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#5.14: The “Removing Obstacles” Issue

Make it as easy as possible for your customers to do business with you. Unnecessary obstacles will scare away a potential sale.

1> Amazon vs. eBay
2> The Perfect Form
3> Get in the Middle
4> Check It Out: Pop-Up Punks

1> Amazon vs. eBay

EBay is usually considered the best place to sell your junk online — but Amazon has made serious inroads onto their turf by making it easier to put an item up for sale. On EBay, you have to take a picture of your product, upload that picture, write a description, and then set a price. Each listing takes upwards of 15-20 minutes. Trying to sell a few products on EBay gets annoying quickly. Trying to sell an entire CD collection can be torturous. Amazon, on the other hand, already has a rich database with descriptions and images of many major products. To sell an item, you just look it up, click on “sell yours here” and write a 1-sentence description. It takes less than two minutes. Amazon has built a massive used products business, without any advertising. They just made it easier.

THE LESSON: It’s not always a better product that wins — look for a better process also.

2> The Perfect Form

Want to reduce the size of your email lists? Use a crazy-long form. Your email capture forms need to be as short as possible — every additional question you ask reduced completion rates by as much as 10%. Just ask people for their name and email. Asking for addresses, birthdays, and great aunt’s maiden names are a guaranteed way to encourage form abandonment. Yes, we know that your marketing department wants to fill up their database with wonderful demographics. Remind them: You get nothing if you scare customers away with a long form. Getting an email address is all that matters. You can ask for the rest later.

THE LESSON: Don’t shoot yourself in the foot by getting greedy. A simple form gets stronger results.

3> Get in the Middle

People are really, really lazy. Most of us will change our plans, or switch brands, for the slightest convenience. Major marketers have mastered the art of taking advantage of consumer laziness by getting physically closer to the customer. FedEx and UPS fight to get drop-boxes in major office buildings. Drug stores know that convenience counts — so they open stores just blocks apart in order to be closer to a new subdivision. They know that if they can short-stop a competitor’s driveway, you’ll be just as happy to choose the closer store. Netflix takes on Blockbuster with direct delivery that beats driving to the local store.

THE LESSON: Leapfrog your competitors by getting between them and the customer.

4> Check It Out: Pop-Up Punks

Pop-ups are the ultimate obstacle. Great for advertisers, terrible for consumers. Try out this pop-up blocker to get them out of the way.


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