What Teenagers With Millions of YouTube Fans Can Teach You About Sales

How do you sell online when your target audience encounters an obstacle to purchasing? These teenagers found an easy solution.
May 20, 2013

If I asked you to define sales, what would you say? The answer would probably involve something about making a great pitch. Perhaps that pitch involves telling stories. Or maybe you would say it's about relationships. Technically, all those things are true. But what if the difference between making a sale or not had almost nothing to do with your "pitch"? What if, instead, you could make more sales simply by removing that last hurdle keeping them from buying in the first place?

Everyone in business, whether you're in retail or not, has experienced the "out of stock" problem. A customer evaluates a product, considers it, decides to buy, makes it all the way up to the register with her payment ready—and you are forced to turn her away because you no longer have the product available. It's one of the worst feelings a business owner can have—a missed opportunity, a missed sale.

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Now imagine instead that you were selling a product only online, and your target audience didn't have access to credit cards. How would you convert sales? How would you make your money?

That's the situation Cimorelli, a virally popular teen acapella singing group of six sisters, found themselves in. They sing a variety of cover and original songs; their recent cover version of the Carly Rae Jepson hit "Call Me Maybe" has more than 27 million views and counting. Across their YouTube channel, the group has hundreds of millions of views of all their videos—including everything from Justin Bieber covers to tutorials on how to curl your hair


As many YouTube hit artists do, the band members eventually decided to monetize their efforts by creating and selling their first album to their millions of fans. The only problem: The vast majority of their fans were too young to own credit cards. Instead of just telling them to ask their parents, a member of the band recorded a video offering step-by-step directions on how to get around this small problem with the help of an iTunes card and an email address.

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What's the lesson here? Sometimes your customers might need a helping hand to move toward purchase, or navigating your shopping process. Look at your sales process and checkout process. What can you do to remove any hurdles and make it easier for people to buy? That's what smart brands (and smart teenagers) do, and it benefits everyone in the end.

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Rohit Bhargava is the founder of the Influential Marketing Group and bestselling author of two books on how to bring more humanity back to business. Besides having advised some of the largest brands in the world on using social media for marketing, he is also an occasional singer of cover songs from his home studio (also known as his shower), and considers keeping those "performances" OFF YouTube a gift to Internet users everywhere. 

Photo: Getty Images