Unselling Is On The Rise

It is human nature to crave that which is exclusive – reserved only for a certain few.  Knowing that a product is in limited supply, or only offered to certain highly-regarded customers makes us eager to plunk down our hard-earned money – whether we need the product or not.  Don’t believe me?  Here’s an example: the American Express Black Card – or Centurion Card, as it’s now known, is the stuff of legends.  You can’t actually apply for one; you must be invited.  Amex shrouds its uber-elite card in mystery so ordinary folks like you and I have to speculate about things like the annual spend you have to generate in order to garner one of these coveted cards.

There are stories about wealthy folks who’ve bought Bentleys and even jets with the Black Card, but get this … the initiation fee is rumored to be upwards of $7000, and the annual fee is $2500.  That means that people are dying to get this card, only to spend a small fortune to have it and still bear the responsibility of paying the balance in full each month.  People covet the exclusive VIP benefits of the card, sure, but they also crave the notoriety that comes with that rare and exclusive Black Card.  People are willing to pay lots of money to spend their own money.  Exclusivity works as a marketing tool, and that brings me to the topic of Unselling.

Rather than working against human nature, work with it!  We’re seeing a big increase in companies who use the exclusivity of limited production, big ticket appeal to entice customers to seek those products out and in some cases even lobby or compete with other potential customers for the privilege of buying something.  If you can create the same kind of buzz around your product or service, your marketing work is done.

Here’s how you do it.

Create a compelling, cool offer that’s only available to the very best of your clients.  Unselling is particularly well-suited for high-priced items, so this is your chance to put together the ultimate experience for your customers.  You can’t Unsell a commodity item, so you’ve got to work hard to create a product or service that gives genuine value and really matters to your elite customers.  Think one-of-a-kind, unique offerings.  Your offer may be a limited edition bundle of your best products, or it might be membership in an exclusive rewards program that offers deals unavailable to ordinary clients, but the most important aspect is to create a sense of exclusivity and even mystery surrounding your product.  Mention in in passing on social media; hint at it in email newsletters.  Start building a buzz for those customers who comprise your big spenders.  Your goal is to get them to spend a little more…and be excited about doing it.

Whether you create a VIP rewards club or a package deal, the key is to create a series of hurdles or stages that your customers must go through before they have the privilege of getting your offer.  The idea is to get customers excited and to use the excitement they’ll feel about achieving each stage to create a sense of pride and loyalty, so that when they’re finally in your exclusive club, they’ll brag about it and generate interest among their contacts and your other customers.  If you notify a customer that they’re close to the threshold for achieving your exclusive offer, they’ll jump at the chance to cross that line.  You get revenue; they feel a sense of accomplishment.

Success breeds success, so you want to give these elite clients a place or a forum to help add to the excitement of your brand.  Imagine it … clients doing your marketing for you by raving about how awesome your company is.  It’s a dream come true.  Give them a special forum on your website or feature them on your Facebook page.  Let them use their fifteen minutes of fame to help sell your brand.

Because you screen your clients before they engage in the qualifying process, you don’t actually eliminate customers who qualify.  You simply use the excitement and sense of achievement created by going through your process to strengthen loyalty and boost your image.  It’s important not to turn off otherwise good clients by excluding them from your VIP treatment.  You want to make it predictably achievable for those folks who begin the process.  As they make each hurdle, they become more committed to finishing the endeavor.  Rewarding repeat business and encouraging higher spends yields enormous results.

Exclusivity – being designated one of the chosen few – is at the heart of Unselling, and it requires you to offer your very best product and your very best service.  In exchange, your clients use the loyalty and excitement they feel for your company in service of your marketing needs.  They carry your message for you and attract other clients who crave that exclusivity as well.

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