The 2 biggest things I’ve learned this year about marketing

As I’ve mentioned before, one of the huge benefits of getting to know other entrepreneurs is that you can continually sharpen and learn from one another, and that’s what happens every time Ryan and I connect with Wardeh Harmon of Traditional Cooking School. One of our favorite things to talk about together is how we can improve our marketing, conversions, and all of those good things that help to take a quality product and actually get it into the hands of people that can benefit from it.

She’s been studying online marketing voraciously this year (and particularly, how to do it with class) and has been implementing much of it on her own business, and at Ultimate Bundles as well (she’s one of our team members), with a lot of success. Although we don’t normally have guest posts here at EntreFamily, Ryan and I are trying to take a much-needed, short sabbatical to rest and spend time with our family. I knew Wardeh would be a perfect person to share with you some of the incredibly helpful marketing strategies she’s been learning this past year, so I’ll let her get right to it…

I’ve been working with Stephanie and Ryan on Ultimate Bundles for almost two years, and working on my own business, Traditional Cooking School, for at least five years.

Lots of lessons about business and marketing in those years! (And more to come, I’m grateful!)

I recently started keeping a journal. Each morning I write down one lesson learned. Sometimes, they’re big (like the two I’ll share below) and sometimes they’re really small (like, don’t skip breakfast).

So when Stephanie asked me to share some lessons on marketing I’ve learned recently, I looked in my journal and found these two. They come up over and over again. They’re closely related, as you’ll see.

If you’re trying to improve something you’re offering, I suggest considering these before almost anything else. I usually see a marked improvement after pondering and implementing these two tips in my own projects.

1. Get more specific, even uncomfortably specific.

When you’re putting together a product or even a freebie, there’s a huge temptation. And that’s to make it appeal to practically everyone.

This is the wrong approach.

When you appeal to everyone, you end up appealing to (practically) no one. I’ll give you an example.

For several years, I offered a free video series on my site Traditional Cooking School. I called it 5 Free Real Food Videos.

Last fall, I got more specific in how I was offering it. Without changing the actual videos, I simply started calling it a Free Traditional Cooking Video Series. I also reworked the story I told to encourage readers to sign up for the free series. (Another way I got more specific.)

The result? 1000% increase in signups. It finally began to resonate with the right people — those interested in traditional cooking — instead of no one.


How can you get more specific with what you’re offering?

2. Simplify options.

You’re trying to appeal to everyone and so naturally, you want to give everyone as many options as they could possibly want. Again, this is the wrong approach (with a caveat*).

Ready for an example?

When I first started blogging in 2008, the RSS trend was gaining speed. Everyone was subscribing to blogs by RSS. Sometimes through a reader, sometimes by email. Sometimes daily, or even weekly or monthly summaries. And then there was the question of whether or not to include full blog posts or excerpts in the feed.

Options, options, options.

I jumped on that bandwagon and offered three choices to readers. They could choose to receive updates from me either weekly or daily, or both.

The problem is: when you give a lot of choices people end up confused and wondering which to choose… then they walk away or go to another tab while they’re thinking. And then most simply don’t take you up on it. Which is clearly not the goal.

Here’s that caveat I mentioned was coming. Obviously, we want to give our readers tons of value. So I’m not saying to take away any value.

Here’s what I am saying: make your offer more simple. Consider what your readers need, consider how you can best serve them. Then strip down all the options until you’re left with giving them the absolute best, while making the one choice so awesome it’s a shoo-in.

Back to my example. On my Traditional Cooking School blog, we don’t even offer a regular email subscription to blog posts any more. We offer samples of eBooks or that free video series I mentioned before. And guess what? We get more proportionally more subscribers than before and I can’t remember even one person who has inquired to ask where to subscribe to blog posts.

I was as surprised as anyone. But here’s why it works. The options are simple and thanks to being specific (lesson #1 above), they’re attractive, too.

By the way, this applies to products for sale, too. Sometimes it makes sense to offer two versions of a package (basic and premium), but sometimes it makes more sense to offer just one. Testing and listening to your readers can help you find answers to questions such as these. The key is to simplify it to the point where it’s not confusing in the least.

How can you simplify what you’re offering?

Please do share your thoughts or experiences with either of these marketing lessons. I am excited to hear from you. Have either of these played a role in your marketing successes?


For more from Wardee, you can find her at Traditional Cooking School or at her new marketing blog, Convert with Class.

Top image by Kyle Pearce

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