Preselling is a term that was purportedly coined by Ken Evoy to describe an important phase of the online marketing process. His concept is that developing a successful website involves a process that moves your visitor through the Sales Cycle. He calls the process C-T-P-M for Content-Traffic-Preselling-Monetization.

His view is that great content leads to traffic and preselling that traffic correctly lets you monetize (make money) from that traffic. It’s a very logical and practical view of the online marketing process. It just makes sense.

What Is Preselling?

Ken never defines the term explicitly so here’s my definition gleaned from studying his many books and affiliate program, which I previously have managed…

Preselling is “the art of getting your visitors to trust you.”

His point is that without credibility and trust your visitor will never be open to your product recommendations. Your links and banners will be so much hype in their eyes until you’ve developed some degree of rapport with your audience.

Let’s face it. Most people these days are skeptical of any promotion. They are bombarded with so much advertising and hype-filled marketing “noise” that putting them in the mood to buy something is a real challenge.

This means that job #1 for any online marketer is to develop credibility for themselves. They must get their visitors to see them as a friend and hopefully an authority in their particular niche. They must be seen as a solution-provider who has the real interests of their visitors at heart. Without establishing this type of relationship with their visitors there is little hope for online success. This is what preselling is all about.

How Do You Presell?

I’m always drawn to this Dale Carnegie quote…

“You can make more friends in two months by being interested in other people than you can in two years trying to get other people interested in you.”

I think it sums up what your attitude must be towards your visitors. You must get them to feel that you truly care about them. If you don’t honestly feel that way every word you write and every recommendation you make will lack the power to make a connection with your visitors.

I like to call this approach “From-the-heart Marketing.” Ultimately it’s the only kind of marketing that will work in today’s marketplace. The reality is it’s probably the only kind of marketing that has ever worked.

As I think of the great salespeople I have known in my over 30 years in marketing I see that all the best had this ability to connect with their prospects. They had that ability to get their customers to feel that they truly cared about them and solving their problems. There was always a “genuineness” underneath the relationship where their prospects felt they could be trusted and saw the salesperson as a friend.

And it doesn’t take great charisma to be a great salespeople. The style of the backslapping, glad-handing, over-smiling salesperson isn’t the one that always works. But the ability to make a connection that makes your visitor feel comfortable and trusting is the underlying skill that works.

What Does This Have To Do With Affiliate Marketing?

One of the reasons that Affiliate Marketing is so effective is when someone else says something good about your product or service it is much more believable than if YOU said the same thing yourself. People trust perceived third-parties more than they trust the person selling the product. That’s just human nature.

So having affiliates who are perceived as independent third parties is a fabulous way to market your product.

But these affiliates have a vested interest in selling the product you say. They are not really independent.

True. But if the affiliate has a great website and creates trust and credibility from the helpful content on their website, their recommendations hold some weight. And if the affiliate compares your product to others (like on a review site), and likes your product better, then you have a great chance to earn a new customer.

That’s really the essence of what makes Affiliate Marketing such a powerful advertising tool.

So How Do You Create Credibility For Yourself Online?

Still the concept of Preselling is a valuable skill to learn on the merchant’s website too. Perhaps you already understand it. And applying these principles to your own site and marketing can only help your Conversion Rate and that will have a great impact on your bottom line as well as with the enthusiasm of your affiliates.

Give Your Visitors Valuable Content

When someone searches online they are looking for something. Perhaps they are researching a product they want to buy. Maybe they have a hobby they love and want to know more about. Perhaps they just have a question they need an answer to. There are many reasons people use the search engines but it all boils down to “searching for information.”

If you have the information people are looking for (and Google and the other SEs agree) people will come to your site for your information. Assuming you have optimized your content well and are ranked highly by the SEs, now you have a new visitor on your site. Now what?

These days you better be able to express your “value proposition” very quickly. You have about 5 seconds to convince your visitor that you have something they need.

Your site design is the first thing they will sense. Is it professional, easy to navigate, and are they able to “get” what you are about easily.

If you can get them to stick around and begin reading your content the next thing they will notice is your tone and readability. Is your tone friendly and helpful? Is the writing clear and easy to understand? Do they get a sense of authority and expertise?

But most importantly, do they get the feeling that you have something valuable that they need? Do they sense you really care? Don’t fawn but clearly position yourself as a problem-solver and a solution-provider.

Writing For The Web

Writing for the web is really much different than “offline” writing. You should use shorter sentences and simple, easily-understood vocabulary (depending on your niche). Use lots of “skimming techniques” like bolded words and bulleted lists to make your information easy to absorb. Here’s a great free book called the Net-writing Masters Course to help you learn more about writing for the web.

Give Away Stuff

Everyone likes a free gift especially if it has some value. An e-book about the subject at hand, or a monthly newsletter packed with valuable information can get your visitors to trust you. Make sure there are no strings attached. It must be sincere altruism at work. It helps if the product has value too. You want them to go away saying “gee thanks.”

If you noticed, that’s just what I did above. The Net-writing Masters Course is really a wonderful book and my giving it to you hopefully established that I want to help you succeed online. Let me know if it worked that way.

  • If you sell a product or service give away a free sample. This not only gets your prospect leaning your way but demonstrates the quality of what you have to sell.
  • If you have a skill or expertise offer to give away that expertise in the form of a free consultation. Once again you will establish your value by doing this and create some rapport and credibility at the same time.
  • If your product has a dollar value, offer a discount. A $10 off coupon can be a chance to start a relationship with a customer that can lead to other “full-price” sales. This works especially well it the “life time value” of that customer is high.

Send Your Visitors Away

If you know of other great sites that offer information in your niche tell your visitors about them. Make sure those other sites are excellent and that you feel they can really help your visitors. This may sound risky but in the long run it will establish trust and authority for you. Of course be sure that those links open in another window so you won’t lose your visitor completely.

Also be sure to get a reciprocal link back from those sites. This “off page” search engine optimization (SEO) strategy is also very important for getting the SEs to rank you highly.

Credibility Is Critical

Just to emphasize, job number one is to create credibility for your site. This is the essence of Preselling and it’s a skill that must be mastered to succeed online. Here’s some more resources to help you develop those skills…