2021 Nobody Wants To Buy Your Sht

Nobody Wants To Buy Your Sh*t (10 Lessons To Get People To Love You)

Nobody Wants To Buy Your Sh*t


The probelm with most clients is they fall so in love with their business, their products and their services, that they become blind to the truth. The truth is that nobody wants to buy their shirt. Many business owners believe that marketing is this magical, mystical force that can turn water into wine, and lead into gold. I mean, it sucks when you’re not successful


Business owners believe that if they just hire a marketing firm, that then they’d be able to sell their stuff. But it doesn’t work that way, marketing isn’t some ‘cure-all silver bullet’. It’s like putting lipstick on a pig or polishing a turd, you’re still left with a sh*tty pig at the end of the day, to mix some metaphors. 


Bad Product Example


We worked with client who sold consumer goods. Now these consumer goods were exactly the same as other consumer goods on the market. And I mean literally the same, they hired the same manufacturer, bought the same product models, and just slapped a new logo on it. I’m being serious: all they did was slap a new logo on it. 


And then they were confused why sales were slow… Now let’s get out of the business owners head, and into the customers head – what happens when they go shopping? When they’re looking at making their next big purchase, they’re going to shop around, see what is available on the market – find out who’s got the cheapest price, who’s got the best quality, who’s got the features I need, and most importantly, who’s got the cheapest price? 


Now think about it, if you put out a product that is literally indistinguishable from everyother product available on the market, and you were arrogant enough to actually raise the price and sell it at a premium – then ask yourself – WHY would anyone actually buy from you? 


You haven’t given any real incentive. You haven’t positioned yourself or differentiated yourself in any way from the sea of competition. You’re just one of the many poor fish getting slaughtered by the sharks. You’re no longer in a blue ocean (if you ever were), you my friend are in the middle of a bloodbath. 


Being A Commodity, Being A Generalist, Being A Sucker


I see this all the time with my marketing clients. They sell a commodity, or if they’re in the service industry, they’re a generalist. They try to sell exactly what everyone else is selling, and they try to sell it to everyone. 


No. No. No. As entrepreneurs we often don’t have deep pockets or venture capital backing (which is a GOOD thing, as soon as someone else invests in your business, they own part of it and are going to be constantly breathing down your neck for ‘results’. Results take time, you know that, and you have the patience for it, tell everyone who’s not patient enough to screw off), which means as entrepreneurs we need to play smarter, not harder. 


We need to be wiser with our actions and our decisions because we have less room for error. Which means we don’t sell commodities. A commodity is something that is completely indistinguishable based on who is selling it (example: selling wheat – all wheat is effectively the same, the only thing distinguishing one batch from another is price). A commodity has nothing to distinguish it other than price, which means you’ve just set yourself up for a price war – and a price war is a race right to the bottom, stay the hell away from those. 


Commodity Example: Thai Food


Here’s an example of a commodity vs a non-commodity: let’s say you like thai food, a commodity would be Thai Express (no hate, love that food), which is thai food fast-food, you don’t eat there because it’s the best, you eat there because it’s fast and it’s cheap. If it wasn’t cheap, you wouldn’t eat there. Also, the restaurants are ubiquitous, they’re all over town, you don’t need to travel anywhere special to get to one. Cost for a meal? $10.


Compare that to that high-end, one of a kind Thai fusion restaurant that just opened up in the trendy part of town: there’s only one, people line up to get in the door, the food is unique and exotic, flavours you’ve never tasted before. You’re in a celebratory mood so you buy some drinks, and finish it off with a dessert you can’t pronounce the name of and unsure what it actually is. Cost for a meal? $70


Why did you pay more? They’re both thai food right? Wrong. One sold a thai food commodity where they had to compete on price to get your business (otherwise you might have gone to McDonalds or Dominos), and the 2nd, sold an experience, you took photos to flex on insta and you bragged to your friends you just hit up the hot new place in town, and you were happy to foot the bill. 


That’s what I’m talking about here with business owners, too many try to play the commodity game, and then get confused why nobody cares about them or notices them. Your job is to be distinguished and unique. People pay big money for unique experiences they’ve never had before. Otherwise, you’re just on a price war, racing straight to the bottom. Don’t do it. 


Marketing Will Help To Burn Your Tire-Fire Faster


Marketing doesn’t fix things, marketing is an accelerant. If you have a great product or service, marketing will help you sell more of it faster, if you have a terrible product or service, marketing will help you go out of business faster. 


It amazes me the sheer amount of money that business owners dump into marketing, without any real clear sense of what it is they’re trying to accomplish. The just assume that if they buy ‘marketing’, that somehow it will fix all the problems with their business. They’re wrong. Don’t be one of them. 


Marketing is an amazing tool that can be used to accomplish remarkable things. But marketing is like a map – you could have the best map in the world, but if you don’t know how to read it, you’re still going to get lost. And I see business owners all the time getting lost. 


So What Goes Wrong – Why Do Most Business Owners Fail At Marketing?


A major problem is that business owners fall absolutely in love with their business, and they decide that it must succeed at all costs. But marketing doesn’t work that way. Marketing can unlock the clues to your business, but you still have to solve the mystery. 


Let me give you an example. A business owner comes to me and says “I need SEO – do SEO for me” – and I say “sure thing! Let’s see what we can do here”. But as it turns out, the client is in a hyper-competitive niche, let’s say insurance. Google is already filled with tons of high ranking searches in the insurance industry, with sites with extremely high domain authority – meaning that Google already has a lot of trust in the current top ranked pages. 


My heart sinks, “damn, this business owner is going to have a tough time!”. Now here’s the problem, that business owner is fixed in their industry. They sell insurance. End of story. So they have no other option than to try (and fail) to rank for major insurance keywords. 


By contrast, let’s take myself as an example, I’ve started this blog to write about business books (reasonably competitive space, I’ll admit), but at the same time I have full flexibility to write about whatever I want. One of my most successful (from an SEO point of view) posts was about Martial Arts Marketing Solutions. It turns out that I stumbled upon a low competition gold mine. Maybe now I pivot and I focus on servicing that niche. 


Do you see where I’m going with this? Good marketing is not designed to sell products, good marketing is designed to uncover opportunities. 


Push vs Pull Marketing


This is what every business owner get’s wrong about marketing: they see it as a tool to push their products down people’s throats. But it doesn’t work that way. Marketing is a tool to experiment and to find opportunities that no one else seems to have found or fully capitalized on yet. 


Do you see the difference? Instead of pushing your product, you’re pulling the market to reveal itself. Good marketing is designed to reveal the map to you. 


Good Marketing Is Experimentation


Truly good marketing is about experimentation and seeing what works. Throwing the pasta against the wall and seeing what sticks. You should be ready to test all different offers, products, services, demographics, ages, keywords, copy, creative, style and most of all: does anyone even respond?


Marketing Experiments: Conversion Tracking


To take your experiments to the next level, I recommend setting up conversion tracking. Being able to track simple things like scroll depth, time on page, newsletter signups, or even just clicks across your site, will give you all sorts of information in terms of whether people actually like your content or not. 


Most business owners just put out content with the mentality of “you better like it because I put a lot of work into this!” and the market shrugs it’s shoulders and says “nah, we don’t really care”. Marketing tells you what people actually care about, to take the guess work out of it. The reality is you’re going to be creating a whole bunch of content that never really hits the mark, and that’s cool, just keep producing more and more, eventually you’re going to figure it out. 


Stop Trying To F*ck Strangers


I’m about to go on a lengthy rant here, but if you take nothing else away from what I’m about to say is this: Stop. Trying. To. F*ck. Strangers. 


People don’t buy from strangers. Have you ever just bought something because it showed up one time in your newsfeed? Of course not (unless it was some crazy, one-off impulse buy, but even then, what lesson can we learn from that?). There’s a great section in Guerrilla Marketing by Jay Conrad Levinson, where he lays out the 30 or so times a person needs to see an ad before he considers buying. The first about 10 times, the guy just thinks it’s a scam. And that’s the point here: relationships and trust take time. Stop trying to f*ck strangers.


I see it all the time in marketing, a client get’s super (SUPER) excited about their business/product/service and they want to shout it from the rooftops. So we start running an ad campaign, and very quickly the client starts interrogating us about why ‘sales are slow’ and how we must be terrible at doing our jobs. 


The reality is this is a brand new business or product, that no one has ever heard of before. We’re going out to a cold audience and expecting they’re just going to whip their wallets out. And I hate to spoil the punchline, but they don’t. In the following sections I break down about 10 reasons why nobody wants to buy your sh*t. I know the truth hurts, but if we swallow that jagged little pill, we just might be come out stronger on the other side. 


Delusion get’s you nowhere, and as a marketer it’s unfortunately usually my job to rip off the glasses of delusion that most clients wear. It’s a nasty process, and too be honest, I’d rather not. So let’s get into it:


Nobody Wants To Buy Your Sh*t: They Don’t Know You


Straight up. If people haven’t heard of you before, if their friends haven’t recommended you, people aren’t going to buy. People do not buy from strangers, drill that into your head. Do not go out into the market with a premium level product, expecting to be paid premium level prices, when nobody knows you and nobody likes you. You’ve got to establish trust first. 


So what do you do when nobody knows you? Start advertising. We all have to start somewhere, so no better time than to start now. The problem is not the advertising. The problem is the expectation that you’ll make a sale within the first 30 seconds. Lower your short term expectations, and raise your long term expectations. This is a long term game remember. 


Start building awareness, run ads on all the major platforms that are important to you (that you can afford to do). Produce video, get people watching your videos, get people clicking through to your website, start building remarketing audiences, and start building a customer email list (the list!). 


Nobody Wants To Buy Your Sh*t: They Don’t Like You


Here’s another thing that most business owners are completely oblivious to: nobody wants to buy your sh*t because they don’t like you. As I said, the truth hurts. But if you’re boring, if you’ve got a bad product, if you’re literally reading off a script as your record your video (no joke, I love the guys making YouTube videos claiming that they’ve helped businesses scale to 7 Figures, yet they’re literally reading off a script as if someone just handed it to them 10 minutes earlier and said “here you go, here’s how you launch a business, don’t worry about the skills (or the truth), just read this”. I want to screen record more of these guys, it’s hilarious. 


But this is important. If your website is boring, if your products are boring, if you’re not likeable in your messaging, if you focus all on yourself and not on the other person, people will immediately put their guard up and not like you. So be likeable. It doesn’t mean you need to act like a clown, just act like you might actually be a semi-regular person that someone might enjoy hanging out with. Also, it doesn’t hurt to have good products people actually want to buy. 


Nobody Wants To Buy Your Sh*t: They Don’t Trust You


This is a big one. And virtually every business owner screws this up. It’s funny, it’s hard to see when the shoe is on the other foot, but think about it, how many times when you’re watching advertisements do you think “yeeesh, this guy is such a scumbag, I’d wouldn’t even trust him with a shoelace. Who would ever buy from this guy?!”. Right? 


Nearly every commercial you watch, you probably think something similar. Yet, when it’s your turn to make an ad or get on camera, you just assume that everyone will suddenly love you as if you’re the greatest thing since sliced bread. Not a chance. Chances are you’re coming off weird and awkward in your video, or your product pages just don’t inspire much confidence. It looks like you whipped it together from a box of crackerjacks or something. 


People NEED to trust you before they buy from you. People forget this, but one of the hardest things in the world to do, is to get people to get out their wallets and pay you money. Seriously, it’s crazy hard, and people underestimate how much trust is required to make that happen. 


So how do you build trust? As I said earlier, it all starts with advertising (you have to start somewhere), start running your ads, but make them low-key. Don’t push immediately for the sale. Offer useful information, offer a pdf guide to download, offer them something they can use to solve one of their problems today. 


And guess what? Once you’ve successfully solved one problem, a tiny piece of trust has been built. And if you solve another problem, another tiny piece of trust has been built. And eventually, once enough trust has been built, guess what? They’ll actually buy from you. 


Now to every business owner who says “wow! But that sounds like a lot of work! Can’t we just do the easy thing?”. I say great, I love that it’s a lot of work. Because if it’s a lot of work it means that my competition likely hasn’t put in the time to establish that same level of trust that I have. And if everyone trusts me more than my competition, guess what? Then they all buy from me. 


See how this works? Yes trust takes time, relationships take time. But what is the alternative? The alternative is poverty, and I’m not interested in that. 


Nobody Wants To Buy Your Sh*t: What You Sell Sucks


I wish I didn’t have to talk about this, but in marketing I see it way too often: clients trying to sell products or services that just straight up suck. Like putting lipstick on a pig, it just ain’t gonna fly. 


We had one client who very proudly sold monitor risers. And when I went on instagram and pinterest to take a look at the competition, I saw these beautiful, hand-carved, bespoke wooden monitor risers, that fit perfectly within the perfect desk arrangement, and they have desk plants, and everything about their desk just looked like heaven. Seriously, it was beautiful. 


And what did our client sell? These rickety, plastic monitor risers that stacked together and looked like something a 4 year old might have built out of lego. It didn’t help that not only were they boring and ugly, but the photography was also terrible. There was absolutely nothing appealing about anything they were trying to sell. 


And as I said earlier, when you’re selling a boring commodity, the only level you have to pull is price. The only thing you can do is lower your price, because nobody is anxiously trying to buy your products. Just get out now. 


Nobody Wants To Buy Your Sh*t: What You Sell Is Overpriced


I love the clients who proudly proclaim to us “we don’t believe in being the cheapest, we believe in providing the most premium product experience possible” – which is great, and a sentiment I fully believe in and endorse – the only problem is that what they’re selling is sh*t, is highly competitive, and have virtually nothing to distinguish it from the competition. 


Like sure, I could open a restaurant that sells $200 burgers, but if what I sell is basically McDonalds quality, then no one is going to be very interested in buying. I’m all for premium products and premium pricing, but what you sell has to actually deliver. 


I believe this is an ego problem. The ego of most business owners is huge, and they think they’re just the best thing to have ever happened to this earth. But I gotta say it’s a rude awakening when the market slaps them around, chews them up and spits them out for trying to play the market. As Gary Vee says, the market is always right, and the market always eventually corrects itself. Better play nice with the market before you get destroyed. 


Nobody Wants To Buy Your Shit: What You Sell Is Boring


I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: the truth hurts. But would you rather live a life of delusion where you keep failing and don’t understand why, or would you prefer if someone helped you see the light so you could actually start making good decisions and be successful? If you’re still reading this blog, I’m assuming the later, so let’s explore.


It’s like having a baby. I might be dating myself here but for anyone who love Seinfeld, there’s that episode, where Jerry and Elaine go to see their new friends baby in the Hamptons. The parents absolutely adore their baby and think “isn’t he gorgeous!?”. Jerry and Elaine nearly vomit from the trauma. 


Through no fault of their own, parents are blind to the reality of their baby. All the see is the cutest, funnest, most playful, smartest little kiddo on the planet. They’ve got parents goggles on – which are kinda like beer goggles but less fun – and they can’t help it!


The same phenomenon exactly happens with business owners. So they get wrapped up in their business and the products and services they offer, they just think all of it is amazing – “isn’t it gorgeous!?”. You don’t want to be that asshole that breaks the bad news that actually their business is not only unattractive, but seriously hideous. 


Here’s the truth, most business owners play it extremely safe. They copy other people’s products, they copy other people’s messaging, they copy other people’s marketing techniques (which is fine, I’m a big believer in Stealing Like An Artist), but the problem is they add nothing. They’re afraid to take risks. They’re afraid to offend anyone. They’re afraid to alienate anyone. And as a result, they end up with this sterile, boring, uninteresting, un-exciting product that nobody wants to buy. 


I’ll give you another example, we had one client that sold office supplies. Mouse pads, monitor risers, foot rests, desk pads, desk lamps, that kind of stuff, and in 2021 their catalogue looked like it could have come straight out of the mid 1990’s. It had that old, stale, office-y look to it. 


If you take 3 seconds and scroll through Instagram, you’ll see thousands of modern home office products – and what do you see? There’s colour, there’s personality, there’s personalization, there’s uniqueness. People don’t want to buy boring and stale (unless of course, they’re just looking for a cheap price, which our client proudly kept high prices because they believed in ‘premium’). No, people today want to buy exciting, or more specifically, they want to buy something they can show off to their friends


Think about it, we live in a social media-first world, where everyone wants to show off how amazing their lives are and how special and what a unique snowflake they are right? You don’t have to agree with it (I don’t), but you do need to accept it as a reality (if you want to be successful anyway). 


Stop being boring. Find a way to make your business more exciting, or failing that, I recommend getting out of business. You won’t last long swimming with the sharks.


Nobody Wants To Buy Your Shit: You’re Too Pretentious


This follows from the last point, but most business owners are too pretentious. They think that what they’re selling is just god’s gift to this earth, and that whenever run an ad, angels start to cry and stuff. Makes me puke. 


Why is this a problem? Because they become paralyzed and too scared to experiment. When you’re a startup business owner (or truthfully, at any level of business), your continued success and survival relies on constant experimentation and trying new things. And sometimes those experiments fail, that’s part of the process. 


But I’ve lost count of all the pretentious business owners I’ve worked with who say things like “oh no, we can’t say that in the ad, that might make us look bad”, or “or no, we can’t use that image, people will think x, y, z”, or “oh no, we can’t make that offer, people will think we’re cheap”, and blah blah blah it goes on and on. 


What’s the common theme here? This use of the word “can’t”. “We can’t do this”, “we can’t do that”, “we can’t say this”, “we can’t use that”. Can’t, Can’t, Can’t. And where does that come from? Fear. 


Most business owners see their products and services as these sacred, sacred cows (which, in truth they are, so I do empathise), but this paralyzes business owners from experimenting. Of trying new words, new headlines, new offers, new photos, new styles of video – and unless you’re constantly experimenting, then you’re constantly falling behind. 


Nobody Wants To Buy Your Shit: You’re Too Concerned With Spelling And Proper Grammar


This all follows off the last point of being pretentious. Look, for anyone reading this blog you are already intimately familiar that I have typos and grammar mistakes EVERYWHERE. 


It’s not because I don’t care, and it’s not because I don’t love you, but I only have 24 hours in a day. And given the choice I’d rather pump out 5 pretty well written articles for you, then spend my time agonizing and trying to perfect 1 single article. 


See how this works? I believe that I can offer you MORE value by pumping out more content (remember what I said earlier about constant experimentation – see I drink my own kool-aide), than trying to perfect a single piece. As Gary Vee says, we hide behind perfection, but it’s really a mask to hide our insecurities and our fears


I stopped worrying about perfection a long time ago. But it’s not out of laziness (I’ve pumped out over 60,000 words in the last 3 weeks, does that sound like laziness to you?), it’s out of a desire to produce the most and best content I can, to give you as many tools as I can provide for success. 


And this is the point, many business owners hide behind this veil of perfection. They want everything to be perfect (yet at the same time, they’re also boring, so go figure). They want the words to be perfect, the photo to be perfect. They want every word spelled absolutely right, they want flawless grammar, they want to spend hours going back and forth in constant revisions just to adjust thinks like whether a comma should be a semi-colon, or whether the ‘a’ in ‘an’ should be capitalized or not when we use title case.


A good friend of mine recently introduced me to the term ‘bikeshedding’, which apparently is another term for Parkinson’s Law of Triviality – and it explains clients behaviour perfectly – they love to obsess over little minor details that are essentially irrelevant, because it’s the only thing they really feel qualified to talk about, and it’s a way for them to somehow feel like they’re in control. 


But here’s the reality that virtually every business owner is completely oblivious to as they hide their heads in the sand: customers don’t care. I’ll say it again: CUSTOMERS DO NOT CARE. 


Put yourself in their shoes for a second. They’re scrolling through their newsfeed at a million miles a minute, they’ve got 15 simultaneous chats with friends going on at the same time, they’re watching netflix – their brains are going in a million directions at once – do you think they’re going to take the time to notice some minor grammatical problems on your ad? To be more pointed, where do you get off having the audacity to think that anyone even cares enough about you to be concerned whether you’ve used your punctuation correctly or not. Get your head out of your a**. Nobody cares about you. Nobody gives a sh*t about you. Give them a reason to care first before your ego and feelings of powerlessness make you fret endlessly about a period. 


Nobody Wants To Buy Your Shit: You Make It Too Complicated


Ah this is a fun one. Like I said, every business owner sees their baby as this wonderful magical thing but they fail to see it from their customers point of view: it’s too complicated. The website is poorly laid out, it’s difficult to navigate, it’s slow, the forms are too long and complicated, the UI/UX are poor (user interface and user experience, as we say in the biz), and just generally the information you’re trying to find is just hidden or inaccessible. 


In short: your website is the literal version of vomit. I’ll just say it, most websites are sh*t. They’re poorly designed and they make the customer journey unreasonably complicated (and again, I drink my own kool-aide here, I’m more than aware of my own website being sh*t and needing massive improvement – thank you for your keen observation – I’m not oblivious, this site will be a masterpiece before long). 


Want a clear example of what a well designed, simple landing page should look like? Here I designed this in about an hour last night. I had the basic layout done in about 20 minutes then spent another 40 making alterations to improve the mobile experience. My goal was to have all the text and the button visible above the fold (visible as the first thing you see whent the page first loads). 


My goals were simple: 1) keep it simple, 2) make it concise, 3) make it easy. All the information loads above the fold, no scrolling is necessary and all the user needs to input is their email. Simple. Simple. Simple. Now I just launched it last night, so I’ll keep you posted how it goes 😉


Nobody Wants To Buy Your Shit: Your Forms Are Too Long


This is one of my guilty pleasures. Or rather I should say, when clients insist on having long forms I secretly smile and laugh inside, thinking to myself “great, call in 6 months when you’re out of business”. I love the audacity that client’s have. 


Now this is especially true for clients that work in more legal and ‘professional’ settings, such as lawyers, accountants, immigration, brokerages, and government. Seriously, they have the audacity to ask for your entire lifes story in a looooooong and complicated form (the probably isn’t mobile responsive and you need to struggle to actually fill it in). 


Stop. Stop it right now. What is the bare essentials that you need to ask to move someone to the next step? I know this is painful, but you need to let your emotion go, and ask yourself “do you want to be right, or do you want to be paid?”. The more complicated you make the form the more your response rates will plummet like a stone (unless maybe you’re in some weird niche where your audience secretly loves long forms, hey anything can happen). 


Let’s look at some extremes here: what is the literal least amount of information you can ask for? Just their email (see my example above). You can’t get much shorter than that (of if someone knows a way, hit me up). It’s simple, it’s sleak, and as a user, it’s kinda sexy (not like sexy sexy, but business sexy). 


I get a secret thrill when I land on a page for a course or a whatever and all I need to provide is my email. It’s quick, it’s painless, I don’t feel I’m secretly giving away my identity to the russian mafia, and also (importantly) I’m not worried that some annoying schmuck is going to try to call me (I get to remain completely anonymous – win!). 


Once more trust has been built and established, sure I’d be happy to share more information with you. But early on in our dance, as our relationship is just starting, my email will suffice, thank you. Know your clients, know what they’re thinking – and deliver something that makes them happy. 


Now, what is the other extreme? The other extreme is asking for literally everything. I’ve see some forms like this:


  1. Name
  2. Email
  3. Phone #
  4. Address
  5. City
  6. Country
  7. Date of birth
  8. Date entered the country
  9. University attended
  10. Degree
  11. Graduation year
  12. Yearly salary
  13. Marital status
  14. Kids names
  15. Profession
  16. Years of experience
  17. Preferred language
  18. How did you hear about us…


And on and on and on – that was 18 questions and honestly I want to vomit. Steve Krug has a great book called Don’t Make Me Think, where he outlines the sins that most business owners and websites make when designing their user journey. They ask for way too much (it’s like asking for marriage too quickly when you just started dating someone new, it’s going to make people very uncomfortable).


So where is the balance? My preference would be that whenever possible you only ever ask for someone’s email upfront (remember, you can get more details later when they start to like you), but sometimes that might not be enough based on the situation. 


Reasonable fields to include would be name (if possible only ask for first name, but its acceptable to ask for last name too), and phone number (again, avoid it if you can, because most people, esp millennials, HATE getting phone calls from strangers. Sorry, just telling you like it is).  


Now before I end this, one last counter-argument to make which is that “hey but Arthur, if you make longer forms you’ll end up with more qualified leads!”. And yes, that’s true, the longer and more complicated you make the form, the more qualified (likely) the end-user will be – as only someone who’s in desperate need of your solution will subject themselves to such torture. 


But here’s my philosophy: I’d rather start with a large pool of contacts (say getting 100 emails), that I nurture over time, and like cream, a few good ones rise to the top, rather than limiting my audience to just 1 contact that had the patience to make it through my maze. See my point? If you turn off 99 people – they’re gone – you don’t have their email, you have no way of following up, to nurture the relationship or to find out who they really are. 


So my answer is this: make your forms as short and as simple as possible that your business allows. And if possible, only ask for an email.  


Nobody Wants To Buy Your Shit: You Expect Too Much From People


Business owners just have this assumption that users will jump through hoops to buy their products. As if their customers have just been so overtaken by bloodlust, that they’ll stop at nothing until they get their hands on that sweet, sweet product. Except they don’t, and they won’t. 


People won’t do anything for you. They won’t waste their time trying to figure out your complicated website, they won’t waste their time trying to understand your product, they won’t write you reviews, they won’t get out their wallets and pay you big money. They won’t do sh*t for you. Why? Because you haven’t done sh*t for them.


Or at least, that’s how they perceive it (and at the end of the day, what the customer perceives is all that matters). It doesn’t matter what your intent was, or how good you believe your product or service is, all that matters is whether the customer believes that your product is worth their time or not. 


Customers won’t jump through hoops, they won’t kiss your a**, they don’t like you. Get over it, it’s cool. I’ve it before and I’ll say it again: relationships take time. Relationships take a lot hard work and dedication to turn them into something, and as you’re the one with the expectation of selling something, the onus is actually on you to prove that you’re somebody worth doing business with. 


But once you’ve established that trust, you just might have a loyal customer for life. And that’s what business owners forget – they look only at the short term bottom line, and they forget the long term potential from building solid relationships on strong foundations. It’s hard to build trust with people, and once your customers build trust with you – they’ll likely stay with you for life, unless you sell them out or screw them over at some point (remember – stay true to your word – always!).


Nobody Wants To Buy Your Shit: Your Website Sucks


Before I beat a dead horse – just remember – your website probably sucks. Now maybe you’ve invested the proper time and or money and you’ve built yourself a fantastic modern website. What do I mean by modern? a) fast (really fast), b) mobile responsive, c) easy and simple to navigate, d) no clutter. 


People naively believe (and maybe this is because what web developers sell them) that websites need to be these overly complicated, wonders of design, on parallel with the Sistine Chapel. I disagree. 


I believe in a mobile first world, that good design means less, not more. You can’t fit a whole lot onto a mobile screen, so what you do include better be amazing. Oh, and fast, did I mention fast? 


Mobile phones tend to have slower connections than laptops, meaning your page needs to load blazingly fast, or else you’ve instantly alienated and turned off (over) half your audience (remember – the world is quickly moving towards a mobile-first experience – many people cannot afford computers, but inexpensive phones are becoming common place all around the world).


When designing your website think simple, think fast, think easy. The rest is just bullsh*t. If your website looks like it came straight out of the 90’s ditch that thing now, start over. There’s plenty of free templates available that are way better than anything you’re using (or better yet, take some basic courses in web design and build your own – not afraid to challenge yourself, right?).


Nobody Wants To Buy Your Shit: Your Website Is Too Slow


It’s surprising how often people forget about the simple things. A website speed is a big one that most business owners conveniently forget about. If you learn nothing else, remember this: customers are not patient. They do not have time to sit around waiting for your website to load.


And this is 10x more applicable on mobile, as we rapidly move towards a mobile-first internet. As of 2021, mobile phones just don’t load as fast as broadband internet connections. That’s a fact, accept it, and build your website to be blazingly fast on mobile. 


Google has this handy tool called Page Speed Insights, or there’s GT Metrix. Simply load in your domain or a specific page and get your score. Don’t be shocked if your scores are terrible. If you want to feel better, try putting in your competitors sites and see how they’re doing. Most people suck when it comes to page speed, so you’ve probably got a good shot at outshining your competitors.  


If your site is loading too slowly, then they’ve already bounced to your competitors page, you know that one the lurks right below you. In the internet world, the competition is only one click away, and dont give your customers the excuse that your website was too slow. That’s the lamest reason in the book. 


The good news, is this is probably one of the easiest to fix, because it’s the most technical, and has nothing specific to do with you business or product (it’s easy to hire someone and say “hey, make my website faster!”, it’s much harder to hire someone and say “hey, make people want to buy my product!”). Either fix it yourself, or hire someone. 


The most common causes of slow websites are excessive plugins and tags. I’ll try not to get too nerdy here, but they had 3 Google Tag Managers, 2 Google Analytics, and 2 Facebook Pixels. Let’s just say that in an ideal world it should only be 1, 1 and 1. Needless to say all of those tags really slowed down their page speed. 


Eliminate any plugin you’re not using, use smaller images, use lazy-loading – anything you can do to get that page speed up. Its amazing how much this one simple thing can impact your site performance (and more importantly: actually keep people engaged with your site!).


One more thing, beyond the user experience, keep in mind that Google is also watching. In fact, this June (2021), Google is rolling out it’s “Web Core Vitals” as part of it’s ranking algorithm. What does that mean in english? It means that Google is going to start ranking websites more harshly based on their page speed and performance. 


Google is actively working to demote slow pages (because they give a bad user experience), and promote higher the faster loading pages. It’s hard to say at this point how dramatic the change in SERP (search engine results page) will be, but the takeaway message is strong: make sure you’ve got a site that loads lightning fast. 


Nobody Wants To Buy Your Shit: You Underestimate Your Competition


Ah yes the competition. Most business owners live in this wonderful bubble where they assume the competition are the bumbling, incompetent idiots. They assume that the competition has no idea what they’re doing, and “why would our customer go to the competition anyway, we’re clearly the best!”.


Yes, but no. Don’t underestimate your competition. To go back to an example from earlier, one of our clients sold kitchen appliances. And to be frank, these kitchen appliances were literally the exact same as the competition, but with a new logo slapped on (nice work team, really showing that hard work and creativity here. Side rant: this is why entrepreneurs fail and businesses go out of business – they try to do the easy thing, until they one day discover that the easy thing actually turned out to be the hard thing – but that’s a rant for another day).


So from the consumers point of view – all the kitchen appliances basically look and act the same way, which means they’ve all just become commodities, which means the only thing really distinguishing one from another is price. 


And if the only thing you have to compete on is price, please, close up your shop, close your doors and shutdown your business, because you’re finished. Other businesses have deeper pockets than you, you’re swimming with the sharks, and you’ll be eaten alive soon enough. 


I had a boss who used to talk at length about ‘operational efficiencies’. We had one client that had ‘operational efficiencies’ in their business – meaning they could process online orders very effectively, and turn a profit on very small orders. That’s cool, and I commend them for that. But then my boss made the comment that this client could undercut the major retailers (think: Home Depot), because they could process orders more effectively. 


My boss then went on to say that our client (who, keep in mind, while successful, was just a small operation),  could outbid the major retailers on Google Ads, and bid so effectively that the major retailers would exhaust their daily budgets, and our client would be able to bid competition free for the remainder of the day. 


I was awestruck. I also had to tightly bite my tongue and keep a straight face. I couldn’t believe my boss had just told this small client they could ‘exhaust the daily budgets of major retailers’ – and keep in mind, we were talking about maybe $100/day ad spend budget. My boss got enthralled by ‘operational efficiencies’ and took it to a level I’d never imagined possible. Kudos to my boss for having the balls to go there. 


Nobody Wants To Buy Your Shit: You Have Very ‘Fine’ Products That Are ‘Competitively’ Priced


You know how sometimes there are just words or phrases that instantly make you vomit? Yeah, whenever a client proclaims (proudly) that they have very ‘fine’ products, and that they are ‘competitively’ priced, and they have this look of smug satisfaction on their faces, I have to work extremely hard to maintain a straight face and not laugh them out of them room. 


Pure word vomit. Please remove these expressions from your vocabulary immediately. Why are they so bad? First off, you sound like you’re a businessman from the 1920’s, proudly selling ‘fine’ products. 


Consumers do not buy ‘fine’ products. Consumers by exceptional products, consumers buy one of a kind, unique, can show it off to my friends kind of products. If your products don’t literally blow people away and have them thinking “OMG I DIDN’T KNOW THAT WAAS EVEN POSSSIBLE” – then again – shut down your shop, board your windows, you’re finished. 


The other problem is just the shear smugness they say it with. They act as if they’re just the greatest thing since sliced bread, and the heavens should just open up and applaud them. We had one client that went on endless about their ‘fine paper products’, and I wanted to vomit all over that ‘fine paper product’, maybe that would have actually made it interesting enough to sell. 


The other phase is ‘very competitively priced’, which again is said with this utter and disgusting smugness, as if they’ve managed to solve a rubik’s cube with one hand while saving a kitten out of a tree in the other. Nobody is excited by ‘competitively priced’. 


As Dan Kennedy so famously proclaimed, “if you’re not the cheapest, there’s no competitive advantage to being the second cheapest”. His point is that you either need to be so cheap that people go “WOW, so cheap!”, or you actually need to be the most expensive. If you make your products expensive you might actually be able to invest in better quality marketing that allows you to actually sell them. 


Stop trying to be ‘competitively priced’ with your ‘fine products’. You sound like someones grandpa. No one cares. Deliver something that people actually care about, or close down your business immediately and save us all a headache. 


Nobody Wants To Buy Your Shit: You Believe That High Quality Products Will Sell Themselves


Again this is pure business owner arrogance. Given the choice, always value marketing above ‘quality’. Too many business owners go out of business everyday who have superior products but can’t sell them. 


Let’s just use a super simple example: McDonalds. Does McDonalds make the greatest burgers ever? Best friends? Is their coke somehow unique and special? No. There are so many speciality burger joints that could kick McDonalds’ a** in terms of burger quality, uniqueness, experience and taste. 


Yet, we’ve all heard of McDonalds, and we’ve never heard of that little amazing hole in the wall burger joint in your town. Why? Marketing. McDonalds doesn’t have the best burgers, it has the best marketing. 


Now before everyone misunderstands me, let me make this abundantly, clear, I’m not advocating that they way to success is to make cheap products and try to fool people into thinking they’re amazing through clever marketing. I’m not. High quality premium products absolutely have a place in the marketing ecosystem and I support them. 


But here’s my problem: business owners that ‘premium’ alone will make their products sell. They develop this arrogance that somehow because they have some much higher quality, extra premium, super special product, that somehow consumers are just going to dive head over heels to come buy their products. It doesn’t work that way. 


Like Gary Vee said about perfectionism simply being a mask for insecurity, focusing on the premium nature of your product, is similarly a mask to hide your insecurity behind. When business owners fall in love with how premium their products are, suddenly they develop these emotional attachements, and become unable to experiment and find new winning opportunities. 


For example, business owners will say to me “but we can’t discount the price, we’re a premium product!”, “oh no, we can’t use that photo, it makes us look cheap!”, “but we’re a premium product, and premium products are entitled to premium pricing”. And any time you hear the word entitled – run. Nobody is entitled to anything. 


Yes I support developing the most premium and top of the line products you can (again, assuming you found a niche that appreciates high quality), but dont’ be so arrogant that you feel you can bypass marketing. At the end of the day, the most important function of your business is marketing. Marketing, marketing, marketing. If you’re not marketing your business hard, you’re not selling. End of story. 


Nobody Wants To Buy Your Shit: You Underestimate How Easy It Is To Price Shop


Newsflash – we live in the new digital economy. The competition is just a Google search away. Consumers will compare you against 10 competitors, and unless you have a compelling reason to buy from you, will likely choose the cheapest. This is why you never (ever!) want to be a commodity. As soon as you’re a commodity, the price war has begun, and you’re finished). 


Instead, just imagine for a second that your business/product/service actually IS entirely unique. There is no else (or virtually no one else) who sells the same thing as you, and anyone who sells something similar, you have a certain ‘je ne sais quois’ that leads people to buy from you. 


Guess what, if you actually managed to pull off being entirely unique, you have no direct competition. People can’t price shop. People can’t look at 10 different options and casually decide who they want to go with. There is only one choice: you. Which means if your service actually solves a pressing and painful need, people will shell out the money for you (what other option do they have?).


And therein lies the beauty of finding your unique niche where you can thrive, without having to worry about the sharks tearing you apart. I never said it was easy, but you must put in the work to make it happen. 


Your customers don’t love you. They love you if you have the cheapest price. And as soon as you’re not the cheapest, they’ve already forgotten about you. 


Nobody Wants To Buy Your Shit: You Underestimate How Hard It Is To Run A Business


For any entrepreneur who hasn’t read it yet, I highly recommend checking out Michael Gerber’s The E-Myth Revisited. Spoiler alert, the E stands for Entrepreneur. In it, Michael explains why being an entrepreneur is way hard than most business owners imagine. 


Most entrepreneurs start the same way – someone sells them this fantasy of the ‘easy’ life on the beach, living in Thailand, the digital nomad, the backpack entrepreneur, and it’s all just so easy! And for those who’ve pulled that off, I congratulate you. 


But for us mere mortals, being a business owner is considerably harder than most imagine. Michael gives the example of the bike repair mechanic who says “hey, I do all the work around here anyway, yet the boss is taking 75% of all the revenue I bring in. That’s not fair! I’m going to start my own bicycle repair shop and keep 100% of the revenue!”. 


This inspired entrepreneur, then excitedly starts his own shop, takes out bank loans, sets up premises and then….crickets. And quickly what was meant to free him from his ‘9-5’, actually becomes his new prison sentence. 


Now, he has bills to pay, vendors to keep happy, clients to bring in – and oh yeah – he never realised this before, but while he’d been so happy repairing bikes, he actually had no idea how to attract customers. He thought bike repair was the business and the guy with the best technical skills would win, but the business is: a) getting customers in the door, and b) getting those customers to whip their wallets out and pay money. Without those two actions, there is no business, no matter how good a bike mechanic you are. 


And now we have this ‘technician’ who tried to become an entrepreneur and failed miserably along the way. Drove his business into the ground, took out money he couldn’t pay back, destroyed his credit, and probably destroyed his home family life. 


I don’t say this to judge, I’m an entrepreneur myself who’s also struggled with the ‘technicians’ syndrome. I never said it was easy. But you have to be smart about it. You have to make calculated risks and decisions, and never commit to something so fully that you can’t reverse from, unless you’re 2000% sure it’s what you need to do. 


Most entrepreneurs assume that running a business is some kind of a piece of the cake walk. And as an extension of that they assume that marketing and selling their products is going to be easy too, and then are floundered when it turns out not to be the case. “It must be the fault of the marketing firm! We hired them for the expert-ness in this field, and they’ve clearly let us down!”. 


Marketing is essential for your business. But the best marketing cannot save a sinking ship. If your product is terrible, no amount of trying to play up the marketing will fix it. 


Nobody Wants To Buy Your Shit: You Don’t Understand Why Every Lead Isn’t Perfectly Qualified


Business owners love to believe that everyone who walks on the lot (or the digital lot, so to speak), is qualified, ready to buy, and has the money right now. And I can tell you from years of experience, this is never (rarely) the case. 


Most prospects who walk on the lot are just browsing – and that’s perfectly okay – everyone needs to shop around and see what’s available. Many were just curious, and wanted to find out a little bit more. Afterall, you ran an ad that said “curious? Click to find out more!”, and then they’re surprised when people turn up who want to find out more, but aren’t actually qualified prospects. 


Now before I get lost in marketing jargon, maybe I should take a minute to define what I mean by qualified. In business, we are looking to sell to ‘qualified’ buyers, these are the ones who are ideal to buy from us. For example, if you sell home mortgages, then a prospect who’s in market to buy a home, is a pretty good candidate, and could be considered ‘qualified’. Depending on the business, there could be multiple levels of qualification. Let’s stick with the home mortgage broker, they could be looking for: someone who’s looking to buy a home, has an annual income of $100k+/yr, has a high credit score, has a young family and looking for more space in the burbs, etc etc. The more points you can qualify a prospect on, the better (and more likely) they are to buy from you. 


In an ideal world, you want to focus on the highly qualified prospects. But, and this is the opportunity most business owners miss, what about the unqualified prospects? Do you just throw them out on the street, or can you turn lead into gold?


Nobody Wants To Buy Your Shit: You Don’t Understand Why Every Lead Isn’t Immediately Ready To Whip Out Their Wallets


“But why didn’t they buy!?”. Ah these words are sweet music to my ears. “Because you’re an idiot” I want to scream, but refrain myself. I’ve had clients literally say to me “I mean, why would they even come to our website if they didn’t want to buy from us?”. Dear lord. I mean, how many times have you visited a website and not made a purchase? I bet it’s about pretty much all of them. 


It’s one of those thing that most business owners just fail to appreciate, which is that getting people to pull out their wallets and pay cold, hard, cash, is one of the hardest things you can ever do. I’m being serious about that. 


Most people are cash-strapped and money-conscious (which is a good thing! Otherwise they’d just spend their money on literally everything and go broke in the process). In order for someone to actually pay you money, there are several, psychological steps they need to go through in order to make the payment happen:


  1. Trust – this is a big one – they have to trust you and your product. If you’re just showing up now for the first time ever in their newsfeed, they probably don’t trust you. The truth hurts. 
  2. Desire – I know this is crazy, but they need to actually desire your product, and believe that what it does will help them solve their problem. Which is another good point: they need to have a strong enough problem in the first place to even be considering such a thing. 
  3. Have access to money – most business owners forget that most people live paycheck to paycheck, and have zero dollars in their checking account most of the time. Whoops. 
  4. Fear of missing out – this one relates back to desire – and is also sometimes referred to as ‘urgency’, but they need to have some level of fear that if they don’t buy it now, they either won’t be able to buy it later, or it’ll be more expensive later, or their problem will be worse later. 
  5. Ease of making the purchase – sometimes as marketers and business owners we get so caught up with the fancy marketing stuff, that sometimes we forget the basics – which, is it easy to actually make the payment. Do you have a good online system (like Shopify or WooCommerce) to make the transaction frictionless. 


Nobody Wants To Buy Your Shit: You Get Frustrated By ‘Tire Kickers’


I love tire kickers. Or rather I should say, I love hearing clients complaining about tire kickers. It is one of my guilty pleasures. Nearly every client I’ve ever worked with at some point has made the comment about “I’m tired of all these tire kickers!”, or when I ask them about how things with the campaign have been going I hear “all we’re getting are tire kickers!”. 


Tire Kickers! Tire Kickers! TIRE KICKERS! Clients love to complainin about tire kickers. But my favourite part of this is they act as if it’s the marketing’s ‘fault’. The client complains bitterly that the marketing is terrible because they’re getting all these ‘tire kickers’. Um, think again buddy, tire kickers are just part of the game. 


If I could be so bold – maybe you just suck at sales. But before the gloves start coming off here, let me qualify this a bit more. Let’s put ourselves in the prospects shoes, I mean we’ve all be tire kickers ourselves at various points of our lives. When we’re curious to go buy something, we go seeking information. We may not be ready in that moment to buy, but we’re curious and we want to learn more. 


Most business owners at this point throw their hands in the hair and exclaim “Tire Kickers!”, as if it was some tribal ritualistic chant or something. But I like to look at it differently. Now maybe I’m stealing a line from The Matrix, but in my mind, just like there ‘is no spoon’, there ‘is no tire kicker’. 


Tire kickers don’t actually exist, they’re some mythical fabled beast, like tooth fairy or the easter bunny. What there are, is people at various stages of the buying cycle, think of it like a spectrum. There are those few (and rare) people who know what they want, are ready to buy and have the money – those people are rare yet business owners often feel they’re ‘entitled’ to this kind of buyer. 


On the other end of the spectrum you’ve got the person who’s exploring a little bit, is curious, want’s to learn more and may buy one day. Great. There’s nothing wrong with that, and no reason to get offended by it. The question is, what is the smallest thing you can do to get them into your funnel? 


Maybe say, “hey look I get that this isn’t the right moment for you to buy, but I wanted to let you know we’ve got a newsletter where every week we provide solutions to x, y, z problem, and every month we select a winner for our monthly free-prize giveaway – can we add you to our list?”. Boom. 


Now you’ve got them on your email list. Will they ever buy from you? Maybe, maybe not. But if you’re focused on that, again you’re focused on the wrong thing. The point here is that you now have an opportunity, to build and extend your relationship, or to use marketing-speak: nurture the relationship. 


In 6 months or 6 years, they may come back to you and say “you know what, that article you wrote back in 2013 really changed my life, and ever since then I’ve wanted to come make a purchase from you, and today I finally have the money saved”. Jackpot!


You see the difference now? There are no Tire Kickers, there’s just simply a huge (HUGE!) number of people who aren’t ready to buy from you today, but with the right strategy and mindset, you can win their business down the line. 


Last point on this – the beautiful part to with your ‘nurture strategy’ is much of it can be automated, you can have a pre-made list of automated emails that go out to them when they sign up, and then maybe once a week or once a month you send a personalized newsletter. Let’s say you have 10,000 people (or 50k, or 100k!) on your newsletter list – how much work does it really take to nurture those relationships? That’s the point, it’s all automated, all you need is their email to kick it off. 


Last last point: it’s now April 2021, and WhatsApp marketing hasn’t really taken off, but I suspect over the next few years we may see a shift away from email marketing towards SMS or WhatsApp marketing – I’m excited to see where things go – but just to keep in mind it’s probably best to get people’s numbers if you can!


Nobody Wants To Buy Your Shit: You Get Frustrated That People Fill Up Their Cart, But Don’t Buy


If you can’t tell by now, the pains and frustrations of business owners really turn me on. Maybe I’m sadistic. Maybe it’s a little bit of psychological revenge for the terrible, manipulative and degrading ways that I’ve allowed many clients to treat me over the years. Payback is a bitch. 


When we run e-commerce campaigns, many clients complain that “hey, people are clicking on the ads, they’re visiting the site, they’re filling up the carts – but why is NOBODY BUYING?!”. First of all you product or your offer probably suck. Sorry, truth hurts. 


Business owners often forget too that online, many people are just curious. Honestly, many people are just browsing around, fantasizing about all the things they could buy, but they don’t actually have any money. Think of it like digital window shopping. 


Business owners believe everyone should just be ravenous to whip out their wallets. Not so. Yes, cart abandoners is a common occurrence. Suck it up princess. 


Why does it happen? Maybe they didn’t like your products, maybe your site was terribly designed, maybe they didn’t like your offer, maybe they went price shopping and found something better, maybe their kid started screaming, maybe their wife started screaming, maybe their cat just had violent diarrhea all over the mink rug. 


There’s literally thousands of reasons why someone doesn’t buy, and I love when clients come to me and demand to know “why didn’t they buy?!”. I hate to break to you, but I have literally no ideal. It could have been anything, but I’m just guessing. Why don’t we start by improving your page speed and updating your offer so it doesn’t suck. 


Nobody Wants To Buy Your Shit: You Get Frustrated That Your Customers Need Constant Hand-Holding


People have fallen in love with the dream of passive income. And I use the word dream intentionally, because it is a dream. Now, while I believe there is nothing wrong with aspiring to setup systems in your life to attract passive income, the fantasy that everyone has is they can just snap their fingers and bam! Passive income. Gary Vee has an amazing video exposing the bullsh*it of the passive income mafia.


Many business owners are confused and frustrated to find that their customers need ‘hand-holding’, that they might actually need to put in some effort to actually interact with them. We had one client who was selling home maintenance packages. 


The client wanted users to go to the website, sign up to pay a several hundred dollar a year recurring subscription, and the client expected all of this to happen without them or their teams involvement. 


It was difficult for us to break the news to them that they’d likely have to hire a sales rep to complete the transaction. The client was taken aback – “but I don’t want to hire a sales rep! – that will destroy our margins! I want people to just buy directly from the website!”. Wah wah (clients love to cry and complain). 


Here’s what the client failed to appreciate: users don’t just stumbleupon new websites and decide to drop half a grand in a yearly recurring subscription just out of the goodness of their hearts. Granted, some people will, but they’ll be the minority. 


The majority of people will need to hear a sales reps voice, first of all just to confirm that this is in fact a real business with real people, but also to help explain how exactly the business works, and how they’re going to served, and what exactly they’re getting for their money, why they should do it, as well as the dangers if they don’t sign up. 


Yes, you need a sales rep, yes, you need to hand-hold the customer – suck it up and accept the reality as it is, not how you want it to be. Passive income is generally a dream and fantasy – if you can pull it off, great, but don’t sell yourself to the illusion and the dream. 


Nobody Wants To Buy Your Shit: Your Margins Suck


I want to switch things up a bit here. Technically speaking, your margins have nothing directly to do with your sales. As in, the customer has no idea whether you have a 5% margin or a 5000% margin, they just care about whether you’ve got a good product, that it’s what they’re looking for, and it’s the right price for them. 


So why am I ranting about margins? Because your margins tell me a lot about your business and your business philosophy. I cringe whenever client’s tell me their margins, for the most part it’s pretty terrifying stuff. One client recently said that on a $500 sale, they make $100 profit. 


But, after checking with their business advisor, their business advisor piped up and said “actually, once we include expenses and marketing, it’s closer to $20 per sale. $20 profit on a $500 sale…. That’s a 4% profit margin. 


A 4% profit margin… are you serious? And this is a business you’re excited about?? (actually for the record, despite the client being extremely excited by the project, they had yet to actually validate properly whether anyone was actually interested in purchasing their services….so many red flags!).


Now, do you see why I’m making a fuss about this? A 4% profit margin is garbage. A 4% profit margin means you bust your a** to literally make pennies. If your goal was to pay yourself $300 per day as the business owner ($100k/year), then you’d have to sell 15 packages per day. PER DAY. Oh yeah, and that includes holidays and weekends too). Considering how they’re currently selling ZERO, that’s a significant jump in sales to expect. 


The other problem is that a 4% profit margin leaves about zero room for error. Let’s say you realise that your marketing campaign isn’t as effective as you thought and you wanted to ramp it up, there’s no budget for that. Let’s say you suddenly realise that your website is sh*t and you need to revamp it, there’s no money for that. Let’s say you suddenly need to hire a new employee, there’s no money for that. See how a low profit margin has a terrible trickle down affect on the whole business?


But it get’s worse. I once had a client who hired me to do marketing and he was breaking down for me the costs of their product. Let’s say the sold a bottle of premium edible oil for $25 (there’s that word premium again…). I forget the numbers, but it was $5 to hire contractors, and $5 to get the oils pressed, and $5 bottling, and $5 for transportation, and $5 for profit. 


“Cool” I said…”so how much margin have you built in for marketing?” He looked dumbfounded…. “I guess I didn’t leave any margin for marketing…”. I looked at him, equally dumbfounded, I sucked up my courage and asked “well if there’s no margin for marketing, then what am I doing here?”. He fumbled with this words, completely caught off guard by this type of questioning, and eventually managed to say “well, I’m sure we can find some money to pay you”. 


But this is exactly my point – business owners develop these (bad) businesses with razor thin margins, yet they believe that ‘hiring a marketer’ will somehow solve things (again, I guess we’re magic workers). 


Virtually every business owner I’ve met with or talked with has the razor thin margins – from insurance, to consumer goods, to appliances, to office supplies, to pet supplies, to natural products – all over the place business owners strangle themselves with these pathetic margins. 


So let’s bring this back- how does this affect the final consumer who’s buying the product? Because if your margins are that thin, you won’t take risks. If your margins are that thin, you won’t invest properly in the marketing you need to do. 


See, most business owners are caught up in this viscous Catch-22: They don’t have any customers bringing in money, so they don’t do marketing, and because they’re not doing any marketing, they have no customers bringing in money. 


It’s this nasty nasty cycle that most business owners are never able to break out of. What’s the scolution? To suck it up and invest heavily in your marketing (do it smartly, don’t just throw cash and expect anything good. Borrow money if you need to (esp if you’ve proven your concept), you need marketing to get it off the ground. Also, don’t be afraid to start small and slow – that is cool too, the point is that you need to start bringing in new customers. 


So business owners with these razor thin business margins, they don’t invest in their marketing, they’re too afraid to take risks, the pinch every penny, they try to get people to work for them for free, they’re miserable, they’re stressed out – and the customers, whether consciously or subconsciously, pick up on all this stress, and feel this powerful “DANGER STAY AWAY” sensation around the business. Not a good sign. 


Nobody Wants To Buy Your Shit: You Get Frustrated That Nobody Picks Up The Phone When You Call


One thing I help clients do is run ‘lead gen’ campaigns. This is where we collect names, emails and phone numbers of prospects. Overall these campaigns have proven to be exceedingly effective. There’s nothing quite like calling a prospect directly to making the sale. 


But again, the typical complaints and references to ‘tire kickers’ come up again. In fairness to client, I understand the frustration of paying $64 to get 8 leads, only to have 2 of them actually pick up the phone. You have my sympathies. 


But here’s the reality, many people do no like actually picking up their phones – especially millennials (as a millennial myself, yes I can confirm it’s true). 


Now I thought it might be helpful here to actually discuss some solutions we’ve found to increase response rates:


  1. Call ASAP. If you call within 15 minutes, your response rates go way up. 
  2. Send a personalized email first – if you email and say “great to hear from you, I’ll call you between x time and y time to connect”, that primes people ahead of time that you’re actually going to call. 
  3. Send a personalized video message first – as Dave Chappelle said, modern problems, require modern solutions. One of my favourite things with WhatsApp is that you can record a personalized video and send it ahead of time. The reason this works so well is it allows people to see that you’re actually a real person before getting on the phone with you. One of the most terrifying parts of getting on the phone, is fearing who’s on the other side (especially if they’re a stranger), and wondering how they might pressure you into something like a sale or to sell your soul (I guess that’s also a sale). Sending the video first allows them to relax and get comfortable around you (see points above about trust building). 


Lastly (the silver bullet) – we’ve also gotten their emails, and remember what I said before about tire kickers? Let’s get them in that automated follow up sequence, and who knows what they might turn into down the road. 


Nobody Wants To Buy Your Shit: You Get Frustrated That Nobody Responds To Your Facebook Messages


Same story as calls, but this time you don’t have an email backup option. However, you still can send a personalized video message. One of the problems with Facebook Messenger Ads, is that often people click “learn more” either out of curiosity, or simply by accident, and they aren’t actually interested in starting a conversation with you. 


By contrast, someone who fills out a lead gen form is someone who’s mentally prepared that they’re curious to speak with you. 


Nobody Wants To Buy Your Shit: You Get Frustrated That Nobody Buys From Your Retailers


Some of our clients don’t actually sell their products directly, but they sell through retailers. We have one client that has a website for the brand they represent, and our job as a marketing agency is to send as much traffic to that site as we can, with the intent that we get that traffic to ‘convert’, by visiting the retailers page. 


I say convert in quotes, because they haven’t exactly converted (typically a proper conversion means we would at least have their email, and more ideally, their cash), but we count it as a conversion as it’s the closest thing to it that we can measure. 


So we send all this traffic to the website, and a lot of users click through to the retailers, and we celebrate. The client is happy that we hit a certain ‘conversion rate’, by getting a high percentage of people to click through and visit the retailers, where they can eventually actually buy the products. 


All sounds good right? We thought so, we were patting ourselves on the backs for smashing the historic benchmark the client had achieved before working with us. If historically they have a 10% conversation rate, we bumped that up closer to 25 or 30% – not bad right? 


Until the bad news came. The client was in a bad mood because the latest sales figures has come through, and the numbers looked bad. Our hearts sank – we did everything we could! We smashed the records! We should be celebrated as hero’s…right? Nope.


Because at the end of the day, what the client really cares about is sales (I mean obviously, but the problem is the client gave us a false metric to measure against – we smashed their records, yet still failed. It’s like winning the battle but losing the war). So the client got all upset at us because of slow sales. 


We started scratching our heads…what could we even do about it anyway? Our job was just to get users to the retailers pages – once there, we had no control. Again, this brought up questions about, did users even want their products anyway? Were they priced right? Did users just shop around and buy other fridges? Were they just window shopping and wasting our time? (those damn tire kickers!).


And this leads me to my next point about controlling the entire marketing ecosystem.


Nobody Wants To Buy Your Shit: You Don’t Control The Entire Marketing Ecosystem


Maybe I’m just a control freak, but I insist on having full control in any environment I work in (or as much as is possible anyway). This is why I don’t like being an employee, I don’t feel I have full control over my time and how I spend my day. This is why I don’t like working for clients, I don’t feel like I have full control over their products and their messaging. This is why I don’t like renting space (like renting a website vs owning), I don’t feel like I have full control to do whatever I want with it. 


Okay, I admit it, I’m a control freak. But here me out. When you don’t own the entire marketing ecosystem, you are vulnerable, and there are massive gaps in your knowledge that you struggle to fill, and you most likely have no idea what’s actually going on, or how it’s performing. 


Let’s continue from that example of the client who sold kitchen appliances through retailer pages. As soon as the user clicked through from our clients website to the retailers website (Home Depot, Lowes, etc), they vanished from our analytics. We had full analytics on the clients site, and we could see exactly where users were going, what they were clicking on, how long they were spending on pages, what links they clicked on, and even which outbound clicks to retailers were the most popular – but as soon as they clicked to the retailer, they vanished out of site for us. 


This opened up so many questions – did they successfully land on the retailer page? Did they buy? Did they shop around? Did they look at competitors products? Did they switch their and decide they wanted to buy a pool instead? We had literally no idea what was happening on the retailer side, other then to get a month end report stating that ‘sales were bad’.


Not very helpful is it? It didn’t give us much insight in terms of what we could actually do to make it better, or where things were going wrong. We were stuck, we were lost, and we were just hoping and praying that users would start buying from the retailers pages (not a great business strategy). 


And this is why I cringe at the thought of ever working on a project where we don’t have control over the entire marketing ecosystem, from start to finish. I’ll give you another example – one of my first jobs was running advertising for a web development firms. My only job was to run the ads, and I had nothing to do with the landing page. 


But it quickly turned out that the landing page was terrible, and not optimized to convert. I was stuck. I had nothing to do with the landing page, but as long as the landing page was sh*t, no one would convert, and if no one converted, then I would look like I wasn’t doing my job properly. And considering how the relationship with the client disintegrated shortly afterwards, I guess it appeared I wasn’t doing my job properly. 


So what DOES it look like when you control the entire marketing ecosystem? This could get pretty complicated, so I paint a simple example:


  1. You run your own ads (I guess technically you can’t really own the ad network unless you’re google or facebook).
  2. You own your own website. You own the domain and you pay for hosting (if using wordpress, this would be
  3. You own your own email (again, tied to owning your own domain)
  4. You send users to the website you own.
  5. You can make sales and transactions on your site.
  6. You’ve got analytics setup so you know exactly what is happening
  7. You collect users emails in a customer database that you own. 


In this way, if a platform shuts down (or facebook disables your ad account, which is shockingly common), or whatever happens – you own the entire interaction with customers from start to finish, you own their information, you have the ability to follow up and make more sales. 


If at all possible, never work in an environment where you don’t own and control the entire (or at least the vast majority, and have redundancy where you don’t) marketing ecosystem, you are leaving yourself vulnerable. You won’t understand the entire customer journey, and at any point retailers or platforms can pull the rug from under you and suddenly, you’re toast. 


Nobody Wants To Buy Your Shit: You Get Frustrated That Nobody Opens Your Emails


I’m a little young for this, but apparently the glory days of emails were back in the mid to late 90’s when emails had like a 90% open rate. Now it’s like a 5% open rate (unless you’re good). 


As with everything, business owners just love to complain. If nobody is opening your emails, it’s probably because your emails suck. Now before you get mad and want to punch me out, let’s have a little thought experiment. 


Let’s say you signed up to an email newsletter and they promised that you could get $1 Million cash everyday. All you had to do was open the email and click ‘accept payment’. Now before you think I’m talking about some Nigerian Prince scam, remember this is a thought experiment. 


Let’s say that you legit would get a million bucks, everyday, if you just opened your email and hit the button. What do you think – would that email have a 100% open rate and 100% click rate? You’re damn right it would. Why because they effort to click the button vs the joy of receiving the million dollars completely justify itself. 


So what does this mean for you as the business owner? Firstly, it means that email is not dead, just that your emails suck. Secondly, imagine that everytime you write an email, you are giving the equivalent of a million dollars of value (I get that you can’t literally send a million dollars each time, you’re not Jay Mazini afterall). 


I’m serious – imagine that every email you write contains a million dollars of advice, experience, free stuff, whatever it is – and if you’re legit, and you’re good, people are going to start opening and reading your emails. Stop thinking that email is dead, you’re just doing it wrong.  


Nobody Wants To Buy Your Shit: You Bombard People With Ads On Your Site


Why does nobody seem to think this is a problem? Hey look, I’m a free-market capitalist, and I’m fully cool with advertising and selling products, sign me up! But I still believe in being smart and tactful about it. 


Have you ever visited a website, say, looking up a recipe for chicken-a-la-king, and as you’re scrolling the page you are literally bombarded with ads? They fly across the screen, they load up video, they follow you in the sidebar, they popup in your face. 


What do you think of that experience? It’s terrible! It makes me say “get me the hell out of here!”. I might see if I can grab the secret recipe, but otherwise I’m out of there as quick as I can, and never to return (unless I forget how many mushrooms I need). 


Why? Because it’s not a pleasant experience. I feel attacked and bombarded. I feel stressed, I feel on guard and defensive. I’m not likely to return, and I’m not likely to sign up for their newsletter. 


I’m not opposed to the concept of greed, but I love when greed over takes common sense and actually backfires. By being so upfront with your advertising you immediately turn people offf, and damage any chance of a long term relationship (I guess it’s kinda like dating relationships, you can shoot yourself in the foot if you’re too forward about marriage…funny how dating and business often overlap…)


Nobody Wants To Buy Your Shit: You Don’t Understand The Beauty Of An Automated Funnel To Turn Tire Kickers Into High Quality, Rabid, Loyal Fans


Stop working dollar for hour. Most entrepreneurs and business owners trade their time for money. The more hours they spend on the lot selling, the more sales they make. And that’s cool, nothing wrong with that. But you’re missing the opportunity to scale and to leverage the power that tools and automations can provide you.


I mentioned before the power of automating your email follow up. This is absolutely key. Think about it. If you’re talking to a prospect, you’re caught up with only being able to talk to one prospect at a time. I don’t care how good of a sales person you are, you are limited to just that one person in front of you. 


And this is where people become fascinated with, and fall in love with digital marketing (it’s what gave me that initial itch too), is that power that you have to simultaneously talk with many people at once. 


Remember what I said about setting email newsletter automations. Imagine now you’ve got 10 thousand or 100 thousand people in your email list. Are they call going to buy from you? Absolutely not. Are they even going to open your emails? Most won’t. But I don’t care. Why? Because a percentage will. 


If you have a 100 thousand email list, and 1% buy a $100 product from you, guess what – you just made yourself $100k in revenue. If you did that once a year, you’re bringing in $100k/year. Maybe you can tap that email list 2, 3 or 5 times in a year – suddenly now we’re talking $500k per year. 


See how this works? See how you’re able to scale. This my friend is the power of owning a massive email list. Many business owners stress because not everyone bought from there – who cares – just focus on that percentage of people who do care, and who do buy from you. They’re your target audience and your loyal fans. 


Nobody Wants To Buy Your Shit: It’s Not Fun To Hang Out With You


One final point to end this post on (and it’s been an epicly long one – wow) – which is that, are you actually fun to hang out with? I know this seems like a strange question. “But Arthur, I don’t want to hang out with my prospects, I just want them to buy from me!”. Chill, chill. 


I’m not talking about literally hanging out with you. But I’m asking, are you fun, are you personable, are you an interesting person? You may not realise it, but your personality and behaviours will subconsciously rub off on your business/product/service. 


It seeps into your advertising, it seeps into your website, it seeps into how you talk about your products, it seeps into the types of people you hire and it seeps into how you interact with your customers. 


I’m not saying you need to pretend to be some frat boy that everyone loves to party with, I’m just you need to be interesting, creative, dynamic. You need to be open to exploring, experimenting and trying new ideas. 


Your enthusiasm and excitement will start to feel present in your products, your messaging and your marketing. Many business owners I’ve worked with, I hate to say are pretty boring people. No disrespect against old people, but many of the older clients I work with are very set in their ways, and favour being safe over experimental. 


Now in fairness, I’ve met some wonderful clients, and some that are still very vibrant and youthful even in their older age, which gives me hope and courage. But my partings words are this: never stop being young at heart. Never stop experimenting and trying new things, and never stop doing things that scare you. As soon as you start playing safe, the world looks at you and says “wow…he stopped trying”, and continues scrolling through their newsfeed, forgetting about you forever. 


Please, don’t let that be you. 

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