Any kid knows if you want to build a tree house, you've first got to start with a good tree. The integrity of the trunk and supporting branches is what counts - get that right and you can build anything. Not a bad metaphor in this for e-commerce. First, imagine your website as the tree house that's going to be the best on the block. Then, think of your online sales process as the tree, and make that the foundation for your elevated empire! 

The cool thing about a cyberspace tree house is that you get to grow the tree! Design? Crucial. Blueprints? Awesome. You've got to plan it all out.

So let's ask a few questions about:

what you do …

  • What makes your stuff worth having? (What are all the benefits associated with your product or service?)
  • "What's in it for me?" That's the question your customer always asks. How do you answer? (How does your product or service relate to your client's desire for gain or fear of loss, the two most powerful motivators in the buying decision?)
  • Who else is out there building a tree house like yours? (What makes your product or service not only different from, but better than your competitors' products or services? Remember, on the web, your competition is only a click away.)
  • Can you make your stuff seem more valuable without spending an arm and a leg? (How can you raise the perceived value of your product without significantly raising your cost?)
  • How are you going to present your hook? (What is your marketing strategy?)
  • How are you going to bait your hook? (Special offers, rebates, volume discounts, premiums, coupons, free shipping, better payment terms, etc.? And never forget that in the long run the only things that matter are quality and service. )
  • How can you improve your clients' perception of your product or service? (Perception is reality.)

who are you are doing it for …

  • Who really wants my stuff? (Who are your primary clients and what percentage of your market do they represent -- consider gender, age range, economics, demographics, etc. You can't target everybody, and you don't want to.)
  • Who sort of wants my stuff? (Who are the secondary consumers?)
  • What are their most important motivations for buying my stuff? (What do your clients desire to gain and, on the other hand, what is their potential loss by not purchasing?)
  • What could turn them on? (How do you speak to those felt needs in a way that matters to them?)
  • What could turn them off? (What objections might your client use to delay or avoid making a purchase?)
  • How can you tell them they are wrong - but nicely! (What answers to their objections can you offer, and most importantly, how can you present them in a way that brings them closer rather than pushes them away? Have you ever heard of Feel/Felt/Found? Just one of many.)
  • Any other bright ideas? (What else could influence the buying decisions of your clients?)
  • Last, but reeely important: who is the real decision maker? (It's not just about having the right message in the right form targeted to the right market, it's about getting it to the person who can actually make the buy.)

how you've done it in the past …

  • How has your stuff traditionally been merchandised?
  • How has your stuff traditionally been positioned?
  • How has your stuff traditionally been branded?
  • How has your stuff traditionally been sold? (What is the process?)
  • How have clients traditionally perceived your stuff?
  • How have clients traditionally perceived the experience of buying your stuff?

and how are you going to do it in the future.

  • What needs to change in order for your effort to be more successful?
  • What needs to be watched constantly as you go forward so that you catch glitches early, as well as add new tools as soon as they become available?

The answers to these questions will give you the raw data you need to create an effective "storyboard"- the e-sales equivalent to the perfect tree, and the blueprint for your web site

If other folks think they can skimp on this - great! Nothing like watching your competitors' houses come tumbling down while yours weathers every storm. You don't need me to tell you there are no shortcuts to lasting success. A great tree house is no accident. Ask any kid. Or me - and I'm from Mars!

© 2000 Future Now, LLC

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