Archive of posts with the Business topic
For the past month I’ve been learning how to be more productive. It’s amazing how unproductive I can be with readily available distractions. First, I broke down the core things I do online (mostly related to work and the internet) into three broad categories based on what I was actually doing.
You’re in a new city and looking to grab dinner. You walk by a busy restaurant. You see customers laughing and having a good time. You glance at the restaurant across the street and see one couple by the window. Otherwise, the place looks deserted. Where are you eating?
This is commonly referred to in psychology circles as social proof. In summary, human beings seem to be hardwired to look to their peers for guidance. This groupthink probably served us well in prehistoric times. You see others in the group start to run, so you start running too. If you stop to look, you might be dinosaur lunch.
So, what does social proof have to do with increasing conversion rates?
You might be aware of weak spots in your business, but are you being honest with yourself about them?
When you first start a business, it’s usually just you, or maybe you and a co-founder. You do almost everything: sales, marketing, product development, design, customer service, budgets, hiring, etc.
To have a moderately successful business, you need to be good in at least a few of these areas, but it’s really rare for any person to be great in all of these areas. It’s a common scenario: a developer who builds great software and provides stellar support, but doesn’t know much about marketing. A marketer who knows how to sell and drive business, but really doesn’t understand product development or design.
To be a great business over the long term you need to be great in all of those areas. Otherwise, you’re struggling against your competition with a hand tied behind your back. This is one reason why multiple co-founders with complementary skills can work so well. But, what if you’re a single founder or you have co-founders with similar skills?
Most business owners eventually become somewhat aware of their business weak spots over time. For me, this meant going through two distinct phases.
You might be talking about what you do, or how you do it, but are you talking about how you do it differently?
Earlier this week I was confirming a sponsorship for The Theme Foundry. I was responding to this question over email: “What are the key things you want me to say about your business?”. I gave it some thought and came up with the following:
- We’ve been selling WordPress themes since 2008 and have over 30,000 customers. We’re obsessed with building the best WordPress themes, and plan on being around for a long time.
- We work with world-class designers like Jon Hicks, Veerle Pieters, Dave Ruiz, and Ryan Essmaker. It’s rare to have your website template designed by one of the best in the world.
- We take pride in the details and value quality over quantity. That’s why we have a small focused collection of WordPress themes. We truly care about building great products.
- We’re an exclusive partner with the official hosted WordPress provider, WordPress.com, and we sell our themes on that platform. This means each and every theme goes through a stringent audit process from some of the best themers in the world. You can rest assured our WordPress themes are well coded and secure.
- We practice whole team support. You’ll get fast and friendly customer support in our Help Center from the people that actually build our themes. You won’t be interacting with a part time support rep. If you have a question about the new Backbone.js powered fast page loading in Collections, you’ll likely chat with Zack, the guy who actually built it.
After sending the email, I sat back and thought about it for a minute. Wait! Why aren’t we talking about this on our website!? Each one of these unique characteristics is a selling point. It’s a difference maker. It could convince someone our themes are right for them.
Sharing buttons seem like an obvious way to increase engagement, but do you really need them?
We often hear from customers who want to integrate sharing functionality into their WordPress powered website. They’ve heard it’s important to give readers options for sharing their content. This often takes the form of countless buttons plastered on every blog post. This makes some sense on the surface, but I seriously question how important it is to provide sharing options.
Your navigation is an important part of your website, and it might be hurting more than it’s helping.
You’ve got lots of important information to share on your website. Organizing it all can be a challenge. So you slowly start adding more and more menu items. Drop down menus become your best friend. More menu items are better, right?
Are part-time employees handling your customer support? If so, you might be ignoring an important competitive advantage.
Let’s say you’re selling a product or service. You love the work, your customer base is growing, but support always seems to take up everyone’s valuable time.
You’ve got a website or blog, but have you told your story? If the answer is no, you might be missing a big opportunity.
Have you ever watched a major professional sporting event on live TV? Here in the United States, I’m referring to a playoff football, basketball, or baseball game. Notice how the network will usually profile a player or coach, and tell a story about that individual? This builds viewer engagement with the broadcast. If you know more about someone, you’re more likely to be interested in the game they’re playing in. Not to mention, most people like a good story. It’s human nature.
You might be thinking — my story isn’t interesting or good enough. I don’t want people to know that much about me, and it could reflect poorly on how they perceive me or my business. Nothing could be further from the truth. Most people don’t expect perfection, and they’d rather engage with someone they see as genuine, regardless of that person’s accomplishments.
There has been some talk the past few weeks in the WordPress world about the GPL and marketplaces. I’d like to share some lessons on building a profitable WordPress business without a marketplace.
What about marketplaces?
Marketplaces seem perfect on the surface for a few reasons:
- Free marketing and awareness for your product.
- Built in tools to sell your product.
- Minimal friction getting to market.
These are good reasons to use a marketplace, but consider some caveats:
- Subject to the whims (and terms) of the marketplace.
- Lock in factor. How can you leave?
- A (usually) hefty fee structure.
- Brand dilution and customer loyalty.
Notice anything about these caveats? They are easy to dismiss when you start, but they become increasingly unwieldy as you grow. Think of it like bringing home a cute cuddly bear cub. He’s great until one day you look up and realize he could tear your head off. These caveats get scary quickly and can start effecting your life, business, and livelihood.
I was listening to the latest Please Advise podcast, with guest Jason Schuller of Press75. The show’s hosts Mike McAlister, Jake Caputo and Chris Molitor cover various topics related to WordPress and WordPress theme development.
About midway through the show, the subject of theme options and the new WordPress theme customizer (built primarily by Daryl Koopersmith and Dominik Schilling) came up. I was really surprised to hear the guys on the show say the following about the customizer: