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The Hairy Woodpecker

The Key to Internet Success – It Starts With A Problem

By Josh Kerbel, MBA

Before you spend thousands of dollars revamping your website or pumping up Google's bottom line, it’s important to understand the basics behind the consumer’s decision to purchase.

Online Basics
We all know the Internet has become a major force in retails sales, and is projected to continue to grow for many years yet. You’re probably already marketing and selling your products on-line, but could you be doing a better job of it?

Before you get into any discussion of Internet marketing, search engines and websites you really need to start with the basics.  Why and how people buy.  If you do not understand this process, any money and time you invest trying to sell your products on the internet will not be well spent.

Why do customers buy?

One of the things many people forget, regardless of whether you own a retail store in a shopping mall or are in the wholesale segment of the industry, is why people make a purchase decision.  It's actually quite simple, people buy a product or service because they have a need.  Customers don't buy bird feeders and binoculars, they buy a solution to the problem of feeding their birds and magnifying distant objects.  If you don't think this applies to you or your customers, consider all the purchases you make in a day and why you make them.

How does this apply to the Internet
If people have a problem to solve, they look for a solution. This much we already know.  So let’s see how this relates to you and your company's sales.  Regardless of the product, all customers go through a purchasing process. After they identify a need, they search for and explore possible avenues for satisfying this need. In the process they refine, evaluate and redefine the criteria that drive the decision to purchase, and narrow the field of choice to the “best few” alternatives. Once they reach that point they make the final choice, then take action by making a purchase.

Ask Yourself, “So What Does This Mean For Me?”
Two things, really.  What’s most important, and this is more a function of human nature than anything else, is that people do business with people and companies they trust; and secondly, people need information before they make a purchase.  It is these two points that present you with your biggest opportunity when selling online, and this is regardless of whether you sell birdseed on line or are a wholesaler of other wild bird products.  Before you see true online success, you need to position yourself as a trusted source of information; once people trust you they’ll buy from you.  This principle applies to anyone who uses the Internet as part of their sales process, whether you sell products directly from your website or simply use it to generate sales leads for your wholesale business.

So before you increase your budget for Google’s pay-per-click advertising program or redesign your logo, examine how your website facilitates each step of the consumer’s purchasing process, especially how it educates and informs your prospective customers about the various ways they can go about solving their problems.


Josh Kerbel is Managing Director of Sales Funnel, a digital marketing agency that specializes in lead generation and prospect management systems.  To get a copy of the free white paper, 8 Steps to Internet Success, please send an email to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.