Everyone in marketing – which is everyone in business – should watch Matchstick Men. It features con artists, which is after all just marketing in the raw. There is one comparison in particular that relates to us “legal marketers”: the idea of “short con” vs “long con”.
In the film, our “heroes” do some door-to-door fleecing posing as fraud enforcement – wow is that irony – and they walk away with a payday inside an hour. That’s short con. As the movie develops, they get into a “long con” that takes weeks of setup and posturing before they finally complete the score.
You’re wondering what this has to do with online marketing, right?
The standard e-commerce site is a short con. People hit the site, they see an offer, and they either buy or they leave. Okay, so it’s not really a “con” (I hope!) but it sure is short. If they don’t buy, all you have is the next prospect. It’s just like door-to-door. You win some and you lose some and each of the winners is small but the payoff is pretty immediate.
And now back to the movie.
The lead (Nicolas Cage) didn’t like long cons because they were too complicated and too risky. He was content with the small pay days from short con because it was (relatively speaking) safe and very predictable. His partner argued for the far bigger payday of the long con and finally talked Nicolas into it. Unlike what happens in the movie (spoiler alert) I’m arguing that the long con really is better.
Online, our long con is called “lead nurturing”. We still get visitors, traffic is the life blood still, but instead of closing them right away, we “nurture” them. We give them stuff. We create and deepen a relationship. Yes, this “long con” is, um, well, longer!, and more complicated. Does it perform better? Only about 100% of the time.
“But hang on, what if the person wants to buy right now?” Then by all means let them, but don’t let that be the only way they can engage with you! If your business is primarily e-commerce, then absolutely expose that as your “most wanted response” but you should also have a “second most wanted response” that is a nurturing funnel. This is by far the most missed opportunity in e-commerce. Fixing it is easy.
But before I show you some good examples, here’s the very common bad example: “subscribe to our newsletter”. Really? Why?? There’s is no promise in that. If you have that on your site now you should just go delete it – it’s a waste of page you could use for something else. Your prospects don’t need more “news”. So with rant done let’s look at what you should be doing.
Here are a few real examples taken from our clients, generalized somewhat to protect identity:
There are multiple sub-markets in vitamins and supplements and we’ve two different clients focused on different customer Avatars. In both cases, education is the best differentiator.
One of our clients specializes in a particular area of legal problems and has published several books and posted dozens of videos telling exactly how to solve the problem yourself – with the result that prospects just hire him instead.
For both new and experienced musicians alike, when you provide training and online demonstrations, you’ll sell more product.
The Long and the Short of it
The “short con” should not be skipped. Online we call that “conversion optimization”. Absolutely do that as it is likely the first and easiest way to grow your business. But real brand power and differentiation is not in better conversion, it’s in the “long con”.
So what is your “long con”? How are you nurturing prospects that are not yet ready to buy? You got them to your site. Don’t let them leave without creating a relationship with them. Conversion is great, but nurturing is better.
Think about this: a really good conversion rate – unique visitors to buyers – is (say) 10%. That means that 90% don’t buy. Where else would a 90% failure rate be considered good?
How many of the visitors that don’t buy now might become customers later if you just created a relationship with them? Sure, Nicolas was right, it takes longer, it’s more complicated, it might even be riskier (it might not work), but the payoff really is much larger too. By all means, work on your conversion, but give the rest of your visitors a way to get to know you and maybe you can convert them someday too.