Thank you for being here for episode 18.
Hi, Arelthia. I’m so glad to be back with everybody. And today’s topic is how to develop your solution. So, so far in our entire solution process, we have surveyed all of our friends and relatives and anybody we have come in contact with to find out what kind of problems they had. We have identified some of the problems. We brainstormed solutions for the problem. We’ve matched some of our problems to solutions and we decided which solution we wanted to develop. So, today we are finally in the final phase of our solution process. And we get to go through the whole thing. And it leads us up to having our service or product that we’ll be able to offer our clients at the end of the day.
Okay, so great! And I know everybody’s question is, “okay… so how do I decide what to charge for this service or solution?” So, we’ll get to that eventually but you have to stay with us through the whole thing. I’m going to start with… Kerry, the first question I have for you is what do your… what does your customer’s onboarding look like for your solution? What does the customer have to do to get started?
Well, there’s a lot of different things that you have to consider when you’re going through this process. Personally, what I like to do is I place myself in my customer’s, or my client’s, shoes. And I look at what I, as a business owner, am offering that client. And I try to go through the process and figure out what it’s going to be like for them. So… how does it feel to them? What does it look like? And I think through all of the options that I need to take care of and put into place to make their experience as easy as possible… and yet lead them to exactly what I need them to do. And, and get through the process of using that solution.
Okay, okay. So, some of the things that you go through… like for me, I like to consider, do you need – like this, do I need to have a consultation with that person before they sign up for the service. Not just to see if they’re fit for my service, but to see if I am a fit for them.
Yes, I agree.
Because, some people, you know, sometimes there’s that personality conflict or you just don’t like the way I do things. So, that’s very important. And then, because, you know, you want to think about it also – is the service automated? Like is there an automated signup? Can they just go to the website, sign up and pay and everything’s okay? You really have to think through, like you said, think through that process. What’s it going to be like for that customer? What’s it going to be like for you? Because you want to consider, “oh, do I need to write up a proposal?” Or is it going to be, “I’m going to have a consultation?” And then, boom – right then and there, I can tell them what I have available. Or, you need to go from the consultation and maybe write out a proposal, or maybe lay out some guidelines for them. And if it’s a really exclusive service, is there an application process for that customer? Does that customer need to fill out an application may be before they get to a consultation? And then they can actually sign up for your service. But most importantly, I feel like you have to remember to look at the industry for leads as to what your client might expect. Because if your process is, like, extremely different, it takes a little bit more education to educate your customer on your process. And then, also you want to consider what are you actually offering?
Exactly, exactly! So, that really leads us right into the next question that that comes to mind for me, Arelthia… what is your role as a provider of the solution for your clients and customers?
Okay. So, I think about it like this. When I’m thinking about my role in this whole process, it’s like, “what of the different parts of the service?” So, after that customer purchases the service, what do I have to do or setup? So… and that system has to be in place. I feel like, I think you mentioned this earlier – mapping stuff out. You have to map it all out to identify potential challenges, okay? Because you have to then see where they’re going to be bottlenecks and where they may break down so that you can deal with those situations when they occur. Then, you want to think about, “what are the touch points?” When does that customer actually communicate with you? And in what way? Because, if you… you also want to make sure you communicate to that customer so they can see the value that you are providing. And that is very important. It cannot be of purchase to service and then there’s no further contact. You have to plan ahead of time when you’re going to communicate with that customer so they can continue to see the value that you’re offering. Um… what are you… normally – when you think about your role, when you’re planning the service, Kerry? How do you typically approach that?
Well, one of the things that I do for solutions that I try to provide is… obviously I want that solution to be something that is unique and maybe not available anywhere else. But at the same time, there’s some criteria that I set up for myself that maybe makes it a little bit harder for somebody else to copy what I’m doing and offer it themselves. So, the first thing I do is I look and I evaluate the needs of, like, what I need to do in order to get it in place. Very similar to what we talked about in question number one. What do I have or need to be able to offer the service? Do I need additional tools? Do I have to purchase other products to be able to offer the package that I’m offering? Do I need to make additional investments? And… and so, it’s a primal need, really. What are all the elements of everything that I need to get it into place? And then I go into it even deeper and I try to make what I build, like I said, a little bit difficult to copy. Because, I know that a product that has a higher entry level to get into – from both the perspective of making that product viable solution for my clients, but also enforces my clients have to put “a little skin in the game” in order to… to benefit from it. I know that those products and services have a higher value. So, I need to make sure that setting it all up is… how it compares to the value that it offers. And then, I go into “control.” How much of the process do I control? Am I working with other people’s products that I have to be reliant upon? Or is this something that I’m developing completely by myself that I have 100% of control of? So, there’s a lot to weigh in that category. And sometimes you can use a little bit of both which is what I like to do just because it keeps my initial investments potentially a little bit lower. But most importantly, what I look at is the scalability. Can I scale this solution now, when I’m doing it with the very first customer? Is it scalable to when I have a thousand customers? Can I have a thousand customers? How scalable is this immediately and how scalable will it be in the future? Or am I going to be limited by what I decide to offer as the solution?
“Most importantly, what I look at [in developing a product or service] is the scalability.” ~ KerryCarron
Wow, Kerry. I think that’s a great point you have right there. Before we move on. Scalability. Even though when you first start offering the service it may be a little more hands-on, a little more you involved. But you have to make sure you have a plan for scalability as you move on. Because, like, that first customer you worked a little bit closer with them. Maybe just so you can work out some of the challenges and stuff. Find out some of the pain… some of the areas that need a little more tweaking that maybe you didn’t consider. And then as you slowly move on, you really want that be scalable so that it’s not so dependent upon you. I love that point. That is a great point. And when you’re talking about scalability, one of the things, that often times – especially working with WordPress, we hear a lot of talk about customer service in an area that, like, requires a lot. You know, it can be – we hear about all these companies – I think WooCommerce talks about customer service being a pain point for them. Pippin just did a piece on customer service. Because that’s an area that can be really costly for us as freelancers. Even, like, whether you’re an AC or freelancer customer service can be a very costly area. So, how do we set up our customer service for our service, Kerry?
Well, one of the other things I want to touch on real quick before I answer that… and you talked about the scalability and for me, it also leads directly into how much time will it take? How much time does it take me to develop it? How much time is it going to take to be able to maintain it, fix it, or improve it? And also, how long does it take the customer to… to use the solution and find some results?
So, as far as defining what the customer service is like for the… for the solution, I like to try to set up and think about what and when I will have a follow-up. Exactly what is going to be included in that follow-up? What kind of maintenance and improvements I have to the solution. And again, it does relate back to both questions number one and two that we just discussed. It all comes down to time and scalability. And how do you approach that?
Um, you know, customer service, like, I tend to try to keep my customer service to a point where it’s not dependent upon me at that right moment. I try to have it so that my customers can either find the answers to the questions that they have – that other people already know. Or where there’s a system in place where they can submit those questions and they get that response. Now we both know… we’ve had discussion after discussion about the importance of customer service and that response time. Depending on the type of service it is, you know, an hour response time… depending on the problem, may be too long. You know? So, it’s important to have those systems in place where you have a way to respond, for customer service, like, quickly. And you want to make sure… another part of customer service – it’s not just being, you know, responding to customer requests or reacting to a request from a customer but to have some predetermined customer service type checkpoints with that customer. So, every month there’s something going out for that customer. Maybe, it’s, “did you know that this service does this for you?” Or maybe it’s, um, “did you know that…um, are you using this, for the service.” Um, just something to keep that customer engaged. Help that customer get the most from your service.
“Help that customer get the most from your service.” ~ Arelthia Phillips
Right! And if you do have the type of customer service where maybe you are a solopreneur and you can’t get to everything immediately, you must communicate with your clients and let them know that ahead of time. Let them know that, “I will get to this. If you don’t hear from me after this amount of time please, you know, try again.” Or, you know, let them know what your hours of operation are even. If you’re not working on the weekend and somebody gives you… or has an issue during the weekend… to them it’s an emergency. Always. Immediately.
To you? It may not be.
Yeah and that’s the thing. Like, it’s important that your customers understand the timeframe that you will respond. And one way of dealing with that, Kerry, is, like, when they submit a request to you… Like, if they submit that request on your website, through your contract form, or your support form, it tells them. I like to have it so that after they submit it, they see the timeframe in which I will respond.
And you really have to be… in order for to be able to contact me in a different way… you have to be one of my higher tier customers.
Higher tier customers get more access.
Absolutely! So, let me ask you this, Arelthia – Now that you have a basic working solution and you’re ready to take it and… ready to launch, how do you market your solution?
When it comes to marketing my solution, I like to think of, first of all – my website is my central hub. Okay? Everything breaks out from the website because I want it to come back into the website. But the website is the central hub and then it’s surrounded by social media and… there are other third party platforms, like, for example… YouTube. Maybe a YouTube video. Tumbler. Um but, definitely everything is connected in somewhat of a circle for the most part. Um constantly going out. You know, when it comes to marketing, content marketing is great. Social media whether it’s really like a lot of… Really, I’ve found a lot of success, Kerry, with Tumblr and videos. That type of stuff. Syndicating my content out to all those different locations. What about you, Kerry?
Yeah, I agree. There’s a lot of different models out there but I think the bottom line is they do all relate to one another or are similar in some way, shape, or form. In that being… you mentioned the circle. You can think of it as a target – where the center of the target is your website and the outer rings are different levels that funnel into it. Which brings me to the funnel. You can have, you know, you can have everything… your funnel can be either direction. You know, you can have a funnel where the website is down at the very bottom and everything trickles into it. Or you can flip it upside down like a pyramid and your website is at the top and things flow back out to those other areas. But the bottom line is your website, or where the conversion happens, needs to be at the center – where the money is. Because that’s everything. Everything that is dependent upon your business being successful has to do with conversion. And it doesn’t matter how many people you have coming to your website, if those people don’t actually buy your solution then you’re spinning your wheels and you’re not making any progress.
Definitely. Definitely. Now, Kerry, let me ask you a question. Like, we… we’re both, like, extremely busy, okay? Constantly working. Our schedules are very tight. So, how do you make sure that your content is being seen across the multiple social media platforms and other third party platforms?
Well, there’re a lot of tools out there and you really have to… for me, I think it’s was trial and error and refining before I finally put together a system that’s working for me. And I went back and forth, and round and round, and there were many times when I had one thing that would cause a reaction to another location and then that location would trigger another action to go to another place. And there were many times I ended up with an infinite circle and it would… the information would just keep going around and around and around. And I was it was not good because I was reposting and posting and posting the same thing over and over and over. But eventually, you know, you realize these. You make mistakes along the way. I found a great product that I love to use to market my social media. It can also be used with WordPress and it is called CoSchedule. It is a rather expensive investment when you’re first beginning as a startup. But when you start becoming really serious about getting content out there and you realize how important getting con… content out there is in your marketing, you end up finding a way to make sure that your business has the income coming in that you need to pay for those types of tools. So, don’t let high-priced items scare you. Keep them in the back of your mind and look for ways to make that fit into your business even if you’re bootstrapping your business.
“Keep investment costs in the back of your mind and look for ways to make them fit into your business, even if you’re bootstrapping your business.” ~ Kerry Carron
Okay. That’s a great point, Kerry. And one of the times when you need to really consider the services that you want to purchase to run your business, is you need to consider the price that you charge for your service solution. So, I guess we’ll just go right into the big question. The question everybody wants to know the answer to – how do you determine the price for your services?
Yeah, that’s a tough one. And there are, of course, so many different… so many different ways to come up with that answer. There’s the word I was looking for… totally slipped my mind. But, you know, you have to think about… is your service a recurring service or is it a non-recurring service, a one-time type of thing. Most everything, you can… you have to research. The bottom line is you have to research your cost. You have to come up with how much of a return on investment, with your cost, that you want for your business. And maybe, when you’re first beginning, that you choose to only have come out [of your business] what goes in. In other words, maybe you’re reinvesting 100% of whatever comes in, to purchase something else. And eventually you will catch up with yourself and you will start having a little bit of profit. And you just work from there. Again, you just find that acceptable profit, based on how many clients that you might need to completely recover your cost. And it can vary from service to service. Why don’t you tell me a little bit about some of the stuff you do, Arelthia.
Well, you know, I totally like the research part. You cannot research enough. Now, I’m not saying keep researching and never actually put your product or service out there. But research, you know, like Kerry said, research your cost. But, also research market rates because you don’t want to be charging less than the market okay? You want the value of the service that you provide… that should really be a big factor in the prices you charge for your service. You know, you want your customers to see it as an investment. One of the things that like… I think it’s a big thing, and I know Kerry you do the same thing because I always over deliver. And I try to make sure that my customers see the value that they receive from the service. And I think that part starts when you are doing your customer onboarding. And, you know, because it’s important to find out why this customer wants to use your service at this time. You know, what are they already doing? How is this going to change their life just by using your service? So, that’s something that’s important to consider. And all the things we’ve talked about so far, like, what is the process for customer onboarding is like, are you going to be involved in that process, or are you disconnected from it? I like to say that anytime I’m directly involved with customer onboarding, that price is going to be at a higher price point than if it’s an automated signup. Also, you want to consider…
“Anytime I’m directly involved with customer onboarding, that price is going to be at a higher price point than if it’s an automated signup.” ~ Arelthia Phillips
Well, let me… let me touch on that just a second.
That’s really an important thing you said there. The time that you spend developing your product – all of your research and all of that… that added to the value of your product and therefore justifies an increase in the cost. And that’s something that when you’re first starting out, you just don’t it doesn’t hit you. Most people will just start out, “how long is it going to take me to do this?” and, “I want to make [you know] thirty dollars an hour.” which seems like a lot for somebody who isn’t in the business. But when you think about all of the steps that you have to do to get to that process, you realize that what you are offering has a much higher value. And you cannot undersell it because you will… you will burn out, you will start feeling like you’ve been taking advantage of.
Yes, I totally agree, Kerry. You know, and especially as you… as your skill level improves. And if you’re… if you’re charging based on the hour, you’re going to start feeling… like Kerry says, taken advantage of. Because, if you’re better at what you do, it takes you less time to do it. That does not mean that you should charge less. Um, you know, and so definitely consider that. Consider the value you’re offering, the skill level you’re at, and most importantly how much support do you need to provide. Because of that right there, when it comes to offering services, especially recurring services. um… support can be very expensive. Expensive in the fact that it takes up a lot of your time. Especially if you’re a freelancer and it’s just you. It takes up a lot of your time. Now, if you have a team that you can reach out to, “hey, Kerry, can you take a look at this for me,” or, “this item came in.” If you have someone else to help with support… but still you… still, that person still needs to get paid. You know, don’t – just like you expect your customers to pay you your worth is, the people that work for you – your support team, they expect to get paid.
Let me let me go off topic for just one second here. I just got a thought. And I… and I want to catch you off guard here a little bit.
How do you feel about a person who’s just starting out? Is it okay to charge less because you feel you don’t have that value? And, and… and can you start out at one price and then change your prices? How do you… what’s your recommendation for somebody who’s just starting out and they’re really unsure about this?
You know, pricing has a lot to do with confidence, And I think starting out, charging a lesser price – especially while learning – that’s okay. You know, because that will help build your confidence. Just simply somebody saying, “hey I will pay you to do this!” they say it starts to build up that confidence you know and as you do this more and more the more you
Exactly!they say it starts to build up that confidence you know and as you do this more and more the more you
It starts to build up that confidence. You know, and as you do this more and more, the more you learn. Believe me, you’re… you’re going to want to start increasing prices. Okay?
And it’s important just to really communicate with people. But definitely, in the beginning, it is truly a learning process. Do not be afraid to learn. Find people you know that have done what you’re trying to do at this point. And get feedback from those people. You know, reach out there. Join a community like OWNWP.com where you know there are freelancers that are doing what you do. And then, you get that experience, you build up, you grow – and my goodness.., you’re going to change your prices. You know, if… I’m going to put it like this… If you don’t change your prices at least every year, something’s wrong. What do you think about that, Kerry? Am I taking it too far?
No… um you answered exactly the way that I went about doing it when I first started. I’ll tell you. I started at $10 an hour and… but, I was learning so much and so fast. And I was lucky enough to have somebody who had committed to me to pay me $40 an hour [CORRECTION: this should have been $10/hr for 40hours of work each week] to learn and to do the work for him and… But it’s very… it very quickly made me feel like I was not getting enough. Enough payment for the value that I was providing because I was going through and learning what was needed and they didn’t have any idea how long it took. And of course, everybody’s learning process is different. But yes, I totally agree. Raise your prices on a regular basis. If you can’t do it once a year, at least look at it on a quarterly basis and, and reevaluate and ask yourself, “can I,” “should I?” And it’s okay grandfather people who, you know, have your prices in at lower price. Pretty soon though, you’re going to find out, if they’re long-term customers, that their price isn’t enough either. And it’s easier to increase prices a little bit at a time every year even on existing customers than it is to wait a few years and then go back and say, “I haven’t raised prices in three years and now it’s going to go up 50% “. You know, and I used that term [50%] because that is what I did and luckily did not lose any clients that way. But it wasn’t the right way to go about it. A better way to do it is to increase those prices on a regular basis. Everybody does that. It’s… it’s very common, you know, so that’s that’s just how it is. I want to ask you Arelthia… what’s our action plan for today?
Our action plan for today is to develop your product or service to complete the solution process.Develop your product or service to complete the 2D Solution Process! Click To Tweet
Yep! Okay. So, we have a couple of questions that we want to get your reply for so I’m going to ask right off…
- On a scale of one to ten how difficult was this to the solution process to follow?
- Did you find gaps in the 2D Solution Process
And guys, when we say find gaps, we mean like, a certain thing missing.
- Did we skip over anything that you think we should include it?
- Did you feel like you were missing something as you went through the process?
And Kerry, let me say that if there’s anyone listening… that if you are, like, confused about what we’re saying… we started this [Solution Process] with Episode… Do you remember the episode number, Kerry?
I think it was episode… I’m gonna, I’m gonna to say 14.
Good! That’s what I was thinking. So, you can go back listen to episode 14 and then work your way forward. Walk through the process of how to figure out what your customer base is looking for. What problems they have. Their pain points. Move through developing possible solutions and how to choose a solution. And don’t forget to download the actual templates that we have for you to make this process easier.
Yes. And when you’re all done we also want to know…
- did you have a clear enough vision of your solution to be able to actually develop your solution and offer your… your client a product or service?
Okay guys, so we know your comments can help us or someone else in the process so we just thank you for taking the time to answer these questions and comment on our website 2dwebsolutions.com
So now… go out and create your plan, take action, and experience your success!