In this show case I would like to introduce you to Andy Black. I specifically asked Andy if he would star in my showcase because I knew he had been working on ‘product creation’ some time ago. Well, when he updated me on his business I felt his story would provide a valuable lesson in the importance of really knowing who your market is and providing what they actually need!
Often we can forget that selling products includes offering services. A service is still a ‘product’ but packaged up differently. Sometimes people don’t want to learn how to do something – they just want someone to do it for them!! 🙂 Check out Andy’s response to Q. 5!
Anyway here is my ’email interview’ with Andy.
1. What or who inspired you to start your own business?
It’s quite a normal route for IT support staff in the UK to go “contracting” and work on client sites. My choices back in 2000 were to move into management roles, or stay technical. I like being at the coal-face and learning so chose to stay technical. The obvious route for IT techies to earn more is to setup a limited company and charge yourself out at a daily rate.
After 5 years as a contract IT support techie I realised that I was always seen as a cost. Businesses begrudged paying me, and only did so to keep their systems running.
It took another 5 years to get out of IT contracting, as I tried various ways to be seen to add more value.
I wanted to do something that obviously added more value, and thought learning to create a website would help me do that.
The real break came back in 2009 when the economy was heading South. I had a friend who was an electrician and his work had dried up so much he couldn’t afford payments on his van and had to hand it back. He had a wife and two kids with another baby on the way and he must have been staring into the abyss back then. I can’t learn for the sake of learning, so asked my friend if I could build him a website to try and help him get some work. He bit my hand off down to my ankle, and I set to learning a bit of WordPress and installing a free theme.
I got him ranked top for “kildare electrician”, the county we live in here in Ireland, but he didn’t get any calls.
Then an AdWords voucher fell out of a book I’d bought, and I thought “what the heck, let’s try that.”
I still remember being on a client site in their IT support team when my friend rang me all excited saying “Andy, I’ve had a call”. I physically stood up and wandered around the office in a daze, thinking “wow… this actually works”.
It’s like I found a true purpose for all my technical skills and creativity – I can generate leads for local service businesses. Instead of being a cog in a big blue chip company, I can now help actual people keep a roof over their heads and food on the table.
2. Tell us a bit about it and the services you provide.
I’ve since had a couple of j.o.b.s as I reskilled, then I’ve gone back to being self-employed.
I’ve managed a team of 35 AdWords specialists spending €120k+ a day. I’ve managed a team of 4 AdWords specialists building 120m keywords and ads to drive 15k signups a day. I’ve driven calls to a call centre for tradesmen in the UK, created campaigns for the biggest insurance broker in Ireland, and work in a team driving sales for a worldwide online brand.
Currently, most of my revenue comes in as a contractor still. 🙂
I’m on client sites 9am till 3pm Mon-Thu running their AdWords campaigns. Sure, I don’t feel that I’m helping anyone directly, but those businesses can very directly see the value in the service I provide.
I also have a few smaller clients, and I work on their campaigns in the evenings.
3. Was this your original product idea?
People liked the way I explained how to generate leads and sales via AdWords. I put up a lot of posts on my blog, and posted a lot in forums. This lead to me building an email list that I emailed for a while, and building up some authority on forums. Which in turn lead to me doing some consulting for these smaller clients, and doing some coaching calls. It wasn’t something scalable, but I enjoyed the one-to-one interaction, and finding out deeper what people’s pain points and needs were. I thought I might bring out an info product or course.
4. What have you found most rewarding?
I really enjoyed demystifying AdWords. When I’m on a coaching call and looking over someone’s shoulder as they create an ad, and then 10 minutes later they do a search on Google and see their own ad, I get a buzz at their excitement. They thought it would be impossible to setup an AdWords campaign, and now their ad is running.
Sometimes they even shout to their wife to come have a look at the screen.
Hearing the penny drop has been the most rewarding.
5. What is the most important lesson you have learned with regards to creating products/services?
Whilst I enjoyed giving people what they wanted, I realised I wasn’t giving what they needed.
They learned AdWords quickly, and created some ads, but they’re not going to become full time AdWords specialists, and they can’t possibly do what I do with my 15 years IT and 6 years AdWords experience.
I realised that the 2 hour coaching calls could have been better spent if I build the campaigns myself, then handed them over.
They wouldn’t know how to build the campaigns at the end of that 2 hours, but they would hopefully get the end result… which are inbound leads.
It seems obvious now, but people don’t really want to learn AdWords. They don’t want to learn SEO, content marketing, how to create a website. They don’t want a yellow pages listing, or an ad on Google, or Facebook. They just want the leads and sales.
They might not think that at the start, but eventually they will realise that they want the result of this learning, not the learning itself.
6. Do you have a specific project you are working on at the moment? Please tell us about it!
So I’m now turning it on its head. I’m no longer interested in attracting prospects who want to learn AdWords, or want an AdWords consultant to build campaigns for them.
Instead, I’m going to generate leads for local service businesses, and give some free leads to contact businesses that can fulfil those leads.
If I give away 5 free leads to get a business signed up to buy future leads, then the cost of those 5 leads is my client acquisition costs.
I’m also moving away from having clients who I provide an AdWords service to, to having customers who buy leads from me.
I’ve a call-center lined up to accept the inbound calls and do the outbound calling. I’m getting the landing page created, and then will start doing what I do best – building AdWords paid search lead generation campaigns.
Thank you for sharing your story with us
If you’re interested in reading the full story about Andy’s electrician friend then visit his website here:
Would YOU like to feature on my website? If so, then contact me and I shall get things moving!