How the 80/20 Principle Cost Me Over $100,000 This Year

By Sean Ogle •  Updated: 12/17/12 •  8 min read

Dane: Ok, so you want to update your marketing.  Let’s start with the basics, what’s your conversion rate?

Me: Good question. I have no idea.

Dane: What do you mean you have no idea?

Me: I always ran into a technical issue every time I tried to set it up, so I haven’t done any split testing or conversion tracking

Dane: And how long have you had this site?

Me: About a year and a half.

Dane: Shit. I have a moral obligation to help you set this up.

This conversation took place this past weekend when I was getting business advice from my buddy Dane Maxwell.

I was going over my plans to *finally* update the marketing for Location Rebel.

You see, I set it up over a year and a half ago when I didn’t really know what I was doing.

Updating it has been on my to do list for over a year now, but it was always such a daunting task that I figured “why fix what isn’t that broken.”

Worst. Mentality. Ever.

This story is the perfect way to illustrate how the 80/20 principle has cost me over a hundred grand this year.

The Set It and Forget it Myth 

By now you’ve undoubtedly heard of the Pareto Principle which states that “80% of the causes come from 20% of the effects “.

I’ve always been firm believer of this.

If 80% of the sales or value of a product is going to come from 20% of the work, then it’s better to just launch it and get most of the benefit, as opposed to spending weeks, or months getting everything perfect. Right?

This is great in theory, however in order for it to work properly, you have to focus on the right 20%!

Over the last few weeks as I do every December, I review my highs and lows of the year, and get a plan together to make sure I don’t make the same mistakes in the new year.

Well this go around, I found some MASSIVE, GAPING HOLES in my business.  Holes that cost me a ton of money.

I’ve found that often the things that are easiest to do, are not the ones you should be focusing on when you’re going the 80/20 route.

Location Rebel is the perfect example of this.

For the last year I’ve been adding to the blueprints, refining the content, chatting in the forums – all things that are great for the existing members, and stuff I should be doing regardless – however, it’s the wrong 20% to be focusing on if I’m looking to maximize sales and income.

Since the inception of the site I haven’t changed a single aspect of the site’s marketing.

I haven’t tested any headline or copy changes, I haven’t tried paid advertising, I haven’t tried different opt-in offers or to professionalize the look and feel of the site.

THIS is the stuff that’s going to make an impact.

I made dozens of sales of the program when it was in it’s first stage – 8 blueprints, few extras.  Now we have going on 13 blueprints and a TON of extra content.

Obviously, I don’t need all of this extra stuff to get people to buy.

The course has more than enough content, and it’s easily one of the best values out there in this space.

The problem is it’s easier to build new content or modules, and logically, it makes sense. More is better, right?

The reality is that all of these updates do very little to encourage sales.  People love it when they’re inside, but these generally aren’t the things that sway a buyer.

I was focused on the wrong 20%.

I should have been testing and optimzing the marketing, not the product itself.

Even minor tweaks have the chance of doubling my conversion rate, and thus doubling my sales and income from this site alone.

The Worst Services Page Evah

The Location Rebel marketing isn’t the only thing I neglected this year.

When I relaunched Location 180 in June of 2011 I overhauled the About page and added a new services page.

In order to get everything done in time for the launch I threw the pages up in a couple hours and swore I’d come back to them to refine.

Well here I am coming back to them, 18 months later. Not cool.

These days I don’t feel like the About page is as engaging as it should be, and it isn’t as good of a representation of my site and business as I feel like it should be.

Had I spent more time really trying to appeal to you, the reader, as opposed to talking about myself over and over, I think long term engagement would be higher, and traffic would increase dramatically as a result.

An even bigger issue however is the Services page.  Apart from being the most vague services page ever, it details that I offer two types of services: SEO and Lifestyle Business Consulting.

The reality?

For the most part, I don’t do either of those things these days.

It’s taken me three years, but I’ve really hit my stride with the consulting space.

My business partner Derek and I work with people who have very successful offline businesses, and make them successful online.  We charge a lot of money and have some killer case studies, but it doesn’t say anything about that on this site.

The vast majority of my clients I’ve met in offline arenas – imagine if I’d actually had a page that portrayed what we do in an engaging manner?

We’re talking thousands of dollars in increased revenue.

However, once again, because I wasn’t focused on the right 20%, I’ve missed out.

The Difference Between Year One and Year Three

One thing I’ve learned while thinking about this is that there are very fundamental differences for a business in year one vs one one year three or later.

When you’re first getting setup you can 80/20 the hell out of everything, because you’re starting with nothing.

It doesn’t really matter where you spend your energy, because you’re starting nothing – no matter what you’ll make quick progress.

I took this mentality, and was able to get a lot of content out, create some fun side businesses, and in less than a year from leaving my job, make a livable wage – even if my business wasn’t anywhere close to as optimized as it could have been.

However, once you hit year three – you have to be more selective with your time.  If you’re continuing with this mentality, you have to make sure you’re focusing on the right aspects of your business – or else you’ll face stagnation.

There comes a time when it’s absolutely essential to start focusing on the right details.

This is difficult for me personally as the nitty, gritty details are not necessarily one of my strong suits.  Generally the 20% you need to focus on is not necessarily the easy thing to focus on.

It’s much easier to write a blog post or create a new module for LR, than it is to build a marketing funnel.

This last week in Breckenridge helped me come to some very life changing realizations.

I’m much farther along than I think. I’m more successful than I realize.  I just haven’t capitalized on it.

I haven’t spent the time and mental energy to get to 100%.

Once I hit that, there’s no telling what can happen.

What This Means for You

I’m excited, no really excited, about 2013.

I’ve finally made the mindset shift necessary to take things to the next level.

It’s been a gradual evolution that is still in the works, but it’s one I truly feel is making this a stronger, more useful business.

The posts from the last couple months may be a little more infrequent, but the content is also much more actionable (usually) than some of the stuff in the past.

You’ll be seeing a greater sense of professionalism in all of my products. An increased dedication to helping you achieve your lifestyle goals, as well as more targeted focus.

I’ve been pretty broad with my target audience – to my detriment.  This site isn’t for just anyone. It’s for people that refuse to settle for alright, or ok.  It’s for people that want full control over their life. And it’s definitely for people who want to experience this control and freedom through their own online business.

2013 will see us focusing much more on this target person and having a hell of a lot of fun in the process.

With that, consider what you’ve been leaving on the table.  Are there aspects of your life you’ve been 80/20ing that are keeping you from the success you know you deserve?

If you’re comfortable with it, I’d love to hear about your struggles with this.  Shoot me an email or leave a comment below!

Sean Ogle

Sean Ogle is the Founder of Location Rebel where he has spent the last 12+ years teaching people how to build online businesses that give them the freedom to do more of the things they like to do in life. When he's not in the coffee shops of Portland, or the beaches of Bali, he's probably sneaking into some other high-class establishment where he most certainly doesn't belong.
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