than Beach Balls.

When we build an online store, we put ourselves at the mercy of the search engines. If we want people to find us, we have to do what the search engines want us to do. Otherwise, we never get found.

(Or, we spend a ridiculous amount of money on paid advertising, and it never pays us back!)

So what do the search engines want? In a perfect world, they want to see a web site where everything on that site is all about the same thing. Every page, every description, every article is about the same subject.

When a search engine finds a site like that, they consider it to be much more of an authority on it’s subject. So, it ranks much higher in the search engines.

On the other hand, when a web site tries to talk about all kinds of different, unrelated things, search engines just can’t figure out what the overall point is. So they just sit in the corner and drool.

Imagine trying to read a 20 chapter book, where every chapter is about something totally different and unrelated to the other chapters. Are you imagining that? Confusing, isn’t it? Uh-huh. Now you feel the poor search engines’ pain.

An Arrow is a web site that sells only one type of product, like baseball bats, and all the words on that web site are related to that one product line. To the search engines, it’s sharp and focused. It sticks to the first page of the search engines, lots of people find it, and they spend lots of money on that site. If that’s your site, this’ll make you very happy.

A Beach Ball is a web site that tries to sell a whole lot of unrelated products on the same site, like baby shoes, bowling balls and JuJuBees. It’s big and bloated with too many unrelated words. It bounces off the first page of the search engines, and lands in the weeds somewhere. No customer will ever find it. If that’s your site, this’ll make you very sad.

If you keep your web site focused on only one product line, you’ll do much better in the search engines.

Video 2: Messy Web Sites Smell Bad

So now that you’ve watched the video, try doing some random pretend shopping online. Type a couple of keywords into Google and see what you can see on the sites that come back. How many of the web sites that you visit “smell bad” (make you wrinkle up your face and want to leave the area)?

Chances are, a LOT of them do. This is a very common problem.

This is one of the most overlooked problems in ECommerce. If you’re selling online, you’re in the retail business. Presentation is half the battle in retail. Over and over again, I see web sites that are just random plasterings of pictures and words alll over the page, that make no real sense.

The goal of a good web page is to lead your visitor by the eyes, very quickly and cleanly, to exactly the product they want to buy. Always keep in mind that if they’ve landed on your site to begin with, they got there because they SEARCHED for what you sell. They ALREADY want to buy it.

They don’t have to be re-convinced of the virtues of the product or why they should want to buy it. They don’t need to be confused by having to sort through 20 or 30 product names and prices plastered all over a home page. Nevermind smacking them in the face with security logos, free shipping, coupons and pop-overs. Don’t talk at your visitors endlessly with paragraphs full of text stuffed with keywords (As SEO goes, that’s very old-school anyway, and doesn’t work anymore).

Keep it simple. Again, your visitor already wants what you sell. All you have to do is give them a clear, uncluttered and un-confusing path to the product page, and you’ve won half the battle.

Lots of site owners buy “templates” for their web sites. Site design isn’t something that comes out of a box. The graphic designers who build those templates do know how to build pages that look pretty. The problem is that they’re graphic designers, not marketers.

Marketers know that you have to subliminally plant a series of ideas in a customer’s head very quickly and smoothly. Your customer needs to pick up on the professionalism of your company. The legitimacy of your business. Your page has to quickly build a selling proposition and a “what’s in it for me”, and the has to graphically lead your customer’s eyes to the right image to click to get where they need to go to buy from your site.

You don’t get that from pre-built sites or from templates. Graphic designers did’t go to school for marketing; they went for graphic design. And unless you went to school for marketing yourself, there are things you need to learn too, if you want to join that 5% of EBiz Owners who actually make a full time living online.

Clean and simple is the key to building a successful web site. Don’t let your web site smell bad!

Video 3: Don’t Poke People with a Stick!

Have you watched the video? The point here is to make it clear that Social Marketing is supposed to be 95% social, and only 5% marketing.

When people are in the social venues, they’re in their private, personal time. They’re sharing stories and pictures with friends and family members. They’re talk, laughing, catching up and relaxing with each other.

The last thing they want is somebody throwing sales pitches at them. People in social settings are NOT people who are shopping. It’s not appropriate to pitch in a social setting.

However, there ARE ways to get your message across and increase your sales without throwing blatant sales pitches at people.

Social Marketing is more an art form than it is a formula. This is retail sales. Communication is very important. Proper communication for the proper setting is critical.

In Social Marketing, we communicate our messages by creating interesting information related to what people are talking about, that subtly leads back to what we do.

For example, if you sell Breadmakers online, you hang out in social areas where people are talking about baking and cooking. You share recipes for fresh baked bread. Along the way, you mention that you get the best results with the particular type of breadmaker you use. Then you link that word (breadmaker) to a product page on your site.

That’s just the most basic first step in Social Marketing, but it helps to explain the most critical concept:

Don’t poke people with a stick!

Video 4: Don’t Build a Store in a Hole

So, most people know that SEO and Social Marketing is critical to getting your store found online. BUT…did you catch the word “PROPERLY” in the video?

That’s where most people run into a problem.

I hear people all the time telling me that they’ve “done the SEO”, but when I look at their sites I see that the SEO is done really poorly. Why? Because most SEO info that you get for free on the search engines is horribly outdated.

People also tell me that they’re “doing Social Marketing”, but they’re not. When I go look for them in the social venues and through non-commercial keywords (keywords that people search on when they’re looking for INFO and not shopping) these sites are nowhere to be found.

REALLY UNDERSTANDING how the search engines work is critical to a business owner who wants to be successful. 95% of the people out there who are trying to make money online don’t have that understanding. Either because they haven’t found the right place to learn it, or because they think they can pick it up for free online.

If your store can’t be found, nobody can buy anything from you.

PROPER SEO and Social Marketing is key to this business.

Don’t build a Store in a Hole!

There. Do you feel En-Smartened? Yes, I know it’s not really a word. (Or is it??)

I hope this short (and yes, silly) series of videos has helped you to understand four of the most critical points in online business!

If you want to learn the more serious details of how people actually make money in ECommerce, I’ve been making money at it for 20 years, and I’m here to teach you everything you need to know.

Register for my LIFETIME Online Workshop and Mentoring Program before Midnight October 1st and get a 50% + $100 DISCOUNT.

Friday, September 28th, 2012 Surviving EBiz No Comments

Your eBiz Site phone number - Local or Toll-Free?

A phone number for your eBiz Store site: do you need one? Absolutely. I’m not even going to spend a lot of time here discussing that. It’s a requirement, pure and simple, because people need to know that you’re a real business they can contact. You need a phone number on that site, and you need it right up there in the site header on every single page of the site, nice and obvious.

The question here is whether that phone number should be a local number or a toll-free number.

I guess I’ve assumed for a long time that people know they should use a toll-free number on their eBiz sites. Lately, though, Ive talked with some people who use local numbers and didn’t understand why they should go toll-free.

First, let’s understand that this is not about the money. Retail customers who are going to call a business really don’t care by and large whether the call costs a buck or two or doesn’t. What they care about is whether the company they’re calling is LEGITIMATE.

A toll-free phone number goes a LONG way toward making your business look legitimate. A local number looks more like you’re somebody working out of your home. Yes, most ARE working out of their homes, but that’s not something you want to bring to your customers’ attention on every page of your site.

A local phone number displayed on your site also makes your business feel “far away”. Think about it for a minute. When you look at a web site and see a toll-free number, that site looks close-by and accessible. It looks like the lights are on, everybody’s home, it’s open 24 hours a day and it’s a large company that’s easy to reach. That toll-free number goes a very long way toward giving your customers that legitimacy factor that’s so important in online sales.

On the other hand, try to picture seeing a local phone number in the header of a web site. That local number, for most people, will have an area code that’s not THEIR area code. That makes your business feel like it’s “distant”…a long ways away. The business looks smaller, less like a larger company. It also, for some reason, makes you feel like you can only reach that company during certain hours of the day, while the toll-free number implies 24/7 service.

That feeling of “distance” in a local phone number is something that pushes people away from a web site. Not good.

So go with a toll-free number for your eBiz, and show it off on your site. You can do it for less than $20 a month, and the rate of return is tremendously more than that.

Keep in mind that while a toll-free number will give people the impression that you’re open 24 hours a day, you certainly don’t have to be. Your SITE is open 24 hours a day, and that’s what’s important, because even with a toll-free number, you won’t get very many calls.

People don’t want to call you. Internet shoppers in most cases are not interested in talking to anyone. They just want to hurry up and buy whatever they’re looking for. However, they’ll hurry up and buy a lot more often if you look like a legitimate company, and a toll-free number is one of the things that will do that for you.

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Tuesday, July 10th, 2012 Surviving EBiz No Comments

Your eBiz: Getting paid - to Paypal, or not to Paypal

If you want to make money online, you have to give your customers some way to pay you with their credit cards. Kind of goes without, saying, right?

That means you need some kind of payment acceptance method on your site. There are two major choices: a Merchant Account, or PayPal.

Sure, you can use both. In fact, lots of web sites do. However, Merchant Accounts have their Risk Management departments ratcheted up so tight these days (because of the recession) that it’s getting more difficult to get a Merchant Account from a reputable provider. If and when you DO get one, you constantly run the risk of either getting your cash frozen for up to 3 months because of fraud attempts against your site, or getting your account shut down for the same reasons. You can’t control people trying to use bad cards on your site, but you pay the penalty if enough of them do.

Notice I said “reputable provider”. Most people don’t realize that most Merchant Account processors are not the actual banks. There are second and even third-level sellers of Merchant Accounts who take a cut of your transaction fees all the way up the ladder to the actual processing bank. That can mean higher and higher transaction fees.

So, what about PayPal?

Well, I used to tell people that PayPal wasn’t a good idea. Why? Because way back in the day, PayPal wanted your customer to be a PayPal member in order to use the service. It wasn’t REQUIRED, but they sure tried to snag those people into opening PayPal accounts.

The bad thing was, they tried to snag them right in the middle of YOUR checkout process.

For example: A customer goes to your site and buys a widget. You use PayPal as your checkout/payment process. As the customer is trying to pay, PayPal asks them: “Do you have a PayPal Account?” Most customers would click “No”. Then, PayPal asks them “Do you want to sign up for a PayPal Account? It’s fast and easy, and your dog will like it and it’ll make your sex life better and you’ll never lose your hair!” (Well, not exactly, but you get the idea). The customer has to choose “No” again, and on and on it goes.

In other words, PayPal used to seriously disrupt the purchase process on your site, trying to get YOUR customers to become THEIR members right in the middle of the purchase!

That resulted in higher than usual shopping cart abandonment. Translation? No soup for you! Okay, no sales for you…but again, you get the idea. (Can’t resist a good Seinfeld quote when the chance comes up)!

HOWEVER…PayPal has, in recent years, begun to come to their senses. There’s still a little bit of schmoozing the customer during the checkout process in some cases, but it’s become much more transparent than it used to be.

There are 3 kinds of PayPal account now:

Standard (free) - Customers still have to leave your site and get semi-schmoozed by PayPal in order to buy from you.

Advanced ($5 a month) - Customers stay on your site and go through a much more transparent checkout process.

Pro ($30 a month) - Customers stay on your site, transparent checkout process, AND you get to customize the PayPal payment page so it looks like your site, AND you can accept orders via phone, fax and mail because you can get a Virtual Terminal.

The transaction fees are reasonable, there are no hassles like the endless contracts, credit checks and paperwork that the Merchant Account companies put you through, their Customer Service has become really excellent, and it’s much easier to resolve card fraud issues.

And of course, your customers can use MasterCard, Visa, Discover or Amex, just like a regular ole’ Merchant Account.

SO, I’ve definitely changed my tune about PayPal over the last couple of years. In fact, I’ve been using them for the last couple of years and have learned these things by experience.

Yes, you can get a Merchant Account if you still want to, and you can ALSO use PayPal on your site.

However, it’s become much less of a hassle to simply use PayPal if you’re looking to save time, hassle, money, and reduce risk at the same time.

Hope that helps!

Monday, June 18th, 2012 Surviving EBiz 6 Comments