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Book of Principles
GBOP: Sometimes Selling a Product isn’t What Your Website Should Do

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I was once marketing a product that only sold in any significant numbers for three months out of the year.

The rest of the year, interested visitors poked their nose through my site with behavioral patterns that clearly indicated interest, but no matter what I did, I would go weeks, sometimes months without an order.

I was at my wits end, until I decided to try something big, something drastic, and something that nearly doubled the revenues I generated from the site.

A-Ha Moment
It hit me as I sent one more email to my list right before Christmas that, like every blast, resulted in a few more sales.

“People aren’t interested enough to buy during the off-season, but maybe they’re interested enough to give me their email address if I give them a good enough reason in exchange.”

So, as I often do, I went all-in. For 9 months out of the year you could not buy anything on the site. You could, however, enter your email address to be notified when more were available and be entered to win a freebie.

The first year I did it I gathered a modest 1,500 emails. When sales season came around I brought them back into my sales funnel and more than 50 of them bought the product.

Instead of selling 5 products over those 9 months, I had sold 50…by not selling anything but an email address.

Which brings me to the principle behind this story.

“If people aren’t ready to buy (or your product isn’t ready to sell), capture their interest so you can bring them back when they are.”

And, yes, sometimes that means turning your website into a tool that does nothing but captures visitor interest in the form of an email address.

Example #1
I think about this concept every time I think of Cherry Peak in Northern Utah. During the months leading up to the announcement they wouldn’t be opening, they were desperately trying to sell season passes to a ski area that didn’t exist with a season that was full of uncertainty and growing shorter by the day.

If I were them, the only thing my website would have done is capture the interest in the form of an email list and then use that to ramp up sales once the area was ready to open. Instead, they only sold a few passes that now have to be refunded.

Example #2
We also see this show up with the Mountain Collective’s sales season. A few months every year simply aren’t the right time to sell the pass.


So they convert interest in the pass into an email list so they can bring them back when sales start up again.

Ask Yourself
It’s a brave concept to not sell a single thing, but chances are you are doing it already with some of your products. So, ask yourself:

“Are there any stretches of the season where we sell very few of certain products but still see interest? If so, how can I capture that interest in a way that lets me bring them back when people are more likely to buy?

A simple concept with powerful results.

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