Subtle Selling

There are a lot of not-too-subtle forms of selling in the world.  I’ve even been accused of being one of those in the past (smile).  As much as you claim to “hate” advertising, in fact, we like it when it’s done well and in reality, we respond even when it’s not!

When we like it?  Think Super Bowl ads.  Think clever ads you have shared and posted.  Think jingles and slogans that have become part of our culture, “can you hear me now?”

There are also a lot of more subtle forms of selling that any business can do because they are not as costly as the production and airtime of those other forms of advertising.

Here’s a great example:  I was recently shopping in Marshalls, a discount store, I was impressed by the revamp they had done on their fitting rooms.  Not only were they clean and bright, they had some GREAT subtle selling features!

First thing I noticed, over the mirror was this great signage.  Positive reinforcement of a consumer’s choice is always a good way to sell!  

Next, the hooks each had a plastic, printed plate behind them like that said “Definitely” “Probably” and “Tomorrow”.

Notice all of the sorting options are positive – even the “NO” is framed as “Tomorrow”.  The “maybe” was worded as “Probably”.  Subtle differences but selling differences none the less.

Even the number card they give you as part of security when you enter the fitting rooms was a subtle sales tool!  Sure, we all know the number is there to reduce shoplifting – 4 items in means 4 items out or we call store security.  They didn’t give up the numbered system, but look at the wording on the card!  In addition to a number, they added a few unique words of subtle selling.

In reality, other than what they likely paid for the creative genius to come up with this, what was their actual investment?  The decal at the top of the mirror? Some plastic printed plates to put behind the hooks?  A few words on the number cards?

Who could utilize these great ideas immediately?  Of course, any clothing or specialty store but what about gyms, yoga studios – places where people are not always looking their best in an effort to be their best?  Positive reinforcements here could generate both referrals and renewals.  How about on the ceiling over the dental chair?  Any place we’d really rather NOT be could probably benefit from some positive reinforcements.

Where in your business could you introduce a little subtle selling?  Is the wording on all your materials positive and sales inducing?  What about your website, social media, emails?  Is everything worded to encourage and reinforce the wisdom of customers to do business with you?

Have someone not as familiar with your materials look them over for a candid review.  Create your own “focus group” of disinterested parties to give you feedback – not necessarily on what you are offering – but HOW you word what you are offering.  Be sure to ask the critical question, “How did it make you feel?”


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