When product developers build this, they sell more (and it’s not features)

greater influenceImagine that you've built a new premium theme or plugin

You've set up a nice-looking website. And you've been working to convince someone at Post Status or WP Tavern to review it.

If this sounds familiar, then the next part may also sound familiar.

You publish your site and product and watch a few sales transactions happen – but nothing that you'd call home about. You watch site traffic and realize that it will be hard to make a killing on sales if visits stay anemic.

We're getting to the point where references to the movie Field of Dreams will no longer work – but in case we can squeeze it in one more time, you've experienced the “if you build it they will come” bust.

You built it. Too few came.

At the same time, another plugin developer – one you've heard of and consider to be an insider – releases a new premium plugin – and the crowds go wild. They show up, stand in line (virtually), and buy ALL THE THINGS.

Maybe you should build more features

You're default inclination is to review your product for deficiencies. This leads to a larger roadmap of required features and off you go coding more features into your plugin.

You then announce the new version and watch, hoping sales will rush in.

But they don't. More features didn't end up selling more product.

Or do more marketing analysis

You've read enough articles and seen enough speakers to assume that you're “customer development” was weak. You need a better “product/market fit.”

So you build a landing page – a better one. You use the coolest and latest tools, and integrate it with the most amazing metric analysis solutions.

And you put up a way to collect prospect info – either a simple email or as much as credit card info (which I don't recommend).

Now you can test ALL THE THINGS.

But here's the challenge – all your data isn't yet valid because you don't have enough of it yet. Changing pricing or text on the landing page would be cool and is completely possible with all the tools you're using.

But with such low volume of visitors, the data won't create statistically significant results.

And that's the heart of the whole challenge – low traffic means even lower conversions, which means even lower revenue.

And that's when a particular notion starts percolating inside…maybe it's not about features or marketing. Maybe you need to build something different….

Instead, build trust

The other day, at the core of my prediction about theme sales (and their future) was this notion of trust.

I could probably write tens of thousands of words on building trust, but the truth is, if you don't trust me to share with you my take, it would be a waste.

Trust is personal. Trust is relational. And building trust – especially with someone you haven't met – is hard work.

People talk about consistency. That's good. It's part of trust. But we have good friends that are flakes.

People talk about reliability. That's also good. It's part of it too. But I have great friends I won't ask to pick me up from the airport.

People talk about credibility. It's also great. Another component. But I have friends whose words I trust, even if they're not experts.

I think the key element that's missing when we talk about trust as consistency, reliability, or credibility is heart.

If you believe that building trust is relational and personal, then you know that to build trust you'll have to expose your heart a bit. You'll have to care. It will expose you to getting hurt.

You'll have to share your heart, not just expose it. Because people will want to know what motivates you to do what you do (trust me on this, it's the question I get most and have for over a decade).

But if you build trust, you'll create loyalty. And loyalty is powerful.

Because people who are loyal to you won't care if you make a mistake (as long as you recover – while sharing more of your heart).

People who are loyal will share with you all that interesting market analytics, because they trust you won't abuse it.

People who are loyal spend more. Share more. Give more. And tell others more.

So if you want product success, you're going to have to put a little bit of you into the mix. Expose your heart and build the trust that builds loyalty.

Trust me on this.

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Chris Lema
Chris Lema has been working with WordPress since 2005. Over the years he's been a blogger, a speaker at WordCamps, a coach for WordPress product companies, and the founder of the conference for WordPress business owners, called CaboPress. Today he's the VP of Products at Liquid Web, where he manages the world's first managed platform for WooCommerce stores.

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