Bryan Mills is a BC Partner out of Southern California looking to take his business to the next level. We got to spend an hour working through some opportunities to help grow his business from 12 sites to 25+ . . . listen in to see what might work for your business.
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Bryan Mills owns IE Web Services out of Riverside, California.
Brent: Yeah, man, my parents actually live in Newport Beach.
Brent: And, I've got a cousin that lives in Loma Linda.
Bryan: Yeah, so [Malinda] is in San Bernardino County, and that is one of the areas that I serve as well. I have clients in San Bernardino County and Riverside County. But, with Southern California, I have clients all over the place at this point. I have Orange County, which is just south of L.A. And then pretty much going down into San Diego. So, I have a huge area. Any place I could get to within a hour, or an hour and a half, I don't mind taking them as a client.
Bryan: That's the biggest thing. The total number of business is well over a million.
Brent: Yeah, I was going to say, man. California. We actually used to do a lot of business out there, just because my cousin owned an advertising agency in Riverside. So, we did a lot of car dealership work. And, there's a lot of business, a lot of money, but man, competition is steep, and there's a business mentality in Southern California that is I want to say cut-throat. Like, people do some really loud stuff to get business out there, which, it's just not usually how I operate. My cousin definitely operates on that level, and I sometimes get a little freaked out.
Bryan: No, I require to meet all my clients prior to signing any type of agreement with them. Partly because if I don't feel comfortable, I just can't do it. And that puts, a lot of the time, I've had clients say, "What do you mean you won't take our business? You don't want to get paid?" No, that's not the case, the case is if you tell me you want to do a family friendly website, so that your friends can post pictures, and you want it to have a monthly subscription and you're from Santa Ana or from up there. It's not really for that. It's for something completely different.
We get the product specs and say, "How much will you charge to do this?"
And, yeah, it's, yeah.
Brent: A family-friendly website from Santa Ana. We see right through that.
Bryan: That's exactly it. So, I've been around, done that. I had a guy call me from, a year ago, and he was representing a website, From Saints to Sinners, and I was like, "You know, just the domain name, I'm just going to refer you on."
Brent: Very interesting. What I really want to dig into is, where are you at with your BC partnership? Kind of, where have you come from? And what are your biggest pain points, sticking points from going from that 12 sites to 25 sites? In what we can do in this hour to maybe help you blow through some of those barriers? If Pro ends up being a part of that formula, but that's really not, at the end of the day, what I'm trying to work with you on. I want to look at your business and maybe figure out some of those walls, and try to analyze and try to blow up, so you can really start growing faster.
Brent: That's my top priority.
Bryan: Okay. Well said.
Brent: Yeah, I guess starting there. Where have you come from? You said you have 12 sites right now. What's the makeup and how have you gone about getting those clients?
Bryan: Well, I've been doing this since '97 actually. Not with obviously BC, with Business Catalyst, but with custom development. I really did not like platforms, or WordPress platforms, or anything that was already designed, based on my knowledge, I was trained in the Air force on programming websites, developing websites. So, before Web App was term in the web industry, I was already creating them back in '97. The ability for a user to login and to change their own pages, and so my biggest thing is going from the developer side of it, because I can't have-, like I have two data entry people, and in graphics, three graphics people that are available to me. They work for me in various modes and with different clients. And to move myself from that developer mode, to pushing up to the Business Catalyst, the Business Catalyst platform.
So some of what happens is, especially in Southern California, I get called from random people or referrals for somebody's site that is on WordPress. They paid somebody five grand to do to their website, and that person is no longer even responding to them. So they want to move it away from that person, so I go into that area of, although I'm a programmer, I also have connections with GoDaddy, with all of the registrars to assist in moving people out of those contracts and getting their sites back to them.
But a lot of it, when I started introducing Business Catalyst and how it will change for them, a lot of times they get more worried about, well, it's a new platform. It's through Adobe. Where's it hosted? Do I own the-
Can I take the platform with me if I leave? So, it's not like WordPress where, yes, you can take it with you. So, I've explained that, and most of them, when it comes down to it, they like the idea of it, but they still want the ability to be able to move later on.
Bryan: Yeah, so, at this point, my big thing is, although I've looked at the numbers with Business Catalyst for a while, and my goal is, I want to move from 12 to 25. The goal is actually to get to 25 then immediately get to 50 within- so it takes me six weeks to get to the 25 then in six weeks longer, I want to be at 50. So I want to compound it up, just so I can start turning over those sites. I can launch a site in about three business days without any issue. And if the person is giving me full control over even the design, I can launch it within four hours. So, that's a big turnover.
Brent: Sure, sure.
Bryan: So, I do like Business Catalyst. I like the structure. I like the content holders, the way they have that set up. The templates, the new mobile, the mobile and table style sheets and everything like that. And that's the thing, it's a great platform, but when it comes back down to it, it's really getting them off of WordPress or getting them off of Joomla, or even out of basic HTML pages, at some point and getting them to understand the benefits of Business Catalyst.
Brent: Yeah. That's interesting, we- I think a lot of web people, especially in the Business Catalyst partner community that I know of, they do get a lot of clients in that scenario, where there really unhappy with their existing developer. And something I've found with WordPress developers in general, they really like WordPress because they can install it on a cheap hosting account that the customer themselves contract with, and they can basically build the site, and a lot of them have a very shortsighted business model. Their business model is as a web-designer is to build the site and to go on to the next site. Most WordPress developers that I've run into, that build small business sites, they actually don't have any part of their business model set up do to any kind of service and support for their customer base.
So for the business owner, they're not aware of that business model, because they're very focused on price. They're very focused on key word like open source, and this is free, and you're not going to have to pay much for this ongoing, but as a business model that actually ends up leaving the business owner out in the cold. Because they end up with this hosting account, and yeah sure, they own the hosting account and they pay
$5.99 a month to GoDaddy, and they basically own this WordPress site. And they could technically, yes, move that to any WordPress developer, but that as a fundamental business model, when you're in there selling that, or if you're selling against it rather, it's really, really easy to smoke that company. Because, if you come in and say, "Look, the business model typically for my competition is they build websites and they move on to the next website, and I don't build that way. I like to build a site that has the three-year plant, the five-year plan in mind, and I know that once we build this site, you need a company that's going to be available to you to do updates and changes to that website on a on-going basis. Maybe it's training. Maybe we need to upgrade our server infrastructure. Maybe we need to add security features on an on-going basis to the system that you don't even need to be aware of."
And you can direct them to the WordPress security updates page, which is available on the WordPress site and say, "Within a system like WordPress, you have to stay on-top of that technology." And rare is the WordPress developer out there that actually continuously updates their portfolio of websites on a regular basis, because that's not their business model. Their business model is build a site for 5K and move onto the next site, and that's why we see a lot of these business owners that try to call their original web designer to maybe add a feature or change something, or God forbid the website gets hacked and they try to get the original web designer to go in and fix it, that's not the original web designers business model. They don't really care, because their entire revenue stream is based on new website build, not maintaining an existing client base.
Brent: And so having that conversation with a client, it gets you out of the WordPress versus BC versus Joomla debate, and you start talking about your long-term vision with the custom. And you say, "Look, this technology Business Catalyst, I like it because it's always being updated by Adobe. It's hosted in one place. All of my clients are on the same version, so I don't have to worry about juggling five different versions or 10 different versions. I've got all my customers on a single version, so whoever calls me for support, it makes it really, really efficient, and I'm always thinking about the long term. I'm always thinking about how you and I are going to partner up, and we're going to built this business model."
And, it's funny, the business owner a lot of times will come back and say,
"Well, what happens if this doesn't work out? Can I take this to anybody?"
And that question is pretty much pre-loaded with the fact that they have failure in mind. Like they're thinking about the fact that you're going to start working together and they're not going to like you, and they're going to cancel service with you and move to somebody else. Like, they've been burned so many times, that that's actually what they're getting at. And that's what that question of, "Can I take this to somebody else?" Is based 100% around the fact that they believe that they're going to hire you, and that you're going to completely fail after three months or six months or whatever.
And I love to address that question, because I love to talk about how many clients end up stickpin with my firm, and if they do want to move to another Business Catalyst partner, I always give them a link to our directory, and I say, "Look, there's people all over the world who work on this technology. There's a process that Adobe has to handle this. There's rock starts that are in your-", and I guarantee you that in Southern California there's a handful of BC partners that I'm sure they could check out. But there are rock stars world-wide, that are great with BC. And they have that option if it ends up not working out. But I like to always address that, that's not how my business model works. Like my business model is build that site up front and then totally, just, wow you with service on the ongoing bit. So that you don't have to think about moving off.
Bryan: Sure. And that's- you hit on a couple of different things that I've actually added. Because I am a programmer I have clients that are locked-in and they're on e-commerce platforms that basically, they can't switch to BC because their site is so online already and they're just locked-in on their programs. And so, with those programs, I'm not trying to enhance theirs or even trying to move them in, but I've told them, the use WordPress as their blog, and I've tried to show them, if we were to switch the blot over to BC, use the BC Catalyst as the sub-domain, where's the blog at? Blog dot or whatever, I can show you how it will increase with the SEO increase all these different things. And how much easier it is to release content over time. And with WordPress, they're having issues that they did get hacked by one of their competitors.
Bryan: Yeah, so. So with them, I explained, I said look, "We don't need to move the e-commerce partner, but here are the features we can use within the photo-albums, or with the readers submission and so forth." So, I showed them that, and they are very in-tune to doing that, without using the e-commerce, except for noticed that, well, with Adobe Business Catalyst, the server, is it going to be in America? Is it going to be in Australia, etc.? And I showed them, "Well, we can set it up in New Jersey, using the New Jersey Data Center, I believe it was." And they're very keen on doing that. So, there's the dynamics for me. If the customer says, "I want to use Business Catalyst or I don't." I try to show them the benefits of going towards it, but in the end, if they push to keep in on WordPress, then I just have to keep it that way, especially with that particular client.
Brent: So, as far as on the e-commerce side, I'm just kind of curious, why do you know think that- What's the- I know that they're some complexities of certain e-commerce sites that BC just might not have the feature base to back that up, but I am curious a little bit about why you're being held back on the e-commerce side particular?
Bryan: With the e-commerce they use, they use Pinnacle Cart on a dedicated server, and they use if for their shipping services. They need to have an hourly import to update the inventory, and they need to have a hourly export of all of the orders that come it. And it needs to update into their Sage MAS 90 system so it all has to be automated. And because of that, Business Catalyst, yes it has the APIs it has that ability to call information, but I cannot, based on looking at the API, I've looked. I've looked into doing it, and at this point, the inventory updates, the hourly calls, all of those things, at this point, the API, it just doesn't seem like it's going to work for that.
Bryan: In the way that they need to work.
Bryan: So, and then, on top of that, it's a space issue, as well. With their existing dedicated, they're set up to where they have eight terabytes and they're at half of that within the server system itself.
Bryan: With images and videos, etc. So, they require a lot of space, a lot of bandwidth, that Business Catalyst that their fees each month would be well over $300.
Brent: Yeah. Yeah, and thinking about that I mean, I always will tell people when they're selling BC in generally, just know what the technology has to offer, just so you can make the right recommendation to your customers. I mean the last thing you want to do is recommend that BC is the end-all be-all solution to websites on the Internet. That's not true, but I think for the majority of small businesses the BC e-commerce is a really great solution, but obviously if somebody's taking up 500 gigs of storage.
Brent: The pricing kind of breaks down.
Bryan: Exactly, and that's why, when I originally did sign them up as a partner in 2008, I had them in mind for Business Catalyst before it was even bought by Adobe, because of features that were there and so forth, but knowing the requirements- I did a seven year plan with them, to establish where they want to be in seven years, and with the staffing, and the easier it is on the staff with the clients, the easier it is with that, that's what they're looking for. They don't want people manually exporting every hour, they don't want people importing, because when you do that there are so many more errors and so many more issues within the systems. And so, that's why they choose to use the other platform, because of the ability for me to go back into it and reprogram it. I mention that it's using Pinnacle Cart, but at this point, with all of the changes I've done to it, it is no longer Pinnacle Cart, but their own Cart system.
Brent: It's interesting. You're talking about integrating the blog into their site, and something that I would recommend, I know that there's going to be some really cool features that are coming out in BC that are going to have some enhanced e-mail marketing capabilities and stuff like that. But thinking about, how if you want to continue to use Pinnacle Cart for the actual transactional stuff, but even looking at the API for how you can start utilizing other features within BC like e-mail marketing or the CRM system to start, not just blogging on the platform, but using BC for some of that marketing capabilities, might also be something that you could look at for a customer like that.
Bryan: And, like I said, I mentioned showing them. And they are-
Basically, I am their lead, wherever I take them, they are willing to go as long as hey are confident with it. An that's the thing, as long as I'm confident that it will help us meet the goals that we've set, then they'll go that direction. And so, showing them the features with the Facebook tie in and sign into Facebook. And the ability to add a drop of a hat, any one of the modules, and not be paying any additional fees. And that's their big thing, if they ask me to add something, I have to give them a quote every single time. And so with Adobe, with Business Catalyst, if they're trained well enough that monthly-
I've been switching a lot of them over, even the 12 that I have, 10 of them have monthly maintenance agreements. I actually call them maintenance monthly production fees. Because maintenance it give such a derogatory term, because it's not maintaining the site. It's not that the site is always going to crash or anything like that, but we go through a production list where we set up goals for your website and we make sure that everything that we add to the site is part of that production goal.
So it's a monthly production service. And every person that I've worked with when I was setting this up, I asked them, "What is the minimum that you're looking for in a month?" And most of them were like, "We don't want a service we don't to pay for it. If we're not going to update we don't want to pay for it." But I showed them based on other sites that are similar to theirs that the traffic they receive is because they do update on a weekly basis.
Bryan: I showed them that, a simple update of a blog, yes, it's a blog. But use it as your news feed. "We're launch this new product. We're going to a chamber event. We're going to be at the golf course for this tournament." During Christmas time, I had one client that was saying,
"Yeah, I just gave $10,000 to this boy's home." And I said, "Look, that is great news, you should be putting that on your website. You should be putting a press release together and putting a link back to your website."
And he goes, "Okay, let's do it." And he goes, "I don't think it will work or anything." His site in two weeks, and all the bounce back on that donation, he ended up going from 500 people visiting, uniques, in a week, to over 5000 in a week.
Bryan: Yeah, and he came back and was like, "What else can we do? This is great. What else can we do?" And I said, "That's exactly my point. That's what I saying with these monthlies. That's what I can do with this, is to show you how to do that."
Bryan: Yeah, go ahead.
Brent: No, just finish that thought because I've got some stuff that I want to talk to you about.
Bryan: As you can see, with development, I'm not just a web developer, I also help them with the business in the business that they're doing. When I meet with them, I break down their system and their business, to assist them, not only in the web and online, but in any area that is possible. And that's where a lot- and that's why I have to have the data that my data girls and the graphics team, because I don't have a lot of that time to just be in the office to do the work, but I meet with them, so I'm more of the consultant/design, give them, "Here's what I'm thinking." And then I push it to the design team to make it a reality.
Brent: Yeah. So, one thing I want to challenge you a little bit on, Brian, is you mentioned that you're sitting on 12 BC sites and you want to go to 25 over the next six weeks and then you want to hit 50. And I do have a specific series that will give you a methodology and a platform to do that, and that's something that's part of Pro, and I'll talk about that here. But first I want to challenge you a little bit on specifically focusing on just a number of sites as a method of growth.
Brent: You're looking at a client base, and you're already starting to do it. I think you're already seeing the opportunity that being an online business partner with your clients is something that is probably a lot more profitable then just being a web developer with your clients. And it sounds like to me, from a staffing point of view, you've started looking at other cogs in that wheel. And for me the online business wheel has a lot of different parts to it. I mean there's the basics of building the site that includes HTML, CSS, it includes design, it includes Photoshop Comps, and knowing how to actually make something that is credible for your customers.
Brent: But then there's also these other aspects of it. The search, there's the training of the customer. Not only training on the system, but training them on what it means to have an online business. So, you've got helping them with how they use their e-mail list, how they grow their e-
mail list, how they blog, so that people can find them through search engines. How to simply use something like the Google key word tracker, and be able to do some key-word research on the web, so that when they create their blog post they might be a little more key-word smart then just putting a blog post out on the Internet. You actually show them, "Look, when you create a post, you don't just want to create content on the web, you want to create content that we know people are searching for."
And so, I'm not saying that it's 100% of how you create your blog post titles and such, but you want to start bringing that thinking into your customers. So there's the nuts and bolts of building the online business, and I always use the term online business, not websites, because that's what Business Catalyst was founded on. And, when you start selling the online business, it starts changing the rules of the game considerable against other open source and other solutions out there. And you start to spend a lot less time talking to the technology, and typically when you bring the online vision to the table, instead of just being a web developer, your actual pricing can increase dramatically.
How much you charge to be a online business consultant, typically, I've found in my own experience, we doubled our cost, we tripled it, then we quadrupled it. We went from offering $5000 sites to $30,000 solutions within literally a year. And that was because we changed from building websites to comprehensive online solutions. Now, granted those $30,000 projects included a little bit more scope of work, because we had to start tying in SEO and good copy and social marketing strategy, e-mail marketing strategy etc. But overall, we were profiting more on a per-project basis.
So, looking at that initial project with you customer, instead of just a website, looking at it as an online business and how you can start creating that vision with your customer is one thing that I'll tell you off the bat, instead of focusing on how many sites you're building, focus on how many complete online businesses you're building, because let's say you had 30K projects, and you did ten of those per year, like that for me would be a lot more powerful than $65,000 sites. Because not only are you building these comprehensive online business solutions, you're also creating a partnership with those ten customers. And in my experience, that on-going service comes in two different parts.
So, we've got the build, so the build part is what we just talked about. That's creating the online framework that the customers going to exist on the Internet, and then we've got the management portion. So, we've build the site, now we've got to manage it. Typically, we find that our customers need some kind support in that department. Whether it's being able to pick up the phone and being able to call my team, and be able to ask questions and get on-demand help desk/on demand training, and that comes in a lot of different colors, it could come in a fix retainer where they get an hour of support per month, it could come in an all-you-can-eat retainer where they can call you as much as they want for a fixed fee. It could come in the form of dedicated webinar training every single month.
You could actually pool your clients together. This is actually something that we like to do for our base fee. So let's say that we mark BC up for all of our customers, but we also include some give-ins in that fee, and one of those would be a monthly training. And we don't typically cover just the software we cover things like email marketing, blogging, SEO. We do a lot of generic training for just the online business stuff with those customers, but that's like the manage portion, so helping them manage their online business is something that can come in the form of either you doing the work, or you train them and support them to do the work themselves.
So that's something that if you pull in less sites, but each site you pull in has a managed component to it, that you're helping them manage. Like you said, that PR post, you could almost do a month free of the manage training for a client and once they see that value, they'll sign on for the next 11 months. If you're able to give a client a free month of helping them manage their site, and you're able to deliver some results like, "Look we got that PR post online. We took you form 500 visits to 5000 visits. Drink the Kool-
Aid faster. Get on board with this." Most people are willing to pay you to do that, and the paying part become less of an issue.
And then there's a third component which is grow, which is helping your client grow their business, and this usually comes in the form of some more in depth online market. We do a lot of contracts with our clients where we'll start off with $500 a month for online marketing service. That might come in the form of helping them send out their monthly -emails, it might come in the form of hiring a copy writer to blog once a week for them. There's a great website you need to look at. It's called WriterAccess.com, and actually plugs right into BC. It's a website that you can contract topic area experts to write blog posts. And they write that content and it literally goes into BC as a draft post. And then your customer can just go in and approve it and they can just work directly with that writer, and they've got something like 5000 writers that work for them. So, it's pretty inexpensive.
So, you can plug in services like WriterAccess and stuff like that, but the whole point of the Grow phase is you're not just thinking about how we can make this widget better. You're working with them as an online business partner to help them grow their business. SEO is another place, where if you see that there's a lot of demand in the search space, then you can offer SEO services. If you don't personally do managed SEO or managed link building, find a partner. There's lots of great SEO companies out there that you can white label and mark their services up.
There's a company here in Denver called seOverflow. They do a great white label offering, and they can come in and do the campaign, they can do the link building. Because link building is a highly technical art. It's a science and an art. But if you're out there focusing on the build and focusing on getting clients, managing an ongoing link building campaign is something that can be really resource intensive. You can go in there though, and, we have contracts with SEO for our clients where the SEO portion alone is $2,000 a month. And then we're layering on top of that a pay-per-click campaign where our management fee is an additional thousand dollars a month, and the customers spending $5000 a month on pay-per-click. So these types of things, they start to compound.
And instead of having, 60 clients you can have 10 to 15 clients with proper grow campaigns where you're making $200,000 or $300,000 a year off of these campaigns that you're running, and you're delivering a lot more value then just a website to the client. Like, they start to actually see that you're their online business partner. And that's something that's hugely valuable. So, I think there's two ways to go about growing the business. You can launch a whole bunch of sites, or you can look at the sites you have and try to do something a little bit more in depth with each of those clients. Now, what's that sorry.
Bryan: Oh, it's okay. So, you're saying you think with- there's really a couple parts of what I do. A lot of what I've been pushing towards of the 12, six of them are non-profits where they don't have a thousand dollars a month to pay for that type of service. But they are willing to do two hours of updates a month for $150 and to do, when they need training, they want training once a quarter. So, they do have that ability to do the lower end style of a basic agreement I would say. To where it's a starter package. But they don't seem, when it comes to advertising-
I took one non-profit and I showed him how on Facebook with some simple ads, he can grow his Facebook Fan page from 100 people to 500 and showed him how to do that with, including links to a blog post. He's on the Business Catalyst platform, links to the platform. To show him how the growth. As your Facebook page grows, your website will grow because they're going to be checking out who you really are. Facebook is great for that interaction, but when it comes down to the nitty-gritty of what your organization does, they're going to go back to your website.
So what we were able to establish over a two month period, is that he would get about 5000 people from these adds to the website, and only about 10% of them would actually click to like his fan page. So he went from 100 to 1000 Facebook people in the two month period by doing that.
Brent: Yeah. And I want to, a little bit, push back on that non-
profits would not spend money on advertising and marketing. Non-profits, I've worked extensively in the non-profit space. I've been on boards of non-
profits. And for them, just like a business, they need to see a return on it. And whether that return is more e-mail address that they can send their message out to, so if one of their components of how they grade their success is based on awareness, for instance, or how many people they're able to touch, these are things that non-profits think about.
Some non-profits are driven highly by how many donations are they getting?
How much are they able to raise to go into their general fund. General fund is one of the hardest things for non-profits to get money for, because a lot of people like to donate to non-profits for specific programs. So there's program funding and there's general funding. So a lot of times generic donations on a website are usually earmarked for general fund.
So when you walk into a non-profit and you start to talk their language, and you say, "Look, we're going to help you guys do some marketing campaigns and we're going to try to focus this on first moving traffic to actual e-mail address, so we can actually start to do permission based marketing to these people, so instead of you guys spending $1000 a month on Google and people come to your website and they leave your website, you're going to spend $1000 a months on Google, people are going to come to your website, and they're going to opt in for something, and over the next three months we're going to turn those e-mail addresses into donors, and this is how we're going to do that." Right?
If you explain to them that vision, they're a lot more likely to start paying for marketing, but I will agree with you in the sense that non-
profits love training. They love doing it themselves. So, if you can start that relationship with training them how to do certain things with a monthly training, sitting down in person with them, really getting them to adopt the system and to start using it. Some of our non-profit clients, definitely are our heaviest users of BC. They love getting their hands dirty, they love updating their content. Because a big part of non-profits is that awareness. They love telling their story, so if you can get them to be able to tell their story better, using the website, using the online business, then they'll start to buy into that vision.
But then, all non-profits they have to raise money. They're in a different tax code, but part of a non-profit is still like running a business. They need to be able to attract people and raise money. Now some non-profits are purely grant funded, but in their case they're looking for awareness. They've got certain numbers that they need to report in their grants back to their funders to say, "Hey look. This is how many more people we are exposing to our vision." In those cases, you focus heavily on the vision, you focus heavily on those number, page views, visits, e-mail address, those types of things.
But for a lot of non-profits, they are boot-strapped and they need the dollars. They need the money to come it. So if you can tie the online marketing stuff, the e-mail newsletters, the SEO, the pay-per-click, the social media stuff, back into them actually raising dollars, it becomes very compelling.
Another thing that I'll urge you to check out and do some homework on, because you do have 50% of your clients on BC at least, are non-profits, and maybe you're aware of this program, maybe you're not. But basically, Google Grants, is basically Google's give back to the world, and you can go in and basically apply for a Google Grant, and what you actually end up getting is up to $10,000 a month in free AdWords budget if you're approved for this grant. And you go in and you set up that campaign for your non-
Now, you're only allowed to bid up to a dollar per key-word term. But something that we've done for our non-profit clients, is they hire us as a consultant to help them through the Google Grant process, and then we help them with the application, we make sure that they're submitting the application correctly and this is a few month process. I want to say Google comes and approves their Google Grant applicants once per quarter.
So you can come in and say, "Look we're going to help you guys on the management side. We're going to help you learn how to use the online business and then while you're doing that process, you're going to pay us a consulting fee. We're going to take you though the Google Grants process, but if you guys do get approved through Google Grant, then we can actually help you guys manage that $10,000 per month ad spent. So you're getting a huge bang for your buck. And maybe you might pay us, 10% of that ad spent, like a thousand buck a month to manage the $10,000."
Typically though we've found through Google grants is it's kind of hard to actually use the $10,000 a month, because most non-profits have a very niche focus, and you're also limited to that dollar per-click-area so you can just go in and highjack people's search terms, but you can typically go in and get it to use $3,000 or 4,000 a month in spend, and then if you charge a %10 management fee that's $300 or 400 a month to the non-profit to have you guys on call to manage that. So becoming aware of those different opportunities, just because non-profits are in a different tax bracket, and they say, "Oh, no, we don't have money for marketing." There's different ways to kind of slice that pie out.
Brent: And then, on the, the fastest way to get from 12 sites to 50 sites. I'm curious if you found my Pro content on Crushing Verticals, if you've taken a look at that yet?
Bryan: I looked at several of them, let me see which one. I made some notes. Yeah, I don't think I watched that one.
Brent: Okay, so, I'll send you some links post this conversation. And a couple of those are going to be specifically around growing your business. And we're definitely aware that how Pro is structured right now, all of our content is not very clear, of what we have in there and what good tracks are to look at. And that's something that we're going back to the drawing board and we're looking at, because we have over 200 pieces of content, and some of those pieces of content are even like- There's like hours, and hours, and hours of content.
So it's kind of like- Part of the issue with our Pro tutorials is where do people start. Where do they start? If they're looking to grow their business, if they're looking to up their coding skills in BC etc. And that's why I wanted to have this conversation because what I wanted to do is I want to link you to probably a dozen posts that are on this track of what you're talking about. How do you go from 12 to 50 sites?
And there's two big ideas that I'll link you to. One of those is on referral marketing, is on how you actually get your customers and how you build an active referral pipeline. And so that post is, I believe it's a two part series that I did and I'll send you a link to that one. And then the other one is the idea of verticals within Business Catalyst. And that is, instead of being the web generalist that just takes any client that comes to the door, and it sounds like you've got some partnerships with some domain registrars and stuff, which I'm very interested to learn how you set those up, because I think other partners would be very interested in that.
But the idea of a vertical, and I've got like, 200 or 300 minutes of content on this, so I link to the post, but I'll give you the mile-high view, which is looking in a specific niche market and establishing a brand and a presence in the niche market that is building on-line businesses for remote-controlled pilots, building online businesses for restaurants, building online businesses for lawyers that operate in Riverside and do intellectual property law. Getting really specific and crazy with your ideal customer, where you literally hone in on a market and you say, this is my market. And then I've got a plan that backs that up of how to go about moving into a vertical.
But the idea is, you come up with a handful of pre-built templates in BC. You leverage the replicate site framework within Business Catalyst where you can actually have a template site, you can replicate site, you can apply some personalization and customization so that you're really able to leverage that three, or four, or five hours to get that site up to where it's customized for your client. So let' say, for instance, you were going after the restaurant vertical, which restaurants are, it's a huge vertical, but there is competitions there, but a lot of people get restaurants, so I use it in a lot of my examples.
But in the restaurant case you'd have like a pizza joint template. You'd have a fine dining template. You'd have a pasta place template. You'd have a fast food template. You'd have a cafe template. Right. So you'd have these five templates that you invest in, or you build them kind as you need to, as you're moving throughout your vertical, and you go to conferences within the vertical. You join associations, you become an expert in this vertical area, and we launched as a side project, we had one designer working part-time on this project, and I was selling part time. I was also managing our agency and doing all that stuff, doing those big online business builds. And over six months we launched over 30 BC sites and eventually sold our vertical, this specific vertical, over to another Business Catalyst partner, and then we've taken that content that framework and we've pumped in into BC Gurus.
And so, inside of a vertical, you can build a reputation that you're the go-
to company for online businesses within that space. And it's really powerful, and it allows you to not have to reinvent the wheel every time a new project comes up, like you're no longer learning about each new type of business. You're honed in on a specific vertical, and that's something that's extremely powerful, if you're looking to just leverage and just build lots, and lots, and lots of sites.
And then, these online business, the manage, and the grow portion of this, like teaching your clients how to use the system, becomes really easy, because you can throw ten people that are the same type of client onto a webinar and you can teach them how to use the site all at once. You can use that for your sales presentations where you get all the people that are speaking the same language they have the same set of needs, and you can push them onto a similar webinar and you can pitch them all at the same time.
And so that kind of method we've found, is definitely the fastest way to go from 12 sites to 60 sites within a six month period of time. I think if you followed some of my framework within my vertical stuff, I think your eyes would be opened a little bit to how you could go about doing that.
Bryan: Definitely, and that's the base. Ideally, it's nice to see the number of sites. I'm not one to put up a bunch of clients- Half the time, my clients are the ones telling me, "Do you want me to write a testimony for you? How can we help you promote your business?" And so, for me, that's nice that they offer that, but I've always been in that mindset of that I protect the client and the client list from others. And so, a lot of them, I have some of them that want non-compete contracts, so I guarantee that, because it's easy in that particular category because I don't see myself taking another client because they already take up 15 to 20 hours a week.
Bryan: So that's, I definitely have a lot more to think about.
Brent: Yeah. I mean if a client came to me, I'll just tell you how I'd handle that. If a restaurant came to me and said, "Brent, we want you to sign a non-compete." I would laugh at them in a jesting kind of way, and the reason being is, they will benefit from me being an expert on Denver restaurants much more than they'll benefit from me not working with any other restaurant in Denver. And that's really easy for me to explain to them.
I could say, "Look, yeah, you don't want me to work with any other restaurant in Denver. That makes sense. And I'm more than happy to welcome you to go to a web-designer and you're their first restaurant in Denver. And I welcome you to go to them, and hire them over me. But let me tell you a little bit about what I've learned over the last seven years of marketing and working with some of the top restaurants in Denver. I've learned that these media outlets completely such and are waste of money. I've learned that by building website in this way, I'm able to leverage mobile content, and also, I have relationships with the top people at Yelp, and we can do Yelp promotions with you. I have relationships with these three magazines, and I know that they actually work, and I know how the SEO landscape in Denver is played out. Because I sit around and I research this for ten clients and I figure out how to get your guys at different points and rankings."
And I can say, "Look, you can have that knowledge and you can join me and my client base, and you can think that the works for you, or you can go hire the web developer that's never made a restaurant website ever in his life." And they go, "Oh. This makes sense. Never mind. I won't make you sign a stupid non-compete agreement."
Bryan: Yeah, in most cases, non-compete, those are more for the client I was telling you about earlier. They can switch with their e-commerce but they can do it with their blog. That client, they're also, out of all my clients, I didn't even get into clients or turnovers or anything. I have like 99% continuance rate, every year with all my clients.
Bryan: Yeah. I only lost one. I've had 300 clients and I've had three that have up and left. I've had several that have left. Because they got swindled away or whatever you want to call it. Basically the person told them they were going to save more money, and then they found out that they didn't save money that they spent more and they have nothing to show for it.
Bryan: So, for me, it's easy for me to sell a site to someone and show them the benefits of it. And to do that. The big thing is that push to get it to where- Most sites I'll be honest with you I am not in the ballpark of the $30,000 for a website with Business Catalyst. My main goal with Business Catalyst is to provide them that online marketing. Now, going back to you're adding on the features of management of fees, of management of key-words and management of their site, doing additional trainings, and the continued monthly support, yes, I can see $30,000 in year for some of them. But, yeah, I think that's a good place we're going to start with that is to look at that.
Brent: For sure. Have you, just on the managed side, have you taken a look under our tools, our Business Catalyst client training videos?
Bryan: I did look at a few of them, but the seem more basic on where I've already been.
Bryan: That's actually one of the features of where I like Pro, is are the videos. One of my clients asked me about the e-mail marketing and doing that and I was on vacation. I said, "Here, take this." I had already put it on the site, so I could look at it and test it. So I sent him the link and said, "Go ahead and take a look at this. This is going to be part of the maintenance agreement that we discussed, and get back to me." And he ended up watching all of the videos. And he came back and he said, "That is great. How many are you doing per week, and what else can we do with these?"
Bryan: So that is an area, I do see that is a great benefit, especially to the client side of it, but like he said, what's the plan on producing more?
Brent: Yeah. So, we launched that a couple of months ago, and there's 40 base videos there right now. And our big project that we're working on inside of the white label trainer is actually getting all that content, "translated" for the Australian market. We're doing an Australian accent version of that. So once that's done, we'll be releasing additional tactical training. So everything in there right now is how to use BC. There's going to be another evolution of the White Label trainer that's actually going to have business training for your client as well.
So, when we just talked about what are good methods for email marketing?
How do you do- what are good tactics for a blog post? How do you write a good blog post title, for example? Those types of things, we're going to create those videos, short three to four minute videos, for your customer so that you can actually start leveraging our expertise to help you in the manage and grow phases with your client. So, how that will work, is, if you have the trainer installed on your website, those video will automatically start appearing within the trainer as well.
So, keep in mind, the trainer is only a couple months old, and we wanted to kind of see how it was being used and where it was being installed. And then the third evolution is going to be to allow our members to upload their own video content. So, that's also something we're keeping our eye on. But the White Label trainer, it's a good value for Pro, and I'll send you some examples of how our clients have installed the trainer app. And we cover streaming and we keep updating that as part of the subscription. But, it's only a part of the Pro community right now.
I think if you haven't looked at the vertical content, and you haven't looked at some of my sales content, that's going to the fastest way for you to start getting turned on to some strong ideas to get you from 12 sites to 50 sites in the next six months. There's some specific content that I've created and put a lot of time into to help partners on that journey. And what I'll do is, after this conversation, and if I end up posting this on my blog, I'll just link to those specific videos that I think you should take a look at. And it's specifically around the idea of growing your BC partnership and what are some of the methods that we've used that have worked. And then hopefully give you some clues as to what's next for your business.
I know a little bit about your market, and I know a little bit about your company of what I've learned over this last hour, but I can't tell you what to do next, but what I can do is hopefully turn you on to some ideas that might work well for you.
Bryan: Yeah, so, one last real area is the pricing. I have stopped actually listing the pricing, partly because, based on the agreements with everybody, I found that I put it in with the monthly maintenance and put it all together, and that was one structure that I found that helped me as well. Do you- when they see the Business Catalyst and they see one partner is getting four hours of help and video webinars and I charge them 250, and the other one is doing the same thing, but because they were on with me from day one, they're only at 150. Have you ever experienced any issues with them coming back to a lower price?
Brent: So, your concern is you've got multiple clients and you've got kind of a variable pricing depending on who the client is and where they came into you and you're worried about those clients knowing what each others' pricing is, or publishing that pricing?
Bryan: Yeah, well, not necessarily publishing, because I would like to be able to publish set ups. Of being able to say, here's a base online business assistance and going that route. And saying, "Here's what we'll for our basic entry-level website. Instead of saying it's $9 a month of $11 a month for hosting, and then add on these other features, I want to package it all together.
Bryan: So price packages, how did you come up with your structure with that?
Brent: And I'm kind of hearing that you want to put that pricing out there on your website, is that kind of what I understand?
Bryan: Yes, and just putting that if you're new to the system and this is what you want, this is the price we have to offer yes.
Brent: Yeah. Publishing pricing in general, especially for a service business, is really- it's a very sharp double-edge sword. Because you are in essence you're potentially turning people away before you've been able to build value with them. Or you are locking yourself into a box before you've been able to properly do a discovery with the client. Because a support retainer that's picked from a menu on your website for a company that's doing $50 million a year online and a support retainer for a company that is doing $500,000 a year online- it's dangerous to put yourself in that box.
If you go down a vertical, and you have a specific vertical package offering, like this is my restaurant website package, and this is my restaurant website retainer that's very specific to that niche you can typically get away with putting that pricing online, but one of the reasons that you would do that, the benefits would be that you're doing some kind of mass market appeal where you're marketing to a variety of people all at the same time, and you're trying to get them to kind self-serve the sale.
So what I would do in a vertical, my sale got down to where I could do an say in less than an hour on the phone with somebody, and one of the reason is that my website, it did a lot of the sale for me. And it also served as my actual point of sale. A customer would actually use the website to sign up for the service. And in a vertical you can get away with that because your pitch is very specific. And you're trying to mass load customers into the funnel at the same time. We would do these promotions with the associations in that vertical, where they would send an e-mail out to 3000 people pointing them to our website. I'm a good salesman, but I can't have 3000 conversations, right?
So, I basically was doing marketing tactics that was getting a lot of people to our website, and then qualifying those people though an e-mail opt-in, and then also qualifying them through here's our website packages. And then the interests people would either opt-in, sign-up for our webinar, or call us straight away. And so, we could use that published pricing for our advantage to shorten the sale cycle. Now, if you have clients in a variety of different industries and you publish a standardized pricing, you need to be willing to offer that pricing to all of your clients and get rid of your variable pricing.
Now if your sales process right now is, a customer calls you us and you go through a comprehensive needs analysis, discovery with them, and then you get to a proposal and that proposal is different for each one of your customers because they're all in different niches and different markets, I would never publish pricing on the Internet, because in that situation, you have no idea what the pricing is going to be, and you're only going to get yourself into trouble. And, your non-profit client, there over at the right, they maybe need different support than your e-commerce store from the left, and if you try to standardize that between those two different markets, you're going to get yourself into trouble and those clients are going to be unhappy.
So, I would start with having that sort of pricing models being built offline for your own needs so that you can answer it quickly and effectively, but I wouldn't standardize that if I were you. And also, when you get to price, you want to qualify somebody with budget. You kind of do and you kind of don't, because asking somebody on your first meeting,
"What's your budget?" First of all, they're never going to tell you the truth, and if they tell you the truth, it means that they're an idiot, because it means they're showing you their hands.
So, you need to build trust with somebody. And a lot of times I've found that, when I get a 30K for a project, very rarely did that budget exist before we started talking. Maybe they had 10K earmarked, but then as we unpacked the box, we realized that they needed something actually much bigger than 10K and of course they said, "Look, we can phase this out or what have you." But maybe they don't have the full budget allocated, but if you build the value in an elegant way that appeals to them, they will find the money. And so, you want to give yourself that opportunity to build that value with the customer.
And definitely you want to quality them, you want to figure out, what their revenue per year are? How many people do they have working for them? Do they have a board? Do they have investors? Are they a brand new business or have they been around for five or six years? We typically like to work with established businesses. If you're a brand new start up, I typically will say, "Look, you don't even know who you are yet, so I don't want to be that company that helps you discover who you are." That's not our forte. I'm good at that, but that's not what I like to get paid for.
So, we like to see businesses that have been around for five years. That have tried another web company and they've been burned and they've tasted what it feels like to have somebody build a WordPress site and abandon them. I like those types of clients. And that also helps me understand, if they paid $10,000 to some WordPress guy, and they got abandoned, it tells me, first of all, that they've spent 10K on a website before. They know that it's valuable. They know the pain of a person not being around is, they know what that feels like. So, I think pricing, if you're in that general market, I would never publish pricing. I would publish pricing in a vertical, if I'm going for the mass market appeal.
Bryan: Yeah, so that answered my question on pricing. Well, I've toyed with the idea of doing the packages for like restaurants or non-profits, but then putting their estimated prices based upon an analysis. Because, I've done that before, where I've said, "Oh, it will be about five grand."
And then I got to actually looking into the business. And what they described to me and what we actually ended up planning on doing were two different things, but yet he was stuck on that $5000 price tag.
Brent: Yeah. And, I've got this series on interaction, and I'm kind of getting the feeling that you haven't watched a lot of my content. Like, Interactions of the Sales Process, that's a really good one that goes around this idea. And then there's actually one I have called, 3X Pricing of Business Catalyst.
Brent: The interaction model, typically for me is, you start with small interactions with somebody. And you don't start with the proposes in your first, second or third meeting. Like, proposal is reserved for meeting six or seven, and that's typically where I talk about price is in that sixth or seventh meeting, as part of the proposal. And literally, I never send over a proposal as a document in an e-mail. I always schedule an hour with the client or two hours with the client and I present my proposal. I literally sit down with them. I know that clients do not read proposals if I send them over to them.
What they do is, I e-mail them a PDF document, I used to do this, I did this for year. I probably delivered 500 proposals by just e-mailing a proposal and then just waiting to hear back from them. And I've found that the majority of clients would open the proposal. They'd fast forward to the pricing page, they'd look at the pricing, they'd close the document, they'd e-mail me back and they'd say, "We really like you guys, but you're way over our budget." And I'm like, "Crap. What just happened? Why did I loose that deal?" And that's why my closed rate sucked.
And so, what I do now is, first of all, I build up a series of interactions with the client. So, by the time I sit down with them with the proposal, I've already met with them five times. Right, I've already had five phone calls, or I've had an in person and a few phone calls. We've already learned a lot about each other. I've showed up on time for everyone of my meetings, I've always delivered what I told them I was going to after the meeting. I've built this rapport with the client over interactions.
And when I deliver the proposal to them, I literally sit down through a webinar, and I have some actual recordings of me doing this in Pro. I sit down with a screen cast and it's story time. Grab a cup of coffee and Brent's going to tell you a story. And I literally walk them through the proposal, and I give them the scope item in my own worlds and how it effects their business for every single item that I include. And nothing in the proposal that I present to them, is ever something that we haven't already talked about.
So when I literally go through the document, I'm verbally reinforcing the vision and the story for their business and I take them through that proposal over an hour or sometimes an hour and half or two hours. Sometimes these conversations balloon into a big meeting, and when I do that, one of the things that I do kind of as a joke, is when I sit down with them I'll say, "Okay. Thank you for coming to the meeting. I'm really happy to present to you guys my proposal. Before we really dig in deep, what I want to is just, let's all turn to page 10, and boom, there we go. See this, it's $25,000. Let's all just sit there and stare at the number for a minute and be like, that's way over what we were talking about. And let's just get comfortable with that $25,000 number, and then what I'd us to do is just really quickly is just accept that that number is here, and then let's go back to page one, and I'm going to spend the next hour talking to you guys about how we get to that number."
And then what they do is-, it gets this idea that 25K is a big deal, off the table, and I literally tell them, "If we get through this next hour, and you don't understand where that $25,000 comes from, then that's where let's dig in deeper and let's get into some questions." And almost always, we finish with the hour of the proposal presentation, and they go, "I get it. We had this other proposal from this other company. And it was a lot less than you, but they weren't doing a fraction of what you're doing." And you immediately differentiate yourselves. What's that?
Bryan: You actually just show them what they're basically putting up that money for.
Brent: Absolutely, and you don't leave that up to chance. You don't leave it up to them, possibly looking through your proposal in an in depth way. You walk them through that. But I'll send you some content that actually is me doing that in real time, and you'll see how that unfolds. I'm not sure if I do the, "let's go to page 10" thing or not. There's one of the sales calls that I have online though, where literally the client like right away says, because I sent the proposal ahead of time, and I actually don't do that anymore. But they were like, "You're three times what the nearest competitor is." And then, over the call you'll actually see me build that up. And it makes complete sense. So I'll send you a lot of links on that stuff.
Bryan: Yeah. Okay. The more that you can send me the better. I have gone through- I just pulled up my notebook. I went through about 18 of the videos it looks like. And so, the content, some of them seemed very basic. And I might have been distracted on a couple other ones, I'm not sure, but I have notes. Normally, I recall these things fairly quickly but for whatever reason I can't.
Bryan: I have some notes, but on one video, I wrote one note, "Good observation on pricing." So, obviously, I listened to one that had to with pricing already. So.
Brent: Yeah. For sure. Like I said, I'll send you my quick list of-
I stand behind a lot. There's a lot of content on there. It's a lot to wade through. So, I'll send you my quick list of things that I've put out there, that are inline with what we've talked about today, and if you've already watched them, it is what it is. But otherwise, I'm pretty sure they'll be some posts on there that fit into this conversation. And, you can obviously just let me know where you want to go from the point of view of Pro after this. You've still got some time to close out if you still need to.
Otherwise, have a look at it, we've always got new stuff coming thought the pike. I did do a recent follow up on vertical post that went live yesterday. And, so I think that will also be something that you'll want to watch. It's longer content, so definitely go to have your cup of coffee like ready, or maybe just listen to it in the background while you're doing some other work, and pay attention when you want to. But definitely some stuff you want to take a look at, but yeah, somebody's car alarms going off in the parking lot. I'm sure you can hear that. That will be a nice sprinkle of variety for our video here.
Bryan: There we go. Well, I do appreciate your time, and taking the time out to discuss that with me. You've given me a lot to look at. Like I said, 2008, although there's only 12 on there, I think that's a great starting point. To work with them first, and move forward on adding these whether they'd be a package or not, a package for individual restaurants, or areas, even non-profits just looking at that.
Bryan: I'll go through that content as you send me the links, and I'll definitely get back to you on progressing forward.
Bryan: All right.
Brent: Sounds good, Bryan. I appreciate your time today. I will probably be posting this content up on our blog in some format, so stay tune on that. I'll link out to your company, as well. So people can get to know you as part of the partner community as well.
Bryan: Okay, I appreciate that.
Brent: All right. See you Bryan.