My Objections to Multi-Level Marketing

“Isn’t that a pyramid scheme?”

You can imagine how enraged a coworker was, after I naively asked this question about his wife’s new business.  He gave me a rundown on multi-level marketing which, frankly, left me a little confused about the difference between the two, but gave me the verbiage I needed to not offend other MLMers.

My personal opinion has wavered.  Initially I was wary, and maybe a little frustrated at the explosion of advertising in my Facebook newsfeed by family and friends.  Then it started to seem like a good opportunity to get into entrepreneurship for people who might not have the initiative or capital to strike out on their own.

And now…


My Business Ethics Manifesto

People often say they want to make an impact, make their mark, effect change, etc.  But what does that actually mean?

The actions each individual takes may differ but the underlying desire is the same.  To leave the world better than we found it.  People who want to create change in the world see a problem and then take steps to improve it, instead of complaining and continuing on about their day.

I recently read an amazing article over at Yes and Yes about building ethics into your business.  I’ve had some vague ideas about values that were important to me, in and outside of my business, but I’ve never vocalized it or built it into my mission statement.  Remedying that now!

Jenn Wells Design Code of Business Ethics

1. Giving Back

I currently donate $25/month to the Nurse Family Partnership, and another $15 to various causes that are important to me.  I’m going to keep that auto-payment, because it’s easy and I don’t have to think about it.  But I’m also going to contribute 10% of my profits, because I want my successes to contribute to the world and not just my wallet.

2. Atmosphere of Inclusiveness

With a company of one (plus a few contractors) there’s not a lot I can do about this, BUT as a graphic designer I do create visuals that go out into the world.  So it’s my job, along with everyone else in the visual communications field, to create imagery that shows diversity.  To me that means trying to include a mix of races and ages in the stock photos I purchase.  It means broadening the definition of what a business person or a teacher or a parent looks like.

3. Selling with Integrity

I use and believe strongly in soft sales techniques.  One-on-one conversation, building relationships, and providing value through this blog and my social channels.  I don’t use scare tactics, hide prices, try to pressure clients into a sale, or present false choices.  I do present options, represent myself and my capabilities honestly, and focus on the client’s best interests rather than my own.

Sales Tactics for Soft Selling

Sales Without the Sleaze

I’ve read lots of blog posts with titles like, “How to Sell Without Being Icky.” I agree that selling and sales tactics can often feel sleazy, or “icky,” and it doesn’t always have to. But I’ve also drawn a line at what I will and will not do, morality aside.


How to Define Your Target Market

How to Define Your Target Market | Jenn Wells Design

First off, Happy New Year everyone! I have a post on goal setting planned for the 16th, but today I want to start the new year off in the same place as your business: target market.

Your target market is your client base or your ideal customer. All too often businesses think they can market to “everyone” or “everyone who likes/needs ___ product.” But that’s a strategy that simply doesn’t work.

Have you heard the fable of the old man, boy, and donkey? Like many of Aesop’s stories, there’s a moral at the end, “Please all and you will please none.” Or, as I would put it, you can’t please everyone. It’s simply not possible.

By trying to create a brand or a product that works for everyone, what you end up with is a bland non-entity that doesn’t appeal to anyone in particular and isn’t memorable. You can accomplish so much more by choosing your market and setting out to give that demographic an experience tailored to them and their needs.

How to Define Your Target Market

There’s a few different things that come into play and it’s certainly not as simple as “old men” or “rich women.” I’ve broken it down into 3 different categories of information.


This is the obvious, easy-to-assess category. It’s also the one to be most wary of. You should absolutely consider age, gender, income, culture, and so on. And then you should reconsider to make sure that you’re not excluding people based on a statistic rather than the feel you want for you business.

For example, if your preferred customers are tech-savvy, it would be easy to use a blanket category such as “young people” but are 20-somethings really better with technology than 30 or 40-somethings? Do some research and see how each age group uses the kind of technology associated with your business and then make your decision based on that.

It’s also possible that you’ll have outliers. In this case, the majority of people who use/are interested in your product might be millenials, but there are also a few customers in their 60s with those same skills. This shouldn’t change your overall strategy – go ahead and continue to appeal to whichever group is the largest or has the feel you want for your business. BUT don’t necessarily make it exclusive to that group.

For example, it’s fine to have a mission statement like, “Business organization tools for millennial entrepreneurs” that clearly states your ideal customer. But you wouldn’t necessarily want to limit the experience to that group by doing something like selecting a social media network that is popular among only that demographic and then requiring that for sign-in to use your website.


This category is so intangible I had trouble coming up with a name for it, but apparently the word I was looking for was “psychographics.” Basically think about how different brand names make you feel. If you picture a Red Bull commercial, you can logically deduce that their target demographic is young, active, adult males, which is fairly exclusive. BUT the “feel” is active, badass, energetic, and fun-loving. So if you go by psychographic it could be a much wider group of people, while still allowing the company to have a very defined brand and market effectively.

When trying to find your voice, consider how you want to speak to your clients. What tone would you want to use in marketing messages or in your blog. Do you want clients who are more formal or informal? Will they prefer a look that is more classical and sophisticated, or youthful and artistic?

Keep in mind that certain design styles are associated with different qualities. So if you decide you want to target wealthy customers and for your brand to have a luxury feel, you won’t want to use wild fonts and lots of cursing. Choosing an emotional tone for your brand is difficult, and I suggest heavily considering your own personality in the process, especially if you happen to be a solopreneur. You’ll find much more connection to your business when it appeals to you and you can write naturally instead of trying to assume mannerisms you don’t already possess.


Digging even deeper into the psyche of your ideal customer, you’ll need to think about why they do what they do. You can’t solve someone’s problem without knowing what their needs are in the first place. And good business is based on what you can provide for your customers and how it makes their lives better.

Again, this is multi-dimensional. You’ll need to consider your business and your products, and then think about who needs them and why. If you find yourself struggling, you might need to reassess whether your product or service is really something that will sell.

But if you can tap into this motivation, you’ll have a great head start on writing your product descriptions and marketing material. Because you already know who you’re speaking to and how you can help them.

SEO Breakdown – How I Reached the 2nd Page

How I Reached the Second Page of Search Results: An SEO Breakdown | Jenn Wells Design

After years of hanging out on the relative obscurity of page 5, I’ve finally bumped my search rankings up to page 2! Obviously, there’s more to do. I’m still working to attain that desirable first page spot, and to achieve it for a wider range of keywords. But I thought I’d take this opportunity to celebrate and to tell you which SEO techniques worked for me.