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Business Strategy Session with Jean Barger

Jean Barger
Yeah, let’s dive right in. So basically, I do web design plus Google Ads plus video strategy. And I’m just getting the video strategy piece up and going. And so Previous to that I was just doing websites and Google ads. And one of the challenges that I have is when it’s marketing for more than one thing on my website, or to other people. For example, if I have a Google Ad client, they tend to forget that I also do websites. Or if I have a website client, they forget to that I do Google ads. Or if I go into my, I have a networking group that I’m a part of, I feel like they just think I do all things technical. So no matter what I say, they always, they always think I do everything.

So I’ll say I don’t do Facebook Ads, but I do Google Ads, and I’ll talk about the differences and stuff, and then it almost never fails, I get tons of inquiries about Facebook Ads. And I’m thinking – How can I have been more clear? What am I doing that’s not clear enough? So I feel I’m still trying to hone my message. And what’s great about that networking group is we meet every week. And so I can do a kind of 30 to 45 second spiel, so I change it up from time to time to just see what people are listening to. And so part of the problem is, it’s kind of like a resume. You know, when people look at your resume, they’re just very quick, you’ve got seconds, right. So that’s the same thing when you talk to people when they’re looking at your website. So I think we all know that because we’re all in this web site world, but it’s very, very true, especially when you’re in front of people, or they come to you from having been to your website from other people. And that’s how I tend to get all of my clients is through referral. So whether they were an existing client, or someone that I knew, that knew that I did websites, or whatever the thing was that they remembered, she does website, she does Google Ads, whatever. So I don’t know. So that’s basically my challenge.

Adela Mei
Okay. I may not have an answer for this one. I know exactly what you’re describing. I have something very similar with people knowing me as a web designer. But a couple of years ago, I really was moving away from that as my main service. So I do strategy sessions and business consulting. So I understand there’s maybe a remnant of that’s what I used to focus on, and I’m doing this. I still do web design as well, with certain clients, so I think you’re right and that it is in the messaging, because I’m actually completely going through the same thing as you.

Jean Barger
Okay, well, I’m not alone, that’s good to know.

Adela Mei
You’re not alone. So it’s kind of conceptual. What is it that I’m putting out that is attracting that kind of client? Or is it simply that people remember what you used to do, and they remember it like that? So it might be several threads. Attracting new clients, maybe how to get that messaging really clearer. Maybe it’s because you need to get super clear in yourself as well. There’s always that inner outer kind of reflection. And then with the other existing clients who used to maybe know what you used to do, how do you get them to sort of update, and go, ‘Oh, this is what you do’. Does that make any sense?

Jean Barger
Yes. Yes that does make sense. And I think that can happen with people when, especially if they’ve seen your work before, and then they just have this image stuck in their mind of what you did. What they remember.

That just reminds me another thing I was trying and I only tried it once in this networking group, but I may go back to it. When I think about my business, what I want is a full client. So I don’t really want to just do, like sometimes you’ll get people when they just want to do a website. To me, I want to do it right. So I want to get them up and going with the website, with SEO, with copywriting, all of that kind of stuff. And then when they’re ready, if it makes sense, do Google Ads or video marketing.

So that’s something that I’ve been kind of experimenting with, what language to use to talk about being more of a partner, a full service partner. So, and I guess it’s a good thing, the networking group is already thinking of me as all things technical, it’s just the Facebook Ads really tripped me up, because I’ve actually said, I do not do these. And this is why, I tell them why and everything. But yeah, so maybe I’m closer than I think. And I just need to either partner with somebody that does do Facebook Ads or something like that. That way, it’s like, yes, I do do this.

Well, let me ask you a question about this, then because one thing that I’m experimenting with is I do white label Google Ads for other people. So I only work with the agency, with someone like me, right. But they happen to not do Google Ads. And so I can run reports and brand them with their agency and all this other stuff. But what I want to do is, let’s take the Facebook example, I want to have someone partner with me and do white label Facebook Ads. But I don’t know how to describe that to my clients. Like, can I just say that yes, I do it, you know what I mean? Without saying, it’s this separate person, or so I’m wrapping my head around, like, now if I’m going to do this, and I find somebody that works really great, how to make that work well. But it’s funny, because I do it for other people. But I have a hard time finding people who can do it the same way.

Adela Mei
There’s quite a few elements we can unpack in there. So one would be, if you wanted to present yourself more as a full service agency, being radical, you can completely drop the Google Ad service, because that’s something that you’re white labeling kind of behind the scenes. And as you said, with some clients, maybe that would be a next step for them as I can add on further down the line in the process of working with you.

So you could take that off the menu. I think I’m hungry, because everything’s about food today in my calls. But you could just take that off the buffet, so it doesn’t muddle who you are presenting yourself to the world to ‘be’. It doesn’t mean you’re not doing it anymore. You’re still doing what you’ve always done with that. But it seems to steer towards white label work with other agencies. So they need to know that you do that. But a new client coming to you, if I was coming to you for ‘can you help me with launching my new business? I need a website and I need some social media and I don’t really know, can you help?’ Then you can say yes. Taking me in my entirety, right for branding, walking through all the different processes, if I understood you, right? That’s more the kind of work you want to do.

Jean Barger
Yes, and I already, I just started this idea of white labeling, because I thought, if I can do it, then I can find people who can do it for me. So I have a copywriter who’s very good. And she’s already worked on a few projects for me. And we pretty much had like, I tried to figure out how to not tell my clients who she was. But for these first three, I went ahead and told them who she was, that she has her own company, I’m bringing her in. One of them or two of them paid her directly. No wait. Well, one paid directly. One, I included it with my website setup fee. And one, they said no to it. So what I did is I billed them just whatever her fee was on top of mine, and then they paid my fee. That’s ridiculous. But and then later, after I paid them, they said, You know what, we do want to do that. And I was like, Well guess what? No problem. Already done.

So those are just three very random situations. But in all three cases, they knew who she was. But I’d like to get to the point where they don’t know who she is. So it’s like, which I think I can kind of work that out, it’s not too complicated with that one. But with the Facebook Ads, I think it’s more complicated.

Adela Mei
I mean for the copywriting, in terms of language, you can just say, ‘Well our team do that’. Just say ‘our team’ or ‘our agency’ or ‘we’. If I was using someone else to help me like with design or something I would say ‘we’ but I wouldn’t say the exact person.

Not just because maybe I don’t want the client to contact them directly because that wouldn’t really work. Because, you’re working in a collaborative process. But it’s more maybe I have a few people I go to depending on the job. As you have a few people that depending on what you need, you go to different people. So you’re just saying ‘we’ then you’re being transparent, it’s not you individually doing absolutely everything. What I’m hearing is you want to be transparent, but you don’t want to share all your tricks.

Jean Barger
Yes. And I don’t want it to get like if they’re contacting her directly and not including me, then it’s very confusing.

Because my strength is definitely in project management. So I can do everything. But the strength is project management, keeping people on track, and all this other kind of stuff. So okay, so that makes sense. So because I’m not paying them a salary, I feel like are they really my team? I guess they are, we’re working together.

Adela Mei
You know, I think if I’m collaborating with someone, even if it’s just someone I will speak to about something to sound something out, they’re on my team, they’re helping me.

Jean Barger
Yes, that’s true. We’re on the same side.

Adela Mei
Even though there’s no financial transaction, but we’re all a team, we all help each other, and I think we don’t need to be so transparent with our clients to say, Oh, well, if, if we break something in the database, then we ask someone else to help us. We don’t need to do that. But I think I don’t think clients think that we’re just one man, one women shows and we do absolutely everything. That would be quite impossible to not have a network of helpers.

I don’t know, I lost my drift there a little bit, but I think it’s about ..

Jean Barger
I’m right on track with it.

Adela Mei
So I pull my support from so many different sources. Depending on the project, some might just be a conversation, it might just be an email, or just checking, am I doing this right? Or is there a better way? That’s all teamwork? Really.

Jean Barger
Yes. It is.

Adela Mei
I don’t need to say to my clients, oh, well, I needed so and so to help with some copy editing because I couldn’t quite get it right. Or I watched this YouTube video about how to do this in, I don’t know, Canva, because I couldn’t work the design out. We don’t need that kind of transparency.

Jean Barger
Right. Yeah, that’s for sure. That’d be really confusing. Like what?

Adela Mei
The biggest thing I’ve noticed is that when we say to clients, well we have someone we work with to do that. Most of the time, they’re relieved because they don’t want to deal with a designer, a developer or someone else that’s it’s like too much. For the client to project manager that might suit some clients, but most I know, that I’ve worked with, they want me to manage, they want me to get all the pieces working together. They’re like, can you do all of that? Just please, can you do that all for me? I’m like, Yeah. Oh, thank God someone is taking this responsibility and they’re doing it for me, Hallelujah.

Jean Barger
Yes. Oh, that is so true. It’s kind of like a bringing in a house contractor. You’d rather him bring in the electrician and the plumber and all that stuff.

Well I’m gonna think about this. And also think about removing the Google Ads, because that has been something that, like, I still want to offer Google Ads to my clients, but I honestly rather do white label, because I can work with one person, and they might have, five or 13 clients. That’s way more efficient.

Adela Mei
Yeah, it comes down to that as well it is much more efficient. And you still offer it as part of a service to a bigger project with a client. That’s what I would like, I can see it pinging off the website for now, you can always put it back. Remember, when you change your site or your services, it doesn’t mean forever. If you try it for a few months, and if it doesn’t sit right, you just bring it back and try again.

But that feels like the oddball there, it’s just this sort of little part of this bigger offering that you want to evolve into offering, for new clients to come to you for other things. They probably don’t even know what a Google Add is.

Jean Barger
Yeah, no they don’t really.

Adela Mei
So you’re offering, you’re trying to attract new clients with something they either a) don’t know what it is or b) that’s what they want. But that doesn’t seem to be a more profitable way of working. One on one just doing the Google Ads unless you really, really really enjoy it. That would override everything. If you really love it.

Jean Barger
That’s the tricky part because Google Ads is more fun. Because website design, it’s weeks, there’s all this back and forth. Whereas with Google Ads, it’s mostly me. I get some input from the clients, but they really don’t know what they’re doing. They don’t know, it’s kind of like SEO, they don’t know what keywords to use, and the copy that makes sense. So on a smaller scale to a website, it’s like copy and keywords and things. And the technical part. So that it is tricky. It is tricky, because I do, it comes easier to me than the website stuff does. So that, yeah, that’s a whole other thing, I’ve thought about this, like, oh, man.

But I think that, as far as new clients coming in, I definitely want them to see me more like a partner, like a small team taking care of all your digital marketing needs. And to be honest, they don’t know. They don’t even really know what that means. So it’s kind of like, technical stuff. And I, will tell you, we’ll talk, I’ll tell you what you need, and then let’s get started kind of thing.

Adela Mei
I’m not sure you know, this, when you’re writing your copy explaining, , what you’re going to be achieving, rather than saying, I mean digital marketing, even I don’t think I exactly know what that is, and it’s my job. It’s just words. What do they need for their business? Those are the things that you provide, because we’re service providers. At the end of the day, if we sort of drill it down, we’re providing services to people.

So how can we help them with different aspects of their business? It’s interesting, because it’s a similar process I went through to then do the strategy, because ultimately, when I do audits, that will often recommend a web a new build or rebrand, or I don’t know, some email marketing strategy or something, there’s always going to be elements that come out of it, that I’m in a position I can choose, do I want to take that web build on myself? Shall I refer? Do I want to carry on working with that particular client? Or do I want to find someone else who would be better suited for them? So the audit I do ends up just being a really good way of getting a feel for your new client. Are you a long term partnership? Are you going to carry on? Or is this a piece of work that gives you some really strong actionables to then go away and implement, maybe with other agencies or freelancers. So that’s part of my my process with it is start sounding people out, so I don’t know if that is a similar thing for you. It’s not just jumping in with a specific we’re doing Google Ads, you know, that’s, that’s what we’re doing.

Jean Barger
When you talk about the long term client, that’s definitely more of what I want, like the partnership, because I don’t want to just do a website and be done. I want to put them on my maintenance plan. You know, that kind of thing. And it’s a real challenge, also because they, you have to prove the value of that maintenance plan. And every month since I started it, I’ve been, it’s a little bit like, Oh, am I doing enough? You know, there’s a little bit of that still, like making sure that I’m doing enough and so that they will keep going and not want to cancel. So I don’t I’m sure everyone struggles with things like.

Adela Mei
I mean, do you feel that you’re doing enough?

Jean Barger
Yes, I think one of the things that, let’s say, some of my older websites, where I had to install like three plugins to achieve what they needed, and now there’s a new plugin that I’ve used since on newer builds, and I’m thinking, I could just install that one plugin on their site and get rid of the three. But I have to keep reminding myself, that is really not my responsibility. Like really, I mean, I can tell them about it like that, you know, and they can make a choice, but I shouldn’t just be randomly thinking of free work for me to do, which I do do that.

Adela Mei
But if that was I don’t know, depending on the plugins, but that felt like a grey area to me. I would probably do that if I was maintaining their site and I saw that, and a part of my job was so updating plugins and a theme and WordPress. I would probably just do that. In fact, I do do that.

Jean Barger
Yeah, I feel a little better that there’s someone else. Okay, well, that’s good.

Adela Mei
I think there’s more structured, rigid ways to do things that I, and this is just my personal take and experience on it, it’s great when you start to have these sort of rules. And this is what you do. And this is what you don’t do. If we put that in the context of wanting to work more long term with people. I have a few clients on maintenance plans, I built their sites. And slowly, slowly, we do little tweaks each month, and I do put blog posts up for them. And I don’t charge them extra. Because they’re just starting their business. And it’s like, I understand how that’s gonna help them because that’s my job. I do it within my hour limit, you know, that, I guess, maintenance and an hour. So if they send me a simple blog, not a big complicated, anything like that very simple text and image, I will do that for them purely out of generosity. And purely because it will help them, the more it helps them it will help me, the more their business grows, the more my business grows. So when they’re ready to launch their course, or they’re ready to do some more intense marketing, who are they going to ask? They come back to me, and they’re going to ask me. So it’s like all these little steps .. Yes on one level, it’s free. And we’re creating all these free jobs for ourselves. So I’m absolutely guilty of that completely. But I also see a bigger picture that some clients might just need a little bit of extra help. And we just need to discern which look which ones.

Jean Barger
Yeah, that’s great. I’m glad you said that. Because that’s been I’ve been kind of a little bit struggling with that. Because I do tend to do some free work. And I do think about that up to an hour, but sometimes it’s like, two hours. And then I’m like…

Adela Mei
That is a little bit naughty. I always go on, I’m a real feeler, I feel my way through things. And I do charity work as well. So my paid work is paid. My charity work is free 100%. And then there’s a little gray area in between where I have a few clients who I want to help, they have slightly lower rates, I do little extras for them, and I don’t charge them. It’s how I choose to do my business, I think is what it really, really comes down to. And then there will be different clients where we work in a different way, especially if they if their revenue is higher, and what I’m doing is helping them generate revenue, that’s a different matter. It’s a bit more. It’s not non negotiable. I think nothing is non negotiable. But bigger businesses, can pay per hour per job, you know, for what you do. Smaller clients, I don’t think they all have that liberty. Because I want to have a nice hourly rate of about 100 pounds. Some of my clients would just fall over, they’d be, there’s no way they can possibly do that. And do I say, Well, I’m sorry, I want to work with bigger clients now. Go and find someone else. No, I can’t. No. So I have different strategies, different price points, different types of clients.

Jean Barger
Okay. That’s helpful to me actually as I’ve been trying to standardize. I’m more standardized now. Before I was way all over the place. And so at least now I have like a menu so, that only I can see. And so I look at it, and so I know what I’m doing. So if I say okay, for this client, I’m gonna just go ahead and you know, include this and yeah. I’m glad to hear there’s somebody else like me though, because I’ve been feeling like, I could be making more money but then there’s this other part of me that doesn’t really need to make more money. So, what I really want to do is share my gifts and make tech easy for people.

Like I just want to make it easy because one of my pet peeves is always that type person that’s like, big sigh and then they’re like, Oh, this is gonna be a lot of work. No he just needs to do this one thing it’s gonna take like 15 seconds. I can’t believe it. Yeah, so I’m trying to protect people from those kinds of people. And, that’s one of the things some people come with that kind of perspective like, oh, gosh, and so I want to be that trusted partner. No you can trust me, I’m not going to do crazy things. But then when something does take a long time, or longer than then we think it’s going to take then I’m like, oh, man, I really should be charging for this. So I do kind of feel it out, or I’ll tell him like, Hey, this is gonna count for this month’s maintenance plan and next month’s hour of time, so I’ve done that before, but I’m like, but I think it’s okay.

Adela Mei
I mean, I think you said if, if you focus on being of service and being of value, the financials do tend to take care of themselves. And I find it’s just, it’s less stressful, because you’re not focused on billing by 15 minutes, or should I be charging. You’re just focusing on doing the work and being the best you can be and I honestly think sometimes you might put a bit more in, you win some, you lose some. If you did a job that suddenly, I don’t know if you’ve had this experience where you do something and it gets done so much quicker than you thought it just kind of everything happens. I mean, that doesn’t happen to me all the time. But when that happens, I don’t give a refund and say, Oh, well, by some act of God, I only did that for half an hour. And I thought it was going to be to two days, you know, I wouldn’t give them money back. Do you know what I mean? So I think it works both ways. You might gain on one hand, lose on the other, but overall it balances out. I mean, that’s the way of the universe. I totally believe that.

Jean Barger
Yeah, yeah, definitely. I definitely think it all works out and you get what you really want.

I think talking through things with an outside person is valuable, and in particular, someone who understands what I’m doing. From what I’m currently doing, that is working or not working for me, to where I see my business in the near future. 

You’re also a very holistic person, so you look at the whole person, which resonates with me. I really enjoyed our conversation and hope we stay connected.

Jean Barger

Creative Director, Zen Monkey Marketing

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