May 1, 2014

It’s Hard To Be Simple

I’ve spent the last few evenings trying to create a paid forum.

You’d think it would be quite simple.

But so many software providers don’t speak a language I understand… and I worked in IT!

I’ve been through about 8 solutions before finding one that was simple enough (and even then it isn’t that simple).

The forum software I finally settled on didn’t even mention on their site that you could create recurring subscriptions to different sections within the forum i.e. create a paid forum.

I had to ask their pre-sales folks to find that out.

Crazy isn’t it?

Someone who wants to create a paid forum will be able to pay more for the solution than someone who wants to create a free forum.

I also bet a lot of the people creating free forums would like to make a bit of money from their forum too.

So why not make it simple for them to create private areas for paying members, and let these forum owners know they can do it?



I’m glad you asked… 🙂

There’s some obvious takeaways:


1) Are you speaking the right language?

Software companies are notorious for not speaking the language of their buyers and users.

Apple broke the mold by telling you how many songs you could hold on your iPod, rather than how many Giga-whatever you could hold.

Are you using the language your ideal customers use?

Which brings me to the next takeaway…


2) Who exactly *is* your ideal customer?

After two weeks of frustration (I tried about 8 different solutions), I was willing to pay $99 a month for a fully hosted “cloud” solution that just worked.

My money was in my hand. I just couldn’t find anyone to give it to.

Instead, I ended up with a solution where I license some software for $140 a year, and use a separate company to install and host it for $25 a month.

I’m not three days into my chosen solution and I’ve lost a morning bouncing between two different support teams to get a small issue resolved.

Honestly, I’m probably willing to pay even more than $99 a month now!

Do you know which of your customers want to pay you the most money?

And do you make it simple for them to give you their money?


3) Why is everything so damn complicated?

You already know the answer to this one.

It’s harder to make something simple than it is to just add more features and more copy.

You’ve probably heard the famous line:

“If I had more time, I would have written you a shorter letter.”

No-one can agree who said it.  But everyone can agree it sums it up nicely.


On that note, here’s a short (and simple) video explaining the most important formula in business.

It’s taken me a lot of thinking over the years to boil this down to two minutes.

You can find it in this post: The Most Important Formula in Business.