Earlier this year Anthony and I went to the Tropical Think Tank conference in the Philippines. It’s a business masterminding conference so we were advised to have a good think about what kind of advice we wanted from the conference before we went over. And the main kind of advice we were after was help with the fact that, due to ‘bread and butter’ recurring graphic design work drying up industry-wide, we’ve found ourselves in the position where the bulk of our income is from website design and development.
While we’re doing ok (ie we’re never short on new website work) it just means we’re in the position of having to ‘close the sale’ on new work constantly. This puts a lot of pressure on one person (Anthony). So I came up with a new idea for ‘bread and butter’: I would create a product that would help people brief their web designer (regardless of whether that designer was us, or someone else).
Web design projects often have cost over-runs because the client misses telling their designer/developer fairly crucial things at the briefing stage. In my head, I figured we could sell this product for ~$500 because it could potentially say people thousands and thousands of dollars in cost over-runs.
So, back to Tropical Think Tank and the very first mastermind session. I tell the table our problem and outline my solution. And then I look around hopefully, expecting to get some nuanced thoughts about what I can do to enhance the awesomeness of my proposed website briefing product. Then Matthew Kimberley (the expert/speaker at the table) turns to us and this conversation ensues:
MK: How much do you sell a website for?
Us: $5000 plus
MK: So, you can spend a LOT of time creating this new product offering of yours, testing it, tweaking it, making sure it’s awesome … then you have to market it hard. And you’re going to have to sell 10 of these per month in order to bring in exactly the same income of one extra website per month.
Well! I think in that moment right there, we made back the cost of the conference. Because the truth was, even though this was my big idea … I had no idea where I was going to find the time to create this product, test it, tweak it and market it. But, since I saw it as the only solution, I’d kind of resigned myself to the fact that I was just going to have to make it happen. And I’d have spent months and months creating a product, and then it would have taken months and months more to market that product … and I’d have worked my ass off to bring in income to our business that … as Matthew pointed out … could be brought in much more easily (simply seal the deal on one more website a month!).
I didn’t make the connection at the time, but what Matthew was highlighting there was the concept of ‘do more of what works’. And it was something that Dan Norris also mentioned in his keynote at the PBEVENT conference I attended last week. (He had a slightly different spin: double down on the stuff that works.)
So what works in our business? Well, among other things:
And we’re already kinda doubling down on all of that stuff … while taking a really good look at the stuff we’re spending a lot of time on currently that doesn’t work so well. But … we still need some kind of recurring income to take some pressure off the ‘closer of sales’ in our business (Anthony). He needs to be able to go on holiday occasionally!
So what to do?
Well here is something that Dan highlights in his books Content Machine and The 7 Day Startup: it’s very hard to get people to pay for something they’re not paying for already. But if you can repackage something that people are already paying for and make their lives easier at the same time, then you’re away. So that’s what we’re currently doing at the moment. (Stay tuned!)
Is there something in your business you should be doubling down on? Is there something you’re already doing for your clients that could be repackaged slightly to allow for a more reliable, recurring income?