Using the Web to Market Services

Using the Web to Market Services

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Web research firm eMarketer estimated that online research drove $471 billion in in-store sales during 2007. These days, the majority of shoppers turn to the Internet first when researching product and service purchases. It’s during this early phase of product research that consumers will often form their opinions about both products and dealers. Your company’s online image and information is critical in attracting and winning new business for your complete package of products and services.

Your most important online real estate is your product page, the point where most shoppers will enter your site through their product searches.

The difference between an engaging and informative product page (incorporating information and features such as Active Product Tours, brochures, user manuals and FAQ’s) and one that simply lists basic data about a product can mean the difference between a new customer and a lost sale.

While this seems like a natural conclusion to draw regarding the sales of feature-laden personal electronics products (think digital cameras and video gear), merchants offering value-added services – such as home theater or security system installation – can also benefit. Many retailers have added descriptive product information and images to their site, perhaps even invested in more advanced rich media, such as video or animation. Why not do the same for your services?

High-end installed home electronics products are complex and feature-rich. Add to that the arduous and sometimes overwhelming task of installation and you have a situation that can easily intimidate shoppers and stall the purchase decision.

The solution: The use of engaging and informative online audio and video that walks clients through the features, benefits and processes of a total installed solution. The Web is an egalitarian media, so you don’t have to be a national retail chain to present a professional and informative array of rich media demonstrations that show in detail the service offerings available to your customers. Leverage your online presence to educate and inform shoppers about your installation services as professionally and effectively as any leading national retailer. Employ tactics such as video to walk customers through the installation procedure. This extra step can illustrate the level of service, professionalism and expertise you offer to shoppers considering installation services.

While this may sound like a good idea, the resources required to create and implement these rich media components into your website can seem daunting to smaller retailers, specialty dealers and installers. Even those companies with small marketing budgets can leverage their relationships with manufacturers, encouraging them to provide rich, interactive media centered on total installed solutions. Hundreds of manufacturers have already made this investment for their product lines by developing video tours of their key products and making them available to their dealer network. This allows them to communicate key selling points consistently across their sales channels. Manufacturers also have a vested interest in doing the same for value-added installation services that are so critical to the product purchase decision and to ultimate customer satisfaction with their products

Manufacturers understand the value in encouraging shoppers to buy their products as part of a complete, professionally installed package for two key reasons. First, merchants who offer turnkey installations sell more because a complete package sale removes the fear, uncertainty or doubt that shoppers have when eyeing a self-installed path. And customers who buy the installation service tend to rave about the end result – and every component manufacturer wins in this circumstance. Additionally, a professional installation package means the new home theater system is working as it should, resulting in the best experience for the consumer.

The lesson here? Most shoppers will develop their first impression of your business while shopping online for the products you sell. Engaging rich-media tours of your products and services will entice shoppers to select your business and opt for total package solutions. Put as much effort behind presenting your products and services online as you do in-store. You don’t need to be a national retail chain to do it, simply leverage your existing relationships with your manufacturers to populate your online store with engaging and informative video content. The result? Shoppers will choose those merchants that most effectively present a “why to buy” story of utility, quality and value in the full solutions they sell.

Rick Martin is the CEO of SellPoint, the leading provider of online video product tours. Learn more at www.sellpoint.net

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