My wife and I put it off for as long as we could. Our friends teased us about it. We had visions of the both of us crouched over on our hands and knees scrubbing the floors all day. Potty training was the one aspect of parenthood that my wife and I absolutely dreaded.
Unfortunately, we had to bite the bullet sooner than we wanted to because our preschool forced us to take action. In order for our daughter to advance to the next class level, she had to be potty trained or be held back with the younger kids. And to make things worse, we recently had brand new carpets installed. (Bad timing. I know)
Yet in many ways, what instigated my wife and I to start our business and to potty train our daughter were very similar. Some external event forced us to take action and we came out of the experience more confident and more knowledgeable as a result.
As my wife and I taught our daughter how to use the toilet, I couldn’t help but notice some of the exact same parallels to running a successful business.
Now you’re probably wondering what the heck potty training a child has to do with running a profitable online store. But the fact is, being successful in potty training and business is all about human psychology and influencing people to do what what you want them to do. Here are a few rules of running an online business that we directly applied to potty training.
Rule #1 Make The Potty (Or Your Website) An Attractive Place To Be
The potty in itself is not a fun place for your child to hang out. It’s not Chuck E Cheese. It’s a place where you do your business. It’s a place to take care of a not so pleasant smelling human bodily function. So how do you convince your fidgety, hyperactive little daughter to sit still on the potty? You present the potty to your daughter in a way that incentivizes her to stay on. It’s all about the presentation.
Now how effective do you think it would be if I told my daughter that the potty was a just a cesspool of human excrement and waste? It probably wouldn’t go too well. Instead, we made her potty an absolute pleasure palace of entertainment and fun. Whenever she sat on the potty…
- She got to read an endless amount of stories of her choice
- We sang her favorite songs together
- We let her watch her favorite television shows
- We danced around like fools and made her laugh
In my daughter’s eyes, the potty became the ultimate toddler hangout and as a result, we had no problems getting her to sit on it. The same goes for your business website. Are you providing reasons for your customers to stay once they’ve discovered your online store? Are you making your website a great place to hangout? Do you provide awesome content that convinces readers to stick around and purchase your goods?
A lot of business owners simply throw up a cookie cutter website and wonder why people simply come and go without even staying past the first page. In order to retain a customer’s attention, you have to take the time to produce a great looking web presence and to create content that catches their attention. The longer a customer stays on your site, the more likely they’ll poop or pee…or….make a purchase.
Rule #2: Know Thy Customer And Use Social Proof
My wife and I understand what my daughter likes and wants. And we know what buttons to press in order to convince her to take certain actions (for now anyways).
Me: Did you know that Cinderella uses the potty too?
Me: C’mon. Of course! You don’t think that she wore a diaper out to the grand ball with the prince do you? Here’s a picture of Cinderella. Do you see her wearing a big poofy diaper?
Me: Exactly. Cinderella uses the potty so she doesn’t have to wear diapers which don’t go with her pretty dress.
Me: You’re my little princess aren’t you? Princesses don’t wear diapers.
Daughter: Daddy? I don’t want to wear diapers anymore!
Before you can sell to your customer, you have to know their needs and wants. And in order to figure this out, you have to do your research. You can’t just put together a portfolio of products and sell them blind. If you can discover your customer’s pain points and relieve them, you can get them to buy anything.
Once you have a few customers under your belt, ask them for a testimonial in order to boost your social proof. Who knows? One of your customers may turn out to be a Cinderella that influences others to buy.
Rule 3: Convince Your Customer To Make A Purchase
Getting my daughter to sit on the potty was only half the battle. Sure, we had her where we wanted her to be but we still needed her to go tinkle and seal the deal. In the beginning, she would sit on the potty and let us read to her and pamper her, but eventually she would get bored and leave without doing the deed. This sort of shopping cart abandonment (or should it be called reverse shopping cart abandonment?) was unacceptable so my wife and I needed a way to convince her to checkout.
As a result, we picked up her favorite snacks and incentivized her to go to the bathroom. For every successful tinkle, she would receive 2 marshmallows. If she voluntarily sat on the potty and did her business by herself, she would receive 2 marshmallows and some ice cream. With these enticing incentives in place, we eventually converted her into a potty using machine.
A customer always needs a good reason to buy. Why should they shop at your store? What incentives do they have to buy from you? These incentives don’t always have to involve money. A customer might buy from you because you offer the best selection and the best quality. Perhaps the customer loves your content and feels compelled to support your business. Whatever the reason may be, you have to make your shop stand out. You have to provide compelling reasons for a customer to part with their hard earned money (or poop or whatever currency you may be using).
Rule 4: Make It Easy For Customers To Checkout
Getting my daughter to use the potty was easy when we took off her pants and put her on the toilet for her, but getting her to use the bathroom on her own proved much more difficult. In the beginning, we had this complicated setup where we put a step stool in front of the toilet so she could climb up by herself. But this proved too difficult and cumbersome for a little 3 year old. So we ended up buying her own special miniature potty that she could use all by herself. To make it extra special, we also let her decorate her potty with stickers and pretty pictures so she could call it her own.
Are you making it overly difficult for your customers to checkout? Is your website slow and take forever to load? Do you have a complicated checkout process? Since the checkout process is the most crucial step where you actually accept payment, you have to make it smooth. Fix all of your page loading problems by reducing the sizes of your photos, reducing the number of http calls, utilizing gzip compression and taking advantage of caching.
Each step of your checkout process should be clearly documented so a customer knows exactly how to proceed. Highlight the appropriate buttons and provide a status bar to let the customer know exactly where they are in the process. In addition, make sure you reduce customer anxiety by placing trust logos and testimonials on pages where they have to enter in sensitive information.
It’s An Iterative Process
We didn’t just come up with an effective potty training plan out of thin air. It was an iterative process that took a ton of trial and error and we had some big time accidents. But you know what? S!$@ happens. You just have to go with the flow and figure out what works best to convert your target customer.
But let me tell you this. There’s no greater feeling than when you finally reach you goal. Seeing my daughter use the potty by herself and look up at us all proud made me want to cry.
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