Ever wondered how inbound marketing really works?
In this episode, Joe Howard, the founder of WP Buffs, explains that it isn't rocket science. He gives us some simple tips to grow your business by getting the customers come to you. Troy also talks to him about hiring remote staff, how he broke into a crowded marketplace with a minimal viable product, and how he used inbound marketing to grow his company.
This podcast will give you some easy steps to ensure you are getting your brand out there!
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Who is Joe Howard?
Joe Howard is the founder of WP Buffs which is a WordPress Maintenance company and a CTO for entrepreneurs and small businesses who run WordPress websites. They have headquarters in Washington DC but work with a remote team all over the world.
Joe has been working with WordPress for seven years now and running WP Buffs for two years. He started out in client services and building websites and made the transition to maintenance because his strength is marketing rather than technology. Joe is passionate about inbound marketing (having leads find you rather than going out and finding them.)
When Joe was building websites he was semi-successful and usually had some work going on, but when he wasn’t building websites he wasn’t getting paid and it made it difficult to find a recurring revenue model. So he decided to find a business model that was more scalable.
Stepping into a Saturated Market
Joe saw that WordPress maintenance was already a crowded space but he liked the challenge because he was always good at executing things.
First, he needed to validate the idea by researching the market so he Googled other companies to find out about his competition. He knew there were companies that he couldn’t compete with for at least the first couple of years.
He also did a keyword analysis for “WordPress maintenance” and “WordPress help” and discovered that a lot of people were searching for it. Which meant there was a large demand for it, proving that there was a viable market.
He needed to build it as lean as possible so it has been a bootstrap company since day one. This was a good move to help it grow and now he is able to compete with the bigger companies.
Building Your Brand
Joe explains that you need to build trust with your audience which is a work in progress. When they started out, he put some focus on how they wanted to differentiate themselves from competitors, but the brand was also from built user feedback, what people are saying about you online and learning from what people want.
Build trust, differentiate yourself and get feedback - Building an inbound marketing company with Joe Howard @thewpbuffs
He says that the most important thing to remember when you are starting out is that you don’t know too much about what you're doing. The people who are the most successful are the ones who learn from their customers and their mistakes. Improve based on suggestions and make sure you're flexible and change things as you go along. “You will throw a bunch of spaghetti at the wall and see what sticks.” Once you know what works, then you are on your way!
A common fear is that people aren’t prepared to make a decision as they think that it will be set in stone. But when you're starting out, you don’t have a huge database of people that you need to explain the changes to, such as price increases. So explaining to 10 – 50 customers is easy! Maybe you will have one or two complaints but overall it is much more important for your company to make those changes. Be bold and make decisions and don't be afraid to make mistakes.
Working with a Remote Team
Joe initially needed to bring people on board fast as he needed to get work done. Now he has switched things more to being proactive with hiring rather than reactive. He references a great Kinsta article here where they talk about how to “Hire Slow and Fire Fast”. Check out the link below the show notes.
Joe talks about the importance of onboarding documents for new starters which include culture documents. This is particularly necessary as it is more difficult to get a remote team on board with the same brand vision and maintain consistency across the board.
One of the companies that he looks up to is Human Made and they recently released their onboarding documents. You can get some good ideas from this so check out the website in the links section below.
How He Finds His Staff
He hires most of his employees through recommendations from his current WP Buff staff. Or they use Post Status who have a WordPress specific job board which isn't as big as a zip recruiter but it is focused and well known in the WordPress space.
Getting Started With Inbound Marketing
What can you do in the next 2 weeks if you are a new company?
The first thing you need to do is idea validation. You need to know if people are searching for this by conducting a keyword analysis. Assess the viability through the volume of searches.
Joe's favourite tools to use are:
- Ubersuggest: This gives you a comprehensive list of keyword ideas especially longtail searches which are easier to rank for.
- Google: It will give you a little list that drops down when you start searching and then you scroll to the bottom of the page and it gives you suggested terms at the bottom – and it's free!
- SEMrush: is good for competitor analysis and they have a free trial where you can download as much data as you want.
The second thing to do is separate your keywords into viable topics. If you want to effectively target certain keywords for blog posts or certain pages, figure out the best keywords for a blog or an interior page of your website.
How to get started with inbound marketing. @JosephHHoward gives an easy step by step guide for new businesses on a budget on the WPE Podcast.
The Long-Term Investment
When you start out your business you need to understand that whilst blogging is time-consuming it is also a medium to long-term investment. It takes discipline so the key is to create a plan for yourself and stick to it. It won't take too long to realise the investment after a few months when people start entering information into your contact form. It will build slowly but surely.
Outreach for Blog Posts - Joe's Super HackThe most successful way I've done inbound marketing is by keeping a BCC list of WordPress friends to send important blogs to.
When sending emails, I send a more personal one to them and ask for feedback.
Always be friendly and present, and look for how you can add value to people's lives and businesses.
How to Know If It Is Working
Measuring traffic to your site is important to do on a monthly basis. With Google Analytics you can set up goals so you can track visitors to specific pages such as a campaign page. If you're increasing traffic but not conversions, then you know it’s a conversion issue.
Set a repeat task to do marketing and conversion each week and do the basics well and consistently. It's not rocket science. By having a dedicated time to work on tasks rather than in 15-minute increments, it will make you much more efficient.
What is your favourite project management tool?
Teamwork. For onboarding new care plans, new employees and everything project based. It also manages their white label service.
What tools do you use to run a remote team?
Teamwork Chat for day to day communication. It is similar to Slack but Joe is in many groups on that platform so there is too much transition and he can't work effectively. For video communication he uses Zoom.
When you were a kid what did you want to be when you grew up?
Listen in to find out!
That's it for this episode. We hope you collected some gold here! Let us know what you think of this podcast or if you have tried inbound marketing in the comments below.