Rebuilding My Business

Lessons From the Trenches: Launch Edition

We launched the Social Media Solutions website today.

This is awesome. It means one of the major projects is done and I can focus more on blogging and creating products. Both of us are very relieved and excited about what opportunity to pursue next.

As usual, I’ve learned a lot in the process. I’ve decided to turn lessons from the trenches into a regular feature. Whenever I complete a massive project, I’ll blog about it. I’ll talk about the nitty gritty stuff I learn while creating this business. Building a small business has been a fascinating learning curve and a lot of the lessons also apply to blogging and social media.

Now, the first lesson was a doozy. I should have expected and but boy, did it throw me.

There is a natural distrust for the social media industry.

I knew this but I somehow assumed that we’d be immune to it. Both Bill and I work hard to avoid the stereotype. So, when someone made a few negative comments, it really threw us.

I understand why people make such comments as I feel the same way most of the time. Commercializing my online presence has been difficult and was something I struggled with. Sometimes, I think that people forget that there are humans behind every business and those humans can get hurt feelings.

It worked out okay. I had a chat with the person, talked about my insecurities and offered to help. Basically, I did what I always do and try to be really useful. Once I’d calmed down, I was able to see why we were judged and was able to come up with strategies to show our personality and avoid some of the stigma. It also helped me realize that there is a real person behind every negative comment, and you don’t always known why they distrust something.

I feel that this was an important lesson. Now that I’m making money, there will be more people that judge and hate me. It will get worse as my brand grows. I’m rather sensitive so will have to learn how to deal with this. I’d love for you to share any tips.

Metrics matter

We had tried to avoid doing anything with the @smsols account. We didn’t want to make a commitment to our followers when we were pulling long, stressful days to get the website done before Connect Now. As such, we only had about 80 followers upon launch.

I was proud of that. I don’t try to buy or beg for attention. I like to let it happen organically and have people opt in because they are  genuinely interested rather than out of obligation. We did get a comment about our low numbers. The idea was that we mustn’t be good if we had such a low follower count.

I can see that. I would have thought that. We were naive in thinking that the only people that would be interested in us would be familiar with our work elsewhere.

I’ve done some fantastic work on campaigns for my old employer as well as kicked arse when giving free advice. I have to be more open about my experience rather than get embarrassed about bragging.

You need to learn to lose control

Building this business has been terrifying. Bill and I share the responsibilities of the business and have a different skill set. It was very hard to lose control over the design process and just trust that Bill would make it awesome.

This is nothing against Bill. His work is awesome. Seriously, most of the comments we received post launch was about the design. However I find you get a bit protective of a product that has spent months in development. Eventually, I got to a point where Bill would ask my opinion and I would just say that I trusted him and that he could do what he thought was best. This saved a lot of time and meant that the product was a lot better. This was a lesson that was very hard to learn as it is had for me to lose control. I think it is one that will really help my business grow.

Negative copy is bad

I learned this today thanks to the brilliant and helpful Paul Cunningham. He pointed out an example of negative copy and explained how it could inadvertently damage our brand. He was so nice about it and I’ll be addressing it as soon as I hit publish. While I now understand what negative copy is, I haven’t been able to find a useful resource to explain it. I’ll use the example that Paul sent to me via email.

So on that page, you’re giving something great away for free, and adding more later, but instead of selling the awesome-ness of the freebie its got a negative tone in it because of the “Currently we only have one available” bit.

If it were me I’d be talking up the value of the freebie you’re giving away and telling visitors why they should be signing up to be notified when the next one comes out.

This was killer advice and something we hadn’t considered. I hope you can learn from my error and Pauls help.