How do I make my first sale on Shopify? Or any E-Commerce platform for that matter?

One of the most common questions I like to answer is how to connect that first customer to your e-commerce site and make that conversion. The process for achieving this is actually quite straight forward but requires a slightly different approach than most are used to.

 

This process is easy to repeat to drive orders to your site instead of the “sit back and wait for my ads to deliver,” method that so commonly leads to frustration. The frustration is based on display ads, many clients come to me after spending thousands on ads and getting little more than a spike in traffic with little, and more often than not, no conversions.

 

This lack of conversions is a difficult pill to swallow, you’ve spent tons of time writing and designing your ad and the perfect Call to Action, you plug in your budget, you’ve read and researched niches that will be perfect, your ad is approved, budget is being spent, then zippo.

 

Where I receive a lot of push back from clients is in the manual way I go about getting business. I’ve had products that have been number 1 on Groupon, top 5 on Amazon, featured on national television and have won awards. Even then I still use a very manual method to generate sales.

Let’s look at the purpose of marketing and advertising first to help alleviate much of the frustration in paid advertising.

With paid advertising you need to shift your focus from “did this campaign generate $X for every $X spent?” to “did this campaign hit the right target audience and promote brand awareness.”

 

Much of display advertising, from indoor and outdoor printed signage (think bill boards and bus stop ads) to Google and Facebook ads, is primarily focused on brand awareness. Holding your $3000/month billboard ad hostage and interrogating the “why haven’t you converted to sales?” is the exact same as holding Google or Facebook to account for the same thing. Just because there are loads of analytics to dazzle you doesn’t mean they tell you anything of use. Besides, ~10% of Facebook users are fake so 270 million viewers aren’t viewing anything at all.

Now that I’ve explained a little more about the expectations of paid advertising, here are much more effective ways to be successful in getting your first sale(s).

Use social media the way it was intended to be used.

 

What this means is fairly simple, just like me writing this to (hopefully) offer you value, you need to offer others value before expecting a conversion.

 

Here is your brand workout plan for the day:

 

Paying it Forward.

 

Ask five close friends on your favourite social platform (yes, WhatsApp or a Text is perfectly fine too) to have a look at what you’re doing, offer feedback and share it to their five closest friends. When friends tell me they’ve opened a gym, or want an opinion on a car, or are making custom jewelry, or anything your friends could be interested in doing, I show the same level of enthusiasm towards what they’re doing as to what I’m doing.

 

Yes, this absolutely takes a lot of time, but my business has grown 351% over the last 4 years and 100% over 2017. Spending time to have a positive and helpful social experience I believe is the number 1 way to make a conversion.

 

When I showed my dog toy product I was developing to my 20 closest Facebook friends I literally got 20 orders. I wasn’t being cheesy, I didn’t have any ulterior motives. I simply told them what I was up to, asked them to have a look and if they liked it send it to a friend who could use it.

 

Where this can blow up in your face is if you’re selling crap which I talked about in a previous post. Just don’t, leave the Aliexpress item where it is and if you can’t come up with something cool and useful yourself, resell something of value, hocking trinkets only works for so long and your race to make $5 will burn so many valuable bridges.

 

Getting back to your friends, everyone has them on Facebook, be open and clear about what you’re doing and communicate with your peers with a heightened sense of humility. What I mean by this is to make your messages personal.

 

Don’t do this:
“Hey, I made a new business, check it out at goto.idlikeyourmoney.whatever”

Instead make it personal:
“Hey friend, I made a new business and since you and I were kids I always respected your opinion. My goal is to make a solid run at making this business successful and I’d love your help, I’m currently struggling with what to do. If you could have a look, let me know what I’m doing wrong and right and if you find any value in what I’m doing send it over to a few of your friends you think could benefit.”

 

When I help new businesses get off of the ground I try to inject a dose of humility, my main business started a little over 20 years ago, the first 4 years sucked, I was barely making $15,000 per year and for every step forward I took a step back. I started contacting all of my friends who were successful in their endeavors and literally said “I’m having an impossible time getting traction, from my perspective you know what you’re doing, how can you help?”

 

Friends being friends will always come to the rescue and applying the knowledge of people more successful than you (this applies to everything in life, love, family, business, sports, you name it) can be an eye opener and help you get that traction.

 

There is a level of embarrassment that goes into admitting a struggle, but if you’ve named yourself CEO and communicate that in every social environment people will assume you’re doing just fine and won’t help. The squeaky wheel gets the grease and if your ego is too large to learn you’ll tread water until you drown. Just staying afloat sucks, I’ve been there, it took a huge dose of humility when I was in my late teens and early 20’s when I started out to look for a mentor, to ask friends for help.

 

The absolute worst case in this scenario is that you’ll get a bunch of your friends giving you negative criticism about your brand. Again, humility, take that information and look at what you’re doing honestly, if you’re “meh” about what you’re doing then it’s time for a change in course. Getting perspective and applying it is hugely important. Look at the iPhone, I’ve had virtually every generation, sure they get a bit better each time but my 5S and my X are crazy similar, but my Blackberry is a paper weight, a long forgotten case of “what not to do.”

 

If your business is not useful to you from a product or service standpoint it’s highly doubtful it will be useful to anyone else. Endlessly searching the “what’s hot right now” products just shows you a bunch of products you missed the boat on. Being a reactive seller by searching for what’s popular and building a brand around it won’t work. It will simply waste your money and your friends’ time. But if you have an original idea that you’re trying to get traction on your friends will see that.

 

For example, one of my clients who I’ve built numerous brands for wanted a motorcycle helmet visor dryer that blew the rain off when you were riding. He basically hooked up a leaf blower to his back, taped the hose to the top of the helmet and switched it on. Magically it blew the water clear off the visor, all over his kitchen floor during a Skype meeting, it was hilarious, I had a laugh, he had a laugh but the concept was there and he came to me trying to figure it out. It was ridiculous, but his ego wasn’t so big that he planted his feet and wouldn’t budge from his invention. That, some would call “crazy” idea, turned into a successful visor coating product, and we simply used the physics of a motorcycle accelerating and reduced surface tension to eliminate water so we didn’t have a bunch of bikers going down the freeway with leaf blowers turned up to 11. No matter how entertaining that would have been.

 

Now that you’ve talked to your friends, take a moment and don’t pressure them into anything. If they’re amazing friends they’ll help you out, buy your product or service and give it a shot. High pressure sales tactics such as telling them to “act now, there is only one left” is cheesy so don’t do it. I’ve bought numerous products from people just asking me to give my opinion, some people are sitting on a gold mine, others need to travel a different path.

One thing no Google or Facebook ad will tell you is what you’re doing right or wrong, a friend will, and that’s where to start.


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