Transitioning from Client Work to the Product Space with Jason Lemieux
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Thinking about transitioning from client services into a product company? Jason Lemieux did just that with Postmatic; a plug-in that allows you to comment on a WordPress site by email to increase the engagement on your website. This is an awesome episode jammed packed full of golden nuggets.
Troy talks to Jason about the truth about non-profits not having any budget for web development, why really big projects are sometimes more damaging to the business than small ones, defining your niche and transitioning from client services to become a product company.
Watch the Video
A Bit About Jason
Jason and his partner Dylan Kuhn co-founded a creative agency called Vernal based in Vermont. At the time of this podcast in 2015, they had just transitioned from agency to product with the release of the plugin Postmatic.
Tune in around the 5 Minute mark to find out how Jason got started with WordPress as an early adopter and grew his business.
Working With Not-For-Profit Organisations
Jason’s agency, Vernal, makes content managed open source websites for medium to large not for profit organisations. There’s a myth that there’s no money in the not-for-profit sector, but it isn’t true – they are like any business, but they are funded just happen to have a different tax status.
Jason chose this as his niche because he wanted to find work that he believed in and was passionate about. He also found not-for-profits easier to work with because the people are generally kind, understanding, patient and sometimes used to not working in a ‘not so efficient’ environment.
Find a Niche
How do you battle the fear of missing out when you pass on projects that aren’t in your niche? Jason says that they were pretty lucky and didn’t often get dry spells without work. He adds that if you pass on something, it usually works out in the end anyway.
Jason says one of the key factors in this was that they always made sure their customers were really happy. This then leads to a lot of referral work. It also helps to work in a niche such as not-for-profit because people tend to bounce around to different jobs within the not-for-profit arena. So once you have those solid relationships, that person will recommend you to the next organisation.
The key to making your business successful is to find a niche and ensure that you have high customer satisfaction.
Transitioning from Client Services to the Product Space
Postmatic is a plugin that enables 100% email base commenting, post notifications, and you can reply to a comment by email and it replies back to the web. It also sends emails for posts, digests, newsletters, and comments without changing your workflow.
The transition happened at a time where they were taking on large projects that would last around 12-months and it felt like shaky ground. However, they didn’t want to go back to a lot of small projects either so they decided to give Postmatic a try so they could have a regular cash flow and not have to secure job after job.
Tune in at the 28-minute mark to find out why they chose to develop Postmatic and how it works.
The Importance of Building Relationships
When it comes to getting new client work, Jason says that they didn’t do big proposals. Instead, they did phone calls and estimates. He would try to find some kind of personal connection to the potential client, which is easy when you work in a niche because people usually know each other – find out who they might know, get on the phone and sell the job that way. He has even been able to win big jobs with just a phone call!
When Jason makes a phone call, most of the call is about how they’re doing, how is the family etc. Then 40% of the call will be about business. Be sincere and just talk to people like they’re humans.
Bring an element of your offline life into your business and persona. Don’t try to be too professional. Be yourself.
And to wrap up this informative podcast, here some of the key takeaways…
- Spend time offline and in nature to find your balance
- Know who your customers are, what makes them tick and what they’re thinking
- To find customers, have a good niche and do quality work in that niche and the clients will come
- Don’t worry about competing on price. Ignore the competition, do your best work and charge a fair price that takes care of you and your employees
- When Jason was doing agency work they used Pipeline Deals as their CRM and really liked it
- Reach out to old customers when you need more work and let them know you are happy to do some work at a 20% discount