Consulting

Normalize 👏 Audio-Only 👏 Zoom 👏 Calls

Not to jinx anything, but today was the first time in a long time where I had 4+ client/business calls in a day, and my brain isn’t a steaming puddle of mush by the end of the day.

When the pandemic started and everything became a Zoom call, it was a slow boil for me. After a few months, I had to ruthlessly cut back on all my calls — masterminds, communities, clients, leads, podcast interviews, etc. — because that much time on calls (and on camera) was not working for me.

So, I adjusted. Deferred and canceled all the meetings and calls that I could. And I waited for things to change.

Then, thanks to a tweet from my buddy Joel Hooks (@jhooks of Egghead.io), I started to noodle on switching to audio-only Zoom calls.

After all, where’s the value in a call with me?

  • Is it from my gorgeous face on the call? (😍)
  • Or does the value come from the conversations and the sharing of ideas?

(A little from column A, a lot from column B.)

So, I started experimenting.

On Zoom calls with close colleagues or friends, I’d say, “Hey, can we just do audio-only or audio + screen share today?” And 100% of the time, people said yes (and a few thanked me for suggesting it).

Today was a Big Call Day. Client meetings and a few calls with colleagues.

On each call, I said, “Hey, let’s do audio-only today.” No one objected, the calls were great, and I feel fine.

Take today’s letter as a point of encouragement: if you too are stressed out, tired, and just completely over being on video calls all the time, say to people, “I can do audio-only.” It will be fine.

Excelsior!

Kai

[Reader Question] YouTube content for Agencies?

I’m in the marketing team of a digital product agency. I’m planning on starting a youtube channel with valuable content for our target audience, which is basically entrepreneurs, PMs, POs, CEOs, etc. We would talk about UX, product management, data analytics, etc. But I’m lost with it… I don’t know how to begin or validate if it’s a good idea. Do you have any experience in youtube content for agencies, and can you give me a hint?

First, you’ll want to niche down the target audience for this content a bunch more. Your topics and target audience are vast to start, which means you’ll be trying to cover a lot of interests for different markets. That’ll make this lift harder.

I say go hyper-niche.

  • Pick one target audience (e.g., your most valuable/most like your best customers)
  • Pick a single topic that aligns with what that audience most cares about.

You can expand the topics + audience down the line. But to get started, make it small and specific so it stands out for that audience.

If picking a target audience is challenging, your leadership team might have insights. In their annual/quarterly planning meeting, did they identify a target persona, profile, or audience from which they want more engagement/revenue/leads? If so, target that audience.

Once you have an idea of the audience you want to reach (e.g., Startup CEOs) and what they’re interested in (e.g., data analytics for decision making for CEOs), dive into content research as you would if you were in that target market.

  • What terms would you/they use to find that content?
  • What content already exists (in articles on Google and video on YouTube)? How can you make better, more expert, more authoritative, more trusted content?
  • What questions are people in your target market asking about that topic? What keywords are involved? (And, what keywords are your competitors ranking for these terms?)

Those steps will give you a solid baseline of

  • Audience
  • Topic(s)
  • Competing content (to do better than)
  • Keywords

Past that, work on creating a content beachhead on YouTube (e.g., 5-10 short videos) and monitor engagement and analytics over time. Then, create more and grow.

How can you best validate the idea? Look for existing content. If no one is already there, it might not be a greenfield marketing opportunity, and might be a salted earth where nothing grows.

Past this, look at:

  • Initial engagement/growth from your initial content
  • Content/topic/keyword space (e.g., do you estimate 3-6 months of content to create? 5+ years?)

For tracking down keywords, I like to use:

  • Keywords Everywhere (which shows keyword volume/competitiveness for target and related terms in the search results as you use Google/YouTube)
  • SEMRush. Their competitive insights add-on (+$200/mo) is well worth it.

Those tools are what I use to get a lay of the land + to identify low keyword opportunities and low-hanging fruit.

Customer/market research interviews could also be helpful here. That would look like an outreach play to your current clients/customers or people in your target market. You’d want to say something like:

“Hey $person, I’m curious what our industry could do to better serve you. Are you up for a 15-minute research call so I can ask you a few questions and learn what we could do better?”

And then ask questions about:

  • What your industry could do better
  • Where your industry is making it harder
  • What information they’re looking for from your industry

By the way, if you want to talk through a thorny marketing question in your business (or how to reach your target market online), grab a 1-on-1 Marketing and Growth Clarity Call. We’ll talk through your situation, I’ll share advice and perspective, and you’ll get specific, actionable advice on what to do next.

https://calendly.com/kaid/call

Excelsior!

Kai

What if your previous clients cant afford to work with you?

A reader question today, shared with permission:

What if your previous clients cant afford to work with you? Are they just done?

It could be that they’re done, but there are a few other things to consider.

Big picture, the lens to look at this through is, “What can I sell my clients that helps them move forward towards their goal, but fits within their budget?”

In service of that:

  • Can you sell them a lower-priced productized service? Something that is easy for you to deliver and within their budget?
  • Can you offer an advisory/done-with-you service? They handle the implementation, you provide ‘do this, not that’ advice on what to do.
  • Can you create a small information product for these (and future) clients? Something that you can write-once and then deliver again, again, and again that helps them succeed.

The common theme is ‘Can you find a way to serve those clients at a price point they can afford?’

The answer isn’t always yes, but it’s a valuable thought exercise. You’ll often discover something that helps you fill in your product ladder.

By the way, if you want to talk through your service offerings and find something new to offer to your clients, you should consider setting up a 1-on-1 Growth + Marketing Clarity Call] On the call, you’ll get answers to your most pressing growth and marketing questions.

Here’s what Kurt Elster, founder of the Shopify agency Ethercycle, has to share about my 1-on-1 Growth + Marketing Clarity Calls:

Kai’s a sharp guy! In 15 minutes, we literally came up with a new, profitable, and frankly easy productized service to add to my business. — Kurt Elster, Founder, Ethercycle

Excelsior!

Kai

Ask this question on your initial sales calls

“How can I help?”

That’s the first question I ask my leads when we speak on the phone. I ask the question, and then I shut up and let them talk.

Why start with that question? Because before you start talking about yourself or asking them more specific questions, you want to let them share where the pain is. Let them drive for a moment.

Plus, It might be that your current understanding of their problem — communicated through a few short sentences in an email or your lead intake form — isn’t 100% correct. They might have shared the tl;dr gist of the problem (e.g., “We sell widgets. We need more traffic.”) but the actual problem (and how they need your help) is… more complicated.

By starting with ‘How can I help?’, you’re giving them space to share more.

Past that? I have another ~9 questions I like to ask on my initial calls. These questions help me understand the client’s problem and fill in the blanks I need to propose the next step or prepare a quote.

If you want to level up your initial calls, you should check out the Initial Call Script (https://gumroad.com/l/initial-call-script). Inside you’ll learn:

  • The 10 questions you should ask
  • How you can get great at asking questions
  • The exact words to say if a lead is a bad (or good) fit
  • How to interview your leads like a confident consultant

Here’s that link again: https://gumroad.com/l/initial-call-script

Excelsior!

Kai

How to grow what you water in your business

It’s February in Oregon, which means two things:

  1. I’m starting to plan out my raised garden beds for the year
  2. Cold weather has (finally) shown up in this unseasonably warm winter, with temperatures dropping below freezing for the next few days

As I think about growing my Jasmine (and other fragrant plants and vines), this quote from management guru Peter Drucker has been on my mind:

“[only] what gets measured, gets managed.”

When it comes to managing (and growing) my garden, I like to track a few things to make sure I’m putting in the time and heading in the right direction:

  • Photos of the plants in my garden
  • How often I’m watering and fertilizing my plants
  • How much time I’m spending in my garden working on projects

Are these all of the garden KPIs you could track? No, far from it; tracking these helps me track my involvement in the garden and make sure I’m putting in the time and work.

Likewise, suppose you’re looking to manage your leads’ quality and quantity over the coming months.

In that case, one of the most impactful steps you can take is to start measuring and tracking Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) for your marketing, growth, and sales. That will help you judge how your marketing funnels are performing and see the impact of your work.

Which KPIs should you track? That can depend very much on the shape, form, and context of your business.

For me, I like starting small with an initial list and growing it over time. You can start with something like:

  • Website Visitors (Traffic)
  • Email Opt-Ins (Raw numbers, conversion rates)
  • Lead inquiries (emails, form submissions, calls)

The goal here is to have a general idea of your funnel’s shape, form, and performance (i.e., visitors turn into email opt-ins who turn into leads).

Is it perfect? Is this everything you could track? No. But it’s good enough to get started.

My advice? Start small and simple with your tracking.

  • Create a spreadsheet (in Google Docs or Excel)
  • Start tracking a few (~2-3) metrics or KPIs and updating them weekly

As you think of new things to track, you can add them into your spreadsheet, start tracking them, and see if they help you manage your growth.

I like capturing new information into this KPI Spreadsheet once per week. Tracking these KPIs monthly is fine, but that slower cadence impacts this information’s usefulness. When you update your Growth KPI Spreadsheet weekly, you’re closer to the numbers, and you can more easily observe, orient, decide, and act on the information.

Excelsior!

Kai

piled stones

What comes after ‘Charge More’?

Let’s connect the idea of ‘Charging More!’ to why you should charge more.

What are you supposed to do once you’re charging more?

Once you’ve carpe’d the day, seized your rates, and courageously charged forward, what next?

Put another way; whatcha gonna do with all that mon-ey?

This answer gets philosophical. Buckle in.

First, let me say that you don’t have to do all of the stuff I lay out here. I’m sharing this as a mindset + goals/actions to strive for.

Figure out the options that you like and define a plan that you works for you.

Above all, with great power comes great responsibility. Be kind.

First, put your oxygen mask on.

If you need support, resources, help, or development to better function as a human — or be — invest in yourself.

It is hard to be human. You deserve to be happy, in an environment you love, and supported in your endeavors.

As you raise your rates, spend without remorse or apology on whatever it takes for you to live your best life.

You only have one, so be kind to yourself.

After that, work on yourself.

If there are skills, resources, abilities, journeys, knowledge, or discoveries that will help you move further towards who you are supposed to be, work on those.

Work on self-actualizing. Build a personal library. Read. Find mentors. Join masterminds. Stand on the shoulders of those who have been there before. Buy plants. Water your plants.

Beyond that, contribute to your communities.

We aren’t — or at least, I’m not — seeking to be a dragon lounging on an ever-growing Jeff Bezos-esq pile of gold sitting in a vault somewhere. Spread the wealth around. When you do that, the money often comes back to you in exciting ways.

Contribute to your communities. Reward visions of the version of society you want to live in. For me, this looks like:

  • Pay more. The flip side of ‘Charge More!’ Spend more on the services (and service providers) that you enjoy working with.
  • Give to charities. Pick a few charities that you feel a resonance with and give to them. I try and donate 3-5%+ of my businesses’ annual revenues to charities, groups, and organizations I believe in and resonate with.
  • Invest in your micro- and macro-communities (and the next generation). Invest in your community, whatever shape, form, or calling that takes for you. Give to individuals in your direct network and community. Help others around you reach their dreams. Fill fridges. Fill backpacks with school supplies. 
  • Become a patron of the arts. Sponsor artists on the micro, direct, or macro levels. Be one of someone’s 1,000 true fans (https://kk.org/thetechnium/1000-true-fans/).

Optionally, put your money to work for you.

An end goal can be to use some of your money to make more money. The execution of this principle differs from person to person and business to business. It might take the form of:

  • Hire people. If you’re selling services or your labor, hire other people to handle the effort. Focus on the parts of delivery that you are personally exceptionally skilled at (or that you love doing).
  • Buy revenue-producing assets. If you can purchase assets that make you money, do that. Even if they spit off an occasional few hundred (or thousand) bucks profit for you each month or year, that’s a win.
  • Create revenue-producing assets. If you see a need in a market, create. Build something that helps a small, specific target market save time, save money, or make more money. Stack small wins that pay off over time. (For example, once a month or so, one of the ebooks I wrote 7+ years ago hands me $200 with a note that says, “Hey, those groceries are on me.” That’s a win.)
  • Buy property (caveats do apply). Property is an exceptional store of value and creator of wealth. People wiser than me and in the game for far longer agree on that. If you have the cash to support this type of investment, it might be wise to buy property: land, buildings, rental property, a house for you, etc. And then put that property to work, creating more income and wealth. (Yes, it will take work, effort, luck, and time to do this well, not lose money, and make money. But there ain’t no such thing as a free lunch.)

Stay on your grind. Be kind. Keep going.

Excelsior!

Kai

How to charge more by thinking about value

If you want to raise your rate, one of the easiest paths forward is to raise the value of your service. Then, once you’ve increased the value, you can raise your price a bit, so you better capture that increased value.

An excellent first step is this thought exercise:

How can I make my service MORE valuable to my client? How can it save them more money or time or help them make more money?

If nothing immediately pops to mind, ask a handful of your clients (~3-5) about your service:

  • What do they enjoy?
  • Where they see the value?
  • What else could you have included making it easier/better/more impactful for them?

Their answers may surprise you. For me, they often highlight an unexpected (or unanticipated) source of value in the service.

After you’ve talked to people and thought about the question for a bit, you’ll start to develop a hunch on where the value is. Then, you want to think about what you can do to increase that value and double down on the most valuable part.

Let’s talk through an example.

One of my first productized services was the Digital Outreach Plan, a report customized to the client’s needs and giving them specific, actionable direction and advice on reaching the right people in their target market. The deliverables included:

  • A ‘do this, not that’ strategy
  • A ~4-6 email sequence to send to their contacts
  • A list of ~20-30 qualified, hand-screened contacts

As I delivered the service offering more and more, I learned from client feedback that the most valuable parts, in order, were:

  1. The list of qualified, hand-screened contacts
  2. The email sequence
  3. The strategy document

Why is that? Because the list of qualified contacts took the most work for the client to DIY. The Digital Outreach Plan was a time-savings service offering that helped the client avoid having to DIY the entire campaign.

With that nugget in mind, I started optimizing the service offering to increase the value. Specifically, I:

  • Increased the number of contacts included
  • Wrote a short guide on how to find and qualify new contacts with a VA

When I made those changes, the value of the service increased. When a client purchased their Digital Outreach Plan, they were receiving more value than before.

That meant I could increase the price.

What started as a $500 service offering increased in price. Most recently, I sold a Digital Outreach Plan for $1,650.

While the service now is more than 3x its original price, the level of effort required for me to deliver the service hasn’t increased 3x. It takes me about the same amount of effort to deliver as it did back in ~2017.

What changed to support the price increase?

I got curious about value.

I worked on the service to increase the value

I raised the price to better capture the value of the reword service offering

I rinse-and-repeated this process a few times over a few years

Excelsior!

Kai

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