Startup – A Meditation

I've been working with a lot of startups recently for a change, and here are some of the things I've had to explain to these clients:

Many coaches tell you to focus on what your potential customer wants, because most people get into business just to make money.

I don't think that's an effective way to explain what they mean, so here's how I turn it into steps you can follow.

The best way is how marketers look at emails.

Best practices (like only sending to people who were recently added to your system and people who recently opened your emails) fix deliverability problems so the email gets in the inbox, but it doesn't stop there.

The quality of the subject line is what will move your open rates.
Just sit back and notice that for yourself in your own behavior. Looking in my inbox I see a subject line that says 'Is 5% enough?'. I'm not even curious what's inside.

Next, the quality of the copy and images are what will move your click through rates. After all, you can't click if you don't open.

Then, it's your offer itself that gets them to punch in their card numbers and buy your stuff.

Lastly it's delighting your customers by fulfilling your promises so that they don't refund, they buy more from you when you offer what they want, and they tell their friends.

To figure out if you're doing it right, you need to imagine yourself as the person who you're targeting as a market. I can guarantee that person doesn't care about you or your business, but you need to change that.

So, instead of thinking of deliverability, open rates, and click through rates, let's think of it as market exposure, introduction, and pitch. If we take that lesson and apply it to your startup, here's how you make sure it's about THEM and not about YOU.

Clearly, the first impression is what you should focus on, and you should hone it by studying your competition.

Anything you find that turns you off about the competition should be completely avoided.

Do they ask for too much too soon? Do they seem disorganized? Do they seem like they should have spent more time preparing? Are they too casual or too serious? Do they mumble or are they too fast? Too smug, too deluded, too vulgar, or just too boring?

Then, think of your logo, your color scheme, your clothes in your picture or video, your hair style, your grooming, your background, your lighting, the echo in the room, and your music.

For each one, you should think what is the purpose and what are the best ways to achieve it?

The logo should explain what market you're in and what interacting with you will be like.

If you're a law firm these things should instill confidence as a client, and fear as an opponent. If you're teaching a hobby, it should be relaxing and non-judgemental, because learning new things is stressful.

These all seem pretty straightforward, right?

Well they're not... not even a little.

See, when we build a business we act like we're having a child.

Children can't, don't, and shouldn't run a business. We raise our children to be the best we can even when being the best isn't popular.

Running a business is more like running someone's political campaign. Your own views end up taking a back seat to the demands of your base, and if an ugly logo or site gets you the votes (dollars) then that's just how it's going to be.

I don't even know how many sites and pages I've built anymore, and I had some involvement in the design of all of them. Almost none of my sites I've built are 'my style', and I don't care. If you can get your ego out of the way, you'll find that integrity and split testing is what will make you the most money.

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