When I used to teach professional selling in college, we used a textbook called “Personal Selling: An Interactive Approach,” by Ronald Marks, Ph.D.
In it, Dr. Marks makes the case that using audiovisual aids in face-to-face sales presentations can increase a person’s sales effectiveness. (And remember, this book was written in the 80s, before laptops became popular.)
That’s not breaking news, I admit. But here’s what I’ve found fascinating. The author states that multimedia-generated sales presentations — with a mix of text, graphics, photos, animation and sound — capture attention and arouse interest more effectively since they appeal to all the senses.
Marks also claims that, with multimedia presentations, prospects are 43% more likely to be persuaded, will pay 26% more attention, learn 200% faster and retain knowledge 38% better. Learning time is also reduced by 25-40%.
He also added this interesting tidbit: “Audiovisual aids are especially valuable to the salesperson who sells intangible products.”
On the Internet, isn’t most if not all that is being sold intangible to a degree? You bet it is. Unlike a face-to-face sales presentation where you can bring a sample to the meeting, we can’t physically inspect products online.
If using audiovisual aids and even computers in sales presentations weren’t possible, Dr. Marks suggested the use of flip-charts, slides, exercises and forms as alternative tools in face-to-face encounters, particularly to engage the prospect.
(Can you see where this is going?)
I’ve said it before: texts tell but pictures sell. That’s why eBay once reported that auction listings with pictures get the most bids (and I’m guessing it’s the also case with audios and videos, now).
It’s more than just for engaging all the senses. It’s for giving more proof — proof people are so desperate for. It’s substituting any of the senses lost in the sales experience that are otherwise possible in face-to-face presentations.
We can’t see, touch, taste, hear, smell or inspect products online. So audiovisuals are giving back to the prospect some of what’s largely nonexistent.
That’s why Amazon.com has been in existence since Web 1.0, has survived the dotcom bust, and has been touted as one of the greatest success stories in online retailing, mostly because books are books. They only need to be read.
Additionally, scientific research and eye-tracking studies show that our eyes are naturally drawn to movement. My friend Alex Mandossian, a copwriter whose clients range from Thighmaster (Suzanne Summers), RONCO (Ron Popeil), Topsy Tail and many more, calls this giving your salesletter “eye gravity.”
Online, this means video and audio added to your salesletter will sell more effectively because they engage more of the senses.
Some call them “multimedia salesletters.” But I prefer to call them “multisensorial salesletters,” not just because they engage the senses but because multimedia alone fails to include another dimension, another sense if you will, that the Internet allows (and that the TV, radio and direct mail don’t allow, either).
And that’s interactivity.
We’re seeing an increasing emergence of more video, more audio, more content and more controls than ever before with salesletters. And by “controls” I mean more opportunities to interact with the sales message, such as a simple “play” button on a video, or forms on a sales page that can personalize the user’s experience, and not just mere graphics and links.
Think tours, samples, reviews, demos, user-rated content, user-submitted content, widgets and, above all, personalization.
What’s a “widget?” Web widgets are pieces of content that are flexible and dynamic. (Some people call these “ecosystems.” They include RSS feeds, movable panels, drag-and-drop content, form submissions on the fly, and so forth.)
Content can be moved around, slide in, or “open up” on a web page, on the fly without refreshing the page, based on a user’s choice — whether it’s through forms, controls, or even as simple as scrolling or mouse movement.
For example, widgets often refer to tools used in Web 2.0 or community-based sites. They’re mostly used for browsing, organizing and using the web.
(Widgets are not as significant in the sales process, but for now and in terms of how they can work with salesletters specifically, just remember that the same technologies that make widgets possible will have a lot to do with personalization, which itself is a significant factor in sales overall, as time goes on.)
Let’s go back to videos, for a moment.
Salesletters that have videos are going to increase over time. In fact, those with mini-infomercials embedded throughout not only are showing to be more effective in terms of sales but also will become increasingly popular, too.
We first started to see this with videos used for testimonials on a salesletter, or with “tours” that showcase the product being sold. But now, we’re seeing copywriters and marketers getting increasingly creative in how they incorporate videos in the sales experience.
(Surf around eBay for a bit and you’ll see what I mean. Another great example is John Reese’s Traffic Secrets, which was one of the first salesletters on the Internet, if not the first, to feature video snippets of the many DVDs it offers.)
Videos are now used to offer samples, demos, reviews, actual sales presentations, slideshows, viral marketing tools, and tutorials — including tutorials that teach people how to buy, consume the product, or use customer support.
This is not only a short list of the many uses for video, but also giving rise to what I call the “samplification” of the web.