Another week of coworking is in the can at Ripple, here are three unexpected business tips I got from casual conversations with my fellow coworkers.
A big reason Kristi and I started Ripple Coworking is because we really wanted to work alongside other entrepreneurs. Having worked in shared office space before, we both had experienced first hand the incredible benefits you can get when you cowork with other smart people.
The Ripple Coworking community is growing daily and, this week, I had three noteworthy conversations with Ripple coworkers that will, no doubt, have a big impact on my business.
I was inspired to share!
With Online Marketing, Complex Isn’t Necessarily Better
I sat down with Will Buckmaster, who is a successful e-commerce entrepreneur. Though we are in vastly different businesses, we both rely heavily on online marketing for new customers.
A few weeks ago Will turned me onto Ezra Firestone, an amazingly successful e-commerce expert, which led me to this blog post where Ezra basically teaches you step-by-step how he executes his sales funnel — what Firestone has coined the Dipsy Doodle technique.
My company has been using most of the techniques in Firestone’s Dipsy Doodle funnel, just not in such an organized way. We’re starting a new campaign around and I was interested in implementing the Dipsy Doodle.
I had heard that Will was working on his online marketing and was wondering if he had executed the system.
He had not, but the conversation took a different turn about whether complex is necessarily better when it comes to online marketing (the Dipsy Doodle execution takes some marketing chops to pull off).
Will is a more of a self-described “ready, fire, aim” entrepreneur, whereas I am much more of a “ready, aim, aim again, read the manual, see what my competitor is aiming at, adjust the sites, adjust them again, finger on the trigger, wipe the sweat off your brow, aim one last time, think about firing, fire” kind of entrepreneur.
In the e-commerce world, it’s been Will’s experience that by the time he sets up a complex marketing funnel, dozens of competitors have already jumped into his market. Since he doesn’t have his own marketing team (yet), busting out a simple version of a more complex marketing system has worked for him.
Will’s advice to me for my project: Stop planning and just go for it. It’s something I already know, but motivating to hear from a peer I respect and advice I will follow.
Never Use a Web Developer for Design Work
I recently updated my company’s website to include video on the home page.
A quick sidebar: we’re following the StoryBrand method, which is all about having your customers tell their story to sell your business. It’s a very compelling technique and has been successful for us almost immediately.
Anyway, we re-designed the hero (first) and third panel of our home page, which made the second panel, which has jump off links to our services and locations, look really busy.
This is a pretty easy job that, I figured, should cost less than a couple hundred dollars. I had hired the developer who built the WordPress theme that we are using for the Ripple Coworking website – which is a highly designed, outstanding theme.
My instructions: I wanted the same information that was there, just in a cleaner, more current design.
Turns out, the developer had a team of designers who created the theme, he just coded it. Despite his promises that he could put together something outstanding for us, what we got back initially was, well, crap.
We tried our hand at coming up with something, but we spun our wheels for hours and, frankly, what we came up with was crap.
Over as sushi lunch in Ripple’s community room, I was lamenting to Sara Jackson from SCJ Creatives (a graphic designer) about my frustrations with developers who promise they can design. We both agreed that the two things are very different skills, and while one could be dangerous at doing the other, it doesn’t mean they should.
Here’s a good analogy: It sort of reminds me of the open houses my wife and I go to at house flips. Often the guys doing the flips are in the construction trade. They can build you a safe house to code, but their choices in finishes generally looks like something a plumber would choose, not an interior designer.
After some good-natured mocking at my team’s attempt at remedying the design, Sara agreed to take a look at the mess we created. Within an hour she came up with three designs we could have never done on our own, we picked one, sent it to the developer and it was live the same day.
Meanwhile, we had been spinning our wheels on this design for two weeks, I overpaid the developer by $250 for work that I ended up not being able use and Sara solved the problem in an hour.
Lesson learned: When it comes to web design, don’t hire a developer.
If you want to sell online courses to consumers, just use Facebook
Once again, over lunch in the Ripple Community room (salads this time), I was speaking with consultant Heather Lo. Heather is an expert in remote working and advises corporations about how to successfully manage and train their remote workers.
Heather also has a company called Rock Star Remote Workers, which is an online community for remote workers.
Through her consulting work, Heather has developed expertise in the delivery of online courses, which happens to be top of mind for me since I’m in the process of working on a passion project delivering “low bono” legal services using a combination of online courses and legal advice.
Heather’s advice to me was simple. Don’t rely on a complex online course delivery system, instead put the videos where your customers already are: Facebook.
Since most people are already checking their feed often (maybe some of us more than we should), eliminating one more login to get access to the coursework will increase engagement. It will also make it easier for customers to share their positive experience with their friends, which is an important part of the marketing strategy.
Little Improvements Yield Big Results
None of the advice I got this week was Earth shattering. In some cases, I already knew the information. But hearing or experiencing the advice first hand from my peers motivated me to take action.
And it’s these little improvements, that happens every day when you work alongside peers in a coworking space, add up to big successes throughout the course of a year.
Another great week of coworking week is in the can!