What’s the one thing your customers would like to see in your products? Or what’s the one problem they’d like you to fix?

One of the problems in developing any product or service is that you can get into a rut and stop seeing where you need to make changes. Maybe you’re looking at your competitors, seeing what they’re doing and using that for inspiration. But what your customers want may be different. Maybe much simpler.

One way to address this is to add a Make a Suggestion page to your site. The Microsoft Developer Network (MSDN) does this very well.

msdn-suggest-feedback

MSDN feature suggestions

Have an idea for how we can improve the overall experience on MSDN? If so, we’d love to hear it. You can submit a new idea or you can upvote and comment on existing ideas. Suggestions, comments, and votes will be reviewed directly by the engineering teams who are responsible for building MSDN.

This site is for feature suggestions and ideas, not for submitting bugs or to get support. To file a bug or get support, visit MSDN troubleshooting and support.

Make a Suggestion page

You can add suggestions on

  • gaps that need addressing
  • errors that need to be corrected
  • ways to improve the existing site

After you enter your idea in the I suggest you… box, it’s added to the list of requests. What’s interesting is that others can vote up your request if they agree. As I write, the add more and more code examples has 819 votes.

  • Hot
  • Top
  • New Idea
  • Category
  • Status
  • My ideas
  • My Comments

In addition to this, you can see the status of the feature request by mousing over the Status drop-down menu, which tells you if a feature is

  • Under review
  • Planned
  • Completed
  • Declined

This filters the list of features and you can vote up each suggestion and, here’s the nice part, add a comment.

For example, this comment suggests:

I’d go further and ask that you include revision dates with links to previous versions as well. As a solutions architect, understanding the direction things move in is just as important as understanding the current state of play.

Where’s the benefit?

As you can see, all of this helps MS improve the quality of their product. More than that, they’re users help clarify and refine what needs to be fixed. As well as this, they are also helping with the testing – at least indirectly – by highlighting errors and omissions.

Could this work for you?

PS – the best book I read last year about getting feedback was Pay Attention!: How to Listen, Respond, and Profit from Customer Feedback.

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Ivan Walsh, Internet Business ExpertAbout Ivan Walsh Got a question about running an online business? Contact me on Google Plus, @IvanWalsh, and Facebook

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How to write email sales letters – Trello

by Ivan on January 24, 2015

If you want to improve how you write business emails, you probably collect newsletters for inspiration.

Looking for a good example of sharp email writing? The Trello newsletter is worth looking at. As well as the nice layout and uncluttered design, the writing is pretty good.

But it could be even better with a small few tweaks.

trello

Let’s take a look and start with the strapline.

Let Trello Organize Your Life

It’s fine, not that memorable but you know where you are. Nothing fuzzy or abstract. So, it’s about organizing.

Next, the number of times they mention Trello is… eight.

Maybe a bit too much. It’s in every sentence. To me, this smacks of trying a little bit too hard.

Remember, I’ve signed up. I know who they are!

How the sales letter is structured

The text is divided into four – a lead paragraph, then three features.

   Trello is the magical way to collaborate with others to organize your work and life.

Here’s a taste of the amazing things Trello can help you accomplish:

…collaborate and organize

Here’s the first question: is this the most important feature?

   Get Stuff Done at Work

   It’s hard to stay on top of who’s doing what. Constant status meetings can really put a dent in your productivity. Trello eliminates the need for meetings.

I’m not sure if this is true. It’s a great product but I’ll still have meetings. But, for now, let’s work with it.

They seem to be implying that it’s a replacement for ‘status meetings’ – not sure why they focus on status meetings, but again, let’s move on.

   Plan That Home Improvement Project

Keeping track of a home improvement project can be a project in and of itself. With Trello, get the family on board posting documents and ideas, and set due dates for tasks like calling contractors.

Now we’re on to Home Improvement, which is a good idea as it broadens the appeal of the tool.

   ‘a project in and of itself’

Seems a bit wordy.

   Organize Your Next Work Trip or Vacation

   Planning a trip with colleagues or friends? Stop emailing back and forth when you can post information and plan easily in Trello. Add your collaborators to a Trello board and divide and conquer.

This I like the most, though it comes last. Again, I’d tighten it up.

Not sure ‘planning a trip with colleagues’ sounds right.

Likewise, this seems a bit verbose

   Stop emailing back and forth

Let’s get to the point and change it to:

No more emails.

when you can post information and plan

Instead of information, giving an example might work better.

   Help your customers see what they could be organizing. Give them ideas. Information and plan sound a bit jaded.

Like I said, Trello is a great product. Simple to use, practical, and effective.

But the text would be more persuasive if they:

  1. Reduced the callouts
  2. Mentions of the brand name and
  3. Gave concrete examples of how others use it.

PS – this is the best line. Add collaborators to Trello – divide and conquer.

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Ivan Walsh, Internet Business ExpertAbout Ivan Walsh Got a question about running an online business? Contact me on Google Plus, @IvanWalsh, and Facebook

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Lead Generation with Facebook

November 10, 2014

Can you really use Facebook for marketing? To be honest, I was a bit skeptical about this until I really made an effort to figure out how Facebook works, especially it advertising platform. I was comparing it to Google Adwords and that didn’t work. This course on Shoemoney about Facebook Advertising really helped. It’s not cheap but then the good stuff never is.

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How to price ‘special offers’ and 2-1 bundles

November 7, 2014

Next, how to price special offers and bundles? For example, buy two, get one free. Let’s say you’re selling high-resolution Nature photographs online. One tactics to increase online sales is to offer bundles. You see these in most online retailers, for example, Amazon, where you ‘buy one, get one free’ or similar bundle offerings. The […]

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How to Improve Top Performing Pages with Google Analytics

October 21, 2014

One mistake to avoid when you start selling online is to offer too many products. Try to focus your site around 3-5 products at most and you’ll have get sales. Ideally, your site should focus on your money pages. To identify your money pages, use the advanced features in Google Analytics.

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What’s the sales target for your digital product?

October 21, 2014

Next, let’s look at your Sales Target, the number of products you expect (need) to sell. This is the most variable of our variables and you can play around with it based on your own numbers Should you offer tiered pricing for your digital goods? Tier pricing lets you price items differently for higher quantities. […]

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How to determine the cost to create your digital product?

October 14, 2014

Your aim here is to determine if the cost of making the product allows you to make a profit. In other words, can you create, produce, and market a product and make a profile with consideration to what the customer is willing to pay? The good news is that if you’re developing it at home, […]

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What type of customers will buy my digital products?

October 7, 2014

Before you create your product, especially if this is the first time in digital product development, you need to know exactly who will buy it. Sounds obvious, doesn’t it? However, what often happens is that what looks like a great opportunity to you – I bet many people would like to buy that – may […]

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How To Negotiate Daily Rates When Starting as a Freelance Web Writer

October 5, 2014

If you decide to start contracting, one of the hardest things to work out is what daily rate to charge. Many of the readers on this site are looking at ways to escape the 9-5 and moving into contracting is one way to start this process.

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How to identify the target audience for your digital product?

September 28, 2014

The first step is to learn more about the customers you plan to sell to. For example: What country are they in? This affects copy, imagery, delivery methods, and other issues such as tax and VAT. What currency do they prefer to pay in? Will your shopping cart support different currencies? If not, how do […]

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How to Break Negative Mental Habits

September 25, 2014

Patterns: Breaking In To

Plato reminds us that ‘character is habit long continued.’

The Jesuits caution, ‘give me the boy until he’s 7, I’ll give you the man.’

and Dr. Stephen Covey gave us 7 habits of successful people.

What’s going on here?

Habits are held together by patterns.

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How to make Google fall in love with your blog

September 24, 2014

Put yourself in Matt Cutts’ shoes. When people click Search, you give them the best results. How do you decide what really is the best? Understanding this is the key to creating content – not just text – for Google. It’s after quality. Yes, I know, there are exceptions to the rule but after blogging […]

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Tax on digital products?

September 21, 2014

The digital products bills (ESHB 2075 & SHB 2620) clarify – http://dor.wa.gov – how taxes apply to products that exist only as computer bits and bytes.  Specifically, they: Define digital products as goods and services transferred electronically. Make the taxation of digital products technology-neutral. Include certain exclusions and exemptions for businesses and end consumers. Require sellers of […]

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VAT on Digital Products in Europe?

September 14, 2014

The EU operates Value Added Tax (VAT) and electronic goods and services are subject to VAT at the applicable rate. Each member state may set its own rate of VAT if they want. VAT regulations are very complicated and the intent of this article is not to provide definitive guidance but rather to list some […]

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How to sell expensive ‘special reports’

September 9, 2014

If you have relatively good writing skills, knowledge of an industry or specialized area, and a little determination, you should consider selling special reports, white papers, or research materials. What are special reports? These are reports that cover a very special topic, industry or firm. For example: Biocides Online Payments Apple Why are special reports […]

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How to create, price, and sell digital products

September 7, 2014

In this tutorial we look at how to price a digital product, for example, an ebook, courseware, infographic, or other product that you plan to sell using amazon Kindle, Shopify, Clickbank, eJunkie, or 1ShoppingCart among others. What’s the definition of digital goods? One definition for the Wisconsin Finance Dept states it as: “A “digital good” […]

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Do Sub-Domains Increase or Decrease Google PageRank?

August 22, 2014

Matt Cutts’ SEO blog discusses different ways Google interprets Sub-Domains and Folders. What’s important is how your Google PageRank may be affected by setting up a new blog on a sub-domain versus a folder.

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9 (Unusual) Ways to Make Money on Your Blog

August 17, 2014

Thanks for all the emails about the making money post last week. You asked for a few more examples. Well, here they are. 9 (More) Ways to Make Money on Your Blog Just one word of warning. Before you choose a product to sell online do as much research as possible. It’s very frustrating when […]

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Sir Alex Ferguson’s Unique Interpretation of Success

August 1, 2014

Most of us congratulate our team when they win, right? What’s interesting is that many successful leaders adopt an an alternative approach. One example of this was Sir Alex Ferguson’s response when his Aberdeen team won the Scottish Cup. Did he congratulate them?

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How to Batch Schedule Tweets with Hootsuite

July 28, 2014

Tired of writing each tweet by hand? Instead of individually scheduling every tweet, you can write them in a group (batch) and then upload them all in one go. I use Hootsuite to do this, though there are other tools that let you do the same thing. Socialoomp is another I use, though the UI […]

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