I just found this in my Archived Training Log. This was very interesting to read almost two years later.
Just to be clear on this, I do know that this is not a great business move. Content is our more valuable resource, what we have become best at, and has been used in one form or another to create many of the top lifters, coaches and businesses in the field today. This isn't being cocky or bragging, but fact. You can see this in the backgrounds of these leaders in where they come from, learned from or were inspired by.
Education is our #1 asset, and the money we put into the content we provide ranks as one of our largest expenses. I also know content carries a VERY high profit margin and is extremely scalable with little strain on a company. Having 100 members or 100,000 members is just a matter of increasing server space and bandwidth. Increasing from 100 orders to 10,000 orders is far more complex, involving: moving, hiring more staff, inventory control, HR, Legal, and the list goes on and on.
There is no doubt based on what I see and know about this marketplace that we could be 15-20x more profitable with a fraction of the staff if we put all the focus on making money on content: added a pay section, more eBooks, seminars, certifications, charging for multiple sources of advertising and other revenue streams I am forgetting. Before I get the flow of replays, yes I do know this content helps sell products, but the conversion rate from these pages to the store is extremely low. We could kill ALL the content pages and the store traffic would only drop less than 5%. We have tested this several times. This is how low the conversion rate is, and this is only based on traffic - not sales.
NOTE: This was written before the launch of the new site. The very low conversation rate is one (of many) reasons why we did rebuild the entire site. We wanted to do this in such a way that the educational content would stay free while working to increase our conversation rates.
If you are one that says you buy from us because of the content we provide you are in the very small minority. We have studied and tracked this because we have considered making them two different sites; the content may actually be hurting sales by pulling people away from the cart (3/4 of the home page is links to sections of the site that do not generate revenue).
Yet, every time I think about this (and it is more than people realize because there would be a significant increase in profit margin and a huge drop in expenses, headaches and stress), I think of who I am and who I have become in and outside of the gym. While I am far from perfect and am a serious work in progress, I think of those people who stepped up and showed me how to train and how this could be used in other aspects of my life.
... and yes I do know this means some people will take advantage, they will NOT see value in the content because there is no price tag, and we will be seen as...
"Oh, you mean those guys (lifters) who write articles, what do they know about equipment?... equipment is all we do, why buy from a bunch of meatheads who spend all their time under the bar?". - What we have been told many times from customers who are getting quote from our competitors.
I know this, and I "get" it. I also know it hurts the growth of the company in a big way. I know this now more than ever. While frustrating as hell, I can live with this because I know we care about making a difference first. We did this before we ever sold a product, so inside we all know some things are more important than money. With this in mind we have spent decades under the bar and beating the shit out of equipment knowing equipment is one tool to the overall goal of becoming better. I can counter argue, what do they know about equipment? Have never been strong enough to have a piece break on you? I will tell you this much. You NEVER want it to happen again! The end game is becoming better and breaking personal records. This is REALLY hard to do when you or your equipment is broken.
Lastly, I have been told several times that the days of "passing on and giving back are over" and I am no longer that teenage kid that was influenced and has already given back enough, that I need to look at this from a broader perspective, build a nest egg, etc. Maybe they are right, maybe the world has changed, maybe the industry has moved so far away from this that it no longer matters. Just because the world or industry changes doesn't mean it has to change me. There are ways to adapt and grow without having to change your beliefs and who you are. If years from now this causes the downfall of elitefts, I would rather go down doing something I feel is right and good for the industry than the guy who did whatever was needed to make a buck.
In the end, will any of this really matter?
Maybe, maybe not, but it has to me for over 30 years and still does today.
We will be posting a video later this week that will help drive home this message.