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Are You Making These E-Commerce Excuses? (part 1)
A year ago, I had big plans to re-vamp my web site. I was going to publish my e-newsletter twice a month - every month, and I was going to upgrade my own e-commerce capabilities. Those were my Internet marketing "resolutions" for 2004.
And I broke them all. *Every single one.* (One of them I broke even before the month of January was over!) For every goal, I had an excuse. And the excuses won.
But this year is different. It's 2005 - time to get live! At the end of the first quarter, I'm already off to a good start. In January, I launched my new web site, http://www.EcommerceDiva.com and new "Supersize Your Bootcamp" training program. And you're reading another newsletter issue. So far, so good!
But this article isn't about me. It's about YOU! What are *your* Internet marketing goals?
This spring, I intend to (check all that apply):
___ Finally get that web site up and running.
___ Add e-commerce to my current web site.
___ Overhaul my existing web site.
___ Get more web traffic.
___ Get more leads, prospects, or subscribers to my web
___ Get more orders.
Great! But how?
Just like any other kind of goal, Internet marketing goals require ACTION. E-commerce success doesn't happen overnight. What do you plan to do to make it happen? As the old adage goes, "if you do the same thing you've been doing, you'll get the same results you've been getting!"
So, will you do things differently this time? Or will you make the same excuses you made last year for not bringing your web site up to par?
Let's take a look at some of the most common marketing issues. Do any of these statements sound familiar? Check off any that do.
__ "I just can't seem to get my [web site, marketing campaign,
redesign, shopping cart, etc.] started."
___ "I keep starting a new marketing effort, but I can't seem to finish it."
___ "When it comes to [Internet marketing, e-commerce, web sites, etc.], I'm just clueless. I don't know what to do."
___ "I know I could benefit from marketing my [web site, products, service, etc.] but I'm not sure what steps to take. I feel stuck."
___ "I just don't have time. I'm too busy dealing with [customers, clients, day job, family, etc.] to deal with my web site."
___ "Every time I sit down to work on my marketing, I just can't seem to stay focused."
Now, let's look at each statement, and see if there's any truth to it, or if it's actually an excuse that's keeping you and your business from the success you want to achieve.
Excuses # 1 and #2: "I just can't seem to get my [web site, marketing campaign, redesign, shopping cart, etc.] started." And "I keep starting a new marketing effort, but I can't seem to finish it."
Ah, the words of a first-rate procrastinator. I ought to know - this is me! I've been a procrastinator since as far back as I can remember. When I was in school, I would always wait until the night before a paper was due to start working on it, no matter how far in advance I knew it was coming. I used to think I just worked better with that last-minute rush of adrenaline, but now I know better. Procrastination is caused by one of two things: LAZINESS or FEAR.
Entrepreneurs, by nature, usually aren't lazy folks. So let's deal with the fear. Projects that are big, new, or unfamiliar (such as e-commerce) can often make us feel overwhelmed or intimidated. So we respond with "I'll just do it later?"
1. MAKE IT SMALL.
The solution is to break up a project into smaller, more manageable chunks. Outline each individual task that needs to be accomplished (such as take product photos, research vendors for e-mail newsletter services, etc.), and assign each item a deadline. If the list is long, group the tasks by week and put one week's list on one sheet of paper. If you see an entire page full of stuff to do, you're more likely to get intimidated or overwhelmed and not do them at all. So keep each list short. Use a big piece of paper, too - it makes the list look smaller!
2. CARROT AND STICK
To make sure you stick to your to-do list, try the carrot and stick approach: the carrot is the reward - a small treat such as a pedicure or a movie; and the stick is the punishment - such as an extra household chore or adding $10 to a "penalty jar." If you complete all the tasks for the week, you get the reward. If you don't, you get the stick! Decide on the weekly rewards and punishments ahead of time, and write them at the top of your weekly task list. Be creative! Also, come up with a bigger reward to give yourself when the entire project is completed. It doesn't have to be expensive, but it should definitely be meaningful to you.
3. GET A BUDDY.
Also, try the "buddy" system. Make yourself accountable to complete your tasks by enlisting the support of a trusted friend or colleague. Send your buddy your task list by email (or better yet, exchange lists with your buddy so that he can get support for his project as well), a do a quick check-in by phone once a week. It's an amazing motivator to have to tell on yourself if you don't do what you pledged to do!
Let me show you what I mean. My sister Sydnye recently completed the manuscript for her first novel. Partway through, she found herself procrastinating and she just couldn't move forward. She used both of these techniques to get through it. First, she got a reliable buddy. Together, they agreed that she would need to write X number of pages per week. Every week she would call her novel buddy and report her progress to him, and email the completed pages as proof.
If she completed the agreed-upon number of pages that week, she took herself to the movies or bought some fun craft supplies to play with. If she didn't finish the pages, not only did she not get her reward, but she had to take her novel buddy out to lunch -- and McDonald's was not allowed! Now, her novel is finished and edited, and it's just a matter of time before Oprah calls to tell Syd she's the next big book club pick!
Excuses #3 and #4: " When it comes to [Internet marketing, e-commerce, web sites, etc.], I'm just clueless. I don't know what to do." And "I know I could benefit from marketing my [web site, products, service, etc.] but I'm not sure what steps to take. I feel stuck."
Lack of information is the root cause of these excuses. You're a smart person.If you weren't, you wouldn't have that great business concept or great product idea that you have. At some point in time, we've all found ourselves with the motivation to do something, but not the know-how.
THE REMEDY: When you find yourself in this situation, start with the end in mind. What is it exactly that you want to accomplish? ("I want to improve my web site.") Be specific. ("I want to improve my web site so that I can get $20,000 in new orders this year.")
Good. Now ask yourself, what steps do I need to take to make that happen? ("Hmm. First, I need to make the colors a little brighter to make it more attractive.") Good, keep going. ("Then, I need to find out at least one thing that other successful businesses are doing to attract web traffic.") That's a good start. Keep doing this until you have a list. For each item on the list, ask yourself "What resources or materials do I need to do it?" and add those to the list (for example "Create new product descriptions"). If you get to a question you can't answer, don't stop. Instead, try this: ask "Where can I find this information?" or "Who can I ask who knows the answer or can point me to it?" Then add "Call [name]" to your to-do list.
Once you have a list, start working on the tasks one at a time. If you feel yourself getting off track and things aren't happening, try the methods outlined in the "Procrastination" above.
In the next article, we'll take a look at these excuses: "I just don't have time..." and "I just can't seem to stay focused..." [see part 2 of this article here: http://www.ecommercediva.com/articles/excuses2.html]
© Copyright 2005 Jamila White. All rights reserved.
[NOTE: You are welcome to "reprint" this article online as long as it remains complete and unaltered (including the "about the author" info at the end and the copyright notice), and you send a copy of your reprint to email@example.com.]
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Jamila White, "The E-Commerce Diva", is an Internet Strategist, Web Designer, and E-Commerce instructor in the Washington D.C. area. For a FREE subscription to her "Sell More Online" e-newsletter, go to http://www.ecommercediva.com.
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