Solving the customer testimonial problem

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Testimonials are a thing that a lot of businesses are looking for. The problem is that most of them are boring, unclear, and unconvincing.

Today’s guest is trying to fix that.

Sam Shepler is the founder of Testimonial Hero, a B2B customer video company with both on-site videography (zero travel fees globally) and 100% remote video testimonial options.

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Sam Shepler

Sam Shepler

Testimonial Hero

Sam Shepler is the founder of Testimonial Hero, a B2B customer video company with both on-site videography (zero travel fees globally) and 100% remote video testimonial options.

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Full Interview Transcript

Andrew: Hey there, freedom fighters. My name is Andrew Warner. I’m the founder of Mixergy, where I interview entrepreneurs about how they built their businesses. And, uh, I do it for an audience of real entrepreneurs who are building their companies and kind of coming up with ideas based on what they hear in these interviews.

So. I’m on Twitter all the time, talking to my friends and one of the companies that they, and the founders that they talk about a lot is this guy, Sam Shepler. And the reason Sam comes up is because testimonials are a thing that a lot of businesses are looking for. And when they’re looking for testimonial videos, often they realize, you know, most testimony, video.

They’re nice. They’re sweet. They’re well-intentioned and they’re a pain to listen to. They’re just so annoying and they don’t really persuade because the person is earnest, but not clear. There’s not anyway. And what Sam Shepler did with a company called testimonial hero is he created a service that does it for.

They connect with your client in person or virtual, they record the testimonial with them. They add B roll to it, even if it’s remote to make the thing worth watching fun to watch. Interesting. Um, and so I’ve been watching him, I’ve been hearing about him. I think we’ve been tweeting at each other and I’ve been watching his revenue grow and I thought I should have him on mixer, dude.

We’ve got to find out about this because. Testimonials have been around people who have been bothered by it, but people, but entrepreneurs haven’t solved the problem of the bad testimonial. And because he’s doing it as a service, not software, I always thought software would solve this problem. And then the other thing that he told me is he’s very committed to.

okay with not charging a recurring fee. And that was an issue for him to start a business without recurring revenue. And I, and I completely understand it. I would have given up on an idea that didn’t include recurring revenue. It seems like he had some hesitations about it, but he pursued it and has been doing well.

We’re going to find out just how well thanks to my sponsor HostGator. In fact, if you like this idea and you want to copy that, not exactly this idea, but copy this format of a, of a service that you can do with a software. Well, I’d go to HostGator, get yourself a website and build a business on there. The way that Sam Shepler did.

And if you want to use it at a discount, here’s my URL. It’s hostgator.com/mixergy. Anyway, Sam, good to have you here, man.

Sam: Thanks, Andrew. Uh, it’s great to be here. A absolute pleasure and looking forward to it.

Andrew: Let’s see how much revenue are you doing, where you feel comfortable saying that?

Sam: Yeah. So right now we’re forecasting for, uh, 2021, um, 2.9 million in net sale.

Andrew: Over the last 12 months would, do you know how much revenue you produced?

Sam: So, uh, on a rolling 12. No, I don’t, I don’t know, but it’s yeah. So I would say, um, probably about 2.5 or we’ll do about 750 K this quarter. So yeah.

Andrew: And so the problem with services though, is don’t, you have to give most of it to the team of people who are doing the work.

Sam: So, you know, I mean, if, if you’re, if you’re not structuring your services business correctly and you don’t have enough profit margins, then, then yes. Right? Yes. Um, that is, it’s why, you know, it’s key to have figure out, you know, your unit costs in the beginning, make sure you have enough profit margin, at least 50% gross profit margin.

Um, and, and, and then, you know, you actually have, um, you know, an enough margin to, you know, invest in marketing and pay yourself as well. And, uh, as a, as the.

Andrew: Ah, that’s a good rule of thumb. You’re saying, look, if you’re charging your scale, you’re charging with 3,500 minimum to record a test.

Sam: Correct.

Andrew: Okay. So if you’re doing, let’s say 3,500, you’re saying that at least 17 of that needs to go to the, uh, it needs to go to the business to keep running. And then maybe the other 17 goes to the team that’s recording, editing, et cetera.

That’s a good rule of thumb to think about. Why did you do, why did you decide to do. To do it as a service. I thought about something like this I’ve needed. Good. Um, good testimonial videos in the past, people are boring. And I thought the solution is to create something that’s like a type form. Question comes up, the person has to hit a button on their computer and then they answer the question and then the next question comes up and they answer it that way.

It would be like interview style. And then the beauty of that is you’re recording it on whatever system that you’re smiling. As I say, why, tell me about the problem with.

Sam: Well, I wouldn’t say, you know, imagine if you, you know, with.

your podcast, how much of the value is in the followup questions. Right. So, you know, and that that’s really, you know, that that’s really, you know, the answer and the better questions you ask in a testimonial, you know, the better, you know, story you.

And, you know, it’s, it is viable to do sort of, you know, a asynchronous series of questions. But if you want the absolute best, if you want to be able to follow up on certain threads of the story, just like, you know, our conversation now is you just lose that in that, you know, fully asynchronous. Um, at least right now, you know, maybe one day they’ll, there’ll be an AI that will, can do, you know, our, both of our interviews for us.

But right now, you know, it’s still invaluable to have that, you know, that real conversation. Cause that’s how you pull the emotion out of people. And, and obviously, you know, you, you know this better than anyone.

Andrew: No. You’re right. And when I think about it, I do think about the parallels to interviewing, but the beauty of doing it that way is. You could improve it. You know, you start figuring out what questions work, even if you could make it 75% as good as what it is now, you’re now able to reduce the price drastically and create a software that then people could incorporate into their overall business.

And so now you get the recurring revenue. You don’t have the people expenses, you are software-based et cetera. And so on.

Sam: Yes. And, and so I think about this a lot, it’s something that it’s something that I would not be surprised that. Um, eventually, but at the moment, um, we’re, you know, honestly, like at the moment, you know, our customers are super happy. You know, we have our hands full we’re a bootstrap company, so we have to be very.

Yeah, I’m kind of cautious not to spread ourselves too thin. Um, but, but yeah, I mean, I, I hear you. It is, it is definitely something that is coming. Um, because again, not every, not everyone needs the perfect testimonial. Some people just need a video testimonial. Um, and, and that type of kind of asynchronous capture, um, could be a great solution for those people.

Um, w where kind of costs is a little bit more of a concern and they just need.

Andrew: All right. And I, I’m also guessing. By doing it this way, you play to your strengths. You have a background in video production by doing this way, you don’t have to spend a long time creating software and you can get up and running by doing it this way. You get really tight to your customer. You learn what perfection looks like, or as closest to perfection as you can come, and then you can iterate.

The business or add a component of the business. It’s software-based that uses everything you’ve learned and also the money that you’ve been making without having to take on funding and take forever to try to figure out how to get the software up and running. Am I right?

Sam: That’s exactly right?

And, and yeah, that, that, that’s a big part of it is like, honestly, like. No software, isn’t my background. If it was, you know, uh, you know, maybe I would be, um, you know, pursuing it faster and I’m sure we will eventually, but you do have to kind of, you know, you have to know where your circle of competence is.

I think at, you know, at, at each in that circle expands, uh, and, and, you know, A couple of years ago when I started the company, I think, um, my circle of competence was squarely in services, you know, a year from two year or two from now. You know who who’s to know if, if, uh, it won’t make more sense, but, um, yeah, definitely something keeping my eye on a very close.

Andrew: Okay. One of the things that you told me you believe strongly in is tech enabled services. What do you mean by tech enabled services? How has testimonial hero that.

Sam: Absolutely. Yeah. Great question. So basically, you know, at a high level, like a tech enabled service is. Taking a, uh, service, uh, you know, in a digital service and layering on, um, technology and smart ways to increase the efficiency, increase the ability of customers that you can serve and exceed and kind of maintain, um, you know, that, uh, you know, the actual, you know, product quality.

So for example, a couple of really good. Uh, great examples of tech enabled services are, uh, rev.com. Uh, they do transcriptions at massive scale and, um, you know, you, I’m sure you’re familiar with them. Um, you know, and they have real people, um, depending on what service tier that.

you buy, they have real people doing the transcription by hand, but they’re able to service.

Oh, just crazy amounts of volume because they’ve built this amazing technology, um, both on the internal and the customer side to, uh, provide a great customer experience on the, on the buyer side, but also to basically make their, um, you know, their internal team like superhero. So, so tech enabled services, you know, a lot of it’s a, it’s a broad, uh, bucket in many respects, but like the key characteristics.

Um, you’re making your team superhuman. It’s like the iron man suit For your, you know, your

Andrew: your team and the people don’t necessarily see it. You know what I see at most Sam, I see it in accounting software, most that right. That we don’t, we want. Software, ideally to do all accountant accounting, from what I can see so far that does not exist, but the accountants could have super powers like software in the backend.

That sucks in data from Stripe software in the backend that categorizes software in the backend that then pulls the reports and makes them look beautiful. Um, okay. I, I get where you’re going. With that, but how are you guys a testimonial hero? Tech enabled? I thought, and this is me watching from the outside.

I don’t know your software stack, but I thought what you did was zoom for recording remotely. And then you use video editing software. I’m assuming you’re using the Adobe stack of software to create it. And that’s it. And maybe for in-person, it’s a few cameras and the Adobe video production software. I’m looking at your face, your eyebrows doing the thing, like, like you’re not.

What am I missing?

Sam: Yeah. Yeah. Great question. So, you know, first of all, I think tech, the whole idea of tech enabled services is, you know, always a bit aspirational in a lot of respects, right? Like, we’re, it’s always, and it’s really a mindset, right? It’s, it’s a mindset that, you know, is like, if we have a great service, you know, you know, how can we leverage technology?

And you know, that wasn’t around, you know, a couple of years ago, To, um, you know, do, do all the things that we were talking about before serve more people at scale, more efficiently, uh, maintain, you know, the quality. So, uh, in our, so, so that’s one thing I it’s, it’s a mindset it’s aspirational and you’re, you’re never quite there, but you’re always, you know, hopefully making progress in our specific case.

Um, you know, we actually have, uh, you know, some, you know, a lot of. Off the shelf stuff, obviously, Zapier, uh, you can do a ton with Zapier and like automate everything. Like we, we automate everything possible. Like our goal is to,

Andrew: Like, what, what, what are you doing exactly?

Sam: so, you know, basically, you know, I’ll give you one, like one example , which is just like, as soon as our editing team, like, you know, steps or, you know, goes, goes to their computer, like we want their, you know, footage.

Ready to edit, like right in front of them. We don’t want them like going to this Google drive folder and like moving in over here and like downloading it. So like, you know, that’s one example is like, you know, the whole process of like sending information, you know, and making sure it gets to the right people.

Um, You know, uh, honestly, like I’m not as Zapier, you know, uh, phenom, like we have some amazing people, you know, in-house and Zapier is a great product, you know, they make it very doable. Um, you know, and another really good example and probably like our most tech enabled example

Andrew: Yeah.

Sam: we actually have, um, you know, first of all, like none of this is stuff like I belt.

So like, I’m trying to describe it like as, as best as possible, but we have this tool that, um, Essentially like a, I guess it would be categorized as machine learning. It’s an internal tool. We have a computer that runs 24 7, like, you know, running that and, you know, just for this and, and basically we’re taking scripts and we do use, Uh,

Adobe suite and after effects, but we have constant, uh, I guess like, uh, almost like software robots, you know, creating things for us in after effects in a, in a, in premiere, because that’s something you can do actually, you know, you can, you can, you can sort of like, you know, you can run programs and, and with software robots and, um, you know, so-so for, for the minutiae of, of, of editing, we try to automate that as much as possible.

Um, obviously. That’s only a certain part, but at scale, I mean, with thousands of, we literally have over a thousand testimonials and progress. So like at scale, like automating, you know, really simple things like, you know, animations and titles, like that adds up to a lot of value when it’s compounded.

Andrew: Okay. I’m with you. Let’s go back and understand how you got here and how you built this up. And then what you learned from the previous business in a form, this business and what we can all take away. If we want to create a tech enabled service business. So your previous company was called sky scope.

From what I can see, it was a video production company. Right.

Sam: That’s correct? Yep. Pretty traditional video production company. Yeah. So, um, really, you know, we, we would do?

um, just about everything and anything. Right. Um, we would do, um, explainer videos, you know, animated videos. Product overviews. Um, we would do, and we would do testimonials. And that is actually where I first kind of, um, you know, realize that, uh, you know, the power of testimonials and also my, my personal affinity for them.

I just love there’s something about the fact that like, this is just, you know, the customer’s voice and this is like, this is not like I script that, you know, we went back and forth on for weeks. This is. Actually, you know, pure, raw emotion of like how the customer feels and, you know, and actually it’s a very different process and you know, it, it’s more of like, you know, you get all the content and then you’re sort of chiseling the story.

Like, like it’s a block of marble and you’re kind of, you know, it’s more like a subtractive process in a sense. Right. You know? Um, and in that I, that personally, I just liked that am as a creative person, I like. That subtractive process versus like creating like an ad. Um, you know, that is, it’s a lot, it’s very additive.

Like you have to storyboard everything and, and, and there’s a good reason for that. You know, everything needs to be storyboarded and scripted, but, you know, everyone has, I think, I think all creative people have their natural tendencies. Like I’m more of like that, you know, I like the, to chisel it.

out from the block, kind of like documentary story.

Andrew: My, my sense is Sam from having talked to you before we got started was you did a lot of things and it wasn’t focused. So you weren’t able to have people talk about you on Twitter, the way they talk about you with testimonial here. All right. That whenever anyone says, I need testimonials for this, what’s offered you use whatever.

I see you brought up. I don’t even know if you’re the right answer for most people. In fact, from what you told me before the interview started for most people, you don’t even want them contacting you because their budgets are going to be too small or they have no budget. They’re looking for a quick software solution.

You’re the higher end model. But because all you do is testimonials. People are adding you. They’re mentioning you, they’re talking about you. And so you didn’t have that when you were the video production guy. So that was one problem. Am I right?

Sam: It’s absolutely. And that is the power of, you know, I think having like a focused value proposition, especially early on is like, you can actually, you know, you become known for that and you, you can build a tighter story about that and you can also. You know, you can create demand versus like, you know, if you’re sort of a generalist, you’re, it’s more like, you know, what, what do you need?

We can do whatever you need versus. We do testimonials and then you’re creating demand for that. Um, which I, which is, I think is just, just very powerful. I mean,

Andrew: What do you mean by creating demand for that?

Sam: So, um, you know, essentially it’s very hard. You can, you can, you can market it and yourself and you can, you can sell, you can do outbound sales.

You can, you can do effective demand gen. Like if you’re a generalist, it’s just very hard to do all those things. Um, you know, because it’s like, you know, no one has time to, you know, you know, you can’t really reach, you can’t create demand with like a generalist pitch of like, Hey, like, do you have any challenges with video?

Like, you know, maybe we can hop on a call and figure out your challenges and then maybe I can solve them. Right. Versus like, you know, if you have a very crisp, you know, value proposition, you know who your ICP. Your options to kind of create that demand, whether it’s like advertising to them, outbound sales, you know, that you just have a lot more options and it’s just a lot easier.

Andrew: All right. So w that was one big issue with the previous company. The other one you said was I had too many co-founders what’s the issue with having multiple co-founders?

Sam: So, you know, it’s a great question. So, you know, I think it’s, it sort of depends. And I think it’s somewhat personal. I think. I, uh, I personally have really enjoyed, like, I, I’m still great friends with my co-founders?

and we were friends before. So I think that that’s also one challenge, right. Is like, you know, that that’s something That is, is, is, can be difficult to navigate.

Um, thankfully I think we did, uh, ultimately did a really good job of it and I’m actually going to be the best man. And one of my prior co-founders weddings in December. So like, you know, all’s, well, that ends well, right. But, uh, I think. You know, for me personally, I, one of the reasons that I love entrepreneurship is just the sense of freedom and, um, you know, uh, not having to sort of explain myself or, you know, answer to, um, you know, and just be able to move quickly and, you know, have, have, you know, in basic.

And another thing is like, since we’re bootstrap, we don’t have a board of directors. Like obviously if we were a VC funded, like, you know, that’s, that’s a different game and like,

Andrew: seems like it would be helpful. It feels to me like one of the problems and tell me if I’m understanding this, right. It seems like. With a service business, like you had there wasn’t a role for each of you that was super clear. Like if it was the traditional tech company, one of you could have been the developer focused on the tech side of the business.

The other could have been the sales person focused on the, uh, on, on the administration side of the business with the three of you. It didn’t feel like there was one person who sucked at video, but had to talk to customers, one person who had, who suck to talking to customers, but just wanted his head in the video.

Am I right about that?

Sam: So w um, somewhat. So, so th we, we had a better mix. I think then a lot of people, cause it, cause you’re right, like the worst, what you absolutely don’t want for co-founders is like two people that are like three people that are all like the same. Right? You want no complimentary opposites. Um, we were, we were pretty good.

We did have some, you know, complimentary opposite. Um, I think the other kind of like practical consideration is also just like in a service-based business. A lot of your compensation, you know, comes from, um, you know, as the owner, you know, it’s going to be profit share. And like, if you have three founders, like you, you basically have to, you know, effectively.

Built three times as big of a business to, to get that?

profit share. Um, so, so, so, you know, now we were like 22, we did this from like, we were I’m 30, I guess 32 now 31. Yeah.

Like, so like, uh, Uh, so we were like 22 to 26 when we did this. So like, we, we were just kind of having, like, we were figuring out a lot, like we didn’t have high expenses, but like longer term, like now that I have, I have, um, you know, my wife and I just had our first kid, you know, I have a mortgage.

There’s there’s very practical considerations around like having three partners in a service business. Right. You just have to, you know, build a

Andrew: Uh, yeah.

Sam: work.

Andrew: Okay, so you sell the company, huge exit, decent exit. What kind of exit are we talking

Sam: I would say, Yeah.

a tiny, tiny exit. Um, you know, it’s, I would say basically like an Aqua hire. Um, so, you know, we. You know, either got to be, there was a point where like, I was just, honestly, myself, I was just kinda, kinda burnt out. Um, and I wanted to kinda put a bow in the experience that we had in, in a good.

And in the best way possible. Um, and, and, and I thought, and w was, you know, see if we can sell the company. Right. Um, so, so I went out, I, I S I shopped the company to a couple people, um, and, you know, took about, you know, maybe eight months. Yeah.

We were able to, you know, we were able to sell it. Um, you know, it was not, not a crazy exit, you know, at all, you know, low six figures.

So basically just like an Aqua hire, the main kind of benefit at the time was like, we got like six figure salaries with the acquiring company, which, which at the time was like, amazing. Cause we were paying ourselves like probably like at that time, like, you know, 50, 60 grand a year. And so that was like very exciting.

And the fact that, you know, we got to kind of have a soft landing. You know, kind of, you know, we started this company during our senior year of college or doing during actually our, our, our, uh, graduate year college. So it was like kind of our baby. And like, we didn’t really know what we’re doing. So it was like all things considered.

It was like, you know, a solid, you know, single, I would say I’m definitely not. Non-aggression.

Andrew: Yeah. All right. And so you decide I’m going to get back into business. How did you decide, I guess, testimonials you saw before were selling, they made sense to create there wasn’t anyone focusing on it? She said I’m creating a new agency. One of the things I’m going to change this time is we’re going to stay focused on this one thing.

Another thing is it’s going to be just me. I don’t need co-founders for this. And then you needed to get your first client. How’d you get your first.

Sam: Yeah. So that’s a great question. I’m trying to think. So, um, very first customer was probably, you know, I think that from a network that was like super helpful, um, you know, that I didn’t just try to start like a completely new, like I wasn’t moving into a completely new industry. So I was able to kind of take that stair-step approach.

Um, you know, and, and I think that that was hugely valuable. Like there was enough overlap between like the network I had made in the past. Um, so, so, so I think that it was definitely like leveraging my network. Um, and Yeah.

And then I think, I mean, for the F at first, I really wasn’t even taking it that.

Like at first, I was just like, okay, like I’m working on a few other ideas. Like none of them were really panning out. So I needed like, make some, make some money, like, let’s try this testimonial thing. So honestly, like the first like co like probably six months, like it wasn’t until like I w beginning of 2018 was when I actually like, got serious with, um, with testimonial hero.

Andrew: And this was you’d shooting the testimonial videos at first

Sam: Correct? Yeah. And the beginning. Yeah, it was, it was me. You know, doing everything, you know, I would, I would even, um, you know, was flying out, you know, packing my video gear, flying out to film these, Uh, and then quickly, you know, we realized that, um, you know, I realized that I, I, that, that just didn’t really scale at all.

And also it wasn’t sustainable. Um, you know, really, and, and so I had the, you know, uh, idea, uh, and this was honestly pretty early on. I was like, you know, what if I could, you know, I’ve been in the production world for, at that point, had been in the production world for like six years or, um, you know, and, and how could I leverage my network to create a network of videographers?

So that basically. You know, for our customers, they could have, you know, exactly what they want, that high-quality customer testimonial video, but without any of the travel fees, um, you know, that we’re, you know, associated with it and which I, in my previous job, sometimes the travel fees like would be like we did a shoot in Venice at leaf or testimonial at sky scope, the travel fees.

I’m sure You can imagine, like, it was a great trip. It was one of the most, one of the best shoots I’ve been on, but like the channel fees for the client were crazy. So like, I just, I, I could kind of, I wanted to solve that cause like, it just didn’t make sense to me to keep going that way.

Andrew: You don’t, you don’t use a service like snapper snapper, I think is a, it’s a marketplace of photographers. I don’t know if they do videographers, but when I came, when I did a live event, they sent a photographer over, took great shots. You don’t use that. Use a network of your own.

Sam: So, you know, so yeah. Snapper. Yeah. Great service for, for photography. I’m I’m not sure how much they’ve gotten into, into videography, but, um, no, so we, we have we’ve built, uh, yeah, we, we built our own network. We want to control it. Like, yeah, we there’s a lot of platform

Andrew: another one

Sam: using other people’s platforms.

So yeah.

Andrew: Really, you do have to have your own people. So if you needed to shoot in Venice, you have a friend in Venice who can go over and shoot video,

Sam: I mean, they’re not necessarily are like personal friends, but you know, we’ve, we’ve proactively built the

Andrew: somebody who, you

Sam: we know. Yeah, exactly. And that it’s kind of like Uber in a sense, like, you know, Uber, they, they have, they train and vet all their new drivers and they All go through an onboarding process.

And, and That’s kind of the same, the same way that we look at it when we decide we want to start up like a new, new geo, um, you know, we, we, we, we basically, if we don’t have the people, we source them and, you know, we put them through our, through our program and then, you know, they’re, they’re onboarded and ready to go.

Andrew: Actually, you know what Smartsheet was, the company that I interviewed, there was a marketplace where you can find videographers and photographers. It seems to have pivoted now. You pay them in order to get access to this network of people that they’ve scaled. They become more like Uber for, for content than a marketplace of videographers.

So maybe the whole marketplace of videographers thing is not dependable enough. It

Sam: that’s interesting. Yeah. I I’ve heard a smart shirt. We I’ll check them out, but, um, yeah, it’s, it’s tough. It’s a tough. Videography is I think a very has unique challenges that photography doesn’t have. So yeah, it’s, it’s definitely, yeah, lots, lots. We can dig into there.

Andrew: All right, Sam, let me, let me talk about my first monitor and I want to bring you into this ad. Okay. Um, it’s HostGator for hosting websites. Sam, if someone’s listening to this and says, you know what, I really like what testimonial hero’s doing. It’s a service that uses software to add super power to the people who are doing the service.

And it scales. If they wanted to find an idea like this, what’s, what’s one idea that you might suggest or a way of finding it. I have, uh, a way of finding an idea that they could focus on for their digitized surface.

Sam: I would say, go on a Fiverr, um, you know, look in the different service categories and unbundle something that’s popular and that you have domain expertise in.

Andrew: Interesting. So anything that’s just like a throwaway, almost cheapo service that somebody would want the higher end version of that’s what we should be looking

Sam: That yes. That that’s, that’s one way to do it. I think, you know, basically it’s like the kind of unbundling, right? Like there’s, there’s all these, you know, marketplaces or, you know, aggregators where you can get, you know, 20 different, um, types of, you know, creative services. Right. And that just gives you a good feel.

It’s a good starting place to understand, like, what are, what is selling today, right. Like, um, and then. You can sort of see, like if you go on Fiverr and you look at.

other categories that will give you a, a good feel for like what people are kind of paying money for. I mean, you could also probably Upwork similar idea.

You can look at the categories. Um, however, I can’t stress it enough. Having the domain expertise is, is, is also important. So like it, or if you have an affinity for writing, you know, focus on that category. And if you have a F if any, for design, you know, look in the design category, uh, and then try and figure out, like, how can I put my own space?

Andrew: Okay. All right. I’m actually on there right now thinking what would work? What would work? It looks like what they’re added right now is data processing. They just added a whole data section. And maybe since that’s kind of new, we can take a look. See, what’s working on that platform and see if there’s a topic that makes sense.

All right. I like that approach. All right, listen up people, whether it’s that idea or any of the other ones that I brought up here in past ads for HostGator, when you want to run your business, you need to have a website for it in most cases. And if you need a website that a, that works, that’s an expensive that will scale with you.

Do what I did go to HostGator to get your site. My site’s hosted there. It’s inexpensive. It works. And I’ve used them for years. I highly recommend that you go sign up. You’ll get a low price. If you just go to their homepage, Frank. That’s what they do, but if you use my URL, you’ll get an even lower price.

You’ll be tagged as a Mixergy customer and they’ll take great care of you. And frankly, so will our team here at Mixergy. So to get the lowest price and all that go to host gator.com/mixergy that’s host gator.com/mixergy. All right. Um, oh, you know what might be a good service like this is. It’s like this creating databases for people.

And I mean, things like in notion in air table, we are now creating sophisticated databases, but not so sophisticated that we need somebody who’s like Oracle level, but we don’t want to mess with it ourselves. We just want someone to do it and maintain it. I don’t know if that’s a thing, but you know, it’s an ongoing revenue opportunity too, but it’s much cheaper product than what you’re

Sam: and we, I mean, we pay someone to, uh, Build like a, you know, a really intense Google data studio for us. So like that, you know, that there’s another example is like sorta like, yeah, yeah. Data studios as a service, whether you use, you know, Google data studio or air table, you know, now I think there’s, yeah, a lot of, a lot of value that can be unlocked.

Um, and in a lot it’s, you know,

Andrew: I don’t know, Google data studio. What is Google data center?

Sam: I, I think, you know, so yeah, so honestly, like this is something that I let my head of marketing, uh, run with. So he would, he know more than me, but I basically, it’s just a really intense way that you can custom visualize any data. Um, so like if you have the data

Andrew: I’m on their site

Sam: the data, you can just build these really effective, like custom dashboards for like reporting and.

Andrew: your data sources, bring your data, bring your insights together. Then create meaningful visualizations, reports, and dashboards with a few click and finally easily collaborate and share information across the organization. Wow. I apparently I have it as part of my G suite and I just never used it.

All right. So first step for you was you start doing this kind of figuring out where it’s going then instead of flying yourself out, you bring other people into to do the, to do the video, uh, shoots. Is it video shoots first or where you bring in other people or editing? Do you pass on

first?

Sam: So the first thing that I kind of looked to get off my plate was, was definitely, you know, uh, definitely the editing. well also the, the filming in a lot of respects, as soon as we built the network, you know, so in that respect, I got that off my plate, but, um, very quickly, you know, one person is overloaded with that.

Um, so, so that was, that was something that I became overloaded very quickly. Uh, it was just like, I was editing. I was on a trip one time. Uh, I was supposed to be on vacation. I had my computer with me in the rental car with my, my then girlfriend who’s now my wife. And she was like, I thought we were on vacation.

Like, and I was like, I just gotta finish this, this one thing. So thankfully, uh, you know, now we have an amazing team. Uh, and I haven’t, I’m not involved in the process at all

Andrew: such a bear it’s it’s just so time-consuming and, um, and I know that their software is supposed to improve it, but no software is going to help you pick out the key sections yet. Um, Fit in together. All right. So you started doing that. Let’s talk about getting clients. I know that you want to be a little bit, um, you want to keep some of how you get your customers private, but talk to me about what you can say about how you get customers for service business like this, and then we’ll go into why no recurring revenue and what do you do to make up for that?

Sam: Yeah, absolutely. So, um, you know, I would say there’s a couple of things that have really worked well for us. And one of them is, you know, being patient with, uh, SEO, you know what I mean? Like actually, you know, we, so we started a content know writing practice, you know, publishing, uh, like a blog post, a long form article.

And, you know, it’s one of those things that it’s just like, you don’t see your results for like eight, 12 months, and then eventually, you know, you do see results. So, you know, and everyone knows that, but it’s just so hard to kind of stick through sometimes, um, you know, in, in the beginning. Uh, so, so, so that, that has been super helpful.

I mean, organic and SEO. I mean, we get, um, we’re up there for all the important keywords. Um, so, so that, yeah, that that’s usually valuable. Other than that, Um, and we’ve really, you know, built honestly like a pretty effective outbound sales motion. Um, so we have, you know, we have, um, a, we have two sales development reps.

We have two account executives. Um, and so, yeah, we’re, we’re, I’m just, I personally just really am a fan of outbound sales

Andrew: How, how do you identify who you can go in and have.

your SDRs approach? Is it just the head of marketing? It doesn’t seem like there’s anyone whose job is to get better testimonials that you could ping and say, we could do a better job than you’re doing internally.

Sam: So it depends on the size of the company. Um, you know, uh, you know, and, but at typically it’s, it’s, you know, head of, for us, it’s like head of. Director of marketing. Um, so it’s kind of like that, you know, that mid-level ALEKS, even senior manager of marketing at bigger companies. And, um, and, but basically I think a mistake that like a lot of.

Founders make early on and you know, an agency, you know, things is they assume that like, oh, like the CEO is going to, you know, even the CFO is going to be buying my, my service, but it’s like at a bigger company, you know, it’s way more likely that the mid-level people aren’t going to be the people that you should talk to unless you’re selling something that that’s like, you know, 50 K minimum.

And then maybe you need to hit up like VPs and CMOs. Um, Yeah, that, that, that’s kinda how I see it. It’s like, yeah, we like to sell to, um, you know, the mid, you know, that kind of that mid tier and, and at smaller companies, it goes above. Um, but the larger the company, the more likely you’re going to be selling into the, the mid tier

Andrew: So it’s the head head of marketing. I imagine then if you’re doing SDR sales, development reps, they are getting lists of people who are heads of marketing companies that have online experiences. They might be taking a screenshot of what they’re doing. Might also send some data and say, I see what you did over here.

Here’s some data how we can improve. If you like, this is a sample of what we can do for you, right? Something like that. If we’re not going to get into the specifics, am I on the right track?

Sam: Exactly. Yeah. And I mean, I think the. It’s it’s funny. Cause like everyone, I think a lot of people kind of discredit like outbound sales in and because most people give up before they see a, this is hard

Andrew: it’s It’s hard and it annoys people and we all get in. We feel annoyed, but, and I hate it, but I also have to accept that it just works when. You know what? I might be frustrated with 20 of them A day. And then there’s a one that I go, how do we get this guest to say yes, to doing an interview?

And it’s actually someone who just emailed us totally worth, uh, the whole effort. And I could understand why the rest are doing it. Yeah. All right. So

Sam: Yeah. And also there’s ways to not be annoying. I think the bar is pretty low. Like I think like, there’s this good? Right. There’s so many, you know, I think the biggest issues with like outbound sales and, and when it is annoying. People are assumptive in their responses. You know, they, they sort of assume that, that you need it and people are trying to be clever.

And like, people are, uh, like as long. And then some people are just, um, you know, I don’t know, just like too brash. Right? So like, it’s actually like, you know, uh, it’s totally possible to do you just have to. You know, not do it the way that everyone else is doing it. And just, you know, don’t, don’t assume so much, right.

People, you know, we all get these emails that, you know, it’s like, you know, here’s my product. Like what’s a good time to talk is like the next thing it’s like, well, that’s a, that’s a pretty big assumption that like, I want to hop on a call right away. Right. So it’s like play the long game a little bit more and, you

Andrew: Ooh, that’s a good point. I do get that. They want to get on a call. Here’s my calendar link. Do you want a book? And you’re saying that’s not even. That shouldn’t be the next request. What do you do then? What, what does SDR asked for instance?

Sam: So, I mean, it depends, it depends on what you’re, what you’re selling and, but, you know, basically yeah. It’s like, it’s very, it’s very unlikely that, um, You know, they, they immediately want to hop on a call. So I, you know, I would ask yourself, you know, if, if you’ve like, what’s, what do they actually want? And like, give them that, you know, what, what do they need to keep the conversation going?

Um, you know, and, and go for those kinds of micro-commitments, uh, rather than pushing for a, you know, the next meeting. And the problem is, um, you know, people are patient people sometimes use outside vendors. So the vendors compensated are evaluated on how many meetings they book, which leads to term ism and short term thinking.

So like there’s all of these kinds of like, uh, you know, uh, competing priorities, a sense and an outbound. So that’s one of the things that makes it challenging.

Andrew: All right. What do you do? You told me before we got started, that the lack of recurring revenue in this model kept you from pursuing it all out for a long time. Why do you feel comfortable with it now? What do you do to make up for that recurring revenue loss?

Sam: So w w one thing is I don’t really, I don’t think of it as a loss in a lot of ways. So that is, uh, I’ve sort of flipped my thinking around that, but, um, so yeah, I think it’s a great question. And. Essentially, I’ll just kind of tell like a little bit of my story here and how my thinking has evolved. Like essentially like early on, I, I thought that, um, and he basically needed, you know, subscription or recurring revenue to scale the company.

Cause that’s kinda like the prevailing, you know, narrative, right. The reality is, uh, in a lot of ways, like, you know, As long as you have, as long as you have recurring purchases, like, you know, you’re selling a customer, you know, a project, you know, at least once a year, you know, you know, you’re, you’re, you’re going to be fine and there’s actually, you know, might be better because here’s the thing is like, you know, well, for one.

Th there’s the, uh, the competition for, for businesses that are a good recurring fit is extremely, extremely fierce. So like, if you’re, um, if you’re one of the few kind of like service-based businesses, that is a truly recurring model, like, like for example, like a PPC agency, uh, content writing agency. Um, you know, those are, those have a good reason to be recurring there.

They’re actually done on an ongoing monthly basis. The thing is like competition. It becomes like, you know, you know, you’re going to be competing with, with everyone because everyone wants a piece of that. You know, that model, if you can figure out a way to, to. Deliver your service profitably and, and actually create predictability through your marketing.

You know, you can, that’s a huge differentiator and competitive advantage, uh, and you can actually make models work that otherwise, like wouldn’t even be able to work. Plus, you know, when you’re, when you’re selling packages like, and you, and you collect that revenue faster, like it’s way easier to fuel growth, like, um, you know, monthly recurring revenue.

It is really just putting in many respects, like it, putting customer is putting customers on a payment plan. You’re amortizing. That cashflow and making it better for them because you think, but you think it’s predictable, but really like you’re, you’re like helping them finance your costs. So like, you know, the cashflow you’re, you’re, you’re the time that you recoup your, um, you know, your, your cost to acquire the custom.

Is is spread over those six months then the customer leaves anyways. Cause like, so like basically like my whole thing is like, I think that a lot of digital services would be better in a creative services would be, be able to grow much faster and be more, have much better cashflow if they move to like our recurring package where they sell a package so that, you know, and then, you know, towards the end of that package, they try to sell another package.

And if. Great. No worries. We’ll sell another package in six months.

Andrew: All right. I’m with you on that. And I think that a lot of people who create software as a service or try, should probably be trying to get people to pay for annual, uh, packages instead of monthly. And then when. You’re essentially copying the testimonial hero model. All right. Thanks so much for being on here for anyone who wants to go check you out testimonial hero.

I do think you’re also a great follow on Twitter. What’s your Twitter handle? Actually, I don’t even know. I just know that I see you on there all the freaking time.

Sam: Yeah. Um, well, thank you. Yeah, this has been, it’s been a blast. My Twitter is, uh, at Sam Sheffler.

Andrew: All right, cool. And, uh, thank you to the sponsor. hostgator.com/mixergy by everyone.

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