By Dale S. Laszig
DSL Direct LLC
No one likes change, least of all merchants. Many will hold on to outdated systems while customers complain and rogue processors overcharge, delaying the pain of installing a new POS solution. In my selling days, a restaurateur kept delaying the inevitable by saying, "Come back next week." Finally, I sat at the bar and began organizing papers. When the owner asked what I was doing, I said, "I'm filling out your merchant application; here's where you need to sign."
Today, it's easier than ever for a merchant to upgrade a system or switch processors. We've mostly done away with paper applications. Customer databases are easy to migrate. Portfolio conversions involving thousands of merchants can be managed remotely with minimal inconvenience. Despite these improvements, risk-averse merchants are still acting like it's 1999.
Merchant level salespeople (MLSs) are changing, too, becoming consultative and credentialed. They understand merchants expect more than outstanding service and competitive rates. And they know selling in this market has more to do with reaching multiple touchpoints than going door to door. Giving merchants access to a video library can help MLSs improve closing ratios, deliver targeted messages and expand their reach.
To appreciate how much the market has changed, think about television viewing habits. Before binge watching became a thing and DVRs made scheduling more fluid and optional, people would plan their schedules around their favorite TV shows. They would go to a den or livingroom to watch a live or recorded show. This type of traditional viewing has been largely replaced by video streaming and mobile consumption, according to a recent Nielsen study.
"Today's media landscape is ever changing, but it's also growing," researchers wrote in the Q2 2017 Nielsen Total Audience Report. "Adults in the U.S. are spending an additional half hour more a day compared to last year, connected to media across platforms—digital, audio and television—which are the three platforms of content distribution and discovery for the average consumer. And these devices have become a constant companion to over 200 million consumers in the U.S. and this personalized entertainment is always at their fingertips."
Emerging technologies have created new ways to receive content, Nielsen researchers noted, with 69.5 million homes and 58.7 percent of U.S. households having at least one Internet-enabled device that can stream content to a television set. These platforms include multimedia devices, Internet-enabled smart TVs and video game consoles, they found.
MLSs carried pitchbooks and demo bags in the early selling days, occasionally leaving behind brochures that would help them stay top of mind after a sales appointment. These pamphlets were known in the trade as "Silent Salesmen." This term can also apply to packaging, signage and in-store displays, noted Associated Press journalist Frances Burks.
"Packaging may appeal to consumers if it represents something that's important to them or symbolizes someone they aspire to be," Burks wrote in "What is a Silent Salesman?" published on the Small Business Chronicle blog. "Shoppers who have environmental concerns may choose a product packaged in recycled materials. People who have active lifestyles may select a product because the packaging includes a photo of an athlete who epitomizes vitality."
Today's leave-behinds need no longer be silent or stationary. Always-on, always-connected videos can educate merchants about their processing options in playful and interactive ways. Video click-through rates are twice as effective as static content, recent studies have shown. Video libraries on a website can explain products and services. Merchants can browse these libraries and selectively view videos, anywhere and anytime, on their connected devices.
Board Studios Inc. is a New York-based boutique video animation and production company that specializes in payments and financial services. Board Studios founder Konstantinos Papakonstantinou said the most effective videos combine leading-edge animation with business intelligence. He mentioned three popular video formats:
To optimize video on a landing page, digital ad or email campaign, companies need to clearly and concisely deliver a message, Papakonstantinou said. Always begin from the customer's point of view: where are the problems and how can you solve them? When you have a clear solution in mind, you can begin to think about your impact. You only have three to five seconds to make a first impression, and you need to close with a clear call to action, he said.
He described video as a versatile medium that can be leveraged in numerous ways. "For example, with a few simple adjustments, you can create short 10 to 15 second Facebook videos out of a one-minute YouTube video," he said. "These shorter videos become brand extensions of the original, amplifying its message, increasing viewer engagement and building momentum for a campaign. Working with a single production company on a master video is more cost-effective and impactful than working with multiple agencies on piecemeal projects."
While financial services and credit card processing have become more user friendly in recent years, solutions have become more complex and differentiated. This gives merchants more choice in processing systems, Papakonstantinou said. "Videos help merchants navigate a complex array of product and service options, while increasing awareness, engagement and conversions," he added. "A video partner with industry experience will help you avoid common pitfalls and collaborate with you on memorable, one-of-a-kind video presentations and libraries."
Dale S. Laszig, Senior Staff Writer at The Green Sheet and Managing Director at DSL Direct LLC, is a payments industry journalist and content provider. She can be reached at email@example.com and on Twitter at @DSLdirect.
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