Why It’s So Important To Give Good Directions

By | April 25, 2006

Edition #43 – 4/25/2006

As I spent last Sunday putting together a backyard swingset for our kids, I was reminded of why it’s so important to give good directions…


The instruction manual was decent, and at least it had pictures, but there were some steps that left me utterly confused after reading them.

There was one particular step which ended by saying, “Once the push-on cap has been put in place, it can not me removed.”


You would think that I would take heed and be absolutely certain I understood the instruction before proceeding. Well I thought I understood, but I was basing my action on the picture, which apparently was somewhat misleading.

I installed it in the wrong place! After having to intentionally break the irreversible bond, I managed to improvise a solution to fix my error, but it was a mistake that ended up costing me over half an hour of my time.

It got me thinking about how this lesson could be applied to my business.

Before long, I realized that I made a mistake before the recent launch of the Motivated Marketing System. The software is great, the marketing guide is excellent (at least I think so since I wrote it), but I didn’t spend enough time on the directions.

I know the program is easy to use, and there are plenty of testimonials to back me up, right? But what I was reminded of is this…

Just because something is easy for me–that doesn’t mean it’s easy for you.

Considering the huge volume of sales we’ve made in the last week, there have been relatively few support issues. However, after checking the helpdesk I realized that even most of the requests we were getting could have been avoided.

They could have been avoided if I had given better instructions.

For example, I know how to create a MySQL database, but that doesn’t mean everyone who joins the program is going to know how to do it. So instead of saying “create a MySQL database”, I should have explained step-by-step how to do it, and better yet I should have shown how to do it by using pictures, videos and all the great tools we have available these days.

So one of my goals this week is to create a better installation guide for the program, and begin to create video tutorials for each step (for those of you who are members, you’ll receive them in an update).

How can you apply the lesson of my mistake to your own business?

Give good, clear directions–for everything! SHOW them how to do it whenever possible. Don’t ASSUME that anyone knows how to do anything. This includes things like placing an order, or downloading a product.

This is especially true if you are selling to a niche outside the internet marketer realm. For example, if you’re selling an ebook about gardening, you can’t expect your gardener customers to know how to download and unzip a file. It’s easy to overlook those things when you’ve done them a million times and they’ve become second nature.

Sure you’ll offend a few “smarty pants” people when you “dumb down” your directions, but the complaints will be far fewer than if it was the other way around. For example I’ve received a couple of complaints that my How to Sell Hosting ebook seems like it is written for 6th graders. Apparently those readers were looking for something more sophisticated.

However, for each of those complaints I guarantee there were a hundred people I never heard from who were happy that they could actually UNDERSTAND the content of the book.

Giving good directions helps ensure the following…

  • Your customer will be more likely to USE the product
  • They will be more likely to benefit from it’s VALUE
  • You will have fewer support requests
  • You will have fewer refund requests
  • You’ll maintain a better reputation as a seller

    As I learned from the swingset, all it takes is ONE bad direction to create a negative experience for a customer.

    So on that note, I’m off to go enlighten some confused customers and create tutorials to avoid future confusion!

    As always you can leave comments here in the blog entry.

    Have a great day!

  • 12 thoughts on “Why It’s So Important To Give Good Directions

    1. Linda Davenport

      Hallelujah! Now I can stop bumping my head against this wall. Thank you so much and please assume we know nothing. I jumped at this product when I saw it, but I had know idea what I was really getting myself into. Once again, thanks for having the insight to give us instructions even if it was hindsight. In the end it should all be 20/20.

    2. Charlie

      Hi, Eric~

      Just read your email on this subject, and I must agree with everything you said. I oft-times get sotware such as MM and struggle for days with it, and I realize that the author figures you know as much as they do. This is so not true.

      I do however, see a real problem in this area – I am an intermediate marketer who is doing fairly well, and have no need for simple instructions on a lot of things. I admit I sometimes get a bit perturbed when people “dummy down” the instructions and make a very long read of it. At my age, time is very precious. But I understand the need to do this. It is a humbling experience…

      Perhaps a solution is as you propose – videos, but done in segments, so that those who need the real basics can understand, and those of us who don’t can move to a higher set of videos to learn what we need to know. I realize that this could be time consuming on your part. But also realize that it is very good customer service – something I fail to see often in this time frame. Hence, my company is based on customer service. I have less customers, but they are REPEAT customers, and always give me good feedback.

      Food for thought?



    3. Tim B. Miller

      Hi Eric,

      Thank you, Thank you! I was justing getting ready to ask you if you could help with installing
      this program. I have learn a lot from your one email. I will never ever forget it and will be applying
      it to my own business. Look forward to getting your instructional videos and guidance:-) I know it
      will help many of your customers. Thanks again!

    4. Ben

      Although I am under no doubt that Eric’s instructional videos will be far better than mine because he is the creator of the product, if you would like to see the affiliate video that I made on how I set up products for the software then you may click on my name.
      Thanks Eric for a great product at a value price,
      Ben Shaffer

    5. Juzaily Ramli

      Hi Eric,

      Thank you for putting yourself in newbie’s shoes and thinking like a customer. Not a lot of people do that nowadays. There I was thinking that I just wasted another $67. Thanks a lot.

      Juzaily Ramli.

      PS: I just updated my “cool book” and your name is in the list now. 😉

    6. Bill Watkins

      I have no web site because I have never found enough down to earth information on how to build one from scratch or how to upload and manage one. I thought no one ever gave out that secret information so for the last six months I have been stumbling around trying to figure it all out. My time is very limited because of the hours I have to work 7 days a week14 hours each day.. BUT I am determined to get something going on the internet.
      I really do enjoy your letters and the way you tell it like it is.
      Bill Watkins
      Making It Easy.

    7. Barbara King

      I would like printed documentation on the meat of the program like setting up the One Time Offer. I’m on dialup and my phone lines drop…can’t watch the videos unless you make them so we can download them to our desktop and watch them without being connected to the internet. Also, would like them in small detailed segments, so we don’t have to read thru what we have already finished doing.

      Barbara King

    8. Eric Post author

      Barbara – We will be increasing the printed documentation, but also I WILL be making the videos so you can download them to your PC and watch them without being connected to the internet.


    9. Ed

      Hi Eric,
      I was thrilled to get such great software at a really good price, (I got in at the beginning), but I never did get everything figured out so I was waiting for the videos, especially for the database setup.
      Now I have another problem, I can’t remember my username and password, and without the username, I can’t use the help desk to retrieve them. As you guys don’t accept email contact anymore I would have been totally locked out without being able to use your blog to make contact. That scares me!
      Please let me have my access info so I can get at the videos in the forum and get set up.
      Thanks again for a fantastic program at a reasonable price. Ed

    10. Eric Post author

      Hey Ed,

      You can register a new account at the forum by clicking the “Register” link at the top.

      At the helpdesk you can submit a ticket by clicking the “Log New Ticket” link at the top. The helpdesk is really more reliable than email these days, because so many people have problems receiving emails.


    11. Eric Alexander


      Well, there are different levels of IMs and the ones who need the most help are the newbies. So I think Barbara is doing a good job in promoting these “How To” videos for us
      poor newbies.
      Eric (another one)

    12. Michiel

      I share your sentiments Eric. There are a great too many websites that are just plain confusing. Some do have the instructions, but you are required to be able to navigate a maze in the dark in order to find where they are. It is so easy to lose a potential customer this way. Also, having clearly stated instructions or FAQs keep site visitors on your website longer, which by itself, is already a merit on its own.


    Leave a Reply

    Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

    The maximum upload file size: 50 MB. You can upload: image, audio, video. Links to YouTube, Facebook, Twitter and other services inserted in the comment text will be automatically embedded. Drop file here