Today is a very special day, well for me at least – on one hand it’s exciting to celebrate the launch of a new company, on the other hand, it feels like a summary of everything I’ve done for the past 19 years.
We created a full announcement for WP Feedback and how it can help you save time while serving your clients in a new, visual and exciting way, but here, I’d like to take a few minutes to tell you my story.
About a kid from a small town, in a tiny country, that wanted to be a rockstar and discovered a passion for design, business and WordPress.
Music, business and websites
I built my first website 19 years ago on GeoCities when I was 14 years old, it was scrappy and extremely bright coloured. I made it for my skateboarding crew with my friends from school.
I remember how exciting it was to simply go online.
Back then, when ever we connected to the internet it would take over the land line for the entire family, so I was only allowed to connect for just 1 hour per day.
So I spent the days fiddling with Front Page, just waiting for my 1 hour to upload the code and share the updates with my MIRC friends (kinda like a Stone Age version of Facebook).
That’s about the time I also picked up a guitar for the first time.
I borrowed a cheap electric guitar from a friend to learn on my own and impress a girl I liked.
But that first day was so inspiring I ended up sleeping with the guitar next to me in bed. It was love at first chord.
I was obsessed and quickly became pretty good (for a kid), formed a band with some friends and started performing at school and local events.
For the next decade I focused on becoming the best rock musician I could.
I realised that a band is a business and being kind of a niche band, I knew it was up to me to do it, so I started researching entrepreneurship, marketing and design.
I read every book I could buy on the subject, got certified as a business and digital consultant, and learned WordPress and the entire Adobe suite. All while attending music college and performing in venues across the country on the weekends, AND holding a job as the youngest top guitar salesman at the biggest music shop in the country.
These years were fun but tough and despite all my efforts, the band wasn’t doing very well.
After all that study, I thought I’d have my own episode on Cribs already!
We decided the band needed a change.
We rebranded, wrote new stuff, this time in English to maximise our reach, and did an online launch using everything I learned.
Within a month of the launch, my local band from a small town in Israel was signed to release an album worldwide through a British label.
We were stoked!
We decided to drop everything, come to the UK and start touring Europe. And so we did!
Starting from scratch, we began building our audience at small venues and pubs, while really pumping things up online.
We went from playing to sometimes less than 10 people to hundreds, then thousands. Playing with some of the artists we grew up listening to.
It was pretty amazing, but I was still broke!
The word spread of my designs and campaigns I was doing for the band and online, people started approaching me with job offers to help with their websites and Facebook accounts.
So I started a web design business from the back of the van.
McDonalds was my best friend on the road as they always had decent WiFi. And no matter where we went, there was always one around the corner.
And then we reached a new milestone on our journey, just after the biggest show we ever played, the band split up.
I was devastated.
I gave years of my life to the guys and our music and it was kind of shocking seeing how little control I had when we were all equal partners in this.
That’s when I decided to start building a business on my own, using my rediscovered passion for the web and WordPress in particular.
I was always a ‘band kinda guy’ and I believe in the power of a driven team that works together for a common goal.
But I also knew that I needed to steer the ship and have the power to build something that is bigger than the sum of its parts.
The WP community allowed me to feel like I’m still part of a ‘band’, while being in control of my destiny.
So, I was already freelancing, pretty much, full time and holding back because I couldn’t really hire anyone while I was touring. But now I could.
Within the first year I’ve reached my 6 figure goal and we kept growing since.
It took long days and nights, and I bootstrapped the entire thing, literally starting from nothing to serving hundreds of clients over the years.
So how did we scale this thing?
As the agency grew, the profit margin was shrinking.
And as we started doing bigger projects, the scope of the work grew and became more unique from one project to the other, requiring more attention and customised solutions to fit our clients’ goals and needs.
It became pretty clear that while it is doable to scale an agency, it’s pretty damn hard and very risky.
Having huge payrolls with small margins is dangerous.
A couple of months with fewer sales and you’re done.
Having monthly website care plans really help create stability to some degree but the majority of the income is still based on large projects.
My plan was to grind it out and work on systematizing things further to increase profits while working on an online course to help our clients and others like them (a lot of them are charities) with digital strategies.
Oh… I see the problem here…
As I was looking for the holes in the bucket to increase profitability, 4 main problems kept coming back.
The 4 things that put my team (and future) in limbo.
– Clients take way too long to give us the content. No matter what we do.
– Clients don’t know how and take too long to approve designs and request revisions. No matter what we do.
– Clients keep reaching out for support in all kinds of creative ways. Instead of sticking to the systems we put in place.
– Most clients don’t end up using the website as a marketing tool. Even after our post-launch marketing strategy session.
There’s a communication problem
That was really annoying because I researched human communications extensively over the years as a way for me to improve my sales and marketing skills, as well as for being on stage as a lead singer (AND trying to understand happily drunk rockers that corner me after a gig).
Believe me, we tried everything from “Everything goes”, when I had clients contacting through Facebook, LinkedIn, emails, text messages, Skype, Hangouts, my mobile, at the office and the my least favourite, WhatsApp voice message 😫.
That was a nightmare, so the system evolved to work only with emails, office phone and spreadsheets.
That became massive and had very little context as to the details of the task.
Project management softwares and client dashboards. Which the clients rarely logged in to.
We’ve made tutorial videos on how to provide feedback, shared screenshots and wrote detailed replies, leading them by example.
All of these solutions worked to some degree, yet we’d still get messages like “there’s a misprint on the website, please fix it” or “can you replace the second image?” where, what, who?… nothing.
The main problem is that the client doesn’t know how to provide us with the details we need. For most clients, the technical level we expect from them is simply not there.
It scares them to face their own website.
They’ve purchased a website only once or twice in their lives and they don’t really know the value of the incredible marketing machine we created for them. No matter what we say, it’s not their reality.
I’m not even talking about the WordPress interface, that feels natural to us pros, but looks completely foreign to a lot of our and your clients.
I realised that we were approaching our client communications all wrong!
Instead of making things nice and easy for them, we were trying to enforce all these rules and technologies that they know nothing about.
And why should they? They have their business to worry about.
More than that, we had 3 different processes in place – for getting content, approving designs and providing support.
All taught to the client over a span of a few short months since starting our relationship.
There’s only one thing we need to teach them as website builders – how to feel comfortable and use their own website.
That’s when WP Feedback was born.
The idea was to rethink the way we communicate with our clients and provide them with an intuitive and super easy way to tell us exactly where the problem is, visually – something that relates to their reality. Even to make it feel a little like a game.
We needed 1 tool that will be the main hub of our communications for the entire duration of our client relationship.
It should give us as much technical details as possible to help us figure out what the client meant and in which scenario the issue occurred. Without the clients needing to do it themselves.
And it needed to look and feel like the other digital services and tools they are already used to using on a daily basis.
With the goal of providing a smooth transition into the WordPress interface, so that they can value the website and want to invest more into it. By adding more features to support their evolving needs or using it as a marketing tool for their business (as intended). Resulting in more work for us.
My amazing team and I have worked on this solution for months, just finished our beta stage and are now live!
The feedback for the plugin has already been incredible! With hundreds that signed up to our beta and early access groups within the first month, clients are loving it as we’re finally empowering them instead of confining them and for us and our beta testers, it saves so much time it’s crazy.
Looks like I now found a solution for my agency problem AND an incredible product that I’m sure will help propel me and my team to the next level.
I’d love for you to be part of this journey and I would really much love to help you and your clients improve your communications to form long, lasting and profitable relationships.
P.S. Thank you for sticking around and reading my story, it’s been a hell of ride so far and I’m just getting started 🙂
Some of the things I mentioned are very personal to me and it feels good sharing it with you.
This is one of the things I love about the WP community. The transparency and “one for all and all for one” approach makes me feel proud to be part of this family.
As we’re starting off, I would appreciate it if you’d help me get the word out across the community. Please share this post and let’s revolutionise the way we all communicate with our clients.