A lot of online business owners may feel that they already know whether they sell experiences or physical things. After all, if your firm doesn’t specialise in obvious ‘experiences’ such as holiday packages to Tenerife or driving days that involve blasting a supercar around Silverstone, and instead sells electrical goods such as TVs and laptops, you might think the answer’s pretty clear.
But actually, the true situation might not be so clear – and this can have major implications for how you market what your business does sell, including how you respond to customer concerns.
What is my target customer looking to accomplish?
The above is a big, big question that any business – online or offline – needs to ask themselves regularly.
When it comes down to it, even if – for instance – your store deals solely in electrical items like those mentioned above, it’s not really the items themselves, or even the finer points of their technical specifications, that you’re ultimately selling. What you’re ultimately selling to the customer, is happiness.
Yes, you read that correctly: happiness. Whether your store sells products or ‘experiences’, every store is essentially trying to sell positive and happy experiences.
The customer is approaching your business with a certain need, problem or unhappiness about something, and they’re looking to solve that issue. There’s something that they specifically want to accomplish, and they’ll want to know how your brand can help them to make it a reality.
Let’s look at the aforementioned example of TVs. Your brand might offer impressive 4K Ultra HD widescreen TVs, with pre-loaded streaming apps like Netflix and YouTube. But the customer might be looking for a TV that is available for a certain price, and that has a built-in DVD player, to enable them to watch DVDs for TV programmes and movies that might not be available on Netflix.
You (hopefully) get the idea. Simply reeling off “industry-leading” technical features on your site’s landing and product pages won’t necessarily get you very far, if you don’t understand what the customer is looking to accomplish, and the experience they want to have with whatever product they might eventually buy from you.
You’re selling feelings – so make sure you ask the right questions
Keeping to the TV theme, just think of all of the experiences your favourite TV shows and films bring you… the raw thrills, the sentimental appeal, whatever they happen to be. These experiences are what your brand is ultimately selling, even if you’re handing the customer a box containing something made out of metal and plastic.
However, not all of your online store’s target customers will necessarily be able to easily explain what they do need from a product, so it will also be important to ask questions that tease these needs out. Simply asking them “what do you need to do or solve?” can be a great starting point.
But depending on the product category in question, you might also quiz the customer on their circumstances, activities and preferences. This will help you to narrow down the options so that the shopper purchases and benefits from a product that does give them the experiences they desire.
Remember that a customer whose ‘pain points’ are comprehensively answered by your store’s products, is likelier to be one who continues buying from you for months and years into the future – and they’re likelier to spread a positive word about you to others, too.