Tips and tools: 15 great resources for growing businesses

Here are some great resources we have recently shared with one another

(We don’t profit from recommending things. We just love sharing things we think you’ll appreciate. You can see our other Tips and Tools articles here.)

The most important question for sales, the ultimate “swipe file” of checkout processes, and more

Here are some great resources we’ve recently shared with one another:

The most important question to ask when selling services:

The “Dan Sullivan question” is a great way to identify what your clients really want.

The ultimate “swipe file” of checkout processes:

The Baymard Institute has published screenshots of the checkout processes of the world’s top 100 ecommerce sites. The basic report is free. The paid version has tooltips highlighting the good and bad aspects of each checkout process—and it’s cheaper than having to buy random objects from 100 web companies.

The best guide to web typography:

Matthew Butterick is an amazing writer. He makes typography fascinating. His latest book is available online, here. For us, the most useful material wasn’t in the “Typography in ten minutes” section, but in the section called “Type composition.” If you create an ellipsis by typing three periods, if you are hooked on ampersands, or if you still use two spaces after a period, then you’ll enjoy reading his arguments for why you’re writing like an amateur.

And if you already excel at typography, you might want to send the section entitled “Hyphens and dashes” to any designers or developers you ever work with, so they don’t mess up your em dashes, en dashes and hyphens.

Proof that you (and your prospects) believe in magic—and why it can grow your sales:

Do you believe that objects have souls? Matthew Hutson thinks you do. In this article and in this one, our friend Jeff Sexton summarizes Matthew’s book, which explains how some part of your brain believes in magic.

You are probably aware of the psychological triggers that Robert Cialdini and Joe Sugarman describe (and if you haven’t already read those books, you should). However, the “magical” triggers that Hutson talks about tend to be overlooked by direct-response marketers. In fact, they are seen more in brand advertising, particularly for luxury products. They are equally useful for conversion, though. In fact, in his book “My First 60 Years in Advertising,” the legendary direct-response copywriter Maxwell Sackheim describes how one of his biggest breakthroughs came when he started to introduce “romance” (which Hutson would call magical thinking) into his ads.

The Paper Airplane Exercise: A video that reveals a counterintuitive way to improve your team’s productivity:

In some companies, everyone’s busy but nothing gets shipped. This counterintuitive video (which is continued here) demonstrates why the answer might be to do less work. Greg McKeown’s book “Essentialism” is an interesting resource on the same subject.

How to make your customer-support department ultra-productive:

The software Trello has four million users and just one customer support person. In this guide, Trello’s Brian Cervino explains the tools and techniques he uses to deliver superhuman levels of customer support.

Amazon’s leadership principles:

This article, from Amazon’s careers pages, describes the 14 principles that Amazon expects its leaders to follow. How many points out of ten would your leaders score for each of the 14 principles? How many points would you score?

We also recommend this TV documentary about Amazon’s rapid growth.

Why content marketing fails (and how to do it well):

Here’s a great slide deck from Moz’s Rand Fishkin about how content marketing works. And here’s another excellent guide to content marketing, by Neil Patel.

Speaking of content marketing, here’s a stupid—and impressive—ad that we enjoyed. And here’s a shocking ad for Sprite that we enjoyed too.

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