Treat Your Channel Like a Startup: YouTube Sales Strategy

Every YouTube channel is like its own business.

Some channels are big conglomerates, and others are like startups run out of your mom’s basement. Whether you’re the only one building the channel, or you have a team of people to strategize, run your YouTube channel like a business.

There are dozens of ways to develop a business strategy for YouTube, but this article is focused on using YouTube for sales. That might look like leads, sign-ups, online orders, etc. The same principles still apply.

It’s about the relationships not the videos

Some of the biggest brands are being built off YouTube right now because it’s a phenomenal platform for sales.

It’s a visual, personality-driven platform. This lends itself to building relationships easily. YouTube is great for creating brand awareness and building an audience, which you need to get sales.

YouTube Adsense is one way to monetize a YouTube channel, but it’s actually one of the least efficient ways of monetizing. YouTube as a sales strategy rather than an advertising strategy can be a game changer. You get way more bang for your buck when you use YouTube for sales instead of Adsense checks.

Let’s talk about how to sell sh*t on YouTube.

1. You need an audience to sell to

As of April 2023, YouTube has over 2.527 billion users. That’s a lot of people to sell to.

You want to thoroughly understand who you’re selling to. In most cases, people aren’t likely to buy from you, sign up with you, or do anything you ask them to if they don’t know, like, and trust you.

That’s why you first want to build an audience where you’ve established your credibility and created a sense of loyalty.

But… How does one build an audience fast? By providing value.

The best ways to do this are to entertain people, solve their problems, answer questions, etc. If you make kickass videos about stuff your target audience cares about, the audience will come naturally.

YouTube is a great place to build parasocial interaction by telling stories. That’s a fancy way of saying people feel like they know you even when they’ve never met you.

You want this kind of relationship with an audience because they will naturally convert at higher rates. If you give enough value based on expertise and personal experience, your audience will trust you. Use that trust wisely because many people don’t.

Viewers vs building an audience are different things because views change everyday

Asking for business comes at a price, and it’s always better to make sure the audience is getting more value from the relationship than you are.

Telling stories about yourself builds more of a personal connection with your audience by giving them details about yourself they can latch onto by relating to what you say.

2. Tell them what you want from them

Having the best videos in the world won’t translate to sales if you don’t explicitly tell your audience to do something.

The right YouTube sales strategy needs to have an appropriate conversion tactic.

Viewers might not even realize you’re in business if you don’t tell them. They might think your YouTube channel is a passion project or a hobby!

Even if your links are in the description and pop up in the video, people watching your videos have no way of knowing what you want unless you give them instructions. That means having a clear call to action (CTA)

YouTube calls to action that build community and audience
Your audience is constantly bombarded by calls to action and ads online

The most common call to action you’ve seen in YouTube videos is asking people to like and subscribe.

I think that’s a mistake. Why? The short answer is that there’s usually a more valuable call to action you can use instead of telling people “remember to like and subscribe!”

For example, if you use your channel to generate leads for your real estate business, would you rather have a viewer subscribe to you? Or buy a house with you? Not all calls to action are of equal value to your business.

Asking people to subscribe distracts from what you actually want from the viewer. If you’re using YouTube for sales, you want people to buy from you.

You don’t want to ask people to do 2 things at once otherwise you risk confusing them. But you can (and should!) have multiple calls to action in a video.

CAUTION: If you’re going to do this, you need to use calls to action wisely, and appropriately spread out.

I recommend starting with the most valuable call to action first (like getting a lead, appointment, or sale), and then saving the rest for later (like subscriptions to your channel, email signups, likes, comments, etc).

If you use multiple types of CTA’s, you’ll want to spread them throughout the video so you only ever ask for one thing at a time.

3. Make it easy to do business with you

Once you have a call to action, make it as simple as humanly possible for listeners to do what you’re asking.

I mean this in the nicest way, but people can be stupid.

Even the clearest instructions can be confusing. Expect this to happen.

It’s not the audience’s job to read your mind. It’s your job to communicate effectively.

If you want people to click a link, make sure it shows up on screen, in the description, and pinned at the top of comments. You’ll want to make it accessible in multiple places, because some people will instinctively look at the description, and others might look at the comments.

If you want your viewers to call, text, or email you instead, you want your number and email address readily available wherever your audience is looking.

Some people will naturally pause the video and take a screenshot of your contact info, while others will look at the description, and some might go to the comments. Make sure every one of these people can easily do what you’re asking.

In all 3 of those scenarios, whether they screenshot, go to the description, or read the comments, it should be easy for the viewer to do what your CTA asks.

Even if your audience views you as a celebrity, don’t overestimate how many hoops they’ll jump through to transact with you. Attention span is short. Removing friction is a key to converting more of your YouTube audience.

4. Don’t make it complicated

Make your request so simple that common sense isn’t required to follow instructions. If a 5 year old can’t do what you’re asking, make your call to action simpler.

What does this look like? Don’t ask people to type out your website name. Instead, give them a link they can click on. Whether your site is easy or hard to spell, expect people to make typos.

This goes for emails, numbers, addresses, and names too. Make it easy to copy and paste into an email or web browser.

And don’t show people a QR code on screen because over 40% of watchtime on YouTube is on a phone!

A QR code might work if someone’s watching a show on a laptop or TV screen, but you never know how your audience is going to be watching when they see your video on YouTube.

Make it easy for someone to follow your CTA whether they’re watching on a phone, laptop, iPad, or television.

5. Plan for the worst

You want to think of every possible mistake someone might make following your instructions and plan accordingly. This is especially true when you’re using YouTube for business.

If someone f*cks up somewhere along the way of following the CTA, you probably aren’t getting the sale. Expect people to have zero common sense, and plan for it accordingly:

  • Does your website load fast enough?
  • Is your landing page easy to navigate?
  • Does your opt-in page have a visible button to click submit?
  • If someone’s purchasing online, is the checkout process user-friendly?
  • If someone’s supposed to send an email, text, or call you, tell them what to say when they do!

One time, my email was down because the custom domain was connected to my website, which was having issues. I had no idea until somebody texted me a screenshot of their return to sender email. I was lucky enough to have a second chance to close the deal, but that won’t happen every time.

If you have the slightest feeling there could be friction at any of these steps, make necessary adjustments to avoid the worst case scenario of losing a customer and possibly a viewer if they never come back to your video.

6. Be genuine (seriously)

Step 1 of selling on YouTube is to build trust with your audience.

Asking for business can be a good way to lose that trust quickly. Be upfront about it. Don’t try to hide it or lie about it because people on YouTube will smell that from a mile away.

Youtube growth for brands

People are cynical. And these days, everybody online has something to sell.

Good intentions can be misinterpreted. Asking for business is a serious thing, and you want to be transparent.

Some people will hate you for it no matter what you say. But if you can be real, honest, and even funny about it when asking for business, you will win their trust even more than you would’ve by stating it blandly.

Selling on YouTube is good. But selling on YouTube in a way that doesn’t feel like selling is even better. That’s what I call marketing instead of sales 🙂

Ultimately, some people won’t like it, and you’re bound to lose viewers at some point for asking for business in your videos.

That’s okay. Why? Because if someone gets pissed at you for asking them to support your business, would they have ever bought from you in the first place? Probably not. And that’s okay.

Not every viewer is going to be your ideal customer.

7. Sell yourself before your product

In the perfect world, you want to minimize people getting pissed off by your CTA. This is why providing valuable video content is crucial before you ask for the sale.

If 95% of your video is helpful content and the other 5% is asking your audience to do something, most people will be okay with that.

If they’re a true fan that trusts you, and that trust is hard-earned, they will respect you and support your business. Just remember not everyone is always ready to buy from you.

This is especially true if you’re selling a high-ticket service rather than a product because services rely on relationships. The bigger a purchase it is, the deeper the relationship needs to be. Show your audience why they should do business with you, how much it means to you, and show them you can solve a problem.

Don’t be douchey and don’t be salesy.

Just be a person on YouTube who also happens to have a solution to their problem.