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SL’s Downward Spiral? June 23, 2010

Posted by FilipaThespian in Economy, LL System Changes, Sales, Traffic.
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I just posted this on SL’s forums (well with a few stupid typo’s i couldn’t later fix oops lol so I’ve modified it a bit here) and really wanted to share it here as well…

I AM CONCERNED…

…on a few topics actually.  First and foremost, this new voice morphing technology … LL is making SL a better and better tool for predators! It’s already a serious and growing problem, people trying to pass themselves off for what they are not, preying upon lonely, depressed people, destroying lives and psyche’s … and now, one of the tools I have taught to others as a red flag to being super wary … whether or not someone will get on voice … is being taken away. LL is empowering the predator here. I am SERIOUSLY concerned about this technology.

On another note, while I’m all for technical advances, I have some concern over this new mesh tool. I just posted the following directly into a thread about it, but thought I should pull it out to something more specific to “being concerned”… “I may be missing something but this actually worries me. What I see is the expense and difficulty to be a content creator skyrocketing which means the cost of products will skyrocket, freebies will go by the wayside and residents who are on budgets or get a thrill out of freebie shopping will dissappear. SecondLife will become for those who are rich, not for everybody.”

Questions for Linden Labs:

  1. Are those that be in LL really so lost as to not realize what they’re doing with a voice morphing tool?
  2. Do they seriously think they have double digit millions of users when the average person who uses sl has at least 3 to 5 avies of their own (hell, i know a lot of people with avie accounts in the double digits) and people who come to try it out usually dont cancel accounts, they just go away and forget about it?
  3. Do they not see the avid drop in resident sim ownership?
  4. Do they not see the closing of hoards of SL businesses owned by residents?
  5. Do they seriously not see all this as terribly concerning for the future of SecondLife?

Not to mention at any given time, the number of people logged in is under 50,000?  Back in 2006 when 50,000 were logged in, there were only 1.6 million “residents” — a much different ratio. I can’t recall lately, when i’ve seen it over that really, even on a weekend.

I mean really, the stats are saying right now that in the last month, there were 1,381,848 logins (that’s logins folks, NOT individual users), while it’s stating about 19.6 million residents, but right now, there are only just under 49,000 people logged in. Ok, obviously residents does not mean unique users, that’s for darn sure. So seriously, do they really not see how SL is circling a wicked downward spiral? Oh and lets not forget about duel loggers, that’s a VERY high number of users. So that 49k number of people logged into SL right now is more than likely not anywhere near accurate either.

How about tracking how many user accounts their are by IP address or Email address, or age verification info, or OMG actual address or contact info. Lump together their avatar accounts into ONE user account and start redoing these numbers and then lets see how well SL is doing!

I must say, every single day I hear of at least one more sim shutting down … sometimes more than one in a day. And now they’re adding voice morphing so that predators can do a better job of hurting good people and making content creation harder and more expensive so that not just anyone will be able to build a business in sl and the cost of goods will skyrocket making it difficult for residents to purchase goods … I just see something really deadly coming down the pike here and I’m so dreadfully sad to be seeing it or even saying it

SecondLife Trade Syndicate May 7, 2009

Posted by FilipaThespian in Communication, Customer Service.
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Recently, my buddy and business partner Teresa Republic and I were discussing some scary trends in SecondLife’s business world. There’s been some shady happenings in how some businesses deal with their customers AND on the up-side, there’s been some GREAT things businesses have been doing for/with their customers. We did some research to find some sort of third-party organization like a BBB or consumer reports, and couldn’t find it!

The result of our conversation and this research is the creation of The SecondLife Trade Syndicate. The goal of this organization is sort of like a better business bureau or a consumer reports. We’re right now looking for leading SL business owners to get on the board of directors and we’re formulating how it will run so that the down side of this type of organization (unfair/unlawful blasting) doesn’t happen.

If you want to participate, please contact either Teresa Republic or Filipa Thespian in game or via email (TeresaRepublic@live.com or FilipaThespian@yahoo.com). You can join the group by searching groups in SL for “SecondLife Trade Syndicate.”

Hugs,
Pips.

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Strategic Ambiguity: Why is it so Difficult in SL? May 3, 2009

Posted by teresarepublic in Communication, Customer Service, Marketing, Sales.
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I come into contact with a lot of business owners in my line of work. Mainly fashion industry but others too. While I was writing a paper on Strategic Ambiguity for my English class, the whole time I was thinking “I know A LOT of people in SL who really need to work on this.” This post is about Strategic Ambiguity and how it can help you in your relationships with business partners in SL.

So what exactly is Strategic Ambiguity? (Don’t Google it or you’ll just get a bunch of stuff about politics, and that’s not the kind we’re talking about.) Well for some people it comes completely natural, and for some it’s a learned interpersonal skill. It’s basically choosing your words carefully in order to promote harmony, and it’s a way to deliver difficult messages that softens the blow and makes it possible to work smoothly with the recipients in the future. Unlike Sugarcoating, it doesn’t falsely represent the information, and unlike brute honestly, it’s not abrasive and hurtful. It’s kind of the happy medium.

Here are some examples:

Brute
Honesty
Strategic
Ambiguity
Sugar
Coating
“Your clothes are definitely NOT on par with the designers you’re trying to compete with” “You have some unique and fun designs, we should focus on quality so we can compete
with the big dogs”
“Omg… I LOVE your stuff!! Seriously, its amazing!”
“That’s a really dumb idea.” “I think I understand your goal, but I’ve seen others try that and fail, and I definitely don’t want that to happen to you!!!” “Let’s do it!”
“Just completely redo that photo, it looks awful.” “You know what might look even better? If we tried a different pose, and did the cropping a bit different… but I like the direction you’re going in!” “This is the best thing you’ve ever done! Totally works for me!”

Okay, my examples are corny BUT you get the idea. SA is what you need to continue to have good rapport with your colleagues in SL and RL. When you want to maintain a good relationship with people you work with, it’s sort’ve necessary.

Now, to my actual topic here. Why do I come into contact with so many people in SL who don’t practice this? I recently was a in a business situation when I dealt with someone who was brutally honest ALL the time. And to me it seems like there are a higher concentration of these people in SL than in RL. In RL I’ve maybe met 4-5 people that were annoyingly honest SOMETIMES. In SL I’ve probably met 50 who are like that ALWAYS.

My first instinct is to of course examine myself and ask if maybe I’M too sensitive, or am just getting the wrong impression of people. While it might be a bit true some days, I mean, criticism just kind of rolls off me nowadays. I figure I’m a photographer and MY artistic expression is my own, if I listened to everyone else, it wouldn’t be mine.

Also, lets just leave out the power trip people, psychology is not my department. So that brings down my number some.

Communication code scheme
Image via Wikipedia

I then find myself thinking maybe it’s the whole “in the car” effect. Like, some of the nicest people you know (in RL) can be some of the meanest drivers. The reason for this (and this is science talking, not me) is that when your in a car you subconsciously feel detached from the outside world. (If you don’t believe me go to the mall the last weekend before Christmas.) Maybe that’s how some people feel in SL. They’re behind a screen, its not like you can reach out and strangle them for being a-holes. While this might be the case for some, there are others who have partners and families in SL, who obviously understand the “person behind the avatar.”

And then there are the people who are just like “I’m just honest.” Which is supposed to make you feel like lesser of a person for NOT being honest, even though if everyone that person knew was honest with them, they’d be completely alone. Not a valid excuse guys. This is COMMUNICATION we’re talking about, SO SO SO important.

So for some maybe it’s just lack of communication skills, and that’s SO hard to overcome, I know. Especially in SL when you may not speak the same language as the person you’re talking to, much less have time to worry about whether you’re sending the right messages. But communication skills are SO important, in RL and SL. When I choose models, probably the thing I look for most is the ability to communicate, It shows me they’re smart and that they take virtual modeling at least a little seriously. And in RL it’s the undisputed most important attribute to have in the business world, you will certainly fail without it.

Pipa & TeresaI have an AWESOME business partnership with Filipa, and I attribute that mostly to us both being able to practice this. Sure there have been times when I’ve thought to myself some pretty brutally honest things, and I know she has with me, haha. But even when we don’t like each other’s ideas (which is really like never, but it does happen) we’re always keeping a positive tone and really looking for the good in the idea to expand on. That’s what makes our partnership successful.

If you want to try to be a little more ambiguous, try thinking about how you would want to be spoken to in RL. Make sure you don’t go into the sugarcoating range; otherwise your message will be distorted. Just try to be overall more considerate. You’ll be surprised the difference it makes in your business relationships, and personal too. In addition to making you look super-classy, you’re still staying honest and good or bad, people respect that.

Until next time,
Teresa

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RL Social Networking for SL Success? April 24, 2009

Posted by FilipaThespian in Marketing, Sales, Traffic.
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Ok, so it’s been a little while since my last post, sorry😀. It’s been a crazy whirlwind as I’ve worked to rebuild my main store facilities, move in and simultaneously redo my entire corporate identity. Almost done that, just have to redo the gorean product artwork and packaging😀. Oh, you can see the new identity and such on my business’s blog, RiFiEmporium.blogspot.com. First article is about a new gown, 2nd is about the new identity.

ANYWAY … during this revamp I’ve been also doing a lot of research into marketing techniques to further increase my own sl biz income. Part of that has been to add in social networking using Twitter (my id is FilipaThespian if you want to add me) and Facebook (also FilipaThespian for ID here :D).

Just the other day a wonderful new contact on Twitter, Doubledown_InSL, posted a twit about an interesting new tool. I wonder if anyone else has heard of it yet. It’s a web-based search engine for SLURL’s. The URL for this site is SLBrowser.com

So I went to check out what it’s all about. It’s a little confusing sometimes. My first stop was at the Listing page, I want to know how to get my store listed. It seems you need to install something on your computer, mod a SL file and then … I think … visit the locations in SL that you want to have listed. I’m still trying to figure it out wondering if I’m dense as so many are already listed lol.

But after reading up on getting listed, I started doing a few searches of some of my favorite designers. What I found was many of the links while at first seem to be the image related to the designer you know, when you click for more info or to get the tp to the location, a completely different location’s ad/information seems to appear. I’m not yet sure what that’s all about.

I’m curious what you might think of this. Personally I think the concept is FABULOUS, however, how to manage rankings? I’ve not yet seen information on that.

Which brings me directly to one of my biggest concerns with IN-SL search features is how messy all the searches return. For example, used to be when you did a search for the word “Gorean”, the top deliveries were the gorean sims where you could go to RP and gain residence. Now, it’s hard to find those sims within the mess of shops, many it seems aren’t really related to gorean, just used the keyword and have REALLY great traffic to get top rankings. So, I find it hard to find what I want.

That was just an example off the top of my head, but I find often in this same dilemma for the same reason. Likewise on XStreetSL, I find I do a search, say for “Egyptian Clothing” and the first few are in the right category, but the next few pages are egyptian builds like furniture or buildings, etc. What’s that got to do with “egyptian clothing”? I even double checked and I WAS sorting by relevance. So … I’m still left wondering and having to paginate more times than I can count before I might find something that strikes my fancy. I really wish Lindens could find a way to clean all that up in game and on XStreet.

So rounding back to Social Networking … I know, you probably thought I seriously digressed lol. But honestly, I don’t think so, not too much anyway. I would not have found that SL Search Engine had I not met Doubledown_InSL on Twitter. I’ve done a lot of reading about the use of social networking for RL businesses and I really think, especially considering the virtual nature of our SL businesses, it’s a prime tool for us all. But how to use it effectively?

Aye, we build relationships in game, on twitter, on facebook, etc … but how does any of that convert to sales? Once again, I’m thinkin it’s all about being seen, branding, visibility. It’s a “labor of love” that pays off in the long run. I’m thinkin, if you’re that instant gratification type, social networking may leave you a bit frustrated. But on the other hand, it’s also a lot of fun if you’re a people person😀.

What are your thoughts on marketing tools for businesses in SL? Find anything interesting lately? What are your thoughts on what I’ve mentioned here?

Looking forward to seeing what you have to say!

Hugs,
Pips

RL Biz marketing to SLians? April 10, 2009

Posted by FilipaThespian in Marketing, Sales, Traffic.
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I’ve been doing a lot of reading for about a year now regarding doing business in Second Life.  I’ve been a resident of Second Life since 2005.  I’ve owned a night club (money drain lol), a Gorean Sim (emotional drain), a modeling agency (time/energy drain) and now a clothing business (really sooths the soul lol).

SL didn’t start off as something in which I saw business potential, it was just a game where I found people to talk to and laugh with and I enjoyed their company.  Today I still find those people, but I also focus on making virtual clothing because I love to create/design (20 yrs graphic artist) — and I made a business out of it because I love the challenge of bringing people in the door (marketer last 8 yrs) and the pleasure of their purchase telling me I did a good job.

Anyway, through all my reading about virtual world meeting real world, I’ve found a mountain of articles about the big companies (i.e. Coke, Dell, IBM, Sun and many more) investing hundreds of thousands of dollars into SL hoping it’ll help boost sales.  Wired.com has a three-part article (http://www.wired.com/techbiz/media/magazine/15-08/ff_sheep) that I just read that dealt with how these big corporate Sims as with so many Sims, are just vast wastelands of emptiness and financial drains on the companies.

Well … I am not the slightest surprised that large Sims like Coke’s are always empty.  I’ve read some of what another SL marketing company is doing and I have to agree with them … the problem that Dell and Coke and IBM and others like them are having, is that they’re not utilizing SL the way the residents think or want to be interacted with.  They’re spending WAY TOO MUCH MONEY to create these environments in SL that they are hoping people will come to, hang out at and return to over and over and for some reason, they’re actually expecting sales.  If that’s the case, then make a line of virtual Coke ancillary items and sell them and/or give them away for free in game … at the busy venue’s btw not your own Sim … because you can’t buy a real Coke in game and drink it there unless you wait for it to be shipped to you lol … so how is Coke going to have sales from SL? *scratches her head*

I think first off they have to consider it as a brand recognition/memory tool, not a sales tool!  Second, they need to do things that get them out to the people the way and where the people are interacting and want to be.  Expecting people to come hang out at a REALLY marketized Coke Sim … for … what???  I really think that’s kind of a stretch (knowing SLians the way I do), don’t you?

Ok, lets look at this another way … you just got home, it was a busy day, you’re stressed from your day, you’re an SLian, you’re having your daily SL withdraw symptoms so you sit down to log in and you begin getting antsy in your chair as the load bar starts moving SLOWLY across your screen.  You yell at it “c’mon hurry up OMG!”  Perhaps you figure you’ll get a drink or use the restroom while you wait so you wont have to be distracted when you’re finally there.  And all of a sudden, you’re in and you’re feeling rather elated.  Well, until you realize that you still appear a ghost, your clothing’s still downloading and you’re not sure where you are because you didn’t TP home last night before logging.

Anyway, you share a few IM’s with your friends and say … what … “OMG lets go hang out at the Coke Sim, I hear it’s really cool.”  Ok, so you go, you look around, yeah the build is really neat, but then what?  “Lets sit here on these chairs, this place is so cool,” … is it?  What’s going on?  Is there a club with people?  A virtual shopping mall where you can find some cool things?  Other people to meet?  A virtual contest running where you have a chance to win Lindens and/or prizes?  A themed role play environment?  Do you really want to spend your precious free time being marketed to like that?

Or perhaps would you not mind so much if you were being marketed to in a manner in which you are accustomed, expect and actually look forward to … dance contests with prizes, shopping at virtual stores for the things you need/want (clothing, hair, hilarious toys and gimmicks to make your friends laugh maybe even Coke a cola eyes :D), then run to show off what you just got, to your friends.

This is why these big corporate Sims are vast wastelands of whistling wind and virtual bird tweets.

What these companies need to realize is this … if you build it … they won’t come.  Even retail business-owners work hard to get/keep traffic numbers for search placement purposes … but they never expect people to stay and hang out even when they put up attractions to try to do that.  Instead, they realize that people have specific REALLY well run Sims that they frequent.  These Sims have shopping malls, and they go rent carts in those malls.  People shop in them because they don’t feel like tp’ing out and they need something appropriate for the theme of the club, or the contest, etc … and then they head back in to dance, laugh, chat, listen to music they like, etc.

These RL companies need to do what other retailers have already realized … they need to GO TO THE CROWDS, not try to bring the crowds to them.  It works the same for groups.  Their are industry specific groups in SL (like for the fashion industry) where they have HUGE #’s of members waiting to receive notices about product updates and sales and as a registered vendor, you can tell them.  Or magazines … same as in RL, magazines in SL have real draws of readership (some over 40,000 readers) and sell ad space for Lindens.  Someone’s already made the big crowd attraction … why try to reinvent the wheel?  It took them A LOT of time and Lindens to get that steady traffic, so use that!  This is why these big corporate RL businesses are frustrated with SL.

Perhaps it’s not a “marketing” program at all that these companies need to look into … perhaps its more of a RL biz helping SL biz … how can Coke help me and other SL vendors like me, gain visibility, sell product and in turn, really show Coke off and help build Coke’s brand awareness in the cyber mind-set?  Lindens do it with things like business plan contests, or even just random emails they received, of ideas they really liked and wanted to support.  Maybe these Corporate America marketers should get that book called “SecondLife for Entrepreneurs” … I’m finding it a fascinating read lol.

Story for Coke specifically – I had a friend who owns a very busy/popular Gorean sim.  RL he had a love of Coke and had the “collect the caps” disease lol.  He’d mentioned it vaguely in conversation to a few people in his Sim and all of a sudden, they’re all drinking as much Coke as they can and snail mailing him all the caps and he’s getting the cool Coke paraphernalia he wanted.  Now, why did they do this?  Relationships!  They know and love him very much.  They interact on a daily basis … for them, he’s their king (so to speak) – their leader and they want to please him, garner his favor, his friendship … so they do things like this without being asked.  He was so surprised.  This is the way things are on SL for those who find real communities in which to live … so, now, how can Coke use this?  Get in their and make friends, build friendships, interact on the resident’s terms, not yours and while doing those things *DO NOT MARKET* just be a person.  All of a sudden you’ll be the one everyone’s clamoring to know and be known by lol.  It’s like creating some virtual fame.

SLians I guess don’t think/behave the way big corporate marketers are accustomed to and they’re having a hard time figuring out how to fit in with the virtual crowd.  Coke may really have it down in the real world for things like customer experience management/marketing, but in SL, they can’t manage the customer’s experience, it’s the customer’s experience that is managing them.  I think in an environment like this, the consumer has all the power🙂.

Ok, so if you’re a reader of this blog, you’re an SL business person.  What can RL businesses do, do you think, that would inspire SLians and increase their brand awareness?  Ok … what can these RL businesses do for SL businesses like yours that would truly begin to create a cross reality business platform helping you, them and the residents of Second Life with their SL experiences?  Just food for thought.

Hugs,
Pipa

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Customer Service April 8, 2009

Posted by FilipaThespian in Customer Service.
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How much do you put into customer service for your patrons?  Do you respond quickly or even proactively when you find a problem with a product?  Do you not worry about it and ignore IM’s figuring what are they gonna do anyway?

Well, just as in the real world, customer service should be one of every businesses top priorities up there beside the best quality product, or better perhaps.

Why?  Well, think on it this way … real world statistics have shown a very steady result in this topic over the years.  On average, an unhappy customer will proactively tell their horror story about your business or their transaction with your business, to about 11 people, who will in turn also talk about it and remember it.  These people will not shop with you and they will also spread the word to other potential customers that shopping with you is a bad idea.  Often, it will work!  However, a happy customer will return and shop again and they’ll bring friends with them and they will tell their story to a few people.

Now, you may say that it’s only a couple of people they’ll tell … but the reverse of that is a minimum of 12 people really upset and dissing you vs. 2-3 people loving you and spending over and over with you.  You do the math there.

So, what’s brought this topic to my mind for an article here today?  Something happened to me this week and while it may sound a bit like bragging, and yes I was really pleased😀, in reality, it’s me sharing a strategy with you.

Over the weekend I made a big announcement to the fashion groups about my latest releases, two new playful dresses, similar but in different styles.  This really spurted sales, including of these dresses.

The next day I asked a friend of mine who had the outfit and was taking pics of it for me for my shop, “why aren’t you wearing the belt to that outfit?”  She told me she didn’ thave it.  I was really surprised and went to give her the belt only to find that it (a rather intricate prim silver/turquoise belt) had been corrupted somehow and even though I was the creator, not even I could transfer it anymore.  This led to an investigation of the sales I’d made and I found that the package wasn’t being delivered because of this No Trans status.

So I knuckled under that same night and rebuilt the belt, tested it with my friends and then contacted every person who had bought the outfit with an IM message explaining I discovered they probably hadn’t received it and if they had, the belt was missing, here’s the upgrad/fix, thanks for your biz and sorry for the trouble.  And I dropped the new package on them.

OMG did I get some of the most wonderful messages back.  People hadn’t even realized there was a problem to begin with lol and they were amazed at the pro-active customer service and they were going to make it a point to bring their friends and tell others what had happened here.

I remembered toward the end to ask one customer if I could quote her and the results can be found on my company site here: http://rifiemporium.blogspot.com/2009/04/great-customer-service.html.

Anyway … what’s your amazing customer service story or nightmare?  Either as a vendor or as a customer, we can learn from both sides of this coin.

Thanks for reading!!!

Hugs,
Pipa

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Have you done the math lately? March 30, 2009

Posted by FilipaThespian in Economy, Pricing, Sales, Traffic.
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So … I was having a conversation yesterday with some friends and someone made a comment to me about how much in USD I must be spending each month on my various rentals for the store.  I said “OMG no, I never buy Lindens”.  Well aside from the fact that I’d been up for 24 hours, my brain wasn’t working on all 8 cylinders and her point wasn’t about buying Lindens but what I could be saving by pooling resources … it got me to thinking.

So … I did the math.  I added up all my rents then went to the trusty SsecondLife website and looked up how much it would cost me to buy that many Lindens and you know what I found out?  Second Life, in just rents, forget recreational spending, this is just for the biz … is costing me a little over $70.00 USD each month.  I was shocked to say the least!

The good news is … I don’t have to buy Lindens to cover that … the bad news is, with the economy the way it is right now, I’m looking at consolidating my locations and pooling resources with friends so that the business starts showing a better profit and I don’t end up having to buy lindens (my shopping addiction’s kinda grown lately *blushes*).  But one question I would pose is … what about my Gorean markets.  I have a line of silks and FW clothing … people generally find me in the Sims where I have booths or stalls … if I pull out … then what?

Ahhhhh, but I forget … there’s the Gorean Fashion Syndicate to post sale notices and new releases to Gorean shoppers and there’s several well traversed forums, though I honestly cannot equate any revenue to the forums … wish I could, it’s more cost effective🙂.

Then there’s these up coming adult content changes … I was thinking of keeping my large store in the Oasis of 9 Wells just for my Gorean line and leave that out of my main store, perhaps hand out a LM.  At least then I wouldn’t have to worry about the content issues.  But wow that is a pricey spot.  It was doing really well early in the year, but now … well things are kinda quiet all over at the moment.

Which brings me to XStreetSL.com.  Has anyone noticed any changes lately in their sales (either up or down) at XStreet?  I’m hoping it means shoppers are finding me, snagging a SLURL and visiting in SL, there’s enough traffic to my products I suppose for that.  Do you find shoppers do that more often than buy on XStreet?

In the end, I have to put all those market locations in other Sims that I have into the marketing category, look at my sales per location, the amount of Lindens I pay each week and think to myself “is this making money?  is it breaking even? is it losing money?”  And act accordingly … it’s stinky for the market owners that all of us have to do that now-a-days, and more and more once thriving markets are now sitting around with vacant stalls and tumbleweeds as a result, but we each have to look to our own businesses or go out of business … right?

So, What about you?  Have you done the math lately?  What’s it telling you?

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SecondLife Adult Content Changes March 15, 2009

Posted by FilipaThespian in Economy, LL System Changes, Marketing, Sales, Traffic.
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So, it’s announced today by SL, that they’re going to be making some extensive changes to their rules about adult content, what is defined as adult content and how/where that content can be seen/accessed as well as how they’re going to verify age on accounts.  You can read that full blog article here: https://blogs.secondlife.com/community/community/blog/2009/03/12/upcoming-changes-for-adult-content.

So, I ask you … how do you see this affecting your business in SL?  I’ll add a pole, we’ll see what user’s say.

I had some conversation today with many Gorean merchants, most are saying things like “lets not panic, lets see where the chips fall,” or “it may not affect us at all really, or maybe only a little for a short time”.  I myself feel that in the end, it may just help us target our markets better, for those of us who have products or services in such communities and ultimately might help business … eventually.

It’s going to be a little confusing for a while.  For the next six weeks, Linden Labs is going to be talking to us, the residents.  They’re asking for our input and guidance so that they are sure they are doing the right thing.  They included in their blog, links to specific forum topics where they’re asking us all to put in our 2-cents.  I encourage everyone to do so.  This is our world, our community, if we don’t give our input, I suppose later on, we wont have the right to complain if we don’t like what came of it all.

So for now, I think panic is a mistake as for the next 2.5 months they’re just gathering input.  Then they’ll take some time to formulate a plan, document it and then serve it up to the community.  Only then can they begin to affect changes as they are discussing within their blog post.  Maybe we’ll begin to see something late this summer or in the fall … but for some of what they’re going to have to do, it might not even be till next year perhaps.  We shall see.

So, I call to everyone … get to the SL forum topics and tell LL what you think.  And … what do you think?  I welcome a sounding board here too if you want to firm up your thoughts before taking it to LL.


Will This Affect Your Biz? (polls)
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Traffic Alert… March 12, 2009

Posted by FilipaThespian in Marketing, Sales, Traffic.
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It’s on the tip of everyone’s tounges, in the forefront of their minds … how do I get my traffic rankings up?  Well, that’s an important question when you’re considering only how high you rank in SL search for your keywords.  But in the end, traffic only TRULY matters if they’re making a purchase and thus, you’re making money.

So, how does your “traffic” equate into your sales?  Do you know the percentage of your visitors that actually purchase?  How do you get them to your store?  How do you let them know that you exist?

Very pertinent questions and the answers are different for each type of business and potentially for any business even if in the same category of products.

STRAIGHT TRAFFIC STATS

Bots … Focusing first on the easy answer, sim/land traffic stats for the purposes of search listings.  What are some good ideas for this?  Some I myself have used in the past have included modeling bots but these can be tricky as they tend to make shoppers frustrated when they think the bot is a person and try to chat with them.  But, if you sell clothing, a modeling bot can be invaluable, especially if they automatically rotate the clothing they are wearing every so often.  This is what I used to do, or rather, how I used to use my bot software.

An actual visual display of your products can make such a huge difference over just showing a picture.  The added bonus is that with a single bot on your land, your traffic will stay within the 5,000 range no matter what.  Other visitors just make that go up from there.  the down side is how complicated it can be to set up.  It also eats up your bandwidth on your computer as it’s always running in the background.

Live People … Over the holidays, while we had our 1/4 sim, I created a holiday present hunt.  There were 16 presents hidden all over our land, inside the store, by products, under xmas trees, outside the store and so on … if it was our land, it was fair game.  I announced the hunt to the typical fashion groups and ZOMG … for the next 3-4 days, there were NEVER any fewer than 15 people on our land hunting for the presents.

Within an hour of the announcement they all started passing around the coordinates on notecards for the RiFi Present Hunt.  It was fabulous and sales really boomed through this time.

You can do a hunt for any reason, holidays, rez days, just because days.  Also look for the grid wide hunts to join, though I found it better for the business that the hunt was all on my property, helped traffic, kept people there looking around, the more people were there, the more other people wanted to come see why so many people were there, and so on.

TRAFFIC = SALES

More important though, I believe, is how do your traffic stats equate into sales?  These are the true power numbers you need to focus on.  How do you track it?  Visitor trackers can help with that, knowing who came and went from your store and when and comparing that to your sales logs.  You can get a ratio that way.  Then you can begin the wonderful game of trial and error.

Ok, example … say 15 people enter your store in a day and only 5 make purchases.  Why did the other 10 NOT?  What prompted the buying 5 to buy?  You can always ask them, that’s a nice thing, a live survey, but you really need to be prepared to give them a gift of something to say thank you.

So what can affect the sale or in this situation, lack of sale?  Store layout, product pricing, product selection, personal taste of the shopper, product quality (or perceived quality), Store aesthetics (i.e. the mood your store sets, this is beyond display layout), the shopper’s on a specific mission and couldn’t find it there at that time.  There are a lot of reasons.  You need to know why.

For product pricing, store layout, product quality and store aesthetics, you can readily do something about these, but do not endeavor to make huge changes all at the same time or you wont know what change you made affected your sales up or down.  Make small changes, see how they affect things, then look into other changes.

WHAT ABOUT YOU?

So, tell us, what do you do to impact traffic and how does your traffic impact your sales?

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“The economy sucks!” March 8, 2009

Posted by FilipaThespian in Economy, Pricing, Sales.
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It’s on everyone’s mind, but how do we work with what we have?

It’s no secret that the real world economy greatly affects Second Life economy. As a store owner, I myself have seen it. Last summer, people were buying like nuts. In the fall they were buying ok, over the holidays a little worse and since January, it’s just dead. Now I’m sure it’s not exactly like this for EVERYONE. I see a lot going on at the big SL businesses like JCNY … but then again, I see a lot of activity and much of it I think can be attributed to her weekly modeling contests, I don’t know how that’s translating into sales for JD Hansen, owner of JCNY. I would imagine they’re down for her as well.

So, what do we do? We all provide great products and services for the residents of Second Life and we’re all hurting from the cash crunch. How do we, in our own small way, help stimulate the economy wherever we can (i.e. for us, in Second Life) and hopefully not lose our land because we can’t make ends meet?

Well, some ideas are adjusting our pricing to fit more in tune with the economy. Eilithyia Illios, owner of Gorged, designers of Gorean clothing, accessories and furnishings, made this comment to me last night, “when I started my business here in SL, I wasn’t so worried about making money, it was just fun making things for others to enjoy. Then I had rent to pay on my space. But I decided to keep with the business model of BareRose … nothing is ever over L$200. I’ve had some success with that, monthly revenues in the five figures, even for February. People come in and they buy a lot, not just one item or none because the prices are just too high.”

This suggests to us that people are really knuckling under and want so much more for their money. They want to buy things they want or need, but when they can buy five silks for under L$1,000 as opposed to two or three for L$1,000 or more, they’re more likely to make more impulse purchases and in the end, your bottom line goes up. It seems this may be the magic impulse buy thresh-hold.

SO WHAT NOW …
Ok, so the economy is making the purse strings tight, but what about marketing and visibility, what’s everyone doing there. Some suggestions are joining the fashion groups that allow you to post ads to their members, another are blogs, posting on them on the net. What snazzy ideas do you have? Either comment here or contact me in SL (Filipa Thespian) and I’ll prep a new article on that topic alone with all the great ideas and suggestions from our readers!

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