eCommerce Webinar

Webinar: MAPS – The Framework for Evaluating Your Ecommerce Business

Brian and Cory demonstrate how to use the Message, Audience, Product, System (MAPS) template to evaluate your eCommerce business.

Brian and Cory demonstrate the MAPS template that can be used as a framework for evaluating your eCommerce business.

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Download the slides here (pdf).

Get the MAPS spreadsheet here.

Machine Transcript – MAPS a Framework for Evaluating Your Business

Brian Krogsgard  00:21

Hello, and welcome to another Commerce Journey webinar. My name is Brian Krogsgard. I'm here with Cory Miller. Hey, Cory.

Cory Miller  00:27

Hey hey.

Brian Krogsgard  00:28

So today we're going over an acronym called MAPS. This is a framework that Cory is our expert on, he's gonna help walk us through the majority of this, I'm gonna chime in, get my thoughts on it. But it's a framework for evaluating your eCommerce store. and enable us to be able to engage, I guess the opportunities and the success of your, your store, product pages, all that stuff. So yep, I don't want to be a spoiler. Cory, I'll let you know what MAPS is. But before we do, let's say thank you to GoDaddy, our partner for this webinar and all of our content that we put together on Commerce journey, you can go to commerce, all that's gonna do is give you a great deal to get started on your eCommerce site. If you haven't already. For $1, you get to try WooCommerce. On GoDaddy for three months, it's an amazing deal. And better yet, there are literally dozens of extensions for WooCommerce included in that bundle, it's pretty much the best deal you can get on the entire internet to start your eCommerce store. There's nothing else like it. And it's a great way to test drive and beta test your store to get going with a very low cost investment. We're thankful for them for that deal. And for being our partner on this and all of our projects that we do for commerce journey, go to commerce comm slash go dash webinar, and thanks so much GoDaddy, Pro. Cory, talk to me. What the heck are MAPS? What does this mean? What's it stand for? What are we going to learn today?

Cory Miller  02:03

Well, it's something else to talk about, besides the election, although we were doing that with James forehand. And in talking about some things, just the fact that we're doing this on election day. I don't know when we originally did this, but it's a good distraction for me. So it's your question, Brian MAPS is the way. So two years ago, I left my company iThemes after it was acquired, and started in next chapter, which ended up partnering with Brian Krogsgard here, and also at Post Status and a couple of other projects have got and been templates I had really done from scratch again, I took my snowball that was moving pretty well at iThemes and kept going with new stuff. So when I started looking at all the projects, I've got going and I thought trying to get off the ground, I started thinking about a core couple of things. message is he and by the way, almost should think I should change this acronym to AMPS because I really feel like audience is the key. You got to nail the people that you're doing. Whatever you are selling online, with, with our with your eCommerce store, but message audience product, and then S on their recent because you need a system for all of that. And so MAPS is really about alignment. Okay, are we in finance and clarity? We know what a message is, to the right people that are going to buy it, are we reaching them? Is the product set? You know? So for like even commerce journey, I think about this all the time, you know, are we do we we had a couple of audiences in mind, Brian, before we started, and I don't want to give away all to get I want to guess to get deep into that on the audience section. But, you know, we had a couple of ideas. But whenever you start a project for me, unless you're just super, super lucky and lottery ticket lucky and you know, I kept one day and like, this is what I'm doing and it hits and resonates. But that is the exception, not the norm. And most of us have to figure it out and discover it as we go. And that's just entrepreneurship, product pricing, packaging, all that kind of stuff. And then the system, how do we keep the flow of prospects, turn them into customers keep testing first happy and keep that whole flow going. And things change over time. That's the reason why I sold my business by the way, the market changed. There were companies like a GoDaddy multi-billion dollar company that were doing stuff and in my particular space, and just a lot of competition heading into it and other companies in WordPress particularly. So that's really these are the things that I call these my dials. If you were like you're older like me, you remember when you used to not just push a button digitally and go straight to radio station, you had to like tune it, you'd go past a little bit and hear static, then you come back in here, just a little bit clarity. That's what I think these four dots These are for $4 that you can evaluate the success of And perhaps what you're doing in your eCommerce store, just like that little radio down, Kevin okay. And he kind of squeaky squeaky, you know, change the message just a little bit. So that. So that's my thought about how I really evaluate any eCommerce or online product or venture that I'm doing.

Brian Krogsgard  05:19

So you're using these to identify the profile of the business? And then are you also using them to establish, I guess, a roadmap for where to take it?

Cory Miller  05:30

Yeah, so let me give you an example. Like, Jeff, you know, Jeff, my their partner, on another project, we've got called Business Value Academy. I'm always asking myself do we have, are we said, before we started that project we're going to market to, we want to help other entrepreneurs. Okay. But so we have a really broad, you know, audience there. But what kind of entrepreneurs or what stage of entrepreneurship, all kinds of questions that are that, and I think most of us that start out from scratch, are trying to fine tune figure that out. So over time, you start to learn as you put stuff out into the world, and these four things, so like, Hey, is on? Would it be? It's not entrepreneurs that have like 100 million dollar business? Most likely, it's probably someone that's maybe at $500,000 revenue mark, to maybe one $2 million? Mark. That's kind of what, you know, what we've learned so far. But then it's Could it be agencies, professional services, companies? Could it be product companies could and we're still trying to find our people? And that's where the AI comes in. And then the message is, are we mentioned the product message to the people like what they're trying to do? And it's the thing I continue to think about, are we, when I think about entrepreneurship, and starting an eCommerce store in particular, I think first big thing is you got to find your people. You got to find the people that are right for what you've made. You know, our friend, Pippin Williamson, you know, he created a product called easy digital downloads. Well, the story goes, and you know, I'm better than I do, Brian, but like, he started that out of his own need. Okay. Well, so he's thinking when he first started that project, he's he's that kind of target, you know, profile the audience. Well, if you look at that product over time to proved out, it's it slants it's so easy to use, but it slants with some of the stuff he's built more to who he is a developer,

Brian Krogsgard  07:25

developer and tinkerers, people that match that profile?

Cory Miller  07:29

Yeah. So this is like, as, as you're going out into the world and putting your products out there. It's just it's these four things are the things I used to say, are we are we on the right path, you know, something might pop up, and you're like, Oh, this isn't what we planned for most things that we plan for as entrepreneurs don't happen. They don't happen the exact the way that we planned for it. There's a quote, always bet your butt, no battle plan survives the first bullet shot. You know, it's the same with entrepreneurship. So in a strategy like this, not only to analyze, where does the business stand today, but also to kind of keep it as a reminder, so that we can maybe gauge how the business is changing how how these knobs need tweaking over time, in order to better identify the clearest path forward. So you said audience might need to go first? Are we gonna do message or audience first, when we dig into this next part, I'll let you choose, we're gonna do message first, because I like MAPS better than AMPS. Because really, this is a map for me, you know, it's, it's kinda like Lewis Clark going across the, you know, the continental United States and, and trying to figure it out, you know, Oh, do we know there's gonna be a swamp here? Do we know they're gonna be mountain desert, whatever that was. This, to me is the same. It's like what the things we need to look for, and really focus on and prioritize. So okay, first is message. So this is everything I think about from the copy on your sales page, to how you talk about it to even to other people, you know, when we talk about Commerce Journey, for instance, or post answer the project that Brian and I have, how we talk about it to other people so interesting. What's even better is, by the way we just did this webinar last week, is when you start getting testimonials, and reviews, that's even better for a message but it's all the things that you're trying to say, this is what this product or service can do for you. And so again, we're gonna I'm gonna you're gonna hear these words a lot clarity and confidence, First, find clarity, discover clarity, then the confidence to keep doing it. Right. So first is do we have a clear message and is speaking to our core audience? So I think about this is how I lead a business and businesses and partner with people that do it very similar to me, is, I like to have a cause, you know, a belief. We're trying to word like, for instance, commissioning, we're doing this because we've had so many friends friend asked us How to build an eCommerce website and help them through it because they think we do stuff like this every day, which we kind of do. But we would never say like, you know, we build eCommerce site sites, you know, as our, like LinkedIn profile. But are we ringing the bell? And the message that draws people in? Are we leaving and guiding people? And and that means we're concentrating on people first or customers audience, but are we? Do we have this message that we're consistently doing, and people are drawn to it? Right? So, you know, we talk a lot about aspirations and draw goals and dreams and things like that, you know, I think you wrap all of that in an around a product. And you have to, if you believe in the product, I feel like you have a responsibility to share that with others. Now, we call that marketing. A lot of people have an adversity to marketing, but I think it's just sharing the good message of what you're doing in the world for other people. So it's beating that drum, you know, when Brian, you started post as way back in the day, you were doing this and probably weren't doing it intentionally, I think, but you were trying to be the resource for WordPress news, and commentary and analysis. And people were drawn to that. What's interesting about posters, for instance, and we'll get into the audience in a second. But I tend to always think of you more on that technical and developer type side, even though you say, Hey, I'm not. But you look at the audience over there, very heavily skewed toward more developer type and and specifically entrepreneurs at, you know, the post status project. That's because that's part of your DNA and message and you share in the world. And I think that was part of the attraction, why people wanted to come, they knew who you were, you were part of the message.

Brian Krogsgard  11:46

I want to hear about this, the message aligning with hopes and dreams and their aspirations, especially because when I think of eCommerce stores, or like, hearing about a product, you know, there's always this discrepancy of, Hey, are you talking about what problems this product is going to solve in your life? Or you just talking about, like, the details of the product itself? Like, you know, because you people don't necessarily want to hear like, oh, here are all these very specific things about this product, they want to hear? How is this product going to solve something in my life to encourage me to buy How does out of those things align?

Cory Miller  12:23

The macro view of the message part of this is definitely about hopes and dreams, goals and challenges and frustrations. Suddenly that out, there's two sides to it, there's pain, and there's gain, you know, so even one of the, you know, default books, I can't remember the name of it talks about are you creating, gain, or relieving pain. And so I think from a macro level, our messages, how does our products and services help someone alleviate pain, and, or, and or even better gain something in the world. So, and I believe this word alignment is so huge, because if you can align with your products and services, with what someone is trying to accomplish in the world, or get around in the form of an obstacle, that's where your message starts to line. The perfect message from is it speaks that when I see it on a sales page, or I hear somebody talking about it, I go, that is for me, that they read my email, they know me, that's this is my tribe, this is my people, because of the message, because the message speaks directly to me. So one of my projects, I work with therapists, mental health therapists, it's really interesting. When we want to big and bold say, this is for therapists, this is for counselors, we want to use the terminology. So they know the message is a part of we get you we understand you, we you, if you're a therapist, the other people that aren't therapists, we don't want it to speak to you. So we're not going to say that right? We're gonna say, therapist, and very specifically, and that tap into this thing, which is the macro, which is hopes, dreams, aspirations, goals, challenges, obstacles, all that kind of stuff that gets alignment with back to your product, like the product should be the answer. You know, the message should show that the product is the answer to a specific person's problem.

Brian Krogsgard  14:14

And that idea that you put here of speaking to their desired results, or a better life or something.

Cory Miller  14:21

Yeah. And I mentioned earlier, the Business Value Academy project. We're trying to do that we just had a meeting a couple of meetings this week, and trying to do that, like we've been the that membership has been open for about five months, six months, I think. And we're kind of reevaluating. What is the message that resonates with people that they want to hear? Because I want to play music that nobody wants to listen to. I want to play music that many people go that's that money, that's my people. I I can identify feel belonging. And so we're always evaluating them. What are we saying that pulls people there? And as it is it mismatched a little bit.

Brian Krogsgard  15:05

Yeah. And I think that's interesting too, because if you think about music or an artist, like, they'll probably tweak what they're producing a little bit, even if it's not exactly what they want to produce themselves, like, if it's a little different from what their ideal production is, if making that tweak, or that slight adjustment is going to bring the listeners in and going to, like, let it click so that they can reach their broader goals, like doing music for a living, or something. So like, there's a there's a dance in there in terms of how you balance those things.

Cory Miller  15:40

Yeah, it's, you know, we talk about Vida Bars a lot. And when I first talked to Ana, she does organic shampoo and conditioner bars. For curly hair, people are first talking to her, she's like, I want to do this for curly hair, people. And then we got producing, she started talking, well, I'm going to come up with this line, because I want to do ours for the people. Okay, we need to be clear on our message. Because it when you're not clear on your message of what your product does, for other people, you got confusion, you never want that, you know, every time and I'll give another example yet another but Apple every time they come up with their new line of products. I don't want to take the time to go look at all that. But I'll say, hey, Brian, what do you think about the new iPhone? You know? And so is the message of what they have built, being received? Is it being communicated to other people? And that's where we talk about alignment, you know, like that dial on the radio. Okay, we think we're almost there. If we just do this little tweak, we can get it right there clear, resounding this, by the way, this has not happened perfect. It never does this, that is an unrealistic goal by the way.

Brian Krogsgard  16:45

But that's why it's the dial it takes it takes adjustments. Let's shift this over into audience because I think you're getting into that, especially with the Vida Bars and how narrow or how broad the audience is, or how exactly you direct it to them. So what should we be thinking about when we're analyzing our potential audience?

Cory Miller  17:01

Maybe I should call it AMPS brand. Because I mean, it is best to start with Audience because that's what it all comes back. They're the center of the universe, for eCommerce in any business. But it's really, when I think about audience, when I say here's just customers and prospective customers, ideal customers, people you're wanting to pull in, that's where the S comes in System, we're going to pull in with our message, you know, we've identified found them whether it's organic, content, whatever that is, we pulled them in. So audiences everything. And it's, again, when I start any product, or any business or any project, I always think who is my audience, who is the person I'm trying to eventually sell them an offer to, you get that clear, all kinds of things starts to clear up, by the way. And so I would say find your people find your tribe, are you reaching them? So you know, you say…

Brian Krogsgard  17:55

something interesting about using the word tribe to is it kind of forces you to think more narrowly, because a tribe is your, you know, who you belong to, in a near sense. And it prevents you from being overly broad, I think in terms of who your addressable audience is. So in your vtrs example, well, it's curly haired people are so you know, specific group. And what you're doing is you're making it easier to address them because there's commonality, whereas it's tempting for anyone with a store to say, who's your audience? Well, everybody, and that's like a major red flag, as soon as you start asking somebody, Hey, who are you planning to sell to? If they say, Well, I want to sell to everybody, it's like, well, I can't, I can't help you with that. Because you don't have the budget to address 8 billion people, you know, like, this isn't, you know, you think of like, Who's if it's like, Budweiser or somebody, you know, like ours, or insurance companies, they're doing Super Bowl ads, because they're trying to address as big of an audience as possible. As especially independent eCommerce store owners, we're trying to target much narrower audiences. So we're trying to really dive down and find out who is this tribe? Not only Who are they, but how do we reach them? So yeah, it's, I think, that you always use this word tribe, and it really helps me think about it in that more narrow, appropriate sense for most for most eCommerce stores.

Cory Miller  19:25

And I should have backed up and said most of this and forgive the gun and now are gonna get into it. But you know, most things, it's like a shotgun. You know, the idea of a shotgun is it's not a precise thing. It's a spread, you put something out there enough and see which one hits maybe the better one would be fishing, you put enough bait out into the pond and see what hits. And that's the same with audience. We had for Commerce Journey, in particular. A couple of buckets of types of people, themes that we thought would be good. So we started with something there was Kind of a shotgun approach, right? But the idea is to try to narrow it down to be very precise laser. Right? Like if you can, if you can be working toward that. And you mentioned Budweiser, I'd even say they have a people, you know?

Brian Krogsgard  20:14

Yeah everybody has to narrow at some even the giant companies of the world. But those of us who are smaller, we have to narrow it more even brought up Commerce Journey we can share with this audience like that's something that we had to really think through because especially I was like, No, I want to address as many eCommerce stores as we can. But we realize our expertise and our ability, the way we communicate. It catered much better to people in a Commerce Journey, you know, people along on their journey with their eCommerce store are our more direct customer that we narrowed it down to that we were going to be able to be more effective with with people on the on the earlier parts of that journey. They didn't haven't started their store yet there is the starting line, or people in the first stage is probably not even full time eCommerce professionals because you get into a whole different bucket of problems things are dealing with and stuff when they already have. They're doing eCommerce full time themselves, maybe they have employees and warehousing and a lot of things that it's a different problem set than what your eCommerce people, it's a side hustle, or it's the dream is to go full time, but they're not there yet. And we narrowed it down to drive a better identify who the potential tribe could be. And that allows us to establish our content, and and create, you know, this atmosphere that is much more appropriate for those people, and it fits better for us. And that's what you learn by turning these dials, like you say,

Cory Miller  21:49

I love business so much. I love being an entrepreneur and love starting projects in businesses. Because it's so much like a video game, you know, and thought is that the equation is you know, if you hit all these things, you get the cool high score, you know, or you complete the level, you know, each time you start to narrow in and get closer to audience the message and product and system getting closer and closer to the formula of a sense, which is like, can we find enough people willing to pay us enough money to provide them to exchange our products or services, and not just break even, but make a profit and do it consistently. That's such a fun game to me, by the way. And so audience here, we're trying to say when we put out our bait, or you know, or shotgun or whatever it is, you know, and we're saying we have these theories. Brian, I have the series, okay, it's these kind of buckets, like you mentioned earlier. And now we put out enough content, we say, Okay, this person of our three is probably the one that's going to help us. You know, that's that's probably the people that were really resonating with our product that we're putting out is really resonating with these people. Okay. And so continue to tweak the dials and to see, but I'll tell you, I'm curious, your thoughts on this to Brian, is like I'm continually surprised, I stay continuously present business. My best again, my best plans and ideas are usually the duds. But if I have an open mind, I'm trying to discover, I have, you know, I have good hunches. And we go down a couple of these paths, I think are gonna make it. But if I have good hunches, most likely I'm gonna discover something I probably didn't think about, that's the way I operate it been for me, it's not just like, but there is a healthy part of luck. But it is putting, you know, enough bait out into there and trying to say, okay, we think these three buckets and see which one doesn't, and maybe be surprised the fourth one pops up, you're like, Okay, that's our way to go.

Brian Krogsgard  23:55

Yeah, I think a lot of times, we can learn that from our initial audience as we start to reach out. And we can pivot based on the feedback that we get from that audience. One of the ways to do that, and this is kind of the opposite problem of the, you know, the wide net or the shotgun approach is, every now and then I see people who go in and they're way too narrow. And I think this can be more difficult to solve sometimes, because you know exactly who the tribe is or whatever. But you are a little closed minded to the fact that this is just a really tiny group of people and your actual conversion. Hey, how many people what percentage of this audience Do I have to sell stuff to in order to succeed? It could just be it could inhibit you because you have to get such a high percentage of that audience converted, that you're unlikely to to win and to be able to build a store that sustains and this can be true in a physical product space and a digital product space. Both. I've seen this often in the digital product space, where people say, here's my target audience. And it's like, well, you're trying to sell something, not, let's use, we're both from the WordPress space. So in WordPress, you're not trying to sell something to anyone with a WordPress website, you're trying to sell someone something to people that make products for the WordPress space, I saw this over and over again, and boat and with posts and stuff. It's like, how many people even exist in this space? 1000 2000 and then you're not going to convert all of them, maybe you get a handful of customers here and there. It's just not sustainable over time. So you there is a middle ground in a step in finding out Hey, where am I getting responses in this audience? Where am I getting feedback, testing that and then you know, adjusting your who you're going after based on on what you learn?

Cory Miller  25:55

Yeah, I don't have a crystal ball. I can't predict the future but I can work hard to figure out and identify it's pattern recognition really, all of this pattern recognition. The whole framework, we're talking about eCommerce pattern recognition, building the business understanding, by the way this audience can and will change over time. You know, we saw that too.

Brian Krogsgard  26:16

So based on what we learn from the you know, talking to our audience getting this initial feedback, this is going to enable us to create the right product, the right product line and a multi product system what do we how do we address how do we address the product side of this?

Cory Miller  26:35

Okay, so next is just that so this is again evaluating so let's say we've got we think we've got message pretty dialed in we've got the audience pretty dialed in. And I use business value Academy for instance, again, entrepreneurs, small business owners, and mostly digital type entrepreneurs those the ones we've kind of seen show up and buy and that's probably no surprise because I come from just like Brian the digital space and a lot of WordPress in there. Well that's that's kind of no surprise right. Now product is one we talk about quite a bit. are we offering what they now we got message, you know, it's about business, increasing business value. Planning for an exit even if you don't want it to have now but you know, happiness and film fulfillment and health Now, while you've been billed for business value, and an exit later, when it's right time, and product is our is our thing. I think our product, our annual fee for that it's a membership, digital membership is two cheeps 297. We even sell it for $100 discount often. I think the pricing, we come back to the feature set. Okay, we think we've identified the group, mostly, we're pretty good. We think we've got we're honing message and it's getting there. It's not it's it's somewhere it's just not exactly where we want it to be. And it really kind of for that project. Okay, is ingredients in the product? Or the features, right? Is it is it kind of check in the box? And so we do two months, for instance? Well, we've seen after most people start to kind of winnow down. Okay, maybe it's tough to be so that presents questions about the product. Is it too much for people? Is it unsustainable for people to show up to those two meetings? Now we're having those conversations about? Should we tinker with the product, again, to adjust the dial? We think these two are okay, now, this is the dial, we actually need to work and it's all down to product. And that includes message to write because, you know, is what we're offering here? clearer. Is it confusing? If it's confusing, if it's not crystal clear on the message, like the messages and helping them, you know, showing that the product is an answer to the hopes, dreams, goals, aspirations, challenges, obstacles, all those kind of things, then we're going to start tweeted out and make sure the ingredients fit, what we're trying to sell people.

Brian Krogsgard  28:59

I want to address the product side from the physical product perspective as well. Because there's a few things that are going to be really important that you'll learn. And you could have the audience, you'd be like, Man, you know exactly what we want to sell. We have the messaging for how we're going to pitch this product, but you know, what, the way we manage inventory, it just doesn't fit very well or we need to make some adjustments so that we can manage our inventory properly. Or it could be the batch sizing. This is something I know y'all deal with Vida Bars is like, Can we sell 500 at a time? Can we make 500 at a time? What are our limitations to the way all this kind of blends together? Is it sustainable to be able to grow it a lot of stores, you know, they're fortunate enough to be able to grow people want to buy the product, but they can't scale it because they're like, Hey, we have a four month lead time on our manufacturing or something like that. These are all things that you I think tend to figure out once you're underway, so it almost makes it a little more difficult because you're, you're dialing live, right? You're trying to dial it in while you're already underway, and it can be intimidating and challenging. What what are a couple things that you have on your mind in terms of the product perspective, especially when it comes to physical products?

Cory Miller  30:21

Vida Bars, you know, our biggest problem is product, not in the quality of the product. It's manufacturing, the product has nothing to message. Pretty good. Pretty good there. I'd give it a B. group of people, the audience all day plus,  yeah, to me, it's curly hair people. And like around here, like, there's, there's plenty of curly hair, people, you know, I'm not one of them. My daughter is, you know, we all know somebody has curly hair in their life. Okay, so those still good to me, product we've got, we've got more demand than we can, then we have supply, we're trying to get that paid up. So it's not even pricey, by the way pricing. So we press the bars, I think they're probably a little bit more expensive than normal shampoo and conditioner are $25 for for a shampoo bar and a conditioner bar. And we know we're we've got profit margin in there and everything. But we know all that's working. We actually even though there's four bars, we know which ones are the most popular bars. And, and, and we have really good theories on why they're called growth and hydrate well, as I've learned about our audience mostly skews toward women is, you know, hydrate speaks to, you know, not dry here. Right? growth. Who does, I would like growth right here on the back if I could, unfortunately, V bars does not do that. But you know, those two are better. So that's great data for us know about the product. Now we can't just source them. That's, that is a great problem to have, by the way, because we can solve that we can say, okay, we need to buy equipment, we need to hire people potentially, to build supply. And again, just increasing that slowly, so we don't get ahead of ourselves. But yeah, that's definitely it.

Brian Krogsgard  32:09

For most things you need a line of credit, those things can get really difficult. You know, just talking about Vida Bars reminds me there's this movie on Netflix, Octavia Spencer's, and it's called self made, and it's about this African American woman who's an entrepreneur starts in absolute poverty, and creates, I think, what becomes like, a billion dollar business or something like a huge business. One of the largest, you know, like, haircare, and most, you know, all kinds of like, yeah, beauty products, is based on this woman, a madam CJ Walker?

Cory Miller  32:48

Oh, yeah, yeah, we bought that.

Brian Krogsgard  32:51

Yeah, it's good. It's really good. What they what they run into is product issues. And it's not quality product, like you just said, it's scalability of product, which is this delicate balance between how do you inventory the product? How do you manufacture the product? How do you finance the manufacturer of the product and the inventory of the product, because if you're constantly struggling for this balance between capital, and in production, it makes it really difficult, and it can spill over into everything else, because someone else could come fill the void, if they have more available capital to, you know, get a similar product out to your audience. They nailed everything else. But the problems that come up in this movie are consistently the the management of product development itself, because in their example, and this, we run into this with online entrepreneurs, often like eCommerce entrepreneurs, it's just difficult to get financing and the things that you need to scale up, it's difficult to get the space to manufacturer to get the equipment to go from making 50 at a time to making 5000 at a time, things like that, that are the the types of you know, roadblocks that you hit in a in a business that's growing good problems, but very difficult to solve in real time.

Cory Miller  34:15

Now, I'll tell you, Brian, I'd rather have those problems scalability, then these problems I'm talking about today, we don't know who our audiences we don't know what our messages. We don't know if our product really is working. And we definitely don't have a system, the system than the other. By the way, message audience and product. Those are tough. They don't have solid answers. So make it look easy. I'd rather have the financing and the scaling problems because if you've got these others like v bars does on lockdown. I was telling some entrepreneurs and people that you know has to have some money I've invested in some and businesses and done pretty well. And some v bars and the first thing instantly, they said Brian Was she need money, she capital. And I'm like, if you got this stuff on lockdown mmap, you know, and people just want more of it, you can go to people and show that, and people will gladly give you money. Because when you these are the hard things, this is not the entrepreneurship for everybody, you have to be willing to know, there's vague uncertainty and fog, that you mostly deal with an entrepreneur, because you're wading through and trying to find mmap does the message resonate with the right people, and is the product all the product ingredients, right? If you got those three lined up, people will throw money at you. Now you got to be careful when you get that money, you know, but those are more solvable for me, especially in the V bar conversation. It's not highly skilled people, we just need to train them probably come around to train him show how to make the bars. And I was like, tell me what equipment you need. Because that's an easy problem to solve, because we've got all this demand over here.

Brian Krogsgard  36:00

So but there are certainly things that you do need to map out, because that could be end up being the type of roadblock that shows up as, hey, we need really highly skilled professionals to accomplish this one part of our product manufacturing it, or we have to have this two months lead time for this one part of the process for our product manufacturing. If you don't know those things ahead of time, they can cause you a lot of headaches later on. So it's an important part to map out. That gets in I guess a little bit to the so I want to learn more about what you mean here with what is our system that we're applying here.

Cory Miller  36:37

So in version 1.0 of any business, I think it looks mostly except for maybe VC funded, you know, startups and those are just another anomaly. And I hear I'm talking about us how we do business, we scraped together a time effort, some money, maybe, and we put something out there into the world system, though is, is probably, I think it's the easier one of all four of these, because you got message you got audience, you got product down. Now, if you don't have a system for continuing to reach those people that you just said, or your people with message consistently over, then you need to stop, you know, dead in your tracks, I had this letter because I was continuing to think, do we have the right methods, the right product, but we started to get a system together. Okay, now the system is all of that process that happens to get to find a customer, a prospective customer, convert that customer and convert that prospective customer into a customer and retain that customer. So they even potentially buy more, we don't want people to just buy one set of a box, we want them to buy four or five a year, because the last couple months. So this system of turning people that don't know us into prospects into opportunities to buy to customers, customers, or prospects to customers. That's critical. Like, if you have all those stuff, but you're not reaching these people with a consistent process, then you're going to be, you know, done the dust. So like, back when we became partners earlier this year, Brian, you had a process, you have a system down for how you're how the business was running, how you're reaching people with the message, you know, and all we want to do is just take that system to the next version update, you know, upgraded keep upgrading the system, there's always ways where we can do that we can reach people faster, better with the technology we have out there, oh man, especially with eCommerce, this is the best time right now to be in eCommerce, not just because of the global conditions we find ourselves in. That's a huge plus. Because the technology is there. And it's easy to use. So it's crazy. But I would say even if you say you have a system, but you're doing it consistently, you don't have a system. And if you're not consistently improving that system of how you turn people who don't know you into prospects into customers, then you're going to grade real low on this. And by the way, I've got a spreadsheet here in just a second to share with you all. So you can start to grade yourself. I did this for all the policies I've got. I went through MAPS, I said, Hey, do we have a system of post us we have a system at Commerce Journey? You know, are we continually reaching people like for instance, Commerce Journey example, Brian, we do these webinars almost every Tuesday. Okay, we've got an email list. We've got a Facebook group. Okay. But do we have a system to leverage that now we have subscribers, followers, all that stuff, to have a system consistent enough to bring those people and new people into webinar today, which we've seen. We've got people on this webinar. That's great. Okay, how do we keep the system going?

Brian Krogsgard  39:50

Get the most effect out of it.

Cory Miller  39:52

Exactly. So that's what…

Brian Krogsgard  39:54

If we're not consistent in the way we're running our system if we're not reevaluating our system And iterating on it to make it better, then our systems probably deteriorating, whether we know it or not. Because we're not evolving, you're either gonna, you're either going up or down in business. It's, it's hard to go flat for a very long time, right?

Cory Miller  40:14

Mm hmm. And, you know, we wrote this probably a month ago, we scheduled this webinar on this day at this time a month ago. Okay. But if we hadn't had the system to promote it, none of these people that are here and thank you for joining us would be here today. And I just know, consistency is the name of the game, you got to show up consistently over time. You know, we know the stores have, there's no such thing as an overnight success. Most people spent 10 years building their overnight success. Same goes here for not consistently, you know, scheduling these, thinking about the topic message, right for the one mind. And we're not just like putting those out to people where we get that flywheel effect. We're like trying to build subscriber base, or people in our Facebook group, engaging those people with the right message with the right products, all that stuff in this whole system isn't working together. This is what we have Karen, we love Karen don't we Brian, because we know, she helps us with the system part and the consistency part of it.

Brian Krogsgard  41:12

So if people are hopefully thinking about how they can evaluate their own businesses, their own eCommerce stores, using this framework, you've got a tool to help them do that. So can you talk walk me through the spreadsheet that you created? First of all, if you want, you can go to, and it's a short link to the spreadsheet that Cory has put together. And what makes this up, Cory?

Cory Miller  41:37

Yeah, so we had our awesome Digital Wrangler, Karen, do this for us. So this is for multiple projects, you may not have that. And you may just wanted to, like delete these other ones, but let's say you've got commerce. Sorry. You're right in the product. Commerce Journey. Okay. Well, let's do a different one. Let's think let's do Vida Bars. Okay. Okay, so when you can score these for that project, and when you score and let's say we say it's a five, it'll turn green. So you see how this works? Okay, me two bars. Okay. I will say message and v two bars. We are four. I'm going to put why. One of the reasons and, you know, Ana doesn't mind me Say this is like it's the curly hair. We got to focus. I don't think we're when you go to today, you will not see curly haired on the page. I think we should do that. I actually I'm gonna you know what? I'm gonna say 3.6. Okay. Or if I miss my thing, let's say three. Okay, so I'm gonna say the reason why is because we're not focusing on this. This is what people resonated. And by the way, when we talked about audience earlier, if you can find a small group, and really well identify them, you got something. So we were talking about this, and it has curly hair, of course, right? I was like, how many people percentage of people have curly hairs? We did some math. And I was like, that's frickin huge. We got this huge group of people that know their curly hair. People right huge group. underserved. That's awesome. Okay, audience. So I'm gonna say, our audience. There's always room for improvement. But I'm going to say five. And here's why. Ana's got… One is I still think we need to focus. But she's got an audience that a really big audience, Instagram, she's got about 40,000 plus followers on Instagram. Now, I'll still say I should probably put 4.9 because again, ln into curly hair. That's what

Brian Krogsgard  43:52

this is a scale out of five from? Well,

Cory Miller  43:55

yeah, yeah.

Brian Krogsgard  43:57

And it's funny, I've heard you talk about the Vida Bars and it being geared towards curly haired people. I had not realized that when you go to the website, you'd see nothing about curly hair. But if you go to the testimonials, there are seven pictures and they're all curly haired women. So there's obviously some focus and the in terms of who you're actually reaching, but it's not represented in the message itself. So that was fascinating to me.

Cory Miller  44:28

Yeah. And this conversation we currently have, and, you know, every partnership is good, because you get to people kind of like with, you know, different perspectives and things. And I'm so glad to be a partner with Ana. She's the hardest worker, so brilliant. But yes, this is, this is a flaw except for the product. I should I'm going to say 4.5 because they sell out within 12 hours. Our bars sell out, okay. The problem is you just said it. We can't scale. We can't produce it. We we can't produce enough, is still we stop. I would say that still awesome. We sell out but I'm going to ding it a little bit because we can't produce enough. Okay, the system, I would give us a four… whoops put the wrong one on there – four keep that a four. And I would say definitely. We've got we email we take Instagram audience and we've converted it systematically in that way that email is continues to grow. I'll tell you, those of you listening, build an email, start building your email list today, yesterday, okay, today is good as day as any but it's the best time right now. Build your audience over time. That's what Brian did a post that is what we're doing here Commerce Journey, every project I've got you build your email list. And here's the reason why Instagrams awesome, Facebook's awesome, Twitter's awesome, but you don't own that. You don't own your followers, there could be algorithm changes, policy changes, whatever it all is. And I'll say Google too, for even organic search engine marketing. Now, email list, get them on the email list, you have permission to email them anytime you want. Now, you got to be careful, you don't want people to subscribe. But I would say every time we've got a pretty good system here, it can definitely be better. But really, I should probably do this even more because it's not standing out. Because really our problem that V bars is just we can't we can't build enough. So I would say email and link between Instagram could it better and streamlined. But we're pretty good to hear. So then you get a total over here. And you know, you can see, for me, I've got different projects. So I put all these different projects. And let's see, okay, who's the lowest, who's the highest and why? And it helps me put this a little bit outside of my head and to see it objectively.

Brian Krogsgard  46:49

One other thing, I think you could probably adapt this to yourself, if you have one business that you're analyzing here. But maybe you're trying to figure out where are we succeeding, you could have the primary project up top, and then your different lines of business or your different. Like, I'll use post as an example. Cory and I both on this, well, we have a job board, but we have a club membership, you know, we have different things that people can buy, and they're pretty different. You know, like, it's different ways for people to give us money. You You can put specific products or specific divisions of your business or you know, however you want to structure that. And when you compare them side by side, you'll see how they total up and where you have room for improvement, maybe where your time should be spent versus where your time is being spent, and analyze some of that stuff together. So Cory it's a great tool.

Cory Miller  47:45

Yeah, I like your idea. didn't even think about that. But you could put the overall business and then come down here with specific products. We've actually got four bars and those blanket on the fourth bar. But so do that for these for these bars. You know, is that growth bar, okay, as the messengers name? Yeah. You know, is the audience there? What, like, for instance, we know, curly hair is the big umbrella term. But if we squeeze down we go. Okay, why is what is gross sell out so fast? versus clarity? Can we make this one better? You know, can we do something with messaging? Can we tweak, tweak the product, for instance, is that one of the ones we should take out and put something else in and try to test? So that's, that's definitely a great idea there, Brian. Looks like Abel says, on system, I'd love to see a webinar from you guys, on some of those you use specifically related to product as web services, your product management tools, you say peers, SAP peers, a peer should go to communication?

Brian Krogsgard  48:41

Yeah, so essentially, Abel's asking us in a future webinar, if we can narrow down on the system side of things. And I think that's a great idea to be able to zone in on some of these items. Because obviously, you know, you're you're not just giving an high level overview of each of these. You have all this nuance within your business between the message and the audience and the product and the systems. And he's asking specifically for the systems because there's probably the most overlap between eCommerce businesses on the system side, how do you manage this stuff? How do you achieve some of these things to keep get that loop going? and operating your business? And we'll definitely write that down as an idea for a future webinar. And Kristen brought that to us as well.

Cory Miller  49:28

We need to hit up our good friend Brian Castle. He's the productize person like

Brian Krogsgard  49:33

that's a good point.

Cory Miller  49:34

We need to bring him onto a webinar. So we'll do that. Thanks very much for sharing.

Brian Krogsgard  49:41

Yeah, thank you. Thanks both y'all for bringing that feedback. And Cory, thanks for walking us through that spreadsheet. It makes me want to just every time I see a spreadsheet, I feel like I have this desire, just make it bigger. break them down to more and more pieces, which I don't know that that's going to give you everything you want, but just know that Each of these columns, you know, there's a whole slew of things to do. But MAPS is just that it is, it is a map that's going to give you this broad overview of kind of where does your business stand? How can you look at it? How can you analyze it? In terms and and find out? What is our opportunity score this kind of way, I feel like is a good way to think of those totals from what you get at the end of the day. Um, let's just finish with this. What is a? How would you define what's a good score? What's a bad score? How do we? How do we kind of analyze what's what?

Cory Miller  50:37

You know, I hesitate to say good and bad, although we've done it, right, we got green, dark green, and in a red and stuff. So we've we've done that.

Brian Krogsgard  50:47

we're probably not gonna, we're probably not going to just land on green across the board, when we're done with this, is that our businesses are not perfect, right?

Cory Miller  50:56

Yeah. So you might even want to date these, like, Hey, you know, use this tab here, and say, like, copy it, and then Okay, I'm doing this November 3 2020. And then I'm doing this December, whenever you decide to do that. The data, I don't know, if it's all bad. To me, it's, it's good in the sense of it out there and not guessing, to have something. And we put the comment here, because why, you know, if you have a partner, like, like I do, run in and we're trying to score this, I would leave Cory's, I'd say Cory's MAP score. Brian's MAP score

Brian Krogsgard  51:37

the rows can be the different stakeholders in the business, writing it. The other thing could be you talked about the dates you could make, if you just have the one primary product or something that you're doing this analysis on, you could make each row when you're reviewing it, and that way, you see the how the scores evolve over time, find out if you're Are you moving up or moving down, these things are going to change your business is going to change the way you would talk to your audience the way that you learn based on previous batches or runs of your product, what you need to adjust in the future, and then reviewing whether that worked or not. So this is something that you should be able to evolve over time to figure out what's the best way to iterate and move forward on our business. What, kind of closing thoughts you have boy,

Cory Miller  52:22

well just just use this, get the data outside of you and use object as best you can objective measures to figure this out. And And remember, it's a discovery. It's an experiment and discovery, hey, we're gonna take our best thoughts and best idea in the play, see what happens. I like tools like this because like a framework like MAPS, and then to score it too, because we have a way to improve that the next thing we should probably do on this, Brian is put water. Okay, so that's the comments about it. What's the next steps we're going to take? That's the key. So right here, message four v two bars is probably going back to that, like, that's probably my next conversation, Hey, can we put curly hair on the website, you know, lean into that. But I know here we're gonna be concentrated on this. But as far as evaluating where you're at, and you know, Kristen, and others were talking about, you know, their stores or their client stores. This is just a good rubric to see like, it's the main things to me that stick out messy. So I got our product.

Brian Krogsgard  53:26

This is a scoring template that's not necessarily an action template. It's just a way to give you the overview of what's next. You can dig in each of these, use it as a framework to to then push into where to take action next. We hope this has given you a good way to think about your business and a new way. Maybe that you haven't thought of before. If you enjoyed it, please join us on Facebook, go to We've got a conversation and a group there. We'd love to have you check out our great partner GoDaddy Pro at And thanks to everyone for being here today. It's been our pleasure to have you go to If you're not subscribed to the email, get started with email. We'll catch everybody at the next one.

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