Commercialism of the holidays is pretty stunning - personally I am not a big fan of how aggressive some retailers can be but as an adviser to Internet entrepreneurs I must admit I love it.
As most of you know holiday season planning really needs to be done by Halloween - and the Cyber 5 have already come and gone.
The Cyber 5 = Thanksgiving, Black Friday, Cyber Saturday, Cyber Sunday and Cyber Monday.
It is probable the single busiest days of the year are behind you now, although there surely is a substantial amount of day to day volume in progress for the next couple of weeks.
The numbers are still coming in but some of the early data shows 2013 was substantially better than 2012 for the Cyber 5 - 25-30% better than last year overall. Lots of buying while couchsurfing in progress and as expected there is a massive surge in the use of tablets and mobile devices for online shopping.
So you are into your busy time of year - what can you do now to push things and meet your sales goals?
It is time for the gift certificate cha-cha - but this year our dance has an important twist, we need it to be noisy.
So we start at the start by examining your presentation of gift certificates and how you sell them on your site. Now you were supposed to do all of this back in October but if you didn't get things polished off exactly the way you'd like there are a few simple and easy updates you can make.
First thing to do is make sure your gift certificates are findable.
What happens if you type gift certificate into your site search box? How about gift card? Is it part of your navigation? Do you have some lovely splashy graphics planned for your landing pages which send people towards gift certificates?
Second thing to do is make sure your sales page itself rocks.
Large sites usually present physical gift cards they will mail you as a separate product from email/digital cards. Interesting to note Amazon offers digital gift cards from fifteen cents but physical cards have a minimum of $10 or better still one in a fancy box has a minimum of $50.
Are you clear about delivery methods and times? Are you clear about any restrictions? (can I use it online and in store, can I use it on anything, does it expire).
Is it easy to buy a gift certificate?
Final thing to do is get that noisy Cha-Cha going.
This year is a bit weird in the land of the calendar - Turkey Day and Hanukkah were a bit mixed up in 2013 and the number of shopping days is reduced - the overall season is compressed when compared to previous years.
The pressure on retailers is tremendous. You might observe that if you spend some time with your inbox.
I have had numerous retailers emailing me every single day this week - some multiple times per day.
Now the wisdom of doing this is important to consider - but that is a story for another day.
If the overall "noise" of email and social marketing is louder and you do the same thing as last year - you won't be as well heard.
That message you plan on sending once a week? Send it twice.
Watch your unsubscribe rate as always and let it guide you - but 2013 is a year where you can make a lot more noise and still seem very respectful - especially when compared to one retailer who is emailing me four times a day, every day - you will be nice and respectfully quiet.
Here's the bottom line for Internet Entrepreneurs: Cyber 5 may have come and gone but participating in a noisy gift certificate cha-cha will be good for your bottom line this year.
Happy Friday Everyone. :-)
As those of you who follow me on social media know I've been experiencing some middle aged guy issues recently - I've got a bad back. It's been unhappy for awhile - more like 2 months than one month now.
Yesterday the Doctor used some phrases I really disliked - he said "probable herniated disc" and then he also said we would "discuss surgical options" once some additional testing was done.
I am eating Advil like they're candy and I am doing all of my prescribed stretches, exercises, and so forth.
Recently things have been even less happy so I'm actually sitting here in my bed writing away on my laptop. There is basically no way I'm going to be able to sit in a chair today - not happening.
I'm kind of pissed off about all of this. I have a family to support, I have chores that need doing, my houseplants sorely need attention, and I have a daughter who recently learned the word "Up".
I desperately want to throw Emma up in the air and chase after her so she makes the deliciously happy squealing noise she does when you say "I'm gonna get you" and go tickle her a bit.
Instead I am considering techniques for effective eating in bed because while I am super glad to take my meals here it isn't exactly a wonderful environment in the land of crumbs.
On Monday I had to actually sort of call in sick to work - which I basically never do.
When I was younger I literally worked Christmas Day and the notion of many "Holidays" was not something this entrepreneur was going to even consider. I am a bit older and hopefully wiser now and I take actual vacations (gasp) but I still have some work-a-holic tendencies.
So here I sit bubblin and stewing with all of these facts - and there is very little I can do to change things. I get on the treadmill and go my mile or more every day - today the top speed was 2.0 miles an hour. A bit pathetic but I am proud I did it.
So I had to ask myself some very serious questions this morning:
What are you going to do about all of this Ross?
How are you going to focus on what you can control?
How does this relate to websites?
(and yes I do ask myself that question about pretty much everything)
What adjustments are you going to need to make, especially if you do have to face some worse case scenarios?
Step one - Trade anger for gratitude.
I have an awful lot to be pissed off about and like most people who are dealing with heavy duty pain I am a bit crabby sometimes. (My wife has the patience of a Saint methinks).
But you know what? I am able to type on this laptop in bed. It is a really nice laptop and the fact it is so light really rocks today. I am able to laugh at my daughter saying "da-da-da" while we check out some learn to count apps on the iPad, and I am definitely able to enjoy delicious pizza from my favorite pizza joint - even if I have to watch out for the crumbs.
When facing problems, you have to put down the anger to think right. You have to recognize there is nothing you can do about certain things and it is really critical to focus on being grateful.
I am grateful about a lot of stuff, including the fact it is even possible to do most of my job from a laptop.
Step Two - Intentions
I need to get my brain wrapped around my intentions - and they need to be realistic. I am focusing on what I can get done and as much as I hate to do it I am actually postponing some client appointments and reconsidering planned days out of the office. I need to treat my life like it is February in the land of living here - a "snow day" could occur at anytime.
I need to be sure to clearly communicate so I don't disappoint folks, I need to focus on things that work well like phone chats and stuff like that there.
I need to make sure and give myself a pat on the back for what I consider to be a lot less work production than I'd like to see.
So what does all of this have to do with websites?
In the land of websites - the fit hits the shan with great regularity.
All of your traffic disappears.
You need to get 27 hours of work done, you have 11 hours.
And on and on and on.
I have seen some folks respond well to this reality, but most folks respond badly.
Here's the bottom line for Internet Entrepreneurs: When you work on the web stuff will go wrong and there is nothing you can do to change that. The harder you resist by getting mad or noticing things are unfair - the less likely it is you'll successfully change course.
Don't waste time fighting gravity - certainly question it, but don't fight it. Make sure you understand your intentions while you communicate clearly. Do both of those things and you''ll be a more successful Internet Entrepreneur.
In the meantime, I am going to figure out creative ways to keep crumbs out of this bed.
Happy Friday Everyone. :-)
I had an interesting exchange in my inbox recently - and it made me wonder if auto mechanics hate Jiffy Lube.
This has a lot more to do with hiring web professionals than you might think.
For those of you who don't know Jiffy Lube is an oil change provider - they change oil in cars.
There are many clones of this business model - they change oil quickly, they usually require no appointments, and I think a lot of the locations are owned by retired professional athletes. There are similar providers who focus on just brakes, or just tires - you get the idea.
I'm not sure how auto mechanics may have felt when they first heard about Jiffy Lube - but I'd guess at least a few of them were unhappy.
Jiffy Lube is a disruption to an established business model that really knocks the traditional auto mechanic for a loop. They charge an "hourly" rate which is a small fraction of what a "real" auto mechanic charges, they focus on a very narrow service, and with all due respect to their internal education programs - it doesn't take lots and lots of training to change oil.
With me do far?
Now over the years there have been some problems with Jiffy Lube - some of them are normal parts of the auto repair business and some of them aren't.
They've been investigated for charging for stuff they didn't do.
I'd bet bored investigative reporters know they can always depend on an unscrupulous auto fixer to give them a story - when folks get ripped off by a chain it is a bit more upsetting but hardly that unusual.
They've also had some issues with stepping outside of their area of expertise - trying to sell engine flushes that in fact damage engines and are not recommend by the auto manufacturers.
Now that's a little different, that is reasonably viewed as a predictable result of their business model. They don't actually fix cars, so it is reasonable to say they don't know about how engines truly work.
The pissed off Auto Mechanic who says "no one who is not fully and properly certified should even open a car hood" would be feeling pretty good right there - "see how that 'cheap' rate destroyed your engine? Not too smart to allow folks who are not technically qualified to touch your car". I can hear the self satisfied noise they might make now.
Newsflash - many "real" auto mechanics are also not properly qualified either but that's another story.
So back to our tale - paying a "real" mechanic $100 an hour to change your oil offends many folks. The basic notion you are paying for skills you don't need is valid.
But what if something goes wrong? What if your oil change turns out to be complicated, or reveals your car has other problems? Well that'd be a problem indeed.
So what the heck does all of this have to do with buying websites?
Web "professional" is an intriguing term. I remember when you couldn't make a living selling websites, you had to also fix computers. Today there are dozens of different types of web professionals and all sorts of folks (looking at you Ad Agencies) who are working to become and be known as web professionals.
Sometimes the inherent nature of the web makes the principles of reference checks difficult - there is no one who has 10 years of experience doing something that has only been possible for a year.
If you want custom code that is newfangled, elegant, and slick - expect to pay $250 an hour.
If you want super simple "copy & paste" style web updates - expect to pay about $25 an hour, less in some markets.
So we have this simple situation: Internet Entrepreneurs don't want to overpay for services. They also want to make sure they get good work and don't have any problems.
Ideally they would never ask a custom coder to do "copy & paste" updates, and they'd never have a entry level production web updater try to do something they didn't know how to do where they might damage things as a result.
On a practical basis no website owner can make things as "efficient" as possible, working too hard to do that makes stuff a nightmare. 16 separate stores later, it would have been better to just get all the groceries in one place.
So what should you look for?
Above and below skill set statements I think every professional should make.
Below: While I can do that I don't think you want me to. It'd make more sense for you to get that elsewhere, at a better price and efficiency.
My accountant sent me a letter like that a few years ago, declaring a payroll service made a lot more sense than using his firm to do payroll.
Above: What you are talking about is really a specialty and it is outside of what we focus on here.
I've seen many web professionals make excellent statements about what they don't know how to do which are above skill set statements - maybe 'sideways' skill set is a better phrase for when they refer a specialty like paid web marketing.
It is unfortunate many web professionals attempting to make above and below skill set statements end up saying things that are based in hatred and demonstrate a lack of respect for professionals who focus on other things.
The most common - and xenophobic - expression of this is when folks say anything that is not "US based" in inherently inferior. (Irony warning: For many geeky things the best there is does not in fact come from the US).
Here's the bottom line for Internet Entrepreneurs: When you hire web professionals make sure you understand their above and below skill sets. You don't want to buy things for more than they really should cost and you want to make sure you get the help you need.
I have found having a frank conversation with web professionals about skill sets is a really smart move - everyone agrees there is someone who does simple stuff for less and you should buy it there. Everyone agrees there are some things they don't know how to do.
If you find a "web professional" who doesn't seem to feel that way - run.
Happy Friday Everyone. :-)
For those of you who are not in "oh my gosh golly molly, the holidays are almost here" web planning mode - this is the time of year when people begin thinking about 2014.
When I meet someone new and get to talking about web efforts the conversation almost always gets around to some simple foundational issues.
- Brand Essence
Now there are many ways to ask about these things, and some of them are lots of fun.
Objectives: "Close your eyes and take a deep breath. Imagine 3 years have passed and every single thing you have done in the online world worked better than you thought, there are no big problems and the web feels like it is your friend. Now describe what your web efforts are doing for your business."
My favorite one liner : How do I make sure I get an amazing holiday gift from you every year?
Audience: "As narrowly as you possibly can tell me about the people who are a best fit for you, folks you can truly help where they feel like what you charge is a bargain. People you make smile. People who make you smile."
My favorite: What is deliciously weird about you and your community?
Brand Essence: "What is truly different about you and your company. Don't say anything generic refering to service, price, or other stuff that could describe anyone. Tell me about the real core of your brand and what really matters to people who love you. Why should people buy from you?"
My favorite: What does your heart really look like?
Now the fact of the matter is that these questions have nothing to do with the web specifically - they are core foundational marketing questions.
And so it begs the question - how is your foundation?
(note: searching the web for a "bad foundation" image will result in you seeing some fascinating shots of makeup gone wrong)
There are a lot of ways to build successful websites - but it is really important to remember anything built on a bad foundation is unlikely to be successful.
If you need to do some foundational marketing work to prepare for what the web world needs - you aren't alone. Nothing wrong with that, so long as you know it. You might need to replace the floor in the bathroom before you can get a new tub - as long as that doesn't shock you it is no worries.
Here's the bottom line for Internet Entrepreneurs: When you build a web marketing strategy it is dependent on the foundation on which it is built - that's Nature's rule and not mine. Make sure your foundation is solid and if it's not - do the required repair work.
And Gosh Golly Molly, don't build a tower on a broken foundation. If you do it might fall over.
Happy Friday Everyone. :-)
In the course of the last few months or so the web marketing talking head world - a very small pond indeed - has been all abuzz and excited about the disappearance of keywords.
"It is an illegal use of Google's monopoly power" they say.
"It is the first existential threat to SEO" they say.
"The sky is falling and SEO is now officially over" they moan.
As I mentioned - they are really quite excited about all of this.
For those of you that are unaware Google has recently removed all of the keyword data from standard analytics reporting. Remember that whole "we can tell what word they searched for before they found you" thing? Not anymore.
Now Google says this is for your security and there are some very legit points on that side of the fence, the government is engaged in a shocking level of surveillance these days.
Objectors point out that this data is still sort of available over in Google's paid advertising product AdWords - which supports the point that this entire thing is about their profits.
I don't really care why, and I think debating about that kind of misses the broader point.
See - this whole organic web marketing thing has been through an awful lot of changes in the last 20 years.
I tend to summarize organic web marketing this way:
"Thou Shalt Not Piss Off The Google" - a good rule to follow. (and yes I used to say Yahoo)
When you change your site to please The Google - that's organic web marketing.
That's it, the whole summary - pretty uncomplicated and principle driven.
It is a bit like saying the point of a gym membership is to make you less fat. That's true of course but the day to day reality can be a lot more complicated.
The world of SEO - search engine optimization - has created many jobs, and destroyed many jobs. It used to do that every 3-4 years, then every year or two, and these days it is about a 6 month cycle of "tricks" that reliably end up not working. Over the years we've seen lots of this...
We had Keyword stuffers - here at Fred's car we sell cars with our car selling skills.
We had doorway pages - make a different 'entrance' for specific engines and phrases. Do that again about 27,000 times.
We had the search engine rank analysis cha-cha, a dance that Internet Entrepreneurs love and that web professionals have always seen as relatively useless.
The underlying principle to keyword research - thinking about what folks might type in that could then buy something from you - makes sense.
But the game has moved and - to be quite frank - I like the way things have changed.
If your primary focus is on keyword phrase development and the optimization of your site pages based on that research - you are doing something that used to work, that is less and less effective all the time.
Now before web marketers get all up in a lather and write back to declare that what they do still works and they swear it and so on let's consider an image for a moment:
I'll bet that there is some exercise efficacy for this woman on this ancient belt vibration machine.
I also bet that if you saw one of these things in a gym you'd wonder what was the matter with them. Would you buy a membership there?
If Google made it so these exercise vibration machines went away and didn't work anymore, do you see how that might be a good thing?
Researching what your customers want is still a good idea - it will always be.
Making sure you don't truly piss off Google (which you can still do if you construct a site in the wrong way from a technical perspective) also makes sense.
But keyword phrase lists beyond that point - adding content around specific phrases - is not an effective use of your time.
So what are you supposed to do now?
Sorry to tell you this but it is often the answer in web world - something harder.
You are supposed to be focused on creating wonderful compelling content, something that can truly help people. You judge it by how often it is shared , how much "love" the people show it when they find it, and stuff like that there.
Many folks refer to this as The Inbound Marketing revolution.
Here's the bottom line for Internet Entrepreneurs: you don't need to know everything about web marketing, just understand the principles. Watch for trends and change course - if you are focused on keyword phrases these days that is a good indication you need a new direction.
Happy Friday Everyone. :-)
As those of you who follow my social media streams know my back has been an unhappy camper these last few weeks. I've got some sort of pinched nerve thing happening and I have learned what the word sciatica means.
I've been getting adjusted, eating pain pills, and going for acupuncture. I've had an x ray and while things are slowly getting better I don't think all these wondrous helper people are done with me yet. I really am trying to do everything they say and it kind of sucks - but it sure is important to remember that I have so very much to be grateful for. When life knocks you down, keep your chin up.
Next year I am going to be 40.
I think that perhaps all of this is a bit of a sign, a wake up call, an early warning, a bit of a red alert if you will - plain and simple I don't think I am going to be able to treat this body the same way I have for the last couple of decades. If I want it to perform as expected I need to respect its age - I need to adjust my care and feeding routines to compensate for the realities of middle age.
Like pretty much everything else in my life I started thinking about how all of this relates to websites. It sure does - there are some fun lessons here.
When a site is young and new you can act like a person in their 20's - stay out all night, burn the candle at both ends - and it is probably going to mostly be ok.
As organizations and sites age their sites require a different approach - and as those of you that have been through middle age know the body human is no different. There is stuff you need to do that you used to be able to sort of ignore.
Now I am relatively new to this human body middle age thing - but I know an awful lot about the right way to treat a middle aged website. There are three key things you need to do.
- Written Plans
- Process and Procedure
- Learn the Rhythms
Everyone knows life is happier when you have a written plan - but most businesses don't have an awful lot of depth in the land of their planning documents. As your operation gets more mature the importance of good written plans increase exponentially. Think about editorial calendars, publication schedules, and specific numerical goals. They are a friend to the middle aged website, the same way I am loving the heating pad when I climb into bed at night.
The good old P&P - the Process and Procedure - the step by step "how we do things" documents. Young web operations have almost none of this and tend to just figure everything out by the seat of their pants. As your organization grows and matures these documents - which are incredibly difficult to produce - can become critical anchors. In my house we make a weekly meal plan and grocery shop from it - such a thing would have been horrifying when I was a youngling but today I love that.
Finally we have the rhythms and natural energetic flow of your web world. Here is where we don't call it middle age, we call it wisdom. I had a wonderful chat this week with a client that is moving from startup to more mature business - and we talked about the "seasonality" within their business. It was so wonderful when they recognized their busy times and we adjusted the stuff we'll be doing in online world as a result. I smiled big.
Here's the bottom line for Internet Entrepreneurs: there is a tremendous amount of focus on starting a web business, getting going. At some point that phase of your web operation ends and it becomes more mature - middle aged. Work with that principle and you'll be much happier for it.
Check back with me in a few decades and perhaps then I'll be able to talk about some good practices for human body middle age. In the meantime I plan to basically just do more of what my wife says I should be doing.
Happy Friday Everyone. :-)
This issue of Web Enlightenment is not about Alaska - or politicians - or government in general. I think we've all had enough of that sort of news this week.
Today we are going to be talking about data bridges - those little connectors that allow your shopping cart system to talk to other systems you use.
Now some folks - especially very small scale Internet Entrepreneurs - don't use data bridges at all. They run their entire business right inside the shopping cart system. Carts that do that are often called "end to end" or "complete" and what that means is that they have inventory management and shipping systems built right into them.
This is a bit like those kitchen tools that claim to do everything you need: it slices, it dices, it'll even drive your kids to school in the morning after it walks the dog. But wait, if you order now we'll send you 2 handy dandy does everything kitchen widgets (just pay additional shipping and handling) plus a free gift which is yours to keep even if you return the handy dandy widget. You get the idea.
And then there are the rest - the vast majority of folks that sell online - where the shopping cart is one component of several different tools they use.
They might have an inventory system that their retail stores already use.
They might have a financial system where they do all of their billing and invoicing - something like quickbooks.
They might have a shipping system that is already used by their warehouse.
Making the joy joy of ecommerce work with all of these systems is where data bridges come in.
I love drawing what I call concept diagrams - pictures of how all the systems interconnect and talk to each other.
There are two important things for you to know about Data Bridges: Quality and Procedures.
All people are created equal but data bridges most certainly are not.
Don't make the mistake of asking if two systems "can talk to each other" - if you are under the impression the answer is yes or no you are in for a painful ride.
Many times people select shopping cart systems based on what other systems they will talk to and work with - the same way that since I own a specific brand of lawn tractor I want attachments that are compatible.
Sometimes people even switch out inventory, shipping, and financial systems as part of an ecommerce project - it costs less to replace the "tractor attachment" than it does to modify it to work with the new tractor we're getting.
Every data bridge has its little quirks and weirdnesses. Some only update certain fields, almost none update every field in both systems. Some work only in one direction, some make updates in both directions.
Sometimes you run into issues that seem like they are a problem of the data bridge but they aren't - like the way Quickbooks Enterprise handles importing customers.
I'll skip all of the geeky details here and summarize: when you import customers into Quickbooks Enterprise you have a limited number of options about how that works. No data bridge can fix it, it is a feature of Quickbooks itself. If you want to connect new shopping cart orders with customers you already have in Quickbooks it is pain in the ass - and there really isn't a way around that.
The next thing you need to understand about data bridges is your procedures.
How often you have your systems talk to each other, and when - is a choice that you make. Have you ever seen a website that says something like "orders placed after 3 pm will be processed the next business day"?
That is the result of the fact that they import the orders from the cart to their back office systems at 2:59pm.
The trick with procedures is how often Internet Entrepreneurs work to solve problems they don't have - or create problems by virtue of the rules they are using.
A classic one in this area is the accuracy of inventory and how often those systems communicate.
Many site owners say they want "live inventory" - but the fact is there is no such thing. That's nature's rule and not mine. You might have a shopping cart system that talks to your inventory system every 5 minutes, or even once every minute - I once even dealt with one that connected every 2 seconds - but none of those systems are actually "live". They just talk to each other so frequently that is appears to be live to the end user.
The more frequently your systems communicate the bigger the load on your servers and connections - another of nature's rules. So the right thing for an Internet Entrepreneur to do is this: update your systems at a rate that prevents people from ordering things that are out of stock. Many internet entrepreneurs insist on "more" updates when they don't have any customer problems with the current schedule - more sounds good.
The critical issue here is to just keep casually and calmly asking "Why?". Why do we do it that way, why is the process setup like that - and anytime the answer is "because we've always done it like that" be afraid.
Here's the bottom line for Internet Entrepreneurs: when it comes to data bridges you need to be aware of the quality of your bridge, they are not all created equal. Examine your own procedures to make sure they make sense and don't cause problems for you.
Do both of those things well and you won't have a bridge to nowhere, I promise.
Happy Friday Everyone. :-)
Last week I had a great time speaking at the Agents of Change conference - what a fun group.
In the spirit of the event I even used extremely colorful language when discussing shopping carts - it would have been easier to make a list of folks who did not use the F-bomb on stage than those that did.
As most of you know I am an "e-commerce guy" - some folks spell that Ecommerce or even eCommerce but it makes no never mind to me. Shopping Carts, Platforms, Commerce enabling applications - call it what you like, it is all the same thing to me.
When I attend a "social media experts" event I feel a little bit like a fish out of water - sort of like how we all love sports but you don't see many die hard baseball fans at basketball games. (if basketball games had awesome hot dogs they could maybe fix this)
So there I sat in an auditorium in Portland - fish out of water - and I got ready to hear that if I didn't get with it on social media and have 8,647 followers before sunset that I should consider my life to basically be over. Fail to optimize my YouTube channel and I'll be bankrupt in 6 months or less. I've heard all of this before.
But then - joyous miracle - none of the presenters said that. Maybe it has been too long since I have attended a social conference event, maybe this particular conference attracted better experts - but it seems to me that the social media position on web marketing has grown up an awful lot since I last heard it preached.
The silly sessions on gaining fans or followers - as though that of an unto itself was a worthy goal - were gone. The lists of best practices you could go home and do today - nope. The "one thing you must do or your head will explode" - nobody was talking about that.
Instead I heard people talking about principles, about the real root of what you need to know - about the basic idea that eyeballs are not money. Seek quality and the sales shall follow. And I smiled. A lot.
In the long ago of the web eyeballs were money, but they aren't anymore. Lots of folks don't quite get that yet, but my oh my it is important.
The core of web sales has often been thought of as a funnel - put enough eyeballs in the top of the funnel and sales will fall out the bottom. Don't worry too much about the rate at which people get through the funnel as it is cheaper to just get more eyeballs than to fix the process problems that cause people to not buy our stuff.
You can spot folks that think this way by asking them who they are trying to sell their stuff to - if the answer starts with "anyone who...." - they are addicted to eyeballs.
There is very little on this earth that can in fact be sold to anyone - and any attempt to work hard to sell those 'anybody' type things is in fact pretty foolish.
So if the object of our quest is not eyeballs - what are we seeking?
People we can help.
People who have problems, concerns, issues, befuddlements, confusion, pain - people in need. Helping them might not relate to "directly selling" - and in fact the best helping almost never does.
For many years people focused on improving conversion rate - the percentage of people that do what you want. Would you rather have 1,000 website visitors and 10 sales or 100 visitors and 20 sales? So we need good sites - roger. I'm not really talking about that - I'm talking about feeling a different way about all of this web marketing stuff.
The ground is shifting under our feet. Ecommerce is becoming commerce. Marketing is going Inbound. The quest for eyeballs is being recognized as a battle that does not result in money. This is a fundamental shift in web marketing thinking - it is important for you to understand.
Here's the bottom line for Internet Entrepreneurs: the days of simply buying eyeballs and waiting for the sales to fall out are gone. Some of the tactics still work but the philosophy has shifted.
If the world of 'social media kids' is talking about quality connections and deep love - that is a tipping point. Shift your mindset and it will serve you well.
Happy Friday Everyone. :-)
I love helping people buy websites.
There is such joy in eliminating their list of long term dreams from an RFP - those tend to just result in respondents becoming confused and increasing the price. It is rarely useful to talk about your plans for 3+ years from now when buying a site.
It makes me happy when website buyers have a firm idea of what something costs in the marketplace before they ask for a quote - when the bids arrive and they are right in the expected range I do a happy dance.
But then we get to the notion of a long term relationship - which pretty much everyone wants. Folks will say things like:
I don't just want a design, a developer, a coder - I want a partner for the long haul.
I want a firm that considers my success to be their success.
(if you sell websites for a living look away from the screen for a moment here)
I want to swallow some other marketing slogan that will make me feel good.
Sorry if I am bursting anyone's bubble but that is an impossible goal right there.
Trying to buy a long term relationship is like going on a first date and asking what the other person thinks about whether or not the children should attend private school.
Buyers of websites are scared. Sellers of sites know this.
They want you to be less fearful - scared people don't buy stuff and/or they behave in unexpected ways that cause all kinds of problems.
So sales folks say things that reduce fear in the hopes you'll think more clearly. Can't blame them for that, that is their job.
Don't fall for it - I do a tremendous amount of Shopping Cart Consulting and I am here to tell you that the provider on the other end of the line doesn't know if they want a long term relationship with you yet.
You also should not be seeking a long term deal right out of the gate - you need to get to know each other. You need to understand what it is like to work with them over the long term, learn their style (as they learn yours), and then decide how to handle things for the long term.
As I help people buy websites I am a bit of a matchmaker - and more often than not I do connect people with folks where a great long term relationship can be formed. A first date is a chance to succeed - nothing more. if you want a successful long term relationship you'll have to work at it and be willing to learn, grow, and change. This is nature's rule and not mine.
Here's the bottom line for Internet Entrepreneurs: You can't buy a long term relationship on the first date. Don't even try - focus on reducing the risk factors of an initial purchase as much as you can but nature's rule is very clear: you need to date for awhile before you'll be ready to get married. Your "romance" might be quicker or slower than expected - but marrying someone you met yesterday has reliably bad results.
Happy Friday Everyone. :-)
I was very glad to see all the back to school pictures all over social media sites recently - my daughter Emma is 14 months old now and I suspect we'll have all that happening in our household before I know it.
In the land of the big people this week represents "back to serious work time" and I've had a few calls that indicate how overwhelmed everyone is feeling in web world.
(Emma would like you to know the work she is doing learning how to use a fork is something she consider very serious too.)
Ecommerce folks know that they have to complete all of their holiday season plans by Halloween - if they don't do that the chances of success are slim.
Service providers know that the summer is over and they need to connect with prospects now, before the coming end of fall makes them essentially unavailable.
If it takes a few months to close deals and you need them in 2013 the ball has to be rolling before the end of this month or your chances of success are slim. As any services sales professional can tell you December might as well not exist if you don't sell toys.
Many folks are feeling the funk on Inbound and have come to understand how that new style of marketing involves gobs and gobs of content creation work - that scares the crap out of them. They might need to hire some help.
Here is what they all have in common:
They see the mountain before them and it is vast.
Do you feel that way? Push reply and let's talk about it. :-)
I had a wonderful conversation with my wife Melissa about how folks are feeling and what we might be able to do to help them.
"We need to UnOverwhelm them" I said.
"I don't think that's a word" she said. "Don't you mean underwhelm?"
"No - I don't think I do, I mean UnOverwhelmed and even if it isn't in the dictionary it should be a word".
So first things first.
You can't control what is happening. You can't make time stop.
But you can control how you respond to it - and how you feel as a result.
What do you want to do in 2013 that is wholly unrealistic?
Don't you think it might be a good idea to instead add that to your list of 2014 goals for when you get next years business plan done in December? Here is Huffington on why you should drop things.
Step 1 to becoming UnOverwhelmed - aim high, but aim realistic. If your to do list causes a lack of sleep that means it sucks. Seek productive stress. Seek to challenge yourself but keep things in balance.
The next thing you need to do - break the mountain of to do into digestible chunks.
Delegate. Respect the finite nature of time. Focus on ways you could do things more efficently - when was the last time you added a new tool to the arsenal?
Make sure your goals are clear for the rest of this year.
Does your plan have a reasonable chance of delivering what you need?
Are you working in reasonable chunks?
Have you delegated where you can?
Did you hire the help you might need?
Follow this plan and you shall become UnOverwhelmed.
Here's the bottom line for Internet Entrepreneurs: You can't control the frantic reality of fall. Accept that and move on. What you can do is to grab hold of the tumultuous world before you and become UnOverwhelmed. Trust me - you'll be happier.
Happy Friday Everyone. :-)