Beware of the “Hit Men”

(My column as it appeared in Upmarket magazine week of April 1st)

No, this isn’t about some television series, game, or anything else encapsulated by the title. (Yet it is a chapter in my upcoming book) However the effect this has on the general public, and business as a whole demonstrates a misunderstood, and misguided approach to business. “Eyeballs means sales.” or “All passers-by are potential customers.” They’re not. When I say this at a meeting, it’s at this point everyone in the room turns their head and the room goes silent. (And the person whom invited me begins to sweat)

Usually what I respond with to break the silence is to ask a very simple question, “What’s the value of 1 million hits or visitors that don’t purchase, compared to 1 hit or visitor that does?” Some start talking about conversion rate and it’s value. Others begin raising the argument of credibility in the eyes of others, and so on. But what doesn’t get answered first is the question I posed, which is exactly the point I’m trying to instill. So many people will work more on what I see as a distraction rather than building a real business.

I understand the argument about eyeballs, and traffic, but if that were all there was to it downtown shops, mall stores, and every stand on a boardwalk would never have a sales issue. But they do. The argument for selling a rental spot in a brick and mortar model is sold using the same story you’ll hear from a “traffic” salesman. “There’s so much traffic that goes by here” was yesterday’s pitch. Today it’s, “You need to drive traffic.” No, you need to make sales. If your focus is skewed primarily to traffic, then you won’t be putting in the needed focus on building or improving a product people want to buy. After creating your website your next focal point should be in getting just one hit that actually buys, not getting 1 million of what I call “The look, like, and leave crowd.” The goal for 98% of business websites should be to allow someone who want’s to buy your product or service the place where they can make the transaction with ease of use, feel secure when they use their card, and have a reasonable feeling of expectation that if a problem arises it will be addressed in a reasonable time frame. The other 2% I reserve for the market players that do have actual first needs of “eye balls.” Magazines, television, and newspapers fall into this category. However I will also contend that product should still be first, followed by “hits.” Not the other way around.

When someone asks me how many “hits” my website gets they are usually stunned when I say, “I don’t know, nor do I care.” When they pick their jaw off the floor I like to follow-up with, “The only hit I care about is the one that purchased my services. Because as of this date, my bank doesn’t accept my hit rate as legal tender.”

I’ll bet neither do the “Hit Men.”

© 2012 Mark St.Cyr