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Friday, Apr. 3, 2009 at 1:12 pm

The Do-It Yourself Syndrome

By Bryan Eisenberg
April 3rd, 2009

Patrick Sullivan Jr, describes himself as “a professional UI fixer constantly striving to make the cow more purple-er so the sneezers keep sneezin.” Some of you may remember Patrick’s name from our Always Be Testing book where we highlighted the success his company Jigsaw Health had with our conversion coaching service and Google Website Optimizer (in early beta). His story was also published in Inc Magazine and by Google as a case study. In just a few months, Jigsaw Health increased its conversions by 60%. By using Google Website Optimizer and making adjustments to Google AdWords™ campaigns, Jigsaw Health reduced the CPA from over $150 down to less than $40.

Even with his over the top UI fixing skills, Patrick recognized the value of an outside opinion. He is a real advocate for our services. He was recently recommending OnTarget to a colleague and the person responded that before he started with OnTarget he wanted to “get with his programmer” and work out their own to do list of what needs to be fixed on the website. While he applauded the do-it-yourself initiative, Patrick explained the challenge with doing that in an email that he allowed me to share:

Speaking from my own personal experience, I think it would be unwise for you and your developer to make a list of “obvious changes” — uncoached — for several reasons:

1) Both of you are new to this.  You cannot underestimate experience.

2) You’re going to end up with a LONG, unprioritized wish list.  Been there, done that.  And it causes paralysis.

Again, experience after seeing the results of hundreds of tests and using that to list out first ONLY the low hanging fruit cannot be underestimated.  Again, each month that you see even the slightest improvement to conversion rate means that you’re seeing and increase to the top line.

3) I have tested ideas that I was *sure* would improve conversion.  After traffic went by, I saw I was wrong.  But “enough” traffic can takes a month or more depending on the page/scenario.  A coach is going to use their experience to focus on what they’ve seen work most often.

4) I always say that each resource in every company costs $100/hr.  It’s a rough estimate, but it seems to work.  So the two of you spending 5 hours each working on the list costs the same as the experts telling you precisely where to start in the first month.

5) Part of the OnTarget engagment is to determine what your developer can’t touch without extensive work.  So that conversation will have to happen no matter what.  The total risk is $3000 (there’s a 3 month minimum), but the upside is almost without limit.

I say all this because I don’t want you to get lost in the weeds going down a “do it yourself” path. Thoughts? Patrick

How many DIY projects do you have waiting to get done?

If you would like to talk to Patrick about this or any other related questions, feel free to email him at Patrick at editweapon . com  or send him a tweet at @editweapon.

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Comments (9)

  1. Patrick reminded me that we forget about our own cost to the company! (See #4.) So if you think “doing it yourself” is free, think again, and don’t underestimate your own costs of being there!

  2. [...] The Do-It Yourself Syndrome [Grokdotcom] [...]

  3. Bryan as you know, I just started my company with your OnTarget program, and I am in the first month.

    I am a DIY, I do think experience plays a huge roll to me, which I believe your company has. I really hope the conversions bounce off the chart and I can use your service for months to come.

  4. [...] if you want to increase your conversion rate, you really will need to spend some real money with pros. Don’t try to figure it out yourself (or with your web designer. Most designers aren’t [...]

  5. Couldn’t agree more. I’m dealing with some clients right now on a really big project. They have one “web guy” who’s a tool, and thinks he knows best. They’ve paid us nearly 20k, and we’re experts at what we do, and they’re too obsessed with their internal “creativity” that they’re risking everything on it.

  6. I can not agree any more. I think initially when budget is very tight and you are trying the business idea, might be you can try doing things on your own. But once you know things are working and you have a conversion rate. Then is the time to start working on conversion.

  7. OK, I’m a do-it-yourself kind of person and struggling in this economy. Is this a case of you have to spend money to make money or is there a middle of the road approach that can be effective while business ramps and can then justify the higher expenses?

  8. Thank you for share us.

  9. I think initially when budget is very tight and you are trying the business idea, might be you can try doing things on your own.

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Bryan Eisenberg, founder of FutureNow, is a professional marketing speaker and the co-author of New York Times and Wall Street Journal bestselling books Call to Action and Waiting For Your Cat to Bark and Always Be Testing. You can friend him on Facebook or Twitter.

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