193 FS Creating New Value for Clients

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02:44 - How To Create New Forms of Value for Clients

08:02 - How do you create more conversations with clients?

14:33 - Different Forms of Packaging

19:58 - Giving More Value as a Full-time Employee (FTE)

30:00 - Productization

38:58 - Communication

01:01:33 - Website Welcome Mats

LeadPages (Philip)Blue Ocean Strategy, Expanded Edition: How to Create Uncontested Market Space and Make the Competition Irrelevant by W. Chan Kim (Philip)Lean Customer Development: Building Products Your Customers Will Buy by Cindy Alvarez (Philip)Catan Universe (Reuven)Jonathan Stark: How To Increase Your Income Without Hiring Junior Developers (Jonathan)Jonathan Stark: How To Price Your Services Without Leaving Money On The Table (Jonathan)Coaching Call with Jonathan Stark (Jonathan)SumoMe (Chuck)The DevChat.tv Blog (Chuck)The Freelancers’ Show Mailing List (Chuck)


[This episode is sponsored by Hired.com. Hired.com is offering a new freelancing and contracting offering. They have multiple companies that will provide you with contract opportunities. They cover all the tracking, reporting and billing for you, they handle all the collections and prefund your paycheck, they offer legal and accounting and tax support, and they’ll give you $1,000 when you’ve been on a contract for 90 days. But with this link, they’ll double it to $2,000 instead. Go sign up at Hired.com/freelancersshow.]**[If you're someone who runs your own service-based business, then spending less time on pesky admin tasks means having more time to focus on your clients’ work, which is why you need to give FreshBooks a try. FreshBooks is the invoicing solution that makes it incredibly simple to create and send invoices, track your time and manage your expenses. 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Visit freelancersshow.com/mail and you’ll get your first month of service free when you sign up.] **CHUCK: Hey everybody and welcome to episode 193 of The Freelancers’ Show. This week on our panel we have Philip Morgan. PHILIP: Hello. CHUCK: Jonathan Stark. JONATHAN: Hello. CHUCK: Reuven Lerner. REUVEN: Hi everyone. CHUCK: I’m Charles Max Wood from DevChat.tv. By the time you get this, we had a great time at Freelance Remote Conf [chuckles]. Ruby Remote Conf’s the next one. And this week we’re going to be talking about how to create new forms of value for clients. This was suggested by Philip, and I’m curious Philip, what exactly did you have in mind? Do you want to expand on this a little bit? PHILIP: Sure. I think I was just the person you wrote it down in Github. But anyway, here's what we were thinking: a lot of us in the world of freelancing, our starting point is our skills and then we try to build from that and find some overlap with what clients value and will pay money for. And I think if that’s how we think about things, it kind of boxes us in a little bit. So we all thought it would be great to have a roundtable conversation about how do you find new forms of value, maybe ones you haven’t thought of yet, or ones that are connected to your skill base, but just [inaudible] are new to you, how do you validate those? How do you make sure there are things clients will pay money for, and how do you ultimately deliver those [inaudible]? JONATHAN: Yes. CHUCK: [Chuckles]. [Crosstalk] JONATHAN: Just to jump in to the void there, I feel like it’s simple on the [inaudible], but it may be deceptively simple. It seems to me like thinking back over, is like my experience, I would say, that it almost always comes from a conversation, like a casual conversation with a client, and never from just something I dreamed of. So it’s like if you have these kind of moments in a client engagement, which I have a lot because I’m mostly just talking to them and not in my room coding where we’re getting together to have a meeting with maybe a group of outside developers that they're using and are going to go over some project roadmap or something. There's a lot of downtime to just shoot the breeze with the client. And that’s where it almost always comes from. They’ll just be mentioning something, and either it’ll be a specific problem that maybe I don’t address, or it’s something that I do address, but they could use a solution in a different package, like a different format – delivered at a different format. So the first example is like they say “geez, it would be great if we had someone dedicated to just doing application architecture for us”, and then I would say “oh wow. I’m not specifically offering” – I offer application architecture in general underneath the retainer that I have for this client, but now that they're asking for that thing specifically or they mentioned something about how valuable that particular thing is, it’s too late for me to offer it to them because they get it under the umbrella of my overall retainer, but I could say “ahh, that might be a really good one-off product that I can charge less for and present to other people that are in a similar situation”. And then that’s like the new thing. They trigger me on to a new thing. And then the flipside or the other option there is that they’ll say something like “man, it would be so great if we could get this as a series of videos instead of being here live in person so that we could watch it in our own time and have an asynchronous or self-paced morning exercise instead of having to get everybody in the room at the same time”. So I could be like “oh wow, this is exactly the same thing I’m doing”, but instead of presenting it to people in person, I could record it and make it available to the customer. So it’s like a packaging thing for a solution that I already provide or a more specific offering that I don’t yet provide. REUVEN: Yeah. What you said about these things coming out of conversations with clients really rings true with me. I was [inaudible] a year, a year and a half ago, teaching more or less two Python courses. There was one – there was intro and there was one that was advanced. And what companies call it internally is a whole other mess and interesting story. And as I was speaking to people who are in my courses, some of them who are too frustrated because it was too fast, and some because it didn’t touch on some of the topics they needed. And sometimes also, just me, I would see how people were in class that we weren’t getting through some of the topics I want to with enough depth. And so what I would do is I would say “well, what if I would just break out these topics into separate courses?” And each time I’ve done that, it’s been successful and the client’s gone wild, like they're very happy with it. So the first thing I did this with was regular expressions. There was just no time, and I usually teach that during another course. I would do it for 2 hours, people’s brains would be melting all over the floor. It was a real mess. And basically no one was satisfied with this. So I said “ok, let’s remove it from the advance course, put it into its own course”, and people have been very happy. And similarly with – now I have one for non-programmers. And that’s also something that we can talk about a bit, sort of an upsell to new populations because until now I've been teaching programmers. And I said “well, a lot of these companies have non-programmers who are sort of jealous or interested in programming, and no one – but no one is teaching programming courses to those people, so I can just completely corner the market there”. I now have – I don’t know – 3, 4 or 5 of these Python for non-programmers scheduled over the next few months. They’ve filled up right away. But it’s all coming from talking to people. It’s all coming from “what are you here for, what are you interested in, what do you want to get out of this, and how can I re-package what I've got or learn something new to give it to you that you want to buy it”. PHILIP: I think an interesting way to go deeper into that is to ask the question “how do you create more conversations with clients” because that really – that seems to be the machine that produces these ideas about new forms of value. And just to give context, when I started out freelancing, it’s not that I tried to avoid talking to clients, it’s that I [inaudible] as an imposition on their time, and so I tried to minimize it. And so for people who maybe are in that sort of way of seeing things, how can they think about having more conversations without it being like a diminishing the client relationship somehow? JONATHAN: I have an idea. [Crosstalk][chuckles] JONATHAN: You can do a webinar and ask for a [inaudible] Q&A. PHILIP: Interesting. Yeah, I've experimented with that and it is like digging a hole in your yard and finding an oil well there [chuckles]. CHUCK: Yup. Yeah, one of the things that I've done is just open my time up for podcast listeners. I’m sure you could do the same thing for other audience members or former clients or anything like that where it’s just “hey look, I’m going to do 30 minutes of essentially free consulting. I’m going to ask you a few questions. You're welcome to ask me a few questions”, and yeah, just keep track of what you're getting. I've decided to write a book on how to find a job as a programmer, and the reason is I because I keep getting asked over and over and over and over and over again. Obviously, this is a problem that a lot of people are thinking about, and so it’s something that I can solve. PHILIP: Interesting. JONATHAN: Absolutely. Yeah, it’s so true. The same thing happened with – I've written a few books, but the most popular one by far stand out of online conversations that was taking place that I was a participant in, but I was really writing about it at the book level, and I was just super excited about it and wrote up a draft and it really – it just caught on. It’s worth pointing out in my original description I was talking about having extemporaneous conversations with existing clients, but if you know who your target market is, or at least roughly, or you're in a tribe of some kind, you can just pick up on these things. It doesn’t necessarily need to be you initiating it or you're talking with an existing client. It could be potential clients or leads or people that you just reach out to in a target market, but enough that you can talk to 4 or 5 people and start to see a pattern that “huh, it seems like this is the thing that comes up with everyone”. REUVEN: Right. Seeing patterns those patterns [inaudible] that’s so useful, and whether it comes out of conversations, or just putting together comments you hear people make. One way to this conversation – I've done it sometimes with my consulting company, consulting clients, when I’m doing projects work or [inaudible], I’ll say “well, where do you think you're going over the next 6-8 months? Where is the business going?” And then they’ll describe “well, we’re trying to do features A, B and C, and we tryied to market D, E and F”, and then I can say “well, I can help you to do some of that”, or “A and B are super easy for me to implement technically. But C, that’s going to require some more time. Maybe if we map that out, we can break it down a little more”. And I think they're generally very appreciative that you're thinking about what their needs are. And out of that conversation then can come a plan for moving forward where you're getting more work, but they are more than getting their money’s worth. CHUCK: Well, that’s the thing. And you can usually tell – you mention to them “well, I've been thinking about writing a book”, or “I've been thinking about putting together this course” or “I've been thinking about putting together a productized service that provides X, Y, and Z”, and you can gauge their level of excitement over that pretty quickly and go “oh wow, I think they paid double what I was thinking I’d charge”, or “wow, I had 4 people just about crap their pants when I say I’m going to put together this product”. And rather than “yeah, that sounds real nice. Where do I sign up? Where do I pay? Oh, that would be so great. It would save me all these problems and hassles”. You can gauge pretty quickly where that value is. JONATHAN: Yeah. I had a coaching student the other day describe a new productized service that he dreamed up. We've been trying to come up with a productized service [inaudible] and it wasn’t easy, and he dreamed one up and said it to me, and I was like “I’ll buy that right now”. I immediately knew that it was a good one. And yeah, you can tell right away. If somebody is like “take my money. Shut up and take my money”. People will be – you have to watch out if any [inaudible] was on the line, you should probably be rolling our eyes because people are nice and they’ll be polite to you and they’ll say “yeah, yeah, that’s a great idea for that business, for that product”. But there's a difference between that and somebody who’s genuinely excited. And if you're – I don’t want to use the word “skeptical”, but if you're paying attention really to their reaction and you're not just looking any kind of validation of the idea, if you're genuinely interested in proving the hypothesis because there's maybe 3 other things you could do, then your BS meter will be attuned enough, I think, to distinguish between someone who’s just being polite and someone who’s actually excited about the thing. PHILIP: One of the things I've thought about structuring into client follow-up in my own business is doing like a 6-month health check. So after I’m done working with a client, just schedule a 6-month follow-up and that would be like a one-hour free consultation for them to check in and see how things are going. And that’s also an opportunity to hopefully sell more services if it’s really needed. But I can see that applying to a lot of things, something where you [inaudible] help that what you’ve built or created with the client. And that may lead to new ways that you could provide value for them. I just did something similar on my email list in that I specifically ask people various points in their journey with me on my email list. “What would success look like for you? What's your biggest pain point in general? Where are you stuck with this particular issue of lead generation?” Those questions often yield very valuable responses that I think point to new forms of value that I could be creating. JONATHAN: Yeah. I do the same thing in my list; [inaudible] practically write the emails for me, or you just say “hey, do you have any more questions about this” or “do you have questions about that” and that turns into an upcoming email and almost creates this delayed chain reaction of Drip campaigning and then can easily spin into product ideas. PHILIP: You know, Jonathan, you mentioned different forms of packaging earlier, and I’d love to explore that because I think that’s an easy-to-miss way to create new value. And I’ll give some examples. I think we've all had at least one of Alan Weiss’ books, but if you read more than one of his books, you will see that a lot of the information is very similar, but each book has maybe a particular focus. So 20, 30% of the content is different or is more tightly focused on the subject to the book. I’m wondering if that concept could be applied to services or products or whatever. JONATHAN: Hmm. I absolutely think so. I wasn’t thinking that when I said it before, but that’s certainly another way to package it where he – where you will – I think you use the term localize the experience or your expertise into a language, a business language, not like a – I don’t even know what to call it – a language language; not like Japanese. REUVEN: A natural language [inaudible]. JONATHAN: Thank you. The educated boy in the room sneaks in. [Chuckles] REUVEN: I’m sneaking [inaudible] sometimes. JONATHAN: [Chuckles] So to localize it into terms that makes sense to the audience that you're focused on. So that’s certainly one thing, but there's a more subtle way to do it, which is what Alan Weiss does that you're describing, which is that he changes the focus to be specifically oriented to the needs of a particular audience or focusing on a particular problem that the audience needs solved. So some books will be specifically about proposals. Other books will be specifically about value pricing. Other books are specifically about setting up your consulting business in the first place. And like you said, a lot of this stuff is cut-and-paste identical to a previous book, but he’ll go more in-depth about the focus, whatever the focus is. And I think that’s actually valuable. And I've found that reading multiple books when that – when the language changes slightly, the focus changes, or maybe I grew in the interim, but sometimes it will make something click with me that did not click before. But what I was talking about prior to that was more like changing to something really tactile about the deliverable. So you could, say, package up the same expertise that you have about, say, value pricing, let’s just say. You could package up that same expertise as a book for someone who consumes data better in that way or you could package it up as a one-on-one phone call. And you might say the exact same thing or more or less the exact same thing. You're certainly tapping into the same reservoir of expertise that you have at the same body of knowledge that you have, but you are delivering it in a way that is in any package, if you will, that is appropriate to someone’s circumstances. And of course, you can price it appropriately. So if you write a book, you probably are not going to be able to sell it for more than 50 bucks; even that might be a stretch. But if you're selling a one-on-one phone call, you could easily get 400 bucks, 500 bucks even. I’m sure Alan Weiss charge 5,000 bucks for a phone call because that’s not a leveraged delivery. That’s like an intensely specific private one-on-one customized question-and-answer session. So I was thinking more along those lines where you’ve got this body of knowledge you're sitting on top of, this expertise that you have, and you deliver it. You make it available – let’s put it that way – you make it available in a bunch of different formats that allow you to offer at a different price points, for example, where you can have lower priced low-touch offerings where people maybe sign up for a video course, or they buy a book or an ebook, or a video series or whatever, and you can price those things relatively low but still deliver value to the people who buy them; or you can do these high-touch things which is mostly where I get my income from where I’m just getting paid to be on retainers so people can contact me around the clock to ask very specific questions about mobile strategy or whatever their mobile concerns are. PHILIP: You know, I think an interesting example of that in the world of code is if you go to creditcardjs.com, it’s that sort of thing brought to life. So that would be a good example for listeners to check out someone who figured out some best practices around designing a credit card payment form; just packaged up their code and made it available for sale. So in that example, they could probably do a consultation for many, many thousands of dollars. Or you can spend – let’s see what's the price is here – yeah, 299 bucks for a single website to license their code. And they could probably, if they want to produce, maybe like a 20-page PDF that has all the design principles that go into this, and sell that for a lower price point. And that would be a great example of exactly what you're talking about; different packaging of essentially the same knowledge and insight; intellectual property, if you will. JONATHAN: [Chuckles] TM. Yeah, I mean it’s done for you versus DIY at the most basic level. PHILIP: Here’s another question I have about this topic, not necessarily for Jonathan, just for anybody. I talk to a lot of software developers who – especially if they're in the FTE world, they feel like they're kind of at a great distance from useful information about how they could create more value, like they're just in the trenches coating. And how do they get out of that and actually get some information about what would create value so that they could take action on that? REUVEN: I’m sorry, what's the FTE? CHUCK: Full-time employment. [Crosstalk] REUVEN: I've heard of such people. CHUCK: The man and I don’t get along, so I don’t think about that. REUVEN: So you're asking how they can create more value in their full-time job, or how they could break into consulting offering more value than they currently do now? PHILIP: Actually, I see this also in the freelance world where a lot of us starting out, we just get hired for our hands, not our brains, and the whole idea of creating more value is using your brain to think up new value and make it so. So if you're more in that – maybe you're working for an agency and there's a saying “ok, here's the PSTs, turn this into a WordPress site”, how can you start to just break out of that world of being a given a set of specs and expected to shut up and do the work? You know what I mean? Because I know [inaudible] a lot of our listeners have right now. CHUCK: Yeah. I can say that it was kind of frustrating when I was with some of the clients. Yeah, they just hired me because they just needed another pair of hands to write another set of code, and it was really hard to actually get in and add any more value than that because they didn’t want my – they didn’t want my input on any of that stuff. PHILIP: Yeah. They just see you as a hired help. CHUCK: But at the same time, I've done some things, for example, on kind of a skunk work’s level which is it’s not necessarily officially sanctioned work, but you add stuff in that has value. So one of the ways that I did that in one past job was I set up continuous integration. And then a rate of bugs went down because we were touching them before we deploy them. Another one was when we moved are Git in-house and set up a whole bunch of custom scripting that ran on the Git repository that we really couldn’t do in GitHub. And so that solved a whole bunch of problems and made out stakeholders a little bit more comfortable because it was on a third party system, though GitHub has mostly been pretty reliable. But you know, there are things like that that I've done where the things that you can add on to the process that once you get enough other people in the group using them, then you start to really benefit from them. Another thing that I did was just on my machine, I set up an IRC server, and so we would all get on and chat in there on the IRC server, and after a few months, it became pretty apparent that it was now a central piece of our development process, and so it got moved off to its own server and was maintained by the IT team. And so there are a lot of things that you can do inside of your full time job or full time organization, or even as a contractor as part of a team, to increase the ability of your team to communicate or to get work done or to reduce bugs or to add some other value to the code that will make things go better. PHILIP: Yeah. That reminds me when I was working for an agency that produced a lot of content for Microsoft. And so around the time Windows 2008 server came out, and it was when Microsoft added virtualization at the operating system level. So I took an interest in that and I became the in-house Hyper-V guy, like I set up a wiki and just started contributing anything to it that I thought would be helpful to anybody else that needed to understand this new feature of the operating system. So it was sort of looking for a knowledge gap and just volunteering to fill that in. And I wonder if that technique would not also apply to other people in like an FTE situation or you're a pair of hands, not a brain situation. JONATHAN: Thinking back to my one full-time job as an adult. I had one full-time job, like a W2 job. PHILIP: One hit wonder [chuckles]. JONATHAN: Enterprise-like level job. There were a number of things that I could tell some stories like Chuck and Philip just said where I just took an interest in this thing and I was basically utterly bored by the thing I was supposed to be doing which I could finish relatively quickly. And what am I going to do with the rest of my day? Well, I’ll find problems and solved them. So the thing to point out – I don’t know if you guys found this to be true or not true in your situations, but that did not translate at all into an increase in my income, even though I was – that’s why I eventually left because I was like “I’m being super clever over here and no one’s paying attention [chuckles]”. I’m making all these amazing things and no one cares. And that’s what I thought at the time. In retrospect, it was probably a little less amazing than I thought. And no one was actually asking me to do it, so when it came raise time, they were like “yeah, that’s really cool you did all that stuff, but no one really asked you to do it, so here's your cost of living increase”. I think the bigger question is – or if it’s not – I don’t think we've explicitly said how do you take a full-time job and the experience you can get from a full-time job and turn that into value that you can then reclaim some of. It’s like pretty – I don’t think it’s too hard to around at your place of employment and find inefficiencies that you can improve upon. But how do you turn that into a [inaudible], like maybe you go solo or maybe you create a product on the side. And if I think back to my stint in corporate America, there was one particular – or two things that I built that certainly would have had applications outside of a particular business. One of them was a time tracking – a piece of time tracking software, and another one was sort of like a very highly specific content management system for creating print catalogues. And if I felt like going in that direction, I could’ve probably productized either one of those. I didn’t. That wasn’t what I wanted to do, but I would think that that certainly could’ve been an approach. And the other thing that I can imagine is while I was inside of that business, I had sort of insider access to a big company. And if I was really smart about going out of my own, which I was not at all – I basically picked the companies I applied to based on their logo [chuckles] – but if I was really – if I was back there now, or if I could talk to the me of 2001 or whatever it was, I would say “dude, ok, you have access to people walking around the halls that you could just pull aside or ask to go to coffee and just ask them a couple of questions” – and these are people who are maybe one or two notches down from the CEO of Fortune 500 company. I could’ve easily had conversations with extremely high-powered people that would’ve been greatly beneficial to my future consulting business, and I just completely screwed the [inaudible] on that one; totally missed that opportunity. The other thing was I could’ve had conversations with people who are even close for my level, like my manager and manager maybe above that, people who were IT buyers inside of a large organization, and ask questions about “how does procurement work”, like really, “what are the most important things to have to come in” – let’s say I was going to come in to this organization as a consultant to do the same thing I’m doing now – “what would it take to convince you that that would be a good idea?” And these are people I had a close relationship with, and I’d be like “look, I’m leaving. Tell me how to do this as a consultant at other companies like this”, and they would’ve told me, but I didn’t even think to ask. Same thing; it’s like “what are the expensive problems that – and how would I present and market them to people like you at other companies?” REUVEN: Jonathan, I think you're totally right that taking – first of all, I’m guessing that people in those management jobs would be delighted to have someone to tell about all the problems they're having that they wish they could fix. Because their jobs as managers are basically to try to fix problems and try to get through things, and someone’s coming to them and saying “listen, I’d love to hear what messes I can clean up”, they might really like that a lot. But in addition, Chuck, you mentioned like you set up this wiki, you set up an information center, and I’m – I certainly saw this in places that I worked full-time also where people become the go-to people for certain topics. You just become the in-house expert on something. And if you become the in-house expert at something, you're going to see a lot of these patterns show up of what problems are people trying to solve repeatedly. And over time, you're not only going to become an expert and solving these problems, you're going to see what problems [inaudible] get to them, and you're going to be able to fix them faster than anyone else, and you're going to know that these problems exist when people don’t even know it exists. And I’m guessing if some sort of problem – and I’m not saying like “this particular button doesn’t work well on the elevator”, but something that actually is a real business problem that people are having all the time. It probably only exists at other companies too, and that’s a good opportunity for you to go check the market and start to do that as a first consulting possibility. JONATHAN: My first big mentor in business got his start as the phone support guy at a helpdesk. And he knew exactly – for a piece of software – and he knew exactly what problems everybody – he knew exactly what's wrong with the software. And he wrote a book about exactly those questions that he answered over and over and over and it was a gigantic hit. It became like the bible of that industry. And it just goes back to that thing of talking to actual people and finding what their actual problems are, and if you become an expert on this thing, it’ll certainly translate outside of the organization. REUVEN: By the way, I see that all the time in my consulting work. So just in the last year, I guess this was about a year ago; maybe 8 months ago, I did a project helping a company set up high availability for PostgreSQL. And then 2 months ago, I had another company ask me to do that. I’m like “yeah, sure I’ll do that”. And last week I had someone email me about that, and I was like “hmm, I see a trend here”. Maybe I should turn this into some sort of product. Then I actually decided “no, this is actually not something I really want to do that much because it’s a real pain”. So I decided to not productize it. But I think I heard someone say – I can’t remember when or who, but if three people come to you with the same problem, that’s probably a business opportunity that you should look into. And so if that’s happening at your work and if it’s happening with clients, I think it’s definitely a one way to go and one way to think about it. PHILIP: This is probably just the marketer in me speaking, but I think it can be helpful when you do come up – let’s say you have that happen – you see this pattern where there's a persistent problem across multiple organizations, and you think “ok, I've got a solution for that or at least a partial solution. Why don’t I package that up and create a new form of value like we’re talking about here?” I think naming it can be helpful. I think ideas travel better when they have little convenient verbal handles attached to them, and that works in positioning and in lots of other areas of marketing. So I think that coming up with a name for that’s like your own made-up name for it can actually be helpful. I did this with what I keep calling my Minimum Viable Funnel. And I think having that name, even though it’s – it’s sort of a play on Minimum Viable Products, so that helps because MVP has a lot of name recognition, so my MVF concept kind of benefits from that right on the [inaudible], if you will, of that. And I think it just helps to have a name so that people can tuck it away in the empty spot in their mind and bring it out when they need it, which is hopefully when they're referring business to you. JONATHAN: It gives a convenient shorthand for word of mouth, and for the, like you said, the pigeonholing of it. And never mind the practical things like Googling for it later. And “who’s the MVF guy?” – that sort of thing. But I absolutely agree with that. PHILIP: Yeah. Another example that’s not mine is Kurt Elster, a friend of the show Kurt Elster, who came up with the packaging of a service that really cut out a lot of stuff that would normally happen as part of a website redesign; just focus on the high value parts of that process. He gave that the name website rescues, and I think it’s a very powerful that he is sort of the de facto owner of that name. I guess I tried to do that with micronars, but somebody beat me to it [chuckles]. REUVEN: It wasn’t one of us, was it? PHILIP: No, no. Somebody else registered the name micronar.com and put up a little landing page about how it was going to revolutionize webinars, which I think it could, but yeah, that dude beat me to it, which is fine [chuckles]. CHUCK: Oh, I want to have a look at it now. PHILIP: Micronar.com. Spelled “nar”, not “naur” like Chuck’s, Jonathan and I [inaudible] spell it. JONATHAN: He didn’t spell it like the dinosaur. CHUCK: “Naur” it’s like a dinosaur, right? PHILIP: Yeah. I like the more whimsical spelling. REUVEN: Besides, it demonstrates the value because it [chuckles] – it adds “U” to the picture. Ok. CHUCK: Aaaah, men. [Chuckles] PHILIP: And I just want to say I know a lot of our listeners are groaning right now when they think about marketing in general, but another good example of this is – what was that Linux vulnerability that came out – Heartbleed. The marketing – look at the marketing on that. They didn’t really need to give that a catchy name, but they did. And I think it really helped increase awareness of a very serious issue. JONATHAN: Absolutely. PHILIP: It’s a good example of what I’m talking about. REUVEN: How many major vulnerabilities in software can you name? And – [crosstalk]. JONATHAN: [Inaudible] it out of the top of my head. REUVEN: Right. PHILIP: Yeah. Right. REUVEN: And who’s idea that was to give a human type of name as opposed to whatever code they give when they assign them, but it was really, really smart. And that logo of the heart dripping blood [chuckles]; that really brought it home. PHILIP: And I think the name was arbitrary. I don’t think it was like conceptually related to – JONATHAN: No, it was. PHILIP: The nature of the bug. Oh, was it? Ok. JONATHAN: The bug was related to something called a heartbeat. PHILIP: Oh ok. JONATHAN: It was bleeding information, so it was a clever on top of it, so it really made sense. PHILIP: Yeah. But think about how the fact that tropical storms and hurricanes are named. It’s simple and it maybe seems a little cheesy, even, but it’s worth thinking about if you're coming up with something that really is uniquely your own is to name it. CHUCK: Yup. JONATHAN: I had this conversation with a student the other day, and I was like – he’s coming up with this thing, and I was like “I don’t know what to name it, but you need to come up with a name for it so that you can talk about it, because you're going to be talking about it a lot, and you're not going to want to say a sentence every time you talk about this service”. And the name – it doesn’t have to be clever or it doesn’t necessarily need to be – have a TM after it, but it needs to be something that you can have a conversation [inaudible] at least. [Inaudible] where Nick D, another friend of the show, does this with his products and he doesn’t – it’s not really a cleverness thing; he just gives them a name, and that allows him to – I don’t know – create things like readable URLs and have conversations with customers about this particular product. So they have like his consultancy is called Draft so [inaudible] whatever; Draft Revise, Draft Foundation. And I was saying that to this person and I was like “I don’t know if we’re going to come up with a clever name for this. If you do, then great; but if you don’t, then when you are talking about it with your first few beta customers and people [inaudible] your hypothesis with, listen to the language they use to describe it back to you, and there’ll probably be a very evocative word in there that is probably the name. It’s probably the name you should use because it’s the natural one”. And if it’s so common that if it’s like something super – just like crazy common like Performance, Performance Improvement, something like that, you're going to want to make it a little bit more specific, like maybe Draft Speed or something like that. But I couldn’t agree more with the naming thing because it’s just – that’s how people’s brains work. They can’t – if they can’t talk about it easily, they're not going to talk about it. REUVEN: By the way, I've been mentioning Postgres again or PostgreSQL; the fact that those developers chose a horrible name is a huge impediment; I found every conversation I have with a potential client about Postgres, they're like “Post – Post what? How do you spell that?” and it knocks us off track for easily 5 minutes, and basically, I’d just come to say “it’s a really horrible name for a really terrific database. Yes, they made a mistake. Let’s just go on”. JONATHAN: Yeah. And MySQL’s got the same problem. To this day, I don’t know if it’s supposed to be pronounced “my sequel” or “my SQL”, and I’d find myself saying it differently to the point where I don’t even want to talk about it because [inaudible] say it. CHUCK: It’s “My Ess Que Ell”. [Chuckles] JONATHAN: Right? Like “gif” “jif” became funny, but no one’s building a business on top of that, I don’t think. I totally agree. If you're – I call it the over-test. If you can’t picture – oh this will probably [inaudible] dating myself [inaudible] on TV for a decade, but Oprah used to be this really popular daytime talk show host that some older people might be aware of, and she would introduce people as they came out; it’s just like any other talk show, and I would say “can you imagine Oprah introducing you as this thing that you're trying to tell me is your tagline?” And he’d be like “no”. “Well, come up with one that Oprah can say, like [inaudible]”. You know what I mean? And it translates, I think, down to every – a dinner party where someone’s trying to tell their friend about your thing. Make it sound cool. Make them feel cool saying it, like they know about this cool thing like “Heartbleed, that sounds kinda cool”. Make it sound – I could do a whole rant on this. I think Philip’s a hundred percent right. I think naming matters big time. And if at all possible, make your thing seem concise and clever and cool, and make people want to say it. Don’t make people not want to say it, like MySQL. REUVEN: You just pronounce it Oracle nowadays; it’s ok. JONATHAN: [Chuckles] There are other plenty of them. Plenty of them. How do we get back to the topic? [Chuckles] CHUCK: I’m just trying to think of other ways that we can create value for our customers. JONATHAN: Look, it’s listening to – just talking to them and listening. Bottomline is, it’s like once you have that at the beginning, and then you package up in a way that they can consume, like if they can only take small bites, give it to them in small bites. If they're ravenous, give them a vat [inaudible]. It all boils down to talking to them and actually listening. CHUCK: Yeah. I can tell that there's one thing that a lot of people really don’t think about that you probably ought to be doing that they're not going to ask you for; there are things like documentation and a lot of other things that probably ought to come with whatever you're doing for them that they're not going to think to ask and you're not going to think of as value adds that are also value adds for allowing you to pass it off to somebody else or to refresh your memory when you come back to the project, or anything else like that if they wind up hiring as a staff that you can add to it, but yeah, I’m not thinking of anything else other than just what you're saying, Jonathan; talk to them, find out what their issues are, and find that painful problem that they have and make it better. REUVEN: And if they trust you already, and if they like working with you, they are going to be pleased as punch that you are trying to find more ways to help them. CHUCK: Oh yeah. PHILIP: And then one little detail about that, and this is – it goes back to something we've talked about before, but a lot of people can start out avoiding the topic of what's broken. So the first time you bring that up, you may want to – I don’t know – just wrap it in some context that they know why you're dealing with them differently. And that could be as simple as saying something like “I find your business fascinating and I want to learn more about it because I just want to get better at helping you. So is it ok if I ask some questions that maybe we’d never discussed before”. Just like – something simple like that can be all it takes. But I guess I would [inaudible] you to navigate that [inaudible] from being [inaudible] to trying to be [inaudible] brains [inaudible] as you can. JONATHAN: Yeah, I’ll second that. I've never even been that explicit about it. It’s always been something that a trend or pattern that I've sort of secretly noticed or something that someone volunteered in an unguarded moment. I probably should, but I don’t have a process in place where I ask for that kind of information the way that you might with when you're getting to the end of the project and you have a process in place to ask for referrals or testimonials or something like that. I've never [inaudible] in place explicitly for myself where I say “ok, at a point like this would be a good time to just go fishing for problems, for expensive problems, with this particular customer”. I don’t know if it’s that I've never had – no, I’m sure it’s not that I've never had to. I think I probably could have a list a mile long of stuff that particular types of companies had as problems that I could help with or at least package in a different way. Although it’s been on the back of my mind the whole time we've been talking that I would not tend to turn around and sell those things to the client who gave me the idea, because the clients that I work with most closely are already kind of at my Mercedes, like top tier option, and I don’t really have some higher to offer them, so it would be a down-sell. So probably the ideas that I would get from them would be for people who either don’t trust me enough to hire me for my top tier service or I don’t have time available for them to hire me for that, but I’d like to offer them something to get them out of the jam that they're in. So now you’ve got me thinking, Philip, so you probably baked that into my process somewhere. PHILIP: Yeah. And I guess one thing that maybe we could bring out that’s been implicit that we can make explicit is the probably the least valuable forms of new value come purely from your own mind. So ideas that you think are cool have to pass the “client values it” test, and – JONATHAN: It’s only a hypothesis. PHILIP: Yeah, yeah. It’s ok that if that turns out to be successful, that’s awesome, but doing that without validating or without having a conversation with a number of potential clients is likely to lead you to thinking about your time and effort and something that goes nowhere. How do I know this? I've done it myself [chuckles]. It’s – I call it the hammer looking for a nail service. JONATHAN: More like hammer looking for a thumb. PHILIP: Right. [Chuckles] REUVEN: But it’s hard to exaggerate how much these conversations, how much these discussions, can be. I had this guy – so I just talked to this class in regular expressions last week, and there was a guy there who had a fair amount of experience with it, and he had been to some of my classes before in various things, and he’s a great guy and he told me “you know what, I appreciate the class”, and then often I’m just rushing to get out of there. But he had stuck around and he wanted to talk to me a little bit about the class. And basically, the fact that I stuck around for 2 or 3 minutes, he said “you know what you can really do? Because I have sort of taken all your classes, but I’d like to take more. Here’s what you should offer, and I will come to it and lots of other people will come to it”. And it was brilliant. And basically, it was just because I took those few minutes to hang around, talk to him, hear what he had to say, that he gave me a whole new potential model for teaching that I haven’t tried before in companies [inaudible] pitch to them. And I've really been thinking about it a lot in the last week or two since I spoke to him, and I think if I turn around and bring it to companies, they’ll be really excited. JONATHAN: Yeah. I get that all the time in my coaching; Slack room. At least once a week, somebody’s like “you know what you should offer? This thing about pricing or this thing about how to do proposals – this specific that’s just focused on – like an ebook specifically on writing proposals”. There's so many other of them; I barely even keep track of them anymore. I just need to go – just wait for a new one because there's this – it’s an environment that I inadvertently created – I created on purpose, but it is this added side effect that I’m constantly in communication with my exact target market. And we chat about everything from the news to the stuff that we’re actually supposed to be working on, so there's a lot of that extemporaneous conversation that goes on. And it’s like a safe environment where people can just say whatever they think, and there have been a few ideas thrown out like “geez, somebody should – I’m not going to do it, but someone should. Is there anybody who wants to do this?” So many ideas that come out of there that there aren’t even enough people to execute them all. So it’s just another – just piling on the dead horse of enabling conversation. And maybe a group conversation maybe is a factor that we haven’t talked about too much, but having a group conversation, I think, might surface some of these things more quickly and validate them more quickly than if you're going one to one to one to one to one to one to one. REUVEN: Yeah. [Inaudible] anything like that in a group. I like that idea. PHILIP: Yeah. Can you say more about why you think that? Some unique properties? JONATHAN: Yes, because you immediately get all sides of the angle. If the community is set up in a way that there are people who have different opinions and can articulate them, you basically have a group that gets on along and respects each other and is smart – whatever, they're smart about the thing; I’m not saying like you're geniuses, but just like they're smart about their thing, and you're all in generally the same focus, but maybe take different approaches to executing it. And someone will have a “great idea”, and I think there's a difference – I don’t think; I know there's a difference between a great idea and an actual opportunity. Great idea is like “oh, you know what would be great? If you could do this thing, it’s so great” [chuckles]. That used to be me big time. I used to be “it’d be so awesome if” – I can’t think of one now. It would be so funny if I could, but it’s just a dumb idea. You know what I mean? It’s like “it’s a great idea”, but no one’s going to buy it. So is it really a great idea? Maybe. If you're going to go off and do it and you're going to do a kickstart or something and prove that people are going to buy it, but I am super skeptical of that scratch your own itch stuff. I don’t buy it at all. I think it’s a super huge cop out. And it makes it very difficult for you to be an expert because you're probably going to sell to people exactly like you, and you're going to sell them something that you think they all need, but really they're like “wait a second, who are you?” because you're all this basically the same person. You’ve got so many similarities that you’ve got – it’s going to be tougher to prove yourself and make them trust you because it’s got that thing like “well, what makes you so smart? I’m smarter than you”. But if you are talking to a community of people who are smart at a different thing than you're smart at, then all of a sudden you're almost, by definition, an expert at the thing you're smart at because they don’t even care about that thing. They care about the results of that thing, but they don’t even care about it. So anyway, if you have a community of people that have divergent backgrounds and different approaches, you'll almost instantly see if an idea’s got legs or not; if it’s worth looking into, within 60 seconds. If there's like 5 people in the room and you say “ah, I got this great idea” and you bang it out, somebody will instantly shoot it down with like “well, how would you even going to deliver that?” You're like “oh, yeah. How would I deliver that?” And you think – you can think about – maybe you work it out, and then somebody’s like “well, doesn’t that require that you would have access to the stranger’s private codebase? Do you think people are immediately going to just trust you to see their codebase or do operations on their production database?” And it’s like “oh, yeah, good point. Well, what could I do about that?” And then somebody will chime in with like “oh, well here’s a solution to that problem.” I can’t describe the underlying mechanism of why it worked or how it works, but I've seen it work so many times that I promise you it works. It probably has a lot to do with assembling the right group of people, but I just did it [inaudible] Slack room before we started the show, and I was like “ah, I’m trying to come up with a name for this webinar, and something like this but I feel it doesn’t feel right”, and then a bunch of people weighed in and it was like “oh, oh oh, yeah yeah yeah, that’s perfect”. It's like there's – groupthink, I think, is used normally as a bad term, sort of a negative term, but I think if you got the right community of people, it’s a good thing. It can very quickly – it’s like an instantaneous focus group, like a good instantaneous focus group. And if you set that up for your customers, which I've seen done where you create – as a consultant, you can create a roundtable Mastermind type of thing where [inaudible] this group of players in the industry that you're in but are from different backgrounds, you assemble them to brainstorm for all their mutual benefit, then you get this happening very quickly at a high level. You get someone from finance, you get someone from retail, you get someone from government, you get someone from health care, and they're all interested in mobile if it’s my space, and then we go and say “alright, we’re going to have this brainstorming. How could we all intersect – or how could two of us intersect in a way that would create – unlock a huge amount of value in between the industries?” And I've seen this work in practice. It’s very powerful. REUVEN: Funny you mentioned that, the Mastermind, because I have a Mastermind on Friday mornings with a few other consultants. We’ve been doing it, I think, for like 3 years now. And just this past week, last week, I think two of us had problems or issues and it was only because of the dynamics of the group, and only because we ground through it and everyone contributed something that we really got some fantastic solutions for people. JONATHAN: Hmm. Yeah, it is a minefield because a lot of these groups just go sour, but man, when you get one that works, it really works. It’s a huge accelerant on this value creation concept. REUVEN: And what you said before, by the way, about the “oh, I've got a great idea”, this has probably happened to you guys all the time, but someone says “I had this idea for a startup. Why doesn’t someone do”, and they come up with this idea that would never be a business or no one really do, and I hadn’t really thought about that that happens at the consulting world as well, that you can come up with these consulting ideas or productized [inaudible]; they're just product ideas. They're not necessarily startups that are just complete duds that people get really excited about. JONATHAN: Yeah. I’m guilty. I've created 2 or 3 SaaS of written or co-written – at least 3 SaaS that I was sure were going to be huge hit, and then as soon as I launched them, it just completely flopped and were immediately obvious to me that they were dud, because instead of doing all of that customer research first, we went straight to code, built the thing, tried to get someone to use it, the first 3 questions completely pierced the entire concept. And like “hmm, maybe I should’ve had that talked first [chuckles]. So you do it once or twice, or maybe it takes 3 times if you're dense like me, then all of a sudden you're like “I’m going to go ahead and maybe make a prototype and then talk to someone first”. So if anything, prototype your service, write a sales page, throw them in front of – to test your hypothesis, call  up a few people, email a few people in the industry, say “hey, I really respect what you’ve done in the business. You don’t know me from [inaudible], but I’m thinking about starting this business creating this product. I’d love it if you could just either you just give me some feedback or you just shoot it down or tell me it’s a good idea or somewhere in between”, and you'll get 1 out of 10 people agree to that meeting. CHUCK: Yup. Alright, well, shall we get to picks? REUVEN: Sure. CHUCK: Alright. Philip, what are your picks? PHILIP: I have a few. I was just reminded how awesome LeadPages is today as I was setting up an A/B test for a landing page that I [inaudible] this – I think it has value because – I mean this is a larger thing, but I think the role of websites is changing and I see them less as like this monolith thing and more as like a collection of landing pages. It might be an interesting future topic for this show. And there's a ton of really good landing pages creators out there. LeadPages is one that works on a SaaS model. And I just – I want to pick it because I think they do exactly what they say on the tin, and they have a pretty great support and they get a lot of things right. So that’s my pick. Another one that I may have picked before – I’m not sure – is a book called Blue Ocean Strategy. This is a very popular book so you probably heard of it before. And the reason I want to bring it to the attention of anyone listening is because it – I think what's great about this book is – well, first of all, you may think “oh, this is not applicable to me because the book is really written for people in a larger business environment”. I think it’s applicable to solo freelancers and small shops because it gives you a new way to think about categorizing that’s not a one-dimensional thing. You might be thinking – you used to thinking of yourself as “well, we’re Rails developers”, and really, there's a lot more ways you can – a lot more dimensions to how you think about your own business and how you position that business in a marketplace. And Blue Ocean Strategy is a really – it gives you a really good tool called a strategy canvass for mapping out your market position. It’s a well-written book. It’s like most business books, longer that it needs to be – but oh well, it’s still worth a read. So that’s my second pick. My third pick for this week is one I've probably picked before also, but I want to bring it up because of today’s discussion. It’s called Lean Customer Development by Cindy Alvarez. It provides a really actionable easy-to-use protocol for talking to people to get information about what would create value for them. And for that reason, it’s totally worth reading. It’s unlike most business books; not longer than it needs to be, and just really fast read with a lot of value. So those are my three picks for this week. CHUCK: Alright. Reuven, what are your picks? REUVEN: So I've got, almost again, anti-pick for this week. So you guys are [inaudible] familiar with the game, board game, Settlers of Catan, and they had, for a number of years now, an online version of playcatan.com. And I would go there on occasion, play games, kind of fun. And they announced a few months ago that they were going to be moving over to a new platform, and it’s going to be great, it’s going to be amazing, and it’s going to start in December. And they said “ok, [inaudible] we’re going to do it now in January”. And January, I think it’s like 18th or 19th or something, they shut down the old one in favor of the new one, which was one of the worst pieces of software I've encountered in my entire life. You have never seen such vitriol online and was unleashed at this company for having a version of Catan that was just like unplayable terrible and ugly and everything. And I think it’s sort of a – there should be a case study somewhere for how to tick off your users who are paying money, who are happy to pay you money, who want to keep doing so, and yet you don’t pay attention to them in any way, shape, or form. It was staggering to see the anger that was at these people. In any event, after 2 weeks of being beaten up by everyone in the Catan online community, they said “ok, how about while we’re still in the early access phase, we bring back the old version”, which they have done. In any event, I think it’s worth, if you want a lesson in how not to treat your customers, it’s worth going to catanuniverse.com, signing up on the forms, and seeing what people said and were even trying to play the game online, and take that as a lesson in your work: do not tick off your customers especially when they're – it’s almost a cult that they have developed into. Anyway, end of pick, end of soapbox for this week. CHUCK: Jonathan, what are your picks? JONATHAN: I am going to pick two things, really. One is that I’ve started doing webcasts on Crowdcast, which is so far a wonderful platform that I’m very much enjoying, for doing webinar-like presentations. But I think we've picked that before, so what I want to let people know about is my last month’s webinar, which is free, is How to Increase Your Income Without Hiring Junior Developers, which is about an hour, 90 minutes of presentation and Q&A about moving from hourly billing to value pricing. And the next webinar or webcast, if you will, is coming up in March on the 16th, and that one is going to be about pricing, and it’s called How to Price Your Services Without Leaving Money on the Table. And that will be about pricing psychology and how it applies to freelancers and consultants in the services that they offer. And the last one is that I want to let people know, the Freelancers’ Show audience know, that I soft-launched a new product that you can get first or early access to – you get to the front of the line, because I haven’t officially launched it yet and I’m not planning on officially launching it for at least before you hear this. So if you look at my coaching and you don’t [inaudible] now is a good time or it’s a little too expensive, you can now have a one-on-one call with me to just get whatever questions that you need answered in a very short order. And the calls are unlimited time. You can just schedule a call, schedule as much time as you think you need, and it’s just a single price for that. So if you go to expensiveproblem.com/call, you can set that up and get right to the front of the line, because I’m sure it’s going to be very busy once I do officially launch it. And that’s it for me. CHUCK: Alright. I guess it’s my turn. I've got a few picks here. I also really like Crowdcast. I have to say the only thing that has not really worked out for me is the recordings are low quality. You can still read the slides and everything, but they're not HD. So my picks – the first one I’m going to pick is a product I’m actually using on DevChat.tv. If you go over there, you'll see things slide down in the middle say “hey, if you want the top 10 episodes of The Freelancers’ Show, then enter your email address and you can have it”. So if go to freelancersshow.com, you'll see that. I’m using a product called SumoMe and you can find it at sumome.com. They are awesome. They’ve got a whole bunch of other tools in there too. One of the ones I use quite a bit is the analytics tool, and what I can do there is I can actually open up Google Analytics without actually leaving the page, and see what my traffic has been and things like that, and it puts a badge on there for me so that I can see what the traffic has been for today and how many people are on right now and stuff like that. Really, really handy tool. But the thing that’s really interesting about it is that I put the little slide down thing on DevChat.tv on February 12th, which was 11 days ago, and in the last 11 days I had almost 400 email sign ups to my email list, so I’m just – I’m really happy with the results on that, and it comes out to just under 40 sign ups per day. So if you want to get those emails, you can. And if you want to check out SumoMe, you can go to sumome.com. I’m also getting ready to gear up on the DevChat.tv Blog. So if you're interested in that, you can go to blog.devchat.tv. It should have a few posts up by the time this goes live, and you can check that out. And finally, on the mailing list itself, I've been emailing everybody on the list to let people know when I’m going to be in a particular city so that we can go hang out. So if you're interested in that, then just go jump on the list, sign up for episode updates or anything like that, and you can also do that at freelancersshow.com, and we can check that out. I’m definitely going to Las Vegas and Chicago this year. I might wind up in London or Kansas City or San Francisco. So if you're interested and you're in those areas, then let me know and we’ll make sure that we can find some time to get together. And those are my picks. Anything else before we wrap up? PHILIP: I can add on that notion as a welcome mat. Those seem to be performing quite well right now, which means they will not be in a couple of years as people tire of that. But there's some alternatives if you don’t want to pay. SumoMe is free, but there's also a paid tier. Thrive Leads is a WordPress plugin that does – has similar functionality and it’s a one-time thing versus a recurring thing. Of course you don’t have to pay for the high-end SumoMe version, but if you want to really customize a welcome mat, you do have to pay that. I just wanted to add that as a side note just to give them more options there. CHUCK: That’s true. And if you're doing what I’m doing, which is that since all the shows are under DevChat.tv, I had different paths that I needed different mats to show up on, that’s a paid feature. So yeah, I’m paying for it. PHILIP: It’s a good value. CHUCK: Yup. PHILIP: For sure. CHUCK: Yeah, but it seems like the core of the market – of marketing these days, for quite a while in fact, has been email. So if you want to do quality marketing, you need a strong email list, so that’s what I’m after right now. PHILIP: You won’t get any argument from me there [chuckles]. CHUCK: Alright. Well, we’ll go ahead and wrap up the show. Thank you all for coming and we’ll catch you all next week.[Hosting and bandwidth is provided by the Blue Box Group. Check them out at BlueBox.net.]**[Bandwidth for this segment is provided by CacheFly, the world’s fastest CDN.  Deliver your content fast with CacheFly. Visit cachefly.com to learn more.]**

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