Be the customer, and get more sales
There is this assumption that we all should attempt to reach hundreds of thousands or millions of people, so we can make dozens or hundreds of sales.
It’s the reason you want to make a huge splash with your startup or product launch, right? it’s the reason why people try to go viral.
But what if this just isn’t true?
We’ll come back to that shortly. For now just do this thought experiment with me.
You Be the Customer
Let’s say that you want an apple right now. The thing you want most in your life is to take a bite out of the most perfect apple that you can find.
Pretending we all live a country where fresh produce is abundant, it shouldn’t be too hard for anyone to a- afford an apple, even an overpriced one b- have access to the finest apple even if you have to hop on a bus to get to it.
Assuming both of those things are true, the first thing to do is to find out where you can get the best apples. No one who wants something they truly care about starts off saying “what’s the cheapest one I can get?”
You Go Through the Discovery Process – Looking for the Best
Remember, your mouth is watering. You won’t be satisfied or happy until you get that apple problem taken care of, preferably in the near future.
Now, if you already know where to get the best apples, you just head straight there. If you don’t you probably took your cell phone out and searched for “best apples near me”.
If you have some apple-loving friends, you might also ask them for their opinions. If not, during your search you’d look at reviews.
However you do it, you’d go through discovery process and find the place that provides you with the best possible apple in your price range. And if you wanted the best apple possible, you’d probably look at a couple just outside your price range.
Now, you’ve done your discovery and your due diligence. Confidently, you venture out with data on your first three choices, determined to get your apple.
You Compare Your Top 3 Choices on quality, price, and experience
At this moment, in your mind, apples aren’t an option, they’re a necessity. Thus you’re willing to pay a price to get the thing that you want. The assumption is that before you even start to pursue this apple, that you can already afford it, from your general assumption of what an apple costs.
In other words, price is not on your mind. Quality is. At the back of your mind would also be the apple experience – do you want to walk in a store or pick a fresh apple off a tree? Produce cart or grocery story. Things like customer service probably matter too.
So you walk to the place you chose, assuming
- they have apples,
- you’re going to get them,
- and that they’re going to be delicious.
So what could a person possibly do at this point to screw up your apple buying experience?
I mean most of the salesperson’s job is already done.
You know you want an apple. You’re willing to pay a bit extra for quality, convenience, or just the right unique experience. In fact the only thing that can stop you from buying an apple right now? Are the same things we startup folk often screw up because we forget about the basics.
Let’s say you walk into this store to buy apples, and all you see are a bookshelf full of great books and magazines about apples, and a wall with a feed of their tweets?
Frustrated, you head to your second choice. This one is more of the same but at least they have checkout counters. But you get there and they take every type of payment except the debit card you brought with you, and cash.
By now you’re probably irritated, if not actually angry. All you wanted was an apple.
This is how your customers feel if you aren’t connecting your content marketing to your sales process.
Now Be a Startup Again
Here’s where we get back to how to do better marketing as a startup. If you’ve been making the mistake of having a sales process that’s confusing to your customers, all hope is not lost. And if you think about it, this really isn’t your fault.
Unlike big companies, most startups aren’t employing a full marketing department full of professionals who have proven themselves in the field. Sof if the light bulb just went on over your head about what your company might be doing wrong to attract customers, don’t kick yourself just yet.
You aren’t trained to be the best marketer in the world. You figured out how to make the best technology to perform a certain function, or you came up with a killer gadget.
And that’s okay.
But if you want to stay in business, this needs to get fixed.
Whether you hire outside help or enable someone within the organization to become knowledgeable, it’s clear that knowing how to connect what you sell to the content you’re marketing is key.
Stop making the path to a sale more complicated
The truth is, you don’t need hundreds of thousands or even tens of thousands of visitors to make hundreds or thousands of sales IF:
- you carefully target your content to your best possible customer match
- you tie your content to your sales process and/or
- you tie your content to some kind of opt-in subscription so you have more than one chance to make the sale.
Almost every time I’ve worked with a startup that had great exposure but slow sales, the solution had to do with better targeting, widening exposure or making the path to a sale much easier. You don’t need to reach more people most of the time. You just need to make a better impression on the people you DO encounter.
If your problem mainly lies in a lack of conversion to sales, there are a few things you can do.
First, make sure you have created a few landing pages for at least your top products. Second, comb your onsite and offsite content, and make sure there are prominent calls to action that lead to specific landing pages, not just the home page of your site.
In general, home pages don’t make great landing pages.
Next, do some testing with your sales pages – when do people who don’t buy abandon your site? When do people who reach the sales pages abandon the sales process? Maybe your sign-in form is too long, or your checkout process is confusing.
When you’re sure everything is up to par, go through your site with a friend or colleague, the less web savvy the better, and observe them trying to make a sale on your site. The average consumer is likely less of a web expert than you are. Yet, they know how to use Amazon, buy a song from iTunes, and get things from Etsy or eBay.
If you have the other problem – trouble with marketing or getting people to share your content- we’ll talk about that next time.
Buffer’s four-day workweek experiment: Boost or bust?
(BUSINESS MARKETING) After trying out a four-day workweek last year, Buffer is moving forward with the format going into 2021, citing increase in productivity and work-life balance.
The typical five-day workweek is a thing of the past for Buffer, at least for now. The company has decided to implement a four-day workweek for the “foreseeable future.”
Last year, the company surveyed its employees to see how they are dealing with the ever-changing landscape of the pandemic and the anxiety and stress that came along with it. They soon learned employees didn’t always feel comfortable or like they could take time off.
Employees felt guilty for taking PTO while trying to meet deadlines. Juggling work and suddenly becoming a daycare worker and teacher for their children at the same time was stressful. So, Buffer looked for a solution to help give employees more time and flexibility to get adjusted to their new routines.
Four-Day Workweek Trials
In May, Buffer started the four-day workweek one-month trial to focus on teammates’ well-being. “This four-day workweek period is about well-being, mental health, and placing us as humans and our families first,” said Buffer CEO and co-founder Joel Gascoigne in a company blog post.
“It’s about being able to pick a good time to go and do the groceries, now that it’s a significantly larger task. It’s about parents having more time with kids now that they’re having to take on their education. This isn’t about us trying to get the same productivity in fewer days,” Gascoigne said.
Buffer’s one-month trial proved to be successful. Survey data from before and after the trial showed higher autonomy and lower stress levels. In addition, employee anecdotal stories showed an increase in worker happiness.
With positive results, Buffer turned the trial into a long-term pilot through the end of 2020. This time, the trial would focus on Buffer’s long-term success.
“In order to truly evaluate whether a four-day workweek can be a success long-term, we need to measure productivity as well as individual well-being,” wrote Director of People Courtney Seiter. “Teammate well-being was our end goal for May. Whether that continues, and equally importantly, whether it translates into customer and company results, will be an exciting hypothesis to test.”
Buffer’s shorter workweek trials showed employees felt they had a better work-life balance without compromising work productivity. According to the company’s survey data, almost 34% of employees felt more productive, about 60% felt equally as productive, and only less than 7% of employees felt less productive.
However, just saying productivity is higher isn’t proof. To make sure the numbers added up, managers were asked about their team’s productivity. Engineering managers reported that a decrease in total coding days didn’t show a decrease in output. Instead, there was a significant output increase for product teams, and Infrastructure and Mobile saw their output double.
The Customer Advocacy team, however, did see a decline in output. Customer service is dependent on customer unpredictability so this makes sense. Still, the survey showed about 85% to 90% of employees felt as productive as they would have been in a five-day workweek. Customers just had to wait slightly longer to receive replies to their inquiries.
With more time and control of their schedules, Buffer’s survey shows an increase in individual autonomy and decreased stress levels reported by employees. And, the general work happiness for the entire company has been consistent throughout 2020.
What’s in store for 2021?
Based on positive employee feedback and promising company results, Buffer decided it will continue the company-wide four-day workweek this year.
“The four-day work week resulted in sustained productivity levels and a better sense of work-life balance. These were the exact results we’d hoped to see, and they helped us challenge the notion that we need to work the typical ‘nine-to-five,’ five days a week,” wrote Team Engagement Manager Nicole Miller.
The four-day workweek will continue in 2021, but the company will also be implementing adjustments based on the pilot results.
For most teams, Fridays will be the default day off. For teams that aren’t project-based, their workweek will look slightly different. As an example, the Customer Advocacy team will follow a different schedule to avoid customer reply delays and ticket overflow. Each team member will still have a four-day workweek and need to meet their specific targets. They will just have a more flexible schedule.
Companies who follow this format understand that output expectations will be further defined by area and department level. Employees who aren’t meeting their performance objectives will have the option to choose a five-day workweek or might be asked to do so.
If needed, Fridays will also serve as an overflow workday to finish up a project. Of course, schedules will be evaluated quarterly to make sure productivity is continuing to thrive and employees are still satisfied.
But, Miller says Buffer is “establishing ambitious goals” that might “push the limits” of a four-day work week in 2021. With the world slowly starting to normalize, who knows when a four-day workweek might reach its conclusion.
“We aren’t sure that we’ll continue with the four-day workweeks forever, but for now, we’re going to stick with it as long as we are still able to hit our ambitious goals,” wrote Miller.
Should your content management system go headless?
(BUSINESS MARKETING) You may be familiar with your typical content management system, but had you heard of a ‘headless’ model? Let’s dig into it together.
At some point, you have probably worked with a content management system (CMS) like WordPress or Drupal. If you haven’t already, you at least know that this computer software is used to manage website content.
But, have you ever heard of a headless content management system before? We didn’t. So, we set out to find out what it’s all about and how beneficial, or not, it can be for your company.
What is headless CMS?
Unlike your classic CMS, headless CMS is a back-end only content management system. It decouples where your content is stored and authored (body) from the front-end where your content is displayed (head).
This CMS isn’t tied to a particular output like a web page. Content is transmitted as data over an application programming interface (API). It’s a content repository that delivers content seamlessly to any device.
Benefits of Headless CMS
Headless CMS isn’t your classic “monolithic” CMS so you aren’t constrained to an all-in-one system that might work for websites but not mobile devices.
Content is consumed by customers in more than one place now. Headless CMS provides a more versatile way to deliver multi-channel content to websites, Android and iOS apps, and even IoT (internet of things), like a smartwatch or in-store kiosk.
Businesses will benefit from this because only one back-end is needed to manage and publish content for different services and products.
No need for specialized developers
If you already have a talented developer, you don’t have to scramble to find someone else who specializes in a specific system or language you are moving to. Your current developer can do the job for you in the best way they know-how.
Security is important. Not being married to the front-end, headless CMS has a security advantage a regular CMS doesn’t. Usually, content provided to a headless CMS is read-only, and the admin portion lives on a different server and domain.
With the back-end detached from the presentation layer, there is a smaller target area to attack. Also, layers of code can be used to hide the content-delivering API making it safer than a traditional CMS.
With two separate systems, content editors and web developers can work concurrently. This shortens a project’s timeline and helps get your product and services to market quicker. Also, content editors don’t have to spend more time creating the same content for each system. Designers and developers can take care of that.
Downsides of Headless CMS
As with anything, headless CMS isn’t perfect and isn’t for everyone. It has its disadvantages.
Little technical involvement is called for in a traditional CMS. As a result, the tool can be picked up quickly by almost anyone.
A deeper understanding of CMS, coding languages, and front-end technologies is needed when using headless CMS. You must have a developer that can build the web or app just for you.
With the body separated from the head, there are two systems to maintain. Implementation and maintenance could potentially become complex.
Bigger price tag
Building a system from scratch costs time and money. With a traditional CMS, there is one account, and, most likely, one payment. With headless CMS, you’ll have multiple payments for the CMS, a developer, and the infrastructure running your website or app.
Your custom CMS also isn’t coming from a pre-built content management system. All that hard work takes time (and patience) to get it done right.
Headless CMS lets you create a unique user experience and allow for cross-platform publishing, but it isn’t a one-size-fits-all content management system.
Before you jump ships, take inventory of all your content needs. Does your content need to be published on different platforms? Will a simple stand-alone website work for you? Only you can decide what works best with your business, but we hope this information helps.
Spice up your remote team building with a fully virtual escape room
(BUSINESS MARKETING) As part of a remote team, team building has become even more of a groan. But this virtual escape room seeks to make a fun and unique challenge for remote teams.
Team building events aren’t everyone’s cup of tea. While some enjoy getting to know coworkers they don’t normally socialize with, others dread the day before it arrives. Plus, there’s always work that needs to be taken care of, and using some of that time to mingle might seem like a waste of time.
Love it or hate it, working remotely has made team building slightly better, maybe? You don’t have to worry about physically being present in a place you don’t want to be. You’re not awkwardly talking to a co-worker whose name you can’t quite remember.
Nonetheless, it also has its downsides. We don’t see each other anymore so it’s easier to not be on the same page, and this makes learning how to work together much harder.
We’re almost a year into the pandemic and happy hour Zoom calls no longer hold the glamour they once did. So, what else is there to do in this virtual world?
Skyrocket Your Team has just the answer for you. This company provides virtual team building experiences through collaborative online escape rooms. The escape rooms are designed with remote teams in mind and can be tailored to accommodate different sized groups.
“If you’re working remotely, Skyrocket Your Team will help your team feel closer together and improve your internal communication,” wrote Co-Founder Jorge Sánchez Hernández. “Our puzzles are designed for teams by adult educators to trigger a set of emotions, feelings, and situations. Everyone sees a different screen and you need to communicate in order to get through the challenges. There is no way to continue without teamwork!”
From the comfort of your office or couch, each team member joins from their own computer and location. The escape room consists of an immersive story about astronauts trapped in a damaged spaceship. By solving puzzles and challenges, the team must work together to repair the spaceship and return to earth.
After hopefully, safely landing your rocket, there is a debriefing session. During this time, teams can share their experiences and discuss what they learned.
Skyrocket Your Team says their new form of team building will bring your company several benefits like:
- Bringing your team closer together
- Fostering collaboration instead of internal competition
- Improving communication across your company
The end goal of the experience is to learn how to communicate effectively by solving the different sets of problems together. And, I think we can all agree that’s a good thing.
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