WordPress Theme Vendors: Sell the right stuff


I've been writing a series on WordPress themes

If you've been following along, I've been walking thru a series of posts related to WordPress themes (from a business perspective).

Given those posts, it makes sense (at least to me) to look at the situation from those who are selling themes. That's what I'm looking to do here.

Let's go back in time…

I want to take you to a time that many of you may not have ever experienced. Some of you may have, but barely remember it, or choose not to remember it.

Back in the nineties, software was sold in a very different way. This was back before Google. Back before SEO. Back before content marketing.

In fact, in those days, there was an international conference, COMDEX, in Las Vegas, where thousands of people would show up and walk the exhibit halls to see new releases of hardware and software.

Can you imagine it? Yearly release cycles? Think of all the time to test things!

Additionally, trade magazines would write articles and announce software to the world. Yes, people read magazines to figure out what was available and worth pursuing.

But my point, when I say “software was sold in a very different way” isn't really just about a yearly trade show. My point is actually about trust, reassurance, familiarity, and support.

You see, when you walk an exhibit hall, and see that IBM, Microsoft, Adobe or others have booths that are six times the size of other booths, you know they're making a serious investment. And that leads you to feel reassured that they'll be around to support you next month (or year).

And when you see them year after year, you get familiar with their brands and start to trust their commitment to you.

Let's head to the corner store…

When I was a kid growing up in Southern California, we had a corner store that was actually around the corner and over the freeway overpass. But it was our corner store. It was always there. Always open. Always manned by the same folks (must have been family owned).

And as I got older, I would stop there on my skateboard, bike and eventually car.

They knew me there. And I knew them.

One time I bought stuff and didn't have enough money. Their response? Come back and give it to us later.

Because we knew each other. They trusted me. And I trusted them.

You can guess what I'm going to observe here, right?

They were familiar, supportive, trustworthy and I was constantly reassured they'd be there.

Snake Oil Salesman

There are tons of folks that sell WordPress themes focused on features. 

They write their marketing copy with a focus on all those features that they've jammed into their themes. They tell you about the sixteen sliders, the fourteen galleries, the twenty seven page templates, and the nine plugins they've embedded into their solution.

And they hope you'll buy it.

But you know what happens when you do?


I mean it – nothing.

  • The theme doesn't work.
  • The documentation is absent.
  • The support doesn't exist.
  • Your questions go unanswered.

They took your money and ran. But they took your money. And when we hear how much money they take, every year, we cheer and want to be like them.

But it's not cool. And it poisons the water for everyone else.

If you're selling WordPress themes using features, without selling familiarity, reassurance, trust,  and support, then my sense is you're not much better than snake oil salesmen.

Familiarity, Reassurance, Trust & Support

So how do I think you should sell WordPress themes?

By now you likely know.

  • By selling you.
  • By selling your brand.
  • By building a brand that is trustworthy and reliable.

By helping people realize that what they're really buying is the familiarity with your brand, and the reassurance that you're not skipping town.

I've been known to tell people that when you sell your products or services to someone, they're not really buying your products or services.

They're buying the right to call your phone number for the rest of their lives.

You may not see it that way, but they often do.

That means that your copy shouldn't be focused on all your features.

Instead, focus it on the following areas:

Help them see your history in their space. Show them that you've done your homework in their market and that you know their pain and have created something that will help solve them.

Help them see your track record. Show them that you've been around for a while and you aren't planning on leaving anytime soon. Help them know that their support questions are not only fine, but welcome.

Help them meet others who chose you as well. This isn't just about social proof. It's about credibility, and familiarity. If others like them have chosen you, they'll feel more comfortable choosing you.

Help them understand what the next steps are. When people buy a theme, they should know it won't look like your demo unless they take certain steps. Help them thru the experience. Be supportive and reassuring.

This is what I mean when I say, “sell the right stuff.”

Build a brand on these things and trust me, your themes will sell.

Some folks already do this

You know I would be remiss if I didn't point out some folks who already do this. They're building trustworthy brands and if you don't know them, you should.

These stores are built and run by friends of mine that I trust and respect. Most importantly, they're not going anywhere. I say that with confidence. Because I've spent years watching them develop their brands. I've spent years watching them build loyal customers because they know that what customers really want to buy is

  • Familiarity
  • Reassurance
  • Trust
  • Support

If you're getting into the space, I recommend you check them out. Watch them. Learn from them. And then one-up them and go further. Build even stronger brands around these values. And customers will come. And you'll develop loyal platforms that will purchase everything you have to sell – because you'll be the opposite of snake oil salesmen.

You'll be here to stay.