Episode 4: Listen To Your Customers

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Updated Jan. 12, 2022 Published Nov. 22, 2017 18 Min. Read

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Listen To Your Customers

How do you decide which new products will be successful and which will be failures?

Russ continues last week’s conversation on value by looking in the most obvious place (that we all seem to forget) in this week’s episode of the Russ Perry Show – Listen To Your Customers!

He dives into some of the mistakes Design Pickle has made in its 3-year history and the triangle of value that is guaranteed to make your next launch successful.


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– Russ Perry show. Live to you today. It is two days before Thanksgiving. You know what I’m thankful for? I am thankful for, well, just continuing the streak of the Russ Perry shows. I cannot believe that. We’re on episode four. We got a lot more ahead, but today, we are continuing in our conversations around value. And actually, today, I’m gonna be talking about how you can find value in the most obvious of places, and that’s actually listening to your customers.
So, welcome to the Russ Perry show.
I don’t know if you noticed, but actually, last week, I forgot to do the intro segment. I just jumped right into things, and, well, my producer Janet let me know halfway through the show while we were taking a commercial break, you forgot the intro. So we’re back on track with our schedule here.
But we are talking all about values, and if you missed out on last week’s episode, we talked a lot about what the value is, and what you’re doing, and what you’re creating, versus what probably is the easiest representation of the measurement of that value, and that is in dollars.
I actually had a really, really interesting comment from one of my close friends, Kristen Shaffeur, she is a schoolteacher here in northern Arizona, and she made a really interesting comment about, you know, when we had the question, kinda that theoretical question like, does your bank account represent the value you’re creating? And her answer was an unequivocally no. It doesn’t. And I have to give a shout out to Kristen, because what I saw in that was a misalignment in what we value as a society.
Now, I am doing the entrepreneur YouTube streaming kind of thing, but there is an entire work force out there that is just literally grinding and doing what they believe is true, and their unique value, and that’s teaching our future generations. Whether that is at the primary age, junior high, high school, I currently have kids in two out of three of those school systems, junior high and primary, but as a society, you can measure what a society values by the ways in which people are compensated.
Now, I completely disagree with the fact that teachers are under compensated. I think they should literally, if we’re wanting to bank on United States being a leading economy in the 21st century, the last thing we should be doing is under funding education. And now what we’re doing and we’re teaching is hey, kids, if you wanna make money, why don’t you make stupid ass Play-Doh videos on YouTube all day long? Because that is where we’re seeing culture go. The brands of YouTube, the brands of commercial, the brands of content. And I’m as guilty as the next person. Why do we do this show? It’s content. It’s the delivering of message to our audience every week as well as to grow an audience.
But I argue that if you are in a position in which the bank account does not represent the value in the case that my friend Kristen is in, there needs to be a new conversation, which is probably not an easy one to have about how could we solve those problems? How could we get teachers more compensated, or shift the value systems that we have? Now, one area that I’ve seen is how democratized education has become in terms of online and on demand education.
So, if you are able to teach, if you have the gift of teaching, there are multiple platforms out there in which you can take matters into your own hands, and create and sell content that people will pay for and value in those market forces. I just had this crazy thought, is like, what would happen if we had entire educational systems that we could pick and choose the teachers that we want to be taught by our kids that wasn’t dictated by the school district in which we live in?
Now, this is actually done in some countries. I remember reading recently an article about several south Korean or Korean teachers that do private lessons online, and they make six figures through their online learning courses that they teach and sell online. So, it’s coming. My mom, she’s a schoolteacher in the Mesa school district, and she told me about how there’s a site called, I think it’s called Teachers Pay Teachers, in which teachers can create content for other teachers, and it’s an economy there.
So, Kristen, I thank you for all the effort that you put towards your career in teaching. I know it’s not an easy battle, and thank you for the insightful comment, and just another way that we can look at how value is perceived and represented in today’s economy.
So, before we get to the break, what we’re gonna be jumping in afterwords, is actually talking about different ways that you can create more value to your current clients. Now, this is an interesting topic for us here at Design Pickle. Literally, we’re coming up on our third year birthday in, well, a little less in two months, in January 2018, and we have been selling the exact same thing with a few little exceptions. We launched a premium stock photography service a couple months ago, but since we launched, all we have been selling, and the value we have been providing is one tier of graphic design service.
And so, over the last few weeks, we’ve had this new product that we’ve been developing, and if you’re tuned in as a client, you already know what it is. But after the break, here, we’re gonna be sharing what this is, or I’m gonna be sharing what this is, I talk about we ’cause I have my producer here in the office, as well as how we got to this new product that we’re gonna be launching.
But before we get there, I wanted to have a quick commercial break for our product line. I’m gonna plug it again. If you really love my. Let’s see if I can get on the, here. Here we go. The sweet gold pickle. Obey the Pickle scenes. Cool hats like this. You should definitely check out our merch brand. It’s at obeythepickle.com. Get it all checked out. Get some merch. Holidays are right around the corner. So, here’s a quick commercial for our brand, Obey the Pickle.
I was just trying to be super cool like my team there. I mean, come on. We look like we’re freaking models, here. Kudos to the team. They love getting out there, repping the brand. Definitely check our merch brand out. We actually had sent out a lot of these materials and shirts and things at the live event, but we decided that we wanted to, I wouldn’t necessarily start a new business, but go through the experience of starting a merchandise line. The branding within apparel is really interesting to me. I find it to be this huge economy that I just don’t quite understand. So, definitely check it out, and, on Black Friday, or Cyber Monday, I don’t know which one we’re gonna do, we’re gonna have some smokin’ deals on the merch, so for that Pickle lover that you know dearly, you’ll be able to get them hooked up.
But we’re back, and we’re having this ongoing conversation around value. And I’m gonna shift the conversation today, because I wanted to talk about where you can create new value, as well as the mistakes that we have made, or that I have personally made along the way, in trying to figure out new things inside of Design Pickle.
Now, if you’ve been following my story for some time, let’s rewind to 2016. I really got on the online course and content bandwagon. In fact, one of my close friends, Travis Rosser, he’s one of the founders of Kajabi, which if you haven’t checked it out, Kajabi is an all in one solution for selling content online. Primarily learning content. So, let’s say you’re a world class knitter. You like to knit hats and knit cactuses and whatever people like to knit. You could teach classes, sell those classes, manage your audience, market, do email, all of that from one platform, which is Kajabi.
So, I got an account with Kajabi, and I was like on the E-learning bandwagon. Like guys, I’m gonna change Design Pickle, and I’m gonna sell courses, and we’re gonna create all this new value for our clients. So, we went out and we got the domain Pickle University, we set up Kajabi, and we started to create all this content and clients.
Now, my theory about what I was doing, was on paper pretty accurate. We have clients coming in for graphic design. What else could we provide and create of value to sell them? ‘Cause we’re a for profit business, so we want to maximize that revenue, and no better way to create more revenue or create more value than with the clients who already trust you. And so, we went out, and I went out, and I created all these courses, and I did a branding course, we did design courses, and we packaged them all up, and we went and we sold them to our clients.
Now, the first mistake that I made was in the offer. Because in my, I guess, lack of confidence in my course, because I’d never done one before, I dangled a huge carrot in front of our audience’s face. And that carrot was, hey, sign up for my course, and get free Design Pickle. So this, in hindsight, was a big mistake. Because our Design Pickle service is actually a good money maker. Around 370 dollars a month. So, I was selling a course for, let’s say, I forget the exact numbers. 1,200 dollars, but I was also giving you 1,200 dollars free of Design Pickle. And I was marketing it to our current clients.
So, you can see the problem here. I was taking revenue from Design Pickle, and literally just moving it over to the course. I wasn’t creating new revenue, I was creating new value, but on top of that value, I was creating a ton more work, a ton more management, a ton more distraction, without any increase in what we were taking home. So the problem here, first of all, is when you’re looking to create new value for your current clients, make sure you’re not cannibalizing what you’re currently doing.
The biggest mistake any one could make when launching new products and services, which is a mistake I have made so many times, is that we get distracted from the main thing. You need to keep the main thing the main thing. Think that’s a famous quote. I forget who said that. The main thing is what pays your bills. The main thing is what keeps the lights on. So, if you are about to embark in anything new, do not cannibalize the main thing.
And you will find all sorts of reasons why you could justify getting distracted from the main thing, but I assure you, there are far more people out there who need help with what you’re currently doing, and it’s gonna be easier to grow and scale what you’re currently doing than to start something new.
So back to the story of launching the online learning courses. I created this new course, but I really blew it in terms of how I sold it. I just stole revenue from Design Pickle, and I moved it to this new course. Now, the course was a great course. I had a lot of great students go through the course. We taught them everything about branding, and marketing, and inside ball on what we’re doing at Design Pickle, but at the end of the day, it was just a shit ton of work, and I was exhausted. Working with a class and teaching them was a lot of work. And I realized, at the end of the day, too, our clients that are signing up for Design Pickle were not really expecting us to sell them a course.
Now, I could see the flip be true, where I start with a course, and I give you some type of value that then logically, the upsell to that is Design Pickle. But we were doing it all backwards. So, we did nothing. We close down the course. We kinda retired Pickle University. I think this website might still be up. But I did nothing. And for pretty much the rest of the year, and almost all through 2017, we just beat the same drum. Boom boom boom boom boom. Design services, design services, design services.
Then, around, I don’t know, I’d say, August or September, I forget the exact month, we started to realize that there was a huge gap in terms of our designers, and being able to legally and safely source stock photography. We were using all sorts of libraries that were categorized as royalty free and creative licensed for us to use, but it was this kind of gray area. So, I hit up Getty Images. Actually, they emailed me, kind of out of the blue, although we were already considering them. And Getty Images is like the leading stock photography site in the world. So we inked the deal with them, and at first, we were just paying for our clients to have access to 100 percent royalty free, commercially licensed stock photography, and we’re talking good stuff, here.
Well, the problem with that was, it was even worse than the course. Because we were providing new value to our clients, but we were charging nothing extra for it, and the more our clients used it, the more we paid. Because we basically paid per photo, on how much were used in the course of a month. So this was like a huge other mistake. And it leads me to my second lesson. Is if you’re going to do any thing new or create anything new of value for your clients, you need to be profitable on it.
With the course that I had created, at least I was neutral in terms of the profits. I wasn’t gaining money, but I wasn’t losing money. Getty Images was even worse. I was providing this service, and we were losing money on it. We were actually going into debt, because this Getty Images bill grew and grew and grew. So we made the quick decision to charge a nominal amount for access to this stock photography library, which at the current time is 25 dollars a month, and if you go look at the value of that, it’s a great value, because most stock photography sites are, like, 50 bucks a month, or 40 bucks a month, and you get 10 downloads, where we allow it to use it as much as you need in the course of a month for that 25 dollars.
So, this was our first actually successful new product, a new value that we created for our clients. We provided them something new. It wasn’t taking away revenue, it was generating new revenue, and it was in the right continuum for what a Design Pickle client might need. You need design services? Great, here’s our core service. You need better stock photography and images for our core service? Great, here’s a little add on.
So, we’ve been very successful with that, and we’ve always been thinking about, how else can we make sure to do this right? So, last week, I was going through a lot of year end review end process, kind of kicking that off, and I was just thinking about the one thing that we have been asked hundreds, if not thousands of times with our clients. And this is about Russ. I love your service. But it’s too slow. Could I get, like, one business day is too slow for me. That is too slow. I need real time access. Could I work with my designer directly? Is there any way we could have them working during our business hours, and we could get more stuff done?
And for years, we’ve said no. It just doesn’t work with our system. It doesn’t work with our processes, and especially doesn’t work with our price point, because that’s gonna be a whole different pricing model. But I was thinking about this, and I was like, you know what? We have been asked this for years. I wonder if we could pull this off?
And so, I started to do a little bit of digging and research. I said to my production team, hey, Carlo, what do you think we could do to have a team of designers, a small subset of designers working during US business hours? So we did the cost model on that. Then I thought to myself. Well, how could we facilitate this engagement, where it wouldn’t necessarily be a distraction to the current design team? And I thought to myself, dude, we have our new software, Jar. Jarhq.com, we can put all of our clients on that.
It’s a cool tool, there’s live interaction for the people who are on it, and the designers, if we were using it that way. And right before my eyes, I literally pieced together, in about 48 hours, a brand new product. That one, wasn’t a distraction. Two, generated real revenue, and the third point I’ll make today, it’s actually being demanded by our clients.
And so, this was the magic trifecta, and I’m pleased to announce, and if you haven’t already heard, we are now launching, in January of 2018, we’re calling it, let’s see if we can get it on camera here, oh, focus in. Focus in. Oh, I’m getting direction from my. I promise we’re gonna get cooler. We’re calling it the Day Shift. I know, great branding, right?
So, the day shift is going to be a real time, same time design service provided by Design Pickle. And all of the systems, all the processes, the tools, the software, the sort of unlimited model, that flat rate model that we’re gonna have, that’s all gonna be there. So, we’re really excited, but most of all, I’m excited that we’re expanding the value that we’re creating.
And so I’ll wrap up today’s Russ Perry show with just kind of a little recap. And the question to you is, when you’re looking to create new value, where can you create new value so that, a, it’s not a distraction, b, you’re actually making money on that, and c, the probably most important thing of all, it’s already being demanded by your current clients. Because if you can connect those three points into this triangle of new value. Gotta get a graphic on that, the triangle of new value. This is guaranteed to be a success.
Now, we’ve already started the pre-registration for the Day Shift. You have to be a current Design Pickle client, and we are one fifth sold out of the spots, with less than three days of promotion. We’re only launching with 50 people, that we’re gonna be launching in January, and we already have 10 people signed up. So, I’m super excited for this, and I hope that today’s lesson, you can see the path that we’ve taken, in order to identify new ways that we create value.
So, this wraps up the Russ Perry show, if you’re watching this live, thank you. If you’re watching this on the recording, I wanna have you go to designpickle.com/show and you can get subscribed to get notified when we launch new episodes, as well as other things that I’m working on behind the scenes here at Design Pickle. So, take it easy, and next week, just an announcement, we’re gonna be doing a live, livestream. I’m gonna be remote in California. We’ll still do the show, hopefully around 12:30. It’ll be from my phone. It’ll be fun. We’ll probably get some people interviewed on that. Have a great Thanksgiving everybody, and we’ll see you next week.

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