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Adam Franklin started Blue Wire Media with his friend Toby Jenkins nearly 11 years ago. Today the duo speak at events around the world and help digital agencies and consultants grow their businesses, but things were very different when they first started out.
Blue Wire Media started as a web design agency even though neither Adam or Toby were designers, and over time they expanded their skills and became a full-service digital agency offering everything from web design to hosting.
In today’s episode, Adam shares how they built their agency, what they learned from offering different services, and why they stopped selling $50k websites and have shifted towards selling a variety of products starting as low as $25.Why an Agency Went From Selling $50k Websites to $25 Books Click To Tweet
Even if you don’t plan on launching products of your own, Adam’s story will teach you the value of narrowing your agency focus, how to make sure you get paid for your knowledge, and the benefits of having multiple price points for your clients.
Don’t try to do everything [8:15] [16:15]
Like many agencies, Blue Wire Media started adding more and more services as they grew. Web hosting, registering domain names, email marketing, social media management, etc. You name it, they offered it. Their clients kept asking for these things, and they knew they could offer the services, so they did so without thinking much about how that would affect their business.
The trouble with this approach is that while they could offer these services, a lot of them were commodities that they couldn’t command much margin on. They had limited bandwidth, so every hour they spent managing a $100/mo hosting account was an hour that couldn’t be spent trying to sell a $50,000 website.Just because you can provide a service requested by your clients doesn’t mean you should. Click To Tweet
Just because you can provide a service requested by your clients doesn’t mean you should. In fact, you need to be careful about offering certain services, because some have so much competition that you simply can’t make enough profit for it to be worthwhile. If hosting a website took no support time, then it would be worth offering, but the reality isn’t that simple. Every service you offer has support costs associated with it, and on top of that, every hour you spend on another service is an hour you can’t spend delivering your expertise.
Focus on what you do best and let somebody else handle things outside your specialty. Because you specialize, you can command a premium. Don’t dilute that.
Don’t pitch for free [19:45]
As a consultant, your expertise is what sets you apart from everybody else. Without a credible claim of expertise, you will be hard pressed to command more than market rates for your services, and even then it will be tough to compete for work.
With that said, most agencies give away all of their expertise in their proposal. Demonstrating expertise helps wins bids, but it doesn’t value the work you are putting into the proposal. When your proposal itself provides immense value to your clients, you should charge for it and sell it as a roadmapping session.
Use your content marketing as a way to demonstrate your expertise, so that you no longer need to convince clients. That way, when they ask how you can help, you can show them exactly what you can do for a set fee. Then, they can either find somebody else to implement it or (most likely) they will ask you to do it.Use your content marketing as a way to demonstrate your expertise Click To Tweet
This also helps you be more successful, because when you are writing a proposal you have access to limited information, but when a company is paying you for this roadmapping, they are going to have all of the key stakeholders there so they can make sure they get their money’s worth. This lets you ask the right people the right questions, so you can walk away with a real plan of attack.
Many of you probably understand the value in your proposals but aren’t sure how to get somebody to actually pay for a proposal.
You don’t build a house without a blueprint, so why start a project without one? This is also a smaller commitment and less risky proposition for the client because they get to see what it is like working with you without committing to your full fees.
Adam gradually increased his price for this service from $500 to $5k-20k, and the actual implementation of the plan would cost about 5x that to built. Not bad, huh?
Going from $50k websites to $50 templates [41:30]
If you were able to charge $50k+ for a website, would you ever stop? For most of us, that answer is no, but Adam and Blue Wire Media were in a unique position. When they released their templates, they built a list of subscribers from all over the world. However, these people simply weren’t great prospects for hands-on consulting or their live bootcamps.
So Adam and Toby took all the workbooks, templates and agendas they would use to host a consulting engagement, packaged it up and sold it as a self-serve kit. While they had a large list, not many of their subscribers could afford a $50k website, so by offering products at lower price points, they were able to provide value to a larger share of their audience.
Most of Blue Wire Media’s customers are digital marketing consultants or agency owners that have the knowledge to execute a consulting plan for their clients, but haven’t systematized their offerings; they have the knowledge but not the IP. Blue Wire steps in and offers the IP that they have developed through their decade of experience, and lets their clients pay a low price to buy it from them instead of having to reinvent the wheel.
Once somebody has entered your ecosystem with a low priced product and received value from it, you can then slowly work them up your price ladder. As they grow (which your products should help them do), they are willing to spend more with you because you have shown them that you offer a real ROI.
Blue Wire Media’s Templates and tools
Thanks for listening!
Are there any jobs your agency regularly does that don’t generate much of an ROI? Share your story in the comments below.