Business, Marketing, Themes
comments 4

Commercial theme suppliers selling themselves short…

The backstory

This isn’t a legal article. It’s more about marketing. Let me tell the backstory.

I’ve been looking around for a particular type of WordPress theme for a specific purpose. It’s a niche kind of site and there aren’t many solid contenders. I’ve found one contender on ThemeForest and another on a commercial theme supplier’s own website. I’ve found it difficult to choose between them, despite their significant difference in price, because they both have their pros and cons.

But the main reason I’ve not chosen one over the other yet is because neither supplier is doing a sufficient job of marketing their product. I can see how your themes look and try out your demos, sure, and one of you has some moderately good documentation that’s accessible without purchasing the theme, but neither of you show enough detail as to what’s under the hood. In particular, you’re not showing potential customers the level of customisation available through the customizer or other theme options. Unlike some of your competitors who (in my view) have inferior offerings, you’re not showing screenshots of the customisation options available or otherwise describing them in sufficient detail. In addition, I don’t know whether your home page template files are widgetised and, because neither of you seems to be using a Visual Composer or Divi-style content block/modular approach, I can’t ascertain how easy it would be to customise the home page to my liking and requirements. Yes, I can make my own home page and make it look more or less how I want (e.g., by creating a new page template with widgetised areas or by using shortcodes or by using a page layout plugin) but if your home page templates already do the heavy lifting I don’t want to do that. So I need to know.

I can ask each of you questions via online forms (and I have) but, I suggest, I really shouldn’t have to do that and having to do so just delays and potentially frustrates a decision to purchase. Indeed, for both of your products, I’ve almost said “bugger it, I’ll go somewhere else”. The only reason I haven’t is due to the niche and quality nature of your offerings.

Giving customers what they need

I reckon potential customers should be able to look at what you’ve said online and determine, without a need for undue pondering, whether your product has what they need. I would probably have purchased one of your products over the weekend if you’d said enough in your marketing collateral to give me sufficient confidence, but neither of you have. If either of you had viable competitors that did provide this information, I would have opted for them.

Now, I’m only one person. I get that. So a missed sale to me is probably insignificant in the scheme of things. But what if I was the kind of person to start ranting online in a manner that named you (I’m not) or what if others have the same experience as me? In either case that could mean thousands or possibly tens of thousands of dollars of lost sales, even though your products seem to be well designed and probably what we’re after.

In the increasingly competitive commercial themes market these oversights seem, shall we say, less than prudent. I’m sure both the suppliers I’m looking at have invested substantial time and resources into their products but they’re letting themselves down with their execution.

Some great examples

If you’re not sure whether you’re giving customers what they need and keeping up with the competition, take a look at some theme shops that do it right. For a couple of great examples, take a look at Array Themes‘ documentation (e.g., the Baseline Help File) or Elmastudio‘s documentation (e.g., the Zuki documentation). Both companies have rightly invested substantial time and effort into their documentation and it makes a difference. When I purchased Zuki for this site, I remember being confident – from the documentation – that the theme did what I wanted. And I’ve purchased from Array Themes too. Both Array Themes and Elmastudio produce beautiful themes but they go the extra mile and produce great documentation as well. I wish the theme shops I’ve been looking at had done the same.

(Thanks to Lee Campbell for the photo used for this post, available on Unsplash. To avoid doubt, the website in the photo is not one of the ones I’ve been looking at.)

4 Comments

  1. Thanks for the mention, Richard. Great insight from the customer side here. I, too, struggle with the marketing aspect of my products. We all tend to think we’re doing ok on marketing until you see someone who is doing it right. The reason some themes sell thousands of copies per week isn’t necessarily because it’s a great theme. Good marketing can sell anything!

    I’ve been looking for a way to allow users to hop into the Customizer to click around and try out settings, but there aren’t any solutions out there that satisfy my requirements. (If you know of a solution, please share!) Screenshots at least give the user some understanding of what’s possible with customization, but it would be ideal for them to try it out for themselves.

  2. Richard Best says

    Thanks for your comments Mike. In the absence of being able to hop into the customizer, how about a quick video that shows all the options? The same can be achieved with screenshots but videos can help too. As you’ll know, some theme shops show videos in which they focus on major features but the videos show all the options, enabling potential purchasers to pause the video and take in the options on offer. As a customer, I’ve done this with theme shop videos many times. All the best.

  3. Hi Richard,

    Interesting to hear your feedback with regards to this.

    I’m not advertising the “Sandbox” mode for my “You Multipurpose Responsive Theme” at the moment. I did originally, but I’m undecided as to whether it’s a good thing or not.

    However, it’s exactly what you’re suggesting, see what you think of it here – http://you-sandbox.acoda.com/ – I’d be interested to see what your opinion is.

    Best regards!

  4. Richard Best says

    Thanks for your comment Andrew. Yep, I reckon that’s pretty helpful as I can see immediately what options are available in the customizer.

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