You have created this awesome product that works with WooCommerce. You start building your customer base. But then you long to have other developers and agencies become fans of your product. Well, there is a right way and a wrong way. In fact, it all depends on who you are approaching.
In this episode I asked Jodie (Riccelli) Fiorenza, Director ofBusiness Development from WebDevStudios and Michael Bragg, Developer from Vatu to join me in this conversation. With their positions being very different, their perspectives on the subject varied but also overlapped.
If you build extensions, plugins and other services for WooCommerce (or not for WooCommerce) this is a must listen-to show on how to build relationships and create fans.
I chatted with Jodie and Michael about:
- What is the first step in your approach with an agency or developer
- How you can prepare as a product builder to pitch yourself to developers and agencies
- Why or why not you should be considering this as a partnership and how does a partnership evolve
- Where does the pitch to become an affiliate come in
- The options for approaching anyone with a single, simpler plugin vs. a much more complex and feature packed product
- Why it is important to research the person you are reaching out to
- What are their thoughts on micro plugins
Connect with Jodie and Michael
Thanks to our Pod Friend
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Bob: Hey everyone. BobWP here and it's Do the Woo, episode 113. Now, if you sell products and services and you're looking at WooCommerce developers and agencies to be your fan, well, this show's for you and trust me, there's a right way and wrong way. I've asked Jodie from WebDevStudios and Michael from Vertu to join this discussion. They both play different roles at the agencies they work for and they bring a lot of great tips and insights into some of the better ways to build those relationships.
New Speaker: But before I dive into this, I'd just like to give a quick shout-out to one of my pod friends WooFunnels. Now, if you want to help your clients create optimized sales funnels using WooCommerce, they've got you covered. WooFunnels gives you all the tools you need to create high converting funnels using WooCommerce and their CRM lets you create broadcasts and automated workflows with unlimited contact, so you might want to check that out at buildwoofunnels.com.
Well, without further ado, let's jump right into the conversation.
Hey everyone, BobWP here and we are back with another builder event and this is going to be a fun one because if any builders have not had this situation, I figure you really haven't had testimonies before, especially in the developer agency space. I have two guests with me that are going to bring much deeper thoughts than I would ever bring to this show because they experience this firsthand. Michael and Jodie, welcome you both to the event.
Jodie: Thank you.
Michael: Thank you.
Bob: Now, before we get in this, some people may know you, some people may not, so if you could just give us a little background on what you do and then we'll dive right into it.
Michael: I'm Michael, I'm a WordPress developer specializing in WooCommerce at UK based agency Vatu
Jodie: My name is Jodie. Well, this is a very interesting thing. I'm in the midst of a name change. It was Jodie Riccelli, it's changing to Jodie Fiorenza, I'm both there. I'm the Director of Business Development at WebDevStudios, which is a WordPress design and development agency.
Bob: Okay, cool. Well, what we're going to be talking about is this, and I'm just going to set the scenario. You built this new WooCommerce product and service and you're trying to get customers and you're doing it your own way. However, you're getting customers, but you have this driving desire to get developers and agencies using it and it's not really as simple as that. I mean, probably most of them are thinking that. What I've experienced, and not even from that side and I know what both Michael and Jodie has experienced is that maybe you're not quite doing it in an orderly fashion. Let me put it nicely that way. And what I mean is that, yeah, sure you want to get it out to these people.
You want developers to recommend it to their clients when needed and you may start sending out emails. Whatever you do there is a process to it, and there's probably some really good guidance here from both Michael and Jodie because it kind of come from a different... I mean Michael's a developer. He probably deals with it in one way and then Jodie, in business development, everybody thinks this is a person to set up that demo with, that I want to show them their plugin. With that said, let's just talk a little bit about when somebody is starting to think through that process. What's square one to start with? What is the first step to start making that first approach . Let's start with you, Jodie.
Jodie: I get it. You spend all of this time and this energy building this amazing product, you're really excited, you just want to get it out there. You see names that might be interested, you start reaching out to them. I appreciate and truly understand the work that goes into building a products and I get that excitement, I do. But, to your point, we get inundated on a daily basis with tons of people that have new products or ideas or projects that want to talk to us and it would truly be impossible for me to fully engage in every one of those conversations and still do my job. There is a bit of a vetting process when people are reaching out to me that I go through to make a decision whether or not I want to have a conversation with them.
First of all, I truly believe in taking the time to research the agency and the people that you're reaching out to. So just understanding if you're going to reach out to WebDevStudios, in my specific situation, understand the kinds of companies that we work with and whether or not your product would make sense for our clients. That's just basic number one. Number two, it's understanding, well, do you reach out to me? I know that business development sounds like the person that you want to reach out to, but a little secret, I'm not going to vet your plugin. I'm not an engineer. Our Director of Engineering is going to be the one who looks at the code, who looks at the plugin, who makes a decision whether or not it's something that we want to work with. Now I'm a gatekeeper for him in many ways, admittedly.
So, if you're going to reach out to me, I appreciate when somebody takes the time to look me up on LinkedIn, uses my name, spells WebDevStudios correctly, spells WordPress correctly, these are the things that I'm looking at. Did they take the time and make a serious effort to reach out? That's just step one. Number two, I'm okay with somebody reaching out to me more than one time if it's good content, but what I don't love are guilt emails. Like, "I've reached out to you three times in the last week and haven't heard back." I'm not going to answer them.
I get many emails throughout the day, people hit me up on social media every day. I'm always like kind of like funneling through conversations, but if you send me an email and say, "Hey, I see that this organization in Philadelphia is raising money for dogs. I thought you might be interested in that." You better believe that's going to get my intention because I love animals very much and I live in Philadelphia. Those two things are going to really capture my attention and make me want to engage with that person a little bit more. So, do your research, understand who you're reaching out to, the agency that you're reaching out to and be thoughtful in your first communication, that to me is just the basics.
Bob: Michael, you probably can reiterate a lot of what she said, but also as a developer it's like, maybe they're sneaking in sideways and thinking, "Oh, the marketing person or the business development person might not be the right person. Michael, he's a developer. He can relate to me." Can you kind of take the same approach that Jodie took from your perspective.
Michael: I completely echo that. I think from the developer's perspective is I probably am the better person to talk to instead of a manager, "Oh, we need this feature. Which plugin do you recommend?" And then, "Well, I've worked with this one before I recommend X plugin to do this, or don't use that plugin that plug-in was difficult on a previous project." Probably am the better person to talk to than a business development manager, but on the other hand, I can spot an automated, repetitive email because I wrote them. As part of development, we build that facility so somebody can email out one email and just swap the name around, so I can spot it a mile away. So to echo Jodie sentiments is, yes. Look, research me, find out something. If you start the email with, "Oh, the Albion have done well today, or talk about dogs." I've got a dog, let's talk about dogs, or favorite rugby team or things like that. You instantly break down that barrier, you disarmed me from going, "Oh no, not another email." Delete or not even open it. It's got to be the personalization of that email and not just the generic of send this out to a hundred different people.
I want that personal thing and then that's going to make me talk to you. If I see one that says, "Dear," insert name here, I'm not going to give you two seconds of the day because it's not worth my time. You might have the most amazing plugin in the world, but you've not sold it to me. I need to be sold on, we're personable, we're responsive, we took the time to research you. Well, if you take that much time to email me, you must take even more time on the product that you love, that's amazing, that's wonderful to give you that type of thing, that then gives me the perception of you has been a lot better than it would be if it's just a generic email that we get sent out all the time.
Bob: There's going to be somewhere along there that this person feels that you need to see a demo. "Let's sit down and I want to walk you through this." Again, you're coming from two different perspectives here too. Jodie as business development you might look at a demo a lot differently than Michael's a developer.
Bob: How should they prep? I mean, should that even be in their train of thought, or should that be something that they should hope that you would request that if you felt it was necessary? Because it's time for everybody. I mean, it's time for you, it's time for them, but that's a block of time. Sure, it'll help you understand it a bit more, but how should they, not only approach you on a demo, but how should they actually prepare themselves for the demo to make it efficient for you and not be just a big sales pitch?
Jodie: Mm-hmm (affirmative). I think, to your point, what Michael wants to see on a demo is very different than what I want to see on a demo. I'm interested in seeing like, how's this going to benefit the client? How would I explain this to the client? What problem is it solving? Whereas, and Michael I don't want to speak for you, but engineers in general would probably want to dig into the specifics of the tech a little bit more too. While that's important to me, it's not going to be on that initial demo. I want to know what problem is it solving? How will this benefit my client and is it easy? And quite honestly for me personally, watching a demo or going through a demo with somebody is probably going to be a better use of my time than sending me materials to read.
I don't have a lot of time to sit down and maybe funnel through a website or funnel through documentation, so if you curate a demo that answers the questions that I need answers to, that's going to be a very efficient use of our time. And I've had people be very creative, send a gift certificate for Grubhub, or something to me and say, "Let's have lunch. Get lunch on me and I'm going to walk you through the demo." That's a really nice gesture. I'm not saying I need those things, but to feel that that time is important enough and to respect that time is really nice to know. I'm probably going to be more engaged in that conversation just because you did a little extra thinking about how to make this a good use of my time.
Michael: Yeah. I think that as well, I do want to see some of that, but as Jodie said, I look at it completely different. I'd actually work better with a developer during the demo because I'm going to have the questions of how does it work technically? Does it work with this other plugin? Have you got the right hooks available to do modifications that we need to meet our brief? I'd like to talk to the developer and I've had the best conversations when I've spoken to plugin developers, because I've been able to ask the question.
I don't expect salespeople to know the answer, but "Oh, I just need to go and ask somebody about that." So I've spent 15, 20 minutes going through your demo, but you can't answer the question that I need to know. Whereas if you invite one of the developers on, that would be better for me because we can geek out, we can talk. Talk the talk and have that conversation with them and then that means, "Oh, actually I've got that person as a contact that I can reach out to if I have any other questions." Again, it saves me time, which then saves everybody time and makes me buy into that process.
Bob: I love that I invited the two of you. This is really pointing out that there's no blanket way of doing this because you could approach a developer, you're going to approach them in different ways and you've got to put that hat on. If you're a marketer for that product and you're approaching developer, it might be better to have one of your developers to even do approach the developer because they can talk the talk and same with you, Jodie, it's different. You don't need to hear all the code specifics, you don't need to be buried in that. That's very interesting. I'm going to throw out another thing, and this is something that... And for those of you that are watching, please post a comment or a question and we'll get it up on the screen question and have them answer it.
Partnerships, now, this is something that really sticks in my craw and I'm going to be completely honest because it's a word that's thrown around very loosely, it's just one of those terms. I'm kind of an old school person where I thought partnerships were a lot different until I got in the online space and they're throwing out randomly.
Somebody sends you that first email and it opens up with, "I would like to do a partnership with you," and then it leads into telling them everything you want them to do for you. I'm just going to take out. These are examples that we both seen. Again, from both of your perspectives, and Michael, I'm not sure if you kind of pass it on to somebody that you had to talk in partnership or how do you kind of weed that out? Because you might want to say, "I'm not really sure what you mean by a partnership here, or a partnership is two way and a partnership is a lot more than me just grabbing your plugin and recommending it." Can you touch on that a little bit? Just your thoughts, because it's something that kind of drives me nuts. I'll let Michael go first on this one.
Michael: The obvious one is, what's in it for me? We're all selfish, we always think, well, most times we think of ourselves first, if I'm in a partnership with somebody, what's in it for me. Am not going to be doing all this work, getting new sales, and then you just go thank you and that's it. You want some benefits from this, whether it's more of an advocate than a partnership, may even be better. Slip me a free license because they're not going to look at the product to control you. I'll be a lot better position to say what I think of it and to show it to other people, or sometimes it's, "Oh, here's our plugins. But I never used it." I'm not going to put my name that I've worked really hard to put in a position of trust on something random.
I need to be invested in that. I think it's also as well as from a developer's point of view is, are you coming to me as a developer, are you coming to me as somebody that works for an agency? Whose name do you want really? Do you want to use Vatu? "Oh, Vatu you're a great agency. I would love them to..." Or do you want me as a developer to speak for you, to come on podcast like this and talk about you, but not be from your company? I think you've got to look at it that way, again, to see what the benefits are for both people. Because if it's all one sided, it's not a good deal for either way. We shouldn't give you 99% of all our profits. Well, that's not a good deal for you, so I wouldn't expect that.
Bob: And Jodie, it's interesting because when you think about it, that's what you do. You create partnerships at WebDevStudios, so they think it's a great buzzword to get your attention. Maybe it isn't necessarily... You're going to look at it a lot more strategically. So, when somebody starts talking partnerships, how do you respond to that?
Jodie: For me, I need to understand, why are you different, why are you unique than any other tool that we've previously used. What makes you special? I need to really comprehend that, number one. Number two, I agree with both of you, partnership is a word that's thrown around that is just kind of lost its meaning. The reality is that you want me to singularly recommend you to our clients. That's what you want from the partnership. But that doesn't mean it's in the best interest of my clients. I am always going to take a step back and think of them first. If it is a good tool, guess what? I'm going to use it with or without your partnership. But if you want to be closer to us as a company, it's about making, I think, things easy. One, we're going to vet your plugin and it's going to be thoroughly vetted, so make that process really easy for the engineers.
Two, provide really thorough documentation so that there's no question as to what you do and what you can do and how we can get things done. Three, we want to see that you are investing the time to make sure that this plugin stays updated and that things are done correctly and that you're following all of the principles that we would as a company that our values kind of align when it comes to coding and creation. We want to know that too. We also want to know... Seeing examples of how things are being used, that's really important to us as well. We want to see this already out in the space working and working accurately. So, making those things easy for us to find or providing us with that information is going to be really key.
Partnerships are great and they certainly have their value if they're done correctly, but that's not important to me. I want to know whatever you're bringing to the table is going to benefit us and our clients. That to me is the most important thing. I guess my point is, don't jump for the partnership. Jump for demonstrating the value in what you're able to bring to the table and the partnership will come if it's meant to and it will happen organically, but don't make that the goal.
Bob: Yeah. I'm going to transcribe what you just said and put it into an email and then that way, whenever somebody sends me about a partnership, I'm just going to say, "As Jodie, the expert says, let me explain this," and then just bring your quote and leave it at that and send them the email. That's very rude, I shouldn't say that. But that was exactly spot on both of you. It totally makes sense. Again, this is at a different level with both of you because of... Especially like you said, Michael, I like how you said it. Somebody coming to you as Michael the developer or as Michael who works for, and that's two different things. Again, and I'm not sure if you see this a lot, but they feel like the big enticement is become an affiliate. Become an affiliate to my site, and that's what they push initially because they think that's going to be, like I said, an incentive.
I know from my perspective, and I'm not an agency or anything, but people that approach me often they mix that affiliate and partnership because... And I say, "Well, an affiliate really is... I'm kind like a commissioned salesperson for you." When you really put it down in the nitty gritty and then other things can develop, as you said, Jodie. Where does that affiliate play into? And then it's got to be interesting because it is as an individual developer, but as an agency, when somebody throws that out first thing. Jodie.
Jodie: It would not benefit anybody. If I was completely partial to one thing, one person, one tool, one hosting company, one technology, no one's going to win in that situation. What my job is, is figuring out what are the best tools to use for that client's particular challenge. Cool, we can be an affiliate. Again, at the agency, at WebDevStudios, to me, the goal is, are you going to solve the issue? Whether or not I'm affiliate or not, it's just so secondary to me. What I want to see is what you're building is it quality, is it something that I would be proud to recommend to clients because that's the other risk.
If I'm recommending you, I am backing you and therefore, if something goes wrong, I'm the one who's held responsible not necessarily you. For me to verbally say, "Yes. I'm your partner, I'm your affiliate. I trust this," that is a big deal and something that should be earned and not something that should be thrown out as a carrot.
Bob: Exactly. Now, Michael, it can be a small enticement because, yeah, it's nice especially if you're an individual to make affiliates. I mean, I've made affiliates for 10 years. How much, Micheal, does that play into... It's obviously, yeah, you probably would if the fit was right, but how do you take that approach when they throw that out as the first enticement, as a single individual?
Michael: It comes back to the fact that who they're talking to. Because if they're talking to me and as a freelance developer, if I'm choosing to use the plugin because it's the best and being an affiliate is brilliant, it gives me an extra what can be what, an hour or two or three hours worth of money for using something I was going to use anyway. And when budgets are tight, as it can be as freelancers, the yes, that's important, but me as working for an agency, well, first of all, if I'm taking that, is that bribery? Am I being bought to use it because I'm then recommending my company do something. And as Jodie says, the reputations on the line, the clients coming back to us, but that's all on me because I've made $30.
I don't feel like that, personally, is justification because it's... Yes, I've made $30, but I've also put a whole heap of hassle on the company and on myself and also who gets that affiliation because we, as an agency, tend to let our customers purchase any third party plugins. They retain the license. They retain, if they move away from us or if we need something else, they retain that. We don't charge them, so they don't pay any extra. We don't put our markup on top of them. If the client gets it, brilliant, if we recommend the client, get plugging X, "Put this code in, you'll get $30 back," or something like that, that's fine. But then it's a whole heap of most uncomfortableness.
Jodie: Yeah. Michael, you said something else earlier about, give us a license, right? That's actually a huge deal because we need to vet these plugins. The engineers need to work and use them. That is like step one, give us a license or a sandbox or something that we can get in there and play with this. And also, we do the same thing. Our clients purchase the plugins because we want the license to be in their name. That's really important too. It's going to be them ultimately that we want to reap the benefits.
Michael: That brings me to the point, if you give me the code, I can look at it, I can try it. And also you trusting me, so I'll take that trust that I won't go and install it on 50 different sites, which brings back to the reason why we get our clients to buy them so you get the money. Each and every time we use it, you get a single license board, not a developer's license that we use on a hundred sites, but you only get to charge once, we're helping you out at the same time by getting to buy individual licenses. And also, just to add to the fact giving us the code, if we find issues or I find issues and I'll fix them, I'll send you them back. The thing with personally free plugins, if you make your source code available, I'll spot something. I'll write a book report, I'll fix the code and send it] back. Because if I'm using the plugin it helps me, just being a good Samaritan in the whole ecosystem of giving back. It gives you another benefit that you may not have known.
Bob: I'm going to pull up a question here, kind of a comment and a question for you from Elliot. It sounds like the lone developer has a lot of work to start with, right? Or can you gamble a partnership and share resources to build something together in the partnership, perhaps, anything you want to comment on that?
Michael:It sounds like a lot of work, but it doesn't necessarily have to be a lot of work. It can just be you get to know somebody, like, "I know Elliot. I met Elliot through WordCamp, meetups." So, he's now built that reputation, "I know who this person just reached out to me, "Oh, do you mind having a look at this plugin?" Not, "Please be a partnership, please be a thing," it's just that introductory. Or, "I've met you a few times. Here is your license, have a play with it. Tell me what you think." Not put the pressure on me that you must use it on your customer site, but let's get together and what you think of it and I can give you honest feedback and hopefully that it benefit you. And then, we may find out actually that's a good fit for projects. I've got three months, two years, 10 years down the line, but that little bit of reach out, it doesn't have to be a lot, could then grow into something bigger.
Jodie: I think that's an interesting point too because who I am at a WordCamp is very different than the person I am when I'm behind my laptop answering emails for work. It just is. Going to the community to get help and resources is a bit different than reaching out to an agency for a partnership and I think there's a little bit of a difference there. If I'm in a WordPress Slack channel and you come and ask a question, I'm going to take the time because that's what... The community behind WordPress is such a huge part of what we do all of us in creating products as agencies and I respect the community working together to help one another out so much. But, on my day-to-day, if I get 50 emails a day and I have six Zoom calls, it's really hard for me to kind of like take a moment to utilize that time to do what I would do in my off time. There is a bit of a difference there, how you approach Jodie, the WordPress community member and how you approach me as doing business development for WebDevStudios.
Bob: That's a good point because if you think about it, especially, like you said it, when we're back to doing in real life events, that often is... Everybody's busy I know with events and stuff, but that really is the opportune time to make such a better personalized connection with someone. I think all of us can attest to that and you both just did that that just makes a huge difference. And then, I think it's that personalization. And also, you get a feel of the person more, there's a bit more casualness about it. One of the things I had thought about, maybe, absolutely there is no difference, but if somebody comes to you with a plugin or extension, they want you to try it, is your mindset a lot different on how you approach it if they come with you with a more elaborate service or SAS product that involves a lot more?
It's just, it's not this plugin that does one thing, but, "Hey, we've got this product that does all these things." Do you evaluate that differently or is it pretty much the same across the board? It's just going through that, researching it, telling him why we should be actually looking at this.
Michael: One of the first things I look at is the complexity of setting it up to testing it. If it is a SaaS thing that does 30 different things, I'm not going to have the time to go through each one individually and check that out and how easy is it to set up on a testing site or does it need to be integrated into a live site that has payments coming through every 10 minutes or things like that, how complicated is it to set up and test?
Jodie: I also think it depends on what is being focused on in the moment. I don't know if you all noticed this, but sometimes things come in waves. All of a sudden we'll get a bunch of clients that want e-commerce or the next month everybody wants an LMS or whatever. And then, that's when I start thinking about, "Well, those are the tools that I need to look at or think about." Right now the conversation within the WordPress space is about headless. Anybody that comes to me with a SAS product or a plugin or an extension that somehow supports that, I'm probably going to be more inclined to look at right now because that's the pulse of the industry at the moment.
There is something to be said for understanding how tech is moving. If you have something that's within the learning management space or the headless space, yeah, I'm going to see that first for sure because right now that is what we're talking about a lot with our clients. That's kind of where the industry is focusing a lot of energies right on. Especially because when we went into quarantine and everyone went home, all of these companies started to scramble to figure out how they were going to, one, keep in touch with their employees, keep their employees up to speed on training. So, LMSs became a thing that we needed to talk about and obviously heard this is just kind of the next generation of what's happening in the enterprise WordPress space. Understanding where tech is right now is a big part of this. So, if you could address one of those things, I'm just going to see you first. SaaS plugin, it doesn't matter.
But, if you were to come to me right now, I'm just kind of making up an example, if you were to come to me right now with like an image compression plugin, it's not really kind of the thing that I need to think about at the moment, so I'm probably not going to see that or I'm not going to put much stake in that. Again, understanding... If you go to WebDev's blog right now, you're going to see that our brilliant team has put together so much content about LMSs, about headless, that's like an indicator. That's what we're focused on right now, pay attention to that. We're focused on that. If that's what we're focused on, send me that stuff because I'm going to see that first.
Bob: Michael, do you kind of look at it that way? I mean, do things jump out at you a little bit more, especially when it's in the moment?
Michael: Definitely. There are things that as a techy person you like to be at the bleeding or the cutting edge of technology. Those buzz words you do go, "Oh, what's that." Just that little bit that piqued your interest because of what's going on at the moment. A lot of stuff you've seen even about Google on their page speeds, at the moment, that's very hot on most of our clients, "Oh, we need a faster page speed because they've now got a new metric that's going to give me the SEO boost that's going to let me sell more." If somebody goes, "Oh, we can save you this time," basically solve this solution for my client, I'm going to be a lot more interested at the moment because that's the solution that they've all got. Oh sorry, the solution they all need.
Bob: Is that a lesson for them to know that they may send you something and even if it's not in the moment you may respond that way. You may say, this is something, maybe like you said, another compression thing. But also it should show them to also have patience because that considered in the back of your head if the moment came up down the road instead of sending you three more follow ups that say, "Just don't forget about our compression plugin, image compression plugin. Are you ready to look at it now? I know you weren't quite back then." I don't know if both of you are that way. If you hear something sometimes you get that little tick in the back of your head and you may go back searching for it later on when... Even that one time touch if it was done in the right way and gave you a good feeling, but it just wasn't the right fit at the time.
Jodie: Somebody once told me that until somebody tells you no, you have every right to keep reaching out. I think it's okay to gently nudge people. It's how you do it. Like I said about the guilty emails, I really believe that that's not the way and it's not every week either. It's being very considerate with your cadence and the things that you're saying to stay top of mind with the person.
Bob: I think a lot of another lesson they can learn too is, if there is a slight bit of normalcy in the conversation and they feel good about, "Okay. They weren't interested at that time," to also start mentally thinking, "Well, maybe, I should see what Jodie's talking about on Twitter." Maybe there's some point in time that I can come in and not be, "Oh yeah. Remember this." But just that conversation and it ends up growing that relationship, not partnership, I'm going to call it a relationship, where you're a little bit more reminded of that person and exactly what you were saying, how you give them that little bump down the road may not be directly involved with that, or you pushing that again, but it might be in another way that just brings them back to mind. Again, something that you'll keep in mind or if and when it does happen or when it's needed.
Jodie: Yeah. Like I said, you could go to our blog at any given day and know exactly what we're talking about at WebDevStudios because the content will match that. I think that it's worth reading that information. Certainly, look at what they're saying on social media and LinkedIn. It's important to understand where an agency or a person is at professionally to make sure that you are reaching out to them at the right time or how to reach out to them. Sometimes people will just chat with me on Twitter and they're not talking about anything specifically and I kind of have engaged in that conversation. It's enjoyable, it's light, it's fun. And then they'll send me an email and I remember their name and I'm like, "Oh yeah, I talked to them on Twitter. Okay. I'm going to take a look at this." It's investing your time wisely to get the return that you're looking for. That's a big part of this.
Bob: Michael, is it a complete turnoff for you when somebody talks to you like you're a beginner and they have not done research to know that Michael is a developer and they just saw your name and maybe you talk about something, but didn't take the time to actually look at your skill level and they come in and say, "Oh Michael, do you know that... Have you ever used a page builder before? Have you ever been frustrated with a page builder?"
Michael: I don't particularly like page builders, it's a personal preference. They're brilliant for some people and just not for me. Pitching me page builder isn't going to be something that I look at. I'm just going to ignore. Pitch me something that seems interesting. Again, might not be straight away, but I'll be curious. If I've got the time might reach back out. It's all about being interesting and start that discussion, bridge the hard sale that puts you off. It's the, "I've got this plugin, please use it." Why? Again, it comes back to the conversation. In fact, if you just reached out to me, ask me how things are going.
My favorite thing when asking clients is, what's your pain points? When we pitched for work and we say, "Well, we want this week." What's your pain point? What can we solve that's going to really help you? And that's what gets our foot in the door as an agency. It's the same as a plugin author, is to get your foot in the door, find out what pain points are. You know we are doing subscriptions, we've got an issue with this particular area. That's my pain point. If you can solve that, or you asked me what it is, and then you go, "I can't or I can do it in our next couple of releases." Come and talk to me about it.
Quite recently, I've spoken to a plugin developer. We don't currently use that plugin, but we were looking at different options. I spoke to him and then we've had a good conversation. We jumped on a Zoom chat. I explained my pain points. Then I can think "Oh, we might actually be able to integrate that with our product," which then eventually convert] to users because there's something that we don't have at the moment, or it's a large investment for us to build on our own, but would be brilliant to multiple other people.
Bob: I'm going to go back to the partnership thing just because I like what you said that partnerships, let them happen at some point. Now, if somebody is sitting out there and listening to this, whether now or later, and they're thinking, is this something that just will naturally happen that you... Should they feel like if it's meant to be that it will happen and it'll come by magically osmosis or something or just be like there's suddenly there's a connection? Or, is there anything along the way? We'll give them a sign that, maybe you're more receptive to that and that there could be a so-called partnership, whatever that partnership is defined as, along the way. I guess, I'm just thinking some of them might think, "Well, okay. I would love to wait and see if it plays out and it's a perfect thing to do." But, is there some something that's going to tell me that it's starting to move in that direction or is it just something I should just hope for and if it happens, it happens?
Jodie: Yeah. I don't know. I don't think a partnership should ever be the goal. What are you trying to get out of it? Ultimately, when people say partnership they want us to use their product for clients. That's really what it comes down to. Right? While that's great, we're going to do that if it's a great product regardless with or without the partnership. Now, the benefits to partnership with us, one, you can co-market and co-brand things with your partner. So, if I wanted to create a one sheet on the product, they can do it in such a way that had WDS branding on it and that would be really nice thing to be able to offer clients. So, co-branding and co-marketing is great. Sharing blog posts, like if you are going to write a blog post about your plugin that we can post on our blog for content and vice versa.
That's also kind of nice symbiotic relationship. Having us listed as a partner on your website and us listing you as a partner on website, also a very nice gesture and something that is great to do. These are all things that we can strive for over time as the partnership evolves. But, we need to know that you have a really great product that we can use for our clients and that it will benefit our clients in the long run. That's like step one, be able to address and answer that and prove why it is something that is worthwhile and will benefit the people that we're working with.
Step two, show that you're interested in what we're doing as an agency and that you want to work with us to continue or build in whatever way that that looks like. Step three, continuing education. As you make improvements on your plugin, change things on your plugin, making sure that as an agency we have all that information that we need, so we're never surprised by an update and we can always pass that information off to our clients. Keeping our engineers up to speed, showing us how we can work together for co-marketing and co-branding purposes, and also making sure that it actually addresses a challenge that we're having with our clients, they're very big things that I'm going to be looking for.
Michael: Do you want to know the one thing that's going to make me being a partnership with you? Is me reaching out to you. If I email you, if I try to reach out to you, I've got a vested interest in your product, not the other way round. If we need to find a feature, we will go and look at third-party plugins, we'll reach out to the development team, we'll ask, "Does it do this? How does this work, these things?" If I'm doing that to you, there is a very strong chance if it does, I'm going to use your product because we've vetted it already. We believe in that. That's when you might want to start to make it easy for me to contact you. Sometimes, you'll contact a plugin developer and it will be two weeks before you got a reply.
Well, I can't trust you then because when something goes wrong and it almost does, it's not a slight on your plugin, I need to know that I can get in touch with you fairly quickly. If that's an email... One of the vendors were used, they are brilliant, they reply within an hour or two. And me, as a developer, I know that. I'm invested in their product. I don't know whether I should name them here, but I'm more than happy to because I bought into them. Now, every time they've helped us, it's built that relationship, so I'd do that. That's how that partnership began was because I reached out, "We've got a problem or we've got a question, does it do this?" They've gone, "Yes or no. In this case, yes it does. This is how you do it?"
I'm instantly bought in that. I will recommend that plugin to any client that it fits the needs for because I know they're going to get a response quite quickly, it's a good quality plugin. The partnership starts from my side. It was, "I've got, let's reach out, let's talk." Now, if they were to come back to me and say, "Oh, would you mind posting something or giving us a testimonial?" I'm bought in because that's not right. Not, "God. Can you send as a testimonial? Please, give it to me. Please, please, can you do it? Can you do it?" And kept on and on when I don't want to put my name to that.
Bob: Well, you can see I keep hammering at the partnership because my goal in this whole thing is to totally eliminate that word from those first emails over again. I keep bringing this up because I'm going to keep pushing this. I'm going to pop over to a question that Elliot had and this might be something... Jodie, I'm not sure if you have some comment on it, but this might be something that... Because I think it addresses a little bit what Michael said, what do speakers think about micro plugins doing small things really well versus SAS plugin doing a lot of things that might not be needed? I know you touched on that a bit, but just, maybe, to reiterate that a little bit from both of your perspectives.
Jodie: Yeah. As an agency, we don't want to reinvent the wheel. If there's a really great product out there and it's going to save our clients time and money, that's a beautiful thing. But again, it's kind of like, know your market. At our level we have SMB clients and we have enterprise level clients. Does a micro plugin make sense for us to use on an enterprise level client or is it simpler for us to kind of incorporate that into the theme or maybe the plugin itself, especially if we're on a retainer with them? I don't know those answers. It may or may not, but on an SMB client, maybe that's a really effective way to make the most use of their budget and time for a particular project. Then that would be great. I'm always going to be open to solutions that help budget, help timeline, are smart solutions and don't reinvent the wheel.
That's always going to be something to consider. It's not really, I think, the size of what you're creating or how intricate it is, sometimes there's a really beautiful things that can be found in simplicity of certain plugins. It solves an issue, it's easy to install, great. Yeah, I'm all about that. So, that's not it. It's about quality, it's about the problem that it's solving, and it's about whether or not it's just going to benefit the end user in the long run. That's what I'm most concerned about. Could a micro plugin doing something small be something I'm very interested in? Yes, absolutely. Could a really intricate kind of SAS system that's created be something I'm interested? Probably. Yeah, I'm open to all of those things, for sure.
Bob: How about you, Michael?
Michael: Start off, we've got the unit's principle of do one thing and do one thing well. If it does one thing and does the one thing that we need it to do, by all means we're going to use it rather than throw the kitchen sink at it. But on the other hand with SAS products, it can be better that somebody else can take care of that heavy lifting. That they can do a lot and we just have the nice, pretty integration that, again, does what our client wants, but we don't need to build it, we don't need to maintain it. It doesn't need to be updated every three weeks every time they've released something, it automatically happened. Again, it's whichever is pointing at the best place for us. There is no right or wrong answer to this. We will use both when it best fits the needs of the project.
As a developer, I learned to small micro plugins because they're just simple. There's a wonderful plugin, WP Robot Text. It's simple, it does what we need, so I'm not going to go and use a SaaS version of it because I don't need to. Whereas the CRM systems, I don't really want to have to build my own or use a plugin on WordPress because it's taken away from the resources that could be used to sell. I'd rather somebody else does that because it's that complicated stuff. It just meets the needs that you want really.
Bob: Cool. All right. Well, thanks Elliot for those two questions here. This has been good. We're kind of getting close to the hour here, is there any thoughts that you might have to just kind of close this out? Your one final piece of advice to all these product builders out there that will eventually listen to this show or watch this, repeat this live feed. Start with you Jodie, anything that you can really think of?
Jodie: It's interesting. Earlier you asked Michael a question about, when people reach out to him and they don't know that he's technical or they make an assumption about his technical ability, what is that like? The same goes for anybody. Like myself in business development, marketing folks you're reaching out to, it doesn't matter, don't make assumption about anyone's level of their technical expertise or what they know about tech in general. When you're approaching someone, again, it's just about being courteous about how you approach them. There's people that have reached out to me that assume that I have just no technical knowledge. I love those conversations because I'm not an engineer and I'm not going to pretend to be, but I certainly know enough to be able to talk about it. That's my job.
When I'm speaking with somebody, I want to talk in a way that demonstrates I know about my clients technically, but also what I know from just a regular business development perspective. I always think of myself as a translator between clients and tech, and so that's how I love when people kind of approach me as somebody that can kind of go both ways. But it's not just me. It's about anybody you're reaching out to. Just don't make assumptions about what they do or what they know or what they can do, be courteous and thoughtful in the way that you approach them and take the time to do a little bit of research to do it correctly. If you kind of just persistent a little bit in a very kind way, you will get some kind of response. It might be no, but you'll get a response.
Bob: How about you, Michael?
Michael: If you get a response from me, you did half your battle even if it is a no. I think also not to put people off, "Oh, it's bad. Don't reach. I don't do anything." Do it in a certain manner. Go back to our initial points, is do the research, maybe read upon some sales books, things like that that let you then do the personalization. Because, we want to buy from friends. We want to buy from somebody that we know that we trust.
Rather than trying to sell your product, just build a friendship with people. Get to know these people, the best one is talk to somebody, but don't talk about work, comment on something on Twitter that they've... The fact that their sport's team worn or there's a cute picture of their dog, build those up, and then you'll get to know the names and you'll be knowing that person. And then when you come to it, that you have got the hard sell question is, "Oh, would you look at these?" You've broken down all those barriers. Because all we do at first, you go, "No, no, no, no, no, no." Because my time is important.
But, you get from your friends, "Yeah. I'll do that for you." Somebody comes, "Can you build me a website?" If I know you, if your family, if your friends, "Yeah, I'll sort you. Don't worry." Even though I've got no time, I've got no capacity, you do it because there's a personal relationship there.
Bob: Yeah. Cool. Well, I'm going to wrap this up the wrong way and the right way. The wrong way would be, so if anybody wants to build a partnership with you, wants you to become an affiliate, or wants you to sit down for a demo tomorrow, where's the best place to contact you? Or the right way, if anybody wants to connect with you, where's the best place? Jodie.
Jodie: You know what? You can reach me on Twitter, it's Jodie_Fiorenza or you can email me, Jodie@webdevstudios.com. Either one of those ways, that's the best way. I don't check LinkedIn enough. I would tell you there, but I'm just going to be honest that I get a thousand LinkedIn messages a week and 99% of them are spam. I have to clean that up at some point. Email or Twitter is best.
Bob: Great. How about you Michael?
Michael: I'm on most social media platforms. So, email@example.com. if you do want to reach out to me via email. Join the meetup that I'm attending, come and speak to me. Now, if you get involved in the community and then that is the way that you get to talk to me, if you ask questions, we will answer them, things like that. Just build that relationship up.
Bob: Yeah. Okay, cool. Connect with these two because they know a lot more than me. Like I said, don't mention the word partnership when you first meet with them because that's a no, no. We're going to leave that one out. Thanks everyone for joining us and if you want to subscribe you can do it here on YouTube or you can just go to dothewoo.io/subscribe and you can find this just about everywhere else. Again, thank you both for joining me.
Jodie: Thanks Bob. Thank you
Michael: Thank you.
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