I did a teardown of my Marmitey site

What do you call a teardown of your own stuff? Auto-teardown? Self-dismantling?

Teardowns are a fun format, but they miss something. They’re reviewed by a critic who’s probably not the target user.

Do I trust the Guardian’s reviews of the Fast and Furious franchise? No, I want to hear it from the mouth of someone with Vin Diesel tattooed on their skull.

It would also be good to hear from the person who made the thing, no? As long as they’re honest about how it went.

So that’s what this is. An honest self-teardown.

What happened

I’m a growth-focused content marketer that made a personal site that’s part choose-your-adventure video game, pre-qualification contact form.

Have a play: www.alanwanders.com

Why I made it

Here’s the short answer:

I wanted to create a piece of content that would entertain my target audience of London-based B2B tech start-up founders.

I also wanted to stand out. Saying ‘I do content marketing differently’ would make me the same as everyone else. Showing it would be hard to argue with.

Came up with some bad agency straplines. Please help yourself.

Here’s the long answer:

You can do anything on the internet

A Wix site would have felt like a missed opportunity. I’m a content marketer so I wanted to create something really different. If people liked it, they might like to work with me.

I wanted to test a theory

UX, UI, SEO, AOA (And Other Acronyms) incentivise us to build easy-to-use sites. But they also mean most sites look the same, which is a bit dull. If I ignored all that stuff and focused on long-form creative, what would win, curiosity or frustration?

I wanted to show my strategy

Marketing got much easier the day I learned campaign ideas were going to come from my customer’s head, not mine. I knew my target market (London-based tech founders) were into video games, so I tried to build one.

I wanted to try something out

My time is limited as a freelancer, so I don’t need to drive loads of leads to my own business. I can try stuff out instead and try to land that perfect client.

I wanted to waste people’s time

B2B marketing’s focus on info sharing means it’s often boring. You couldn’t show it to your child and say — isn’t this cool? I wanted people to switch from ‘I am being told something’ mode to ‘I am being entertained’ mode.

I wanted to win a new client

I had one day / week free so it was time to put myself out there again.

How I made it

The whole shebang cost £540 to build. Most of that went to the developer, the rest went on the domain and hosting. The build plan looked a bit like this:

  1. Wrote the story on Notion
  2. Built the story flow in Miro, mapping out each of the different pathways
  3. Used an image-to-ASCII converter to turn large format stock images into graphics
  4. Modified these in Figma and added little splashes of colour
  5. Added the copy to these wireframes in Duck Hunt and Pokemon rip fonts I found online
  6. Asked some friends what they thought and made selective edits
  7. Gave all of this to the developer to put live as a from-scratch build
  8. Asked some friends what they thought again and made some more edits
  9. Created a jammy mobile site at last minute

How I promoted it

I put together a lightweight promotion plan I could do in a day. That looked like this:

  1. I posted it on Linkedin to let people know I HAD ARRIVED.
  2. Sent an email to those who influenced my thinking on marketing most. Those people are Louis Grenier, Seth Godin, Katelyn Bourgoin, Joe Glover, Rory Sutherland, Julian Shapiro.
  3. I pushed a Linkedin ad live that targeted all employees at Harry Dry’s Marketing Examples (Harry and someone else), and all Wedding DJs from Scotland and Wales (to help make the numbers).

How it went down: The Good

The Emails

I only sent six emails, but I really spent my time on them. People clocked it, because I got five responses out of six. Not too bad. Some highlights below.

Louis Grenier — God bless Louis Grenier (that’s Lewis Attic in English) He immediately shared the below post with a screenshot of my email. This drove the most traffic to the site and created the biggest buzz. Thank you Louis.

Seth Godin — Seth emailed me back to say he thought the site was smart. I asked him if I could share a screenshot of his feedback but no dice. In fairness I would have really gone to town with that screenshot.

Rory Sutherland — I guessed his email address and an email was sent to some Rory somewhere, but I got no response. No hard feelings, Rory. I wouldn’t have responded to an email I maybe didn’t receive either. (Maybe he hated it.)

The Traffic

Not too shabby. 500 people visited the site within 5 days. From those people 12 got in touch, and 3 were leads.

Basically everyone came through Louis’ post, some others came from my post, and some others came from my post too.

Contact rate of 2.4% seems pretty low though? I’ll go through that later.

The Marmite Feedback

A lot of the feedback I got included the word ‘Marmite’, either from people who:

  • Liked Marmite, didn’t like site, thought it would split opinion
  • Didn’t like Marmite, liked the site, thought it would split opinion
  • Liked Marmite, liked the site, thought it would split opinion
  • Didn’t like Marmite, didn’t like the site, thought it would split opinion.

Personally I like Marmite but I prefer Vegemite because it’s easier to spread and a bit saltier. Might edit this out later.

Thing is, even if you don’t like Marmite, it’s hard to not enjoy having an opinion about it. Compare that to a blog post someone’s promoting on Linkedin about how an update to their software now enables users to… continue to scroll, yawn, scratch.

So getting people to care — even just a bit — is a win. My ex-boss told me:

“Liked the mobile site, don’t really like the desktop site tbh. Think it’s like Marmite, people will either love it or hate it. Just not for me.”

My brother said:

“The way it’s done is really strange, the language is weird. It’s Marmite. People will either love it or hate it.”

But — as is the case with most stuff — people generally keep quiet if they don’t like something, because they’re nice. So the positive comments on Louis’ post were probably not a fair representation of the opaque Marmitey consensus.

How it went down: The erm, constructive

The Mobile Site

Look at my mobile site.

I thought it was funny to pretend the old-school game would only work with a desktop. I thought it would be Marmite. And although some people liked it, I think it bordered on Smarmite.

Smarmite: def./ something that sets out to split the pack but ends up annoying more than 70%.

The issue was that most people visited the site for the first time via mobile, and most of those people never came back. It was a missed opportunity. The site could have worked fabulously on mobile, I just didn’t commit.

In case you were having trouble visualising what Marmite would look like with an S at the front.

Real-world Application

I talked a lot about how I thought Wix sites were boring, but did I come up with a good alternative? Nope.

The two case studies I usually use to sell to clients are buried 10 clicks in. That’s if they land straight on desktop. And if my site doesn’t bounce them for choosing the wrong answer.

I wanted to know whether clients would fall for the creative format before they read about my value. Only 42 people made it this far.

Depending on where you click, you reach one of these two testimonials.

This isn’t such a surprise. I’ve built a few user-friendly sites and I knew mine was anything but. I just wanted more people to strap in for the full ride!

My Linkedin post

My Linkedin post didn’t do great. I don’t have a big audience and I don’t post regularly, so that’s kind of to be expected, but stuff I’ve posted before has done better.

I think this is an important point. If you’re not sure how you feel about something, you’re less likely to engage. Which means other people aren’t going to be influenced by seeing others engage.

Which disincentivises trying new stuff, and incentivises you doing tried-and-tested like-magnets such as adopting a puppy, having a baby, proposing to your gf/bf or getting a new job.

Any broader reflections?

Yes, three.

Influencers influence people

Deep, man. If Louis ‘Radical Differentiation’ Grenier hadn’t posted about the site, I would have had to put much more time into promoting it to get to the same level of impact. I may never have got there.

But Louis liked it, so I felt more comfortable liking it too. And because I feel rewarded, I’m probably going to do more stuff like this. It’s easy to see how building an audience around a certain thing (like being really different) can snowball into more of exactly that thing.

Target your key buyer based on who they really are

Your target buyers are bored of being targeted by their job title. Their job is just one aspect of their varied, rich life (excluding accountants (joking)).

Instead focus on things your buyer is interested in that have nothing to do with their job title. What was going on when they were a teenager? What sport do they play at weekends?

The more specific you are here, the more they will care about you.

Everything you say I am, that’s what I am

I’m an introvert, so it felt strange to put out something like this. But I also like to entertain, so I did it anyway.

To me, being introverted means being too concerned about the version of yourself that appears in other people’s heads. That can be really unhelpful when you’re trying to do something new.

All versions of yourself are probably a bit true, so let them do their thing.

Loose ends

I still need to find out whether Harry Dry saw this Linkedin ad. Will add any updates here.

Stay in touch

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