Ryan McLean : Slightly Unconventional

#7 Making My Product Easier To Use

Since my revelation that no one actually wants customer service (they just want stuff to work) I’ve been thinking about how to make my product easier to use for people.

I’ve basically gone around the round about and ending up realising that I only needed to delete one part of my product to make my life easier and my product better. BOOM!

life-lowresIn Today’s Episode

The other day I talked about creating a product in a business that didn’t need customer service. I have kind of gone down that rabbit hole and explored options like completely changing my product and now I have basically come around full circle.

Today in Instructions Not Included, I talk about my thought process as to why I wanted to change my products and then why I’ve kind of come full circle and then ended up basically back where I am but with a little tweak here and there.

Welcome to Instructions Not Included, a podcast about me Ryan McLane and my business that I’m trying to grow over the next year or two years. Follow me on my journey as I wade through the muck that is creating your own business and try and work out how to do this in a profitable way and grow a little online business into something more significant that has a bigger impact on the world. Hopefully you’ll learn a thing or two about marketing as I learn things along the way.

I told you the other day about how I had this big revelation that I hate customer support and customers don’t actually want to have to deal with customer support they just want what is meant to happen to happen with the product that they purchase. They just want to get in there; they want to use it without any difficulties. This made me think, well maybe I need to rework my business in such a way that it’s simpler for people and they don’t need customer support.

So initially I went to the idea of rather than having a membership site where people can log in and browse through properties is that people would actually get a weekly email with the properties in that email. This would reduce the amount of work that I would have to do because I wouldn’t have to publish anything and it would also reduce confusion for people because they wouldn’t have to remember the login or how to log in or how to use the website. Therefore I thought before I make any rash decisions or really go down this rabbit hole deeper, first I need to work out what problem I am trying to solve and so I started mapping it out. What’s the end goal? What are people trying to achieve?

People want to achieve financial freedom. That’s what I’m selling, that’s what they really want out of life. Then the next step down from that, the step that they need to do before they achieve financial freedom is to actually buy positive cash flow properties which is a kind of a strategy that I work on with people on. However, before they can buy positive cash flow properties they need to find positive cash flow properties and they need to research the area and understand whether the area is going to be a good investment.

When I set out with this business it was always my goal to help fill the gap between people who wanted to invest in positive cash flow properties but couldn’t find positive cash flow properties. I wanted to solve the problem of showing people how to find positive cash flow properties and I did that. But then I started to realize that people weren’t actually taking the next step and buying the properties because they weren’t doing the research or they didn’t know how to do the research or fear was holding them back. As a result I thought well I need to incorporate research into my product and teach people how to do the research and doing the research for them was where I ended up.

But just writing up that flow of the way that they need to progress and the things they need to learn to achieve financial freedom I realize that I’m trying to solve two problems in one go. And maybe, just maybe, I should really be focused on solving just one problem which is how to find positive cash flow properties and helping people find positive cash flow properties. That’s when I thought about separating everything out.

Currently my website helps people find positive cash flow properties, it provides reports for people, I’ve got tools in there as well and I’ve got training as well. I thought, well maybe I’ll just separate it out and I’ll do the properties and so they can sign up for an annual subscription and get emails for the properties; and then I can do the trainings and sell that as a separate product; and the tools I can sell that as a separate product; and the reporting I could do that on a per needs basis or as a separate product as well. Hence I’m trying to work out, rather than selling one membership maybe I should be selling four different products.

And then I was talking to my wife and I recorded the conversation that I shared in the last episode: “I think you probably have an entry-level product exactly like you have always made. It’s an entry-level product for normal people.” And we were talking after that conversation about what it is that I do and about the plans for the site. Seriously, talking to her is so helpful. I don’t mean to talk her out too much but without her I’d kind of just get stuck in my own little thought space. It’s so good to be able to talk to her and hear her feedback. Basically she said that, “What you do is that you provide entry-level products that are easy to understand and easy to use for people. So why don’t you just focus on that? Stop trying to make this end to end solution and do all the data and all the research and everything like that. Just create an entry-level product that explains something difficult to understand and it makes it easy for people.”

I thought that was a pretty good idea. I was pretty excited about that and I’m still thinking along the lines of sending out emails and stuff like that and offering everything as a different purchasing options, so you’ll buy the emails of the property separately and then you would buy the training separately and things like that. But then last night I listened to this by James Schramko:

“James: And of course one of the obvious ones is to distillate stuff. There’re probably things you’re doing that have absolutely no impact at all, like getting you no results. I’ll give you some wild examples: one of the popular blogging blogs just deleted their Facebook page. They figured that….

Participant: Yeah, I saw that. Is that copy blogger?

James: Yeah, it has no result for them, not worth the effort.

Participant: I love saying that.

James: So, well imagine how much less effort’s involved when you just say, “okay well, we’ll just turn that of.”

Participant: Yeah, yeah

James: And I’ve done this. One of the things I’ve done recently is clean up my huge domain portfolio. I’ve literally sold or deleted the bulk of my portfolio to get it down to the core because now that the way that we do our SEO has changed and we’ve had the value from the domains, a lot of them are no longer going to be useful for me. And in line with that I was able to reduce my staffing overhead allocated to managing those sites and I was also able to reduce our server requirements, literally going from five servers down to just two. So, if you would have gone back a couple years ago, we had about 20 servers and 2000 domains.

Participant: Yeah.

James: So as things change, you know, the best win is to just delete, like just stop doing something if you possibly can.”

That part about deleting and getting rid of things that you shouldn’t be doing really spoke to me and really made me think, “Well if I’m getting so overwhelmed and I’m trying to rework everything just because I don’t like providing the research and providing the data and that’s where all the headaches are, that’s where all the issues are, well then maybe I should just get rid of data altogether.” I was saying to my wife the other night, “Data is nice. Yes, people want it but it’s not really what they’re buying my products for. They’re not buying it because of the data. It’s not one of the reasons that they get converted over to my product, because I know that, because it’s not in my sales page, it’s not in my cell messaging anywhere. It’s only once they get in that they can get access to that. And so it’s not actually driving sales; it’s not actually what people are signing up for. So should I really be providing it?”

I’ve kind of come full circle and at the moment I’m thinking well I’m just going to keep my membership site as it is, but I’m going to probably list more properties and not offer reports with those properties. Therefore the trainings will still be in there, the tools will still be in there and it’ll still be an all in one solution but the reporting won’t be in there.

Now, on to the topic of increasing my prices. I had planned to increase my prices from currently $300 a year to $500 a year with a $100 or a $200 upgrade for the reporting. But now I don’t really know where I stand on pricing. Currently I’m charging $300 per year and still that is pretty low – an entry level for people in this particular niche. You know, most training programs are $2,000 or most software that is available, it’s about $1,000 or $2,000 a year. Therefore $300 is very entry level, but once I start moving up into $500, that’s $50 a month, that seems like a big number to me. Will people really pay that? Am I offering enough that my services is actually worth that? And at the moment I don’t really know where I stand. I don’t really know what to do with pricing and I’m not 100% sure.

I sent out an email that said I would be raising pricing and so I don’t really want to renege on that because I’ve done that once in the past and it’s not something that I want to do again. But then I also don’t know if it’s worth raising prices if I’m focusing on an entry level product and not trying to complicate things. That’s my big thing, I’m not trying to complicate things, make it easy for people, then I don’t need to charge more and I can’t charge less. So I really need to think about this more and work out what I’m going to do.

At the moment no resolution on the pricing but I think I’m pretty resolved on keeping the website as it is, just changing my sales funnel and getting rid of the reporting aspect of it.

“James: First one is your personal capacity, right. You’re literally like, let’s say a bucket of water and there is a limit. In your case it’s probably a couple of hundred hours a month. At that point if you pour any more water in it it’s just going over the top of the bucket. It’s like you’d run out of capacity to do stuff. So you have a finite resource of your own time. So that’s the first step to logically point us up on. It’s the acknowledgement that there is a limit to Tim’s time.

The second part is that of all the things that you’re doing some of them will have far more impact on your business than other things. And that’s the that’s the Pareto principle, so the 80/20 rule. In fact 20% of the things you’re doing will get you 80% of your results and 4% of the things you’re doing will get you 64% of the results.

Participant: So that means 96% of the stuff you’re doing is getting you like 36% of your result.

James: It’s not really a good investment on time investment, is it?

Participant: No.

James: So, a natural step is to write down everything that you’re doing or record everything you’re doing for a cycle. You know, that might be a week. It could be a month depending if you have a steady routine or not. And then you want to seek to identify which of the things and you might want to segment them in different ways. But a simple way might be you could segment the high-impact things. So if you’re speaking from stage it might be a high-impact thing because you’re getting paid the big bucks per hour. Then you have the sort of medium stuff that, you know, you could do or you couldn’t necessarily have to do to doing something and then there’s the low stuff. There are ways that you can get rid of this low-yield stuff. And typically you’d want to be hiring or finding somebody to take whatever low-yield or medium stuffy you shouldn’t be doing off your plate.”

That recording in that episode with James Schramko from a podcast called Freedom Ocean and that’s in episode 75. You can check them out by going to freedomocean.com or searching for Freedom Ocean inside Stitcher Radio or inside ITunes.

In tomorrow’s episode, my plans for next year 2015 are about to radically get turned on their head and it’s mainly because of this podcast. So here’s a snippet from tomorrow’s episode, “I started to realize that well maybe what I had planned for 2015 isn’t going to pen out that way. The reason that I thought this was… I keep sitting down at my computer and I know that I need to do stuff for On Property. I know that I need to record videos and podcasts. I know that I’ve got transcriptions that need editing and blog posts that need doing. I know that this episode that I’ve recorded and uploaded need to be published. But every morning I’d sit here and I just feel like I can’t do the work. I feel like I just can’t do it.”

If you want to check out that episode or see any of the episodes or subscribe to the podcast then search for Instructions Not Included inside iTunes or Stitcher Radio or go to instructionsnotincluded.tv.

Thank you so much for listening and I’ll be back tomorrow to talk more about my plans for 2015. I hope you’re enjoying Instructions Not Included, a startup story.

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