What did Ryan do wrong?

Once upon a time, a nice man called Ryan came to see me.

Ryan bought an e-commerce company about 3 years ago. And he’d been trying to get this business to work ever since. He’d done everything he could to make it work. You name it, he’d tried it. Adwords, Facebook ads, newsletters, video blogs…even a podcast. He’d spent hours and hours each week trying to get his numbers up. He’d read tons of articles about online marketing, and followed their advice.

Sometimes he’d get loads of traffic to the site, and even get a quick flurry of sales. A couple of times he’d got reviews on much bigger sites and in print magazines.
But, it didn’t work.

Poor Ryan

Poor Ryan had spent 120k on all of this by the time I got to see him. And he’d pretty much run out of money and was becoming desperate.

Here’s what Ryan did wrong, and what we did about it.

This is the shortened version – it took about 3 months to sort all of this out, but I’m going to tell you about it in 5 minutes.

Ryan didn’t have a clear brand.

Ryan had inherited a lot of his stock, and the website from the guy he’d bought the business from. And he’d then added a whole load of extra stuff he’d sourced himself – the things he liked.The trouble was that it was a mess. The branding of the site appealed to an older demographic, but Ryan’s new stock was more likely to appeal to 25-35 year olds.

And the company looked slightly different on all the different social media sites. I could even see different versions of the logo, which I guessed had been reproduced in Canva by someone.
Ryan told me about how he’d got a marketing consultant to write copy, and I could pretty much pick out which ones she’d done because they were all in this super salesy upbeat tone of voice.
It was a bit of a mess.

Ryan didn’t know what price point to sell at

Ryan had lots of different product lines on the site. Now, of course, you want a spread of different price points, including some cheaper items to get people to make their first purchase so you have their details and can sell them some more expensive things later, but Ryan hadn’t thought about this at all strategically.

He had all kinds of things at all kinds of prices. Some looked ridiculously cheap and some looked expensive to me.

Ryan had been using mark up to set his prices, which he’d been taught by the guy he’d bought the site from. When he bought a new item, he took whatever he paid for it, and set his price at 2.15 times whatever he’d paid for it.

I explained that his pricing to his customers had nothing to do with what he paid for it. And we sat down and worked out 3 different customer avatars and set new prices for every item on the site. Apart from the 50% of the stock which I got Ryan to get rid of because it just wasn’t going to sell.

You couldn’t find anything

Ryan’s e-commerce site was like a teenage boys bedroom. Or maybe someone with a mental health problem and their house is full of all kinds of things they just can’t bear to get rid of.

As well as ditching a lot of the stock, we also de-cluttered the whole site. Old blogs, videos no one had ever watched, promotional campaigns which had run 5 years ago…Ryan spent about a week deleting and redirecting a whole lot of pages.

Does any of this sound familiar?

If you’re running an e-commerce business, this will definitely sound familiar. And if you’ve been creating a lot of content as part of your marketing, you might also have some old junk hanging around. I do – after one of my meetings with Ryan, I was inspired to also delete and redirect about 30 blog posts which I liked, but apparently, no one else was at all bothered about. Some of those older ones were pretty embarrassing.

But even if you have a pretty simple business, and don’t really do that much online, some of this might apply to you as well. How rigorous are you about reaching out just to people who fit your most desired client profile? Or do you just take whatever comes in?

And are you selling a number of different things, just in case someone wants something? In Ryan’s case, he’d bought in new stock when he liked the look of something. But I also see this with service businesses, where people offer a whole range of different things because they don’t want to miss out on someone who wants something slightly different.

The problem with this approach is that you never really get known for one particular specialist area, so you never get the reputation of being really good at something. You’re just okay at a few things. Or you end up doing some low price work you got recommended for, which you don’t really want to do, but it fills a gap.

Let’s cut the clutter

Getting really well known for one clear brand and one clear thing that you sell is one of the ways to fast track your business to be able to do the work you love, for people who love what you do. And of course, being able to charge good money for it too, so you can get to your success income.

Getting clear on your pricing is also part of this fast track process, and is probably the number one thing you need to do to get your business moving.

How to get some help to sort this out

We’ll be covering more of this in the Remarkable Business programme – make sure you’re on the waiting list to find out more about the next programme.

Quick note – in case you think that I give all this confidential information about my clients away, making me the worst business adviser in the world, let’s just be clear that there’s no such person as Ryan. He’s a mixture of at least 3 different clients, plus a bit of a man I met in a pub who tried to get some free business advice.

Photo credits – Matt Lemmon and Berwin Coroza