Eating Your Own Dog Food

[Re-post from June 25, 2009]

Last night, I gave a presentation at Ignite Orlando on “Eating Your Own Dog Food”. It was an outstanding event with a huge turnout and the presentations were informative, entertaining, and inspiring.

There should be video soon and I’ll post a link once it’s up.  In the meantime, I have posted up the slideshow with my narration on YouTube at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VS5OOtPNRkI.


Eating Your Own Dog FoodHave you ever heard the expression, “Eating your own dog food”, and wondered what exactly it meant? The term became very popular during the dot-com boom of the late 1990s and is generally used by technology companies in reference to the need to run beta, or test, software throughout the organization.

You might be asking yourself, “I don’t sell software, so what does this have to do with my company?” But, the concept of eating your own dog food can be applied to any product or service, not just software. It means that you actually use what your company makes or provides, whether it’s a physical product or a professional service.

Imagine that you went to Oxi-Clean headquarters. We’ve all seen the ubiquitous commercials starring spokesman Billy Mays. Now, what would you think if you happened to wander into a supply closet there and notice that there’s no Oxi-Clean on the shelf? Would you find yourself thinking that the product was not that good if they don’t even use it themselves?

When you eat your own dog food, it shows that you have confidence in your product or service. Plus, it can be like a calling card for your business – people can see your product or service in action. You’ll immediately find yourself focusing more on the benefits, which will naturally help you sell them to your prospects.

I got to thinking about eating my company’s own dog food because I have been spending the past few months putting together curriculum for a new course I am teaching at Full Sail University on Designing Websites for Conversions. I did a lot of research on the best ways to increase the likelihood that a website will generate more leads and sales.

I then took a hard look at my company’s website and realized that we were not eating our own dog food. It wasn’t easy to admit to myself that we were missing the mark. Our website was very attractive and professional, and we received a lot of compliments on it. However, it wasn’t converting; it simply wasn’t bringing us new leads or sales.

At first, we wanted to try to modify our other site design, but then we realized that doing that was going to keep us boxed in. So, we re-designed our site from the ground up, using the principles I teach my students.

How can you make sure you’re eating your own dog food? First, truly examine your business inside and out and ask yourself what you could change to make it more apparent that you are using your product or service. Brainstorm with your team. You might find yourself discovering new ways to market what you offer.

Then, make a plan and start implementing your changes. Don’t be afraid to throw out the old and start fresh. Let the world know what you are doing and why – write about it on your blog and Facebook account, send out a targeted press release, and email your customers and prospects. Analyze the results and feedback you are getting and tweak as necessary.

You’ll then realize that eating your own dog food can be very rewarding! It can help you to make your product or service better and it can increase your revenue. It will also help you to pinpoint more quickly any weaknesses so you can correct them before your competition takes advantage of them. So, I invite you to pull up a chair and dig in!

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