Posted in business in SL, day-to-day, Shopping!, SL Marketplace, tutorial

Virtual Business: One Question To ALWAYS Ask Yourself

"Well I WAS going to come and spend one MILLION lindens... but I couldn't find you!"

Just a decade or two ago, one of the most foolish business mistakes to make was neglecting to list in the phone book. Suppose you have a pizza place. Suppose it’s even a really awesome pizza place. Suppose a handful of college students is sitting around the dorm, smoking a bowl er, studying, when they get to talking about that awesome pizza they had last week: your pizza. Only, they don’t have a menu from your pizza place (you know how things can get lost…) and so they go to look you up and you aren’t listed. Congratulations; a dormful of hungry, stoned college students just bought over a hundred dollars worth of your competition’s pizza instead.

Making the best product is only part of the recipe for a successful business, whether real or virtual. And in Second Life, or other virtual worlds, your business is just one of thousands in this great pixellated sea. The best product on the grid will only get so far if nobody can find you.

The One Big Question

At every stage of running your business– any virtual business, be it real estate, clothing, hair, gadgets, or whatever else– you need to be asking yourself one valuable question:

How can I make it as easy as possible for people to come and spend their money?

It’s simply mind-boggling to see how many business people inworld are not taking this one simple question into consideration.

Nothing says "Welcome to my shop" quite like barbed wire...

Your Parcel

Here’s where so many businesses go wrong right from the get-go. Most folks know enough to change the name of their parcel to their shop name, and many will put a description of their business rich with keywords in the parcel’s description. But many businesses will simply leave it at that, not realizing what other things they can and should do.

List in Search!

In your parcel’s Options tab, check the box that says “Show Place in Search”. Double check to make sure you’ve done this, because even if you think you had, you might be mistaken (I discovered the very thing, making the screencap for this blog!)! Not listing your place in Search is the SL equivalent of not being in the phone book.

And don’t forget what numerous SLers use as a search medium: the Marketplace! It’s a good idea to have products listed there, and to make sure your busniess name and SLURL are included in your profile information there as well.

Make sure you also have your current shop location listed in your Picks as well. You never know who’ll be looking at your profile and when.

Your Group

In your business’s group information (and you do have a group for your business, right?) be sure you put the SLURL to the shop right in the description. Sometimes when people search up your business by name, they find the group… but then can’t find how to get to the business.

Never assume.

I’m in one shop group in which the shop owner sent out an announcement about a sale she was having… and didn’t put a LM to the shop in the group announcement. I sent her an IM saying, you know, I know how to find your shop since I’m so close to it… but it might make things easier on people to have a landmark. Her response? “Everyone in the group knows where the shop is.” And that may be true, but that’s not the point. It’s not just a matter of knowing where the shop is; it’s a matter of making as quick and easy as possible for people to go your shop right then and there, while the sale is fresh in their minds.

Your LM should be in every NC you send out, every freebie you give, every box of every product you sell. Never never never take for granted that a customer might know where the shop is.

You need to be asking yourself one valuable question: ‘How can I make it as easy as possible for people to come and spend their money?’

Your Policies.

There are lot of reasons that customers will leave your shop in the first two minutes. How many of these are you implementing without necessarily being aware of it? If a customer walks (or teleports) into your shop, are they immediately nailed with a list of things NOT to do? Are they greeted with a sign that says “NO RETURNS, NO REFUNDS”? Do they try to go to your lucky chair only to be met with a barrier saying they have to physically walk through a certain spot in order to get to said chair (this last one is a true story, by the way; I couldn’t make this up if I tried!)?

This is another truth that many business owners forget: it is not the job of customers to make your life easier. It is your job to make their life easier. They don’t want to work for your product; they’re already paying for it, and that’s work enough for any consumer. If people have to go through hurdles, they’ll likely just go somewhere else instead.

Don’t leave customers guessing what your product is or what it does. Don’t choke the shop with floating text or depend on slow-rezzing textures with lists of rules/features/etc., because people will not wait for them to rez and then read them all. They simply won’t, no matter how much you tell them to. Make it obvious to customers right on the first glance what your product is, what it does, and why they have to have it.

Opening soon! Don’t shop here yet!

Even if you don’t have all your products ready to go, have one or two and add the rest as you go. If a potential customer goes to your place and sees, I kid you not, barbed wire and a barrier in front of the door, it does not fill them with a sense of anticipation. They don’t say, wow, I’ll have to come back here in two weeks to see what in the world you sell! They’ll go, and they won’t be back.

In-world shopping: not just in-world anymore!

Got Twitter? Use it for your business. Got Facebook? Same thing. Got a blog for your business? The more ways you reach out to people, the more eyes see your product and the more potential customers you have. It’s really that simple. If you’re a technophobe, ask someone more tech-savvy to help you out. The world is your phonebook now. Be sure you’re listed in it.

So in closing, never stop asking yourself how you can make it easier on people to come and spend their money on your product or service. There are always ways to improve. Try new possibilities out and throw out the ones that don’t work. And finally, share your ideas here.

This article is listed in the SL Business section of the Know-it-All Pages, where you can find even more useful information. Go now, and see for yourself!




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