Over the summer, my oldest son expressed reluctance in spending a week with his grandparents. After a bit of probing, I soon realized his resistance was due to the fact that my parents do not have Internet access in their home – according to him, an apparent formula for boredom. My son simply couldn't understand why, in this day and age, someone would not want to have unbridled access to the web. My explanation to him was quite simple; it’s tough convincing someone to desire something when they’ve yet to experience its benefits.

Many small business owners are facing the same dilemma - convincing their audience that their products are needed. By virtue of bypassing your offerings, members of your audience may not feel that they are missing out on anything; we’ve got to change that. Here are a few ways to start:

Impulsive
Many moons ago I worked in retail.  One of the most effective money-makers was the “impulse buy.” As the names suggests, impulse buys were items customers would simply grab on a whim while shopping.  In most cases, these items rarely appeared on anyone’s shopping list. However if they were strategically positioned in high traffic areas such as near staples or registers, people were more likely to snag them.  

As a small business, think of ways to position new or lesser-known items near things that sell regularly.  Impulse buys are not merely for brick-and-mortar operations alone; they can also be used online. When a customer goes to check out, you could have a popup window saying something like, “Before checking out, you may also be interested in…” The point is if no one is looking for what you’re offering, take that item and place squarely in front of something that they are searching for.

I’ll show you
Research has shown that infomercials do quite well in selling stuff people have never heard of.Why? Much of this success can be relegated to demonstration. Showing your product in action is probably the most effective way of winning customers over. This is not to suggest that you need to make an appearance on late night TV.  However, it is important to display what your product is capable of. This can be done via YouTube video, in-store presentation or even a well illustrated brochure. Regardless of the method, show them that it works!

Now, you try it
Many years ago when color televisions were first being manufactured, there was a story about a TV salesman that attempted to convince a reluctant customer to buy a new, expressive console. As the account goes, the salesman made an offer for the customer to take the TV home for one night without any financial obligation. As it turned out, the in-home experience proved to be enough to persuade the customer to purchase the set. As a small business, you too may need to develop ways of allowing customers to experience what you offer - without obligation, of course. In many cases, a product-experience will outpace a sales pitch.

Walter Dailey is a proven creative strategist. He’s the lead consultant and executive producer for Dailey Sound Vector, a creative services organization that specializes in jingles, radio ads and marketing campaign development for small and mid-sized businesses.  Walter is finally on Twitter. Follow him here: @wrdailey