On-ramps and entry points

For everything we do, there is a first time that we do it.

What's particularly interesting to me though is what happens from the moment of initial idea, to the first moment of execution. This period of time does not exist in a vacuum, and it is what happens during this time, that determines whether our inspiration will lead to action, or whether it will perish

Before we start something but after our initial idea - whether this is going to a yoga class, building a website or starting a business - we begin to process a variety of inputs and make our decisions regarding action. 

I think it's an interesting exercise to think about someone who has thought about doing yoga, but hasn't yet taken their first class. What are they thinking about? What's holding them back? What's drawing them to it? Why did they start thinking about it in the first place? Instagram photos, lululemon ads, viral videos, yoga studio websites, blog posts and more are all being processed by this person. How many of these things are designed to be entry points, welcoming them and encouraging them?

These same questions apply to our business for someone who has though about using software, but as of yet does not. What are we doing to give people confidence that they can trust us with their student information? What are we doing to show that we can empathize with them better than most? How easy are we making it for people to begin using us? Do our features allow them to run their business they way they want to?

When you're driving down the highway and there's an exit ramp every few miles, even if you're not using that exit ramp, you're still getting usefulness out if it because it's giving you a reminder that you can indeed get off that highway when you want. I believe the same is true with entry points. It's nice to know you can join something when you're ready, and that when you're ready, you'll be accepted. 

For those of us who make things, or have services that we want to introduce more people to, by consciously building more 'on-ramps and entry points' we can increase the likelihood that people will take action. 

There's an analytics tool called Tend that we mentioned the other day and it's what has me thinking about this more lately. What's innovative about what they've made is that it shows very clearly that purchasing decisions are not made instantly.

Before people eventually become a customer of ours, they might visit our website a few times, our blog 2 or 3 times, read our reviews, check out our Facebook page, and then become a customer. But just because someone came from Facebook right before they became a customer does not mean the blog posts were not valuable.

I think this is one of those big ideas that can show up in software which can be applied to any type of business. 

You might not have gotten as many likes as you wanted on a blog post, but it may have been read by the one person that's going to schedule a private lesson 2 months from now. Mentioning the retreat you're putting on at the end of a class probably isn't going to get people to sign up for it right away, but it is providing an entry point. A studio sharing their schedule on their website may not directly lead to someone coming to that class today, but it might help them show up for their first class a week from today.

And maybe they only knew about your website because of the flyer you left at the coffee shop!

Whatever we may be trying to introduce people to, I've come to believe it's important to obsess about these entry points. Not just because it can be good for your business, but because it allows people to join precisely when they're ready, without pressures before, and without obstacles after.