I just learned today that Regretsy, one of my favorite websites, is hanging it up after three and a half years of whimsicle fuckery. Well in honor of them and their “Things That Are Not Steampunk” series, I’d like to offer some discoveries I’ve made while browsing the “Women’s Medieval/Fantasy Costumes” tag at the good ol’ Second Life Marketplace.
Despite the troubles and frustrations of Second Life, there are some of us (raises hand) who just can’t seem to walk away. Here are a few not-remotely-scientific reasons that Second Life has such a hold on us, like the scumbag boyfriend we just can’t seem to get away from.
Our Friends are There
Step into any other grid and if you find people at all, they won’t likely be your people. Oh sure you could try to get your people into this grid to pay you a visit, but why would they want to do that? It would be easier just to get in touch with you on Skype or email than to make a whole new duckwalking avatar. The fact is, if you want to “see” and hang out with your friends, and have hours-long IM conversations broken up into little digestible bits, it’s going to have to be in the world where you met them.
Copywriting is just an industry word for writing the description and information related to your product. When you’re writing your copy, remember that this and your image are often the only impression people will get before deciding whether or not to make the purchase. So what important things must your description do?
What is this thing?
If your copy answers no other question in the mind of the shopper, it should answer this one. I once had someone TP me into her shop to ask my advice on marketing a Big Incredible Thing she had made that nobody seemed to be buying. I went to her shop, saw that the parcel name included “Home of the [Item]!”, and waited for the shop and item to rez.
“So,” she finally asked, “How do I get people to buy this thing?”
“What thing?” I asked.
“The [Item]! It’s awesome, isn’t it?”
“Don’t you see all the [results]?”
“Oh, yeah, sure. So your [Item] is a [results]-maker?”
“Well, no! It’s so much more than that!” And she proceeded to list off all the amazing things her product could do.
When she was done, I asked, “How would I have known that, if you hadn’t been here to tell me?”
When it comes to your shop build and design, I’ve got some tips that may seem a bit abstract:
Think about your audience. Who do you expect will buy your product? (For example, if you sell women’s shoes, you expect adult female avatars to be your primary target. If you sell medieval weapons, you’d expect RPers with an interest in medieval things to be your primary target).
Ask yourself what appeals to your target audience, and what won’t. (For example, and let’s stay with the medieval weapons example: cutesy rainbow-sparkly text isn’t what will appeal to your audience; images of castles and heraldic banners, on the other hand, probably will.)
Ask yourself what feeling you want to create in your audience. Again, this can be a bit abstract. I sell food. So what I want people to feel when they come in my store is hungry! I want them to be thinking of food, so I make my store look and feel like a supermarket. If you sell shoes, you probably want your customers to feel sexy and confident. If you sell things for kids, you probably want them to feel happy, safe, and childlike.
Now that you’ve addressed that, ask yourself what things–be it colors, images, fonts, etc–help to call up that feeling. Some examples:
Fonts: Make them readable first, then fitting with your shop’s feel. A shoe shop might use a slender, sleek, trendy font to give a feeling of being modern, sexy, and confident. A kids’ shop might use a handwritten-looking font (JUST DON’T USE COMIC SANS OMG) to give a feeling of cuteness. A scripting shop might use a futuristic but formal-looking font to give a feeling of being professional and innovative. A medieval weapons shop might use an ancient-looking font, similar to runes, to give a feeling of being rustic and tough.
Colors: Dark color on light background, light color on dark background. People need to be able to read your signage. Beyond that, think about what emotions can be brought with colors. For example, earth tones tend to be mellowing and “adult” feeling (not in the “adult content” sense; in the “bookshop or cafe” sense). Bright and pastel colors tend to be whimsical and inspiring. Cool colors (blues and purples) can be mystical and dreamlike; warm colors (reds and oranges) can be exciting and passionate.
Imagery: What are some images/items that come to mind when you think of your audience? I mentioned the castle walls and banners with the medieval weapons example. For my shop, I’ve got shopping carts and a checkout counter (complete with moving conveyor!). Think about images that help convey what you want your target audience to feel/think about when they enter your shop.
Music: Have you ever gone into a Chinese restaurant IRL and heard Celine Dion? I have. It takes away from the intended feel of the place. Whatever it is you’re selling, pipe in the appropriate music. I have 80s pop and soft rock in my shop, because that’s what I hear when I shop in local RL supermarkets.
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!
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?
Grumbling about the government (read: Linden Lab) is something that a grouchy old elf like me enjoys. And I think by and large it’s something lots of us SLers like doing from time to time. We can be quite curmudgeonly, especially when it comes to any sort of radical change. Sometimes our complaints are quite valid (like when it comes to Viewer 2). And it’s because of that attitude that I really wanted to hate the New Marketplace (to which XStreet is being converted). I was prepared to find its each and every little flaw and focus on them and grouch and gripe until I was satisfied (whenever the hell THAT would be).
But, I’m loath to admit, I just can’t say I hate it. In fact, I think it’s pretty damn cool. Now, it does kind of suck that I have to take the time to re-upload each item’s picture, and recategorize each item. Also, I have to go into the description and change every used-to-be formatted to BB code link so that the text is coherent.
BUT. It’s really a very logical and clear setup. And it’s really geared to help business people help themselves; with easy links to related products, SKU numbers enabled, a quick list of features, checkboxes for permissions, and a separate text box for search keywords. So, nearly as difficult for me to say as “Adric was right” (and yet every bit as true), I have to say: I like the New Marketplace. I’m looking forward to the changeover.