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3 Red Flags That Will Cost You A Sale And How to Avoid Them in Your Brand

It was a sunny Sunday afternoon and I was waiting for my lunch order to be ready, which meant I was scrolling mindlessly through social media (as one does) when a targeted ad for some jewelry caught my eye. And since I've recently fallen into a jewelry addiction, I clicked.

This particular website carried the most unique jewelry pieces — styles I'd never seen anywhere else — at CRAZY affordable prices. Plus they were having a mega sale on top of that! Discounts galore all on top of a buy 3 get 1 free deal. When all was said and done I was looking at less than $20 per item.

I was so excited! And because I'm a obsessive shopaholic, I scrolled through all 33 pages of rings, earrings, bracelets, and necklaces picking out pieces and adding them to my cart. With each click I imagined the outfits I would wear with these pieces. I was fully ready to take advantage of the sale and was actively calculating my budget that I was willing to spend.

I got my shopping cart all ready and then the time came to check out—but I hesitated.

  • I had never heard of this company before.
  • The prices were just...* insanely* low, like, why?
  • The pieces were all SO different they were clearly meant for different customers. Some pieces with gothic elements, some with faith based phrases and crosses, some very juvenile pieces, and some really elegant pieces.
  • All of the photos of the jewelry were different styles. Some on white backgrounds, some on black velvet, some with leaves and stones. As if they all came from different catalogs.

I abandoned my cart and went to the about page to read about the business. They had a wonderful story of the inspiration behind the business, a photo of the founder, and pictures of the team members. For all intents and purposes it seemed like a lovely, woman-owned small business.

But the damage was already done. My spidey-senses were tingling about the trustworthiness of this website. Instead of feeling validated by the brand story and photo of the founder, I second guessed it all thought, "What if some scammer just pulled pictures of random people and is posing as a company?" And with that thought, I closed the page without completing my purchase.

Was that thought a bit extreme? Probably. Was it irrational? No. The internet is a crazy place and everyone is always on the lookout for scams. If I had these thoughts while trying to shop with a company I didn't know, I guarantee other people were having those same thoughts.

What exactly happened to cost this company a sale?

Trust was not established.

That's the bottom line. Had they given me some cues to establish trust, the likelihood that I would have completed the sale would have increased and there'd be a pretty little dent in my bank account.

There's very little you need to do to establish trust with a customer when you're Tiffany & Co. They have spent decades building their brand and have secured their seat at the top of the luxury jewelry market. When you see that little blue bag with the white ribbon, you know exactly what's inside and what you're getting. However, small businesses don't have the luxury of being a household name. This can sometimes work to your favor (everyone loves discovering a new hidden gem!), but it can also pose as a hurdle you need to help your customer get over.

So how do you establish trust, exactly? Through consistency.

Let me break down all the red flags that popped up during the course of this lost sale that could have been mitigated with a bit of consistency.

Red flag #1A

Their logo looked amateur. It looked like something generic you could find on canva. It was just their business name typed out in a hard-to-read, free script font. There was nothing about my initial impression that made it unique or memorable.

What that tells me: The company is new or temporary. They aren't invested in how they look, or they may not be established enough to afford to invest in their business. I can't trust that the product will be high quality.

Red flag #1B

The prices were just.... insanely low. I had never seen jewelry that looked like this at prices that low.

What that tells me: The company is cheap. The items I get may discolor, tarnish, or have the gold plating rub off after a little wear. Ultimately, the brand was telling me the pieces won't be durable and last for years.

How to fix: When you're branding yourself as a "boutique" or a shop with "luxury" items, your customer is looking for cues that communicate that. If the logo or branding doesn't look luxury or the prices feel more like Walmart than Nordstrom, they're going to wonder why. The look and feel of your brand, as well as your prices, are a positioning tool you can use to let your customers know what they can expect when they shop with you.

Reg flag #2:

There was no consistency among the styles of pieces sold.

What that tells me: That this place might not be for me and I might have a hard time finding something I like.

How to fix: Know your target customer and what will appeal to them. A ring with a black dragon isn't going to appeal to the same customer as a necklace with a delicate silver cross. Unlike me, most customers won't sift through pages and pages and pages of items just to find few things that appeal to them. It's definitely ok to carry a variety of items and styles, but make sure there's some overlap in the type of person those items will appeal to. Is your customer a 22-year-old college grad who makes $15 per hour and loves to post on TikTok? Or are they a 40-year-old business person who makes $95,000 per year and leads a team of employees. All of that is information that can help you know how to position your brand. (struggling with this? We can help with a deep dive into your brand strategy! Book a call and let's talk!)

It's tempting to want to create a brand that's for "everyone," but most industry leaders agree—a group of 10 ideal customers who love every item in your shop is going to be more valuable than a group of 1,000 random people who may or may not be ready to buy.

Reg flag #3:

The photo style was all over the place.

What that tells me: Not only are the pieces completely different styles, but the photos appear as if they are from different catalogs altogether. It makes me wonder if this company is really legit or if they're swiping photos off other businesses websites and posting them as their own.

How to fix: Make sure that all the photos you share of your products on your website and social media match your brand's look and feel. Make sure the photos feel like they belong to your business. Whether it be boho, beachy, elegant, or minimalist invest in product photos of your own to create consistency and build trust in your brand. Doing so communicates that you are an established business and gives the customer confidence that the product in the photos is actually the product they'll receive.

That's all it took. Just 3 reg flags and they lost the sale.

So many people will tell you that people guard their email address and you have to offer something of great value in exchange for their email addresses. But in my research I've actually found that to be false. My market research has found that most people will freely hand out their email address to any and every business that asks for it on little more than a promise of a 10% discount or a free download.

You know what people truly guard? Their credit cards.

When you're asking a customer to type in their credit card number in your checkout system, you're asking for an immense amount of trust in your business. Trust is the most important aspect of your brand and it's built through consistency.

  • Consistently showing up so your customers know they can count on you.
  • Consistently displaying your commitment to your business so they know you'll be around.
  • Consistently communicating your dedication to their satisfaction so they know you prioritize them over money.
  • Consistently providing top-shelf quality in everything you do so they know you value their experience.

Humans are emotional creatures and our buying behaviors are actually driven by emotion and then only later validated by logic. And whether they realize it or not, your customer is asking themselves questions about your business and your product in the literal blink of an eye.

  • Does it look trustworthy?
  • Does it look safe to use?
  • Does it look like it’s made well?  
  • Do I understand what it is?
  • Is it attractive enough to even catch my eye?

The longer these questions go unanswered for your customer, the more doubt creeps into their minds, and the harder you’re going to have to work to convince them to buy your product.

How many sales have you lost because something about your customer experience raised a reg flag?

My best tip for evaluating your customer experience is simply to ask them. Ask your existing customers why they chose to buy from you instead of someone else. You can also have your brand, website, and shopping experience evaluated by a selected group of people in your target market and ask them to share their thoughts. This will give you insight into what not-yet-customers think of your business.

Or—you can book a complimentary info call with me and we can talk about the best way to improve your customer experience so that you can level up your brand and increase your prices. I've got almost 15 years of design experience and a lifetime of retail therapy I'm ready to put to work for you so that you can get the help you need to take your business to the level you dream of. It's time to stop losing out on sales and create a delightful experience that makes shopping with your business absolutely effortless.

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About the Author

Brittany Wong

Brittany Wong is the Founder and Creative Director of Happyland Creative®, a design studio helping small business owners make more money with their branding.