Episode 94 | Handling Phone Support, Finding Market Validation, Gauging Price Sensitivity and Other Listener Questions

Show Notes


[00:00] Mike: This is Startups for the Rest of Us: Episode 94.

[00:02] [Music]

[00:11] Mike: Welcome to Startups for the Rest of Us, the podcast that helps developers, designers and entrepreneurs be awesome at launching software products, whether you’ve built your first product or you’re just thinking about it. I’m Mike.

[00:20] Rob: And I’m Rob.

[00:21] Mike: And we’re here to share our experiences to help you avoid the same mistakes we’ve made. What’s going on this week, Rob?

[00:26] Rob: What’s going on this week is 6700 paid clicks in three weeks from twelve ad networks.

[00:33] Mike: Nice.

[00:34] Rob: That’s what I’ve been buying. Yeah I’ve been — I’ve been focusing pretty hard on it. I had some guest posts opportunities and other stuff. I would say it’s in the works but I’m just — I don’t know, I’m really focused on this right now. So I’m putting everything else on hold and it’s been fun. You know, it’s always — it’s always a learning experience coming back to this stuff having not done it in a year or two with this intensity. It’s all — it’s a learning experience with the new product because it’s certain networks just working really well for certain niches. Of the twelve that I’ve tried there’s two that are working exceptionally well and they’re kind of outliers and I’m going down, tripling down on right now. So it’s cool. So the paid clicks have been I’ve maintained the positive ROI essentially. Excited to see how long I can maintain it because three weeks does not a business make.

[01:16] Mike: [Laughter]

[01:18] Rob: We’ll see.

[01:19] Mike: Are you going to continue this beyond three weeks or did you have a timeline set up in mind that you’re just kind of can it after that time period?

[01:26] Rob: No, my goal is continue — is to go after these — these two networks that I’ve found or the two sites that I’ve found that worked really well and basically try to figure out a system to where I don’t have to invest so much time in to it. It’s not super time intensive like the first week it was really — I was really on it all the time. And now, I just checked in and then create some new ads and do some different stuff but it’s — it’s getting to be where it’s kinds of in maintenance mode and I want to figure out how I can get it even more in the maintenance mode and kind of get it systematize and then hand it off to someone else so that I don’t have to, you know, manage it and that they can only get in touch if something is out of the ordinary. And I’m not sure yet if that’s going to be someone I hire through oDesk or if it’s going to be like a specific, you know, an ad management. There are companies and such that handle this kind of thing.

[02:18] Mike: Uh huh, oh it’s cool.

[02:18] Rob: Yeah. And how about you? What’s going on?

[02:21] Mike: So remember the feature or the piece of technology I had mentioned where I had said that I kind of needed at some point to have this full tolerant distribute scheduler because of the way that I’m scheduling things inside of AuditShark?

[02:34] Rob: I do.

[02:35] Mike: I spent about probably two to two and a half hours and built an entire prototype for it. And —

[02:40] Rob: Wait, you said it was going to take a like a week or something.

[02:44] Mike: Yeah, I thought it would. Well, the thing is maybe it would but what I did was I sat down and I actually talked about it with a couple of different people. One of them I’ve talked to over Twitter just sent me a couple of e-mails back and forth named Rich Buggy and I talked to him. I talked to Patrick Foley from Microsoft a little about it. And just kind of came up with some ideas and was kicking around in my head for a couple of weeks and then I was on a plane and I’m just like, well I’ve got two hours to kill and I just started writing out the design document for it and I got probably three pages or four pages in and I was like oh, this doesn’t actually seem that bad. So I spent another hour working on it and I got most of it done and then I got to my hotel and I spent, you know, probably another hour or so on it. So between the design document, the hour on the plane and plus the hour that I spent in my hotel, I basically banged out the entire prototype in about two or two and half hours and it seems to work. It may works really well to be perfectly honest.

[03:41] Rob: Awesome. So that’s that whole redundant reporting thing that you were talking about, right?

[03:46] Mike: Redundant scheduler so that I can —

[03:48] Rob: Got it.

[03:48] Mike: … reboot the schedulers and not have to worry about whether or not something is still going to trigger whether there’s audits that are going to fire or there’s going to be too many things that end up going out so I don’t have to worry about relying on the window scheduler anymore. I can just do it using this and I can have — I probably just have two of them running at the same time. I mean because if one of them goes down, there’s still another one there and you know, if both of them go down at the same time well, you know, something probably pretty serious is going on.

[04:14] Rob: Right. Cool. Well, that’s good nice. It’s always nice when something takes one tenth of the time you think it will.

[04:19] Mike: Uh huh, uh huh.

[04:21] Rob: So I’ve been going on a bunch of different podcasts lately just people been contact me to talk about different things. And what I found is that it’s kind of exposed me to a new audience and I’m finding that I’m getting about two e-mails a month right now with people who have businesses that they want to sell like websites and web apps. Either they are selling it or like a friend wants to sell it and so I’ve actually gotten a couple that are pretty intriguing and I’m looking in to one right now. I don’t feel like I’m ready to do that yet, you know, like I’m at the point with HitTail where I can — where I can hire a product manager and kind of step back and get a new idea. But I am starting to — I mean it’s not going to happen this month but I am starting to think about when that day comes here in the next six to twelve months, what that’s going to look like. [Laughter]

[05:03] Mike: You’re not going to push HitTail to like a six figures a month business?

[05:07] Rob: I don’t know. I just — it’s possible. I may and I guess that’s — that’s part  of what some ticket that I need to do, you know, in terms of whether I want to do that. But at this point, I don’t know. When I get these e-mails from people, it’s like intriguing because it’s like, oh, look at this a new business and I can see all the things right away that are wrong with it and I’m like, “Oh, their funnel doesn’t do this. Oh, I know I could improve that,” and so it’s like low hanging fruit. You know, HitTail now is like the low hanging fruit is gone [Laughter]. The business is growing but it’s like each — each proceeding step, it gets harder and harder, right? You’re like pushing it to the next tier, pushing it to the next — next plateau. Whereas this other thing, it’s like oh, look at the new shiny object and the app is built and it works and you know, there’s — they have an audience. They essentially have a product market fit but they’re just not marketing it well. It’s like, man, I could just sink my teeth in to this thing right now. I think it’s the entrepreneurial ADD kicking in and making me want to move on to the next shiny new object .

[06:00] Mike: Yeah, I think we all get that from time to time. Either walk away from some stuff or put on the back burner and then come back to it later.

[06:06] Rob: Yup. You know, that’s what I’ve been doing so far.

[06:07] Mike: So one of the other things I’ve been working on lately as started looking around for a C Sharp framework that I could integrate in to some of the different websites that I have and do A/B testing and integrate those results directly in the KISSmetrics. And I looked around and there are really wasn’t a lot. There was one framework out there that was based on Patrick McKenzie’s A/Bingo Ruby on Rails plug-in but it doesn’t sense data anywhere. So it all does is it just maintains this local database where it’s not even a database. I mean it’s just an XML file where it sensed all of that data. So it’s nice enough that it works but I started going through it and digging in to it.

[06:44] One of the issues I found was that it doesn’t fully work. There is a bug in the code where if you are a user and you see test A on, you know, any given page, if you go to all the other pages where you’re doing other A/B test, that user is always going to see test A. They never going to see test B and it’s because of the way that the sessions are split between the different A/B tests. So I’ve got to go in and fix that because it’s just fundamentally broken. I mean the mathematics behind it just don’t work out to have a good A/B test and I already actually ran it by Patrick McKenzie and he’s like, yeah that’s wrong.

[07:19] Rob: Wait, a specific user sees the A test and they should always see the A test.

[07:22] Mike: Right but that’s for test one. If you — if they look at the test two that you’re running on a different page, they should have an equal chance to see either test A —

[07:30] Rob: Got it, got it.

[07:30] Mike: … or test B and they always see test A no matter which test it is. You’re right. They should see the same test all the time in a specific test but with test two, they should have an equal chance of seeing one or the other and if there’s a zero chance that they’ll see, you know, alternative B.

[07:45] Rob: Right.

[07:45] Mike: Yeah. So I got to work on that and get that figure out but that’s coming along pretty well. I’ve been actually pretty productive on some of these things over the past couple of days. Hopefully, it’s kind of a sign of things to come because I’m taking a couple of weeks off here to kind of sprint to the end for the AuditShark early release that I’m putting out there.

[08:02] Rob: Very cool.

[08:03] [Music]

[08:06] Rob: A listener sent in a question a few weeks ago and they were asking about using Kickstarter to kind of fund their app and we’ve mentioned that, you know, they’d have a tough time getting that done. I heard of a site that’s actually been around for a couple of years and it’s called appbackr and we’ll link to it in a show notes but it’s app B-A-C-K-R with no E. It is basically made for developers to have their apps crowd funded and what they do since the law is in place or all the stuff — the regulation is in place yet to actually sell a share of your app. What you do is you pre-sell licenses to the app. The biggest success they had was an iPhone app that raised a hundred and one thousand dollars.

[08:43] Mike: Holy crap.

[08:43] Rob: Yeah, it’s a very interesting idea. I haven’t actually been on the site. I read about it in the magazine a couple of days and tore the page out. So the folks who are looking to get some kick started, then appbackr is probably a better bet than Kickstarter is.

[08:56] Mike: Wow, that’s really cool. Yeah, about the one other thing I have going on is I have a documentation writer available. So I’m going to start her working on some of the AuditShark documentation which is something I largely neglected until now because it just hasn’t been all that important and I think what I’m actually going to end up doing is when she asked me a question, I’m just going to record like an MP3 and send it to her and let her deal [Laughter] —

[09:19] Rob: All right.

[09:19] Mike: … because I mean the stuff that I’m doing within AuditShark tends to be complicated enough but I’m going to send her screenshots of everything and I might, you know, walk through some of the different UI elements with screencasts if she really needs it but especially for the terminology, I was thinking I’ll just, you know, record an MP3 and send it over to her and let her deal with it.

[09:36] Rob: Now, that sounds a bad way to go at all. Why do the screenshots for her?

[09:41] Mike: Because she doesn’t have an overview of the app and all I have right now really are the screen mockups. I don’t even have screenshots. So because — everything up until this point, it’s all been done using mockups that I’ve sent to the developers and said, “Here’s what needs to get built. This is how it needs to work,” and now I’m at the point where the UI is kind of finalized but I don’t have a screencast of that final UI at this point. I’ll probably just walk through a screencast and say, “Look, this is what the BY looks like. This is what you’re going to have to put in to the documentation and talk to people about it.” So she’s already got some ideas on how she’s going to work that in. But yeah, so hopefully, that will turn out well. And she — and the nice thing is that she’s got experience in the compliant space. So it’s not like this is her first time in this type of software.

[10:29] Rob Well and what’s nice is this is so much of a better way for you to do it than to spend time writing it yourself.

[10:35] Mike: Oh yeah, totally.

[10:35] Rob: Right? This is like one of those killer and not only — this is one of those killer elements where she will probably do a better job than you because she’ll spend more time on it. And you totally don’t want to do this and that’s a perfect task to outsource, right?

[10:47] Mike: Yeah, I mean I know that the final output is going to be good. The problem is she’s expensive but you know what, you get what you pay for too. So —

[10:53] Rob: Yup.

[10:54] [Music]

[10:57] Mike: So for today’s episode we’re going to go through a bunch of listener questions. There seemed to be a surge in listener questions that are started coming in. The first one is from David Welton and he says, “Hi, guys. Here’s a conundrum for you. Amongst the masses there’s a significant minority who are still not comfortable dealing with anything where they can’t call someone up and ask them the same questions they could find the answers to on the front page of the website. This is clearly problematic in terms of scaling things up. Sure sooner or later you might get big enough to hire someone and sit around manning the phones but for most micropreneur type situation that’s some way is off. Worst of all, it seems that a good number of these people aren’t paying customers who have a problem they are in a hurry to deal with but prospects who’d just want to talk to somebody on the phone. I’ve tried a number of different approaches to this without a lot of success. I’ve tried hiding the phone number or trying to call them back or just saying ‘Sorry, we don’t do phone support, can e-mail your questions.’ Each one of these has its own problems. Anyway, I’d just want to hear your thoughts and thanks for the great podcast.”

[11:49] Well David, I think for this type of question, there’s a couple of things that you need to keep in mind and the first is that unless your price point is high enough to actually justify having someone there, then phone support, you know, obviously just isn’t an option in many cases. And I don’t know if I’d really worry about in the beginning because what you really need to do is you need to make sure that you are serving the customers who actually want to use your product and who’s paying is so great that they don’t care that you are not offering that phone support. So I mean I’m kind of in that situation with AuditShark where I’m probably just not going to be able to offer phone support for a while. And I’ve worked with a bunch of other companies, even recently, I mean I’ve had support problems where I’ve had to e-mail them and I don’t hear back from them for a day or two days. And there’s really not a lot you can do but at the same time is what you’re doing, you know, critical to somebody else’s business. Does their business come to a grinding halt if they can’t use your software? And chances are really good that that’s probably not the case.

[12:45] The other thing that I think you need to keep in mind is that if they’re the type of person who absolutely needs to have phone support, then they’re not necessarily your target market at first. They may very well be your target market in the future but I think that when you’re starting out, you have to have the right type of customers and if the right type of customer or the ideal customer for a business that’s only one person that can’t do phone support, well the ideal profile for that customer is they don’t want phone support. And if you start running across these people where they say, “Look, you know, we won’t buy unless we have phone support,” and say, “Okay. Well you’re on the enterprise plan and that’s $10,000 a month.” And you know, that’s a very quick and easy way to deal with it and I’ve heard other people who do that. They’ll say, “Look, you know what? If you want phone support, that costs extra and this is what the pricing point is for that.”

[13:30] The other thing that you can do to kind of combat that sort of thing is when you explain to them that you don’t do phone support, if they’re start shifting the question saying, “Well you know, we can go with this company or we could go with you,” you’ll just tell them, “Look, why don’t you call their phone support on, you know, Saturday or Sunday and you’re going to get the same person who doesn’t know anything that you call on Tuesday in the middle of the day.” And you can essentially justify your existence and your slower response time by saying, “I’m going to offer a better support than they will even though they give it to you 24/7.” So those are kind of what my thoughts are on it. I really don’t think that you need to justify yourself too much as a small business. I mean — and quite frankly, you can just be honest with them and be like, “Look, I’m a one-person shop. I can’t do phone support. It’s just not something I’m able to do at this time.”

[14:17] Rob: If it’s a major concern and you get this question a lot and you just — you kind of don’t want have to defend it, to add a phone support plan at ten times the price, just an outrageous amount totally make it worth your while to do it. They get more than worth their while. So if you sell a product for a hundred bucks, sell a $1000 version that includes, you know, X amount of hours of phone support. I would break it down. Let’s say, who’s your audience? If it’s mostly technical people, then they should be able to deal with not being — talking to someone on the phone before purchasing. I also think we should break down the difference between support and sales because with sales if you have a high enough price point to justify it, then you should be willing to do some low to medium touch stuff meaning talking to someone on the once before they purchase your app. DotNetInvoice is 300 bucks and I have talk to people on the phone before buying it. If DotNetInvoice was $19, I would never do it. It would never be worth my time to chat with someone on the phone.

[15:09] So I think that’s something to think about is there is a difference there and with DotNetInvoice, I publish the number on the website and when people call, it always hits voicemail and it says, “For fastest results, you know, leave your e-mail address or e-mail us directly and that would get you the most thorough written response, you know. The best way to contact us is via e-mail.” And so I do let them know that. Now, if people buy and they expect phone support, that’s not something I would — I would offer period. I’ve done it a few times especially when DotNetInvoice was first out and it was a disaster, frankly. It was just a big waste of time. So I think if you have a high enough price point, you know, you can kind of justify anything. I also think that if you really want to get on this road and I wouldn’t recommend it just like Mike said, you can get an answering service that will be a real person.

[15:57] There’s a bunch of services but one is like is called Call Ruby, callruby.com and a real person will answer and say, “Yup. You know, this so and this is your company name. How can I help you,” and they’ll say “I need support,” and she’ll say, “Okay. Well you know, give me your number and we’ll have someone call you back or if you can leave your e-mail with me, I’ll have someone e-mail you back.” And you — so it can actually be a real person interacting but it’s not actually you doing the phone support and it’s just, you know, obviously there’s a fee involve with that but you could also hire a VA from oDesk to handle stuff like that for you. So Call Ruby itself is fairly expensive. It’s 230 bucks a month for a hundred minutes of phone time but there are services comfortable to this that are cheap.

[16:34] Mike: So David, thanks for the question. Our next questions comes to us from Peter and he says, “Hi, Rob and Mike. First and foremost, great work on the show. It’s been a real inspiration for me. Now for my question, when building a new web app, do you involve a lawyer straight from the start so you have a solid terms of service document or do you count on the fact that happy customer isn’t going to suit you?” And Peter walks through a slightly longer example of exactly what his situation is but I think it’s a good question.

[16:59] Rob: Obviously, we’re not lawyers, we can’t give legal advice but I think I can tell you how I’ve done it in the past. In essence I don’t tend to get a lawyer involved right from the start in terms of service and privacy policy and such. There are a few open source or what do they called Creative Commons versions of these docs. So if I’m going to start a brand new app and I haven’t — if I have nothing which I’d never had a lawyer do it, then I would — I would probably start with those. What I do these days is I look at the other apps that I have because I have had stuff review in the past and so I’ll use that but to me, it all depends on your risk tolerance, right? It’s having a little bit more insurance that if you get sued that you’re more air tight but when you’re just starting and you have zero customers, you know, for me I have a tough time justifying spending a thousand or 2000 bucks to get a privacy policy and terms of service unless I have an app that’s particularly risky or has a lot of liability.

[17:51] Mike: Yeah, I think for my perspective, I would look at how much money the app is currently bringing in and if you can get an attorney to look things over and give you a guideline or give you a boilerplate in terms of service and privacy policy for, you know, maybe two weeks revenue or something like that, then sure go for it. But otherwise, I probably wouldn’t worry about it. I mean especially if it’s going to cost you six months revenue in order to get it done. I mean regardless it doesn’t matter. As soon as you get a lawyer involved, it gets expensive very, very quickly. So I think for me it comes down to a matter of do you have something that is worth protecting or as Rob said, is it something that is likely to cause problems? And if it’s something that somebody else’s business is going to be relying heavily on, if down time would cause them to lose money, then I would certainly consider it.

[18:44] But you know, the other option I was going to mention that, you know, before Rob said it was just go around and look for Creative Commons versions of these different privacy policies and terms of service. And if you start aggregating multiple privacy policies and terms of services together, then you tend to get a complete picture because any given lawyer that you talk to, no matter what contract it is that you’re getting, you can ask lawyer one for a boilerplate contract for, I don’t know, a real estate agreement and then you ask attorney two for his boilerplate version and they’re going to be different. They’re going to be subtle things that are different and most of it will be the same but there will be the subtle differences between them. And those subtle differences are based on legal proceedings that they have read about or that they have learned about through different organizations that they’re members of.

[19:29] And those are the things that you’re really kind of want to look for and decide whether or not they’re right for your business or not because not everything will be in there. They’re not going to include everything. So those are my thoughts. I don’t think it’s necessary in the beginning and you know, I probably wouldn’t do in the beginning. I mean for the terms of service and privacy policy for AuditShark. I mean I expect that to be a larger product but I did them all myself. I didn’t go to an attorney for any of them. I mean I based it on stuff that attorneys had approved but it was stuff that I basically built from by piece and things together from different agreements. So Peter, we hope that answers your question.

[0:20:04] Our next one is on gauging price sensitivity and this one is from David Wilson and he says, “Hello, Rob and Mike. This was originally going to be a question asking for some feedback on an idea but I’ve managed to start up several conversations with members of my target market which had been tremendously helpful in validating my general approach. In one of these conversations, the target market member told me that she had tried Basecamp but found it both time consuming to customize to her needs and somewhat overpriced. The customization issue is something I hope to solve with my products but the price comment worried me. Basecamp isn’t an incredibly expensive product in the world of SaaS as near as I can tell. Does this comment indicate I might be selecting an overly priced sensitive market? My hope is that being a better tool for the job and Basecamp should allow me to easily justify charging a reasonable sum for the product but I’d like to validate this before I take any drastic action. Any general thoughts on determining or testing the price sensitivity of the market? Thanks for the help and keep up the great work.”

[20:57] Rob: To begin, Basecamp has it looks like four pricing plans $20 a month, $50 a month, a hundred and a hundred and fifty and so it really depends. I think the $20 a month does ten projects and the 50 does 40 projects. So if she had 40 projects and 50 bucks seem a lot of money there, then yeah, maybe it is too expensive in her mind. The other thing is use the word overpriced. You know, overprice does not the same as too expensive, right? Overprice means it’s there — there’s not enough value that it’s priced more than the value she got. So if she feels like it’s a halfway solution and it costs 50 bucks a month for her to use, then yeah, that’s could be overpriced for here whereas if she had something that just nailed it that it required no customizations at exactly what she need, might she be totally willing to pay $50 a month or even more than that, it’s quite possible. So I think I would visit that with her.

[21:49] I would also say this is only one person so that definitely does not a market make. You’re always going to find, you know, out of a crowd of 50 people, you’re going to find one or two who are going to complain about price or maybe a few more but that doesn’t mean that your app is actually overprice. So I would seek other opinions. I would also think about what’s her vertical. In other words, does she work for, say a non-profit because you have to think about — I mean project management software is not necessarily a vertical app, right? It’s horizontal. So if she happens to be working in a budget constrained vertical then maybe you should think about either, you know, offering less for that — for the price that she’s willing to pay or think about moving to another vertical where they aren’t. So price constraint, you ask how to, you know, kind of determine or test the price sensitivity. I would ask and I would ask a lot of people because you’re going to need to get a good sample. One person is not going to go to be able to help you at that.

[22:41] I would figure out what she needs and then take your best guess at what you think you could charge for and then ask 20 people, 20 people that you can find. Yes, that’s going to take a while. Yes, it’s probably going to require some cold calls and you know, working with some networks even if you won’t going to ask them over e-mails. It’s ideal to do it over the phone but if you ask them over e-mail and set a price and say, “I’m going to charge 49 bucks a month for this thing.” If it did this, this, that and this and it’s solved your problem exactly, would you pay 49 bucks? And you’re going to start seeing a pattern. People are going to hem and haw about it. They’re going to say absolutely yes, absolutely no. You really get a sense of it pretty quickly about four or five people in and then you can start adjusting that and saying, “Well, would you pay $29,” you know, and find out if that’s a no brainer price for them.

[23:23] Mike: Rob makes pretty much every point that I probably would have made including if you actually just you got to go back and talk to her because the issue with Basecamp is that it doesn’t fit everyone. I mean it’s — it’s kind of like QuickBooks where it does a lot of different things and I know they’ve tried to make it simple and they’ve tried to say, “Oh well, this is kind of your base, basic implementation of project management software,” but at the same time it doesn’t do everything that people are looking for. The other issue that you have to be a little bit sensitive about is the specifics of what somebody is using it for. So if she has a lot of projects or she just wants to separate things because she says, “Oh well, I want to separate this in to one project, this in to another project,” and she’s starts pushing herself against those boundaries or maybe she — I mean I don’t know, for all I know maybe she runs an architecture firm and the store space for uploading files is too limiting for her which pushes her up in to those, you know, very, very high pricing tiers that, could be a deal breaker for her.

[24:18] So those could be the issues that she’s running in to. I think you really need to understand why is it she feels that it is overpriced and you know, that that’s really what this — with this question comes down to and then you have to just talk to her and talk to other people who are also in that niche and understand that there are going to be people who are not willing to pay what you want and you know, that’s okay. It’s okay to say no to some customers. It’s okay to say, “Look, you know what? Are — this product is just not going to fit your needs at the price point that you’re looking for.” So David, thanks for the question.

[24:18] Our next question comes in from Joseph and he says, “He guys, just recently found your podcast and I really enjoy it. So I’ve been validating my idea with my colleagues and friends who work in the industry I’m looking to target. However, it’s hard to tell if they believe in the products or if they believe in me. Either way, I’m considering just cold calling these types of businesses engaging their interest. In doing that, what questions should I be focusing on outside of that does this sound interesting to you? Should I move the conversation in to how much would you pay for this direction or should I use this opportunity to get more information and turn them in to a hot lead down the road. Thanks.” So Joseph, my single piece of advice here is that you should go to the website www.coldcallingbook.net and buy Robert Graham’s book. So he has a whole book on cold calling and the types of things that you should ask to basically get in the door and you know, how to direct the conversation and how to basically do A/B testing on your conversations with people to get to the results that you’re looking for.

[25:47] Rob: That’s the advice I would give. I would also say, you know, in terms of the questions he asked. He said, “Should I move the conversation to the how much should you pay for this direction,” and I would say absolutely because I think does this sound interesting to you is the question you’re asking and that is not nearly, nearly specific enough because everyone is going to say, “Of course, that’s interesting to me.” But it’s like will you pay for this? Will you buy this? What single feature does this absolutely need to have for you to pay $49 a month for? And you need to name a dollar amount. I don’t think you ask how much would you pay for it. I think you start by naming prices and then seeing how it goes from there. So those are the specifics but like Mike said I would definitely go to coldcallingbook.net and check out that book because it’s all about validating your idea and finding your first customers via cold calling.

[26:35.] Mike: And that brings us to our last question which is from James and he says, “Hi, guys. Congrats on the fantastic show. I’m loving it. We run a voiceover site and a video production company in the U.K. and Ireland. And I’m trying to improve our organic search visibility. I’m finding the competing advice out there very confusing. Everything from the short cut such as Traffic Geyser and HitTail to just knuckle down and blog and tweet. I was hoping you could talk about your marketing calendar. Thanks again for the awesome content. James.”

[26:59] Rob: I mean I’ve never even heard of Traffic Geyser and I went to the site, I got to be honest, I’m not even sure what it does. It says automated video, social media, Traffic Geyser for a dollar. I just — I don’t know. So I’ve never tried it out. I’ve never heard about it. It doesn’t look like something I would try but I wouldn’t necessarily [Laughter] group HitTail with that. HitTail is actually — if you talk about just knuckle down and blog and tweet, HitTail is what gives you content ideas so you can blog it. It doesn’t actually do — I mean you can get that articles and stuff but it doesn’t like try to automate the stuff. It just helps you give you ideas in a very non-spammy [Laughter] fashion because the short cut sounds like it’s spammy. I don’t feel like blogging and tweeting is knuckling down per say. You know, great content has always one out and will always do well. You can obviously tow the line of what Google finds acceptable and someday, they would likely catch up with you. So I’m not exactly sure that — he says, “I’m finding the competing advice out there confusing.”

[27:56] Mike: I think that looking at his e-mail and you know, just a fact that he says that they run a voiceover site and a video production company, it seems like creating good videos and good voiceovers would probably be enough to start getting you at least some traction and attention from customers and maybe that’s putting things out on YouTube and just putting advertisements out there quite frankly. I mean and if you make them funny and interesting and engaging to people and you know, maybe there’s a chance that those things will start to get picked up and more — not necessarily mainstream media but people will start e-mailing them around not — and I’m not talking really about going viral or something but people show they’re friends because they look at something and I think that it’s funny.

[28:36] So those are ways that you can start getting more attention for your site but you know, I think what Rob was saying is either putting great content on your site, relevant articles, educational content definitely putting things in there about why people would need your service, why they would want it, what it would do for them. And start educating people and those things are going to start showing up in the search engine results that people are out there and you know, and getting because if somebody is looking for — how do I increase user retention on my website? Well, one way is to do it with a video. So and then you have an entire post on your website talking about and educating somebody on exactly what it will do for them and why they should do it. And obviously, you know, you’ll have — it framed inside to your website so that they’ll pick it up and hopefully, come to you guys for that sort of thing.

[29:25] But you know, those are the types of things that I would probably lean towards and just expanding on the I’ll call the educational footprint on your website of why people  would pay for that. I mean anything, anytime you’ve had a conversation with a customer and you’ve named the price and they say, well, that’s too much. If you’ve ever hard a discussion about why it’s not too much, if you’ve ever been able to back that up, I would definitely capture all those things and put them on your website.

[29:51] Rob: Yeah, I’m glad you pointed out that they are a video production company. I’ve missed that the first time through. Google heavily favors videos in their search results. And if you put together a video site map and you can just Google a video site map for Google, you can see the format of it, they will rank your videos tend to rank a much higher than just textual blog post and stuff. So this to me is a no brainer that you guys start producing one or two short videos a week somewhere between one and three minutes long that answer a specific question that people would be asking if they were thinking about purchasing your services. So you can hit the Google AdWords keyword tool and ask them in the form of a question. Well you can either ask them in the form of a question or you can start them with how to, how to X, how to Y. And those — those tend to be the best ways to do it and you publish a video on your site. You do not put them on YouTube. You host them on your site and you put them in your video site map because Google will rank your videos.

[30:47] They tend to rank them even with YouTube. They won’t rank YouTube above –above your videos if it’s the, you know, the same content and all that stuff. And if you put it on YouTube and that ranks, then you’re really diluting your clicks because you only get a couple of percent click through from that video back to your site but if you host them on your site itself, you can have your own call to action and they’re  already there on your site. So rather than just going the traditional route that everyone else is doing because yes, I do think blogging were great since you have that asset, a video production. It seems to be the –to be a no brainer to kind of show case your talents, answer some questions as well as I would also consider as you start getting traffic installing something like HitTail because that that will then tell you new suggestions for new articles and new questions that you should be answering in future videos that you create. So hopefully, that answers your questions, James. Thanks for sending that in.

[31:35] [Music]

[31:38] Mike: If you have a question or comment, you can call it in to our voicemail number at 888-801-9690 or you can e-mail us at questions@startupsfortherestofus.com. Our theme music is an excerpt from “We’re Outta Control” by MoOt, used under Creative Commons. Subscribe to this podcast in iTunes by searching for Startups or via RSS at StartupsfortheRestofUs.com where you’ll also find a transcript of each episode. Thanks for listening. We’ll see you next time.

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One Response to “Episode 94 | Handling Phone Support, Finding Market Validation, Gauging Price Sensitivity and Other Listener Questions”

  1. Thanks for the shout out, guys.

    I will try to address Joseph’s question here as well.

    Rob is right on that you want to ask about pricing. Take three price points that come to mind for that type of product and add two more to the top end of that. The top price should be 2x whatever you were considering on the high end. Ask your first few prospects about the prices and start with the high end. You’ll probably get a sense for where the price is ridiculous and where they start to consider it. You’ll also find where they buy without much consideration. You can move the range as you start to understand the customer. One bonus to this approach is that your prospects will often give you insight into how they view your pricing by comparing to other things they buy that hold similar or higher utility for their business. I saw that with engineering firms and AutoCAD.

    When you are this early in the process, you want to ask open ended questions that help you understand your customer better. It is rare that a question like ‘Is this interesting?’ or ‘Would you use X feature?’ or even (Sorry, Rob) “What feature is the key for you?” will yield useful data. People will answer the simple ones positively and questions like the last one will have as many answers as you find prospects.

    Try to ask open questions that help you understand the problems they have, the problem you think you want to solve, how they solve it, what works, what doesn’t, who does this work, and what do they pay to solve it now.

    Example open questions:
    “What are the top five problems in your business?”
    “How do you currently solve ?”
    “What is the step by step workflow for ?”