No matter how many entrepreneurial platitudes out there tell us differently, when you are in the weeds, struggling to get your idea off the ground, it can be tough to see the positive side of big mistakes.
Yet, why do so many really successful people talk about their toughest lessons or their biggest mistakes? Or do they? Well, they do now.
Whether you are in the middle of a big failure story of your own, just starting out, or even on the verge of a big breakthrough, you are going to find value in these key business growth lessons.
He shares his toughest lessons on the front line of a growing marketing company.
Today Austin is a bonafide public speaker with over 50 events under his belt this year alone. He and his partners have established a few dozen solid clients and are well into a 6-figure business this year, poised to continue to grow as they prove out their business model.
Social media marketing can be extremely competitive and proving out your ideas and talents can be an uphill battle, but as Austin shows when you find that ‘sweet spot’ in the market and establish your personal brand, the sky’s the limit.
Here is Austin’s story in his own words
When I first started my business (around 8 years ago) I was young and dumb. I was trying to sell social media marketing to a small town in upstate New York area. I knew social media was going to be big but I had no connections, no experience in sales, and the market didn’t care.
The beginning of my journey as an entrepreneur started 8 years ago in a little town in Upstate New York. This little city operated in an old-school analog mentality where Newspapers ads, radio, and good old boys networking clubs reigned. I started selling social media marketing with no experience in the industry, no sales experience, in a market that didn’t really care. Their thought process was “what I have done in the past works, why would I change it?”
When to pivot. When to stick to your guns.
I also didn’t pivot fast enough to a product that the market would want.
At the time, the market only understood vanity metrics (follower growth) at the time, and I wasn’t comfortable selling just follower growth and would shoot for bigger all-encompassing projects. Instead of getting smaller projects and generating cash flow. This lead me to not making enough revenue to keep my apartment and I ended up homeless. It was a real wake up call to set my ego aside and give the market exactly what they want even if it’s not what’s best in the long term for them and build them up later.
From my failure, I learned 3 vital lessons as an entrepreneur.
3 Vital Lessons as an Online Entrepreneur:
1. Keep cash flow coming in from the get-go.
I learned that it’s better to have multiple small client projects that give a rolling cash-flow then to shoot for big projects. Having 10 clients at $500/month is safer than having one client at $5,000/mo. You are beholden to that single client and have no leverage in negotiations. Whereas if one out of the 10 client’s isn’t working, you can drop them and replace them.
2. Clients don’t know what they need, that’s why they hire you.
Client’s don’t always know what they actually need and that is okay. Start by solving their first pain point, for me, this was vanity metrics and follower growth. Once that first pain point is solved a new one will crop up. Be ready to solve that, as they will turn to you if you are doing a great job with the first one.
3. Values and impact matter more than money.
Cash flow is important but my values are more important. I have gone from homeless to a live streaming influencer with an audience of over 1 mil. There were times when I could have “sold out” but my values were and are too important to me. You don’t have to sell your soul to make money but you do have to work your butt off.
Do Things Differently to See Different Results
To overcome my massive failures I did a number of things differently. These changes helped me go from broke, homeless with .43 cents to my name, to who I am today. The mentality shift helped me also figure out how to change my business model. Instead of focusing on those big 5 figure sales, I focused on many smaller sales that are easier to manage. Then grow those clients as their needs expanded.
For Instance, clients are now looking at their Instagram as a massive marketing tool. Rightfully so as Instagram is one of the top social media tools we use and is owned by Facebook. Most clients come in looking for follower growth when in reality they want to generate revenue. After they start growing 2-3k followers a month they inevitably say they are looking to generating leads and sales. Each time they have a new need, I have the ability to address it and they have faith in the service I provide.
Struggling to get your idea off the ground? Here’s some advice:
I recommend taking a page from Product Hunt creator Ryan Hoover. In his post talking about how he created Product Hunt, he shares how he created an MVP of his idea off an email list. This allowed him to rapidly test the idea and get initial feedback.
I would also recommend that everyone finds a storytelling platform that works for them. Each brand is different, some use Instagram stories, other work on Facebook really well. For myself, I learned that public speaking and live streaming is where I dominate. Once you have your platform, obsess over becoming great at it and enjoy the ride. What you think might work and what actually works sometimes are drastically different.
How Austin Turned Things Around:
I moved down to NYC and slept out of my car while I got back on my feet. Being in a bigger more competitive market allowed for more opportunities and I later became well known in the live streaming space. I now live stream to over 1,000,000 followers weekly. I strive every day to grow my business in a much larger market, with a much larger following.
I think the only people who love the word “traffic” is online entrepreneurs.
I posted a poll on my Facebook page asking my community whether they wanted to learn more about “How to get Massive Traffic” or about “How to Validate your Business Idea,” and my mother-in-law (bless her heart) chose Idea Validation only because she hates traffic!
She’s not even in my target audience, but you gotta love the family support!
In the online universe, traffic is a beautiful thing and we always want MORE of it!
Every time someone hits your landing page, it’s like a breath of fresh air. It tastes like opportunity.
Unfortunately, many in the online space do not prioritize traffic in their business.
Are you too busy to work on getting more traffic?
Or perhaps you believe that getting just enough clients to fill your schedule will get you more money, more flexibility, and more happiness. The online stuff is just gravy, so it sits in the backburner.
You’d be surprised to hear that the exact opposite is true.
When you neglect to create an online community in favor of having one-off clients, you are putting your business at risk in multiple ways.
What does traffic have to do with it?
You may be wondering “What does traffic have to do with creating an online following? And what does creating an online following have to do with the success of my one-on-one client work?”
In one word: everything.
When we talk about “generating traffic” we are specifically referring to you creating valuable content that attracts your ideal client, and posting it on your website (or other social media portals).
The worst thing that can happen is that someone finds you, gets your content, and never comes back.
Once your ideal client has become aware of your existence through your amazing freebies, or simply happened to land on your website, you want to make sure to hold onto them for dear life.
Your goal should be: for every person who becomes aware of you, direct them to your mailing list or to your Facebook group.
As you can see, generating massive amounts of traffic will inevitably lead to you creating an online community with you as the expert at the center.
In this article, I lay out 5 ways that creating an online community (by way of prioritizing traffic to your site or content) can springboard your business in ways you never imagined.
Ready? Let’s go:
1. Have a waitlist of clients
In any service or coaching business, you always run the risk of clients falling off the face of the Earth.
In most cases, it’s not as dramatic as that, but it does happen that clients get busy, deprioritize your meetings, or simply choose to go a different way.
Suddenly, your calendar opens up and you are left scrambling to fill the gap.
If you have prioritized generating great content, driving traffic to it, and growing a community, you should have no problem reaching out to your own tribe and establishing a waitlist of ideal clients who can’t wait to jump at the chance to work with you.
And just like that, you will never be afraid of losing another client ever again.
2. Establish yourself as an authority in your field
Put yourself in the shoes of your next ideal client.
They found you because their friend recommended you, and they hope you will work out.
Some of the time, potential customers who find you through word-of-mouth will hire you simply because you are the lowest hanging fruit: they didn’t even have to research other options, and they will just “give you a try” and hope for the best.
Other times, these same referrals do their due diligence. They will visit your website and that of your competitors. They will check out your Facebook page or Yelp reviews.
What happens next, you will never know because you never find out.
That same discerning customer found this other business which seems to be a little more “legit.” They have a huge following on Facebook, they have a lot more 5 stars reviews than you do, and it seems like other people are talking about them.
As you can see, this customer you never even knew was considering you made a judgment on the value of your services based on popularity.
You heard me: popularity.
When you have a fired-up online community, you become the authority in your field that everyone wants to work with.
You don’t want to be the business that gets passed up. You want to be the one everyone gravitates towards.
Traffic does this for you. An online community does this for you.
3. Charge higher prices
Consider the same scenario as above.
This potential customer is comparing you against someone else who has a larger following and a better-looking website.
Which of the two options do you think the client will assume is more expensive?
Hint: not you.
When you have an online following, you raise the bar in terms of expectations.
The rationale behind it is that: if so many people like her, then she must be the best!
And people will pay more for the best.
The larger your online following, the more your potential clients will be willing to pay for your services.
4. Be featured by other inspiring entrepreneurs
This is a bit of a circular reference, in that it is an opportunity afforded only to those with a large following, and it also helps you build an even larger following.
When you have created an online community that swears by your content and your services, other entrepreneurs will want to talk to you to tap into your audience.
This is a normal practice among entrepreneurs: help each other out, and grow each other’s audiences in the process.
When you first start out, you may be hurting to be featured in other people’s forums so your audience can grow. But once it’s made it to a certain level, you will attract feature opportunities like bees to honey, further cementing your authority as an expert in your area.
5. Open up unimaginable opportunities
This is the hardest benefit to describe because you don’t know what it will be.
When you put yourself out there and start engaging with other entrepreneurs and potential clients, your future opens up to a world of opportunities that you cannot imagine.
Many of us go through life calculating the ROI on our investment before we actually put our money down.
The truth is that most times it is impossible for us to know what the return will be on an opportunity we have never jumped into in the past.
This reward can take the shape of growing your audience, meeting amazing people who will change your life, or open up the chance to travel opportunities.
Jump In. Make Yourself Known.
The benefits of jumping in and making yourself be known in your industry are simply impossible to predict or to measure, and that is the definition of a wild adventure.
Does this article make you want to prioritize traffic and build a community? Leave us a comment and tell us what you are going to do in your business today!
Seth Godin is the entrepreneurial icon of the digital age, and everything he touches turns to dollars and traffic. His first entrepreneurial venture attracted a $20 million investment within a year. Then he began preaching a concept the rest of the marketing fraternity had missed in the smog of Google ranking mania: that your target market won’t hear you unless you treat it with respect.
Godin’s permission marketing concepts overcame the black hat hype of the search engine optimization (SEO) era irrevocably.
Once he’d sold his first business and grabbed a cool $30 million from Yahoo, he got a few marketing years under his belt and launched one of the web’s most visited sites. He’s still known for changing the way marketers think about their industry, but If his ability to understand business was behind his success, Forbes would have changed an entire field merely by doing what it has always done: produce insights.
Seth Godin is not a marketer, a blogger, or an entrepreneur. He’s not even a teacher, even if he does have some pretty respectable online courses. He certainly wears all those hats, but his career has set him apart from such meagre pursuits because Seth Godin is a leader.
If you meet him, the first thing you’ll probably notice is that he doesn’t parrot Harvard Business Review jargon. Here, there will be no “circling back” or “shifting paradigms.” He won’t ballpark anything, net it out or right size it. He doesn’t recite Gallup studies about employee engagement; he “gets people to do what [he] wants them to do.” He doesn’t strategize; he “makes a difference.” He doesn’t teach. He goes “over there” with people who also want to go “over there.” If you’re looking for MBA propaganda, you won’t find it here.
This is not where best practices are leveraged, but where culture is changed. If you want to achieve the sparkling revenue of Godinesque entrepreneurship, you’re going to have to do the work instead of studying the text.
Seth Godin’s perspective is as refreshing as champagne air, particularly if you’ve never bought a button down shirt or sat in a Stanford Graduate School lecture hall. His go-to-hell presence in Harvard Business Review in amongst all the jargon-fuelled boots on the ground signals one thing: you can become an entrepreneurial titan without a Master’s degree, and Godin will show you how.
Seth Godin is changing the world by casting management aside as a poorly fitting garment. During the interview with Change Creator Magazine, he said:
“culture eats strategy for breakfast. Management is about authority. […] It’s about getting people to do what you need them to do.” Leadership, on the other hand, is “about exploration. […] It’s about getting people to want to do what you need them to do.”
He doesn’t label such autocratic pursuits as irrelevant. He knows they’re necessary, but there’s no shortage of them. Leaders aren’t as easy to come by, so creating them can send a tectonic force through the business world and beyond it.
Godin’s insistence on stiff ethics leaks into all of his work, even as it relates to his marketing approach. Here is a business mogul who thinks you need to truly see your customers if you’re to reach them. Here is a Stanford graduate who values trust over mass customization. Here is an MBA holder who thinks caring is more important than ranking. Leadership and originality are mutually inclusive, and Seth Godin is an original thinker if nothing else. Just don’t say he thinks outside the box because this particular lesson eats HBR verbiage for breakfast, too.
“Today […] you can buy something with one click shopping that gets shipped to you by Fedex from a place in China that you’re never going to go for 7 cents less than you can get it somewhere else. Well, we don’t need you to be better at manufacturing. We’ve got that covered. The mindset going forward, and what the culture is realising, is that businesses have so much leverage, we have so much freedom, we have so much power that it ought to come with some responsibility, and the responsibility is to make a difference and do work that you’re proud of.”
The Corporate Imposter
It’s time to resurrect old-fashioned principles in the social impact space. Godin thinks leadership should transform lives, but to do that, young entrepreneurs must combat their inherent imposter syndromes. He meets the challenge by acknowledging that everyone is an imposter. Whether you’re manufacturing, selling, or marketing, you must face uncertainty. You can click through reams of analytics and projections, but business leadership will never be evidence-based.
“It’s not like you’re a physicist who says force is always going to equal mass times velocity. We’re asserting. We’re not proving, and we have to get comfortable saying, ‘You know what? This might not work.’ And the idea that this might not work frees us up to do important work. The reason that litigation lawyers and SEO experts get stuck is because they want […] a guarantee. You don’t get [that] when you’re making a difference. You’re not a manager. You’re a leader.”
Empathy and the Entrepreneurial Giant
Seth Godin’s business leadership philosophy begins with happiness instead of proof because there can be no opportunity cost for that. Do what you want to do. Do what fills your soul. Change lives—but do so with empathy for those you serve.
The capacity to walk in others’ shoes makes marketplace transactions possible. It helps you to find out what your customers value, who they are, and how you’re hoping to change them. “Who can you connect? Who can you lead? What can you make better? How can you do it again?” Anyone can answer those questions, even you in the back row with the shabby high school diploma.
Teaching the Lessons
Seth Godin’s online courses are as original as all his ideals. His Skillshare and Udemy seminars have no lectures, tests, or homework. “We are proudly not accredited,” he says. “And if you ask, ‘will this be in the test?’ we will make a face at you.”
He wants his students to move away from book learning because it encourages them to do as little as they can get away with. Instead, his courses consist of about 14 projects that race through achievements at a neck breaking speed.
“We’re trying to do art, and if you’re making art, it’s not ‘how little can I do?’ It’s ‘how much can I do?’”
That work is underlined by production, mutual engagement, and feedback. Traditional online courses have an average completion rate of 5 percent in comparison to Godin’s 97 percent, because his doesn’t promise any special knowledge. He offers experience.
In keeping with his permission marketing ideals, his seminars earn enrolment through leadership. In three sentences, he tells his students, “I wanna go over there. Do you see what it’s like over there? Do you wanna go over there with me? […] Here’s a change in our posture, a change in the world I’d like to make. Do you wanna help me make that change?” Instead of offering schooling, he offers a culture-shift that ends in the opportunity to affect your own change. He’s taking the fear out of entrepreneurship, and that’s as honorable a task as any.
Using Culture to Overcome Business School Propaganda
Godin asks entrepreneurial hopefuls to find fellow travellers who can help them to explore the places that they fear. He wants his cohorts to overcome the intimidating lessons of Stanford and Harvard Business School. Such courses teach two important practices: to ignore sunk costs and understand the math of a decision tree. These aren’t skills people are born with. It’s inherently human to focus on one outcome and ignore all the rest, so decision making is a skill that must be learned.
That doesn’t make it impossibly complicated. You simply identify what’s important based on the ecosystem you’ve chosen as your marketplace, and then explore the unknown territory that terrifies you. Culture will inform your choices, and connection will produce more rewards than didactic management strategies ever will.
Finding Entrepreneurial Success
Seth Godin has written 10 books, produced one of Time Magazine’s favorite blogs, and created two wildly successful online businesses.
When asked what he does every day to make such an impact, he replies, “I do one thing every day. […] Most people don’t.” He compares his approach to a skate park. Some kids repeat the same trick over and over, while others try new tricks that make them nervous—not to learn, but because it makes them happy. “I decided a long time ago to do things that make me nervous. […] I made it a habit that I enjoy, and that’s how I spend my day.”
“I think it’s way easier than people believe. If you want to be an entrepreneur, you shouldn’t try to raise money, you should not have an original idea. If you begin with those two things in mind, the next step is, “What’s the smallest viable market you can serve?” [Then] find one person who’ll exchange money for what you can do for them. [Then] tomorrow can you find two people? [Then] you do it again. I started this when I was 14 and […] then I did it throughout college. That’s what it means to be an old school entrepreneur. At some point, you’ll be good enough at exchanging money for value that you say to yourself, ‘There’s another way I could add value that no one’s done before.’ That’s it. […] And if you want to make a profit while doing it, you can, but that doesn’t have to be your goal.”
Seth Godin found resounding success by choosing a figurative country he wanted to explore. Then he went there and explored it. Along the way, he changed the world, and so can you.
Or, check out our full interview with Seth Godin here.
Looking to build a website without a lot of effort, confusion and time? Then consider a web builder. While there are many website builders out there, I thought we’d talk about one that people have been asking me about, Ucraft. Does it live up to the hype? Will it work for coders and non-coders alike? If you want to build a website from scratch and you don’t know how then you are going to want to read my Ucraft review!
What’s a website builder anyway?
A web builder is an easy to use tool you can use to build your own extremely professional website, which requires zero learning to use. This means you don’t have to rely on so-called web experts to build a website for you.
Instead, you can save thousands of dollars and a lot of time building a website. And because you do the job yourself, you can be sure you’ll get a website you’re satisfied with.
Ucraft is what we’ll be talking about in this article. It’s an incredible website builder you can use to build your very own professional website in a matter of hours, or dare I say, in a matter of minutes.
That’s because when you use a web builder like Ucraft, you can simply click, drag and drop your way towards a complete website. We’ll discuss that in detail how you can do that.
But for now, all you need to know is that if you want to build a website without spending time, money and other limited resources – and want a website that works the exact way you intended it to be, Ucraft is the perfect tool for you.
Ucraft: How It Works and What You Can Do Inside It
Let’s dive right in.
Ucraft is divided into six major components:
1. Website Builder
2. Free Landing Page Builder
3. Logo Maker
5. Create a Blog
6. Designer Tools
With all these components, you get a powerful all-in-one tool with which you can build a website that not only has a landing page, but also one which has a whole blog section and an integrated ecommerce section.
Unless you want to build the next Facebook, Ucraft is the perfect website building solution for your business.
Now, let’s get started by discussing each component and see how you can use each of them in building your website:
1. Website Builder
To begin, the first thing you’ll have to do is choose a template. A template is a website design which you can use as the basis of your website. Ucraft has many templates you can choose from. There are templates from photography, business, travel, restaurant and many other kinds of website.
All you have to do is simply select a template, add your own text, images and photographs, put in your own content and voila, you have just create your very own website within minutes.
But, if you feel you want to create something different, a design totally out of this world, you can start from scratch.
Starting from scratch will give you the ability to build each and every nook and cranny of your website by yourself. You decide what color, font, text, element and shape you want on your website.
And yes, it’s hard work. But Ucraft will give you all the tools you need to build your website in the drag-and-drop builder:
1. Customization Tools: The drag and drop builder gives you tools which will let you customize your website the way you want. You can change the color, typography, and effects of your website. You can add as many pages as you want, change the menu, add buttons, create links, add media elements and exciting widgets to enhance the functionality of your website.
2. Optimization Tools: Thanks to technologies like Cloudflare, responsive web design and SEO optimized design and code, you can make your website built on UCraft extremely fast and user-friendly for your visitors. All these optimizations will ensure your website loads at the fastest possible speed and works on everything from phones and tablets to PCs and laptops.
3. Analytics Tools: Analytics and marketing tools are included in Ucraft. These will allow you to monitor the performance of your website. You’ll be able to see the traffic coming into your website, your sales and other web related statistics.
2. Free Landing Page Builder
The landing page builder works exactly – and is exactly – the same as the website builder you get when building your website.
Here’s how it works:
Start by choosing a template. As we mentioned above, there are a lot of template designs you can select from. The next step is to connect your landing page to your domain. You can either connect your landing page with an existing domain or with a completely new one (purchased separately) on Ucraft.
Next, simply edit the landing page until you’ve customized the design to suit your own branding. Then, add your own text, image, video, and other media elements to make the landing page look more alive and attractive. Finally, write down professional copy that’s optimized both for search engines and your target audience which will help you sell your product.
And that’s it. Hit publish and your landing page will be live.
3. Logo Maker
Every website needs a logo. The logo maker tool provided by Ucraft is probably the easiest way you can make a custom, professional logo for your website. What would have cost you hundreds of dollars can now be done for free.
All you have to do is choose different high-quality icons and vector art to design your logo – . Next, you have to add a font which you can also customize to your own liking. Finally, with the combination of two, the final thing you have to select is your background, which can either be dark or light. And that’s it.
With a few simple steps, you’ll have your own professional logo ready to go.
Ucraft offers users an ecommerce platform included within the tool. So this means, in addition to the website and landing page builder, the logo maker, you also get a fully functional ecommerce platform within Ucraft all within one subscription.
To get started, Ucraft will let you upload as many as 50 products to your website. In addition, it won’t charge any transaction fee so you can keep more of your profits (or offer attractive discounts). In addition, you can also do business in multiple currencies. Plus, you can get paid through 70+ payment channels and provide multiple shipping methods to your customers.
And these features are just in the basic plan.
Features of the Ultimate Plan
If you decide to subscribe to the ultimate plan, here’s what else you’ll get:
Ability to offer discount coupons.
Edit your invoices
Put up your Ecommerce store on social sites like Facebook, Yandex and Ebay
Tax exemption and the ability to reverse charge VAT.
A store management app
The favorites / wishlist option for your visitors so they can save items for later purchase.
In addition, if you subscribe to the advanced plans, you can manage your store online through your mobile phone. You can add new items, modify existing ones and process new orders on the go.
5. Create a Blog
Till now, we’ve covered it all. We’ve shown you how you can build a landing page, run your own ecommerce store and design your own logo. The last, but arguably the most important feature Ucraft provides is the ability to build your own blog on your website.
For that, you’ll get a dedicated articles app.
In this app, you can write down your own articles, customize it with your own images and video files, tag it and add a comment section to it.
There’s no fuss. It’s a simple app with a text editor that lets you create highly polished articles and blog posts for your website.
6. Designer Tools
Designer tools are nothing more but a set of three tools you case use to completely customize every single aspect of your website.
There are three designer tools provided by Ucraft:
1. Typography: This tool lets you modify your website fonts. You can change the typography, the color and even the opacity of the text on your website.
2. UI Kit: The UI Kit will assist you in customizing the buttons and forms on your website. You can change the color, shape, border and other factors of your buttons and customize them to suit the design of your website.
3. Layout: It’s important that every single element on your website is properly spaced and in alignment with each other. The layout tool, with the help of the grid, helps you make sure every single part of your website is on the exact location you want.
With these three design tools, combined with the website builder, logo maker, ecommerce platform and the articles app, you can easily create the best website for your business or personal use.
And the best part is you need only one subscription, one tool, and zero coding skills to get all this done!
Pricing: Which Plan Should You Get?
Their best (and most popular) plan starts at just $14 a month in which you get all the tools we’ve mentioned above. The reason why we recommend this plan is because it includes ecommerce functionality, allowing you to sell up to 50 products on your website.
And once you get a hang of things, you can subscribe to the unlimited plan, which costs $60 and removes every single limitation, allowing you to truly create a powerful professional website. In this plan, you can add unlimited products to your ecommerce store and sell items on social platforms such as Facebook, Yandex and Ebay.
But if you don’t want these fancy features, you can subscribe to the ridiculously cheap $6 plan in which you get enough features to build your personal website, but don’t get live tracking features or the ability to sell products on your online store.
So, whenever you are ready to build a professional website, be sure to give Ucraft a try!
Looking For A Ucraft Alternative? Try Wix
If Ucraft seems too simple for you – and if you’re looking for a more complex alternative that gives you more features – like a code editor or thousands of plugins, give Wix a try.
This tool is similar to Ucraft but offers far more. You’ll get more templates, more integrations, more effects, an app marketplace and even a logo maker. And that’s just the start.
In addition, you can also add your own code and upload your own CSS files. Plus, like Ucraft, Wix also gives you the ability to create your own ecommerce store. Also, Wix gives you integrations for a music player, gallery, blog and events which you can use on your website.
Which Tool Should You Choose?
Wix is one of the world’s most powerful website builders. If you’re looking to build a feature-rich website with lots of functionality, give it a try. But if you’re looking for a simple tool to quickly build your personal website or ecommerce store, Ucraft is more than qualified for the job.
Ucraft Vs. Wix: Feature Comparison
Price Templates Ecommerce Blog App Store Music Player Gallery Booking Functionality Hosting Free Domain
What is the trigger? What makes them say to themselves “I must have this NOW”?
If they have been wanting it for a while, what made them finally add it to their cart?
If they just learned about it for the first time, what is it that made them act impulsively rather than research more alternatives?
You might think it is because the product is so good, and your pitch is so tight, that they are persuaded to buy.
That’s the kind of control we wished our product had in our customers, but it rarely works that way.
Need. Opportunity. Urgency. Scarcity.
The key to someone buying right then and there lies in the intersection of these 4 concepts: need, opportunity, urgency, and scarcity.
If you are in front of the deodorants section at the store, and you remember you’re about to run out and won’t be coming back to the store for another week, you’ll pick it up.
The Need: you are the kind of person who wears deodorant every day.
The Opportunity: you are at the store right now.
Urgency: the day when you wake up and have no deodorant is fast approaching
Scarcity: you don’t have new deodorants piled up in your closet. This is a scarce product in that you cannot obtain it with extreme ease.
This equation applies to anything you are selling.
Many of us focus so much time and money on making a great looking product and trying to convince people that they should buy it, that we forget that our customers make those decisions all on their own.
To better illustrate how this formula may apply to your business, let’s consider another example.
Suppose you are selling a fitness coaching program for working mothers.
Why should they sign up?
Sure, you are probably the best coach in the universe and you have the most revolutionary coaching program; but how does that translate into your ideal customer’s needs? And how are you creating the opportunity, urgency, and scarcity?
The way you would do this is by conducting a launch.
A launch is a marketing campaign designed around selling a particular product, and it is not restricted to only releasing a product for the first time. You can have a launch for the same product over and over again.
Here are some ways to take advantage of these triggers and get people to buy:
Tap into an existing need.
You are not trying to convince working mothers that they must work out (I don’t know about you, but nobody has ever been able to successfully convince me to do that); instead, you are looking for working mothers who have followed exercise regimens in the past, but somehow fell off the wagon, or mothers who know they should be working out and are waiting for a sign they should take action.
A need is very hard to fabricate. The need must already exist.
Put the opportunity in front of them.
Through advertising and social media posting, your offer must make it in front of your target audience’s eyes.
Your launch provides the opportunity for your customer to bump into your offer, creating the “I’m at the store right now” feeling.
You control the scarcity factor.
Your launch is a project: it starts on one day and ends on a specific date and time.
By making sure that your product is not available to everyone at any time; you have full control over the feeling that this product is not abundant. It’s only here right now. Take it or leave it.
There is an easy way and a hard way to create urgency.
The easy way is by simply stressing that your cart will close promptly in 2 days, which will get potential customers to feel the fire under their tail.
The hard way is to present your product as an imperative they cannot afford not to take on.
The latter method requires expert copywriting and a deep understanding of your customer’s journey and immediate needs. If done right, the results can be overwhelmingly positive.
The next time you are getting ready to launch your product, consider the 4 axes and make sure to provide an irresistible offer for your ideal customer.
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Online markets are still booming with opportunities. There are still billions of dollars to be made in ecommerce, so there’s no surprise that new companies are popping up every day.
If you are struggling to make a go of your ecommerce biz, or really want to see some massive growth this year, here are 7 proven strategies to make more money online.
1. Create a blog that drives traffic.
“One of the hardest parts of growing an ecommerce business is getting enough traffic to your website. Most ecommerce businesses rely on paid ads to generate sales, but this is expensive and cuts into your profit margins. I recommend focusing on an inbound marketing strategy so you can improve your store’s rankings in organic search results. It takes more time than buying ads but the payoff is greater.
An effective inbound marketing campaign starts with an active blog. Every content marketing plan should include an overview of the customer research journey. Defining the customer’s research journey involves thinking about what your prospective customers are looking for, the questions and problems they have, and tailoring your blog content to address their pain points.” Earl Choate, Concrete Camouflage, www.concretecamouflage.com
2. Invest in a good PIM software solution.
Being able to get your products online quickly and efficiently is a vital component to the long-term success of your ecommerce company, especially if you want to play with the big boys. Google loves ecommerce companies that continually share products, as well as offer an easily accessible user interface. PIM (Product Information Management) systems can help with all of that.
“With a PIM system, we can bulk update content, images, meta-data and attributes from our suppliers. Now customers see exactly the right information, and we can use the enhanced data to improve meta titles and descriptions, which are an on-page ranking signal.
Aside from the SEO factors, PIM systems allow internal teams to collaborate easier, translate content if required, change image formats and sizes, and provide an easily accessible user interface.” — Aman Brar | Product Owner -eCommerce, www.printkick.com
3. Use shopping ads from the start.
Getting sales from the get-go is vital to your long-term growth as an ecommerce company. One of the best ways to get sales right away is to set up ads that target your customers from the start.
“I’ve worked with dozens of ecommerce companies, and the #1 thing that has helped them explode in terms of growth is using product-specific paid ads. By this, I mean using Google shopping ads specifically, as well as product-specific remarketing ads.” — Stacy Caprio, www.acceleratedgrowthmarketing.com
4. Get your products on as many channels as possible.
Being in more than one location online is a must if you want to propel your growth.
“Growing an eCommerce company starts with a diversification strategy, backed with clear channels of distribution and legal enforcement.
It may not sound sexy, but it’s absolutely one of the biggest challenges most companies face they begin to grow and expand. Companies first need to focus on optimizing and listing their products on multiple channels (Amazon, eBay, Walmart, Rakuten, etc.)
In addition, they need to have registered trademarks and a good warranty when products are sold through an authorized reseller.
Lastly, they need to have clear distribution agreements with any distributors or retailers specifying where they can and cannot sell their products including anti-diversion language and quality control. This is the best strategy for growing an eCommerce brand!” — Shannon Roddy, Amazon Specialist
5. The more you automate your processes, the faster you’ll grow.
The more you can automate your ecommerce processes, the faster and easier you’ll grow. Setting up systems takes time, but it’s time well spent.
“My best tip to grow an ecommerce business: Automation. Automation. Automation. I can’t say it enough. From accounting to order fulfillment to marketing it’s best to automate everything you can.
For example, automate the sales data from your eCommerce cart to your accounting software. Automate email follow-ups based on customer behavior and profiles. The more you can automate the more you can do with less and free up yourself for high-value business growth activities.” Kelly, Block Island Organics | https://www.blockislandorganics.com
One great way to automate your process is to use a landing page builder tool, such as Shogun or Pagefly — which allows you to quickly create new storefronts, expand your markets quickly and automate the page creation process.
6. Invest in the right software from the start.
Choosing the right platform for your ecommerce business is a serious decision. Take the time to do your homework first before you commit. Don’t just think about the company you have now, the sales you’ll have during your first few years, but the growth and sales you will have as you grow. Here is a great lesson on choosing the right platform from Brandon Chopp, Digital Manager for iHeartRaves:
“Our Shopify stores are grossing $20M annually and we’ve been featured in the Inc. 5000 four years in a row, but growth wasn’t that easy.
Before we launched our e-commerce stores, I wish someone would have told us how important our shopping platform would end up being.
We were originally using Magento and that proved to be a near fatal error. A few years ago, our founder and CEO, Brian Lim, appeared on ABC’s Shark Tank, where he received offers from all five sharks and ended up accepting deals from Mark Cuban and Daymond John. As you can imagine, being featured on a highly viewed television show can attract quite a bit of website traffic.
In the year leading up to the episode’s air date, we purchased thirty servers, simulated load tests, and invested over $200,000 to make sure the site could handle the massive influx of traffic that would be coming our way.
But when the episode aired, the site went down. In the world of e-commerce, uptime means everything! A lot of money was lost that day, and it made what should have been one of the happiest days, one of the worst.
Since we’ve switched over to Shopify, our lives have been made immeasurably easier. We likely would never have had this issue if we had been with Shopify from the beginning.
The moral of the story is to take your time and research every possible option before choosing your shopping platform. It can make or break your company.”
7. Invest in search marketing.
Our final tip to accelerating your ecommerce store growth is to invest in search marketing. We started off this blog talking about creating a blog that drives organic traffic and yes, that is one way to invest in organic, but there are others. Learn all you can about SEO and keyword-specific industry topics that you are in before you launch your shop.
If you are going to be using a platform such as Amazon, you’re going to have to learn how Amazon ranks their products as well, which means you’ll have to do some digging into keywords specific to your industry on Amazon. If you don’t know the first thing about search marketing, don’t panic. There are many industry experts who can provide a comprehensive search marketing strategy specific to your store and industry keywords.
If you are looking to hire an SEO or search marketing expert, here are a few quick tips:
Ask about the software tools they use and why (great SEO experts have a variety of tools that can cost thousands of dollars per month)
Ask for some case studies and reports
Don’t believe the hype! Nobody can guarantee a #1 ranking on Amazon or Google. If someone tells you that, run.
Don’t hire anyone that uses black hat strategies — gone are the days of keywords stuffing, and fake backlinking!
Get them to discuss metrics and data. What do they track? What will they track for you?
Hiring an SEO expert can be a big win for your ecommerce store if you find the right person or agency. Don’t be fooled into a high retainer monthly with little data, no metrics and fake promises! There are a lot of SEO experts out there that do the hard work of getting your store ranked, and know that although organic traffic might take some time (even a year or more) to generate, the ROI is far higher than continually paying for AdWords.
FAQ: Frequently Asked Questions: Ecommerce
How much do ecommerce websites make?
It really depends on your product, marketing and niche but on average a new ecommerce company can make around $39,000 in their first month of business and can grow that income from there.
How can I get rich from ecommerce?
1. Create a blog that drives traffic. … 2. Invest in a good PIM software solution. … 3. Use shopping ads from the start. … 4. Get your products on as many channels as possible. … 5. The more you automate your processes, the faster you’ll grow. … 6. Invest in the right software from the start. … 7. Invest in search marketing. 8. Invest in a good landing page builder with analytics to track what’s working, what’s not.
Is ecommerce still profitable today?
Yes, ecommerce is still very profitable if you know what to do right from the start and implement that plan. There is still a lot of growth in these markets as buyers are still shifting from offline purchasers to digital buyers.
How do I start an ecommerce business with little to no money?
1. Find a product you want to sell. Often niche products work best. 2. Build a business plan and model. 3. Build an ecommerce store and website to ‘sell’ your product (minimal cost). 4. Upload your products and start selling. 5. Invest any profits you get right back into the business to start marketing, investing in ads, optimizing your landing pages.
Some Final Thoughts on Ecommerce
There are many ways you can grow your online store, it just takes time, energy and money. There are no shortcuts, but the payouts can be worth it. The market opportunities are still huge, so don’t despair. If you have a killer product and are willing to put some serious effort into your store, the possibilities are endless.
If you want more insights on how to grow a massive ecommerce company, listen to Change Creator’s exclusive interview with Nathan Hirsch who grew his ecommerce business without any outside investment:
Rick is a Chief not because of his many high-ranking titles, but because of his ability to bring out the best in others—and in himself—using the choices he developed in his Power Compass, a road-tested sustainable growth model he created over the course of his successful career, and which he
shares in this book and continues to use with his clients.
Rick has been in demand for the past ten years as a confidential adviser to many of today’s most senior executives and is extensively connected within the global business and leadership communities. Rick continues to serve senior executives by offering broad business experience in six specific areas: customers, competitors, costs, capital, communities, and culture. Rick helps senior leaders ask the right questions.
How to Make More Money By Simply Updating Your Website
We’ve all seen them: the websites that look like they were made in 1999 and never updated, or the ones that started by having a blog, but no new posts have been made since 2013.
We may think that that vendor is either doing so well they don’t have time to focus on their online presence, or they are doing too poorly to spend any money on it.
Rather than finding out the hard way, we decide to go with the professional-looking service. Their website has all the information we need, a sample of their work and even a contact form.
You just lost a customer without even knowing it. It happens all the time.
What needs to happen on your website…
Now, suppose we did not move on so quickly. We found your website first, so we will call you first. You think you won? Think again.
Your website has set the expectations of the pricing for your service. We are calling you because we don’t want to go with the fancy “expensive” one.
See how quickly a negative online experience can turn into you making less money?
Where did you go wrong? You are sure you are charging market value and you actually provide a really good service. Why are people turning you away? Why are THEY so cheap?
Little did you know, your website was attracting the cheapskates all on its own.
If your website and online presence are not top notch, then neither are your prices expected to be.
How do you charge what you’re worth?
Here are eight ways to prop up your brand so you can charge what you are worth:
Have a professionally designed website that follows all usability standards: your work portfolio, testimonials from past customers, and a responsive design (make sure it looks good on mobile)
All email addresses (if listed at all) should be @yourdomain.com. Let go of those @hotmail.com accounts.
Have a company logo and matching color scheme that is used consistently across the site
Have all your social media links on the footer or header of your website, and make sure you are updating them regularly with fresh relevant content.
Have a contact form and reply to requests immediately.
Do your research: ask your customers about their experience on your site, and look at competitors’ websites to identify what they are doing that you are not and vice versa
Request testimonials from your raving fans, and have them post them to your Facebook page or other review sites relevant to your industry
Never lash out at bad reviews. Respond with grace and offer a discount if they are willing to give you a second chance. Make sure your offer can be seen by anyone reading the review. You will come off as the big person, offsetting the now seemingly unreasonable former client.
Your professionalism is what sets you up for success before you even come in touch with your potential customers.
If you feel your online presence is playing against you, it’s time to start calling some designers.
Finances have to be sustainable, and able to support the core work of the organization. This basic principle applies equally to for-profit and non-profit enterprises. Funding sources and financial structures, however, are quite variable.
Non-profits are typically funded by a number of vehicles. The majority of funding comes from fee-for-service or product. They also can access donations and gifts, corporate and foundation grants and gifts, government grants, and some interest income from estate gifts and investments. It is typical to have less than 50% of the annual operating budget from sources that are grant or gift based, as these funding sources are time-limited.
When working for or starting a non-profit, it is worthwhile to think carefully about how one feels about money and fundraising. Many people involved in the work of non-profits find themselves working at fundraising activities on a regular basis. Successful fundraisers consider money as a tool, one that has no intrinsic power or worth other than what it can be used for. This is not the typical view of money in the modern world.
We give money the power to give a thumbs up or a thumbs down to our dreams. We let money tell us who we are, and our identity is formed, in part, by our access to money. In its most basic form, however, money is a tool. Just like a good shovel, how effectively it works depends entirely on the person wielding the shovel.
For fundraisers, allowing foundations and corporations and individuals the ability to participate in the grand adventure of your non-profit is a way they can use their money for something that will give them great joy and pride.
So non-profits spend more time dealing openly and directly with money, and how to get enough to do the core work of the enterprise. Resources are spent for grant writers and those who need to complete the extensive reporting that accompanies government grants. Recently, the FASB, the Financial Accounting Standards Board, updated required accounting practices for non-profits, so the paperwork burden remains significant for both types of organizations.
A non-profit is not constrained from making a profit. For many organizations, making a profit for fees for service or product means less time spent fundraising or writing grant proposals. The difference is that non-profits turn the profits back to the organization– to employee salaries, to new services, to emergency funds. For-profit enterprises are not constrained by how they manage their profits. They can turn the profit toward a social enterprise, or into building the business, or however, they choose.
Non-profits have governing boards, with requirements for regular meetings, voting on decision making, and other cooperative management practices. For different types of organizations, the corporate governance structure is different. For example, a large state university system will have a different organizational and decision-making structure than a small community food bank. But they all need a group of people who serve to make decisions in concert.
Non-profits can be community service organizations, such as hospitals, universities, or large foundations and trusts; they can be smaller as well, but the requirements for governance and record keeping has meant that small charities and service organizations tend to group together under an umbrella organization that can provide the structure needed to meet tax and regulatory requirements.
A for-profit enterprise can be started and managed by one person, and that person can use the work of the enterprise, and profits, in any way. Businesses can be sole proprietorships, partnerships, LLCs, or other business legal models.
A business structures their finances so the core work of the business is supported by revenue, and profit can be allocated for business growth or a social enterprise. The lack of constraints on a for-profit business structure means an enterprise is agile and can respond quickly to opportunities and change.
Many businesses with social enterprise at heart are for-profit businesses, and they support their particular cause with a vigorous and sound business model.
Suddenly, I noticed it was everywhere. I’m not just talking about the ads that creepily follow us all around the internet. It’s one of those situations where you talk about something and it becomes the focus of your intention. Maybe you have a small epiphany or revelation about the idea which really puts it front of mind. Next thing you know, you just start noticing people talking about it or articles written about it. Then you say to yourself, “I never noticed how popular this is.”
In my case, I’m talking about the art of storytelling. We all know that a good story can captivate and motivate people. They connect more with it emotionally. But depending on where you are in your life you can hear that and say, ‘yeah cool, makes sense,” and that’s it, you think nothing of it. Or, you might say, “actually, this is really interesting. Let me dig into that more.”
Sometimes you think nothing of it and then a few years later you have a fresh perspective and it hits you much differently and you have a small revelation (Usually triggered by a life experience) about the idea and say, “oh shit, now I really get it.” The information was just as profound before but you just didn’t connect with it. Many times the insight sounds basic and logical so you overlook it a bit. But what seems simple on the surface does not mean there isn’t complexity when you dig a litter deeper.
Our job as Change Creators who want to help others, by teaching what we know, is to help you save time and get to important conclusions faster.
As a media company with a digital magazine app, we are always telling stories. We use information to inform people, educate and make a difference in the world. But these insights are relevant and important to all people, especially in today’s evolving digital landscape.
Since my small revelation, I have personally interviewed several incredible people to help us all better understand this art of communication and storytelling, so we can all learn how to master it faster.
To avoid information overload, I’ll start with 3 important insights you should think deeply about, especially if you want your business to succeed.
1 – Be Intentional and Don’t Get High on Your Own Supply
Here’s a quick clip where I mention how stories and personal experience made Salvador Dali great. This ties into my comment about seeing story everywhere now and it’s a segway into the next video segment from Jay Shetty.
Jay Shetty is on a mission to make wisdom go viral and so far he has been very successful with over 2 billion views of his videos. What makes them so impactful? In our discussion, we explored that very topic and got a better understanding of how he thinks about storytelling.
I have to give the credit for the art to my art teacher from when I was like, I guess in my teens, 11 to 18, I had one art teacher at school and always on my favorite subjects are in design. And whenever we do a piece of art, he does it like whether it was a painter I was terrible at painting was pretty good at graphics, I was terrible at fine too. But anytime we would draw something or put a collage together, or do something graphically, the number one question you need to go to me is, why did you do that? Like, why is that color next to that color? Why is that item on top of that item? Why is that juxtapose next to that? Like his question will be like, why did you do that?
And if I didn’t have an answer, I get a low grade and he had an answer, even though it didn’t look visually as good I get a good grade because his whole point was a mountain, meaning it was always about
Are you meaningfully connecting our colors and designs and objects and the and visions? Or are you just doing it because it looks good?
And I think that’s a beautiful way of looking at storytelling. Are you trying to tell a story so that it looks good? Or are you trying to tell a story because it’s going to be meaningful to the viewer.
So the way I explained this is that there are two types of storytellers. There are two types of creators. Imagine a spectrum. Imagine one end of the spectrum and the other end and one of the one of the spectrum you have selfish creators, what I like to call selfish created. These are people who create simply for themselves, it’s the people who get high off their own supply, right?
It’s like you made a video or you wrote a book just because you thought your idea was amazing, right? You think what you have to say, is so amazing that you make a video that you enjoy, and maybe a few of your friends tell you, it’s good. And maybe there’s a niche for you that you can grow into your selfish creator. You’re only making videos because you feel like making them for yourself.
That’s one end of the spectrum. Nothing wrong with that. No judgment. Just sharing how it works.
The other end of the scale, you have what I call sellout creators. So sellout creators only tell stories that they think people are going to love. They only tell stories that they think are going to go viral. They only focus on stuff that they think is going to get likes and what happens very, you may even get likes, but you won’t feel fulfilled inside you may even get followers and views you might not you probably will. But even if you did you still want to feel like you’ve made an impact or anything right? And that’s why when I talk about is being the best storytellers are selflessly self-aware, self-aware, self-less self-aware and selfless.
So what I mean by that is, the best storyteller has the deepest understanding of people’s pain and problems, because they’ve either lived through them themselves, or they have lived through them with others. And then their focus is on saying, how is the best way of communicating this and it may not be a video, it may be a written piece, it may be a whole book, it may be a speech, it doesn’t have to be the same format and then really figuring out how does this connect with people.
So I always say to people that I, I spent the last 12 years of my life sitting with people listening to their problems. When I was a monk, I used to coach people for free for no money for more hours in a day than that I could possibly do. And I would sit them and just-just discuss their problems and help them out of it. And that gave me a much stronger understanding of human behavior. So for me, storytelling is a deep understanding of human pain, human behavior, and then the most, most ideal format for communicating that
2 – How You Tell Your Story Can Make Or Break Your Business
What do you really need to consider when you think about your branding for an impact business? Mona Amodeo is a branding expert in the impact space and we had a chance to connect with her to discuss. Not only does she emphasize the importance of story for branding but she breaks it down in a way that helps us all understand how the moving parts come together.
This all comes together to prove out that story is the foundation of successful marketing. We call it StoryMarketing!
Is your brand attracting the right audience? Do people want to get behind your cause? What do people think about your brand? what’s your reputation?
Adam G. Force
What’s the first step in understanding…well is my brand…Like…Is it saying the right thing to people? Is it attracting the right people? What are the like, I guess, preliminary or early stepping stones and thoughts around branding that needs to be considered for somebody?
Well, I think if we think in terms of this, if we just kind of put if you can imagine three circles, interconnected circles and circles being first your business plan, what is it you’re trying to do? What are your goals? What are your dreams? What are your hopes?
The second circle, in that that’s kind of your intentions, right? The second circle comes to this idea of the brand, which really defines why you matter. I mean, every organization has to answer this question, Who are you and watch it, I care. And ultimately, your success or failure will depend on your ability to do that branding helps you shape that story. That sense of this is who we are, this is what we do. This is what we believe. And most importantly, this is what we can do for you in a way that’s different unique than other people.
So that second piece branding is that middle piece between your intentions of your business plan and your actual building the tribe I call it of people who really want to be connected.
You know, ultimately, though, Adam, what we’re really trying to do here is we’re trying to use branding as a vehicle for creating a reputation.
3 – Stories Create Chemical Reactions in the Brain
I personally made this video to stress a really important point. As a human behavior nerd, I loved learning about the chemical reactions in the brain because what it revealed is that external conditions (story) create a reaction that shapes someone’s behavior, how they respond. This is the most important part of marketing which makes this lesson 100% essential to master.
I recently came across a fascinating experiment. And it has two parts. One they wanted to understand does telling a story over video has the same impact on people as telling a story in person. The answer is yes. Two, they wanted to understand people’s reactions to the video. So they created two stories on video. One was about a little boy and his father, the little boy has cancer. The father is very emotional about it.
The second story was about the same little boy and the father. And they’re just walking through the zoo. Okay, so in the first video, people had a massive neurological change. And this is really important to understand because that neurological change is a reaction to the story. And when that neurological change happens, the human behavior changes, for example, you might be more willing to donate to a charity, the second video, people a dream halfway through, they were not hooked, they were not engaged. There was no emotional factor that pulled them in. And it’s that emotional factor that they find that creates a chemical in the brain called oxytocin. And that drives empathy. It drives people to be more cooperative.
So when you’re struggling as an entrepreneur, and you’re not being heard, especially by the most important people, the one percenters of your audience, I would highly, highly recommend starting to take more notice about human behavior.
Because whether you’re telling a story to get people to love your brand, or you’re trying to sell a product or get somebody on your team, or even get your wife to go out to a certain restaurant, you’re always selling and you can sell better when you know how to communicate because you understand human behavior. When you understand that human behavior. You could shape your story to be more effective.
This article originally appeared in B the Change and was published with permission.
Through research and site visits, soulbottles identifies suppliers that value the environment and work to protect it.
Like its signature product, the plastic-free drinking bottle, soulbottles has a clear business purpose. The German company, founded in 2012, helps to increase its customers’ sustainability through its signature glass bottles. But the Certified B Corp is also reducing the environmental footprint it leaves in producing the bottles while building Earth-friendly practices in its company operations and consumer messaging.
Its durable, artistic bottles are designed to break the plastic bottle cycle and encourage responsible water use. To limit shipping distances, soulbottles produces its bottles in Germany — the bulk of its sales are in Europe — and works with myclimate to mitigate the environmental impact of the process through carbon offsets. Through research and site visits, the company identifies suppliers that value the environment and work to protect it.
“We take care to keep the production as local as possible,” says soulbottles spokeswoman Nina Pestke. “Even if it sounds utopian, every single resource for a glass-made bottle can actually be found within our country.”
This attention to the environment, and continuing efforts to create more sustainable products in ways that reduce the company’s environmental resource use, earned soulbottles a spot on the 2018 Best For The World: Changemakers list with 202 other Certified B Corporations. The honor reflects soulbottles’ efforts to increase its local sourcing to 30 percent during the last two years and its focus on longer-term impact improvements to build business. Soulbottles is a Best For The World Changemaker, which is evaluated based on measurable positive impact across all impact areas, including community, workers and environment. Find all Best For The World honorees and stories.
Paying It Forward
In addition to its sustainable supply chain practices, soulbottles donates 1 euro from every bottle sold to drinking-water projects in developing countries — an amount that now totals close to half a million euros (or more than $590,000) and has provided an estimated 42,000 people with access to clean water.
While turning on the tap for clean drinking water is an afterthought for most people in Germany and the Western world, soulbottles knows that isn’t the case in countries like Nepal, where its funding helps support a water sanitation hygiene project (WASH). In November 2016, soulbottles leaders visited the project in Nepal, where they saw firsthand how the donations make a difference.
Equitable Under the Law
Soulbottles also strives to make a difference in workers’ lives by performing quality assurance reviews on up to 75 percent of its suppliers, ensuring they treat their employees equitably. In Germany, those conditions are reinforced by the Pay Transparency Act, a law adopted in 2017 to shrink the pay equity gap. It requires German companies with more than 200 employees to provide salary structure information to workers who request it. Companies with more than 500 employees are required to report pay equity in a public filing.
“As the biggest share of our production is in Germany, our costs are definitely higher than others in the industry,” Pestke says. “But we know that all of suppliers’ employees work under German law-based working conditions.”
While soulbottles had sustainability as part of its mission from the start, its initial certification as a B Corp in 2015 formalized its social and environmental values for suppliers, employees and customers. Ensuring its suppliers provide an equitable and sustainable work environment aligns with steps outlined in the B Lab Best Practice Guide: Creating Impact Through Purchasing.
“We strive not to be the best company of the world but the best company for the world, which has a bigger impact,” Pestke says. “The B Corp seal makes that main goal more visible.”
Being part of the B Corp community also means collaborating with other Berlin-based B Corps, including Coffee Circle.
A Sustainable Lifestyle
As consumer demand grows for the bottles — some featuring enviro-friendly designs like silver fern and the Alps — so do company sales and staffing levels. Soulbottles sells its product primarily in European countries but hopes to gradually expand to other markets. Now with 40 employees, the company sold more than 120,000 bottles in 2017 and expects to beat that number this year.
It also continually looks to improve its products with even more sustainable and durable materials, with plans to raise the recycling share of its glass from the current 20 percent. Producing glass from recycled materials also reduces energy use compared with using virgin glass.
Because Germany has long ranked at the top of European countries for its recycling programs and rates, an eco-aware lifestyle is the norm for most soulbottles employees and many other Germans.
“We think about our work as ‘purpose,’” Pestke says. “Working at soulbottles comes with a lot of awareness.”
That means everyday employee practices often include drinking tap instead of bottled water, riding a bike or taking a commuter train to work rather than driving, and choosing a “green” bank for personal finances.
And soulbottles employees have a short shopping list when looking for gifts, Pestke says.
“Within her or his first year at soulbottles, every employee probably has one present for every beloved one in her or his life: a soulbottle,” she says, adding that it’s a gift that also spreads the sustainability message.
Like Best For The World: Changemakers, all B Corps actively seek positive impact improvement through their business. From Sept. 25 to 27, 2018, the B Corp community will gather to share their impact stories, processes and experiments, helping all companies become stronger changemakers. Stay tuned for updates from the lessons shared at the retreat.
B the Change gathers and shares the voices from within the movement of people using business as a force for good and the community of Certified B Corporations. The opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect those of the nonprofit B Lab.
Let’s face it. Failure sucks. No matter how many entrepreneurial platitudes out there tell us differently, when you are in the weeds, struggling to get your idea off the ground, it can be tough to see the positive side of big mistakes.
Yet, why do so many really successful people talk about their toughest lessons or their biggest mistakes? Or do they? Well, they do now.
Whether you are in the middle of a big failure story of your own, just starting out, or even on the verge of a big breakthrough, you are going to love these stories from the front lines of entrepreneurship.
Let’s meet Lori Cheek. She shared her toughest lessons with us at Change Creator.
Biggest Lesson Learned:
If you put yourself out there big time, don’t be afraid of the big no’s. There’s always somebody watching when you take big risks. Someone will invest in your idea if it’s good. Don’t let one big no be the end of your vision.
Failure Times Ten Means Risk
I failed in a major way (10 times over) but pivoted. There’s not a week that goes by that someone doesn’t email me that I’ve inspired them in some way by watching my startup evolution. I’m a Shark Tank Vet, a TEDx Speaker and have been featured in Forbes, The NY Times, Wall Street Journal, Huffington Post, The NY Observer, Entrepreneur Mag, Fast Company, Inc Magazine and so much more.
When most people would have quit years ago, I only hustled harder to keep my dream alive! I could be the walking poster child for the age-old phrase, “What doesn’t kill you only makes you stronger.” It wasn’t an easy ride, but I’ve never been happier in my life. A lightbulb moment 9 years ago changed my life forever. I left my $120K a year (60 hour work week) design job and now I own a business that Wired Magazine recently questioned, “Is this the future of online dating?”
I’ve gone from 15 years of helping others build their dreams to a life finally dedicated to building my own. I feel like I’ve given myself an MBA by building this business and if I hadn’t taken this major risk in my life, I never would have been able to ride out this amazing journey.
After working in architecture, furniture and design for 15 years, I came up with an idea that lead me into the NYC world of technology and dating. I completely threw away my design career and I’m no longer building structures, I’m now building relationships.
In February of 2008, I was out to dinner with an architectural colleague. He’d spotted an attractive woman at a nearby table and scribbled, “Want to have dinner?” on the back of his business card and slipped it to her as we were leaving the restaurant. He left with a date. I left with an idea.
After over two years of brainstorming how to remove the “business” out of the business card, I launched Cheekd– a deck of ice-breaking dating cards with a unique code that lead the recipient to the privacy protected online dating profile of the mysterious stranger who slipped them the card where the two could start communicating online.
It was like online dating but backward and soon coined as “the next generation of online dating” by The New York Times. But as a trained architect, I really had no idea what it took to build a business. I couldn’t even begin to count the number of times I’ve failed building my business over the past few years. I’ve learned to welcome the mistakes and even joke that I’ve learned so much from them that I’m going to keep making more of them on purpose. I’ve taken a crash course in building a business and failing has probably been the greatest lesson of all. And here’s where the serious struggles began…
Breaking Free from Corporate
After finishing off my savings from my 15-year career in architecture, I had to get extremely creative to continue funding my business and this is where the financial sacrifices began. I made nearly $75,000 by selling my designer clothes at consignment shops and on eBay, doing focus groups, secret shopping, app testing, dog walking, house sitting, watering plants and by selling my electronics and other odds and ends around my apartment on Craigslist that all went straight back into my business. The biggest chunk of cash came from renting out my West Village Studio in NYC on AirBnB, while I couch surfed for 14 months, nearly got evicted and ultimately lost my lease of 5 years in my gorgeous apartment.
This was to support my idea that I kept pushing through despite the financial setbacks. I had gone from a stable, good living to couch surfing, all the while trying to get investors, build my company and get my idea off the ground. It was one of the toughest times of my life. I made a lot of mistakes which almost cost me my dream.
And finally, after four tumultuous years of building my startup with the wrong partners, lots of bad decisions and some major rookie mistakes, I was determined to find a way to take my business to the next level … and what better way than to apply to ABC’s Shark Tank. In September of 2013, I found myself walking down that scary shark-infested hallway into a stare off with five of the harshest millionaire investors in the world. I’d never been more nervous in my entire life.
When Shark Tank Tanks, Move On…
When I proclaimed I was going to change the population with my reverse engineered online dating business, serial entrepreneur and Dallas Mavericks owner, Mark Cuban, rolled his eyes, called me delusional and immediately snapped,
“I’m out.” Billionaire investor, Kevin O’Leary, demanded that I quit my “hobby” and shoot my business—my passion– like a rabid dog. After getting shot down by all five Sharks, I looked them in the eye and said, “Trust that you’ll all see me again.”
Although those final bold words of mine ended up on the cutting room floor (adding insult to injury), in the 48 hours after the broadcast, Cheekd.com received a record-breaking 100K unique visitors and our inbox filled up with thousands of emails insisting that the “Sharks” were “out of their minds” for not investing.
A little under 50 of those emails were from interested investors. Since the Shark Tank aired in February of 2014, I found the missing links from years before. We’ve raised 5 times the amount I’d sought on the show and I’ve gotten a CTO on board who’s helped facilitate and finance the new face and technology behind the new Cheek’d.
Figuring Out a New Business Model
Previously, with the Cheek’d Version1, users would use a set of clever cards to introduce themselves to individuals they encounter in the offline world who sparked their interest. If the interest was mutual, the card recipients used the card’s unique code to connect easily with the person via a private online profile viewable on the Cheekd website, but the physical cards weren’t really going to work in the online dating world (another tough lesson as I grew my business).
The newly launched Cheekd reimagines online dating with a new app that makes missed connections obsolete. Cheek’d uses a cross-platform low energy Bluetooth technology, which fosters hyper-local engagement. The app connects people in real time, versus virtual time. Connections begin in person; Cheekd helps you take the next step and continue the conversation online.
Cheekd ensures you ‘Never Miss a Connection’; thanks to this new Bluetooth technology, the app works on the train; on a plane… anywhere—You’ll get a notification if someone who meets your criteria is within 30 feet of you. If you’re near a potential spark, Cheekd makes sure you know about it. I would have never embraced this new technology if I hadn’t learned from the failures in the past.
What I Think of My Business Today
Cheekd has been the most powerful thing that’s ever happened to me. Building this business has been an incredible learning experience. I’ve taken a major risk (both financially and mentally) and surrendered my career in architecture & design, but my heart and mind are in this project every waking moment.
I’ve never been more dedicated to anything. Despite the occasional overwhelming stress, it’s been loads of fun. I feel like I’m living the American Dream—I’ve given birth to an invention. I’ve gone from 15 years of helping others build their dreams to a life finally dedicated to building my own. It’s the most rewarding feeling.
The world is rapidly changing around us and we all play a part in the future that is created. In this article, you’ll explore great tips for living a happier and healthier life that is more intentional.
According to the World Health Organization, 13 million deaths annually and nearly a quarter of all disease worldwide are due to environmental causes that could be completely avoided.
The conditions of our environment play a substantial role in the well-being of humanity and all life on earth.
While it’s easy to feel like our part individually is insignificant it’s important to remember that we’re all part of a bigger system. We are nature.
Taking care of nature is the same as taking care of ourselves.
Health issues such as asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, cardiovascular disease, and stroke can all be triggered by poor environmental conditions.
Business is one major tool people use today to help create large-scale positive change. But we can’t stop there or rely only on business. Part of living an impact lifestyle means to live consciously. This means we need to become aware of small daily actions and make smart decisions. This can be tough sometimes because it’s like breaking old addictions.
Here are some steps you can take to start living a more conscious impact lifestyle today.
The Food We Eat
Food is an everyday necessity of life. It’s also a business. How those businesses operate matters and so do the choices we make. Every dollar we spend is like a vote for the world we live in.
Opting for local, healthy, environmentally responsible food helps promote both personal health and overall health of the community.
Production, processing, packaging, and transportation of food is highly dependent on the use of fossil fuels and chemical fertilizers. These can greatly harm our health and the health of the environment.
Today, if you walk through a grocery store and just take a moment to look around a notice how much plastic surrounds you, it will blow your mind.
Sustainable food systems operate in a cycle of sustainable production and support. Farmers can make their food more sustainable by limiting pesticide use and treating their animals humanely and responsibly. Consumers can select food produced close to home and reduce the impact of our food system on the environment by lessening the distance food travels from farm to table.
When buying food consider these tips:
Buy local produce.
Buy fairtrade products
Buy “B-corp” certified products
Support and preserve rural communities.
Don’t use a plastic bag for every single fruit and vetable you purchase. Wash your produce at home.
Eat less beef and other animal products (Beef is a leading cause of deforestation, air pollution, and water pollution)
Avoid products in plastic containers; look for paper and glass which are biodegradable or recyclable.
Never buy plastic water bottles (25% is tap water in a bottle anyway)
Only buy eggs that are “Certified Humane”
Buy organic to avoid supporting the use of pesticides and toxins
Look for items locally grown
Buy fish that is sustainably caught and not overfished (see www.fishpeopleseafood.com)
It’s exciting to see the shared economy become more popular. This includes programs like Zipcar, shared bicycles stations in big cities, and even Uber.
Pollutants released by vehicles greatly increase air pollution levels and have been linked to adverse health effects, including premature mortality, cardiac symptoms, exacerbation of asthma symptoms, and diminished lung function. Have noticed that more and more people now have allergies or asthma?
To minimize the damaging impact of our current transportation choices, try adopting more sustainable methods of travel when possible. With hundreds of millions of cars on the road in the US alone we are growing rapidly.
According to the Bureau of Transportation 77 percent of people drive alone still. And at the same time production is booming. According to the International Organization of Motor Vehicle Manufacturers, there were over 72 million cars produced in 2016 globally. As of May 2018, 29 million cars have been produced so far.
Watch this TED Talk from Bill Ford (grandson of Henry Ford), talk about the future and gridlock.
Sustainable homes are not only better for the planet, but offer opportunity for saving some cash. These solutions might require a little investment up front but you’ll make it back over time in savings.
Tips for saving energy:
Consider solar roof panels that look great – https://www.tesla.com/solarroof
Make sure your home is well-insulated to conserve energy and spend less on heat and air conditioning.
Use a programmable thermostat to time your heat and air conditioning for when you are in your home. These can shut off while you are away, saving both energy and money.
Weatherproof your home. Caulk, seal, or weather strip outside openings to prevent air leaks.
Conserve water by installing aerating and low-flow faucets and showerheads.
Choose garden plants that don’t have a high demand for water.
Looking for a major upgrade? Tankless and on-demand water heaters can save up to 30% of energy compared to standard natural gas tank heaters.
There are many stages in a product’s life cycle, and each one can negatively affect the environment if not managed correctly. Companies may adopt poor practices because it’s cheaper and each year they need to show an increase in the bottom line.
In response to destructive practices William McDonough and Dr. Michael Braungart published Cradle to Cradle: Remaking the Way We Make Things, encapsulating a journey of discovery about materials as biological or technical nutrients and their use periods and evolution. They created a framework for quality assessment and innovation: the Cradle to Cradle Certified™ Products Program.
The Cradle to Cradle Certification process spans over five categories: material health, material reutilization, renewable energy and carbon management, water stewardship and social fairness.
Before making a purchase, consider the full impact of the product’s material, manufacturing method, and usage. Know the full extent of what you’re supporting. Products can tie to deforestation, pollution, child labor and other challenges none of us likely would choose to support if we knew about it.
To convert raw (or recycled) materials into a product, elements are processed, shaped, and manipulated. These steps consume energy and deplete nonrenewable natural resources. For example, plastic products are made from petroleum, a finite resource.
All the plastic ever made is still here today and will likely never go away. Maybe in a 1,000 years if we’re lucky. It’s filling our oceans, poisoning our food and killing eco-systems. About 8 million tons of plastic trash land in our oceans each year.
Additionally, many products affect the environment throughout their useful life. Using these items responsibly can reduce their environmental impact. Any equipment with a plug requires electricity to operate. To prevent wasting energy, turn equipment off when not in use.
At the end of a product’s useful life, consider what parts may be reused and how to dispose of the product or its components responsibly. Plastics, glass, paper, and other materials may be recycled. Many manufacturers will take products at the end of their lifecycle. Check with vendors in your area for specifics on disposal practices.
Some tips to save money and the planet:
Save your plastic bags and reuse them
Shop with reusable bags
Look for 30% or greater post-consumer recycled content
Buy 100% recycled paper towels and other paper products
Never buy plastic plates, forks, knives or cups
Only buy soap that does not use palm oil or sources it sustainably such as Dr. Bronners. (Palm oil is a major drive of deforestation)
Look for products made of biobased content (composed of biological products such as plant materials)
Avoid animal-based products
Look for b-corp certified
Look for fairtrade certified
Buy products that have minimal life cycle costs
Buy products that have minimal risk of toxic/hazardous chemicals
Look for products that are durable or have a long product life
Ask yourself if what you’re about to buy is necessary
Electronics impact the environment and human health. Fabricating and shipping electronics use water and energy, and often create industrial waste. The disposal of electronics results in a massive amount of waste going into landfills. Toxins, commonly found in electronics, can leak into the soil or release into the air through burning.
Each year our planet generates about 50 million tons of electronic waste. This includes everything ranging from batteries to mobile phones and children’s toys. Here’s the thing, while this material may have been tossed away that does not mean they’re not without value. Actually, the United Nations estimated the total worth of all that e-waste at $55 billion, thanks largely to the trace amounts of gold, silver, and other metals they contain. The problem, though, is getting them out.
There are specialized centers that can safely dispose of these products to avoid toxic leakage and may be able to recycle some of the material. Many manufacturers will also take old products to recycle their parts.
Only through management over the entire life cycle of electronics can we mitigate the overall negative effects on our soil, water, air, and health.
Check for special programs in your area to recycle:
Old laptops or phones.
Printers, keyboards, and other computer accessories.
I coach new social impact entrepreneurs around the world as they build impactful businesses. One of the biggest challenges I see social impact entrepreneurs facing is how to manage the ‘balancing act’ between the business and the social mission.
I’d like to introduce you to Peter Antonsson, founder of Anton Frans Sunglasses. Peter agreed to be interviewed for this story in hopes that his experience will help you if the ‘balancing act’ is something you’re struggling with.
Several years ago, Peter’s mom was sadly diagnosed with Alzheimers Disease. Peter is a lifelong entrepreneur, so for him, an incurable disease like Alzheimers was an especially devastating bit of news. As entrepreneurs, we’re used to being able to take on problems and solve them. Not so with Alzheimer’s. There is no cure, no easy answer, and no easy path.
At the time of his mom’s diagnosis, Peter was trying to figure out how to create an awesome sunglass company like his role models at Tom Fords and Ray Bans. So, he went straight to the factory that made them and got some sunglass samples to see what he could learn.
What he found would forever change his life’s direction.
Instead of seeing the news about his mother as an impossible challenge, he saw it as a tremendous opportunity. Why not build a business that would give back to causes his customers cared about, like Alzheimers?
His mom’s experience became central to his WHY: to create a revolutionary sunglass brand that also gives back.
To be honest, when I first met Peter and he told me about his mission to revolutionize the sunglass industry, I wasn’t sure what to think. I’m sad to admit that I hadn’t ever really given enough thought to the sunglasses I was buying or how those companies were impacting the world.
But for Peter, it was an industry ripe for revolution.
When visiting those role model companies, Peter realized as he held samples of sunglasses in his hand that all the famous sunglasses that he had come to love were basically made in one place by one massive company. He felt cheated and lied to. He felt deceived. Despite all the marketing and branding out there that made those brands seem so different, they were really all just the same cheap plastic with different logos.
Worse still, the same company that made them all also controlled the entire chain of production. So, anyone looking to take on the industry would have to play by their rules.
He got around the unfair monopoly by completely revolutionizing the quality of his sunglasses. Because he made them in a completely new way, he didn’t have to march to the beat of that other company’s drum.
Balancing Mission and Business
But what about balancing the social impact that started with the story of Peter’s mom?
That’s the most beautiful part of the story. Peter realized that we all have a cause that’s near and dear to our hearts, so his business model embedded impact with each sunglass purchase.
To make this work, Peter developed relationships with a leader in each social cause space by connecting personally and explaining the benefit of partnering with him.
As a customer, you’re able to support a cause that has personal meaning to you. Simply pick the cause at checkout, 15% percent of each purchase goes to the cause you choose, and then you can start rocking your sunglasses.
5 Key Takeaways
If you’re building a business with an impact model but are struggling to balance business and mission then here are a few things you need to do:
Lead with a cause that’s near and dear to your heart. Peter started with a cause that couldn’t be any closer to him: his mom. He then grew that to allow other people to support causes that were personally important to them.
Weave your cause right into your brand as part of the model. It’s not enough these days for giving to be an ‘afterthought’. For example, Peter’s customers select their cause as they’re buying. It’s front and center on his website, his mission, his branding. You’ve seriously got to weave your cause in that tightly if you want to make it in this business.
Be bold about the change you want to make. It took some major chops for Peter to take on an industry as entrenched as the sunglass industry. But, our movement is a rebellious one that’s all about challenging the status-quo.
Help your customers become part of your story. People yearn to become part of causes that are larger than themselves. So, you need to make this easy for anyone trying to become your customer to also get involved with your social impact.
Business and mission should coexist as one. Too often I hear social impact entrepreneurs trying to figure out how to ‘balance’ social and business missions when they really could just weave them together as one. Anton Frans and many others like it tie their impact indirectly with sales. In other words, the more their business grows, the more their impact grows. You should do the same.
The ‘balancing act’ between business and mission doesn’t have to be the daunting task we make it out to be. Consider the lessons shared in this article, learn a bit from Peter, and you’ll be well on your way to knocking this out.
P.S. Far from the ‘sunglass skeptic’ I used to be, I wear and love Peter’s sunglasses on the regular!
There’s something happening as we speak. People are starting to perk up and take action against plastic pollution which is suffocating our planet.
Change Creator is passionate about getting rid of plastic pollution and we follow new innovations closely. This is also why we recently interviewed the founder of S’well, Sarah Kauss. Her work building a premium water bottle brand in an effort to combat plastic bottles is impressive.
These innovations are very important because when you stop and look around, plastic is everywhere. And the worst part is that it’s not really recyclable and it’s definitely not biodegradable. Every bit of plastic ever produced is still with us today and will be for 1000 more years.
Here’s our list of the best plastic replacement innovations today.
1 ‘Ooho’ by Skipping Rocks Lab: The Edible Water Pod
Plastic water bottles might feel convenient but they come with huge costs, socially and environmentally. Actually, you end up paying a premium for water that 25% of the time is just tap in a bottle or it has added chemicals from production or leaching.
The consumption of non-renewable resources for single-use bottles and the amount of waste generated is profoundly unsustainable. The aim of Ooho is to provide the convenience of plastic bottles while limiting the environmental impact.
This little pod is just that, it’s little and may not have the same practical use as a plastic bottle, it will have different applications. Everything starts somewhere and this is a truly a unique innovation that is going in the right direction. There are many ways this could help people and of course take a lot of pressure off our environment and food chains.
At the moment Ooho is mostly being sold at events, while they get their fully-automated production machine up and running.
An entrepreneur from Bali, disgusted at the rubbish littering the famous holiday island Bali, is trying to tackle the problem with alternatives to conventional plastic.
Every year, an estimated of 1 trillion plastic bags are consumed worldwide. Avani’s non-toxic cassava-based eco bags should be considered as one of the solutions to mitigate this horrible worldwide epidemic. Avani bags are a bio-based alternative that becomes the ideal replacement for petroleum-based plastic bags.
Through years of preparation prior to its launch, Avani has successfully embarked on its mission to replace disposable plastic products which take hundreds and even thousands of years to be decomposed by Mother nature by using renewable resources made from plants. Parallel to that, placing sustainability as its core business values, Avani is committed to exercising good corporate governance by adopting the Triple Bottom Line approach in assuring the sustainability of its business.
While water bottles themselves are not a new innovation, the approach S’well has taken is which is why we were eager to interview their founder, Sarah Kauss. She has built a premium brand on the foundation of a very strong story pushing a mission to replace water bottles.
During today’s awakening around plastic usage, this could not have been a better time for S’well to pop up.
It’s S’well’s ongoing mission to create products that are both beautiful and eco-friendly, that infuse innovation with inspiration, and that continues to give back to communities in need.
S’well is a proud partner of UNICEF USA, committing $800,000 since 2015 to help provide clean and safe water to the world’s most vulnerable communities. Through 2018, S’well is focused on supporting water programs across Madagascar – a country where nearly 50% of the population lacks access to clean drinking water. We’re supporting UNICEF’s efforts to build infrastructure, educate families on water-borne diseases and promote national reform to make a sustainable, long-lasting change. To learn more visit: www.unicefusa.org S’well also supports BCRF and (RED).
Nearly every human on this planet has a dream. Yet as we all know, some dreams come true while others don’t. Why do certain goals seem to come to fruition, sometimes with the aid of what can be described as luck, serendipity, even a touch of magic? Maybe the magic touch isn’t magic at all, but rather setting an intention, putting our goals out into our community and working hard — even when we’re not certain we’re on the right path.
Future State CEO Shannon Adkins’ LinkedIn profile touts her as a “keynote speaker.”
But Adkins recently admitted — during her keynote address at a Bay Area B Corp Leadership Development event — that it was her first time filling that role.
Sometimes, she told the audience, you have to tout first and achieve later — especially when it comes to “outrageous statements” about the future of business, the world or humanity. But of course, she knew she wasn’t telling her audience anything new.
“This is this group of people who make outrageous and ridiculous declarations of futures that no one else thinks are possible, and then build coalition and then take action and then extraordinary things happen,” she told the B Corp crowd.
She’s long heard from others that they “couldn’t possibly do that” — the outrageous, the unusual, the unexpected — for one reason or another. So Adkins suggests adopting another mindset that makes the outrageous accessible to everyone: achieving big goals isn’t luck and it isn’t magic.
“How many people in this room have been told, ‘Well, yeah, but you’re just lucky. You have magical powers, like something extraordinary happens when you’re around’? But having it be personality-based or having it be luck-based or having it be leadership-based makes it not accessible for everyone else to really see themselves inside our outrageous futures,” she says.
So just how do we go about making outrageous ideas reality? Here are Adkins’ five steps.
1. Speak the future.
“What’s really important is that you speak that future even if you have absolutely no evidence that it’s possible. Right? So I don’t have any evidence … I mean, I’m not a scientist, I don’t have any evidence, but it’s possible in my own brain. For example, I don’t know that it’s possible to reverse climate change by 2050, but I’m all in. You know, I’m gonna take that pledge, I’m gonna take that commitment and I’m gonna do what I can to do that. So speak that future, even without clarity on exactly how that’s going to happen.”
2. Share widely and boldly.
“Share your crazy dreams, your visions for reality with everyone — and not just with people that you think can help you. So not just with the one person that you know has a connection to that particular point of contact or one person that’s an expert in that industry.
“Recognize that you won’t always know who’s going to be the person who’s going to be able to connect you to that future, to that reality. So you have to share it wildly and widely.”
3. Take action.
“It’s not enough to say what you want; you have to take action as well. My personal experience is that I take action consistent with the commitment, but it isn’t usually that action that leads to the outcome.
“Take action consistent with results that align the universe for that outcome to show up and to be available in your life.”
4. Ask for help.
“Be willing to tell people about your outrageous dreams — your ridiculous hopes and dreams. Ask for help frequently. Build your coalition. Rally your community. Know that the people in your life, they want your dreams to come true for you. So it’s an honor and a gift to give people the opportunity to help make those dreams a reality.”
5. Say yes.
“Say yes, even if you have absolutely no idea what you’re going to say in front of a room of people. When I was asked to be the CEO of Future State, I didn’t have the on-paper qualifications. And in looking back through that, I don’t think I’ve actually ever had the qualifications for any job I’ve ever done, in my entire life!
“And maybe none of us do. Maybe that’s the thing, right? This illusion that there’s a formula to success and it looks something like work hard, put in the time, and eventually, someone will notice that you’re ready and they’ll give it to you. But you really have to sort of demonstrate and prove these moments along the way.”
(This article, written by Rebecca Brown is used with permission from Cause Artist. It was published in full here.)
Over the decades, travel has become a multibillion-dollar industry. It keeps growing and becoming more accommodating, and we now find that plane tickets are cheaper, that there are travel agencies at every corner, that tourism is booming, and that all you really need to go somewhere these days is some money and a bit of free time.
As an interpreter, I travel more than an average person for the sake of work. And honestly? It’s all made so easy for me. I hardly have to plan anything on my own, and going from one end of the world to the other is no fuss at all. But comfort and convenience have their price, and it goes well beyond money.
The fact that I travel so much has actually made me think: how am I impacting the planet? And how can I make it better? While these are only my musings, they are based on research and experience, and if you want your own vacations and work trips to be more sustainable, read on.
1) Start with the Culture
If you ask your parents, they might remind you of a time when traveling somewhere meant having to learn at least a smattering of that country’s language. If you wanted to know how to ask for directions, or book a hotel room, or find a good restaurant, you had to know a few phrases.
Now? Everything is in English, and not only do you never have to inconvenience yourself to learn something new, you can even find all your favorite chain brands – from McDonald’s in the middle of the square in Milano, to a huge Starbucks at pretty much every corner in Beijing.
Being a green traveler isn’t just about the environment, it’s also about our impact on the culture of the place we’re going to. It’s about the fact that a beach in Barbados and one in Cancun look almost exactly the same because even when we go to a whole new place, we seem only to want to find familiar things and never get out of our comfort zone.
Sure, you’ll visit six museums in a day when you go to Rome, but you won’t remember any of them. Sustainable travel simply means mindful travel. It’s about paying respect to the place you’re going to, it’s about exploring and learning, not simply going to a Sephora in Paris and claiming you’ve seen France.
2) Get a Green Car
Solar-powered cars are a great way to lower your carbon footprint, and the prices are definitely getting lower as the world tries its best to find more energy-saving solutions. Since I can’t always afford to rent a green car, I also try taking the train instead of flying whenever I can. It’s slower, but unless I’m in a big rush, I actually don’t mind that at all. You get to see more of the country that way, and chugging along in a train is always better than flying in my opinion. Better for my health, and better for the environment.
When I fly for work, I try to be quick and efficient, but when I travel for my own soul, I prefer adventure. I want my vacations to be memorable and important, and so far, my favorite trip ever was walking the Camino de Santiago. It was hands down the most fun I’ve ever had in my life, and since I took the French Way (the longest route, basically) I got to learn so much about each little village, each little spot I visited.
I’m already planning to do it all over again next year, but even if you don’t think you’re up to such a long trip, I urge you to try similar options. You can actually go to pretty much any big city (Amsterdam is one of the best options), download a map of it, and then walk your way through it as much as you can. Don’t use cars or even public transport, simply get a good pair of shoes and see where your heart takes you. You might see fewer things, but the places that you do see, you’ll actually remember.
Always be aware of the impact you’re leaving on a culture. Instead of going to big places that are congested with tourists, try traveling locally, or try exploring a country that has never crossed your mind before. Be a mindful sustainable traveler.
Let’s face it. Your website is your calling card online. It can also be your online store, revenue generator, audience builder, lead generator and so much more. When it comes time to give yourself a new look online, where do you start? If you want to create a visual brand that tells your story, there are a few things you can do right now before you even hire developers. What am I talking about? The 20-second Gut Test of course. This is such a great exercise to do first, before the logo, the branding, the style guide, the development — basically before you spend your investment.
What is the 20-second gut test anyway?
In my line of work, I get to see and work on a lot of websites. Some are incredible and really speak to their customers, draw you in, and have amazing useful content. Some are flashy and false and speak to no one. In today’s crowded marketplace, it can be tempting to mimic a popular site, or even worse, just get something (anything) up so you can say you’re online. Yikes!
I would strongly advise against hastily throwing up a website without doing any kind of research or gut test first. Often in branding, our first instincts, our gut will be right all along. That’s why I love the 20-second gut test from Help Spot Design Academy so much. It really simplifies the entire process from the get-go and get’s you working towards your end goal.
How to start your 20-second website gut test.
While the test itself only takes a few seconds, the prep work is going to take a little longer. First, dig into some competitor websites in your industry. Make a list of about 10 sites or so that stand out. You don’t have to evaluate them on any level yet, just make the list. Choose the most popular ones, or just 10 sites that stand out for whatever reason. You aren’t evaluating anything yet, you are just listing them.
Now, I recommend taking another step forward too.
Make a list of 10 sites that you love (in your industry or not).
I think a valuable second step for this gut test is going to be looking at websites that you already love, use, admire — for whatever reason and giving them a gut test too. This can be a great exercise to do at any time in your online journey from time to time as well. Are your visitors not converting as much as you’d like? Has your growth stalled? Looking to make improvements on your website, but don’t know where to start?
This gut check can help you clarify all of those issues.
Too many times those of us who spend our lives online get bogged down the rabbit hole of Google. We can spend countless hours meandering among the world wide web that we forget to take a step back and listen to our gut. There is a reason we react ‘strongly’ to something, even online.
Now, the 20-second gut test begins…
I only recently discovered this little online gem and I have already started using it in my client processes to help people get mental focus on what really matters to them online.
“What is your gut reaction to each website? In other words, if each site was yours (swapping in your content, logo, branding, etc), how happy would you be with it? Rank each site on a scale from 1 to 5, with 1 being extremely negative and 5 being extremely positive.”
Rank each site from 1 -5, with 5 being a really great first ‘gut’ reaction to a website.
Now, comes the hard part.
Evaluating your gut. Moving forward with design.
Now, tally up your scores. What sites stood out to you as extremely positive? Take a deeper dive into the top 2 sites that you really loved. What is it about these sites that drove your fancy? Is it the color scheme? The user design? The content? Write these thoughts down. You’ll need them for the next phase of website development.
What sites were really low on your list? What made them stand out in a negative way?
How would you feel if this was your online presence today?
Now, do a final gut check on your own site if you have one. Does it make it make you happy? Are there things to improve? Does your branding really reflect your company vision?
This is just a place to start. Of course, there will be a time when you want to get something in development, but keep coming back to this gut check. It can save you countless hours by going down a path that just doesn’t jive.
There are lots of tools to help you get online. If you want to get up and running fast, we always recommend Clickfunnels (you can read our full Clickfunnels review here). It can really help you propel your business and you don’t technically even need a website to start promoting things.
How Your Money Mindset is Affecting Your Bottom Line
You are a budding entrepreneur and just created your first product! This is great news! You break out the champagne, and you celebrate! This is a big deal! Now you are going to need some strategies to price your product properly.
How to Choose a Price You’re Really Worth
It’s time to put a price tag on your dear firstborn product baby. You don’t want your baby to be rejected, that would hurt too much. So you rationalize:
“Nobody knows who I am.”
“Why would anyone buy from me?”
“I don’t even have one lousy testimonial.”
“How will people know whether it works or not? They are taking a risk by buying this.”
“If I put a higher price tag on this, people will think I am full of myself and that I think I am all that.”
“Maybe I should put a small price tag on it, just to get people to buy it.”
“I could also offer some discounts.”
“Maybe I could send it to my friends for free just to get people to give me feedback.”
Many entrepreneurs go through this dance, and they all learn the hard way that the conversation you are having with yourself should have absolutely no bearing on how you price your product.
It is your product’s value to the customer that should dictate the price, not whether you feel you have enough experience or not, or whether you feel people are going to think you are full of yourself for charging a higher price.
These are natural feelings, and they all revolve around your money mindset.
Money mindset is a set of beliefs we have about what money means to us, what it says about us, and who deserves to receive it.
To figure out whether you have a positive mindset about money, ask yourself a few questions:
When you charge money for a product, do you feel the urge to give that money back?
If you put a high price tag on your product, does it make you feel like it is really not worth that much?
Do you feel that people should keep their money in their pockets and just learn how to Google stuff so they don’t have to pay you for your product?
Do you feel better when you give free advice than when you charge for it? Like helping for free is the right thing to do, and charging for it is icky?
If you answered ‘yes’ to any of these questions, you are in the same boat as a lot of other entrepreneurs are and you may have some trouble pricing your products correctly.
The Negative Consequences of Negative Money Mindset
An unintended consequence of this negative money mindset is that pricing your product too low will attract the kind of client who expects lower quality, but is willing to take the risk because it’s what they expect for a low price point.
This is because, as consumers, we all associate low prices with low value.
The truth is that the price of your product says more about your client than it does about you; you probably always thought it was the other way around.
It’s the same as when you give products away for free: their value diminishes to, well, nothing.
Raising your prices will start attracting clients who expect higher quality. These clients appreciate the value of what they just paid a premium for because people show up differently when they have skin in the game.
Don’t disappoint them, and they will keep coming back for more.
The 6 Strategies to Price Your Product Properly
Here are 5 strategies to get over your money mindset issues and start pricing your products what they are worth:
1.) Be aware of your money mindset hang-ups.
Start by asking yourself the questions above and be aware of the conversation going on in your head. Then do everything in your power to convince yourself that pricing your product should have nothing to do with your feelings. You may not cure your money mindset right away, but you will not let it sabotage the value you are putting of your product.
2.) Think of what you have to give to your audience in terms of abundance.
When you create your first product it is as if you have just created the one thing all your dreams were made of. You have put your heart and soul into the creation of this new product baby, and you want to make sure it is successful, happy and makes you proud.
The problem with that mentality is that it makes you believe that nothing you could ever create could ever compare to how you feel about this one.
Let it go. You have so much more to offer to your audience. When you have only one product, pricing seems like such a big deal; but when you think about all the other revenue streams you are planning on creating, this product is simply one piece of the puzzle.
Put a price on it, release it, and move on to the next one.
3.) Have a multi-tiered offering.
Take your abundance mindset and create products that satisfy different pricing points. If you are starting out, think about what your audience needs RIGHT NOW and start there, then build all your other products around that core value and create a value-packed product suite.
4.) Do your research.
How much are others charging for the similar products? What value are you providing that others are not? What is everyone else providing that you hadn’t thought of? Your price should be competitive in the marketplace, and the only way to find out is by knowing your competition inside and out.
5.) Remember that your pricing can (and will most likely) change.
It can be paralyzing to even think you could price your product wrong. The great news is that you have full control over it, and yes, you may botch it the first time, or the second time. But as your audience begins to use your product and starts providing you with feedback, you will learn how to find that sweet spot. Find a price you are comfortable with, one you can confidently explain to anyone who asks and prepare to learn from the experience.
6.(Bonus Tip): Stop trading time for money.
If you are a consultant or run an agency, you might be tempted to do ‘hourly pricing’ but I would advise against that. Many people generally think that if I charge x for this many hours, the buyer or client will know that I’m putting a lot of effort into it. But what you haven’t considered is that your hourly rate must always include your expertise, your years of experience, your energy — all the things you bring to the table.
Hourly pricing can also get you stuck in your business growth. How can you scale your efforts when there are only 24 hours in a day? You can’t.
A better way to think about pricing is ‘value pricing’ which comes back to our discussion again on money mindset. Think about the ‘value’ you offer your customers and clients. What is that worth? That’s up to you decide. Trading money for time is a mindset that you’ll need to break away from quickly if you want to scale, grow and become the business leader you are meant to be.
Some Final Thoughts — How to Make More Money Today
Understanding where you are in your money mindset journey will help you become increasingly more comfortable with pricing your products and with their value.
It’s time to let go of those negative thoughts about money, and start welcoming it into your life. Are you ready to start charging what you are worth?
Have you ever thought about your money mindset and how it affects your bottom line? Let us know in the comments section!
Seth Godin is one of the most engaging speakers in the world. He takes the stage and quickly grabs your attention with stories that inspire you and ideas that jolt your worldview.
This talk is no different as he explores what leadership looks like today during a changing system today.
Where does the magic happen?
Most people think we need to address the external stuff, strategy, tactics, tips, if we do that enough it will be a lever to help people change their internal narrative. As people trying to make a difference we are addressing the internal and along the way, people become enrolled in getting the tactics and strategies.
The systems we are playing in are changing faster than anyone may realize. As we went from vinyl records to digital formats the system changed but there is more music than ever. Some will see this as a blank slate other will feel lost.
The Four Letter Word “More”
More market share, more sales, more revenue. The word “more” leads to mass marketing which means average stuff for average people. This is problematic. Most of the people you’re trying to reach don’t have the problem you’re trying to solve, or they don’t think they do. It has been stated that the average consumer today has the attention span of a goldfish. So we are treating people like goldfish so we dumb down our products and message. But these are human beings and we are just making the problem worse.
Sort By Price
Mass marketing means people will be hit over and over and interrupted by ads as products fight to stand out. But now, every digital good aimed at the masses will be subject to sort-by-price or distance…etc. They will choose the cheap one because they are all the same, they are all average. People no longer want to hear from the marketer anymore.
As more clutter of average products saturate the market and fight for attention the desire for more or to see the line graph go “up and to the right” leads to compromise. The bad news is that you cannot interrupt yourself into success. This is a losing situation.
Everyone in the world can engage with you but at the same time, everyone in the world is your competitor.
But when you’re going to the market with your product you must understand that not everyone, the mass market, cares.
There is a law of distribution to consider.
Referencing distribution chart shown below there three key areas. This will apply to any population.
The first part is a small percentage of early adopters who care.
The middle is the average person who could care less.
The final part is the people who are last to the party. As Godin states, they are the people with the “12” still flashing on their VCR.
“If you’re seduced by the mass-market mindset you’re going to be confused for a long time to come.” Seth Godin
Where Is The Magic?
Godin goes on to explain that he believes there are multiple steps of what we make when we make something important.
Those steps include:
Transforms from the people you reach to create an identity and drive loyalty (loyalty means they would pay extra when they have a choice)
Some of those people will tell friends
You shift the culture of a group
Linkages and Storytelling: The Stories You Tell Matter
Understanding how things work together is essential for growing your movement or business. Godin shares a bowling analogy by explaining that when the pins are moved 1 inch farther apart from each other you will never roll a strike, but if you move the pins 1 inch closer to each other you will roll a strike every time.
So where does it all begin? When do people first engage? Well, it’s with the story you tell. Nobody knows and if they will personally be happy with a product until they try it. Whatever course, product or craft you make starts by engaging people with a story.
We all want to make something special but over time we start making things more normal based on feedback and other external forces. As we make things more average you will fight on Google, Amazon, and Facebook. Companies that prey on people making things average because then you have to fight for attention. People tend to lower price or even raise the price but sort-by-price is a game you will never win.
Smallest Possible Audience
The way to win is to target the smallest possible audience that you can live with. They will be ignored by competition and the bigger stuff takes care of itself.
Two questions you need to ask:
Who’s it for
what’s it for (change you’re seeking making)
This leads to how you tell your story.
Where to Begin
We have been taught to aim for the middle because that’s where most people are but those are people that don’t care. Today more than ever before, we can find the people on the edges. The people who care.
Always start at the edge with interesting people.
All the products you know so well today started on the edges because that’s where you begin, with the interesting people.
Average is nice but not beautiful – the edge is beautiful.
Tribes share a vision and goals, way of being in the world. There is a role for each person in this world and we like being in sync with the people around us. But we have to stop doing what we were told and take a stand as a leader.
It is important to remember that if failure is not an option, neither is success. Innovation is failing over and over until something works.
While it might be scary you must leap into the void because that’s when you’re most alive. It always feels too soon, you will always want more proof, or to be more prepared.
Sure, you can be prepared but you can never be ready!
Clickfunnels is an all-in-one marketing software you can use to build your whole online business.
With Clickfunnels, you can:
Easily create your whole sales funnel.
Collect, manage and segment your leads and subscribers.
Run an email marketing campaign.
Automate your sales process
Avoid creating a ton of pages for funnels on your primary website domain
Literally, if you subscribe to Clickfunnels, you’ll never need anything else to run your online business again.
That’s because Clickfunnels is built for entrepreneurs who:
Don’t know how to code
Aren’t marketing experts
Don’t want to spend thousands to build their website
If you fall into this category, Clickfunnels is the perfect software for you. And it isn’t a dumbed down version of other marketing tools. Clickfunnels offers the same, or even better functionality and a LOT more features in one single piece of software.
With that being said, let’s start exploring the many features of Clickfunnels, and see how you can use them to build your own sales funnels and successfully run your own online business.
What separates Clickfunnels is that it offers a lot of diverse features at an attractive price point.
The majority of marketing tools either:
a) Focus on one area of your business: For example, tools like MailChimp and Unbounce are good for only email marketing and building landing pages respectively.
b) Are too expensive: For example, all-in-one marketing tools like Hubspot and Marketo cost $800+ a month for their CRM, automation and lead gen features.
Clickfunnels offers its features including the CRM and email autoresponder for less than $300/month.
Here’s what you can get in Clickfunnels:
Awesome Feature # 1: Clickfunnels Funnel Builder
A sales funnel consists of many parts. There’s the main sales page, then the opt-in form, the checkout page, thank you page and so on…
In Clickfunnels, you get the whole sales funnel, with all of the pages, bundled in a complete package.
No other marketing tool gives you this.
Step 1 – Choose A Pre-Built Funnel
All you have to do is choose for what purpose you want to use your funnel for. It can be one of these three:
To collect leads
To sell a product
To run a webinar
Then, you simply choose what kind of funnel you want. It can be a product launch funnel, a sales letter funnel, a two-page opt-in funnel etc.
These funnels are further divided into templates for what kind of products you want to sell i.e an ebook, a course, a webinar, a physical product etc. This means if you want to build your funnel from scratch, you can still get templates for individual pages like an opt-in page, thank you page, checkout page etc.
Step 2 – Create / Edit Your Funnel
If you have knowledge of funnels, you can go ahead and edit the order of your funnel pages – and add/remove them as well. For example, if you want to add a squeeze page in your funnel, you can do that. If you want to remove the upsell page, you can do that as well.
This flexibility to add/remove and move around pages of the funnel is going to be very handy. That’s because, with Clickfunnels, you can create checkout forms and membership sites in your funnel as well.
This means the people can directly pay and get access to your content without leaving your funnel and you can, therefore, change when these pages appear inside your funnel. (Hint: You don’t want your membership page appearing before the checkout page!)
Awesome Feature # 2: Etison Web Builder
In the first feature, we learned how Clickfunnels gives you an awesome sales funnels and page templates that are ready to go.
But be that as it may, you still have to edit the pages inside your funnel and add your own text, images, and videos. That’s where the Etison Web Builder comes in.
With the web builder, you can customize every single aspect of your pages. Every single page is divided into sections. Each section has its own rows. And every row has elements.
The elements are the most important part of your funnel. Text, images, headline, forms, boxes and everything that’s on your page is an element.
In the editor, there are 11 categories, each with its own kind of elements:
1. Text Elements: Text, Heading, Bullet Points etc.
2. Media Elements: Images, Audio, Video etc.
3. Form Elements: Buttons, Inputs, Text Box etc.
4. Advanced Form Elements: SMS Form, Billing Form, Survey Form
5. Countdown Elements: Countdown Timer etc.
6. Content Blocks: Icons, Dividers, Pricing Table etc.
7. Misc Elements: FB Share, FB comments, Custom Script etc.
8. Order Forms: 2-Step Order Form, Order Summary, Credit Card
9. Affiliate Links: User Login, Affiliate Links, Affiliate Stats etc.
10. Membership: User Login, Membership Content, Search etc.
11. Webinar: Webinar Form, Webinar Date, Add Event etc.
In addition to all these elements, you can also add your custom CSS code, change the background and colors with HEX codes and edit the mobile version of you funnel as well.
Awesome Feature # 3: Actionetics
So, now you’ve got your whole marketing funnel up and running. But that’s just the start. The next step is following up on the leads who’ve entered your funnel but haven’t become your customers.
Actionetics: Do you need this feature?
To do that, Clickfunnels offer an amazing feature called Actionetics.
But calling Actionetics a ‘feature’ can be a bit misleading. It’s not a single feature, but rather a set of multiple features. Here’s what you get in Actionetics:
1. Subscribers Info: You can see information and activity of your subscribers. Things like how many subscribers you have, how many unsubscribed etc. In addition, you can also see each subscriber’s individual activity like what funnel they’re in, what they’ve bought, how much they’ve spent, their social media profiles and more.
2. Email Lists: This is where you can create email lists. You can automate the whole process by adding subscribers to lists based on the funnels the join, the actions they take and the purchases they make. In addition, you can create ‘smart lists’ that allow you to create new lists based on data like where you subscribers live, how long they’ve been your customers, are they first-time visitors etc.
3. Email Broadcasts: Here, you can create new emails and email campaigns based on templates or completely from scratch and send them to your email lists. You can also automate the process so that when a customer takes an action like subscribing to your funnel, purchasing a product, opting in for a free ebook etc., they automatically get subscribed to certain email campaigns.
4. Follow up Funnels: This is a relatively new feature. It allows you to send your subscribers not just emails, but text messages, facebook messages, mobile and desktop notifications and more. It’s great for when you want to target your customers in places other than email.
5. Action Funnels: Action Funnels lets you combine your funnels and email campaigns. With this feature, you can automate the process so that any time a subscriber enters your specified funnel, the get a series of emails based on that funnel. And these emails can lead them to another funnel as well which can lead to another series of emails. It’s perfect for product launch campaigns or email courses which lead to upsells.
As you can see, within Actionetics, you get every single tool you need to manage the whole marketing of your online business. And this feature alone is why you should get Clickfunnels.
Awesome Feature # 4: Backpack
This is another feature most marketing tools don’t have – which is the ability to create your own affiliate center.
With a backpack, you can create affiliate links for the products you sell – so other people can sell your products for you in exchange for commissions. Clickfunnels puts it best when they say ‘it’s like having an army of your own salespeople’.
What makes the Backpack feature so amazing is this:
The commission links are ‘sticky’: Previously, affiliate IDs of your affiliates were stored in browser cookies. This means if customers cleared their browser history or purchasedyour product from another device, your affiliates commission would be lost since the browser cookie got lost. Now, the affiliate IDs are tied with customer emails. That way no matter what device they use, your affiliate commissions will be tracked because the customer email will remain the same.
The commission is for all products your customers buy: Suppose a customer came to the product page referred by one of your affiliates. But they also buy other products from you as well. Your affiliates will get the commission for every single product their referred customers buy from you.
You can create 2nd tier commissions: If you want, you can give a commission to your affiliates for every customer their referred customers bring.
You can run contests: You can create a competition among your affiliates so that the ones that sell the highest amount of your products, get a prize of your choosing (in the form of money).
With these features, you can be sure your army of salespeople will be motivated to sell your products, bringing you a higher amount of sales which in the end, will increase your revenue and profits.
Clickfunnels: Pros and Cons
Based on the features we’ve listed, here’s what we think are the biggest pros and cons of a tool like Clickfunnels:
You get prebuilt funnels: These are 100% tested and guaranteed to bring you the maximum conversions possible. This is a big deal since it means you don’t have to learn marketing (or at least, don’t need to be an expert at it).
You save money because of Actionetics: A CRM and Email Marketing service is nothing to scoff at. If you purchase these services for your running online business, they’ll easily set you back $300+ dollars.
You make more money because of Backpack: With affiliate marketing, you will get people who sell your products for you. And you don’t pay them a penny until their referred customer makes a purchase. It’s a safe way to make more money without spending time and money.
You save time: Integrating different services like CRMs, payment gateways, email autoresponders and landing page software is a big hassle. With Clickfunnels, everything is set up and ready to go.
There’s a big learning curve: Learning Clickfunnels is going to take some time. That’s because there are so many features and so many things you can do to optimize your marketing funnel.
The basic plan has a lot of limits: The Clickfunnels basic plan (which costs $97) doesn’t have Actionetics and Backpack, only sales funnels. Plus, the number of funnels you can create and the subscribers and traffic you get is limited.
Its analytics aren’t very detailed: You don’t get a lot of info on how your funnels are performing except conversion rate, subscribers, and unsubscribers etc. To get more detailed data, you’ll have to integrate Google Analytics.
You can’t create content: While Clickfunnels does integrate with WordPress, there’s no feature in-the-box which lets you create blog posts and articles.
Final Verdict: Is Clickfunnels for You?
If you want an all-in-one software – just one – that can help you run your online business, Clickfunnels is meant for you. It’s a great sales funnel tools for beginners just starting their online business.
But even if you’re a power user or an expert marketer, with Clickfunnels, you can create a powerful funnel and integrate other services you might use.
Because while Clickfunnels is easy-to-use, it’s by no means a dumbed down or watered version of any software in the market. It has all the features you could possibly need to sell your new product or service.
It starts at $97 for the base subscription. But if you want to unlock Backpack and the Actionetics bundle, it’ll cost you $297 to get you started. If you are building your business online, I strongly recommend you unlock Backpack and Actionetics bundle. You just won’t get the analytics and metrics without it.
When I decided to take my life in a completely new direction that’s all I knew. The missing part was what direction I wanted to go. If you are thinking, “I want to start my own business but don’t know what to do” then this article is for you. This is my real deal life experience here, so keep reading.
I wanted to be my own boss. I wanted the work I spent my valuable time each day doing to actually matter. Not just to me but to the planet. I didn’t want my earnings capped by a salary anymore.
I wanted to start my own business but didn’t know what to do!
At the time I was a heavy reader of magazines and books but also listened to podcasts. Always looking for inspiration and trends.
When I learned about the idea of social entrepreneurship I was all about it because it aligned with my values. Using business to tackle social problems. The activist in me said, yes please, that’s what I want to do!
Of course, at that time, there was very little information about pursuing that form of entrepreneurship. Not even one magazine. There was no Change Creator Magazine.
But I did find a book called Making Good by Billy Parishwhich became a bible for me. Parish’s story was inspiring. He hiked the Himalayan mountains and witnessed a melting glacier first hand. After that personal experience, he was so inspired that he dropped out of Yale and began his journey as a social entrepreneur and was very successful. He shared his ideas and perspectives which to me were of great value.
I learned that there are tons of ideas out there. Broken systems that need fixing. Social problems that need to be solved. Local or global, it was endless. They are all business opportunities!
Did this help make it easier for me now? No, actually it was tougher because I had so many ways I could go but I couldn’t decide what was best for me to pursue.
After a while, I realized my hunt to pin down the right idea led me to become paralyzed. I had no progress. No new developments. Nothing.
Starting Without a Real Plan
It got to the point where I decided to just start something.
The first thing I pursued was plastic pollution. Plastic water bottles drive me freaking nuts! My thought was to create something that could replace the plastic bottle and that was a hemp water bottle. I found that other containers were made from hemp because it’s so versatile.
I spoke to hemp experts and found that while a bottle can be made the challenge is water absorption over time. I found a solution to that problem from an FDA approved food product designed by some folks at MIT that could coat the inside of the bottle. It would then prevent the water absorption like a repellent. But it wasn’t on market and had some years to go before it could ever be used in scale. Plus, nobody at MIT would return my emails.
In addition to that, I found out that manufacturing would be a huge cost. If you wanted a water bottle company to take on the task of using hemp, it would require a ton of different equipment for processing. This means big cash.
I decided this path wasn’t for me and crossed it off the list.
Because I cared about so many different topics I created a blog called The Blue Dot Post. I started waking up each day at 4 am and wrote articles, hundreds of articles! I got some other great people to work with me and contribute and after a year I didn’t really know what this thing was yet or how to monetize it.
I took audience development classes, writing classes, and learned a ton.
I knew I had to get more niche and decided to focus on deforestation. This led me to guest posting which was a great experience that taught me a lot as well.
During this time I also did volunteer work that gave me exposure to new things and helped me develop a lot of skills I use today as an entrepreneur.
But I never really created a business, just a hobby.
A combination of things led me to clarity.
Working for other people first for experience
Doing volunteer work
Just starting and trying things so I can cross them off the list if they didn’t
Ongoing education (reading, research, podcasts)
After two years of writing, reading, and learning I picked up a book called 6 Months to 6 Figures by Peter Voogd. I needed to figure out how to make money with my ideas but this actually gave me solutions to finding the right idea.
Peter does a great job of providing exercises I now call, self-inventory, to help you narrow down what is not only important to you but what would make the most sense for you to pursue. There’s a difference.
If something is important to you that does not mean you have the experience or skills in that space. You can pursue it and succeed but it might take much longer. If you have skills doing something specific that doesn’t mean you love doing it.
After going through the exercises I gained clarity on what was important to me and how to think about using the skills and experience I already have.
Reasons for starting the business
This process is something we do in our mentorship program now because we found it to be so valuable.
Digging deep into your self-inventory is helpful in shaping your narrative. This means the business you create will have a story behind it which makes it an authentic reflection of you. That story is so important to the business and can be really tough for people to pin down. This process helps a lot.
I worked at WebMD for over 10 years which is a publishing and digital media monster. As Director of Strategic Marketing, I not only knew the media space but I was savvy in creating smart content marketing strategies.
If you can think of Venn-Diagram that highlights key information about yourself then you can imagine there is a point of connection for them in the middle.
Instead of becoming a social entrepreneur who makes a hemp water bottle or saves the rainforest I created a media company for purpose-driven entrepreneurs that would offer generation to generation learning and peer to peer learning. The best way to learn how to change the world is from those that already are!
That is when Change Creator was born. How I came up with the name is another story.
This media company, of course, included Change Creator Magazine, the first magazine app for purpose-driven entrepreneurs on iTunes and Google Play, because it’s something I always wish I had to when I was figuring things out.
Today, I have interviewed people like Tony Robbins, Nobel Peace Prize winner Muhammad Yunus, Arianna Huffington, Guy Kawasaki and many award-winning social entrepreneurs such as Taddy Blecher. They all provide strategic insights into building meaning businesses that matter to you and the world.
How to Manage the Risk (The Balancing Act)
Nobody wants to dump a ton of time or money into something and lose it all. Not when we have a boatload of student loan debt and other expenses.
The reality is that you probably will have to straddle two jobs for a while. The one that pays bills and gives you experience and the other that is your journey to be your own boss.
It’s really scary to start spending your money on software, conferences, and even classes. Thousands of dollars can go quickly. But here’s the thing. You have to be willing to invest in yourself to grow and change.
Here are a few things that really helped me cope with the fear and risk of taking a leap:
Once you have a business concept that is a fit for you and there is a plan in place. I highly recommend you find a co-founder! This will greatly increase your chances of success but you must find the right person.
Here’s an example of the document I use to track my money. (These are not real numbers)
There is no Time Like Now
According to the 2017 GEM report, in the US, 27 million working-age Americans are starting or running new businesses. A 16-year record high!
There has never been a better time to take bold self-directed steps in creating your own impact lifestyle.
The activist spirit is infused in the new entrepreneur.
People today believe businesses have a moral obligation to prioritize social profit alongside of financial profit. This is a huge transition taking place right now.
There are new models for business and life taking shape while technology is creating opportunities that never existed before.
More people are saying, “I can help change the world too!” But they don’t know how to navigate these new uncharted opportunities.
It takes effort and discipline to create a new life.
The true purpose of life is whatever you make it!
I hope sharing my experiences has helped you in some way. If you know someone that could benefit from this info please pay it forward.
Growing your business means doing online marketing right. Sales funnels (done right) can be an awesome way to generate more leads, more clients, and more revenue. In this review, we’ll compare two awesome sales funnel building software: Thrive Themes vs Clickfunnels.
First, let’s start with a brief intro of both these tools to get a general idea about them.
What is ClickFunnels?
Clickfunnels is a sales funnel builder. A sales funnel has a series of webpages (such as landing page, opt-in forms, checkout pages etc.) that guides your visitors and turns them into paying customers. Clickfunnels gives you pre-built funnels for selling anything you want and tools to measure the performance of your funnels. Plus, with the pro version of Clickfunnels, you also get a CRM system and an email autoresponder tool.
Thrive Membership is a collection of tools and plugins designed to be used with WordPress. You can use these tools to build sales funnels (and other kinds of websites) and measure their performance. Also, it has pre-built landing page templates and a website builder you can use to create complete sales funnels. Plus it has plugins like quizzes, testimonials and countdown timers you can add to your sales funnel or website.
Then here’s a short summary of Clickfunnels and Thrive Themes based on the above description:
Clickfunnels is an all-in-one solution for building sales funnels to sell your products and services.
Thrive Themes is a website building tool you can use to create all kinds of websites, including sales funnels.
Now that we know a bit about these tools, let’s dive in and see exactly what features these tools have.
The highlight of Thrive Themes is its diverse suite of WordPress tools and plugins you can use to build sales funnels.
Here’s the full list of tools and plugins Thrive offers:
1. Thrive Themes: Thrives Themes are a collection of WordPress Themes you can use to get started building your website.
2. Thrive Leads: This is a robust tool for creating opt-in forms on your website. You can create pop-up forms, slider forms, in-line forms, sticky forms and more that you can add to your website. In addition, you can also set when you want these forms to show such as when a person is exiting your website or scrolls half-way through. Plus, you can also see which forms are converting best with the inbuilt analytics tools.
3. Thrive Architect: This is the Thrive website building tool. You can use it to build homepages, landing pages, sales pages, blog posts and more. Plus, you can use it to add buttons, pricing sections, videos and other elements to your web pages.
4. Landing Pages: Thrives gives you templates for building your sales funnel. There are pre-built pages for everything from landing pages, opt-in pages to webinar pages and sales pages. Whatever you need to build your sales funnel, you’ll find it in here.
5. Clever Widgets: If your website has a lot of content, you can show relevant posts in the widget sidebar based on what someone is reading instead of the same posts every time.
6. Headline Optimizer: Headlines make your posts a success or failure. The headline optimizer allows you to create multiple headlines for a post and then A/B test it. The optimizer then picks the most clicked headline and makes it the default for that post.
7. Thrive Ultimatum: Thrive Ultimatum lets you add a countdown timer to any offer you present on your website or sales page. When the timer runs out, the offer will automatically end.
8. Thrive Ovation: This excellent feature lets you collect testimonials from your customers and followers either through a submission form or social media networks. Then, using the many beautiful design templates, you can display these testimonials on your sales pages, increasing your conversion rates.
9. Thrive Quiz Builder: A quiz builder is an excellent tool you can use to build quizzes on your website. You can A/B test quizzes, tie them to your offers and use the answers to segment your users and uncover valuable data.
10. Thrive Comments: This plugin gives your website visitors the ability to comment on your posts and create more engagement.
11. Thrive Optimize: With this tool, you can A/B test the pages in your sales funnel or website with different variations – and the pick the one that gets the most clicks or sales as the default.
Clickfunnels: An All-in-One Sales Funnel Building System
The highlight of Clickfunnels is that it offers the quickest and simplest way for entrepreneurs and marketers to build effective sales funnels.
Let’s look at ClickFunnels features in a bit more detail…
1. Clickfunnels: A Fast Sales Funnel Builder
The main feature of Clickfunnels is, well… Clickfunnels.
What this means is you get ready-to-use funnels for selling products, collecting emails and even hosting webinars that you can create in one click.
As an example, suppose you want to get leads for your new digital course on training dogs.
For that, your funnel needs to have 3 pages: 1) The sales page with an opt-in form. 2) Checkout page. 3) The Thank You Page
In Thrive, you’d have to make these pages separately using the free templates. But in Clickfunnels, you’ll automatically get the sales funnel pages created in this order.
All you now have to do it edit the content and add your digital course – or whatever you’re selling.
2. Backpack: Run Your Own Affiliate Programs
With Clickfunnels, you don’t have to sell your products alone. You can get others to sell for you as well.
With the backpack feature – which lets you run affiliate programs and offer people commission in exchange for selling your products
This is a great way to get your very own salespeople for free and get them to sell your products for you!
3. Actionetics: Run An Automated Marketing Campaign
Like we said, Clickfunnels is not just a tool, but a whole system for creating sales funnels.
So if you subscribe to the pro version of Clickfunnels, you unlock a whole new set of tools called Actionetics.
In this tool, you can manage your leads, divide them into segments, send them targeted emails and text messages (with their permission) and see your whole marketing campaign in a glance which you can then edit with additional funnels and emails.
This means that with the addition of just one more feature, you get your very own robust CRM system and email autoresponder tool as well!
Which Tool Is Better For Creating Sales Funnels?
To be fair, both these tools have their own advantages and disadvantages.
Let’s start this discussion with the price:
It costs $97 per month to get Clickfunnels basic plan. And if you want all its features such as the email autoresponder, CRM, and affiliate system, you need to get the advanced plan called the Etison Suite. This costs $297 per month.
Thrive Membership Pricing:
It costs $30 per month (paid quarterly) to get a Thrive Membership. In this membership, you get all of the tools and plugins they have. The only limit is you can use them in up to 25 websites. If you’re an agency and need to work on 25+ websites, you’ll have to get the agency membership which costs $69 a month (paid quarterly).
On the surface, Thrive Themes is the significantly cheaper option.
If you compare Thrive Membership with the Clickfunnels basic plan, Clickfunnels is 5 times more expensive and compare it with the Clickfunnels premium plan (the Etison Suite), Clickfunnels is 10 times more expensive.
1. Free Hosting: Clickfunnels hosts your website so you don’t have to pay for hosting. Thrive Themes does not. However, with Clickfunnels, you only own your web pages as long as you’re a subscriber. With Thrive Themes, you own them even if you are not.
2. Inbuilt Payment Integrations: You can set up payments for your customers inside ClickFunnels without going for a 3rd party solution. With Thrive Themes, you can add payment integration only with a 3rd part solution.
3. CRM System: Thrive Themes lets you collect leads via opt-in but has no option for you to store leads. But Clickfunnels also lets you store leads and segment them into lists based on the actions they take. Again, you have to integrate Thrive with a 3rd party CRM to get this functionality.
4. Email Autoresponder: In Clickfunnels, you can send automated emails to your leads after they opt-in to your funnel. In Thrive Themes, you cannot and need to connect to a 3rd party email autoresponder.
5. One-Click Upsell or Downsell: After customers buy (or don’t buy) your product, you can also promote other products after the checkout page in Clickfunnels. You can’t do this and need a 3rd party tool in Thrive Themes to do this.
As you can see, with Thrive Themes, you only get tools to build your sales funnel. For hosting, adding a payment system and managing and marketing your leads, you need 3rd party solutions.
While you can get many of the tools for free, tools like CRM systems, hosting and email autoresponders certainly aren’t free – and also requires you to pay additional dollars monthly to use them, adding up to a significant amount.
However, it is true the Thrive Themes offers many unique tools to create a business website focused on conversions.
Instead of just an opt-in form on your page, you can add a slider opt-in form, a ribbon opt-in form, a form that pops up when the visitor is about to close the website and more. In addition, you can add things like blog posts, comments, headline analyzer and more. For building a proper website, Thrive Themes is a good choice.
The Final Verdict
Thrive Themes is definitely the cheapest way to build your funnel – but that’s only what it can do. For more functionality in managing your sales funnel (which you’ll definitely need), you’ll have to integrate other services.
And while many marketers and entrepreneurs will like this freedom of choosing their own tools and services for managing their funnel, others will find that signing up and paying for additional 3rd party tools and extensions too much of a hassle.
How do you run your online business? How big is your sales team? How many marketing campaigns do you run?
These are important questions you need to answer so you can make the right choice between Ontraport and Clickfunnels.
First, let’s start by briefly seeing what each of these tools are made for.
Ontraport is the swiss army knife for automating your online business. It has lots and lots of tools to manage all parts of your business such as campaigns, sales, finances and more.
Clickfunnels and all its accompanying features revolve around doing one thing only: helping you create functional, attractive sales funnels that successfully get people to buy your products and services.
Which Tool Should I Get For My Online Business?
None of these tools is a one-size-fits-all solution. Both of them cater to different businesses with different needs.
That being said, your decision on what tool to get depends on exactly how complex the inner workings of your online business is.
If it’s just you – or a small team that’s going to be selling products, services or memberships, and you need a no-nonsense tool that’s powerful, yet simple and easy to use, Clickfunnels is the ideal choice.
But, if your online business is really big and complex, plus you have an army of marketers and salespeople on payroll who manage your customers and your many marketing campaigns, then Ontraport is a much better fit.
You now probably have an inkling of which tool you need to run your online business.
But hang on…
Let’s first look at the features each tool has to offer. Then, we’ll look at the pricing followed by our final verdict. And then you can decide which tool you should choose.
So let’s get started…
Ontraport: The Swiss Army Knife For Running An Online Business
If you had to choose one word to describe Ontraport, it would have to be ‘automation’.
Because even though it’s a platform where you can create sales pages, manage your leads and send them emails; going through the software, you can’t help but notice Ontraport’s strong emphasis on automating each and every part of running your business – not just your campaigns.
This can prove to be extremely useful for big businesses. But if you’re a small team or a solo entrepreneur, you might find these extensive automation features to be overwhelming.
But we’ll let you decide what you feel about this tool yourself.
Here’s a rundown of the major features Ontraport offers.
1. Business Automation
The highlight feature of Ontraport is business automation.
What this means is you can automate each and every little activity that happens within your business.
Here’s an example of what automation within Ontraport looks like:
Suppose you are running three sales funnels at the same time. One that collects emails of people interested in seeing your software demo. One that gets people to buy your ebook. And one that gets people to subscribe to your newsletter.
Now each of these are different audiences.
With Ontraport, you can automatically assign tags to different audiences, assign salespeople to follow up on the people interested in your demo, send an email campaign to people who subscribe to your newsletter.
And that’s just one example.
With Ontraport, you can automate tasks associated with your CRM, your marketing campaign, your sales processes, your billings, your email marketing and more.
And that’s barely scratching the surface.
Remember when the app store was booming, we used to say ‘there’s an app for that’? Now with Ontraport, you can say ‘there’s an automation for that’.
2. Campaign Builder
This is where the automation part of Ontraport really shines.
In the campaign builder, you can visually map out the whole process of your company’s marketing campaigns.
Here’s what the process of building a marketing campaign with the Ontraport campaign builder looks like:
1. Select a trigger or activity: This can be any activity or event that happens within your business. For example, a person opts-in to receive a demo. A customer purchases a product. Your salespeople initiate a follow-up call. You sell 10 products…
2. Select an action after said activity happens: What do you want to do after your desired activity happens? For example, your action after a customer opts-in to receive a demo could be to a) assign them the tag ‘high-priority’, b) add them to an email list c) assign them to a salesperson for a follow-up call.
3. Rinse and Repeat: After this happens, you can add another trigger and another action based on the outcome of the previous action… and on and on it goes, until you’ve built out your fully automated marketing campaign.
Ontraport CRM is feature-packed, powerful and extremely sophisticated.
To start, you can add custom fields, view the behavior of your customers and see the communication history of your contacts.
Then, based on the above metrics, you can divide your contacts into different groups and segment them into different lists.
And finally, you can use these lists in your automation processes within the campaign builder, email marketing tool or for any purpose within your online business.
Other Notable Features
All these fancy automation features, marketing campaign builders, and CRM tools are well and good – but none of this matters if you can’t build a solid sales funnel to get started.
1. Landing Pages: There are templates you can use to quickly build landing pages, test them and modify according to your preferences. Plus, you can add opt-in forms too to collect emails.
2. Email Marketing: With the powerful CRM behind you, you can create emails and send them to your segmented lists based on their identities or behaviors to create highly personalized marketing campaigns.
3. Send SMS, Letters, and Postcards: You can integrate Ontraport to services that let you send personalized greeting cards, letters and SMS to your audiences.
4. Create an E-commerce or Membership Site: With Ontraport, you can also create an e-commerce site or connect with WordPress to create a membership site.
5. Dashboard: You can create custom metrics and display them in a single dashboard. For example, you can see metrics for products sold, the conversion rate for a form, number of users in your email list etc.
ClickFunnels: The Sales Funnel Builder That Does One Job… But Does It Well
Reading our intro and the review of Ontraport, you might get an impression that Clickfunnels is the ‘weaker’ of the two.
Nothing can be further from the truth.
Clickfunnels offers the same features as Ontraport does, but it isn’t focused on automating every single tiny thing that goes on in your business.
No, it’s focused on doing one job: Helping you successfully sell your products and services to your customers – and it makes this process quick, easy and painless for you.
To do that, Clickfunnels offers ready-made sales funnels for:
1. Collecting Emails
2. Selling products and services
3. Hosting webinars
All you really have to do is edit the funnels a bit, move them around to create a personalized sales funnel and automate the process so that everything runs by itself.
Let’s see in detail how this works.
Ready-To-Use Sales Funnels
The biggest selling point of Clickfunnels is that it gives you ready-to-use funnels for selling ebooks, services, products, webinars, memberships and more. And what’s more? All these funnels are scientifically tested to convert.
This is a huge factor you need to keep in mind.
With other tools, you need to be an expert in building funnels and campaigns in order to take full advantage. But Clickfunnels does the whole job for you.
Its funnels are designed to get the highest number of sales possible and you can see exactly what pages your funnel has. For example, a funnel for selling an ebook might have the following pages:
1. The sales page with an opt-in form.
2. The checkout page.
3. The thank you page.
All these pages can be easily modified with Clickfunnel page editor which, to be honest, is much better than Ontraport’s website editor.
That’s because everything feels more flexible and less confined. You aren’t just working with boxes and templates. You can change and move individual elements more easily.
Clickfunnel’s CRM shows you in a glance the information about your leads and subscribers.
A cool thing to note is that once you click on the lead to get more detailed information, Clickfunnels pulls that lead’s social media profiles as well, which you can visit with a single click to get more in-depth information.
In addition, you can see all other relevant information like what was their last purchases, which email list they’re in, what campaigns are they currently a part of etc.
Plus, based on their activity, demographics or other info, you can quickly segment your leads into different groups so you can send them personalized emails or put them in your automations.
For that, Clickfunnels has a whole email marketing tool where you can create emails and whole email campaigns and send them to your desired audiences based on different identity and behavior related metrics.
Actionetics: Action Funnels
Actionetics is where all the automation inside Clickfunnels happens.
Here, like Ontraport, you can create funnels – and if someone interacts with it, you can assign different actions based on their previous action.
The biggest difference between the two is this:
Clickfunnel’s automation tool is focused on getting users through funnels and getting you sales. Ontraport’s automation tools are focused on managing all aspects of your business, not just funnels.
What’s The Cost?
Clickfunnels Offers Two Plans:
1. Basic Plan
This costs $97 per month which includes everything you need to build your sales funnels. But the number of funnels, traffic, and emails you can create is limited.
2. Etison Suite
This costs $297 per month in which you unlock the actionetics bundle, which has the CRM, email marketing, and automation tools as. Plus the number of emails, traffic, and funnels you can create is unlimited.
Ontraport Offers Four Plans:
This costs $79 in which you get to store 1000 contacts and unlimited emails.
This costs $147 in which you get to store 2500 contacts and unlimited emails.
This cost $297 in which you get to store 10,000 contacts and unlimited emails.
This costs $497 in which you get to store 20,000 contacts and 200,000 emails.
Note: The basic plan severely limits the capabilities of both Clickfunnels and Ontraport. That’s why it’s recommended that no matter what tool you choose, you subscribe to the Etison Suite for Clickfunnels and the Pro Plan for Ontraport, which unlocks all the features of both tools respectively.
Our Final Pick
The importance of automation for big companies cannot be understated.
That’s why if you have expert marketers and salespeople at your service, and want a solution that can provide data and tools for both your sales team and marketing team, plus help you automate the tedious, repetitive tasks in every area of your business, Ontraport is the way to go.
If you don’t need (or want) to automate each and every process of your business, and want to focus on selling your products and services, Clickfunnels is a great choice.
It offers sales funnels so that even a newbie can start selling online like a pro. Plus, it offers powerful, yet easy to use CRM, email marketing, and automation tools to run your funnel and your online business, all the while remaining easy to use.
These are the two essential characteristics that make Blockchain technology alluring for early adopters, developers, and social entrepreneurs.
First, it is decentralized because it gets rid of central servers or authorities who act as intermediaries. Think of the central banks, governments, and policymakers, which serve as trusted intermediaries from the past, and at present are tainted by scandals, corruption, and dishonesty in all forms, fueling public distrust.
But with Blockchain, it leverages on peer-to-peer (P2P) network, which facilitates transactions and interactions recorded in a public ledger. P2P network is composed of miners who collectively adhere on a certain protocol to validate those transactions (blocks), which are by far irreversible in the chain in case someone wants to mess around these blocks.
Second, it is transparent and involves accountability because whatever is recorded in that ledger, it is searchable and traceable. If someone wants to compromise a transaction in the block, the subsequent blocks would have to be altered as well, which is impossible to execute.
Where the Real Work Begins: People on the Blocks
The technology could be a deterrent to fraudulent transactions and make an impact on the community.
It can help fight corruption and poverty, and also fuel financial inclusion, which will result in tapping new talents, opportunities, and innovative solutions because funds are more accessible to those in need.
Imagine, roughly 2 percent of global GDP was lost to corruption, particularly, bribery alone, which is about $1.5 to $2 trillion. And this is just one form of corruption, which indicates that the overall cost is likely more significant than these figures.
Corruption itself affects the society’s growth and breeds public distrust of the government and authorities who manage these funds. It leads to the inefficient and poor performance of the core functions of the state and distorts policies and their implementations in the long run.
Now here comes Blockchain
The development of traceable financial transactions using a cryptocurrency – a digital currency that uses cryptography to ensure transactions are secure—as a mode of payment on projects and programs can be a game-changer in this sector. CleanCoin, for example, is a digital currency environment, which can be tied to any currency to facilitate decentralized, transparent, and secure transactions that are intrinsically traceable.
It can be tied to Bitcoin, which is also powered by Blockchain, other blockchain transactions, and quantum cryptography to mitigate corruption.
This is way beyond mathematics when quantum cryptography is applied to these types of transactions because it uses physics (or the laws of nature) to encode messages to ensure ultimate security.
Thus, the recipient and the sender of the transactions are the only ones who can read them.
Unlike the fiat currencies (traditional money) and other modes of payments such as checks, which lack transparency and accountability are prone to illegal disbursements of funds.
Policymakers and authorities can easily keep the money in their pockets unless someone discloses an incident of misuse of funds.
A cryptocurrency for the government or the adoption of an existing non-anonymous cryptocurrency like CleanCoin would make it difficult for these “goons” to commit extortion, bribery and any corruption.
How? Here’s what Enrique and Eduardo Aldaz-Caroll wrote about blockchain.
“First, the blocks should contain additional data that typically stored so that there is sufficient information for the purposes of fraud and corruption enforcement. For instance, the block can store the nature of the expense and the project and activity linked to the funds. Second, the verification of a block should include checking that the additional data satisfies the smart contract. A smart contract contains logical clauses programmed in the code that triggers processes according to the terms of a contract. These terms could define the conditions to be met to release funds, dates from which they can be made available, and so on. The satisfaction of the contract helps prevent improper expenses.”
Smart Contracts and Blockchain in Real Life Application
But wait there’s more.
There’s more to that on smart contracts, which are the digitized version of traditional contracts when you sign a mortgage loan with your bank or buy a new house with the land title sealed with signatories that it’s sold and facilitates the transfer of ownership.
Smart contracts contain code with conditions that will facilitate the contract itself when conditions are met and then once coding is done, they are uploaded to the Blockchain networks – where the devices are also connected, thus, sent to all these, which are likely to get lost as the networks have a copy of those contracts.
As Nick Sabo, a computer scientist, legal scholar, and cryptography expert put it, “Blockchains are the most secure environment to run smart contracts. Think of a blockchain like an army of robots checking up on each other’s’ work.”
In his thought-piece about Blockchain developments and applications, Duncan Green, strategic adviser for Oxfam GB and author of ‘From Poverty to Power’ said, “
“Smart contracts are essentially bank accounts for contracts that live on blockchains in the form of computer code with instructions that self-execute and automatically disburse funds once predetermined conditions are met. This can potentially streamline results-based finance. Funds can be automatically disbursed as objectives and milestones are reached, albeit such rigid forms of financing can make it even more difficult to adapt to complex contexts and issues. Smart contracts could also help improve response time to crises by automatically disbursing predetermined amounts of funds after a certain amount of deaths during an epidemic or if a natural disaster of a predetermined magnitude hits a vulnerable country.”
If smart contracts have the potential to streamline results-based finance, which can be a deterrent to corruption and poverty, it can also fuel progress and competitive edge in other countries such as Slovenia, which was dubbed as the first blockchain start-up country, which for them, Blockchain adoption can be used in various contexts such as secure communication and transfer of data, and record-keeping.
Estonia is also an early adopter and dubbed as the blockchain nation where it uses the technology for advanced data encryption like their Public Key Infrastructure (PKI) and eIDs, which are secured using the tech itself, including the 2-factor identification.
Estonian citizens have more control over their data thanks to the distributed ledger where they can quickly log into their records, fill-in their digital identities in that system such in the case of their Healthcare Registry as an example. They get to access info about their medical records and professionals who treated them and when.
If such sector could be as transparent and accessible, yet secured for the owner of the data, then how much more if it’s used in other industries such as social development, non-profit organizations, financial institutions and governments if they embrace develop more applications and platforms.
A Distributed Economy: For the People by the People
Blockchain functions like a distributed economy where everyone in the network becomes accountable simultaneously.
With such distinct characteristic, it’s a catalyst for change in the intersections of finance, investments, social entrepreneurship, and payments.
Before we delve into the how; let’s review some hard facts about poverty.
The World Bank report on Poverty and Shared Prosperity Report 2016 noted that “poverty remains unacceptably high.” An estimated population of 766 million people was living on less than $1.90 per day in 2013.
Underdeveloped countries in Sub-Saharan Africa and South East Asia still lack the access to funds and are deprived of technological advances that can help them tap the opportunities for social and economic development.
Every year, the 1% of the population gets wealthier. Unfortunately, the inequality gap widens each year where the world’s richest get 82% of the wealth according to Oxfam’s report.
The world’s richest people are getting richer every year. And while it may be impossible to destroy their empires, for now, a distributed economy like Blockchain can significantly contribute to narrow the gap between the rich and the poor and the financially excluded.
Digital Wallets for Everyone and Lower Cross-border Transactions
However, one has to make his research and with due diligence before they jump into this space.
Basic understanding of Blockchain technology such as thorough research and reading of case studies and white papers, engaging with community-based groups on Facebook and Reddit will give light and clarity to those who want to be involved in it.
And having financial literacy on how this technology works, gives the users better understanding of Bitcoin and how to create digital wallets they can use to make transactions and pay other establishments and individuals using cryptocurrencies is happening in countries who are still in the exploring and experimenting stages.
The South African central bank has started a practical experiment by launching an Ethereum-Based Blockchain (proof-of-concept) POC “to replicate interbank settlements on an Ethereum-based blockchain.” And while this is not to replace the traditional infrastructure of the banks, the goal is to understand the implications of “using a tokenized asset” with smart contracts.
With real applications and regulated banks joining in the space, it’s also an opportunity for people to create their own digital wallets and accounts and take control of the digital assets, cutting the middleman and financial institutions.
For example, this website, MyEtherWallet.com is a free open-source, client-side interface that generates Ethereum wallets, which are secure and usable for other digital transactions such as transferring cryptocurrencies from one Ethereum wallet to another, as a storage for the coins or even tokens issued by companies that offer ICO – initial coin offerings.
Abra wallet is another digital wallet, which is collaborating with local banks and payment outlets allowing the users to buy Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies or store their coins, and even fiat money like USD, AUD, and major currencies.
What’s more, the low transaction fees when it comes to sending money is ridiculously low compared to traditional banks via wire transfer or even PayPal transaction fees.
In India and Kenya, Bitcoin transactions are cheaper and more efficient alternative to other mobile payment networks like mPesa, as CoinTelegraph put it.
The Digital Currency Group (DCG) has supported startups like Unocoin and BitPesa in shaping the remittance sector, shifting the individual’s payment methods from cash to cryptocurrencies.
“According to DCG, the monthly volume of cross-border payments settled via Bitcoin is increasing at an exponential rate, rising from nearly US$5 million to US$40 million from January to October of 2016.”
Access to funds via P2P lending powered by Blockchain
One of the challenges for entrepreneurs and digital SMEs is access to funds for them to start a business or scale it to the next level.
Bank loans require an arduous process that will take weeks and months before you get the funds, especially in developing countries. And that’s where Rubix.one, a token agnostic, auction-based crypto lending platform for digital SMEs fill the gap using a global comparable credit score for its users in the backend.
As there are certain regulations in terms of loan processing in each country, Rubix.one makes it a bit more decentralized where any digital startup or SME can easily access funds, whether they are payment service providers or traditional lending platforms.
Funds are not limited by time and place.
Anyone, regardless the size of volume they ask for – but of course, they also conduct KYC (Know-Your-Customer) verification process also to protect the platform and its stakeholders – as long as they have revenues.
KYC is simply identity verification. The company checks the buyer’s identity and residency, which requires the borrower to send various documents, most of them in digital formats, to make sure the participants are legitimate.
One of the benefits of participating in this kind of lending platform is that you get to access liquidity especially if you’re in developing countries. What’s more, you get lower rates compared to the rates of traditional banks and also the processing time is much shorter.
Here’s how Rubix.one platform work:
They have a meta-scoring engine “Rubix Score” which provides reliable data on any user’s credit standing.
Aggregate data and behavior from service distributors – Uber, Airbnb, Amazon, PSD2, combined with data from traditional services like Equifax and EulerHermes, digital wallets of users based on Blockchain technology, like Bitcoin and Ethereum wallet
Another way Blockchain and smart contracts provide easy access to funds is through a membership-based lending and borrowing network where the community can use their blockchain assets – such as cryptocurrencies (Bitcoin, Ethereum, Ripple, etc.) to secure cash loans.
SALT allows the members to use their cryptocurrencies as holding collaterals to get cash, but for now, the offer is limited to certain regions.
While their platform is still exclusive to members, they require the participants to register and become SALT token holders.
These are ERC20 tokens that the members spend once they become part of the lending platform. ERC20 tokens can be stored in an Ethereum wallet as mentioned above. Members can redeem these tokens to receive better rates on loans, purchase items from the online store or pay loan interest.
In a nutshell, SALT allows members to hold their digital assets while they secure cash loans based on the terms of the loans.
If there’s one thing that Blockchain technology can do in terms of it functioning like a distributed economy is to decentralize financial processes and make funds accessible to everyone.
Blockchain: In a Speculative Stage with Full of Potential
However, just like any emerging technology, there are also caveats behind it. It’s still in a nascent stage where everyone is still unsure of where it will lead and what it will become.
Dave Balter, nailed it in when he wrote this:
“The Blockchain industry is different for one simple reason: because there is a limitless amount to learn, about an unlimited number of things. And there is no plateau in sight.”
No one can become an expert in this field overnight. With cryptography, technology, programming, and economics, combined, it’s for people who understand that learning is a relentless pursuit, to know the unattainable and continue to explore the possibilities that will make an impact to the society, especially when it comes to corruption and poverty.
Its decentralized nature strengthens its function as a distributed economy where everyone gets involved.
The transparency of the technology where even if one intends to compromise one block is too difficult to execute, which has a lot of potentials when it comes to enhancing security.
And even if it’s still in its nascent stage, individuals and regulators alike are fascinated by it and are experimenting on it in various projects.
And whether you’re a social entrepreneur, a non-profit organization, or a curious geek, you can be the new kid on the block and make a change in the society regardless of your niche or expertise.
It’s the only technology, as of this writing, that will never satisfy a curious mind who’d like to be a change creator in his field.
So much to learn, so much to do.
Will you be the new kid on the block to make a change?
Lisa Chau is a Ted-Ed lesson creator who has been published over 100 times in Forbes, US News & World Report as well as Huffington Post on TABLES: Technology – Academia – Business – Leadership – Entrepreneurship – Strategy. She was a featured guest on National Public Radio’s Baltimore Midday Talk with Dan Roderick, speaking on millennials and digital strategy. A few years ago, she organized and hosted the “How to Build a Strong Start-Up” conference at Columbia University.
We spoke with Lisa about her experience at this boot camp for entrepreneurs:
What brought you Club Getaway this month?
I was thrilled to be invited to participate in Survive and Thrive’s inaugural boot camp for mission-driven entrepreneurs. My interest in startups kicked into high gear when I worked at the Tuck School of Business at my alma mater, Dartmouth College. There, I met alumnus, Alejandro Crawford, who helps build bottom-up innovation and forge risk-aware strategy. We’ve worked together on many projects since the meeting, including co-teaching an MBA entrepreneurship class at The Zicklin School of Business at Baruch College.
More recently, I spent almost two years with Potentis Capital, whose mission is to build socially responsible businesses, as well as generate jobs and economic growth on local and national levels. I worked with portfolio company Watertree Health’s President Shane Power and his team to exceed the organization’s 2016 social responsibility goals by saving cardholders $120 million on prescription costs and donating $1.3 million to nonprofit Make-A-Wish®. Additionally, we raised enough money to fund over 2 million meals for 15 regional food bank partners.
Mission-driven entrepreneurship is integral to what I do, so a boot camp designed just for entrepreneurs is a natural match for me.
What did you find most valuable about your experience?
Although I always advise people to diversify their networks, I enjoyed meeting like-minded entrepreneurs in an extremely supportive environment. The endless hours and unique journey of startup life can be very isolating. It was comforting to be surrounded by others who understand the many challenges of growing a business. We just relate easily.
The Survive and Thrive boot camp offered me a community which I will work to maintain beyond our time at Camp Getaway – In friendship and in business. I’ve already exchanged correspondence with Recurrent Capital Founder and President Ethan Einwohner, whose unbridled enthusiasm led our “Stay Green” team to victory during the branding workshop led by Laney Silverman.
I have a long list of other founders I will email, including Quantum Media Group’s Ari Zoldan, Club Getaway’s David Schreiber, Cewebity’s Jameson Bennett, Fearless Talent’s Francesca Burack, and Motivating the Masses’ Susie Carder. WishPoints’ Grace Lee and I are currently discussing ways we can support one another.
Were you surprised by anything?
I attend a lot of networking events, hackathons and business talks. More than 80% of the time, I never have a problem getting a seat near the front of the room. People usually cluster in the center of the room. When I sauntered into the Boat House for Jesse Itzler’s keynote, the audience had taken up all the seats in the front third of the room. Guests were committed to learning as much as possible over the course of the weekend. The anticipation was palpable even before Jesse took the stage. I loved it. There’s something energizing about being surrounded by sheer ambition. We were ready for a great talk and Jesse delivered – He has an amazing presence, singular journey and sense of humor. He is definitely a different brownie!
The next morning, I was surprised I didn’t fall while walking on one wire between trees in the aerial park! I was sleep-deprived, cold and had a painful pinched nerve in my shoulder. But I had to push through – As Jesse insisted: We need to push past our limits. When you think you’re at your limit, you’re only 40% done. You can do more. Reach into your reserve tank… “It’s where the gold is.”
While I waited for my turn on the cables, my brain reminded me of the entrepreneur motto: Be comfortable with the uncomfortable.
(At the same time, I was trying to avoid the other motto: Fail fast, fail often.)
How was this conference different from what you’ve experienced before?
When I signed up for the boot camp, I expected lots of panels in the traditional sit and talk format, but surrounded by trees. This was different in that we bonded and learned by engaging in team activities in the air, on land and in the water.
People didn’t just proclaim leadership, they owned it.
During the teamwork and leadership mastermind session, @EnergeticPhD Cynthia McKee and Managing Director at Voyager HQ John Matson volunteered to brave the cold waters of Leonard Pond, not once but twice, to collect balloons. Meanwhile, I stayed dry on land and flexed my mental acuity to solve a riddle before our rival team could beat us.
The scaling and globalization mastermind session was superbly led by mentor Desiree Reid. She observed how participants interacted with one another and provided detailed, insightful feedback on each individual activity rather than simply throwing out generic comments. Then, she connected the activities to relevant overarching business concepts. She was wonderful. With over 20 years of experience launching and growing brands, including work with beauty and health giants such as Revlon, Avon, and Estée Lauder, Desiree has been featured in Essence and Allure magazines as a notable business leader.
What’s next for you?
I just began writing a business book. I will also offer related consultancy services with the mission of empowering executives in the design of their careers to cultivate meaningful connections & opportunities across their lifetimes.
I’d love to find a complementary business development role based in Manhattan that would also broaden my work with startups internationally. I’ve been to Amsterdam twice and the region is particularly interesting because of its rapidly growing entrepreneurship ecosystem.
Lisa Update: June 2018
After speaking at Microsoft in February and leading mentor sessions at South by Southwest in March, Lisa was invited to join Lampix, where intelligent tabletop augmented reality is powered on blockchain with PIX tokens. She manages community and PR within the marketing department headed by Sirius Satellite veteran Gordon Meyer.
As of April, Lisa officially became an advisor for fellow Dartmouth alumna Joan Ai’s startup Prepared Child, which is a social impact vehicle part of the NYU Steinhardt Edtech Incubator as well as the Dartmouth Founders Project and Pledge 1%.
Running a design company can be tough. Monetizing creativity is always a challenge. One of the ways I solve this problem is through educational marketing. It solves two problems. First, it shows clients that we are experts. Second, it shows them how tough our job is by teaching them a little about our craft.
We had a lot of success creating great informational lead magnets. However, creating landing pages that would convert became a major challenge.
I considered a few different platforms to solve our landing page problem. The two front-runners were Wishpond and Leadpages. Wishpond got my attention due to their commitment to research. I learned they had analyzed over 200 landing pages before and after optimization. This gave me a lot of confidence in their support staff and templates. Leadpages was in the running because they were specialists. I was also impressed by their commitment to education. They offer free weekly coaching calls.
What is Wishpond?
One of my goals is to better understand the type of people that visit our website. Wishpond is a marketing platform that helps us do that. They provide lead generation tools and help collect data about user behavior. This platform helps create increasingly engaging content for your audience.
What is Leadpages?
Where Wishpond is a Swiss army knife, Leadpages is more like a sniper rifle. Its focus is landing pages. It is not email marketing software. It’s designed to help you generate more subscribers. Leadpages is for those who need a specialized solution for building an email list. One that is separate from the platform they use to actually mail that list. Leadpages is best known for its huge template library and high conversion rates.
In short, Leadpages is an online platform that focuses on great-looking landing pages. They also have built-in support for webinars, sales pages, and lead magnets.
Leadpages Pros and Cons
No marketing automation
Viral thank-you pages
Limited tool set
SMS Lead Generation
Lacks interactive features
Helpful support staff
Poor Facebook Ads performance
Smooth CRM integration
Limited template editability
Wishpond Pros and Cons
A wide variety of social campaigns
Popup codes tricky for beginners
Excellent A/B Testing
Tough to export data
Marketing automation capability
Low upfront investment
Unreliable Facebook pixel
Easy to use page builder
Hard to downgrade
Key Leadpages Features
Adwords-specific Landing Page
There was one Leadpages template that stood out during my testing. The one that offered me the most success was their AdWords landing page template. This allowed me to collect over 4,000 targeted leads within a week. All without going over my planned cost per lead target. I was very impressed by this because it sped up my success. In the past, it would usually take a week or two of tweaking before an AdWords campaign would meet my targets.
Monetized Landing Pages
Leadpages has the edge in monetizing landing pages through forms. Sometimes I need to generate ultra high-quality leads. To do this, I need to filter out the pure freebie hunters from real prospective clients. The way I achieve this is through microtransactions.
Many leads would not pay $5 shipping and handling t receive a lead magnet in the mail. And such leads are unlikely to pay $5,000 for a design job. This filtering method increased the closing rate of our salespeople. All because they were dealing with a group of hyper-qualified leads.
The built-in payment feature even allows you to make the payment form into a pop-up. That provides many options in the same landing page. We could now collect regular leads who signed up for a digital lead magnet. But at the same time, we could generate premium leads who opt to receive a physical copy.
Facebook Audience Insights within Leadpages
Leadpages also provides the option to build Facebook ads without leaving the platform. However, they go a step further than Wishpond in their integration. They don’t limit themselves to basic campaign metrics. Leadpages goes beyond visits, clicks, and conversions. The ad management feature pulls data from Facebook audience insights. Leadpages connects audience insights with specific landing pages. This allow us to create targeted campaigns.
Built-in Facebook Ads Manager
I’ve always found the Facebook power editor a bit of a pain to use. It is not very intuitive. The interface becomes a confusing mess when dealing with a large number of ads. Setting up and managing Facebook ads had always been a time sink for us.
Leadpages dramatically simplifies the experience. They have a simple, easy to understand the four-step process. I was able to create a targeted ad that aligned with my landing page. Right now, there is a single Leadpages button that drives most of my profit. That is the “create Facebook ad” button which appears when I publish a new landing page. This feature has cut the time required to manage and setup Facebook ads by at least 70%.
Key Wishpond Features
Landing Pages Optimised for Facebook
Wishpond doesn’t specialize in landing pages. Yet, they produced landing pages that converted better than Leadpages. At least with Facebook Traffic. Wishpond is finely tuned to social marketing. So, we were able to effectively promote our lead magnet offer on Facebook. Wishpond allowed us to present our value proposition in an engaging way. All this had a positive effect on conversions. Visitors were better able to figure out what they would gain by downloading our lead magnet. And Wishpond made it easy for them to share the experience with their Facebook friends.
Think of generating a lead like inviting someone to tour your design studio or office. The form on the landing page is like your front door. If a visitor doesn’t feel safe, they won’t step through. We’ve been running A/B tests of sign-up forms for months. We discovered that pre-filled forms increase conversions. It’s like having a doorman at your office welcoming each visitor by name. The Wishpond platform makes this kind of personalization very easy. I have found this feature alone to be worth the monthly fee.
Automated Optimization by Wishpond
As a small business, I appreciated the Wishpond approach to Facebook campaigns. Wishpond allowed me to make conversion-focused modifications in an easy way. This is mostly done through Wishpond’s targeting software. By automatically optimizing ad targeting, conversions improve over time. This kind of ongoing conversion optimization turned out to be very profitable. Initially, I was skeptical about the efficacy of such a feature. But, in testing, my conversion rate went from 14% to 39% over a 2-week test campaign.
1. Why is Wishpond better than Leadpages for Facebook Ads?
It may seem strange that Wishpond should perform so much better than Leadpages in this regard. Especially considering the effort that Leadpages has put into their Facebook Ads integration. The difference is that Wishpond pulls more levers than Leadpages. Let me explain.
All Leadpages’ Facebook features are geared toward saving time. Particularly around campaign setup and management. And time savings are great, up to a point. After that point, other things become more important. Things like clicks, shares, and conversions. This is where Wishpond runs away from Leadpages. It increases all three of these key metrics. And does this by providing an interactive experience to Facebook users. It makes logical sense. People are more likely to share a fun contest with their friends than a static landing page. Plus, fun contests fit into the spirit of Facebook. The transition from Timeline to a fun contest is less jarring. This smoothness increases conversions.
2. When should I choose Wishpond over Leadpages?
You probably should not, unless your marketing strategy will rely on social contests. If you are running more information-based campaigns, you will want Leadpages’ flexibility.
3. Which platform provides the best overall ROI, Leadpages or Wishpond?
There are two sides to working this out. The upfront investment and the final return. For most, the upfront investment of Leadpages is lower than Wishpond head-to-head. But, Leadpages is limited to landing pages so that has to should be part of the calculation. In the end, the upfront investment is a moot point. Leadpages is capable of driving far more revenue. They owe this to superior Adwords performance and the ability to generate leads via SMS.
We wanted more visitors to download our lead magnets. So we realized the need to direct traffic to optimized landing pages. Our goal is to drive traffic and convert more visitors into paying clients. To do this, we needed a landing page platform that would allow us to capture high-quality leads.
Wishpond is great for running social campaigns. But, it is very difficult to match their templates to your branding if you have a distinctive design. And they seem to be great at contest apps but pretty poor everywhere else. The problem was that we were not looking for a contest app, we wanted a landing page platform.
And so, after comparing the two platforms, Leadpages was the clear winner for us. This is because the bulk of our paid advertising goes through Adwords. Also, we already have an email marketing service that we are very happy with. And Wishpond was no match on either landing pages or email marketing. Unless you are really into social media contests, I recommend you opt for Leadpages.
American consumers spend over $2 billion dollars per year on camping alone, with tens of millions of people hitting their favorite campgrounds every year. Despite its massive size, the camping industry has been resistant to technological change. No surprise, right? The point of camping is to get back to nature.
Yet doing so can be easier said than done. Anyone who’s spent enough time camping knows that the experience varies a lot from campground to campground. Some are barren, cement poured fields, others offer beautiful forestry but are overflowing with mosquitoes and poison ivy. Meanwhile, some are just plain awesome. The difference between a great campground and a subpar one is often the difference between a fantastic vacation and a miserable time.
Rapid App Growth
That’s where The Dyrt App comes in. The Dyrt makes it easy to find genuine reviews, photographs, and videos of campgrounds, and other useful insights. Over 30,000 campgrounds are already listed on The Dyrt, and its active user base has already submitted +70,000 reviews, many of them complete with pics and vids. Actually, there’s no bigger collection of campground photos and reviews anywhere else the web. As such, finding that diamond in the rough campground is pretty straightforward with The Dyrt.
Given all of the above, it should come as no surprise that The Dyrt is growing like crazy. In fact, a new user is signing up every minute. In 2017, The Dyrt added a respectable 16,000 people. Now, the app is growing like wildfire, with 18,000 people signing up just last month.
Such breakneck growth has attracted investors, who have poured $2.6 million into The Dyrt.
Solving a Pain Point
The Dyrt app will be a game changer. Up until now, word-of-mouth has been the go-to. When it comes to campgrounds, online reviews are often unreliable and terse. Google Reviews and similar platforms seem to be places for people to let off steam with complaints. Word of mouth, meanwhile, is great but unless you happen to have a thousand country traveling camper friends in your personal network, it leaves you limited. The further you get away from home and the farther you move off the beaten path, the less input you’ll find.
In fact, this pain point is what drove the founders of The Dyrt to build their app. While searching for campgrounds, Kevin Long & Sarah Smith could personally enjoy, they realized that it wasn’t easy to find good campgrounds in the vast wilderness of the World Wide Web. It was hard to find pictures, honest and balanced reviews, and other information.
Where there’s a pain there’s a problem. And where there are problems, there’s a potential to develop a solution. The Dyrt App allows campers to quickly and easily find amazing new campgrounds. What’s more, users can share camping lists with family and friends, easily dig up contact info and sort through campgrounds.
75 Million Active Camper Households
In other words, The Dyrt is a one-stop-shop for anyone who’s interested in camping. Turns out, that’s a whole heck of a lot of people. In 2017, there were roughly 75 million “active camper” households in the United States. Moreover, 13 million American households reported that they planned to increase camping in 2017 compared to the year before.
So millions of people are packing their trunks and trailers ready to hit the campground this year. With over 30,000 public and private campgrounds, campers have plenty of choices. Yet how do you make the right choice? A bad camping trip could turn what was supposed to be a relaxing getaway into a stressful nightmare.
Camping is a commitment. The family will have to pack up their lives. The trip will require a lot of preparation. Costs can add up quickly. Given all of that, you want to make sure the trip goes right. Thankfully, the World Wide Web and apps are making it easier to dig up information. The Dyrt, in particular, makes it easy to find honest reviews and great campgrounds.
Given that The Dyrt recently received millions in funding, expect the app to get even better. The app race is a money race. Those development teams that build up early momentum and secure funding are in pole position to build the biggest communities and code the best apps.
It’s Not Just About Growth
It’s not hard to figure out why investors are throwing their weight behind The Dyrt. It’s not “just” about rapid growth. Apps that solve pain points could be very successful. As for camping, in particular, the market is huge, and yet there’s also a potential to tap into “niche” amplifiers.
Gathering around a campfire with strangers to share advice, stories, marshmallows and more is pretty much a right of passage and tradition. As The Dyrt app continues to build up its audience, expect word of mouth to amplify its success. “How’d you find this campground?” The Dyrt. “Hey, we’re heading to Montana, any recommendations?” The Dyrt. “We’re looking for someplace really quiet and out of the way.” The Dyrt.
America features some of the most stunning natural landscapes in the world. Indeed, America’s so naturally blessed that it can be overwhelming. Until now, many campers were all but stuck going to the same well-worn campgrounds, like the Yosemite National Park campground. While these hot spots are fantastic, there are plenty of other opportunities out there as well. In the past, you’d have to hope you stumbled across a hidden gem.
Now you can simply pull up The Dyrt App and find that picture perfect campground with all the amenities you want and need.
I spent the best part of last year sending out one-off email blasts to promote my e-commerce company. At the time I was using very basic email marketing software to try and move leads further down my funnel. The problem was this basic software did not allow me to ramp up my lead generation. There was no way to effectively nurture leads. And measuring the results of my lead generation and nurturing efforts was difficult.
This inspired me to search for an all in one solution that would maximize my lead generation efforts. After a lot of research, two contenders emerged. Before I reveal my choice, let me highlight the features I found most interesting. I’d also like to address some frequently asked questions about inbound marketing platforms.
What is Wishpond?
Wishpond is an all-in-one marketing platform that focuses on integrating email campaigns with social media lead generation. Wishpond handles:
Sign up forms,
The Wishpond platform allows marketers to understand potential customers better through behavioral analysis. Using this understanding, marketers are better equipped to send targeted messages to people may be unsure about making a purchase.
What is Hubspot?
Hubspot is another all-in-one marketing platform that is designed to help companies plan and execute inbound marketing campaigns. They focus on improving web presence so that website traffic can be converted into reliable leads. These leads can then be tracked within their system so they can be analyzed and nurtured. Linking analytics with nurturing helps keep campaigns on track. Hubspot helps both B2C and B2B businesses with these capabilities:
Social media management.
Wishpond Pros and Cons
Lacks advanced cart recovery
Slow customer service
Works well with social media
Buggy landing page editor
Easy campaign duplication
Lack of template customization
Hubspot Pros and Cons
Commitment to educating users
No A/B testing in Basic Package
True all-in-one solution
Forced onboarding costs
Measurably improves ROI
High upfront investment
Works for products and services
Lack of integrations
Key Wishpond Features
Every marketing campaign experiences waste. The sales funnel can leak at many points and it is very difficult to keep track of losses. Wishpond offers a capability that allows you to plug leaks in your funnel. This is an automated process so you don’t have to waste time figuring it out manually.
There are two areas where I was losing the most money: reader conversions and cart abandonment.
Wishpond allows me to trigger a drip campaign as soon as someone subscribes to my blog. This is more effective approach than sending an email announcing a new article. Dripping blog subscribers is better for converting loyal readers into paying customers.
Reader Interest Segmentation
Wishpond’s drip marketing feature allows for easier segmentation. I can see which articles my visitors were reading before deciding to subscribe. I found this very useful as it allowed me to produce more targeted content. It also helps us send email follow-ups related to what subscribers are most interested in reading.
Key Hubspot Features
Hubspot is also effective at reader conversion. It’s not as straightforward compared to Wishpond, but the option is there. I was able to create custom emails for subscribers that would notify them about new blog posts. Hubspot’s analytic tools then allowed me to see which blog posts were the most profitable. This helps me do a better job of planning my editorial calendar.
Contextual Drip Customization
I felt Hubspot let me down in relation to creating more personalized drip campaigns. I was hoping to create campaigns related to blog posts viewed before subscribing. I was only given the option of either instant, daily, weekly, or monthly notifications. Each of these notification emails is customizable. Yet, there is no option to trigger a custom drip sequence based on a subscriber’s individual interests. For such an expensive software platform I found this omission disappointing.
Recovering Abandoned Carts
Two things are responsible for most cart abandonment. Excessive extra costs (especially shipping) and requiring the buyer to create an account.
Cart recovery is where Hubspot really shines. I attribute this to the depth of detail Hubspot provides about the abandoned sale. Both my internal team and the prospective customer get all the information necessary to resume the sale.
Most people shop with many tabs open. And so memory aids, like an image of the abandoned product in the follow-up email, are very helpful.
1. Why do I need a platform like Wishpond or Hubspot?
Inbound marketing is labor-intensive. This is because you shift focus from financial investment to creative investment. Things become far more complicated because you are attracting leads from many sources. In addition to ads, you can generate leads through SEO, blogging, and social media. Inbound traffic comes from a wide range of sources. That’s why you need an easy to manage, central platform to keep everything straight.
2. What do these platforms include?
For Hubspot and Wishpond what you get depends on the level of service you decide to opt for. Wishpond’s “everything you need” plan provides you with all the basics. This allows you to run effective reader conversion and cart abandonment campaigns. Those benefits alone are worth the monthly fee. Yet, Wishpond has a broad feature set that helps you convert cold traffic to paying customers. Hubspot includes everything that Wishpond offers except built-in contest management.
3. I’m already using WordPress and MailChimp for free, why change?
If you are still meeting your growth goals and you’re not overwhelmed. Which is especially common if you’re working with a Frankenstein system. That is something cobbled together from many services. In that case, there is no need to upgrade yet. This review is for people who are making money but know they should be earning a lot more.
4. Do intelligent drip campaigns have to be expensive?
The idea of expensive versus cheap doesn’t hold in business. The money spent on either Hubspot or Wishpond is an investment. The platform you choose will depend on your ROI calculations.
If you are just starting out, then Wishpond is the better choice for you. If you are more experienced, a powerful platform like Hubspot provides the most leverage. This is true even if the initial investment is greater. For example, the cheapest Hubspot plan that includes A/B testing is $800 per month. By contrast, Wishpond offers a plan that includes A/B testing for $99 per month.
Using Hubspot was mostly a smooth experience, at least for me. I did not have to make many changes to my workflow to get the benefits from their platform. Yet, I did find that I was having to find workarounds for the limitations of the platform. I liked Hubspot as a contact manager. It helped me to track the activities of thousands of people in one centralized panel. This helped me to manage follow-ups and gave guidance on when to push forward on a deal or drop an opportunity. The only other issue is that I work with a team of people. It doesn’t matter how good a platform is if no one is willing to use it.
This is why Wishpond took over. My marketing team preferred Wishpond over Hubspot. And since they would be the ones using it day to day, it as hard to argue. They convinced me to take another look at Wishpond from the perspective of using it to drive leads all year. From this perspective, Wishpond is the clear winner.
Wishpond offers a range of tools that help to promote creativity within a marketing team. This is especially true for the contests management feature. The toughest challenge in marketing is being remembered by your ideal customer. To be remembered, your company needs to provide memorable experiences. The same holds true online. We need prospective customers to remember our brand when they are in need. They also need to remember us to recommend suitable people that may need what we offer.
Wishpond’s contest feature stands out because it helps to make our brand sticky. It achieves this by getting people to be active in their involvement. Wishpond does this very well. I am impressed with how many positive messages we get about our competitions. Wishpond allows marketing to be fun for customers, this increases sales and referrals. If you need to improve the engagement and conversion rate of your marketing campaigns, then I recommend Wishpond.
2017 was a year for high profile casualties in digital publishing, with Vice, Buzzfeed, and Mic all missing ad revenue targets and cutting jobs. Mashable sold to Ziff Davis for $50 million, less than 1x annual earnings and a huge drop from its $250 million valuation just one year earlier.
The Google and Facebook ‘duopoly’ now eats up 63% of all US digital advertising and this has taken its toll on ad-supported digital media. Facebook’s algorithm changes turned off the traffic tap, making a big dent in audience numbers for publishers reliant on social referrals.
Print circulations continue to fall by around -6% yoy in the UK. Time Inc was split and sold-off to Meredith and private equity. NME closed a month later after 66 years of publishing and Conde Nast closed Glamour, the tenth biggest-selling title in the UK. While both titles continue in website form and with occasional specials, these are significant bellwethers for the health of the magazine industry.
Innovation Feeling The Burn
Underneath these headlines, publishers continue to innovate – monetizing audiences through ecommerce and branded content, adopting the use of new technologies, developing new content formats and distribution channels.
The New York Times recently said it was more than halfway to its goal of doubling digital sales to $800m by 2020, thanks to online subscribers surging to 2.6m. The Guardian’s own paywall strategy is helping it to turn around its considerable losses to the point of breaking even next year.
The news itself is going through something of a renaissance. Despite claims of ‘Fake News,’ it is journalists, not opposition parties, who are holding governments to account with the Windrush Scandal, Cambridge Analytica, and similar scoops.
There is, as ever, a lot going on.
This summer, the Digital Publishing Innovation Summit will be returning to both London and New York. The summits are designed to give publishing execs the actionable information they need to chart a path to revenue and audience growth.
If you would like tickets to either event, use the code SURVIVAL for 20% off two-day passes.
Here are some of the highlights:
Digital Publishing Innovation Summit, London June 26-27
A taster of the full agenda:
With digital advertising under greater pressure than ever before, learn how publishers are finding success through branded content and paywalls.
Dennis Publishing’s MD of Digital, Pete Wooton, will talk about revenue diversification across digital channels. Future Publishing will show they are monetizing their media audience with eCommerce. Tamsin Creed, General Manager, Private Media will be presenting how to pivot to a paid subscription or membership model.
Branded content experts who will share their best practices include the Head of Digital, Commercial Content at Hearst, the Director of Branded Content, EMEA at Quartz and Head of Digital at MailOnline.
Serena Guen, CEO of SUITCASE Magazine will discuss what it takes to launch a successful print magazine in the digital era.
Content Creation and Distribution Strategies
As the digital landscape grows increasingly crowded and social platforms shift, we shine the spotlight on how forward-thinking publishers are evolving their approach.
Experts in trending content from BBC, Telegraph, and MirrorOnline will reveal how social listening is influencing marketing and product decisions, while Cristy Garratt will talk about how CNBC have used online video to find new audiences.
Steve Rayson, Buzzsumo will be presenting new research into publishing in the era of ‘content shock’ and changing distribution channels, including an analysis of the impact Facebook’s recent algorithm changes has had on publishers.
Emerging Technology Platforms
Which technologies should publishers invest in to make the most of the opportunities presented by AI, voice and the data that unpins it all?
New research from Wessenden Marketing will show how UK’s major media companies investing in digital and where they are getting payback, giving you real numbers to benchmark your business against.
James Hewes, President & CEO of FIPP will be leading a panel discussion on new tech adoption and finding new platforms for engagement, which will feature participants from HuffPost, The Economist and Labiotech.eu.
Digital Publishing Innovation Summit, NYC July 18-19
New York publishers are making some of the biggest moves in the world to reinvent the business of news, and this year’s agenda is packed with publishing’s most influential leaders. See the full agenda here.
Meet the pioneer’s re-inventing news
Kourtney Bitterly, Head of R&D, The New York Times, will reveal how they are adopting and monetizing Voice AI .
BuzzFeed President, Ze Frank, Time Inc’s Editor-In-Chief, Mike Guy, and Vice publisher, Lars Bengstom, will talk about reaching audiences at scale through new approaches to content and social platforms.
Francesco Marconi, R&D Chief and Head of the Editorial Lab, The Wall Street Journal will show the WSJ is applying media science methods to empower ambitious journalism.
Jeremy Gilbert, Director of Strategic Initiatives, The Washington Post, will show how they are reimagining the election night experience,
Jesse Angelo CEO & Publisher, New York Post will show they are evolving their organisation.
New revenue streams
A series of talks will cover new approaches publishers are adopting to monetise their media business:
Brandon Berger, Chief Business Officer, the Skimm will talk about the new digital revenue streams and Dan Lagani, President & Chief Revenue Officer, Diply, will discuss powering up social commerce.
DailyCandy Editor-in-Chief, Dana Levy Founder, will show how she turned an email newsletter into a $125 Million Business.
Digital transformation stories
Modernising established brands for the digital age is a key theme at this year’s event.
Nathan Lump, Editor-in-Chief of Travel + Leisure, will explore the genuine opportunities ‘legacy’ media brands have in today’s world of commoditized content, and the pitfalls they must avoid if they hope to remain relevant.
Subrata Mukherjee VP, Product Management, will go inside For Dummies’ digital transformation journey, as they move from books to taking content directly to the learner.
Michael Villaseñor, Hearst Newspapers, will talk about how they have shifted their thinking from individual brand websites to a network that use a shared, flexible UX product framework.
Infusionsoft is a marketing automation platform with a built-in Customer Relationship Management. It is designed to help SMEs automate their sales and marketing processes. The platform focuses on engagement, customer tracking, and cash flow. You can use it to run a digital business from lead generation to final sale. This is what first attracted me to Infusionsoft. It was a single platform that could replace the three other services I was using to run my online business.
Why I started looking for alternatives
Poor Data Presentation
One of my main problems with Infusionsoft was the poor presentation of metric data. This is a tricky criticism to make because the actual data is excellent. Infusionsoft provides highly actionable information. It just takes a lot of number-crunching to make it useful for marketing decisions.
Ugly Email Templates
The other issue is their ugly email templates. I felt that my email results had reached a plateau. And this was partly because I was forced to send emails that were not visually pleasing. In my experience, well-designed emails increase trust and drive conversions.
Evolving Business Needs
In the end, Infusionsoft went from something I would happily recommend to colleagues to something I would steer people away from. When recommending alternatives to Infusionsoft (depending on the person’s personal circumstances and business needs) I would typically recommend one of three alternatives: Salesforce, Hubspot, or Ontraport.
This is the Infusionsoft alternative I recommend for professional services companies.
What is the main problem Salesforce solves for professional services companies?
For most professional services companies, the biggest challenge is generating and managing incoming call requests. I recommend Salesforce Sales Cloud as an alternative to Infusionsoft in these situations. Recently, I was advising a colleague of mine that was in charge of a midsized accounting firm.
A recent series of positive press articles had led to an increasing number of people using their website’s “call me back” button. The level of call requests began to overwhelm the sales staff. This is a serious issue because 90% of people hang up after spending 10 minutes waiting for a callback to be connected. To make matters worse, they projected that the volume of calls would double over the next four months.
Which Salesforce Sales Cloud features helped manage these inbound leads?
My colleague needed to set up a collaborative system of freelance teams. These teams would need to work with the core sales department to solve the call request overload problem. They did this by using a combination of Salesforce Lightning Dialer, Web-to-Lead Capture and Opportunity Score. These features allowed them to automate the lead follow up the process. This led to the highest value leads having priority for callbacks.
To make this run smoothly, he invested in the Enterprise Lightening Plan. You can see a plan comparison below:
Account and Contact Management
Customizable Sales Process
Einstein Activity Capture
Einstein Automated Contacts
Einstein Lead Scoring
Lead Assignment and Routing
Rules-based lead scoring
Sales Console Apps
Sales Teams Management
What does Salesforce cost?
On Salesforce, there are 4 plans; Lightning Essentials, Lightning Professional, Lightning Enterprise, and Lightning Unlimited. The Lightning Essentials goes for $25 a month, the Lightning Professional goes for $75 a month, the Lightning Enterprise goes for $150 a month, and the Lightning Unlimited is $300 a month.
What were the results?
The new setup relieved the core team’s workload. This allowed them to focus on the most important leads. Salesforce was able to align the capabilities of the off-site freelance team with the firm’s goals. So then my colleague’s firm could maintain their high standard of client engagement.
This is the Infusionsoft alternative I recommend for e-commerce companies.
What major problems does Hubspot solve for e-commerce companies?
A close friend of mine had been running a successful clothing and accessory store for nearly 11 years. After opening a few locations, he decided that they should also launch an online store. The problem was that the online store quickly started eating the lunch of the physical locations. We call this cannibalization. The CEO wanted to solve this cannibalization problem. He needed an online store that generated independent sales, increased engagement, and expanded brand awareness.
Which Hubspot features were helpful?
The first thing the team did was dig into the Hubspot Academy. This gave them a foundational understanding of inbound marketing principles. This was an important step because they did not have a background in digital marketing. This educational resource maximized their use of Hubspot.
Next, they set up a blog using Hubspot’s blogging application. They used this to share fashion tips and information about new products. This went a long way to attracting relevant visitors to their website.
Finally, they began to use Hubspot‘s workflows application. They could then segment email marketing actions based on the behavior of their customers.
Key features of Hubspot Marketing Hub – from $200/month
Content optimization & creation
Landing Pages Builder
All-in-one Marketing Automation
Personalized content and CTAs
Predictive lead scoring
Social media tools
What does Hubspot cost?
On Hubspot, there are 5 plans; Free, Starter, Basic, Professional, and Enterprise. The Free Plan has no cost at all. The Starter goes for $50 a month, the Basic goes for $200 a month, the Professional plan goes for $800 a month, and the Enterprise is $2,400 a month. Check out which plan works best for you here!
Is HubSpot for startups any good?
“HubSpot for Startups is a great program. HubSpot provides fully integrated marketing, CRM, and sales platforms — this is difficult to stitch together on your own (there’s always something that doesn’t quite work when you bring multiple platforms together). Knowing who’s visiting your site, what pages they are viewing, and which gated collateral they are downloading provides visibility that is often missing. I customized our sales funnel in less than 20 minutes, providing clarity and metrics that drive success. And this is all available on day 1.” Matt Benati
What were the results?
These features transform their digital marketing strategy. They could build campaigns and develop workflow funnels based on historical customer behavior. Right now, every email they send makes use of Hubspot‘s Smart Content feature. This is built into the email application. And it allowed them to successfully nurture customers that abandoned shopping carts. They also send transactional emails based on how customers have behaved in the past.
This change produced a 52% increase in sales compared to the previous year. And most impressively, they convert over 45% of inbound leads to paying customers. All this adds up to making the online store a driver of 1/3 of the company’s profits. It is now one of its most important profit drivers. Whereas before it was draining profit from the physical stores.
This is the Infusionsoft alternative that I recommend to information marketers.
What major problem does Ontraport solve?
A classmate of mine had spent the last 15 years working as an environmental engineer. After so many years of doing this work, he wanted to do something fulfilling. He chose to help Americans reduce their carbon footprint as well as their energy bills.
To support this vision, he needed to set up a system to generate leads and manage a membership site. In addition, he needed a platform that would support rapid growth. The challenge was doing this without sacrificing his freedom and flexibility.
Which Ontraport features were most helpful?
The first step was getting the membership site off the ground. Ontraport integrates smoothly with WordPress to create membership sites within the platform. This allowed for easy management of both membership access and subscription fees. Things were also better for his customers. They had the ability to update profile and payment details in a few clicks. These changes would be instantly reflected in Ontraport.
This business sells a digital product. Ontraport supports this by allowing information marketers like him to build intricate marketing funnels through their Sequences and Rules feature. This toolset automates lead generation, payment processing, and content delivery.
Ontraport‘s payment automation has been especially useful because it is a massive timesaver. Everything from initial payments to declined charges is automated and dealt with. Payment automation does a lot of the work one might expect from a dedicated customer service rep without the extra cost.
Key Ontraport Features
2-way SMS Messaging
Abandoned Cart Follow-up
Lead Management and Scoring
Trials, Subscriptions, Coupons, and Payment Plans
What does Ontraport cost?
Ontraport has four pricing plans; Ontraport Basic, Ontraport Plus, Ontraport Pro, and Ontraport Enterprise. The Ontraport Basic plan goes for $79 a month, the Ontraport Plus goes for $147 a month, the Ontraport Pro goes for $297 a month, and the Ontraport Enterprise goes for $497 a month. Check out which plan works best for you here!
What were the results?
The most important result is financial. His business generated over $4 million in sales last year. This success was made possible because Ontraport allowed him to generate over 170,000 qualified leads. This is what provided the foundation for him to sell over 80,000 memberships that year.
Who's it right for?
Professional Service Companies
Generating and managing incoming call requests
Web-to-Lead Capture, Task Management, Lead Management, Email Templates, Customizable Sales Process
As you can see, if you come to me and ask “what is the best alternative to Infusionsoft?” My response will be that it depends. You should select marketing automation software based on your business model and goals.
If you are an information marketer than your best bet is Ontraport. For running an e-commerce company, I recommend Hubspot. And if you are the head of a professional services firm, then Salesforce is for you.
Germaine Caprio, the founder of Majamas Earth, describes her ideal fabric this way: “Soft, comfortable, from a sustainable source, doesn’t disintegrate after use.“ Since starting Majamas Earth in 1999, she has worked with suppliers to change her materials from rayon to more sustainable organic cotton and modal. Little Bamboo is used because of the questionable land use, pesticides, and chemical treatment in the fiber’s production.
So far, the company has not used hemp or recycled cotton because customers tend to have difficulty in caring for those fabrics. On the other hand, recycled polyester is key to the signature contrast fabrics in Majamas Earth’s designs, though Caprio is aware of the challenges of this material, too.
Polyester Pollutes The Ocean
Polyester is plastic. No matter its shade, weight, or purpose, polyester is made by melting plastic, spinning it into fibers, then weaving or knitting it into fabric. The material is used in clothing from luxury fashion to athletic apparel and everything in between.
Any time polyester clothes are washed, more plastic ends up in rivers and oceans. Most wastewater treatment plants cannot filter out the filaments released when synthetic clothing is washed. A single garment can lose almost 2,000 fibers. These are more numerous and longer-lasting than other sources of polluting microplastics: microbeads in personal care products and degradation of larger disposed plastics. Consequently, plankton die and algae suffer at the bottom of the food chain while fish, seals, and non-marine creatures exhibit low energy levels and organ damage from the absorption of plastic and the toxins used in its manufacturing.
One fashion industry innovation for reducing the amount of plastics in waterways is to use polyester made from recycled plastic bottles. B Corporations such as Athleta, Patagonia, tentree, United by Blue, and others produce apparel and accessories from recycled polyester.
Caprio describes the process for Majamas Earth products:
“The majority of recycled [polyester] comes from recycled water bottles and milk jugs. It takes some of those items out of the landfill, and it makes polyester. It doesn’t use a lot of water to make. When we print on it, we use a heat-transfer process: take the print off a roll of paper, like an iron-transfer. Paper is recycled, cardboard tube composted.”
When Caprio started her company, she was searching for comfortable pajamas for herself after giving birth in 1996. Finding nothing, she designed a nursing tank which was ultimately merchandised at Nordstrom. When the recession hit the maternity garment business, she diversified her product line to include all women and began selling items in Whole Foods Market.
This year, Majamas Earth will present its first offerings for men. Throughout its history, the company has manufactured garments and sourced fabric and trims only in the United States. In addition to a Shopify website, Caprio uses YouTube videos and a blog to face the challenge of educating consumers about the value of buying sustainable products:
“Americans demand a low price now. If I’m gonna make a profit, I have to make sure its a sustainable product, that it’s going to last, making a product that people can wear forever. It’s not about the quantity people buy, it’s about the quality people buy.”
Caprio describes herself as “on a mission to change the clothing industry.” She is encouraged by Closed-loop processes encourage her as well as new garment industry standards in Europe and Australia. American designer and company founder Eileen Fisher’s policy of reselling used clothing and remaking new pieces inspires her.
Caprio has this advice for aspiring entrepreneurs: “No matter what you’re going into–app or a product or whatever it might be–make sure that you’re not leaving that product for future generations to clean up. Whatever you’re starting, make sure it’s not going to a landfill. See if your product is going to be hanging around for 50 years…. Look at every facet of your business, and look at what your trash is going to be doing after you’re done. It’s more costly to do business dirty. I’m hoping that the clothing industry is going to go on the same path that organic food does.”
“It’s so exciting to see so many people who want to change their industry. It gives me hope.” ~Germaine Caprio, Founder, Owner, and Designer of Majamas Earth
A bright green polyester jacket dropped as I watched a garbage truck stop at each house across the street from the train platform. The workers picked it up and threw it in the back of the truck. I must have sighed or winced because I found myself explaining to my fellow commuters,
“Fashion is the second most polluting industry in the world, second to oil.”
How does fashion pollute?
Pesticides used in growing crops can poison farmers and harvesters and can seep into water supplies. Transporting raw materials long distances to factories by planes, automobiles, and boats can create environmental hazards. Further emissions and waste come from processing raw material into textiles. Petroleum is required to make the synthetic fibers nylon and polyester. Waste from fabric dyes and chemicals for tanning leather can become pollutants in water systems. Unless patterns are precisely designed not to, the cutting floor leaves tons of remnant fabric. Once a garment or accessory is made, transit from factory to distribution center to store adds to the environmental cost. If an item does not sell, is not durable, or goes out of style, it is often trashed like the jacket I saw from the train platform.
While some large and small companies are reckoning with environmental responsibility at every stage of sourcing and production, what can a consumer do to avoid throwing away clothing? Charity thrift stores can be a beneficial option, but excess donations sent overseas can disrupt local markets in already strained economies. Some consumers have the skills to refashion their unusable apparel, but there is also a niche of entrepreneurs who will do this for them. Renee Jones, the founder of East and Market, is making a living through upcycled textiles and the added value created by customers’ memories of the materials they send — visit them at their website.
Launched in April 2016, East and Market sells one-of-a-kind accessories and home decor made from recycled materials. Custom orders are welcome and have included materials ranging from a leather camel saddle to cotton baby clothes. I sent her two suede skirts I hadn’t worn in three years and a couple of unneeded t-shirts: she turned them into zipper pouches I gave to my family at Christmas. I recently interviewed Renee to find out more about her business.
What were you doing before you started East and Market?
I received my BFA from University of the Arts in Philadelphia with a concentration in metalsmithing in 2005. After college, I worked for a jeweler, and after some time feeling unfulfilled and overworked, I decided to go back to school to get my masters in occupational therapy. Since graduating, I’ve worked as a pediatric occupational therapist full-time. I continue to work full-time in home health with children with disabilities in Colorado.
I was drawn to occupational therapy because of the fine motor aspects of it. I was intrigued when I found out that the origins of occupational therapy began with therapists teaching crafts to soldiers as a therapeutic and healing intervention. I know that for myself, the craft has allowed me to express myself and heal, so I didn’t question the power it has for most people. It brought my art degree, my need for making, and my yearning to help people full circle.
Since high school, I have always made things, from jewelry to painting to weaving to knitting to gardening to cooking… I love it all!
Why did you start your business?
I started East and Market as a way to express myself and remain grounded in my making while working a full-time at a job that sometimes (but not always) includes a creative element. And since starting, I have made so many changes to my mission and making!
At first, East and Market was going to be a fashion truck which provided clothing that I was sourcing from wholesalers. It only took me a few months to realize how wasteful this process was. I also found that some of the clothing that I was sourcing was poorly made and I couldn’t even sell it. This was when I began using those clothes as liners in some of my bags.
At the same time, I was listening to an amazing podcast called The Spirit of 608 by Lorraine Sanders. She interviews and speaks about women who are forging the way in sustainable fashion and technology. Through listening to her, I took a hard look at my business and the waste I was producing. It was a shock! After about 2-3 months in business, I made some huge shifts and continue to learn and change to become as sustainable as possible. One such way was using second-hand materials to create handbags, which then led to me inviting people to send me their sentimental materials to have made into something special.
What are your top design principles?
As a business owner, I am very interested in using my brand in a thoughtful way to reduce my carbon footprint on the environment. East and Market specialize in creating beautiful handmade accessories and home decor. It is my mission to create handcrafted items using sustainable methods.
I promote sustainability by sewing with minimal to zero waste, reusing materials when possible, upcycling with second-hand materials and using remnant fabrics or cut-offs.
I enjoy creating handmade items from sentimental fabrics (pillows, bags, blankets, shirts….you name it!). I encourage customers to send me materials they have in their homes so I can incorporate it into their custom orders. I see this as a way to carry your fondest memories everywhere you go. It is a way to restore materials that are otherwise unused! It reminds us to treasure what we have and forces us to be mindful of our impact on the environment.
How do you balance the responsibilities of making your product and managing your business?
I find that making the product feels like a break from all of the other business responsibilities! Being a one-woman show means I am sourcing materials, making the product, testing products, managing social media, answering emails, doing some accounting work (yuck), networking, and being a photographer. It can feel overwhelming at times, but I have learned to slow down and only do what I can handle.
Where do you hope your business will be in 5 years? In 10 years?
In five years I hope to have hired a professional photographer! That would be a huge milestone! I also hope that my business will grow in the next 5 to 10 years so I can work the business primarily and occupational therapy part-time.
How do you define success?
My definition of success has definitely changed since starting East and Market. In the beginning, I thought that success meant sales, being busy, and getting a lot of social media followers. What I have realized is that success for me is being able to maintain my business to the best of my ability and increasing my skills to create products that people want and enjoy. It also means that I can have a great work-life balance. Success to me at this time in my life is happiness. Happiness in myself, my family and my work.
What would you say to a company that does not track the environmental cost of its production?
I guess what I would say would depend on their feelings and considerations about incorporating sustainable processes into their business.
If it was a business that was interested in sustainability I would say start with achievable goals. Small changes that can be maintained over time will go a long way. It may also help to list out daily/weekly/monthly/yearly waste. Make a sustainability plan, just like you would a business plan.
If a business voiced minimal or no interest in changes I may just suggest that they consider giving certain types of reusable wastes to companies or students that could reuse the material. A lot of people are willing to pick up materials.
What would you say to a person considering starting their own social enterprise?
The first thing I would say is: Just go for it!!! Start as soon as possible because if you wait until you’re “ready” you will never be ready. I have made so many mistakes and have learned immensely from all of those mistakes. They haven’t broken me, they have made me more knowledgeable, more socially conscious, and ultimately happier with my business and my designs.
I would also say you need to go into it being flexible and open-minded. Embrace the positivity given to you but be especially open to the criticism. Embrace the criticism and find out everything you can about it; it will make you stronger as a business person and designer.
That Green Jacket in the Trash
I also asked Renee what she would do with the green jacket I saw in the trash. She answered with enthusiasm:
“Sounds like it would make a great tote because the material is durable and bright! I may also be interested in pairing it with some leather to see how the difference in color and texture would mix to make a cool clutch! I love creating new textiles!”
These days, Shopify is one of the biggest names in retail. The commerce giant is well-known for its e-commerce systems and is increasingly making itself known in the brick-and-mortar space with its Point-of-Sale (POS) systems. However, Shopify faces some steep competition from POS providers that specialize in the trade, such as Vend. That’s why we’re going to compare Vend vs Shopify.
The Main Differences Between Vend POS vs Shopify
The main differences between Vend POS vs Shopify are:
Vend POS is a point-of-sale tool, whereas Shopify is an entire ecommerce platform
Vend POS is a relatively new tool, whereas Shopify is more established
Vend POS monthly subscription rates are more expensive than Shopify, whereas Shopify can include a lot of upgrades as you grow your business
Vend POS is seen more as an ‘add-on’ service, whereas Shopify is dedicated to building ecommerce stores for its customers
Trends in Online Shopping — There is still a lot of opportunities
Retail technology has advanced a lot over the past several years in line with technological advancements elsewhere. Smartphones, smart cars, smart TVs, and yes now retailers can use smart Point-of-Sale systems. These POS will handle all of the duties of a traditional cash register, such as unlocking the cash drawer and providing receipts. At the same time, however, smart POS will track all of your sales, compile data, and even monitor your inventory.
Those dumb cash registers acted as “Point-of-Sale” systems. The cash register facilitating the sale right at the point where the transaction is taking place. These days, POS usually refers to physical locations, while e-commerce refers to web shopping.
Shopify has emerged as one of the most popular smart retail solutions. Shopify is used not “just” for Point-of-Sales systems, but also for e-commerce. With Shopify, you can set up an entire online retail store akin to Amazon. You can also use Shopify’s Point-of-Sale system, tying that online retail store into your brick-and-mortar efforts. Shopify’s primary focus has been e-commerce, with the POS being more of an add-on.
Vend is a sort of the opposite. The company is more well-known for its Point-of-Sales systems while e-commerce is a secondary focus. However, over time, both Shopify and Vend have developed good across-the-board capabilities and most businesses will be satisfied with both. Vend now has e-commerce capabilities while Shopify has developed a solid POS presence.
Whatever you choose, you must know — there is still plenty of room for business online. Knowing the right tools that work for your business is key to being able to succeed in any market, which is why I give you this full Vend POS vs Shopify comparison!
Vend: An Overview
Vend is based out of New Zealand but has a global presence. Despite being a relatively young company, having started in 2010, Vend has emerged as one of the biggest players in the POS space. Vend first rose to prominence by teaming up with Paypal but has since engaged with other corporate partners.
Vend delivers its Point-of-Sales services exclusively through the cloud and can operative on a variety of operating systems. Vend does not offer on-premise deployment, which could be a concern for some larger businesses.
Vend has emerged as one of the biggest Point-of-Sale providers in the world. 20,000 stores across 140 different countries are using Vend POS systems. Disney, Etsy, the World Wildlife Fund, and NASA are among the retailers using Vend.
While some POS and e-commerce providers like to build walled gardens, Vend is a relatively open system. For example, if you have a Shopify e-commerce website, you can actually integrate it directly into Vend. Want to build your own custom website using Vend? No problem, Vend will provide the basics while your development team gets to work.
While Vend is not as well-known in the e-commerce space, it has begun to offer solutions. So far, the company’s e-commerce website templates and other features have been well-received. However, Vend still lags behind Shopify and e-commerce leaders (more on that later).
Shopify: An Overview
Shopify has emerged as a retail and commerce giant. Over 600,000 businesses rely on Shopify and over $55 billion dollars worth of goods have been sold through the platform. In 2016 alone their Gross Merchandise Volume topped $15 billion. Tesla Motors, Budweiser, Penguin Books, and various other big names use Shopify for their e-commerce stores. Thousands of mom & pop businesses rely on their services as well.
Traditionally, Shopify has been more well-known for their online retail platform. Indeed, Shopify got its start when its Candian founders Tobias Lütke, Daniel Weinand, and Scott Lake tried to launch an online snowboarding equipment store. They quickly discovered that the out-of-the-box solutions for building online retail stores were limited. So they built their own platform and spun it off as a separate service.
Up until 2013, Shopify remained relegated to the web. That year, the company expanded into the brick-and-mortar space with its Point-of-Sale system, allowing small businesses to integrate their brick-and-mortar stores and online presence under one system.
Vend offers a 30-day free trial while Shopify offers a 14-day free trial.
Vend vs. Shopify Pricing
We all want the best value for our money. So how about Vend versus Shopify? Which one is the better deal? To be honest, the pricing for both products can be a bit difficult to sort through. It’s wise to first consider your needs and then individual plans. We’ll help you get started.
Shopify’s “Lite” plan is the cheapest option per month
Shopify offers a Lite plan that starts at just $9 per month. However, this plan is very basic. With the Lite plan, you can make “buy now” buttons for your existing website and social media. You can also use their Android and iOS app to accept credit cards. However, you will have to pay transaction fees with every Shopify plan.
Shopify’s full-featured but still basic plan starts at $29.99 per month.
Vend Stars with a higher price but costs quickly converge
Vend’s basic plan starts at $69, while Shopify’s basic plan starts at $29.99. With Vend, just $10 more gets you access to the more advanced features, such as gift cards and expanded payment options, for just $10 extra per month. Shopify’s comparable plan likewise costs $79.
Vend does not charge separate transaction fees
With Vend, you simply pay a monthly subscription fee. Payments are month to month and you can cancel at any time. You are not tied to the company’s hardware, and your hardware won’t be tied to the company. Unlike other POS and e-commerce solutions, Vend does not charge transaction fees.
Shopify charges transaction fees
Shopify features low monthly subscription fees and most of its add-on services and products are affordable as well. Yet there is a major downside: Shopify charges a 2% transaction fee for its basic plan, 1% for its normal plan and .5% for its advanced plan. This will be paid on top of any other payment fees the payment processor might charge you. By using Shopify payments, however, you can eliminate these fees.
Shopify also charges fees for credit card transactions. Each transaction will cost 30 cents plus 2.9% for the basic plan, 2.6% for the mid-range plan, and 2.4% for the premium plan.
Comparing Vend vs. Shopify Attributes
Vend is operating system agnostic
Vend can operate on a variety of operating systems. So long as you have access to a web browser, you’ll be able to run Vend. Windows, Apple, and Android are all supported, so when it comes to hardware, you’ll have plenty of choices.
Shopify works best with Apple iPads
Shopify does offer an Android app. However, the company packages its POS with Apple iPads and has put most of its POS resources into Apple products. iPads aren’t exactly cheap, so keep tablet costs in mind when comparing costs.
Vend is not as e-commerce friendly
Vend has been building up its e-commerce features but lags behind industry leaders (such as Shopify). Vend doesn’t currently support drop shipping, integrated with distribution centers, and other features found in advanced commerce solutions. However, Vend’s website is advising people looking for such features to keep an eye on future releases.
*Remember: you can integrate your Shopify e-commerce store and Vend.
Conclusion: Choosing Between Vend and Shopify?
So who wins in the Vend versus Shopify matchup? Both platforms are quite good, but they each excel in different ways. Vend started as a POS system and while it has been expanding its e-commerce capabilities, it’s still not as feature-rich as dedicated e-commerce platforms.
Vice-versa for Shopify. While Shopify has been expanding its POS offerings, the company is still most well-known and best suited for online retail. With Vend currently lacking drop shipping and other advanced but increasingly common e-commerce features, web retailers will likely be better off with Shopify. Vend could and likely will level the playing field by integrated such features in the future.
The other big difference between Vend and Shopify is pricing. Vend’s monthly subscription rates are significantly more expensive than Shopify’s. However, Vend doesn’t charge the 2% transaction fee that Shopify does.
If you already have a Shopify store and are looking for a great add-on, Vend can be a nice integration. You might also want to integrate a decent landing-page builder app, such as Shogun, or Pagefly.
In the early 1970s, the American rock climber would be hard-pressed to find gear of any quality. In fact, he or she would probably have had to turn to Europe, where the nascent sport was more popular and companies were manufacturing equipment for it. “There were probably 250 climbers in the country,” Patagonia founder Yvon Chouinard recalled with a chuckle in a recent interview with NPR.
But even if that climber chose to buy gear from Europe, it would likely have been low-quality, made of soft iron, the kind of equipment you use once and toss. Chouinard and his friends, following in the footsteps of transcendentalists like Ralph Waldo Emerson and John Muir, believed they should climb the mountains but leave no trace behind. Pitons should not be used once and left wedged into rock. Discarded lengths of rope should not be left on the forest floor.
The same problem applied to sporting clothes. At that time, and especially for men, activewear consisted largely of sweatshirts and matching sweatpants. There were no clothes that made sense for people doing intense, outdoor activities.
Chouinard never wanted to be a businessman. “This was in the 60s, and businessmen were all greaseballs in the 60s,” Chouinard said at the Commonwealth Club of California in 2016. “We didn’t respect business. In fact, they were the enemy.” But he did have an innate sense that he could improve the tools he was using. “It’s just I have this knack that every time I look at a product I look at it and think, ‘well, I could make something better than that. It could be better,’” he said during an interview with NPR. This is exactly what Chouinard and his friends did. When they went climbing, they would return with ideas about how to improve their tools.
Soon, Chouinard realized that he could not avoid the obvious solution: build better equipment, make better clothes. So with that in mind, Chouinard got some books on blacksmithing and began to forge the gear that he and his friends wanted to use themselves. Soon, he was selling his pitons for a dollar and a half each, far more expensive than the European equivalent, but made to last. “I just happened to be a craftsman. Every time I looked at a piece of equipment I had an idea of how to make it better,” Chouinard said during a lecture at UCLA.
Soon, expansion happened. After a trip to the United Kingdom, where Chouinard saw a rugby-style shirt that seemed to fit the needs of climbers, he began importing sporting clothes and then designed and produced them himself. That was how Patagonia was born.
From there, Chouinard’s fledgling company began manufacturing a broad line of clothing meant specifically for sportspeople. Or more accurately, they began making clothes that Chouinard and his friends wanted to use themselves when they climbed and hiked and surfed. In reflecting on this time, Chouinard recalled trying to put himself in the shoes of his customer, hoping to come up with products that people didn’t yet know they wanted or needed.
The Uncharacteristic Entrepreneur
“If I get an idea, I immediately take a step forward and see how that feels. If it feels good, I take another step. If it feels bad, I take a step back,” Chouinard told NPR. This has been Chouinard’s approach since the start. At the beginning of Patagonia, he was neither an expert in manufacturing nor in apparel. In fact, Chouinard has no formal business training at all. He was simply a passionate sportsman–a person who just wanted to be outdoors and have clothes that made sense.
Chouinard is quick to admit that his not having the traditional background in running a major retail company has had positive and negative effects. “[I was] trying create a business that we wanted to come to work in. All of us. So that’s what we did,” he said in a talk at the Commonwealth Club of California. In all likelihood, that unfamiliarity with business and his wish to build something new helped Patagonia avoid some common traps fledgling companies fall into.
On the other hand, the same unfamiliarity led to some difficult situations, most notably in the 1980s, when about a decade after Patagonia’s founding, the company ran into trouble. “The market wanted our products, so we were growing 50% a year. But you can’t grow a business with 50% growth year after year on retained earnings. At some point, you’re going to crash,” Chouinard said at the Commonwealth Club of California. From the perspective of the long-term health of the company, Chouinard knew that such rapid growth was not sustainable.
For Chouinard, the goal was not simply growth. In fact, the way he saw it, the faster his business grew, the faster it would die. It was about making a change, about using environmentally friendly material and teaching people that you don’t throw out things, you repair them. Chouinard’s vision was that Patagonia would commit to owning one of its products forever. If something no longer fit, they would help sell it for you; if it broke, they would fix it; if it was really spent, they would recycle it.
At an early stage, Chouinard and Patagonia conducted studies on which materials were the friendliest for the environment (they were surprised to learn that 25% of all agricultural pesticides are used for cotton production) and adjusted their production accordingly. In light of what they found out about cotton, Patagonia started using 100% organic cotton in 1996. Chouinard wanted something lasting so that Patagonia could have an impact and exist far into the future. The same was so for the materials they used. After commissioning a study, they realized the impact of the cotton they were using. For Chouinard, such high growth would not take them to his goal.
To keep the company on track, Chouinard actually slowed growth, which with the addition of a recession, led to a critical moment for Patagonia. Chouinard didn’t know if the company would make it. Banks stopped lending the company money and revenues became tight. But with some tough decisions, including management level staff layoffs and an improved growth program that looked toward the future, Patagonia made it through. For Chouinard, there are two types of growth: that which leads to you being stronger and that which leads to you being fatter. Of course, he wanted the former.
In an interview with NPR, Chouinard reflected on entrepreneurship:
“One of my favorite quotes is:
‘If you want to understand entrepreneurship, study the juvenile delinquent because they’re saying this sucks and I want to do it my own way.’ That’s what the entrepreneur does. They just say, ‘This is wrong and I’m going to do it this other way,’ and that’s the fun part of a business. I love breaking the rules.”
It seems one rule that Chouinard has tried particularly hard to break is our modern consumer mannerisms. What is essential for Chouinard is that Patagonia offers a lifetime guarantee. In fact, it seems that the Patagonia mantra should be one of Chouinard’s core beliefs, which is to own very few but very good things.
Indeed, in a world where there exists an abundance of cheap clothing made with questionable materials by people in poor conditions–and our global problems are only growing–it seems we need more companies that share Chouinard and Patagonia’s mission.
Chouinard has never been interested in coming out with a cheap line of clothes. That is evident if you take a look at Patagonia’s online catalog. Despite Patagonia’s price points, Chouinard’s goal is not to reduce prices and appeal to a mass customer base like other retail stores. For him, good quality clothes which are made from responsible materials simply cost more. And we, as good consumers, should prioritize buying less but buying responsibly. That, Chouinard believes, will help us approach some of the daunting problems we face, which seems an idea that deserves reflection.
Patagonia Mission Statement
Build the best product, cause no unnecessary harm, use business to inspire and implement solutions to the environmental crisis.
Wise words for the young entrepreneur
There is no doubt that Patagonia has a compelling story. What is now a company with reportedly over $600 million in revenue was started by Chouinard and his buddies because they wanted better sporting equipment.
Their impact on how we purchase and consume clothing and how clothing material is sourced is significant, perhaps even paradigm-shifting. But also worth discussing are the things we can learn from Chouinard’s approach to business.
Many have considered Chouinard’s style of managing his employees and a huge corporation as eccentric. In fact, many might have laughed at his company directive to hit the waves when the surf was up, or at his annual six-month vacation to Jackson Hole, Wyoming. But no one can argue with the outcomes, both in business but also in environmental impact and employee welfare.
In the early days of Patagonia, the company pioneered on-site childcare, flex-work based on a trust policy, paid maternity and other leave, coverage of healthcare premiums, and generous employee development programs. These benefits, of course, are still not entirely common in 2017, over forty years later.
What’s more, Chouinard took an unusual approach to staff his company. Most companies, as he points out, are strongly top-down. There are rigid corporate structures in place and hierarchies that determine how a company will operate. Patagonia, on the other hand, hired a bunch of young and independent people, and then left them alone. Chouinard recently mentioned that psychologists have come to study how the company manages to function so efficiently with this approach. Chouinard seems to bask in his unusual tactics. He doesn’t care when his employees work, so long as they get the job done.
For young entrepreneurs, Chouinard also gives some on-point advice. “If you want to be successful in business,” he recently said to NPR, “you don’t go up against Coca-Cola. They’ll kill you. You just do it differently. You figure out something that no one else has thought of and you do it in a totally different way. So, breaking the rules means you have to be creative.”
Above all, what seems to drive Chouinard the most is the wish for a simpler life. This can be seen in his approach to business, his slowing the growth of his own company, and his encouraging customers not to buy his products but to repair, reuse, and recycle.
Chouinard brings us a lot: wisdom about business, the environment, and how we as consumers should strive to better ourselves in a world that is being taxed by our needs and wants.
But perhaps most poignant are his words about life, which he recently said in an NPR interview:
“The hardest thing in the world is to simplify your life because everything pulls you to be more and more complex. I think what I have learned from fly-fishing is that if we have to–either we’re forced or we decide to–go to a simpler life, it’s not going to be an impoverished life; it’s going to be really rich.”
If you are running a B2B website then you are looking to convert browsers to leads then to buyers. Despite digitizing your business in this way, your business website could be slacking in generating you the business it should. If your conversion rate is lower than you think it should be, it might be time to evaluate if these 5 key areas of your website could be letting you down. Listen. If you want to learn more about B2B website best practices, it starts with what you are not doing well. That’s why we are going to talk about why your B2B site might not be working for you first.
In 2018, we are not going to rehash the importance of creating responsive websites, landing pages that convert, or how to optimize your B2B website’s SEO.
Instead, we look at 5 critical aspects of B2B website performance that could be hampering your overall inbound marketing ROI.
Your Content is Attracting the Wrong Target Audience
Content is king only if it is targeted to address solutions to the right audience. If you are struggling to get views, likes, comments, and so on, then your content may be irrelevant to the people reading it.
That can mean two things:
Your B2B website content is reaching the wrong audience
Your business content strategy is not optimized to attract your core audience
Are you addressing your prospects’ pain points?
Does your B2B website design incorporate content elements that your target audience easily identifies? Can they easily understand your Unique Selling Proposition (USP) without much explanation?
Also, you’ll want to strike a good balance with your content strategy using the 80/20 rule.
You’ll want to create 80% of quality content that is targeted to your core audience’s pain points and relevant solutions. Then you’ll want 20% of your content addressing a wider audience to allow you to onboard and network with other industry players that might have connections to your niche.
This way, you can become an authority in your niche as well as remain open to welcoming players and clientele from other sectors.
If you are wondering if you are creating the right content for your B2B website, start by re-evaluating your buyer personas. See if your B2B content strategy is properly aligned. Then you can use feedback-gathering tools such as Feedbackify, Hively, and Qualaroo to find out from your readers on different online platforms.
You Have Inconsistent Website Design Elements
You do not need to create a B2B website design elements list to get a crisp idea of whether your website design elements are inconsistent or not.
Keep in mind that website design elements speak volumes about your brand. They tell leads about you. Like whether you understand your buyer persona biases about branding. Whether you are informational or functional, serious or fun, and so on.
Inconsistent typography, calls to action, brand voice and colors tell you are not sure what you mean, and that can kill trust and make you look amateurish. It is off-putting to potential customers looking for credible brand authority, hence increases bounce rates.
Ensure your website design elements such as typography, H1 tags, meta tags, and color scheme are matching across different web pages of your B2B website to boost trust and increase conversions.
Your B2B Website Layout is Adding to Bounce Rates
You not only want your website layout to transition visitors to next pages seamlessly, you also want it to encourage visitors to move from awareness to purchase stages of your buyer journey.
Is your B2B website buyer journey clear and fluid through the different pages? Is your home-page chockful of blocks of text that make it hard for potential customers to follow your buyer journey?
Is your website’s navigation clear and easy to follow? Even for a complete stranger? For example, a Hamburger Menu was initially assumed to help boost your conversion rate compared to a visible menu. However, with time this has not turned out to be true since the Hamburger Menu assumes the user already knows what the three overlaying lines mean—when they might not.
Even Apple and Spotify have since ditched the Hamburger Menu UX, and the latter has gone on to experience a 30% jump in navigation clicks as people know exactly where to tap on to navigate the Spotify site.
If you have doubts about these questions, you have a new assignment in your in-tray. You can use Google’s Webmaster Tool to check for these and more.
While at it…
You’ll want to ensure you do not have 404 error pages on your site, which could be rudely crashing your conversion rates by interrupting user experiences along your customer journey. The 404 errors could also hamper on-page and off-page SEO optimization for your B2B website.
You also do not want your footer links mistaken for trying to manipulate PageRank on SERPS. Important too, is ensuring you submit your sitemap to Google through your Google Search Console account for indexing.
If you are still wondering what your searchers want while attracting search engines to your online platform, check out the Search Quality Rating Guidelines that Google released sometime back.
You’ll find a July 27, 2017 PDF document detailing how Google, through human testers, sets the criteria for awarding different page ranking scores based on what Google thinks searchers want to find online. You can use the valuable information contained therein to improve your website layout and copy based on searchers’ intents.
Your Website is Not Optimized for Local SEO
While you may have done the right thing by avoiding black hat SEO techniques in your content strategy and SEO optimization plan, you may innocently miss the smaller picture.
As much as the web empowers your business to market to the entire global market, you are likely to sell to everyone. The key, again, is to re-evaluate your target audience and align your SEO and SEM marketing to that core audience for better SEM returns.
If you are a digital marketing agency, the assumption is you can afford to market to a global market. But there are tons of different buyer personas across multiple regions and it might be tough to address all their pain points to increase conversion.
This is even more highlighted for B2B websites supporting a local store or brick and mortar premises.
Most buyers first check online to find a local business to buy from—instead of walking or driving around looking for billboards or knocking various doors. So improving your local SEO index will help you attract business to your local premises or store.
Your Website Has Unclear Calls to Action
A B2B website without clear, compelling CTAs is an unnecessary bog for your inbound marketing dollars.
Creating a good CTA for your B2B website is all about creating a direct instruction that encourages your visitors to take the next immediate or important action you want them to take.
You’ll want to use CTAs on relevant content pages and context, otherwise, you’ll confuse your visitors and risk losing them to a competitor with clearer and compelling calls to action sections on every page.
Your visitor is likely to be bombarded by a ton of information online that can easily feel overwhelming. One effective way to drive engagement and boost the attractiveness and effectiveness of your CTAs is to apply them in your content mix—especially with video.
Inc. Magazine found that 92% of B2B customers watch online videos. More importantly, though, 43% of B2B customers do so when researching services and products for their businesses.
By creating clear and compelling CTAs, you empower the reader to know what to do next to find the solution they seek while encouraging them to move along your customer journey towards your purchase page.
Some B2B Website Best Practice Tips
Think about your brand at every touchpoint of your website, logo, color choices, your call to actions — don’t confuse your buyer with conflicting brands along the way
Think about the buyer journey — what do you want your buyer to do?
Always think mobile first — If your site is not responsive, it should be.
Do have specific landing pages for offers and promote directly to them
Do make the sign in processes easier.
Offer some valuable free gifts to your audience. Give your audience some kind of information they will use over and over again, a reference material of some kind, a checklist.
Have clear Call to Actions on every page.
While B2B website design elements such as mobile-friendliness and fast-loading pages will help retain more visitors, the above 5 key areas your B2B website could be letting you down will help convert that precious traffic to more quality leads and increase conversion and grow your business. Using a few of our B2B website best practice tips will get you off and running, making more money sooner than later!
Shopify is one of the giants of e-commerce platforms. If you’re involved in the space, you’ve surely heard the name. Neto, on the other hand, is a spunky up and comer from the land down under. Australia-based Neto has been building momentum and has established a loyal user base. We’re going to dig into the comparison between Shopify vs Neto, but first, let’s talk about e-commerce.
The Main Differences Between Shopify vs Neto
The main differences between Shopify vs Neto are:
Shopify has over 500,000 users and growing, whereas Neto has a few thousand users
Shopify is a dedicated ecommerce platform giant, whereas Neto is the new guy in town
Shopify has hundreds of themes to choose from, whereas Neto does not have as many choices (some look dated)
There are a lot of giant e-commerce websites out there, including Amazon, Etsy, and eBay. However, many smaller retailers have realized that they can earn more money by having their own online shopping website. In the past, setting up an e-commerce website could get very expensive. These days, e-commerce platforms make it easy to build an integrated, fully-functional e-commerce website.
An e-commerce platform will handle most of the difficult aspects associated with setting up a retail website. For example, with an e-commerce platform, website managers can use templates to quickly set up new product listings. By and large, it’s plug and play. You insert the necessary text, prices, and other vital details, and the e-commerce platform takes care of the rest. If you had to set up each listing individually, updating products and expanding offerings would suddenly be very time-consuming.
E-commerce platforms also make it easy to accept payments, acquire the necessary personal data, such as shipping addresses, and can even organize the shipping process itself. Twenty-some years ago such capabilities were revolutionary. Now, e-commerce platforms allow you to set up the whole system within a matter of hours.
Common Ecommerce Features
Ability to quickly and easily set up an online retail website.
Capable of accepting a wide range of payment options, such as credit cards, and digital payment systems (i.e. Paypal).
Tools for completing, shipping, and tracking orders.
The setup process is generally easy and straightforward.
Most e-commerce platforms charge both a small monthly fee, usually less than $50 per month, and a percentage of payments processed. The percentage cut is usually an affordable 2 or so percent. However, some platforms, including Neto, don’t charge payment fees. Either way, setting up an commerce has never been easier or more affordable.
As already mentioned, two of the more well-known e-commerce platforms are Neto and Shopify. We’re going to dig into the pros and cons of each platform shortly. However, both choices are good choices. The question is, which choice is better for you and your company? You need to approach the decision-making process rationally and need to focus on your needs. Keep yourself in mind while reading through our comparison.
Both platforms offer great e-commerce solutions. Shopify has been around for years and can be found on countless e-commerce websites. Ultimately, Shopify is one of the most tried-and-true e-commerce solutions. Neto isn’t as established but it has been gaining popularity. That’s not by accident. At the end of the day, both e-commerce platforms are a great choice, but there are some important differences.
What is Shopify? An Introduction
Shopify is a complete e-commerce solution that is used by over 600,000 businesses. Roughly $55 billion worth of goods has been sold via Shopify. The platform offers a variety of prebuilt themes, allowing businesses to quickly set up clean, easy-to-use websites. Most themes require a one-off payment of roughly $150.
Shopify not only makes it easy for online retailers to set up an e-commerce web but also allows them to integrate their social media and offline selling. Shopify makes it easy to accept online credit card payments, Paypal, and other payment methods. In total, Shopify can accept payments from over 100 different sources.
Shopify also features a variety of automated fulfillment processes and makes it easy to integrate 3rd party shipping apps. In fact, Shopify has actually set up an App Store with well over a thousand apps on it. This plethora of 3rd party solutions is one of Shopify’s strongest selling points.
What is Neto? An Introduction
Markets are driven by competition. Neto has emerged as one of the most serious challengers to Shopify’s market dominance. Roughly 3,000 websites are using Neto. While this pales in comparison to Shopify, it’s still a strong base.
Neto likewise offers a variety of themes at about the same price as Shopify. However, Neto does not offer as wide of a choice, and many of their themes look a bit dated. Neto does offer a good mobile experience for most of the themes, but in general, Shopify is regarded as having a better selection and more visually-appealing themes.
Unsurprisingly, Neto is not as a feature rich as Shopify. Neto does feature a number of add-ons, such as Salesforce, Zoho, and Shipwire. It is also possible to run 3rd party scripts, but few are available for sale and Neto does not cover them. Regardless, Neto offers many of the most useful and common add-ons.
Shopify Versus Neto: Costs
Both Neto and Shopify Offer 14 Day Free Trials
Try both for free. No credit card required. No commitment.
Neto Subscription Costs Are Higher
Neto plans start at $79 Australian dollars per month (~$60 USD). Neto’s basic plan includes listings for only 1,000 products. While this might be enough for many small businesses, do not underestimate how quickly your shop might fill up. A medium plan costs $199 AU per month and allows you to list 5,000 item, while a large plan costs $349 per month and allows for unlimited items.
Shopify Subscriptions are Cheaper but you Pay Transaction Fees
A Shopify plan starts at just $29 USD per month and immediately allows for unlimited product listings. However, Shopify charges a 2% transaction fee on purchases through the basic plan. The normal plan charges 1%, while the advanced plan will set you back .5%. Either way, as you can imagine, these transaction costs could add up quickly.
Basic Shopify: 2.9% + 30 cents for credit card charges
Shopify: 2.6% + 30 cents for credit card charges
Advanced Shopify: 2.6% + 30 cents for credit card charges
Neto’s Basic Includes Only One Sales Channel
When pricing Neto, it’s important to understand that the plans start with only one sales channel. If you decide to add another sales channel, such as Point-of-Sales devices to accept physical payments, you will need to pay an extra $49 AUD per channel. You can also add Amazon and eBay.
Note: Equipment for both Neto and Shopify must be bought separately. When considering a POS, it’s best to determine the specific costs for your business.
Shopify Does Not Charge Per Sales Channel
Shopify also makes it easy to integrate sales channels. Shopify supports:
Other 3rd party sales channels can also be integrated. Please be aware that some sales channels, such as Amazon, will charge fees on their end.
Both Shopify and Neto Feature Numerous Shipping Tools
Shipping is often one of the biggest headaches for any e-commerce website. Fortunately, both Neto and Shopify feature a variety of tools to reduce the burdens associated with shipping. However, there are some important differences.
Shopify is feature-rich out-of-the-box
Even with the basic plan, Shopify gives e-commerce platforms access to most of their shipping features, including:
Shopify Shipping discounts rates
Print shipping labels
Display calculated rates at checkout
Automatic customer email notification
Ship date (U.S. only)
However, some features will cost you extra money, such as returns. Shopify has a return plugin that will reduce many of the headaches associated with returns, but you’ll need to shell out $10 extra per month.
Neto includes free return management
Neto also includes the ability to print shipping labels and real-time shipping quotes. Returns processing is also free with Neto.
Comparing Other Value Added Features
Both Neto and Shopify offer a range of value-added features. However, in many cases, these features will cost extra money. In some cases, such as setting up a Point-of-Sale system, you may have to buy external equipment.
Higher Cost Plans For Both Support Gift Cards But At a Cost
Gift cards are a popular gift and a great way to drum up sales. E-commerce platforms can be set up to accept gift cards. However, for both Shopify and Neto, you’ll have to opt for their second tier plans. Their basic plans do not include gift cards.
Both platforms feature a variety of product management tools
Managing product stocks and other inventory issues can be immensely difficult. Both platforms, for example, feature low stock alert features. Other features include inventory tracking and barcode management.
Both platforms allow you to set up affiliate marketing programs
Affiliate marketing has emerged as one of the most powerful and valuable marketing methods online. With affiliate marketing, you’ll essentially reward people for selling your goods. Both Neto and Shopify allow you to set up affiliate programs with ease.
Both platforms contain countless other features
There are, quite simply, far too many features for us to list out. Both platforms are feature-rich. Shopify has more features and add-ons, especially when you count third-party solutions. However, Neto manages to cover the most vital features. For many businesses, the extra features and add-ons on Shopify will never actually be used.
Still, you should sit down and consider your business and the challenges it will face. Then, you should write these potential sticking points down. Finally, check to see if Neto and Shopify offer tools that will help you address these issues.
Conclusion: The Neto vs Shopify Choice is Yours
Both Neto and Shopify are excellent choices. Shopify is more feature-rich and more widely-used. Further, e-commerce websites on Shopify tend to look more slick and modern. Still, Neto does feature a variety of useful tools and it’s quite possible that you’ll never notice that a feature or add-on is “missing.”
Don’t count out Neto. Since the platform doesn’t charge fees per sale, long-run costs could be substantially lower. Companies producing high sales volumes could potentially save a lot of money with Neto. On the other hand, e-commerce websites that want the sleekest website and most advanced features will be better served by Shopify.
If I were forced to make a decision right now and had to choose one ecommerce platform that would be best for most growing businesses, I would definitely say Shopify. With so much flexibility and support, it’s the one that is meant to last. So many online companies swear by Shopify and from my experience, it’s a tool that you’ll really enjoy for the long haul. Try Shopify for free for 14-days — click here!
If you already own Shopify and are looking to make some serious improvements to your store, you might want to invest in a solid page builder, such as Shogun or Pagefly — which can make your life so much easier.
This article was written by Wayne Wachell and originally released on B The Change
First, the dark stuff.
We are at a point in history where climate change is no longer a looming threat but a reality that’s very much upon us. Carbon dioxide levels are the highest point in 3 million years, according to the Global Atmosphere Watch program. All the while, the number of people on the planet is growing at an exponential rate. Worldwide population is 7.6 billion, and the United Nations estimates it will increase to 11.2 billion by 2100.
The situation seems dire, and it is. But when talking about climate change, it’s easy to get bogged down by the magnitude of the problem, so it’s important to lead with hope.
The good news is, as B Corps, we’re solution seekers by nature. There are actions we can take as business owners to slow the rate of climate change, and with Earth Day celebrated earlier this week, they’re top of mind.
Where to Start
A good place to start: taking a look at your carbon footprint. We collectively need to do better if we’re to reduce carbon emissions for the greater good of the planet. Investors are increasingly (and rightly) asking for information on the emissions of companies they are investing in, and we need to respond to this need.
One method of measuring CO2 output by businesses has been developed by an organization called Greenhouse Gas Protocol. This methodology acknowledges the emissions a company can actually control (such as fossil fuels used in operations, manufacturing, and heating), and the emissions a company can influence (such as those from employee commutes and third-party distribution). If more business owners were to use this methodology, they’d have a greater understanding of their business’s impact.
Once you have a gauge on the CO2 output from your business, you can look at tangible ways to reduce it, like putting an automatic timer on the lights, installing shades to help regulate the temperature without electricity, or using Skype or Zoom for remote meetings to reduce unnecessary travel.
If transport is essential to your business, consider purchasing a company electric car. In-person meetings are hugely valuable from a relationship-building perspective; that’s why at Genus we’ve recently adopted a new company mascot in the form of a Chevy Bolt. The Bolt has a regenerative braking function, which means the driver can recoup energy during deceleration. I typically gain 5 km worth of energy during a regular journey by using the downhill momentum.
If your company has investments, consider using them for impact by supporting clean energy companies over fossil fuel companies. History shows us divestments happen in three waves, and the same is true for fossil fuel divestment.
Already churches, universities, cities (like New York) and financial institutions (like Norges Bank) are announcing divestments, and we expect to see more in the coming months. While there is a moral reason for doing this, there is also a strong business case. As the world transitions to a low-carbon economy, there’s a huge risk of stranded assets — fossil fuels losing their value while still in the ground.
It is also worth evaluating the carbon emissions your company can save. Do you have a “smart” commute scheme to encourage carpooling or the use of public transit? Do you offer a financial incentive to employees who purchase commuter bikes or a stipend for bike maintenance for regular bike commuters?
Education also plays a key role in influencing change, and your employees have a lot to teach you. Invite them to share their ideas for how to reduce your carbon footprint collectively. Maybe that involves improving home insulation, eating less meat, or opting for local fruit and vegetables with fewer food miles. A single employee or a group might emerge as your in-house environmental champions.
While climate change is a daunting subject, we believe it’s too important not to broach. At an international level, the Paris Agreement set a global action plan to avoid unpredictable climate change by limiting global warming to below 2 degrees C. While progress is being made to turn these goals into actions, we too as business owners have a valuable role to play — not only by reducing our own emissions, but in influencing others to make meaningful changes, too.