The Way People Sell Online is Fundamentally Flawed — Here's What to Do Instead

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Ever look up from your desk and think, “Is this why I built my business?”

If you’re like me, you built a business to spend less — not more — time at your desk. You wanted time for your family, new business ideas, and, frankly, just more time to not work.

We all get into business to create amazing, valuable offers that transform our customers’ lives, not to spend every waking minute stuck at our desks running our businesses.

I used to hear other digital business owners discuss their free challenges and 80-hour weeks before launches. But I didn’t want to invest painstakingly time and energy in people who hadn’t paid me anything while neglecting those who had invested in my programs.

I knew there had to be another way — an easier one that would allow me to make sales without sacrificing my health and sanity.

The “everyone’s doing it” (but you shouldn’t) marketing tactics

The online business world is an echo chamber of bad advice. And when the entire digital marketing space convinces us we *have* to sell our program a certain way, it’s easy to lose perspective.

I thought the “everybody’s doing it” marketing tactics that work for the industry’s big names would work for me, too: live launching, memberships, challenges, SLOs, all the things. But I found out the hard way ($55K of consumer debt kind of hard) that unless you’ve built up a name for yourself, they’re pretty crummy marketing tactics for the rest of us.

Here’s what I’ve learned about why these methods often fail.

Live launching is a gamble

Live launching is often made out to be the end-all, be-all marketing strategy. But in reality, it’s chaotic, risky, and emotionally draining.

Yes, live launching *can* work, and many business owners hit their goals. The trouble is, subsequent launches — in which they do exactly the same things — don’t see equal success. That means live launching is massively unpredictable, making planning and running a business nearly impossible.

With your audience on the same enrollment period, you’re essentially gambling your entire revenue on one or two weeks per year. What if you fall ill or a major public health crisis strikes? (Covid, I’m looking at you.)

With so much riding on one launch, it’s no wonder many business owners crumble under the pressure. The emotional toll of not knowing your launch’s outcome and lacking control over your business’s future is exhausting. And when you don’t hit your numbers, you’re left questioning the validity of your entire business — when it’s most likely the method you’re using to market your business that’s the problem, not the business itself.

Related: Launching a New Brand? 6 Ways to Maximize Your Impact With First Impressions

Evergreen fails to convert — the way most people do it

An evergreen offer is often positioned as the alternative to the never-ending live launch cycle, allowing you to sell your offer at any point. While this seems like an “easier” strategy, there are two main reasons why it’s wildly ineffective:

  1. Lack of urgency: Without deadlines, there’s no reason to take action.
  2. Nurturing before selling: People are most excited when they first encounter you. The longer you nurture them, the more that excitement wanes.

Our potential clients need our offer. We need to give them what they want when they want it and in the way they want it. Live launching and evergreen dissuade people from making purchases. We don’t want to be the roadblock we want to be the solution.

So, what do you do instead? These are some of the strategies that have worked for my business and may be beneficial for your business, too.

Capture customers at peak excitement

People will never be more excited or motivated than when they first encounter you and your offer. The key is to capitalize on that excitement and motivation by immediately giving them your most irresistible offer.

We’re often told to “nurture first” — otherwise, it’s like proposing to a stranger. But here’s the thing: our customers came to us looking for a solution. It’s not like proposing at all!

If customers have to go through an email series, watch multiple videos or participate in a multi-day challenge before having any opportunity to buy, their excitement will wane. Instead, you can sell and nurture simultaneously, focusing on your most compelling offer to maximize sales before their motivation dwindles.

Related: You’ve Got 8 Seconds to Grab a Customer’s Attention. Here’s What to Do.

Give customers deadlines

People aren’t compelled to buy when they can just get something “whenever.” They are spurred to action when they have a deadline. There’s a very clear, strategic reason why sales and promotions have end dates — urgency tends to increase conversions.

Plus, by providing a deadline, you’re helping your customers prioritize your offer or product. And, by extension, making your offer a priority means they’re making themselves a priority.

But you need to use real deadlines. We’ve all received those “Sale extended!” emails after a “limited-time” offer. Using fake deadlines like this will only damage your reputation and erode your audience’s trust.

Build trust with breakthroughs

Many digital marketers encourage us to teach like crazy, running webinars and challenges so potential customers get a win and want to buy more. But learning does not lead to buying.

Delivering breakthroughs that change how your audience thinks and offer hope, where they’ve previously struggled, builds trust. For example, you might show how your financial planning service can turn financial stress into money confidence. Demonstrating how your solution revolutionizes a fundamental aspect of their lives gets people clamoring to hear more—and ultimately purchase—from you.

If you’ve been following traditional marketing tactics unsuccessfully, it’s not your fault! It’s what we’ve been told to do. The good news is that you can break free from the stress and limitations of outdated approaches like live launching and evergreen.

When you stop chasing the next shiny marketing tactic “everybody’s doing” and dial into the tactics that work for your business, that’s when you’ll experience your biggest business breakthroughs.

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