The internet has revolutionized the way we all trade with each other. Starting a business has never been so easy, requiring little to no upfront capital and far fewer running costs than a traditional brick and mortar venture.
The internet also makes it possible to trade with people from right around the globe, rather than just those on our doorsteps. This global market means the earnings potential is much higher, but the internet can be a double-edged sword.
As well as the increased competition that comes from low barriers to entry, online businesses face a new challenge: being able to demonstrate the value of a product or service to a customer that can’t see or touch it. This can be especially difficult if you’re selling something that is new to market, or you’re trying to demonstrate a superior quality compared to others.
Yet, there are ways that you can demonstrate the value of your product or service over the internet so that customers are happy to hand over their cash. Here’s how:
Offer a Free Trial
If you’re providing a service or a product that is purchased regularly, a free trial is a great way to demonstrate the quality and efficacy of what you have to offer. Of course, you can talk and talk and talk about the wonders of your product, but a free trial lets your customer see it for themselves.
Free trials can be found everywhere, from Xero’s 30-day free trial of its accounting software, to the one week of free audiobook streaming available to new Blinkist customers.
If your product or service is of high quality, genuinely solves a problem, or is something that’s hard to live without once you’ve tried it, then a free trial can be a great way to demonstrate its value.
Create a Free Version
An alternative to a free trial is a specific version of your service that is completely free to use. These are often called “freemium” services, since they are accompanied by a “premium” option. They typically offer some or all of the features found in your service for free, but with some limitations on the frequency they can be used or with some options disabled.
This has proven to be a lucrative model for gaming companies. Many of the most popular games on the market today are free-to-play, meaning users can play them without spending money, with the option to pay for extra features, content, or customization.
PokerStars has a free-to-play version of its popular poker platform that lets customers enjoy online poker games without having to wager real money. Instead, customers are given play chips when they register, with more added every few hours. If they use these up and don’t want to wait, they can buy more. Other popular free-to-play games include Fortnite, which runs its BattlePass system that adds new content regularly, and Candy Crush, which uses a life system similar to PokerStars’ play chips functionality.
Other types of company can also benefit from this approach. Mailchimp is a company that has made a huge success out of its freemium model. Its free account gives people access to the basic features of its email marketing platform, but with a maximum of only 2,000 contacts permitted. This is great for small businesses who are growing or looking to experiment with email marketing. As they grow, they’re more likely to continue using the platform over a competitor because users are familiar with how it works.
Use Case Studies to Show Your Previous
Your customers typically buy your product or service to solve a problem, even if you don’t necessarily think of it that way. If you sell food, you’re solving the problem of hunger. If you sell clothes, you’re solving the need for warmth and decency. If you’re selling cars, you’re solving the need for transport (and in some cases, the need to have a status symbol).
If you can demonstrate how your product or service solves a problem or meets a need, including photographs and client testimonials, you can help paint a picture to your potential customers.
Case studies are especially effective for demonstrating the value of big-ticket items and complex services. For example, this can be useful when you’re looking to demonstrate your ability to meet tight deadlines, or competence in delivering complex construction projects.
If you sell smaller products, then you can still take advantage of this by asking for product and company reviews. This is something Amazon does by requesting customers to give feedback on each of the items in its store, while Trust Pilot offers customers the ability to review the experience they received from the company itself. No matter what you’re offering, selling online doesn’t mean you can’t show the value of your product or service to your customers. Implementing some or all of these techniques can help your customers understand how they’ll benefit from buying from you.