PostHeaderIcon Freebies No Longer As Evil As Bots

...but only barely are freebies better than bots. They are still eeevil no matter what, primarily because they create ridiculous entitlement attitudes, which are often rude.

Shopping in Second Life is seriously hit-or-miss because the entire grid is like one gigantic strip-mall, infesting the virtual landscape the same way those pesky "Borg" infested planet earth for a fleeting moment in that Star Trek movie called "First Contact".

The entire grid is, for all practicality one giant wall-to-wall bazaar where everyone is pitching anything and everything. No matter where you turn, there is the vendor, often with loud images (sometimes of rather blush-worthy imagery barely suitable for sailors on shore-leave.)

However, with all this 'competition' for your attention and scrawny Linden Dollar, it might even be considered amazing that we don't "window-shop" as much as we might.

Ciaran Laval wrote a piece over at Your 2nd Place about how malls are closing-up because the merchants are leaving because traffic is falling like a rock because the mall-owners have removed their bots. (To clarify, Ciaran is describing  a couple particular malls he knows of - not in general 'across the grid'.) I have proclaimed the bots were the first problem that begot all the others. Ciaran feels I am missing the point as 'while the bots were there, so was "real" foot-traffic, and now that the bots are gone, so is the foot-traffic, and thus traffic ranking falls and so the merchants leave'. In the words are our great fore-forefathers:
Of course we each see things from our own perspective, so I will rebut Ciaran by stating that he is misguided and misinformed (from my perspective): the point being that those real people who were there were not "window-shopping" with money burning a hole in their virtual underwear. 49 of 50 of them were there because they teleported directly in looking for a particular merchant's wares. They certainly weren't there because of the bots.

The merchants were there because they were hoodwinked into thinking there was genuine traffic at that location (and they were wrong for assuming very many were window-shoppers to begin with.) Since the bots are gone, these foolish merchants think the mall has become unpopular, so they leave (most likely still unaware they were tricked into thinking the traffic was genuine, and still unaware the wool was pulled over their eyes with bots.)

When the merchants leave, there are fewer merchants. Of course the "real" traffic will diminish: there are fewer destination merchants that people are teleporting to.

This is serious "duh" deductive-reasoning.

The fact of the matter is that 99% of all shoppers will use search in-world or XSL and then teleport directly to the merchant they believe carries what they are looking for - not waltz around some virtual mall just because there is traffic there. Thus, malls are moot. Bots are evil and actually create a cascading failure (as described clearly in Ciaran's post - linked-to above.) To Ciaran and other merchants of that mall: you were hoodwinked (and you are still hoodwinked thinking disappearance of previous traffic bots are causing the people to not come to that mall.) I don't mean this in a bad way. Some people can put one and one together and still come up with "three".

Of course this is not a "black and white" issue. There will be some truth to what Ciaran describes, but that is a minority portion of the big picture. Of all shoppers who appear at one of these malls,  perhaps 2% to 5% of them will actually take the time to "browse" around, and certainly what got them there to begin with is almost always one particular merchant (unless it is a role-play or other specific "destination" sim, etcetera.)

People haven't stopped coming to the mall because the bots are gone and parcel traffic count is down. They have stopped coming to the mall because the merchants they are looking for are not there now.

Searching for product to buy is painstaking at best in Second Life, both in-world and on XStreet SL. This is why we will gravitate to what and who we already know, meaning that when we finally make a purchase that we really like, we will return to that merchant time and again because they are a known quantity.

All bots do is slow-down the shopping process and making the experience less than desirable and they clog sim resources and suck-up the same bandwidth I'm trying to use to rez product pictures on the vendors of the merchant I want to buy from. (This is why in my book "Successful Business in Second Life", I oh-so-strongly recommend all merchants set-up shop in parcel where traffic is the least!) As for returning to our favorite vendors, the problem occurs when we buy them out. Meaning we have purchased all the stuff they sell that interests us.

So we are forced to go on the search. This is where, even though freebies are the evil-incarnate scourge of the grid, they can come-in handy: as a resource in the shopping process. The blog "Themed inSL" is based on the idea that there are quality freebies to be had on the grid, a means to equip and outfit yourself on a budget. The one good thing about this blog is that it might be the one single break these creators are trying to get by offering freebies to begin with: generate interest that turn into actual sales.

Most people who gather freebies rarely, if ever turn into purchasers. Thus, the effort and kindness of these creators goes unrewarded for the majority of time. Return on investment probably isn't very good at all, unless the freebies are of the normal product lines and either considered old and placed on "clearance" or only temporarily put into the freebie box.

However, even those of us who believe the freebie never should have been invented can use the inevitable freebie bazaar to our advantage by following such blogs as "Themed inSL" - because it is a way to see and discover new creators creating what we often find ourselves frustrated in searching for - all without the waste of teleport time and rezzing frustrations. Specifically, the kind of thing "Themed" is covering: role-play-specific content. And the best part: none of that crazy, stupid, ignorant fashionista drama nonsense that all the freaks feed-on. Just plain, simple, straight-forward and pithy "here's what it is and what you get". Nothing more, nothing less — it's as though the author has some kind of empathic pity on all us guys!

Everyone makes dresses and jeans and shoes and silks and veils and... you get the idea. However, as someone role-playing a 16th-century-era Profiteer (simply a pirate by another name) - I need specific styles and searching for them is a pain in the backside. Along comes Themed inSL - a blog about freebies of this very nature.

And I want to be clear about something: I am not looking for the freebies at all. But rather looking at the quality of what is featured so I can "shop" for new creators who create the quality and styles I am looking for. I will be able to spot creators new to me that I simply must go check-out with regard to their 'regular' line of products as I can judge the quality of their work through that blog. No more rezzing all over the grid on the hunt, dealing with stupid bot slogging my bandwidth and rezza-rezz-rezz with each teleport, wasting time waiting for vendor images to appear and so on.

(Hint to all you merchants who use picture-changing vendors: find the place with the least traffic. You'll be doing your potential customers a huge favor.)

Yes, freebies are still evil. But in this one case, because there is no stopping them anyway, I will use that evil to my own advantage. I've added Themed inSL to the blogroll at the bottom of this page. And here is a direct link for your convenience.

Now, as a sideline notice: I have pre-written 15 selling tips for all merchants who sell products in Second Life and they will start appearing here beginning November 2nd. They already are posted, but scheduled to appear every Tuesday and Thursday at 6 a.m. Pacific time. These are specific techniques you can use to improve business and all are summaries of many of the techniques I cover in my book (linked above). The post titles will begin with "SLST #01:" ...and through "SLST #15:" - and these will be pithy 500-word or less posts. Two or three-minute reads.

So, no matter the state of business for you, follow these Second Life Selling Tips and I guarantee business will improve over whatever it is right now. Topics will include how to optimize for Product Art, Traffic, Marketing, Referrals, Item Permissions, Vending, Word-of-Mouth generation, Pricing Techniques, Customer Care, ...okay, okay - I don't want to give it all away here. Just keep your eye on this space for the next fifteen posts to this blog (there may be additional non-tips posts between.)
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