Behind the Scenes - 6/14/24

Dear Friends,

I always start out my week with big plans for what I am going to get done, and inevitably by the end of the day on Monday that plan is already slipping. By Wednesday I usually am so far behind that all hope for getting the list done is gone. I can't imagine I am the only one in that position though. Everything just takes way longer than it does in my mind.

Amongst this delusion is a hurdle that was best summed up by someone on the team this week. I was talking to them and they said "If I just come in for a Saturday and really dig in deep, I can finally get everything cleaned up and organized and it will all run much smoother." Now I of course cannot condone the idea of someone coming in on the weekend to do such a thing, and I pointed out the key flaw in the logic. We keep working in the way that made the mess in the first place. So if the procedures that are currently used don't take into account ongoing cleaning, maintenance, and organization, all the effort they put in will be undone in a week.

The solution isn't a one time fix, it's a change to the everyday work to help remedy the underlying causes of the problem. It needs to be built into our day to organize, clean, and maintain the place.

Similarly, the website and marketing machine has this issue.

The podcast this week was all about the "marketing machine" which is my term for the process by which we find, inform, convince, and convert people into customers. It covers everything from our organic social media posting, to paid advertising, to website design, and email messaging. In my own mind if I just get the website overhauled in one big swoop, that will magically improve our conversion rate. If I just do a big switch of all our advertisements to new content, they will suddenly get a whole flood of people to our site. Maybe if I can get our emails to be clever enough with complex branching logic for followup they will just work.

That has been my frustration this week.

We DO need to overhaul all the above things, but more importantly we need a methodology and process for doing those things in small ways on an ongoing basis. We need to be constantly tweaking the website rather than praying on a Hail Mary overhaul. Every month we need to take the worst performing ads, remove them, and replace them with something else, not wait 6 months and then replacing them all. Our email flows need to be built out over time with methodical testing that is based in data and survey feedback rather than arbitrarily being built.

Summertime always represents a slow season for us. It's about this time that our financial situation gets tight. There are two things that happen because of that simultaneously. One, we look to release new products that have been in development or have been highly requested, and two we try to reinvent our marketing wheel.

The problem this week (and last week, and soon to be next week) is that those two efforts require a lot of the same resources to be deployed at the same time in separate directions. Mainly photography, and website page development. This inevitably means we have to chase two rabbits, and progress is slow.

Launching new products is almost always a bandaid on the financial issue. Yes it can bring in a temporary influx of money due to the pent up demand for a hotly desired product, but after the requesters purchase, that demand can slow significantly. The only time this hasn't been true is when we launch totally new designs. Those however take a lot of development time and production headaches as we establish new procedures to make them.

The new A5 Leather Cover and Passport Leather Cover are an expansion on the existing cover line which helps to keep the production changes to a minimum. I anticipate they will do modestly well in sales for about 2 weeks and then taper off to somewhere in the middle of our product sales. That buys us a little bit of financial runway to fix the underlying issues but also costs us a few days in the process.

Trying to revitalize our website, ads, and emails is an enormous project both creatively and technically. Doing so however will create a more stable financial future. It's arguably the better use of my time, but takes much longer and has a lot less chance of producing the short term cash influx to cover our ongoing operations.

The main issue with the marketing machine is its inherent complexity and the impossibility of sorting out the effect of the contingent parts.

How does a person decide to buy one of our products?

Was it the beautiful ad that caught their attention? Was it the impression the landing page on the website gave them? Was it the supporting informational pages, or the product specific pages? Did the browse abandonment email have just the right thing to get them to re-engage? Was the checkout simple and created trust which lead them to complete the purchase?

Maybe it wasn't any of these things. Maybe it was all of them.

This is why overhauling the marketing machine is ultimately complex. A good amount of the decisions are guess and check. The problem is that without a long financial runway to test parts independently, we have to change multiple aspects at the same time. When it works (or doesn't) we don't have much recourse to know which of the changed variables influenced that success. It does have a hopeful side to it however. There is always a way to improve an infinitely complex system.

My older brother is a data guy. His world requires it. I know that the above breakdown is probably driving him a bit nuts. If you are reading this (and I bet you are), don't worry it's also driving me nuts.

But this is where the artistry lies (and a good helping of faith in God's intervention to aid my decision making).

You simply begin.

You start with an area within the bigger picture, and improve that to the best of your ability, taking into account what you think is the most important ways to improve it. Trying to fix the whole thing is impossible. But if you limit your scope temporarily to say "how can I make the menu the best it can be" and do that, over and over, with each discreet part, you make progress.

It's also how I clean up the kitchen at the house. You start with one thing and it snowballs (for me its collecting all the trash and putting it in the trash can). Once you begin, usually the next logical thing to work on presents itself naturally.

The trick is to keep going with this forever. Creating a process and a calendar where I cycle through parts of the website over time, continuously working to improve them should help me avoid it getting this bad in the future. It should also allow for time to generate data to check if certain things seem to be helping more than others.

Either way, the only way forward is through so into the valley I ride.


If you want to hear more the Podcast is back. The latest episode was posted on . You can also listen to it on or anywhere you can find podcasts.

Stay tuned for more letters on Thursdays in the coming weeks and be sure to go subscribe to our YouTube channel. If you like and watch the videos it helps us get promoted more by the algorithm to people who may never have heard of us.

Ever your servant,

Colin MurdyCEO/Owner

Murdy Creative Co.

Cell: 414-434-9001

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