Knowing theory is only one side of the coin. Putting it in practice adds an entirely different dimension to your learning and this is what happened recently when I had to sell my WDS conference ticket.
Follow along to see the other side of the coin and I share 7 lessons that I learned in the process.
Before you start: This a long post. You can jump directly to the 7 lesson here.
A bit of background first: WDS is a relatively new event and this is just the 3rd year it is being held. Last two years the tickets sold out in a day. This year the organizers tripled the number of tickets to keep up with the demand. I managed to pick up a ticket in the last round of sale for $500 – and then the conference SOLD OUT!
Something had come up on my end which did not allow me to attend this year. So, I needed to sell. Luckily WDS allows transferring tickets for a fee up to 60 days before the event. This year May 5th was the deadline to transfer tickets. And like most sellers I wanted to maximize the dollars I get for my product. I made a decision to sell my ticket on April 28th (a week before the deadline).
Here is the story of how I sold my ticket – you can jump to the lessons part if you can’t wait.
I looked around and saw quite a few people ‘trying to sell’ their tickets on twitter (#WDS2013). I figured it was a buyers market as tickets were being offered up for about $400 (i.e., 20% discount) at that time.
So, I decided to experiment and use some lessons I already have to see how I can sell my ticket quickly and not loose a lot of money.
Traditional wisdom on crafting a sales offer says that you need to ensure your offer is:
- Unique (aka “only found here”)
- Time bound (aka “Offer expires hurry”)
- Tells a story of value to the buyer (aka “Save 35%!”)
- Set up a system to that buyer is easily buy your product. (aka “Click to buy”)
So, I crafted an offer (you can see it here) to include:
- Ticket + 3 FREE extras. Two of the extras were thoughtful and relevant and 1 was a unique mug that could be a souvenir.
- Timeframe: I did not include a specific time frame for the offer. But included a sense or urgency “Hurry wont last” in the marketing verbiage.
- Value: In my offer I was giving $612 worth of goods for $400 i.e,. a 35% discount
- Ease buying experience: From various online conversation that there is a communication friction in making the initial contact for the sale. So, I setup a Google docs spreadsheet and directly embedded it in the landing page to remove some purchase friction.
Well you would normally think this would work and sell itself? But here is what happened.
- I had difficulty in marketing the offer on twitter. Especially give twitter stream then to float away with time.
- I found a good facebook group for the audience and started marketing there.
- Prices of ticket continued to drop. So, I started lowering my price as well.
- I started offering my ticket only (no extras) at a different price point – to see if that makes a difference.
- I continue to update my marketing channels the facebook page & twitter as I changed price. I updated facebook page often so that my ticket was on top of the for sale queue when possible.
- 1 person expressed interest to buy (via my frictionless google docs form). But he was not responding to his email.
Then with appaling low prices $150-200 that people were offering ticket I decided to not pursue selling my ticket but rather see if I can accomodate the event in my schedule. Then something interesting happened!
On the last date for deadline to transfer (May 5th), I was surprised to see I got about 3 requests to buy (2 of them ended in my email spam – yes weird but it can happen). So, I pursued the “1” offer I thought I had. And I was able to make a ticket only sale for $300.
- Experiment in a buyer market: In a buyers market – as a seller you have to experiment with your product, marketing messaging, channel and price. There is no right or wrong.
- Find you audience: Where do you audience hangout? In a unknown market – you need to be on the constant look out for where you potential buyer hang out. That is where you marketing needs to happen.
- Use the time as an ally: If there is one lesson you take away from this experience. It is that you need to learn to use time as a ally. The graph of demand tends to be a inverted bell shape for any offer. Understanding when buyers will be looking to buy. Keeping you product in front of them at the time when demand is high is essential. Also, be accessible to communicate when the demand is high so that you can connect with the buyer and make the sale.
- Be flexible with crafting your offer: Unique offers don’t always win – sometimes it’s just a price game.
- Track and Measure: See which marketing channels are performing and generating leads. So that you can focus your valuable time appropriately.
- A Sale is not done till it’s done: A sale is only complete when your buyer pays you and you deliver the goods. Continue marketing and generating leads till you goal is actually met.
- Be Human, Deal Human: At the end of the day a sale is from one Human to another. Whether you are your own salesman or working for a bigger company. Deal human : be courteous, prompt and genuine to the buyer. They will appreciate it and you will be a satisfied at a deeper level after the sale.
In summary, did I actually make a lot of profit after the sale? No I actually lost about $250. I did however gain several valuable insights are probably worth much more. I hope these 7 lessons can help you in your marketing journey as well.