Archive for the ‘That’s Good Marketing’ Category

Building An eCommerce Business From A Book’s Advice, Part 2

Friday, February 24th, 2012

Yesterday’s blog post was the story of a nice guy who called for a price on a website. He got a lot more than that.

He gave me permission to publish the thank-you email he sent me in response to the phone conversation we had. I wanted to share it with you…

I’m the guy you spoke with yesterday about the cologne website.

I just want to say thanks again for opening my eyes yesterday.

It scares me to think about how much more time and money I would have had into this business if I hadn’t talked to you.

I’m officially pulling the plug. Not because I think it would be impossible for me to ever achieve any degree of success with it, but because it’s impossible with the resources I have. And I approached wrong, bass ackwards as they say in Michigan.

I don’t know how to do research to see if the business would work or what it would take to work so I just disregarded it, when viability is the most important aspect of it all. I told myself, “The only way to find out if it works is by trying it.” While that’s applicable to some things, it’s a very dangerous approach in this application.

Its like me saying, “The only way I’ll really know if I can fly is by trying it, so I’m gonna jump into the Grand Canyon and hope for the best.”

My problem is I just assumed that hard work would assure success. I can work hard and will. I’m going to be working hard at something else now. But hard work doesn’t guarantee success. It doesn’t just come automatically with hard work. Other things have to be in place.

I was ill prepared and ill resourced and destined for a colossal let down.

Debbie, you have saved me hundreds of dollars and many hours of my time. If every person was as honest and morally sound as you are, the world would be a much better place. Karma is on your side I’m sure of it.

If I wasn’t broke as a joke, I would send you money for the hour of your valuable time you gave me and how much you’ve saved me, and I think honesty and good will should be rewarded.

The truth is always the best no matter how hard it is to say or to hear, you know?

You didn’t have to do what you did for me yesterday but you did, because you are a good honest person. Thank you so much!

I wish you the best of luck in life and business!

No, I wish YOU the best of luck in life and business! I got a serious smile when he told me karma was on my side.

This is what I do, and this is why I do it. Not every rewarding moment comes when a payment clears. Plenty of rewarding moments come knowing I’ve helped people. That’s why I do it, and why I’ve been doing it here at As Was since April 1995.


Share!  
  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • LinkedIn
  • Email
  • Digg
  • Google Reader
  • Delicious
  • Reddit
  • StumbleUpon
  • Technorati
  • Tumblr

Building An eCommerce Business From A Book’s Advice

Thursday, February 23rd, 2012

I got a call earlier this week from a nice guy who wanted me to give him our price on customising his 3D Cart Store. Well, we are 3D Cart Platinum Partners, so sure, we can do that. But I wanted to know more about what he was selling, what was his plan to market the site, etc… I know that most online sellers have never really thought of these things, and don’t really have a plan. You need a plan!

On the surface, he thought he had a plan. He was going to sell men’s fragrances from his own website. He found a supplier (the online site most of you are probably buying yours from… evidently they also wholesale), and they were going to drop ship, so he didn’t have to buy or store anything. He started a website and bought a premium template. OK, how will you market it? He told me, “Affiliate marketing, SEO, and marketing consultants.” Well, you know me, so I asked him if he knew what affiliate marketing meant. He didn’t.

I said let’s take a good look at SEO possibilities. We went to Google and searched a popular men’s cologne. The top results were some of the biggest names in online and brick-and-mortar retail on the planet. You’d click on any one of them since they’re names you know and trust. The paid ads were also from these same big players except that Google showed a customer ranking for them. So even if the nice guy on the call with me paid for top Google placement, he’d be next to a company that Google shows as having over 3,000 positive comments. Who would you pick?

I felt like this was a serious uphill battle for him. His problem wasn’t his website design. I was concerned nobody was ever going to see it. The problem is how are people going to find his website, and why should they choose to shop there? When you can buy fragrances at many local stores… or online from Walmart, Sams Club, Fragrancenet (we did their eBay stuff :) ), Perfumania, and others… would you choose this guy’s site, especially if his prices are the same and not lower? How much time and money would he burn on SEO and marketing consultants as they tried to get him Google placement alongside Walmart and Fragrancenet!!!

I had to tell him that I thought his biz idea wasn’t very strong. It didn’t seem like it would be likely to succeed. And for the money he’d burn in getting it going… in this economy, does he have that money to lose? You can’t just assume this is going to work and make money. What if it doesn’t? And then he asked me an interesting question.

Can’t this just work a little? Can’t this work enough to bring me $1000 or $2000 per month? I just didn’t see that happening when he was up against such giants. He assumed that he would have SOME success, even just a little. I asked how much he will have to work and how much money he’d have to spend to HAVE that thousand or so per month? Will he feel like he’s working for 86 cents an hour?

It’s best to plan, do lots of math, look at competitors, and be honest about where you’re likely to end up in Google. Or how you will get the word out for people to shop with you. Can you make your time, effort, and investment worth it?

We stayed on the phone nearly an hour. He thought this was amazing. I do this all the time. :) Many people who call will never hire us… or sometimes shouldn’t hire us. I wanted to see him keep his money in his pocket until he had done lots of planning and math, and KNEW his idea was truly going to fly.

Tomorrow’s blog post is the email he sent me the day after we talked. He gave me permission to publish it. :)


Share!  
  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • LinkedIn
  • Email
  • Digg
  • Google Reader
  • Delicious
  • Reddit
  • StumbleUpon
  • Technorati
  • Tumblr

As Was Templates Work in eBay Mobile

Monday, May 9th, 2011

I’m often asked if As Was templates work in eBay mobile versions. There are two main ways to access eBay from your mobile phone. One is to go to eBay from your mobile browser, which will push you to a mobile-friendly website version of eBay. The other is to shop eBay from your phone’s app. For example, I use Android, so this would be the Android app.

Let’s start with a sample As Was template. We did this one YEARS ago… probably 2007. So how does it hold up in a new, mobile world? Click to enlarge to see the original, which is a screen shot from a regular computer screen.

For mobile web, eBay is stripping out all design, and just reading text information. That means your As Was template will be gone, but all the wording in it will be there. A screen shot from my Android phone (Dolphin browser, not the native Android browser) looks like this (click to enlarge):

The picture that eBay knew was “picture 1″ was there. All the policies that were fed to eBay were there. And then eBay stripped out any design and most of the HTML to show just this text. You’ll recognise that it’s the description text as well as text it pulled from our policy sections.

How about the phone apps? When I pulled this item up in the Official Android eBay Application, it looked just like the web. Full template. Nothing stripped. In fact, the links worked. I clicked on her item picture, and got a window with just the item picture.

So the templates look and work fine. We write clean, hand-coded HTML. So it’s always a shame when the template is stripped out :), but at least you know that the main info will still show up.


Share!  
  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • LinkedIn
  • Email
  • Digg
  • Google Reader
  • Delicious
  • Reddit
  • StumbleUpon
  • Technorati
  • Tumblr

Magento Has A New Hosted Store

Friday, April 15th, 2011

Magento is now offering new “Go” stores. Check out the tour and features here. If you are shopping around for hosted solutions, this is definitely one to check out. Our clients also like Volusion.

Of course, As Was can design and customise these shopping carts, and many more.

Many online sellers ask me the difference between a hosted solution and one where you get all the code. A hosted solution is more turnkey. You turn it on, it’s installed, you can start using it, and as the company updates features or fixed bugs, you have all of that automatically. When you get the source code, like the full version of Magento, you have to install that on a server. You have to admin that server or hosting account. As there are updates, you have to have someone install them. If something breaks, you have to find someone to fix it as Magento doesn’t want to troubleshoot your custom install of their system (well, not for free!). So it can be more work and more expense, but the result is something that you can nearly limitlessly customize.

A third option is one I hear from time to time, which sounds something like, “I found a guy who’s going to build me my own eCommerce system.” In nearly all cases, this is a bad idea. Unless you are a giant marketplace with needs and requirements that no system could come close to fulfilling, then maybe that’s a good idea. But 99% of the time, it sets you up for two things: 1) Being beholden to this guy for all of your maintenance, upgrades, etc…, and 2) feeling like your eCom world fell apart when you can’t find the guy or he goes and gets a real job.

So remember, for most businesses, a hosted solution is a good way to go. A solution where you get the code, like the full version of Magento, can be right if you don’t mind running your own server, maintaining that code, and finding people to install your updates. It’s nearly never a good idea to have some guy or some company build you your own eCom system from scratch.


Share!  
  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • LinkedIn
  • Email
  • Digg
  • Google Reader
  • Delicious
  • Reddit
  • StumbleUpon
  • Technorati
  • Tumblr

Video of My Presentation at PayPal X Innovate 2010

Wednesday, November 17th, 2010

See blog post here for info and video. Thanks!

http://brassflowers.com/video-of-my-presentation-at-paypal-x-innovate-2010/


Share!  
  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • LinkedIn
  • Email
  • Digg
  • Google Reader
  • Delicious
  • Reddit
  • StumbleUpon
  • Technorati
  • Tumblr

Product Review: Livescribe Echo Pen

Wednesday, November 10th, 2010

PayPal gave attendees a Livescribe Echo pen with 4G of memory at their X Innovate 2010 conference. It's a damn cool item, and I recorded a video to tell everybody about the features.


Share!  
  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • LinkedIn
  • Email
  • Digg
  • Google Reader
  • Delicious
  • Reddit
  • StumbleUpon
  • Technorati
  • Tumblr

Charging Credit Cards from Your iPod, iPhone, or iPad

Friday, October 22nd, 2010

I was at a mobile commerce conferfence last week, and saw MANY interesting companies and products. One was from GlobalTekLabs.com. They have a snap-in credit card reader called the AirePoint, and it's for your iPhone, iPod, or iPad. They also have an app that'll take your gateway and other info, and then charge the card.

I think this is great for anybody who needs to charge cards remotely. By swiping the card through your device, you'll pay your "card present" rates, which should save you money. I think this device is a must-have for anybody who takes payment at conferences, flea markets, and other on-site events. I hope they will come out with something for Android phones.

Another interesting feature is that the device will snap into your iWhatever even if it has a case on it. Some other card-swiping devices make you take skins and cases off, but not the AirePoint. You can even use one AirePoint, and just plug it into your multiple iDevices as you need to.

This device has been certified by Apple. They passed the MFi Certification for iPhone and iPod, and also passed the certification for iPad. This video is honestly a little boring, but it does have good info about the device and how to use it:

Disclaimer: I wasn't paid or rewarded for this. I don't own any iWhatever so I didn't try the device. I saw it at a conference, and I thought it looked great. I think people should try it!


Share!  
  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • LinkedIn
  • Email
  • Digg
  • Google Reader
  • Delicious
  • Reddit
  • StumbleUpon
  • Technorati
  • Tumblr

Hiring: eCommerce Installation and Customisation

Monday, September 20th, 2010

We need someone in North America. We design, install, and customise eCommerce websites like Volusion, Magento, ProStores, Zen Cart, and others. I need someone who can get our designs in, and then do some customsations clients might need like page layouts.

We've done this for years, and lately, I cannot find someone in North America who is awesome at this and wants the work. They reported on TV tonight that nearly 17% of the country is out of work. Surely there must be a genius eCommerce programmer type stuck in that 17% who would like to work with us.

Not being able to find a good North American person, I've tried sending some of this work to India. Time and time again, I am disappointed with the work and communication. I want someone who speaks my language, works on my country's time, and sees things more wholistically. For example, when I ask for categories in a drop down menu where the project is a redesign of a LIVE and existing eCommerce website, please use the client's existing categories. An Indian company given that task recently created a whole bunch of new categories (in a LIVE store), and pressured me to pay, even though the work was nowhere near what I had asked for… and wasn't even logical. Why ignore the categories the guy already had, and the hundreds of products in those categories?

I'm tired of offshore companies over-promising what they can do. I want a great person in North America who cares about the relationship, and will impress me every time. Please get in touch from our website inquiry page. Most of the fields on there won't apply, but just fill it out and send it in. I need you RIGHT AWAY.

Thanks.


Share!  
  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • LinkedIn
  • Email
  • Digg
  • Google Reader
  • Delicious
  • Reddit
  • StumbleUpon
  • Technorati
  • Tumblr

I Live In A Resort Vacation

Monday, September 20th, 2010

A handful of old ladies and I are standing in a pool doing water aerobics. People are swimming laps. Other people are on lounge chairs, working on their tans. People with tennis rackets walk by as people in golf carts zoom back from early tee times. The day is bright and hot, and there is a strong smell of hamburgers coming from the cafe.

Add killing my sister in shuffleboard, and you have every Christmastime memory of hanging at at Evil Grandma Rose's retirement condo in Delray Beach, Florida from my formative years. But that description was Saturday morning here in Tucson. I work out and take exercise classes at the local country club, which costs almost nothing to join and then $90/month for a single person. That's nothing for a country club.

Or I could have gone to the pool or gym at my apartment complex. Sitting here in my apartment, I have no lights on. The place is so bright that when people see me on webcams, I'm blindingly backlit. I've got extra tall ceilings and ceiling fans. A wrap-around, L-shaped balcony looking at the mountains. This apartment complex, like many in my area, was built to look and feel more like a time share than a traditional apartment.

They say that Tucson has 320 sunny days a year. I think it's more. Even the days when we get rain start out sunny. Cobalt blue skies, many days with no clouds, the moon out all day. It's picturesque. Cactus everywhere. Tucson is surrounded by 5 mountain ranges, and they all look close. I'm at 2640 feet in altitiude, and the top of the mountain I'm looking at is around 9100 feet. But it looks like it's in my back yard. Comparatively, Phoenix is a flat city with a few hills people think are amazing. :)

Every time I go somewhere, I miss Tucson, and can't wait to get back. Many hotel rooms are SMALLER than my apartment's bedroom and master bathroom. Sure, we get seasons. You have to not mind 104 degrees, and I don't. In the winter, a 50 degree day feels sub-zero to locals. You'll see us in layers of fleece, winter coats, and gloves. :) We're thinking about warmer places in the winter, even as we laugh at the TV reports of feet of snow everywhere else.

No hurricanes or tornados. No snow. No twisters or earthquakes. Terrorists don't seem to want to bomb us. OK, we get a rainy season. Part of a resort vacation is being able to totally relax. If you live in the better parts of town here, it's safe and relaxing all the time.

Tucson also has the top spas (and rehab centres (!) ) in the country. It's so beautiful and inspiring here that people come to change their lives… and then leave. Why leave? I'm staying. :) For spa junkies, we have Miraval, Canyon Ranch, Westward Look, and spas at some top resorts like our JW Marriott, Ritz Carlton, Loews, Omni, and Hilton.

People think it's weird I'm here. They expect me in a major city, especially some place related to my work and industry. They expect me in NY or Silicon Valley. Maybe even the DC area or Chicago or Dallas. Tucson? OK, it's a little out of the way, but it's near perfection.

It's like living in a vacation every day.


Share!  
  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • LinkedIn
  • Email
  • Digg
  • Google Reader
  • Delicious
  • Reddit
  • StumbleUpon
  • Technorati
  • Tumblr

Don’t Forget About Color

Monday, August 30th, 2010

Seth Godin wrote a great blog post recently called, "Don't Forget About Color." http://sethgodin.typepad.com/seths_blog/2010/08/dont-forget-about-color.html

It reminded me of a conversation I had with him over email a few years ago. I showed him the designs we were doing for eBay, and how effective they were. He was surprised. He figured that designed worked better when there were more white space.

I beileve that we are getting more and more visual, and mood, personality, image, and ease of use are the new white space. I've been saying that, and people smile. But now, Seth Godin is saying something similar, at least that's how I read it.

I don't think websites need more white space. They need more attention to UX/UI, bringing people's eyes to the most important elements, and providing a real feel and mood to the site. You want to stand out from every other website.

It's about colour, but it's also about usability. When you don't really have colour, design, or mood, you have a layout. I don't think you have a design, but you have a layout! We're at the point where if things are the wrong colour, nobody sees them, and your design isn't as easy to use. Take eBay's grey tabs on a white background… nobody sees those, and now they're changing them again.

More and more, our clients are asking us for websites that feel "warm," "inviting," "pull people in," "make them feel involved," etc… That's why all of our designs are custom and unique, from scratch, and based on the image you want to project to your audience or shopper.

That's where design is going. We've been doing that for years, but we know that some people are just getting the memo now. :) Some designers are still making layouts. :)


Share!  
  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • LinkedIn
  • Email
  • Digg
  • Google Reader
  • Delicious
  • Reddit
  • StumbleUpon
  • Technorati
  • Tumblr