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Turn Knowledge Into Sales: Discover Hidden Web-Profits

Jun 2, 2008
Your company's collective knowledge and know-how is its greatest asset not the products or services you offer; products and services are merely the means to implement your expertise. Your capacity to grow and prosper is dependent on your ability to effectively present your know-how in creative, informative, entertaining, understandable, and above all memorable ways.

To excite, inform, and motivate people by showing them how to get the most out of what you sell is where your profit potential lies. The way you present your expertise is how you will be remembered; it is the basis of the experience each client has when dealing with your company, and that experience is what will make or break you.

The Web-Experience Factor

There is plenty of excellent information around about website design, information architecture, search engine optimization, and even usability, but few Web-business articles deal with the experience factor. No matter how attractive, user friendly, or SEO perfect your website is, you are never going to convert visitors into a customers if they are turned-off by the experience you offer.

By providing your expertise and know-how with style and flair, you are telling visitors that you are prepared to help them maximize the benefits your product or service potentially delivers - a value-added benefit your competitors will find hard to counteract.

When so many products and services on the market are generic, interchangeable or widely available brands, the only thing that will differentiate you from everyone else is the knowledge and expertise you offer as a value-added perk.

The Paradox of Choice

'The Paradox of Choice' is a term coined by Swarthmore College Professor, Barry Schwartz, in a book by the same name. Everyone likes choice, this is obvious, and no one likes to feel they have no options. But when options become overwhelming, the ability to make a purchase decision is hindered. Too many choices generate a diminishing marginal utility and actually hinder conversion.

When you visit a website that offers a large quantity of similar products that serve the same basic purpose (cell phones, cameras, computers, televisions, guitars or just about anything else) each with a list of options and features that seem interchangeable and at the same time incompatible, the result is confusion and buying-paralysis. This is where your knowledge and expertise comes in.

If you invest in a video and/or audio presentation that explains who would benefit from each product and why one product is more appropriate for one customer than another, you are not just delivering a sales pitch, you are providing a welcome service that helps your visitor decide what is best for him or her. The result is a happier, more satisfied, better-informed customer.

Even more importantly, by helping your client decide what is the best purchase option, you are cementing your relationship with that customer, and when the time comes for an upgrade, replacement, or add-on, you will be the 'go-to' company, and not your competitor who offers nothing more than an online flee market.

How To Monetarize Knowledge

Depending on the nature of your business, you can market your expertise directly through the sale of online videos, DVDs, audio-casts, and white papers.

As an alternative, you can use your knowledge as an indirect sales tool. By providing professionally produced media at no cost, you enhance your reputation and attract interest in your company. For example, we provide over fifty articles, and dozens of videos on our site, explaining how best to use video and audio on the Web in order to brand Web-businesses and maximize profits.

A kind of hybrid solution would be to provide your video presentations at no-charge, but allow them to be monetarized by including a sponsor's ad at the beginning or end; or you can distribute them through one of the increasing number of video directories, or distribution networks that will add an advertising message to your content, and pay you for the privilege.

How To Turn Advertising Into Content

The idea of turning advertising into content leaves some people with a bad taste. Television commercials are a distinct form of communication separate from the programs you watch, and display ads in magazines and newspapers are separate and distinct from the editorial.

But now you have movies, where ad placement has become a significant force in funding and revenue creation for the producers. Are you watching a movie intended to entertain, or a two-hour advertisement for the latest cars, computers, and sports drink? One wonders if the latest blockbuster is merely a fifty million dollar ad for the upcoming Christmas toy-buying season?

The melding of advertising and content is already here; it's just a case of doing it honestly and creatively, making it worth watching. The Apple iPod commercials are basically sponsored music videos and are more entertaining and memorable than many hour-long programs, and they do it without any sales pitch.

Memorable Web Experiences Require Memorable Content

Web-content should grab your attention, be informative, instructive, interesting, entertaining, memorable, and even stimulating. It doesn't necessarily have to be all these things but it has to provide something more than just a sales pitch.

The actual material being presented is only part of the experience; it's the presentation of the material that makes it worth retaining. How you deliver content is a long-term marketing and branding strategy.

Most advertising tends to be a short-term tactic demanding continuous promotion with short-term gains; it is most often heavy-handed and hype-laden, tending to exaggerate claims, disrupt attention, and irritate the audience: an approach that often leads to a quick exit from a website, even when that website contains exactly what the visitor is looking for.

Sales pitches produce a natural resistance, while knowledge-based content and expert advice creates natural curiosity and confidence in the provider.

Web-video delivers information and subtext with nuance and meaning, as well as emotional and rational justification. Professionally produced video content communicates your expertise and your willingness to maximize your client's return from purchasing your product or service, and that will make you the market leader.
About the Author
Jerry Bader is Senior Partner at MRPwebmedia, a website design firm that specializes in Web-audio and Web-video. Visit http://www.mrpwebmedia.com/ads, http://www.136words.com, and http://www.sonicpersonality.com. Contact at info@mrpwebmedia.com or telephone (905) 764-1246.
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