Looking Minnesota. Feeling California.

Good grief. Seems like this is the week for me to bring reality TV to the blogosphere.

Yesterday I thought I pulled a Sarah Lacy Nuclear Fail Moment. I wanted to rebrand the site to be more inclusive of dads. So, you know, I thought ‘eParents’ was a good direction to go in.

I mean, I thought you guys were parents!

Welcome to the Small Business Branding Trainwreck Show – starring Wendy Piersall as the one who most misjudged who her audience really is. 

OK, maybe I’m being a little melodramatic here – but honestly, I was really dang shocked that so many readers aren’t parents. Even more surprisingly, I found plenty of readers who are parents who don’t want to read a site ‘for parents‘.

Here’s just a sampling of my “Looking Minnesota” day yesterday:

I encourage you to resist putting “parent” in the name or the URL. I haven’t been excited about the brand eMoms because I’m one of the readers who is moving away from full-time and hands-on parenting into the work and career life. I have had to look past the brand (the book cover, if you will) and just get into the content.
Deb

I had a huge moment of embarrassment when I joined the eMom gang. It put me off. I’m not a Mom. What will the women think about this GUY hanging around with the mommies?
James

I really felt your frustration as I stood there watching while at least one geek superstar admitted that 1) he’d never heard of you (OK, that happens, no biggie) and 2) he never would have paid any attention to your site if he came across it anyway, because of the name.
Sheila 

Oh thank God! I always felt funny posting here, as I have no kids and never will. The point being I was always afraid someone would say “You’re no mom, you can’t post here, you’re not part of our community”.
Ria

While I get what your site is about and I’ve been coming here for quite sometimes, I have to admit if I saw anything with “eparents” I’d assume it was a parenting community.
Deb Ng

And probably the funniest of them all…

We are all family members and we all juggle, so that can get stripped out [of the name] as well. So you are really about SOHO entrepreneurship, which are pretty boring words. I would opt for something creative that has to do with business/life balancing. You seem to be for entrepreneurs who juggle & snuggle.
Shel

I really dug my heels in yesterday on this, firmly standing on my ‘eParents’ ground until I read that one sentence there from Shel:

We are all family members and we all juggle.

Dammit anyway.

So I sent out a note to my closest colleagues last night saying “I think I should name the site CAN OF WORMSand went to bed.

Besides having some weird dreams that didn’t shed any light on my dilemma at all, nothing changed between last night and this morning. But I was able to wake up today and look at it all from a fresh perspective:

  • As a reader, you want to know what it’s like to run a business – well now you know a just a little more about that (maybe more than you wanted to know?!).
  • Branding might seem like something for the big boys in business to worry about. Now you know that it can be critical to the success of even a very small business.
  • Branding is easier if you know your Positioning. I thought I knew our position in the market – parents. Now I know that I need to refine our Positioning before I can even look at the Branding aspect.
  • If this wasn’t a textbook case study for KNOW YOUR AUDIENCE, I don’t know what is. It’s also a textbook example of the fact that you may think you know your audience, and you might be wrong about that.

But most of all, welcome to running a business in Web 2.0 Land.

Better have a strong stomach, because business in a connected world is only going to get more transparent, not less.

Quite honestly, I’m now thrilled with where we are at. I had no idea so many doors were open to us, and I’m feeling absolutely freaking excited about where we can go with the little eMommy Site That Could.

I may be letting it all hang out this week, and it may look a bit messy. But in my heart, I know and feel this is just the change we needed around here to blow this site out of the water.

I think we’ll be ‘Looking California’ sooner than I thought. :)

Comments

  1. Aaron at FullTiltBlogging.com says

    Your honesty and transparency makes your site even more appealing–even to non-mom, chubby, balding, Cohiba smoking, Jim Beam Bourbon savoring hillbilly like me. By the way, do you have a site that caters to my demographic?

  2. holli jo says

    Wendy –

    It’s awesome that you have such wide appeal! And I’ll admit, I wasn’t a parent when I became a fan of your site, so I know where people are coming from.

    But at the same time, I came here because I knew that work at home parents (I never liked the ‘mom’ designation because it left out the dads) have values that I appreciate and understand.

    I didn’t have kids, but I knew I wanted to keep building a strong family at the same time that I built my business. Your site (with all the channels) provides ample help for doing that.

    If all I wanted was business and entrepreneurial information, there are plenty of sites out there providing that. I came to your site specifically because I wanted something different.

    I know you’re growing and expanding, and that’s wonderful. But I hope you don’t lose the focus on balancing family life and parenting, because to me, that’s what makes your site unique.

    holli jo’s last blog post..Upgrading my writing business

  3. says

    Thank you for posting this Wendy. A great example of what you can learn about yourself from your community and another great example of why this new media model is so much better than the old one.

    I think “Can of Worms” would be a great new name for you. Kind of in the Seth Godin vein of marketing. If the name of the brand has no meaning, you and your readers create the meaning for the brand.

    Which in a weird way is exactly what has already happened to you. Even with a brand that has a definite connotation ( this is a site for moms using the net in some way) you and your readers have made it into something completely different.

    Even with your current name giving many people some hesitation, it was the content at the end of the day that attracted them. Then kept them coming back and made them feel at home.

    What the heck does Google, or Yahoo mean?

    You are your brand, your content is your brand, your community is your brand. So I vote to pick a nonsensical name and let the content define that name.

    Something like….. Can of Worms!

  4. says

    This was a great post, Wendy, and I think it shows people two things:

    1 – That online business (and business in general) isn’t that easy to set up and work with. People like you and I, amongst others, MAKE it look easy, but your post shows just how planned and prepared and focused business owners need to be.

    2 – That leaving room for growth in any business is very, very important. Brand yourself too specifically, and you’re stuck in a box.

    3 – That poor branding can directly affect the success of your business. Branding and positioning is one of the foundation backbones of all businesses.

    (Sorry, I obviously can’t count. Consider three a bonus point.)

    Since we rebranded back in early February, the whole fit and success of the business is far better. We have strong room for growth, a great image that fits us well, and our brand matches us as people, too. Unless we become new people overnight, it’ll be the right fit for a long time.

    I’m really looking forward to watching you transform the whole affair. Take your time, think, plan, reflect and find the fit that’s right for *you*.

    James Chartrand – Men with Pens’s last blog post..Overhaul Your Image for Better Results

  5. says

    I’m glad to see you are moving away from the “eParents” concept — my perspective on it is that eMoms sounds a lot warmer to me than eParents which is colder as it is a statement of fact rather than a term of endearment. It has the same problem that eMothers would have had in your original concept.

    I’m a little sad to see the eMoms name go and hope that you continue to use it to some extent in marketing — like: “NewSiteName.com – a website for eMoms, eDads and other folks learning to make money online from home.”

    One of the things I’ve always liked about the current name was that it felt like it literally called out to stay-at-home mom’s that are learning to make their way online.

    This is a powerful message, and I’ll bet that percentage wise you have a higher percentage of stay-at-home mom’s frequenting here than other websites.

    Perhaps there are some ways that, with the new name, you can continue to make a real appeal to that demographic as I’m sure it has had a wonderful impact. Many of the women that are here now may not have ever clicked on the link if it was called, say, “Bizsational” (my vote from the options that were under consideration).

    I’m not sure what the name should be, but the one thing I do know is it should feel “warm” immediately. Everything from your style of writing, to your personality, to the little starbust/flower icon next to the post title feels warm.

    I don’t stop by here as much as I’d like — but when I do, it’s because a need a dose of sunshine and to spend some time amidst a friendly crowd :-)

    Mark Blair’s last blog post..Floating Links: Fear, Niche Stores and Double Lattes

  6. says

    1) I screeched with laughter at “Can of Worms.” OK, just ditch the parent thing, stuff all that Mom/Dad stuff into the About Us section and go for straight-stick entrepreneurial/biz name (sorry you bought all those domain names – can you resell?)

    2) As you know, I NEVER click on Web ads, but I sat and watched a bunch of your IKEA ones ’cause they were funny, pertinent, the model/actor looked like a real person, and I love chainsawing pasta. Hope you make some bucks from them.

    Sheila Scarborough’s last blog post..Video of the Week: Merrie Monarch hula in Hawaii

  7. Wendy Piersall says

    OK, testing the waters here with this one. I’ve taken every single one of your comments to heart, and I do think I might have found a name that speaks to it all:

    Work. Life. Remixed.
    (WorkLifeRemixed.com)

    OR

    Work. Life. Remix.
    (WorkLifeRemix.com)

    Please pelt away at that idea while I go talk to my branding buddies Toby Bloomberg & Susan Payton. :)

  8. says

    Just a thought here – Are you shooting for the “e”-work crowd or all workers in traditional and non-traditional jobs?

    And is the site more about finding balance between work and life? That’s what that tagline says to me: Balancing work and family. (But not specifically online work)

    I like the Remix. Keep that part.

    James Chartrand – Men with Pens’s last blog post..Overhaul Your Image for Better Results

  9. says

    Wendy, this is absolutely all very exciting, however I think it is also important to point out that you can not please all of the people all of the time.

    Your name will most likely leave someone out. They’ll have to deal with that. There are plenty of sites that I read that are not necessarily targeted directly toward me, yet I still gain value from them.

    I hear all of the time that one of the number one rules of web business is to “know your niche.” What is your opinion of that at this point? A niche can not be all-encompassing and targeted at the same time, so it’s tough.

    I was talking with a designer the other day about losing part of my tagline, the “life of a mom articulate” part. I was thinking it would turn off non-moms. But who is my audience? How can I stop parents in their web-surfing tracks but also stop non-parents from moving right along because they think I’ll be talking diapers?

    That being said, I was leaning toward “eParents” stuff over here, too, because I did recognize that “eMoms” was too limiting. But there has to be an end to be wide arc of your all-encompassing arms, right?

    So much fun.

    Velveteen Mind Megan’s last blog post..Death Defying Acts

  10. says

    Thumbs up on: WorkLifeRemixed.com

    It rolls off the tongue better.

    My best advice is please yourself first and then please others, because you’re the boss and employee and need to create a job you like. And then the rest of us will like it too, because you’re having so much fun! :)

    Other:

    1) 1 yr, 5 yr 10 yr plan.

    2) Build in flexibility so it can grow with you/change with the times.

    3) It should leave you room to pursue your personal goals and interests with it. Have some things that serve the readers and some things that make you glow to talk about. Experts can write the things you aren’t into and vice versa so that you have good representation but you don’t get burnt out.

    Ria Kennedy’s last blog post..Freedom

  11. Winston says

    Even if all the site’s readers were parents, the names in yesterday’s poll made it sound like the site was about parenting.

    I’d say find something a little more metaphorical or whimsical or something like that. Look at successful web sites (e.g. eBay vs. auction.com, Yahoo or Google vs. search.com, Slate vs. OnlineMagazine.com). Anything that draws a box around your product or your audience is going to cause you problems (or at least confusion) in the future, even if it is a perfect description of where the site is now (see: JustWhiteShirts.com)

    You have a great web site for people who are in a situation similar to yours. That group turns out to be defined differently than you expected. That’s great — keep doing what you’re doing. There’s no reason that you have to perfectly define your audience to come up with a name for the site. (And every reason not to try to define the audience with the name)

  12. says

    I headed straight over to emoms today to see where you were at with your dilemma,I just love the Can of Worms.

    As I am one of your loyal non parent readers, was delighted that you discivered so many more.
    I also think you have given all of us a great case study in what you need to know before you set out on the rebranding path.
    I am with Ria
    like WorkLifeRemixed.com

    and think pleasing yourself first is so important, as then the fun with be there for you.

    So challenging for us women to take care of ourselves first, so we can better take care of others!

  13. says

    The only problem I have with that last one is that “Work” makes me think of what I’m doing as work ;-) Work and “home business” don’t quite seem synonymous to me emotionally.

    I like the way you are headed a lot and WorkLifeRemixed.com has a lot more warmth than the previous options.

    The word “remixed” doesn’t sit quite right with me, but the concept of unity, connectedness, etc. is great.

    The whole idea of work meets life really feels like right direction.

    I believe you are on the right path, but would love to see a few more choices since it is such an important decision and you probably won’t want to go through rebranding again anytime soon ;-)

  14. says

    Wow. So much to read (I knew I would regret not taking that Evelyn Wood course).

    Let’s see “The Can of Worms” is definitely fresh but the graphics could present a problem. As for the “Work. Life. Remix(ed).” I’m still rolling it around in my mind’s ear; however, my personal stand is that life is slightly more important that work and should get first billing.

    And Wendy, your post opened with your amazement about who all reads and seeks out your network. Really, I think it’s an attention/focus thing. Yesterday Seth Godin posted a video about attention. It points out the pluses and minuses of focusing attention. Is it good or bad? It probably depends. Has the former focus of your attention served its useful life? Perhaps, and that may be what the whole upheaval is about. You were rooted firmly but outgrew available space and could undertake a well-planned and carefully tended transplanting to extend the life and even promote more growth.

    Sorry, tomorrow is the first day of spring and horticulture is on my mind even if it’s snowing at the moment.

    Deb’s last blog post..Cheshire moon glow

  15. says

    “WorkLifeRemix”. Maybe not the message you’re trying to send. I.e.,

    * Work and Life REMIXED. (You’re ON, you are spinning those plates.)

    vs.

    * Work and Life REMIX. (Sounds a bit like a Chinese Fire Drill.)

    Remix implies chaotic to me.

    Ria Kennedy’s last blog post..Freedom

  16. says

    Sorry, got distracted and posted too soon.

    I just wanted to say what I thought so you were aware of what message each of the names could send so that you could leverage it appropriately.

    Ria Kennedy’s last blog post..Freedom

  17. Wendy Piersall says

    @ Mark – I’m thinking that the tagline can soften this name a little more. Something like ‘Creating a business in tune with life’ or ‘Work with Passion, Live with Passion.”

    Thoughts? :)

  18. says

    Oh wow!

    Wendy – I really like:

    Work. Life. Remix.
    (WorkLifeRemix.com)

    It flows well and really says what the site is all about. It really seems to encompass everything.

    (I also think that Remix flows better than Remixed… maybe because they’re all in the same tense? And I like what you say above as far as active vs past tense… because I’m sure for everyone it is active and what we are doing Now, etc.

    GL making the decision, but you’ve gotten such amazing feedback so far, I’m sure you’ll pick the right thing in the end.

    Selene M. Bowlby’s last blog post..Happy St. Patrick’s Day!

  19. says

    I think that would definitely soften it up some. The name does have a lot of great things going for it, and a nice tagline would help.

    I still think if you push yourself there might be even a better one lurking within you though ;-) One thing that I think might become an issues with this one is that WorkLifeRemixed doesn’t exactly roll off the tongue when you say it. I’m kind of partial to names that are easier to say as I think they are easier to get people talking about, remember and to brand.

    I’ve burned through about thirty domain names for various projects thinking “hey I love it!” only to be less enthusiastic about them a week later. It’s the entrepreneur’s curse I think :-)

    I’m trying to “live with my names” a little longer mentally before I commit to them, but it is always a tough urge to fight!

    Mark Blair’s last blog post..Floating Links: Fear, Niche Stores and Double Lattes

  20. Wendy Piersall says

    Mark – I have spent probably 30 hours this week on name research. You have NO IDEA how many names I’ve almost kept and then scratched.

    This one has stuck well with both me and the rest of the authors… Am not 100% sold yet, but am 90% of the way there.

  21. says

    Remixed to me says you’re working toward a goal of blending life and work.

    Remix to me says process not goal, as in work and life is in the process of being blended.

    There’s no wrong or right, the question is which view do you want to propose for your site? :)

    Ria Kennedy’s last blog post..thedeadside.com: The Forum Is Now Open

  22. Shirley says

    …uh, that would be eCanOfWormsAtHome.com, wouldn’t it? ;-)

    I submit eProfessionalsAtHome.com – maybe we don’t necessarily need to be beat over the head with the work-life balance thing… we already get it and that’s why we’re here! (Yes, there will be those who read who have rented space outside the home for their business, but their mindset will still be with the ‘AtHome’ – i.e., work-life-balance – philosophy).

    Whatever you rename it, make sure to keep the ‘old’ and have it redirect!

  23. says

    “Juggle and Snuggle” Oh, well, there you go!

    And, for the record, I read regularly also (and voted yesterday), but I’m not a mom, either, unless you count my dog. Which, well, I DO, but you’d be surprised at how many people don’t consider dogs and cats qualify to be “children” to two-legged people! (grin)

    Can’t wait to see what you came up with.

    –Deb’s last blog post..Match it for Pratchett

  24. says

    30 hours :-) I’ve been through that kind of thing before and remember how fun it can be. ;-)

    The worst was when I was in a partnership and had to come up with a name. Try doing the same thing you are doing in the context of 50%/50% decision making… We each ended up with names we were “set on”, each with supporters of them but in the end had to compromise on something that was completely wrong :-)

    The great thing here is you have the choice and you have the vision. I believe the most important thing about a name is that it wears well on you — that you are comfortable in its skin.

    Ultimately, my decision making has always been what names feel right “in my gut”. A great name that jsut isn’t “me” won’t cut it as it won’t leave me feeling inspired at the end of each day.

    I have no doubt that whatever you end up settling on will grow on any of us that aren’t quite there on it through your own execution of your unique vision for it. I believe “eMoms at home” was probably right for the time and now you’ve grown into “Work. Life. Remix.” :-)

    I do think the treatment with the full-stops after each word is going to look great in your header.

    On the “Remix” vs. “Remixed” — I am torn between “Remix” for the active nature of it and “Remixed” because to makes a statement about what the site is.

    Regardless, when you settle on one I’d do a 301 redirect on the other — especially if you settle on “Remixed” as lots of people will probably leave off the “-ed” when keying it in.

    Maybe that line of thinking ends up being a vote for “Remix” after all…. Plus two less characters to type :-)

  25. says

    Thanks for going through this ‘out loud.’ As I mentioned to you earlier, I was also not thrilled with eParents since you appeal to so many people and I voted for the only option that didn’t have the word Parent or Mom in it from your poll yesterday.

    However, your main mental focus has seemed to be on parents or lets say caregivers (whether they care for kids, pets, their parents) and my guess is that is what would cause many people to check your site out at first. Many who might not be comfortable with commenting. Those who stick around see that you write about so much more!

    So that’s a long way of saying I do like WorkLifeRemix. We all have one life and work is just a part of that life. I think it’s better than WorkLife Balance because as entrepreneurs the term ‘balance’ doesn’t often compute as they say. :-)

  26. says

    Oh by the way even though you think you’ll be feeling California, it will be your experience here in Texas that prompted you to go through this process. If you end up feeling like Texas…it won’t be that bad because “Everything is Bigger and Better in Texas!” :-)

  27. says

    Shirly wrote:

    I submit eProfessionalsAtHome.com – maybe we don’t necessarily need to be beat over the head with the work-life balance thing… we already get it and that’s why we’re here!

    eProsAtHome? I like the ring of that a damned lot. ebusiness, professionals, work from home without the negative connotation, gender and kids removed from the equation…

    Oh yes. I like that. It sounds good out loud, too.

    James Chartrand – Men with Pens’s last blog post..Fiction Writing: Should You Plot Your Plot?

  28. says

    What I appreciate about you wendy more than you will ever know is sharing the inside track of all of your thoughts, from where ever you begin, to where ever all that takes you – you show your vulnerability and your brilliance and you always give a healthy chuckle in between. I guess what I don’t get is for me you’re really about blogging and business and cultivating the two. REMIX makes no sense to me, is it a recipe? Is it a mixed track of things to ponder ? I find the languaging doesn’t speak to me, or reflect all that I experience from you.

    Mother Earth’s last blog post..Queen of Green

  29. Ria Kennedy says

    WorkLifeRemix.com is great. WLR.

    It let’s you know what the focus is straight away, without pigeonholing you or your topics.

    I think it’s classy.

    I think it’s a makeover that will lead to your beautiful new site/business makeover.

    And I think this name will let you explain it to others in a way that is meaningful to you and still expressive of what you do.

    Don’t get too nostalgic, something may have to give to make room for new opportunities. Reexamining your strategy will allow you to get in position to receive all the new traffic that will come your way. :)

  30. says

    Wendy,

    I really agree with comment #12.

    My advice would be to decide who you want your target market to be, what you want your blog to be about and then choose a name that fits your vision.

    Emomsathome never scared me off, but the first time I showed up I thought it was meant mostly for moms. That’s not a bad thing, because you need to have a target audience and moms makes sense as a target market for a work at home mom.

    I will be very interested to see what direction you go with this. I hope that whatever direction you take the blog it is a HUGE success!

    All the best,
    George

    George’s last blog post..Seven Ways to Make Your Own Money Repellant

  31. says

    I’m glad you’re doing this because when I first came across eMoms maybe a year ago, I had trouble figuring out exactly what the site was about. You were just about to add some writers, I think, and I really didn’t “get” what eMoms was about. I subscribed anyway and have enjoyed your writing as well as that of many of your other writers, but I too think a focus on the business side of things would be great. And I’m excited for you :)

    Chief Family Officer’s last blog post..Drugstore vs. Department Store Makeup

  32. Wendy Piersall says

    Thinking aloud at no one in particular…

    I know I’ve gotten some pushback from people on “don’t focus on people ‘at home’”. But as I woke up this morning, I’m thinking that if we aren’t about parents, I have to draw the line SOMEWHERE. Yet I do admit that that means excluding someone and I HATE doing that.

    But I’m the one that has to sleep at night and make sure our authors continue to get paid. :) I do believe we definitely are for home office workers. And I think we need to continue to at least focus on THAT.

    “Home office worker” is so dang UNsexy, though. :)

  33. holli jo says

    I like James’ suggestion of eProsAtHome. That’s my vote! But I still hope you keep some of the parenting/family content in your site, even if that’s not your main focus.

    holli jo’s last blog post..Upgrading my writing business

  34. says

    Came across your site via Twitter friends. After 10 years at home w/kids I realized I want to work. Work/life balance is a huge factor for me. I’m considering freelancing, and thanks to Twitter, I now have friends involved in promoting co-working. They are 24 year-old recent grads, socmed savvy and nothing yet to tie them down, yet all they talk of is work-life balance, living green by not communiting, not wanting a boss to tell them what to do, and the social needs of finding other freelances to work and collaborate with. What a difference from when I graduated in the mid 90′s. I shift is coming and looks like you are on the forefront.

    Scale is a big word in web2.0, and it has a lot to do w/balance. I’ve been thinking a lot about scale lately. Also, there’s the old “working for scale” idea.

    Hey. What about Work 2.O?

    I’ll be a regular reader. I’m glad my Twitter friends alerted me.

    Kara Soluri’s last blog post..Why I don’t scale.

  35. says

    emomsplusanyoneelese.com I know its long however, emoms is where you started and home is where they begin….and that is how you helped many women who thought they were nothing and had no chance to be successful. Please don’t forget and don’t worry about a new name…emoms is an icon that shouldn’t go away..it did what you hoped..gave many a chance to dream…

    My best,
    Dorothy from grammology
    remember to call gram
    http://www.grammology.com

    Dorothy Stahlnecker’s last blog post..Celebrating Easter Weekend with Family

Trackbacks

  1. [...] the other day, we here at eMoms are currently looking at a considerable change that involves the rebranding of eMoms in an effort to more accurately target our [...]

  2. [...] Looking Minnesota. Feeling California and The Gaping Void Between Our Brand And Our Audience were two recent posts written by Wendy Piersall of eMoms at Home.  After her recent trip to SXSW Interactive, she realized she needed to rebrand because many of her readers are not eMoms or even parents!  I love Wendy’s blog for a variety of reasons but mostly because she is open and honest about her experience as an entrepreneur and she readily shares her blogging and business tips.  We met through our blogs, had a couple of phone conversations and when we finally met in person at SXSW, it was like we just “got each other” as entrepreneurs and as moms!  I’m not sure if she has come to a decision on the new name, so go check out her posts and give her your 2 cents! [...]

  3. [...] I was rather fascinated and surprised to find out that renaming eMoms to something like eParents would go over like a lead balloon. [...]