Maintenance as a concept isn’t sexy. Who enjoys maintaining their car, or technical appliances, or even taking their skis for a service after a fantastic ski season. In that case, how can we get excited about offering website maintenance as an additional value to our clients, and better yet how do you explain to them it’s essential to their website’s success.
In this article I will attempt to explain where WordPress website maintenance fits into the value ladder, how to get your client’s to climb the ladder, and I will show you a real life example, with a bit of help from my friend, how to actually sell WordPress website maintenance.
The value ladder
The Value Ladder is essential to your marketing, because as the title suggests you are providing your client’s additional value with each step, and they are giving you more money. Usually the first step is giving something away for free, or at minimum charge.
Let’s look at this concept in more detail. As a creative web agency, you are interested in offering small businesses an opportunity to grow their business by becoming viral. Say that a new law office specializing in human rights has reached out to you. They need to create a website and reach out to all other companies and organizations that believe in the same cause. How do you go from landing them as clients, to keeping them with WordPress website maintenance.
You climb them up your ladder. (no pun intended!)
Step 1 – Hook them in
In order to get your law firm to sign up, you need to convince them they actually need a website and a good one too, and lawyers are not an easy crowd. Offer them something for free. Perhaps get them to sign up and receive an e-book that contains case studies of businesses going online and gaining more clients. “How to grow your business with a quality website?”, or something a bit racier, “5 Businesses that tripled their ROI with our service”.
Step 2 – Create a basic concept
You know how good you are at creating websites, designing logos and marketing their services, and it’s tempting to rush in and give them everything. Don’t. Start by creating a simplified version, downloading WordPress installation and a quality theme. Do the basics, show them and tell them what else you can do and how much better it would be.
Step 3 – Do the full design
This is the most fun part. Get creative and WOW them with your website. Do the full works. Customize the theme, add in all of the plugins, widgets, menus that can make their website better. This is where you can truly show off your skill set.
Step 4 – Offer marketing
After you have shown them their website, explain that it’s not going to be seen by many unless they invest in marketing. What good is a great website if no one sees it? This is where you draw them in, and take them to the high part of your value ladder. Tell them why you are the perfect candidate to increase website traffic and land those conversions.
Step 5 – Offer website maintenance
As a final step in order to keep them as a client, you need to offer them website maintenance service. Having an elegant and powerful website, and a successful marketing campaign is an ongoing effort. You can carry on helping your clients if they agree to sign up for a website maintenance plan. You land yourself recurring monthly revenue, and they don’t have to think about maintenance, which like I mentioned is generally a burden for all of us.
Note: It’s true that you can charge more for creating a website, than you can for website maintenance. In that sense the immediate price is higher lower down the ladder, but long term your client will spend more on your service as a whole.
As you can see WordPress website maintenance, although a less exciting concept, is at the top of your value ladder.
The art of upselling
Going from step to step requires you to master the art of upselling. It’s getting people to buy more, by suggesting what else they need.
A friend of mine explains this concept with a great example.
– Would you like fries with that?
– No thanks, just a cheeseburger.
– Would you like to try our new hot, crispy delicious apple pie?
– No thanks, just the bill please. Actually, did you say apple pie?
– Yes, it’s delicious. I have one a day!
– Oh really, ok in that case I’ll take one.
– Great, I have added it to your order, anything else?
– Yea, why not add the fries as well.
– Ok no problem, shall we do a meal deal for you, you get a free drink with that?
– Sounds good.
The customer went in to McDonald’s wanting a cheeseburger, and came out with a meal deal. If you look around you will see upselling everywhere. It’s the first skill I learned at my first job, selling cheese at the Cambridge Cheese Shop. If someone had told me then that being able to sell San Daniele prosciutto and figs with Caprino cheese at age 15, would help me market a WordPress website management tool at age 26, I would have never believed them.
How to upsell website maintenance
As a cheese expert (or I like to think myself one) and not a web care professional, I got in touch with a professional who sells web care plans every day, and I want to share his knowledge with you.
Kenny Lange, founder of PHNX21creative Agency, that offers web design, inbound marketing, brand identity and web care, shared with me his way of upselling web care packages. He does it with a car analogy.
Caring for or maintaining a website is a lot like caring for or maintaining your car. It’s a lot less expensive and less time consuming to have a professional to look after it on a regular basis than to take it in the shop when something goes really wrong. – Kenny
Rather than paying once a huge sum of money when your website goes down, you can have it looked after on a regular basis for a lot less. Kenny also mentioned “less time consuming”, and this is another key point. You leave it up to the experts, who do the heavy lifting, while you can focus on what really matters.
Like with selling prosciutto to go with your cheese, or apple pie with a cheeseburger, your approach needs to be tailored to the client and their industry. A vegetarian is not a great candidate for a San Daniele sales pitch.
Here is an example of how Kenny does that. He tells me, “I include support time for small changes and updates so that the client feels like all they have to do is pick up the phone or shoot off a quick email, and their site is up-to-date instead of going through a formal process of a quote.”
Kenny in this instance considers what is easier for this type of client and offers them a comfort blanket in the form of a phone call or email. It’s important to remember that this is just his way of upselling web care plans, you can find your own metaphor. However, make sure it covers these points:
- Giving clients’ their time back by giving them 1 person/agency to contact that deeply understands their website.
- Proactively improving their website and keeping them up-to-date on best practices and SEO developments.
- Giving them monthly reports so that they can tie what they’re paying and the value the agency brings. (aka transparency)
Kenny believes in his service so much he says –“I typically tell clients that if I’m not doing what I said I would, then they should fire me.”
In order to communicate the value of WordPress website maintenance to your clients, you need to realize that it belongs at the far end of your value ladder. Create a business structure that clearly reflect each step of the ladder. Find a way that’s unique to you to upsell at each stage, and be creative when explaining the value of website maintenance to your clients.