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Editorial

What every online business can learn from Starbucks cafes and their interior redesign

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I’ve lived in my neighborhood for 7 years and the one thing you could always count on was being able to go into a local Starbucks cafe and feel at home.

You could take a few friends and just relax with your coffee at a table inside or outside. It was an arrangement of tables that were strategically positioned to make the space communal.

Looking around, you would see people on first dates or selling things from Craigslist or college students doing work on their laptops or reading on their Kindles.

You get the point – It was very comfortable, it felt like home.

Then a few months ago, Starbucks started shutting down the stores for a few days for “renovations”.

interiorWhen the stores opened back up, they were a nightmare. Some of the tables remained but they had these benches with these stiff seats.

You see the rumor was, people were coming to the store and hanging out all day but NOT buying anything.

The new setup was designed to change that. Less comfortable meant people would keep it moving.

In, pay and get out so the next customer could come in. More customers then theoretically more profits.

Here’s the problem. Even if that’s true, what about all the customers who don’t come back?

The ones who feel bothered by all the changes. Heck, the one who bothered to put up a blog post about it that will be seen by hundreds of thousands of people before the end of the year?

There’s no right answer here. Starbucks is a business and they have to do what’s right for Starbucks but it’s a good lesson for every website owner.

Is your site designed to be comfortable and nurturing or designed purely for commerce? Is it meant to be both?

What mix of customers do you want for your blog? Is it important to you that VISITORS come back day after day and hang out occasionally buying or do you want CUSTOMERS who may only come once and never return?

Every business has to struggle with decisions like these and online we have to think about that as well.

These decisions should be made at the Web Design and Web Development phases of your online business cycle.

Depending on what you are trying to sell and what type of customer you’re trying to attract, these decisions could be the difference between success and failure.

So what about you?

Have you had to face these types of tradeoffs in your web journey? Use the comments and let me know…

Onuora Amobi is VP of Marketing at Learn About The Web. He has an extensive background in both Online Marketing and Enterprise Technology solutions.

5 Comments
  • Cori Fowler

    Thanks, this was a great read with great take-aways!

  • Wayne S

    Smart stuff, Onuora. I haven’t noticed the changes in Starbucks’ in my area. However, if I do, they’ll lose a regular in me. I stop there and don’t mind paying more for coffee or snacks, just so I have a comfortable place to do some work.

  • terry10

    Very nice article! I couldn’t agree more. Starbucks better not be losing sight of why they’re so successful. People like the coffee and other products, but they also like conducting meetings or going there to get work done. They’re taking a big, AND DUMB, risk here in my opinion.

    • Chaser

      That’s the thing I don’t understand. By all accounts, Starbucks is doing well. This seems like a drastic change for a company that doesn’t need it. This is like Apple completely redesigning the iPhone. Why?

  • Yorker

    Thanks for posting this. I had no clue this was happening. Why is it happening? I know you said it’s to get more people in and out, but it seems contradictory to everything they’ve stood for for years now. I don’t get it.

Editorial

Who approved never get Hulu as an ad slogan?

I’ve seen some DUMB ad campaigns in my life but Never Get Hulu is by far the worst one I have ever seen in my life.

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Never get Hulu

I was watching the Emmys last week and then an ad came on.

It had a ton of celebrities who were serious and telling me to listen and pay attention.

They start to talk somewhat comedically about a bunch of things I should never do – never fly first class, never get a king size bed, never get a walk in closet etc etc.

At this point, there are hints of comedy creeping in…

Until the final punch line “..and most importantly Never Get Hulu”.

My wife and I are marketing professionals and immediately looked at each other thinking the same exact thing.

Who at Hulu gave the green light to this ad?

Why would you get people’s attention and use the words “Never” and your brand name in the same sentence? From a marketing perspective this seems extremely stupid.

Yes, it gets people like me writing about this and talking about it and sharing the ad. Got it.

HOWEVER, it imprints very negative keywords next to your brand name into people’s psyche’s forever.

Never Get Hulu.

I absolutely don’t get it but hey what do I know, maybe they know something I don’t so I should probably take their advice.

I DEFINITELY won’t get Hulu.

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Digital Marketing Training

13 Steps To Building A Profitable High Traffic Technology Blog – Part Three – the baby business plan

This is part three of my blueprint that will help you begin the process of building a high traffic profitable technology blog.

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Baby business plan

This is the third post in the series.

In part one, I talked about some of my experiences with some of the successful high traffic websites I actually built.

In part two, I shared a little about my belly of the whale strategy, a methodology I use to identify potential software niches to get into.

This is part three of my blueprint that will help you begin the process of building a high traffic profitable technology blog.

Today I want to share with you the importance of creating a business plan but not a regular business plan.

I call this…

The Baby Business Plan

Anyone who has written a business plan knows that to do it properly, it’s exhausting and requires a certain level of expertise and sophistication.

There are businesses and vendors who specialize in helping entrepreneurs write business plans. They are that complex.

Here’s the problem.

For most online entrepreneurs, at this stage in the process, that’s too much work. It just doesn’t make sense.

IMPORTANT – I’m not trying to say that entrepreneurs don’t need a plan, I’m saying at this stage, digital entrepreneurs don’t need the formal rigor of an exhaustive business plan.

You need a baby business plan.

What is a Baby Business Plan?

A baby business plan is a scaled down vision of your plans for your business. Simply put, you need to think about how this website or web based app will make money.

This is different from a real business plan because at this point you simply don’t need all that complexity.

So, let’s get to the meat and bones.

What are the elements of a Baby Business Plan?

A Baby Business Plan has 9 elements:

  • Business name ( and URL)
  • Business concept (Full description)
  • Technology components (list and price)
  • Labor costs to start
  • Ongoing labor
  • Marketing plan
  • Marketing costs
  • Monetization plan
  • Maintenance costs

Like I said, this is a scaled down version that you can put together real quickly.

Let’s do a quick example. Let’s do a Baby Business Plan for a fake domain – http://myloveofstamps.com/.

So if I was the entrepreneur, I would create a plan that looked roughly like this.

  • Business name: My Love Of Stamps (http://myloveofstamps.com/)
  • Business concept (A website that will bring together fans and stamp collectors all around the world. We will have forums, lists and …..)
  • Technology components:
    • Hosting: WP Engine
    • WordPress
    • Thrive Themes
    • etc. etc.
  • Labor costs to start:
    • 99 Designs web design – $899
    • Web Development to build – $500
    • Outsourced SEO – $200
    • 100 articles writer: $1000
    • etc. etc.
  • Ongoing labor:
    • Monthly writer – $400
    • Monthly SEO – $50
    • etc. etc.
  • Marketing Plan:
    • Facebook
    • Twitter
    • Pinterest
    • etc. etc.
  • Marketing costs
    • Facebook ads $50/month
    • Twitter Promo: $20/month
    • etc. etc.
  • Monetization plan:
    • Adsense on site
    • Stamp ebook that we will develop
    • Amazon ads
    • Stamps.com affiliate
    • etc. etc.
  • Maintenance costs
    • WP Engine $35/month
    • Clicky Analytics $9/month
    • etc. etc.

And so on and so forth…

Baby Business Plan – The format

Real simple. Word or Excel file. No presentation no graphics nothing too formal.

At this point you just want to have something that is a living document that you can continue to update as needed.

Why is this step critical?

Simple.

Because a lot of online tools are free or cheap and easy to use, it’s really easy to get started on an idea and build a proof of concept that can turn into a real site quickly.

This step helps you avoid two critical mistakes:

  1. Overspending on an idea that you have. Once you have all these costs listed you can start to plan and make sure you actually have the money to support this business.
  2. Validation – sometimes an idea sounds good in theory but when you actually write it out you start to see that it makes no business sense or requires too much money to be a viable business.

This step is a good step to keep you disciplined and focused. You need to write down you plan and start to internalize and share it with friends or people you respect so they can pick it apart and criticize it.

Better for an idea to die here than after you have spent lots of hours and lots of $$$ on it.

In the next installment in the series, I’ll show you how to quickly get a logo done.

Let me know if you think I missed anything here.

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Editorial

A Failure of imagination – Apple release new iPhone XR iPhone XS and iPhone XS Max

Apple have taken the easy way out, avoided innovation and are dependent on incremental upgrades

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Apple iPhone XS

I have an iPhone and I love it so I absolutely hate to be THAT guy.

I hate to be the guy who’s going against the grain, who seems to be contrarian where others celebrate but unfortunately, this is one of those articles.

Apple released their new iPhones today.

They released three new models – the iPhone XR, iPhone XS and iPhone XS Max.

The new iPhone XS and XS Max are priced at $999 and $1,099 and start shipping out at the end of this month. The iPhone XR starts at $749 and begins shipping out in October.

Apple iPhone XS

Apple iPhone XS (Image Credit – The Verge)

The iPhone XS has a 5.8-inch OLED display with a 2436 x 1125 resolution. Meanwhile, the iPhone XS Max has a 6.5-inch OLED display with a 2688 x 1242 resolution. The iPhone XR, which you can basically think of as this year’s lower-end offering, has a 6.1-inch LCD display with a 1792 x 828 resolution.

At the end of the day, the screen size is the main difference between these three new models.

  • The XS is smaller than the iPhone 8 Plus but the screen is as big as the screen on the 8 Plus.
  • The iPhone XS Max is as big as the iPhone 8 Plus, and its screen is larger.
  • The iPhone XR has a larger display than the iPhone 8 Plus, while its overall size is just slightly smaller.

The iPhone XS and XS Max have dual rear 12-megapixel cameras and improved True Tone flash, and a front 7-megapixel camera. The iPhone XR, as the more budget option, has one 12-megapixel camera on the back, with True Tone flash.

All the new phones are powered by a new seven-nanometer A12 Bionic chip which can handle 512GB of storage. The iPhone XS and XS Max also have faster Face ID, True Tone display, and 3D Touch. They have support for Dolby Vision and HDR10 video.

The iPhone XS and XS Plus come in gold, silver, or space gray. The iPhone XS starts at $999 for the 64GB option, and has 256GB and 512GB options as well. The iPhone XS Max starts at $1,099, with the same storage options. The 512GB option goes for $1,449.

The Apple iPhone XS Promo Video

My opinion

Unfortunately, this is just more of the same.

Apple have made a larger phone, added more storage and made the camera better. The phone OS will be improved as well but that is really all that happened.

As someone who has an iPhone 7 Plus, I will upgrade at some point but the truth is there is STILL no rush.

I have been waiting for a compelling upgrade from Apple that would force me to head to the store and/or pre-order a new phone and the truth is, this isn’t the one.

The Samsung Galaxy Note 9 seems way more exciting from a consumer point of view because of the screen, the pen and the TONS of innovative new features they bring to the table.

When Steve Jobs died, there was a fervent argument among the faithful that innovation at the worlds most valuable company would start to slow.

Unfortunately I fear this is the case.

The most exciting features of the iPhone (IMHO) are FaceID and the upcoming multi-user FaceTime. Beyond those two features, it seems like Apple is just keeping up with the competition.

Let’s be really clear, these are REALLY GOOD PHONES.

But unfortunately, Apple is in a Michael Jackson type situation where they seem to be unable to do anything better than their greatest hit.

Apple continues to live in Steve Job’s shadow and unfortunately, his genius is really the anchor against which the company’s level of innovation will be measured. Using that yardstick, the company fails to measure up.

Preorders for both phones begin on September 14 and ship on September 21st in select countries, with rollout in other countries to follow.

What do you think? Will you buy an iPhone XS?

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