Why Your Online Store Isn’t Making Sales

This is a common question I see on message boards and through the grapevine of entrepreneurs. It also is a cause for concern in the bricks-and-mortar world, but let’s stick with online.

Anyone, anywhere can have a store. No longer do you need vast sums of money for a lease, employees and stock. You can do everything behind a screen. With that – the amount of online stores hawking goods from dresses (EverRose.com – plug, plug) to backpacks to cheeses is endless. The world is flat in this regard. However, just because it’s relatively easy to set up. It doesn’t mean it’s profitable.

no sale, no sale sign

Here’s why you’re not making any sales

1) Your online store is too cumbersome. You’ve read too many blogs about what you should have on your store, and instead of creating a simple process for those who buy – you’ve confused your would be buyer with link after link after link. Your product(s) should be the first thing people see when they visit your store. You should also have some info on shipping and returns, and a page that reflects who you and your business are (if you want to add a personal touch).

2) Your product photography looks like crap. You can’t sell a shitty looking product online, just as you can’t sell a shitty product. Here are some quick DIY photo tips.

3) No one knows you exist. I hope you’ve read this far as this is probably the most important item on the list. You can’t expect sales without people knowing about you. You need to market yourself. Hook up with bloggers or influencers in your line of work. My wife and I hook up with fashion bloggers to promote our product to their masses. We also buy advertising (funny thought), and it works.

4) If you have traffic to your site, and you’re still not making sales – check the options above. If you’ve done all of the above then you probably didn’t research your product upfront. If you haven’t tested to see if your idea works through family friends, then your idea is probably not going to work to others. Just because you think it would be cool to run an online t-shirt store, it doesn’t mean people are going to buy from you. Ask your friends and family first – see if they would buy. My wife and I’s online dress shop did this, and our first few customers were family and friends. From there the word spreads.

The above should point you on the correct path. I could write an endless post on why you aren’t getting sales, but the points above are the most common reason. You can always ask me to take a look too. I’m always free to give open and honest feedback.

Love you,

Jordan ‘The Guy with the Bow Tie’ Rycroft

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Perception isn’t Reality

You can’t believe everything you see on the internet. You’ve heard this a thousand times. You also may have heard Perception is Reality. In most cases, this can be seen as correct. What people believe is their reality. If you drive a Ferrari, or wear expensive shoes the belief is that you’re well off. However, you never really know what’s going on behind the scenes. These people could be up to their eyeballs in debt, living pay cheque to pay cheque.

If you’re like me – you probably follow a few blogs, or those who publish on Linkedin. For example – I enjoy reading / following Ramit Sethi, Gary Vaynerchuk and Keith Ferrazzi (a quick Google of their names and you’ll get a bunch of results). Their stuff has me nodding along in agreement. Then, the sceptical guy in me wants to pull back the curtain to see how great things really are for them. In other words, do they practice what they preach?

A quick search on Glassdoor.com and you’ll see everything isn’t as rosy as the above and many others perceive. In many instances the biggest critiques of the companies of these ‘big’ CEO’s who have huge followings online is that their reality isn’t what was originally perceived. These companies tend to be disorganized, low paying, and not worth the time and effort. Again, you can’t 100% trust these online reviews, but it does bring everything into perspective.

perception, perception on black background

If it’s too good to be true it probably is

Another cliché and for good reason. NO ONE is perfect. Everyone (even you) and every company has their flaws. The funny part – is everyone can cover up these flaws online. You can put out media saying whatever you want it to say. You can cover up your flaws, and preach to the world that you’re the best, and everyone should follow your lead. You drink the Kool-Aid, and that’s okay.

The beautiful thing about the web is it also levels the playing field. If you want to do your research you can find out so much about people and companies. A quick search on Google or Glassdoor can reveal the good, and bad about you or your company. You can try and cover up as much as you want, but eventually the truth always comes out.

I don’t know if this has to do with our upbringing or what, but we always try and compensate or withdraw our flaws. In doing this, you make people sceptical because everyone’s BS meter is cranked to 10. You can’t ‘Fake It Till You Make It’ any more. People will find out.

Don’t beat yourself up over the perception of someone being more successful than you. You shouldn’t be comparing yourself to someone else anyway. You don’t know their circumstances, you don’t know the whole story, and most of all – you probably don’t even know that person. It’s easy to say, but so extremely difficult to do – BE YOURSELF! You will find those that follow you, whether in business or in life. In everything you do – you have a choice. Never forget that.

With the BS swirling around today – I try and be as forthcoming as possible with this blog. You can believe what you want, but I try and showcase my triumphs and struggles. It’s damn hard working a 9 – 5, and handling an online biz on the side. It’s exhausting, puts pressure on the relationship I have with my wife, and of course, hurts the pocket book. Having said that, I enjoy that I can be me. I can bring value to those around me, and when others are happy it makes me happy.

If you’re every doubting yourself or comparing yourself to others – reach out to me on Twitter or Linkedin, and we can chat about it. I know where you’ve been, and I plan on ensuring you can get to where you want to be. Heck, you may already be there, but just haven’t realized it yet. Your perception could already be your reality.

Love you,

Jordan ‘The Guy with the Bow Tie’ Rycroft

Entrepreneurial Expectation vs. Reality

You have this amazing idea, that’s going to change the world forever. Or you don’t have an idea yet, but you know you’re going to be an entrepreneur and make buckets of money. Funny how the mind plays trick, and lets ambition and hope take over to make it appear as though you’re destined for greatness. While this may be true – it’s not going to happen immediately. Expectation and Reality are very different things.

expectation vs reality, expectation

Expectation

You’re going to solve all the worlds problems with your new app or idea. And / or you’re going to be an instant billionaire. All of these thoughts will pass through your mind if you have the entrepreneurial spirit that seems to be going around these days. We’re all entrepreneurs in some way, shape or form. We’re all owners of Me Inc.

With any new venture you will always see the end of the road – whether it’s an awesome house, fancy cars or whatever you’re dream future may be. You rarely look around the corner, and she the other side – bankruptcy, lay-offs, creditors, etc… It’s always good to have the positive in mind, but you cannot forget about the bumpy road to get you there. Plus, if you have the blinders on and all you’re doing it for are things that can be purchased with money – stop doing what you’re doing. I know of countless people who make upwards of 400k a year. A rough estimate would put about 80% of those people living what they would call a miserable life.

Your mind has been altered to show you all of the positive entrepreneurial experiences. You think Steve Jobs, Mark Zuckerberg and so on, while forgetting about the long road it took them to get to where they were / are. Not to mention – not everyone receives the accolades or the successes of those two. For every Zuck – there are 1,000,000 middle class entrepreneur’s duking it out in the trenches.

It’s like when you meet THAT girl or guy, and you have all these dreams of love, and happiness, only to have reality kick you in the ass…HARD! This is one of my favourite scenes showcasing Expectation vs. Reality in the real world. It’s great to visualize success, but you must not forget about the Reality lurking around the corner.

Reality

The stats are floating around everywhere. Only 20% of new businesses will make it past year 2. One out of 10 startups will eventually turn into something. Every time your entrepreneurial spirit kicks in, please keep this in mind. It’s going to be an extremely tough road ahead, and there’s a good chance you won’t make it. However, you MUST try.

My wife and I had these HUGE ideas of how successful our online dress shop Ever Rose was / is going to be. It’s getting there, but not as quickly as her or I wanted. When we started – expectation took over. And we’ve been hit with a firm dose of reality time-and-time again. You learn from this, and carry on. We understand it’s a marathon, and success isn’t going to be given just because we built something. We appreciate all the little moments of success, like a positive review, a new order or getting the chance to make someone’s day.

We celebrate the small wins, knowing the BIG wins will come. We keep working at it every day. Yes, our social lives have taken a hit, and we’ve taken on some debt, but we’re trying. Trying to create jobs, and create what we feel is the right and honest way to go about business in the very crazy world of e-commerce. Win or Lose we’re trying.

You have to take the positive with the negative. You’re a fool to think you can get into a boxing ring with the expectation of not getting hit or hurt by your opponent. The lumps and bruises will come. It’s surviving these ups-and-downs that make you an entrepreneur. It’s getting up every morning, on little to no sleep to do what you want to do. Not what someone else expects you to do. It’s building, creating, and providing value to those around you.

Set your expectations high, but never forget that reality will always kick you in the ass.

Love you,

Jordan ‘The Guy with the Bow Tie’ Rycroft

4 Tools Essential To Your Online Business

When starting out you can be swarmed with the endless possibilities of starting, promoting, and ensuring the longevity of your online business. The mass amounts of information at your fingertips is astounding, and you can end up drowning in that info. Here are some of the tools essential to your online business. These tools can also be translated into brick & mortar locations as well. The bonus with online is you don’t have to get into a 5-year lease on a physical location at $20 – $40 (or more) per square foot. You can invest that money elsewhere – like marketing your biz seeing as you won’t have any foot traffic.

apps, iphone, iphone apps

Shopify

Any e-commerce tool like Shopify or Bigcommerce is absolutely essential if you don’t want to develop, and pay big $$$ for your own website. Simplified templates, amazing apps, fantastic support, and a low monthly rate give you the opportunity to test, and develop your offering without diving head first, and pumping tens-of-thousands of dollars into something you’re not 100% certain will work.

I prefer Shopify as it’s Canadian although you still have to pay in USD for their services. Do your homework on the other e-commerce platforms out there, but Shopify or Bigcommerce are great places to start. There are free options, but even the paid options are affordable. I pay $30 a month.

Wave Apps

Another Canadian app essential to your online business – or any startup for that matter. Wave is your online portal to accounting. You can send invoices, pay bills, track payments and do day-to-day bookkeeping. Come tax season – Wave is your friend. Instead of using a bookkeeper Wave will produce all the essential reports you need to file your taxes, on top of being able to keep your finger on the pulse of your business. Plus, they offer professional bookkeepers to help you out when you’re in need.

You’ll still need an outstanding accountant who can help you out with the bigger picture stuff like tax breaks, filing, etc…, but Wave is a free tool you can use when starting out (some options like invoicing and paying bills require an affordable monthly fee).

Social / Search

While I dislike having to pay Silicon Valley for my marketing / advertising dollars they are an essential piece to your complex online puzzle. Unless you have an amazing product / service that people already know about, and a following of devoted followers – you’re going to have to invest some $$$ into social / search. If you’re a product based business – you should dabble in Pinterest, Facebook, Instagram and Snapchat. It doesn’t matter if you don’t know how to use these tools, just start and you’ll figure it out as you go. Here’s a quick starting point. If you’re more service based – think consulting – use Twitter and possibly Instagram and YouTube. Video is a HUGE differentiator in the market right now. If you can provide weekly or even daily videos about your product / service – you’re going to excel. Cost per day is anywhere from $5 per day to $20 per day.

As for search – you have to fight the Google and Microsoft battle. My biggest thing is to own your name. Using Google Adwords and Bing Ads ensure you’re the top ad that shows up when someone searches for your name. For example – when you search Ever Rose on any platform – my wife and I’s online dress shop is the first thing you’ll see. Cost is $5 per day on both Google and Bing.

From there – you can start pulling back your dollars and invest it more in the people who have visited your page or have purchased from you. You can do this through your weekly e-marketing campaign from Mail Chimp or Klaviyo (a cool Shopify app). Don’t inundate your fans with e-blasts. A weekly update will do with new products / services. Even a special deal exclusive to them is always something to keep in mind.

Spreadsheets

It’s a bit old school, but having a few trustworthy spreadsheets will help you in being able to breakdown a few key items. One of my favourites is the profit workbook. When starting out it’s essential to know you’re making a healthy profit, so you can invest back into the business to help it grow. I have a sheet that calculates to the percentage point – how much Ever Rose is profiting from the sale of our goods.

If you’re interested in diving deeper into any of the tools above – a quick online search will help you out or connect with me by leaving a comment below or finding me on Twitter.

Love you,

Jordan ‘The Guy with the Bow Tie’ Rycroft

You Say You Do But You Don’t

It’s one of the most frustrating things to come across, and you’re guilty of it too. You say you will, but in reality you don’t ACT on what you say you will act on. How many times have you heard your friend or even yourself say, “I should really work out, but I’ll do that tomorrow.” Then tomorrow comes and you’re on the couch binge watching Netflix.

This is ingrained in our psyches, and it develops through time. This is one of the biggest hurdles to overcome when you’re selling a product or service. And we’re all in sales in one way or another. Whether you’re selling yourself in a job interview or selling a physical product. The customer / client / interviewer will say something when they really won’t follow through. People are guarded, and they build up walls.

I dont trust words I trust actions, actions speak louder than wordss

 

A couple real life examples

1) In my wife and I’s online dress shop (EverRose.com) we carry a few Fair Trade products (on top of trying to carry as many conflict free items as possible) from India where women are paid a living wage to design, and produce amazing looking dresses. We decided to carry this particular line of dresses because in our research we found this was a particular issue with our fans. They wanted Fair Trade dresses, at least that’s what they said. In fact, not a single one has been purchased. Maybe the design isn’t appealing or maybe the price is too high (they usually run $5-10 more). Whatever it is, there’s also a bit of psychology at play. Sometimes you just aren’t who you THINK you are.

2) I publish a couple small community magazines, and one of my tasks is to encourage companies to advertise and connect with this niche market. Rejection comes along quite a bit, and the most often thing I hear is, “Send me something.” I continue to ask for the specifics on what they’d like to see. I then send them what they requested, and guess what – 90% won’t even take a look at it. How do I know? I follow up. Maybe my pitch is off or maybe there’s not enough time in the world, but when you say to send you something, you better take a look at it. Again, there’s a bunch of psychology at play here.

You say these things because you don’t want to hurt someone’s feelings, or you don’t have a good enough excuse at the time to turn someone down. That’s one of the reasons I enjoy dealing with US business men and women. Business is more black & white, and decisions are made quickly. In Canada – especially in the smaller communities – emotion plays too much in business decisions involving money changing hands. What can I say – us Canadians are too nice, almost to a fault.

Instead of the possibility of hurting someone’s feelings – you’d rather stretch out a decision, waste a bunch of time, and not even take the 2-minutes to look at something from someone who’s trying to help grow your business. Once you’re aware of this – stop doing it. I answer every sales persons email, and phone call whether I’m interested or not. I value other people who are just trying to make a buck, and the last thing I want to do is waste their or my time. On top of that – I may find something I didn’t know about that could be extremely useful to my business.

Actions speak louder than words

In business – while research is a great tool – you also have to be ready to move with what your customers / clients are actually doing. In the dress world – my wife and I have found our best sellers are more form fitting dresses opposed to A-line dresses. Therefore, we’re stocking more form fitting dresses, and getting more sales.

In the consulting world – I’ve moved away from big business, and I’ve started working more with entrepreneurs where English is their second language. In doing what I do – I’ve found this to be the best market for me at this time, and it’s where I can provide the most value.

However, you’ll never know these things unless you act. You can spend thousands on research, and surveys, but you’ll never REALLY know what’s going on unless you do. You have to remember people will not act the way they say the will. They will act the way they act. Saying and doing are completely different things.

Love you (and I’m not just saying that),

Jordan ‘The Guy with the Bow Tie’ Rycroft

Summer Marketing Checklist

Kids are out, it’s hot…damn hot, and people are spending money more frivolously. What are you doing to stay in front of your potential and existing clients? Are you speaking to them in their language, about what they care about at your point of contact with them? If you can or can’t answer these questions – here’s a quick summer check up:

Your customers / fans:
What’s their mindset for summer?
Where are they going? Beach? Lake?
Where are their kids going? Camp?
Do they have kids?
Are they using their vehicles?
Are they on their mobile devices more or less? If so, what programs / apps are they using?
Are they going to weddings? Or having babies?

You as a marketer:
Is your marketing touching on these points? Is it related to summer?
What colours are you using in your messages? Do they reflect summer?
Do your social media sites reflect the summer? Does it reflect what your potential customers are doing?
Is there something topical (event or otherwise) you can piggy back on to get your message across? For example – it’s the Calgary Stampede and we ran targeted marketing to those in and around Calgary with a message that would resonate with the market.
Is there something you can sponsor or fundraise for?

The Top 3

1) What’s going on in your potential customers head? Lock yourself away for 5 minutes and think like your customer. Or think about what you do in summer. Most likely, a sum of your market will be doing or consider doing the same thing. Is it the beach? Family vacation? R&R while the kids are away at camp?
2) Based on the above – where can you place your message? The goal is to hit as many people as possible within your budget. Whether it’s a community board at your local beach or a national mass media marketing campaign. Figure out where your potential customers are going to be and hit them with your message.
3) The ‘summery’ message: Once you have the first two down, how will you relay your message. Don’t use a generic message or branding. Target it specifically to what your potential customers are doing or may be doing this summer.

Here’s a hard example from a campaign my wife and I ran for Ever Rose leading up to and during Calgary Stampede:

Stampede, Calgary Stampede, Facebook Ad, Stampede Facebook Ad

Hyper-targeted, hyper local, and the message resonates. What are your marketing plans for summer? Come fall everyone is gearing up for the holidays, so now’s a great time to get your message out, and avoid all the noise that will follow.

Love you,

Jordan ‘The Guy with the Bow Tie’ Rycroft

Why It’s Okay To Have A Bad Day

You know how it feels when nothing seems to go right. You feel it in your gut, and it’s just one thing on top of another. It feels like the world is against you, and nothing can change. You’re having a bad day – and here’s why it’s okay.

bad day, sign, bad day sign, Guy with Bow Tie

1) It’s nothing personal

The world works in mysterious ways. Sometimes you’re up. Sometimes you’re down. It’s a roller coaster, and you’re along for the ride. You can choose which roller coaster to get on to and which one to get off of, but you can’t control other people’s moods, relationships, choices, etc… They’re along for the ride, as you are.

You can’t let it get the best of you. You can be aware of the poor day you’re having, and stop. I usually like going for a walk. You can shut your door and work on admin tasks instead of having to interact with other people. You’re bad day won’t last forever, and tomorrow is an opportunity to start over again.

2) Bad days aren’t a bad thing

As long as you’re aware that this particular day has gone awry – you can act and change your direction, and attitude. I was a firm believer of the concept – NO BAD DAYS – however this is unattainable. When doctors or firefighters have a ‘bad day’ people die. Good thing ‘bad days’ are few and far between. When you have a ‘bad day’ your business might fail or a strong employee might quit. It happens.

Bad days can be tackled by flipping your psychology. Be aware. Don’t let emotions get the better of you. Be in control of your attitude. If you need to cry, if you need to let out your anger – do it. Close the office door, go for a walk, hit a punching bag. Control it and own it, but don’t let it own you for days on end. Tomorrow is a great day to start over. Look at it this way – using the roller coaster analogy – you must go down before you can go up. Know with the bad days there will be a much larger portion of good days. In essence – a bad day means you’re that much closer to having an awesome day.

3) Opportunity

View your bad day as an opportunity to start over. Understand why you’re feeling this way, and think of ways to prevent this feeling in the future. This is why I like going for walks. Almost within a couple hours or so of my day getting started I get a feeling on whether or not it’s going to be a good or bad day.

A colleague of mine would lock himself in his room, turn off his phone, and start over. He would run over why he does what he does, he would read positive reviews of his services, he would go over his scripts, and presentation time-and-time again. This day might have been a poor day for him, but he’s going to ensure tomorrow is a great day.

He viewed it as an opportunity to get better. You can do the same.

4) Roll with the Good Days

Just as you’re self-aware of whether or not it’s going to be a good day or bad day – ensure you roll with the good. Momentum is one heck of a thing. Just as a bad day can ruin you for days or even lead to depression, anxiety, alcoholism, and the list of vices goes on. A good day can lead to endless positive momentum. Yes, there’s going to be a bad day thrown in there, but you need to be aware of when to ride the good wave.

You can visualize your day and how it’s going to go positively. You can do this as soon as you wake up. Grab a glass of water, and sit and think. Don’t check your phone just sit and engage in thought. Think of how good this day is going to be, and visualize what’s going to happen. This can be a powerful process.

Just as you can get lost in the bad, you can also get lost in the good. When you’re feeling good, and you know it’s going to be a good day…roll with it. Make the calls you’ve been afraid to make, reach out to those who you haven’t spoken with in awhile and you’ve been meaning to reach out. Do the challenging things you’ve been putting off, and you might find they work out well for you.

You don’t own the roller coaster of the ups-and-downs; good and bad. You’re strapped in and you must be aware of this. Ensure you accept the bad days, and roll with the good. You’ll be amazed at how many good days there are…and how few bad days.

Love you,

Jordan ‘The Guy with the Bow Tie’ Rycroft