My Competitor is Winning. My Competitor is Me.

In the late 1990s, I setup the ResourcesForLife.com website as a place for all my interests and business endeavors. The idea was to create a destination with many attractions, similar to a shopping mall or vacation destination. People would arrive at the site for tech support, but also learn about tiny houses, and see some of my photography or listen to my music.

That approach has generally worked over the years, and the site has seen about 4 million visitors. However, those looking for tech support in Iowa City will not be searching Google or Bing on the words “resources for life” but instead they will be searching for something like “Iowa City tech support” or “Iowa City Computer Support.”

About ten years ago, I decided to setup two additional websites. One site is IowaCityTechnologyServices.com and the other is IowaCityComputerSupport.com.

I put most of my effort into developing the Iowa City Technology Services website, given that the term technology services would seem more inclusive of laptop computers, mobile technology, and support for other electronic devices. The idea of Computer Support seemed antiquated to me and unlikely to generate much interest, but I thought it would help to have it out there.

Today, if you search Google for “Iowa City tech support” my two websites are in the top 5 non paid organic listings of 47 million results. Among the Google business listings, Iowa City Computer Support shows up first in the results.

Ultimately, in this competition between me and myself, running two identical businesses, with the same services, and the same tech person, with the same rates, one of them has significantly pulled out into the lead. The only difference is the website name. It is the Computer Support website that has succeeded greatest. This taught me that one can never fully predict or determine the outcome regardless of how much effort we put in.

why You Need Three Websites

When I’m helping someone get started online with a web presence, I always say that a person needs at least three websites:

  1. Your Name. In the word of mouth and ‘word of mouse’ manner that business awareness spreads, people may sometimes search directly for your business by your name and not the business name. They will search for “Iowa City Greg Johnson computer support” or just search for “Greg Johnson Iowa City.” Many people I work with don’t know the name of my business. They tell their friends, “You should call Greg Johnson.” So, there is always a need for people to have a website under their own name to make it easy to be found. That personal website need not be complicated. It can have just a few buttons for destinations of interest. It’s a way to be found.
  2. Your Business Name. It’s nice to have a catchy and fun business name. Many businesses have names that consist of words previously not found in a dictionary. Others have names that make it impossible to know what the business is really about unless you already know what the business does. We all imagine that we will take our ‘baby’ as a business and brand to the level of public awareness that one day everyone will recognized Droxler Industries as a household name synonymous with whatever it is the business does. “Google did it. So can I!” is the thinking. Having a catching business name is just part of the success puzzle, but not all of it.
  3. What You Do. Perhaps more important than having your name or your business name as a dot com website will be to have a brief description of what you do as a dot com website (or two). You want to ensure that when people do a search on your service, that you have a website named as what they searched on dot com. That would hopefully get you higher in the search results.

Three Rules of Success

Having a few websites is just the start. Here are three aspects of fostering success.

  1. Content Matters. Having a genuine website with genuine unique written content and photos makes a big difference.
  2. The Dot Com Difference. The most recognizable website extension is .com and it’s the one people may ‘remember’ when they are typing in a website address. So, if you have a .biz or .info or .us extension on your website, a person looking for the site may by habit type in the .com extension instead. It is similar to toll free numbers beginning in 1-800. That’s the prefix we remember for toll free numbers even though 877 and other prefixes have been used in recent years. So, I always advise people to have a .com version of the website name they want whenever possible.
  3. Connecting. The real-world meaningful connections we make, and the successes we have in helping others, that’s the soil that our business grows in. The websites and online presence is just an ornament or decorative gift wrapping paper to the core of who we are and what we do.

Conclusion

What I offer above are not answers, but questions that will point you to your own answers. My experience of establishing two seemingly identical businesses and seeing one succeed was a reminder to me about the unpredictable nature of business success. The experience reinforced my desire to have diversity in my business, and to have multiple businesses.

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[Photo Credit: The photo at the top of this page is one I took on 28 Mar 2020. I colorized it slightly.]

@BEVEL and the ‘Slow Shave Movement’

As a technologist, I’m always looking for ways to do things faster. For this reason, it’s been hard for me to embrace the Slow Movement (until recently).

My long-time approach to shaving has been to go as fast as possible, using a disposable razor and a can of cheap shaving cream. Other than razor burn, cuts, and dry irritated skin, I felt I’d achieve the optimal shaving experience. I didn’t imagine there could be anything better.

I recently purchased the Bevel shaving system. It’s a high quality kit that comes with a razor, extra blades, brush, priming oil, shave cream, and soothing aftershave lotion. The Bevel shaving experience is definitely more comfortable, and surprisingly, it only takes a few minutes longer than my old less effective and more painful shaving experience.

With Bevel, I discovered the essential missing ingredients to my old fast shave method. The priming oil includes natural emollients (some organically derived) that help soften hair and enrich the skin. The shaving cream contains similar ingredients that are complementary to the oil and aid the shaving process. The soothing aftershave cream moisturizes and protects. The result is a closer and more comfortable shave. The fragrances of essential oils and natural ingredients help enhance the relaxing, invigorating, and grounding experience.

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Using the high quality Bevel shaver and products to experience a slower shave, has really caused me to reflect on other areas of life where I’d been moving too quickly to enjoy living. Always racing through life in a rush to get to what’s next results in missing a lot along the way (see the movie Click for a great example of this).

Slowing down, enjoying the process of whatever we’re doing, and using high quality products can be a real life changer.

The Slow Movement is summarized as:

“A cultural revolution against the notion that faster is always better. The Slow philosophy is not about doing everything at a snail’s pace. It’s about seeking to do everything at the right speed. Savoring the hours and minutes rather than just counting them. Doing everything as well as possible, instead of as fast as possible. It’s about quality over quantity in everything from work to food to parenting.” (source)

Bevel has really helped me appreciate and embrace the Slow Movement. I wouldn’t have thought such a simple product could change my approach to life, but it has. The Bevel system has inspired a Slow Shave Movement among their many satisfied customers.

If you think you’re ready for a better more enjoyable shaving experience, click the link below to learn more and get started.

https://getbevel.com/invite/resourcesforlife

 

@BEVEL – A New Tradition in Shaving

I first learned about Bevel in early 2015 from their advertising on Facebook. My initial experience with the company was as an enthusiastic follower of their BevelCode.com blog — reposting and promoting their stories. Their website, articles, and photography are exceptional. I especially like the Bevel interviews. I’d not used their shaving system, but found the design of the razor and products visually exquisite.

Last week, on Monday, I ordered their shaving kit. They were having a special offer that included the kit with one month of supplies for free. You can get the same offer here:

https://getbevel.com/invite/resourcesforlife

Within two days, my shaving kit arrived. I was really surprised by the fast delivery. The quality of the kit is something you’d expect to see in a luxury department store or in-flight-magazine for $150. So, for the initial cost of about $7 in shipping, I was really impressed. It was in a premium gift box wrapped in Walker & Co. gift tissue paper. There was a card with a note from Tristan Walker that seemed to have been signed by him with pen — at least the ink strokes didn’t look printed. (See below where Tristan Tweeted a response to this article and confirmed the cards are signed by him.)

Tristan Walker, the founder of Bevel, is the inspiring young entrepreneur behind Walker & Company Brands. Two days ago, in an interview with USA Today, Tristan talked about how he was recently able to raise $24 million in venture capital from angel investors, and he also got Target to agree to start selling his product line in their stores. For a 2-year-old company and young business man, this is quite an accomplishment.

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Impressions

Here are some initial impressions about the product and company.

  • Customer Rewards. Bevel recently launched a customer rewards program. It’s based on customers telling customers. When you signup with Bevel, you’ll get a website link to share with friends. When they signup, they will get a month of products free, and you’ll get rewarded as well.
  • Customer Service. I’ve contacted Bevel customer service and promptly received very helpful and supportive responses. They use Zendesk.com as the platform for their customer service. This is another example of how they are doing everything with excellence and following best practices.
  • Disposable Culture. We live in a culture where just about everything is meant to be thrown away. It’s assumed that products will break or wear out and be replaced by new ones. Perhaps a new product design makes the old one obsolete. The Bevel shaver disrupts this trend. It’s an exceptionally designed heirloom-quality product that could easily be handed down from one generation to the next. This is an aspect of using their products that causes a person to take pause and reflect. Should our things (and our life experiences) be of solid, durable, and enduring quality? It’s hard not to begin thinking that this is the way life is supposed to be — of enduring quality.
  • New Experience. I’ve never really looked forward to shaving. I never gave it much thought. It’s something I would do quickly in the morning so I can get on with my day. The Bevel shaving system creates an experience that’s meant to be enjoyed. Now I look forward to shaving, and take my time. With Bevel, it’s a relaxing and grounding part of my morning routine.
    1. Priming Oil. The priming oil feels soothing on the skin and has a subtle fragrance that reminds me of the oil used in barber shops 50 years ago. You can feel your skin and stubble soften when applying the oil.
    2. Shaving Brush. When you wet the badger bristle brush, it smells like a wet badger — very wild and outdoorsy. The smell isn’t so strong after the first week.
    3. Shaving Cream. Mixed with the shaving cream, the brush does an excellent job of preparing for a close shave. A small amount of the shaving cream makes a very nice lather.
    4. Shaver Safety Razor. I was nervous about scraping a sharp blade against my skin, but amazingly it felt better than any other razor I’d ever used.
    5. Restoring Balm. After shaving, the restoring balm (lotion) helps sooth the skin. It has a faint menthol fragrance.
  • Of the Future – From the Past. The shaver is one of the nicest I’ve ever seen. It has a futuristic high-tech design and feel, yet it’s drawing from an old tradition of razor design. In the old design of safety razor, the metal handles are typically cross hatched and rough which is supposed to make them easier to grip when wet. The Bevel somehow manages to have reassuring gripability while at the same time being smooth. You’ll be impressed with how water beads up and flows off the handle and razor head. It reminds me of the super-hydrophobic laser developed metals developed at Rochester University.
  • Patent Wars. I was fascinating to learn that Bevel was founded in part as a response to patent issues that were creating poorer and poorer shaving products over time. After the traditional safety razor patent expired, the market became saturated. Companies looked for greater profits by making new patented razor designs. Marketing helped promote these new designs, even though they don’t necessarily work as well. You can read more on the GetBevel.com website.
  • Photography. As a photographer, I’ve been really impressed with the product photos, portraits, and other photography used on the Bevel websites (product site and magazine site).
  • Positive Portrayals for People of Color. Popular media and news networks propagate an inaccurate and derogatory portrayal of black men through images that are disproportionately negative. The marketing done by Bevel reinforces positive portrayals of black men that help counteract the negativity in the media. I think this is really important.
  • Product Design. The Bevel product packaging has a texture/touch that comes from a unique matt finish. The colors are soothing, soft, strong, clarifying, and grounding. The fonts used are elegant and precise. Overall — impressive.
  • Sustainable. By using a permanent metal shaver with steel recyclable blades, the Bevel system is one of the most sustainable shavers available today.

Practical Inspiration

Bevel is doing some really inspiring and innovative work with product design, customer service, marketing, social media, photography, content writing, website design, promotions, and community engagement.

If you’re involved in any of these areas, you should checkout their products and company. Every facet of their products and service is exceptional. By interacting with the company, and using the products, one learns to internalize best practices.

If you decide to purchase some of their products, feel free to use my referral code for a great discount:

https://getbevel.com/invite/resourcesforlife

Values

The Walker & Co. values are an encouraging departure from business as usual:

  • COURAGE. Our vision requires the courage and conviction to believe that we will build a great company that changes the world.
  • INSPIRATION. Inspiration is in the soul of everything we make and sell. A laser focus and attention to craft, to detail, to colors, to ingredients, to experience. Our success requires it.
  • RESPECT. Our community requires and deserves our respect. They’re the reason we can be inspired and excited to come to work every single day.
  • JUDGMENT. We are our brands. We are responsible for every single action we take, everything we deliver to consumers’ homes and every single interaction they have with us.
  • WELLNESS. We eat well, we sleep well, we keep fit and we care to help and support each other and our families.
  • LOYALTY. We are loyal to a great workplace and team. We are committed to building a great, lasting company for the long term. We’re playing to win and will give it the effort and focus it deserves.

Nice Note from Tristan Walker

Minutes after this article was posted, I got a nice note on Twitter from Tristan Walker (see below) in which he confirmed that those cards in the gift boxes are actually signed by him.

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Page Visits

Thanks to everyone who has read and shared this article. The map below shows recent page visitors.

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