Dr. J.J. Peterson - Building A Business Beyond Hourly Billing

Dr. J.J. Peterson - Building A Business Beyond Hourly Billing

[00:00:00] **Jonathan Stark:** Hello, and welcome to Ditching Hourly. I'm Jonathan Stark. Today I am joined by head of StoryBrand, Dr. JJ Peterson. JJ has used StoryBrand to help thousands of organizations clarify their message in order to grow their businesses. He also teaches leaders how to leverage the power of story in marketing and messaging to get results through his marketing Made Simple podcast.

[00:00:18] **Jonathan Stark:** JJ holds a PhD in communication and has spent the last 20 years practicing and teaching communication theory. Jj, welcome to the show. Thanks for having me. This came to be because I was watching a recent webinar that you hosted called The Pricing Secret of the Highest Paid Marketers, and in the course of that video or that presentation, you said the phrase, you can't build a business on hourly billing.

[00:00:42] **Jonathan Stark:** So my ears perked up immediately, Uhhuh, and not only because that's a, the focus of this podcast, but I had been on the. Mailing list. It was a daily mailing list that I think was like an entire year long leading up to the launch of business made simple university. And I don't remember hourly billing being mentioned once.

[00:01:03] **Jonathan Stark:** So I was really intrigued to hear what you meant when you said you can't build a business on

[00:01:09] **Dr. J.J. Peterson:** hourly billing. Yeah, absolutely. One of the things that I like to talk about a lot is the idea that amateurs, I believe, build by the hour and professionals build by the project. And why I say that is because the more you are in business and the longer you are getting better and better at your craft, the faster it actually takes you to complete things.

[00:01:34] **Dr. J.J. Peterson:** You've also built this toolkit and experience that. It took you for many people, 20 years to build, right? You've created hacks and you've created shortcuts, and you've created databases and just experience and education. And so the longer you're in it, the faster you do things, and I really don't believe.

[00:01:54] **Dr. J.J. Peterson:** That you should be punished for being good at your job. So if I've been doing my job for one year and you've been doing your job for 20 years, which one of us is probably going to be faster at creating the work, right? You are. So that's one aspect of it, right? So I just don't think you should be punished for being really good at your job.

[00:02:13] **Dr. J.J. Peterson:** Now you can obviously then raise your hourly rates, but the other part about it is that. What happens is when you start selling by the hour, what you're, sometimes that feels a little vague about what is going to be accomplished and how much time it's gonna take and we build in kind of all of this stuff that feels a little ambiguous to our customers when instead of just saying, I'm going to bill you by the hour and we don't know Are you wasting that hour?

[00:02:43] **Dr. J.J. Peterson:** Are you ripping me off? Instead, when you build by the project, what you're ultimately selling is a deliverable. It's the end. Result and the end value that you're getting out of it. So instead of selling your quote unquote services, what you really are doing is selling value to the customer. What is this going to be worth for them at the end of this project?

[00:03:05] **Dr. J.J. Peterson:** And it actually puts things in a little bit stronger perspective and it's much easier to sell, quite frankly, when you say, I'm going to deliver this project by this date and this is what it's going to do for you. Versus, this is gonna take me probably about 10 hours and duh, and duh.

[00:03:22] **Dr. J.J. Peterson:** And then you have to add hours if it's, if you do it s slower or faster or things like that. So really, ultimately, I would argue that. It is easier to sell when you sell by a package or a deliverable, and also it punishes you for being really good at your job. So just name the price of the end result, show the value that you offer that to your customer and deliver that.

[00:03:49] **Jonathan Stark:** Okay. So you are preaching to the choir big time. What do you, or I don't know how deep you go into pricing. But yeah. What methods would you use to price that deliverable or that valuable outcome or that project?

[00:04:01] **Dr. J.J. Peterson:** There's a lot of different ways to do it and depending on the industry, obviously like that.

[00:04:05] **Dr. J.J. Peterson:** But I'm always looking at what is the value that it offers the customer. And so in StoryBrand what we often start with is the idea that can we deliver a 10 times return or 10 x value on what we're charging people And. If we can't, then one, they may not be our client, but two. Then we need to probably price it a little bit lower.

[00:04:28] **Dr. J.J. Peterson:** So that's where we start. It's not always that way because we have people who we've sold a say a $10,000 product to that made millions off of it. And we have sold some to people who don't make their money back very few. But that has happened. And what we end up doing in those cases is we actually try to still deliver on the value.

[00:04:47] **Dr. J.J. Peterson:** So if they're not getting their return on what we've given them, then we continue to work with them for a while until they do. Sometimes you just do have to cut, cut a client out, essentially fire client if it's not really working the way that it want, but, Our goal is to deliver value, not just complete a project and be done.

[00:05:05] **Dr. J.J. Peterson:** So that's where we start, is can we deliver a, can somebody get 10 x return on what we're charging them? Obviously if you're in the, software developing space or if you're in a marketer or digital creator, you wanna have a set minimum pricing structure of what kind of life do you wanna live and.

[00:05:25] **Dr. J.J. Peterson:** You wanna reverse engineer how much time you have to work on projects, what kind of life you're gonna create based on what you're getting out of that. And then ultimately can you deliver the value on it? So there's a lot of pieces that go into it, but we really just start with a simple number.

[00:05:40] **Dr. J.J. Peterson:** Can, are they gonna get 10 times their return? And it's not just, Forever is can they get a 10 times return within the next six to 12 months? And if they can, yeah. And so it, and sometimes that's a little hard for clients to understand, but I remember talking to my mother who was a my mom was a principal at a private school and they were having some enrollment issues and I.

[00:06:05] **Dr. J.J. Peterson:** Challenged her to reach out to a, one of our StoryBrand certified guides. One of the marketers we certify and said, what if you had them write a lead generator and an email sequence? And so my mom reached out and they came back and they said, we're gonna charge $5,000 for a email sequence. And my mom called me and said, I just can't.

[00:06:26] **Dr. J.J. Peterson:** I don't think we can afford that right now. That seems very expensive. And I said, okay mom, how many, how much is one new student at your school worth? And she said, $6,000. I said, okay, so you've never sent out emails, you've never done marketing before, and you don't believe you're not gonna get, you're going to, you're not getting one new student because of this.

[00:06:46] **Dr. J.J. Peterson:** And she was like, oh, you're right. I'm like imagine if you've got two or three, you have to stop looking at project spend. As an expense and more as an investment. And so showing clients what kind of return they're going to get is a huge way to position yourself as value in the field.

[00:07:06] **Jonathan Stark:** Okay. So the, I, you're completely singing my song, so that's, I love it.

[00:07:10] **Jonathan Stark:** We're the 10 x, everything is exactly what I talk about, so love it. Yeah. That's great. So two things crop up at this point in a conversation with someone who has not yet drunk the Kool-Aid. And the two things are guarantees and scope creep. Yes. So do you have a Ted talk on each one of those?

[00:07:27] **Jonathan Stark:** We can start with guarantees cuz you brought up already that it, it does occasionally happen that someone does not get their value. It does not get a positive roi, so you might continue to work with them longer than you intended with the hopes of creating positive customer satisfaction, customer satisfaction, which, could Yeah.

[00:07:44] **Jonathan Stark:** Perhaps turn into testimonial or referrals or whatever. So what do you counsel your, the people that you teach, what do you counsel with regard to guarantees specifically, and then we can do scope after that maybe.

[00:07:57] **Dr. J.J. Peterson:** Yeah. I try to stay away from a guarantee. Because ultimately it, people are looking for can you get your money back?

[00:08:05] **Dr. J.J. Peterson:** And what's the moment that I'm gonna ask for it back and all that stuff. And the reality is, if they've hired you and you've already spent time working on a project together, nobody is gonna be happy. If you have to give the money back, at the end of that, the client is not gonna be happy and you're not gonna be happy.

[00:08:18] **Dr. J.J. Peterson:** So it's not just that like you lose out, but the reality is, if you've been working on a project with them for six months and you give the money back they've wasted six months. Yeah. They don't want the money at that point. No, they want what you promised. So unless you just absolutely cannot deliver on it, then I go, let's talk about what that could look like on a refund.

[00:08:39] **Dr. J.J. Peterson:** But what I usually am looking for is value add. If they're not happy at end of a project, I'm gonna try to work with them until they're happy or figure out how I can add value in order to get them to where they feel good about it. So that's a, that's where I start. What that can lead into is, Scope creep, right?

[00:08:58] **Dr. J.J. Peterson:** Of where now I'm gonna work with this company for a year. They're gonna email me every day. They're gonna keep making changes. And so where you try to avoid that obviously, is setting really strong parameters at the beginning. So just even saying this changes need to happen within this amount of time, this is what I'm committing to, this is what we're committing to.

[00:09:20] **Dr. J.J. Peterson:** So you agree upfront and any time that the scope needs to change significantly. There needs to be another agreement, and you wanna sit down and just say, okay, so you're not, even if it's they're not happy, you're not happy in this moment, here's what we're gonna do. We're gonna have two more sessions on this and we're gonna email back and forth and really even setting parameters around that.

[00:09:40] **Dr. J.J. Peterson:** Like I. Who is the person that's going to email me? This is how much time I'm gonna give you to before I get back to you. I just did this with a client. It's not cuz they were unhappy, but because they were really excited about the work and they wanted to do a little bit more. And so I just said, okay then I need this back from you within two weeks and I'm gonna give, you need to give me 48 hours, see it back to you on it, and then we're gonna be done.

[00:10:05] **Dr. J.J. Peterson:** And after that, if more work needs to be required, we're gonna have to set up another call. I like that. So that's obviously both of those situations are in a perfect scenario where like they weren't happy and you do have the ability to move forward and help them be happy by adding more value versus giving them a discount.

[00:10:24] **Dr. J.J. Peterson:** And the second is that you are able to put parameters around the scope. From the very beginning and then moving forward. Now, the truth is that, I mentioned the phrase amateurs charged by the hour, professional charges by the project. When you're first starting out I don't love it, but I don't actually mind people's trying by the hour first.

[00:10:47] **Dr. J.J. Peterson:** Because you wanna see how long is it gonna take you to complete this project? How long what? What investment are you having to make at your time? And figure out what actually a solid billable rate is for you. And then when you figure that out, don't then continue using that hourly billable rate, but use it in your projections for.

[00:11:09] **Dr. J.J. Peterson:** The proposals that you're putting together in order to make sure that the project is profitable for both you and the client.

[00:11:16] **Jonathan Stark:** So I would call that basically in this scenario, that's like a cost plus pricing model. Yep, exactly. I'm a huge fan for experts. Who do projects, custom projects for using a value pricing model where the price is actually based on the value and then they reverse engineer and scope last what they would do for three different prices.

[00:11:36] **Jonathan Stark:** So if someone comes to you and they describe a situation, a transformation that they'd like to have, maybe it's a marketing firm or an agency that has 20 employees and they're doing, I don't know low seven figures and they need some internal. Workflow solution created and it's gonna benefit them in these ways.

[00:11:52] **Jonathan Stark:** And you calculate, ah, that at easily within a year they're gonna realize a hundred thousand dollars value out of this. Some sort of savings or incremental income, revenue, so forth. Then I would come up with three prices probably in the model I usually use is 10,000, 22,000 and 50,000. And then I would reverse engineer a scope.

[00:12:11] **Jonathan Stark:** Based on those budgets that I've given myself and say, what would I happily do? What would I be fist pumping happy to do for $10,000 to deliver a 10 x return or $22,000 to deliver? Not a 10 x return, but if they, if, if they want to opt into a higher level of service or more of my involvement, then you give them those options and you end up leaving potentially less money on the table.

[00:12:33] **Jonathan Stark:** If people are picking options two and three, it's wow, I was gonna price that at 10,000 and they just gave me 50 It's a different, it's a different approach and there are others, but do you get into that at all? Value pricing sort of scoping last a little

[00:12:46] **Dr. J.J. Peterson:** bit. In our program, we don't get into that a ton, to be very honest.

[00:12:50] **Dr. J.J. Peterson:** I don't, we, we don't train a ton on it because there really are so many different ranges of people who are independent contractors or who have. Small agency or bigger agencies. And so depending on what the scope of the project is, how many people are involved, pricing goes all over the place.

[00:13:06] **Dr. J.J. Peterson:** But we, what we recommend from I is a just understanding what your minimal pricing structure is. Of to even, like you said, that fist pump. I love that idea of what are you gonna like fist pump that you got this project, you were able to do it. And again, that's in the perfect scenario, but you really want to be able to say that the thing that I find more often than not is not that people are overcharging, but they're undercharging.

[00:13:31] **Dr. J.J. Peterson:** They don't value their own services enough or are almost embarrassed cuz they're like, it's really easy for me to do this. I can do it quickly. I'm like, it's classic. But that's because you, it took you so many years to do it, and you have the degree and you have the experience, and you have the connections to make things easier and you can hire other people to do stuff, but you're undervaluing your services.

[00:13:52] **Dr. J.J. Peterson:** If they're coming to you, it's because it's something that they either don't have the scope themselves to do or the knowledge. So they're looking for somebody who has your expertise, who can do it well and help them move forward, help them solve a problem. And so you wanna, you really wanna say, this is the minimum that I'm willing to work for.

[00:14:13] **Dr. J.J. Peterson:** And then we don't actually, even the interesting for us is we don't change our prices based on the size of company. Okay. If a company is a hundred million company or a company is a. $500,000 company we charge the same thing. We actually don't. We just say, this is our price, this is what it is.

[00:14:32] **Dr. J.J. Peterson:** Now the bigger companies, what we will do is increase the scope. So we might add, say if we're doing private workshops, then we might, for a small company, we do one private workshop. For a large company, we're doing three or four. So we're still doing the same, delivering the same products. We're just delivering more of them to the bigger companies than we do the little companies.

[00:14:53] **Dr. J.J. Peterson:** But we charge the exact same across the board.

[00:14:55] **Jonathan Stark:** On a unit basis yep. So I would, in my universe, we refer to that as productized services. Where you've got a sort of predefined scope of work that is published on your website or wherever at a fixed price. It doesn't change from client to client, and you can make them extremely profitable over time by decreasing your costs, increasing the value, increasing the price.

[00:15:18] **Jonathan Stark:** When as you get better at it, as you become more of an expert, more of a professional, you can find ways to automate and outsource and just really cut your costs without compromising the value that's delivered. I have found that it is a reliable approach for people who know what they're doing, creating productized services, which I would say training is a subcategory of product, their services.

[00:15:40] **Jonathan Stark:** So that's great. Value pricing that I was loading to earlier is really hard to learn. You need to be. You need to be really good at sales. And it's fairly rare that I come across an expert in a domain who is also really good at sales. Yeah. Yes. So productized service is a nice Goldilocks.

[00:15:57] **Jonathan Stark:** This one's just right middle ground.

[00:15:59] **Dr. J.J. Peterson:** Yeah. And it helps you predict your income. As a solopreneur or a freelancer you're able to then go, all right, this is the expectation. This is how many projects I need to bring in. This is how many hours it's gonna take. It makes it much more predictable.

[00:16:12] **Jonathan Stark:** Okay. So let's pivot a little bit based on something you said earlier where a client came to our imaginary provider here. So they were recognized as an expert at something that the buyer felt they needed. I don't know. It's software. We need a software developer who specializes in React front ends or whatever.

[00:16:31] **Jonathan Stark:** It's, and there are probably 500,000 of those if you Google for it. So how do you help people, the people that you coach and train and teach, help them differentiate themselves from the, how do you make them differentiate themselves from the hundred thousand other people who come up in the same search and.

[00:16:54] **Jonathan Stark:** I'm leading the witness a little bit here, but I'm going to imagine that it has to do with mailing list, podcasting, other sorts of marketing. So the floor is yours. So where would you go? Where would you start with a kind of generic React developer who's really good. But isn't meaningfully different from any other React developer in the eyes of their ideal

[00:17:15] **Dr. J.J. Peterson:** buyer and is And maybe even more expensive.

[00:17:18] **Dr. J.J. Peterson:** Definitely more expensive. That's where it really comes down to. A lot of times it's if you just base your, say marketing and your sales based on price, then you just make yourself a commodity. And you're just competing against other people just purely on price. If you just say, I'm gonna do the same message, say the same things, and where.

[00:17:38] **Dr. J.J. Peterson:** What I don't like about that, first off, is that you're not a commodity. What you bring to the table is more than just the services you provide, right? You, it's your expert, your personal expertise, the way you do things a little bit differently. And I've seen 99 cents stores or dollar stores before, and the other day I saw 97.

[00:17:57] **Dr. J.J. Peterson:** Sense. So it's like anybody can sell crap for cheaper, right? But it's still crap. So that's don't be that first off, don't just compete on price, but because you've, especially in this scenario, you're, you are good. You're really good at your job, you know you can deliver and in many ways you're probably better than a lot of the market.

[00:18:18] **Dr. J.J. Peterson:** So there's a couple ways to do it. We would say that the way you wanna differentiate that is through your marketing and through the story that you tell in your marketing. And at Story Brand, what we really do is we teach people that when you're creating marketing, lead generators, podcast, whatever you're putting out there, Any message you're putting out there, you don't actually want to p position you and your business as the hero of the story.

[00:18:46] **Dr. J.J. Peterson:** You wanna think of your marketing message. Being about the customer is the hero of the story. So instead of showing how you quote unquote are different, what you wanna show is that you solve specific problems for customers cuz it's all about their story. So the way you do that is identifying what pro your product and service, what problem your product and service actually solves.

[00:19:13] **Dr. J.J. Peterson:** Now, it could be the bottom line, like software developer, like we help develop software for you. You have a software problem. We develop software that actually, we complete your projects on time and under budget or whatever. You can do that, right? That's saying that the problem I'm solving for you is on time and under budget.

[00:19:31] **Dr. J.J. Peterson:** A lot of people probably say that one of the ways that you really can differentiate is talk about, let's say you're saying, everybody right now needs a. To the way the market has changed is that outsourcing actually is very much more acceptable than it used to be, especially since people are remote.

[00:19:49] **Dr. J.J. Peterson:** So everybody is looking to hire an outsourced developer. And you could just end it there and go, I'm an outsourced developer. No. But you then you wanna say, but the problem is, And now you actually wanna identify a specific problem in the software development world or in the outsourcing software development world, and talk about how you solve it a little bit differently.

[00:20:14] **Dr. J.J. Peterson:** The way you differentiate is by specifically talking about either the problem that's different, your expertise, that's different. Or the way you do projects different. Those are really the three primary ways to differentiate the problem, differentiate your experience, or differentiate the way that you create software or work with a client.

[00:20:36] **Dr. J.J. Peterson:** And those specifically come out of the story brand framework. The StoryBrand framework says really is based on story. We all love stories. We love movies. We everybody's, we are storytellers, we are story listeners, and story is what we call a sense making device story takes a bunch of information that's out there and puts it all in a form that makes sense to somebody, right?

[00:21:03] **Dr. J.J. Peterson:** It's like there's always a point to a story that's leading us somewhere. Sometimes it's humor, sometimes it's a lesson, but really, Story is about gathering all this information that's out there and really making in a structured, formulated point, driven way, and story is actually formulaic.

[00:21:22] **Dr. J.J. Peterson:** If you trace back even all the way to Aristotle and Play-Doh and screenwriting techniques and all of this, when you boil down story, the formula of story, there are really seven elements of a good story. Seven pieces that have to be in a story in a certain way. In order to make the story good and compelling, the first is that you have to know what the hero wants of the story.

[00:21:47] **Dr. J.J. Peterson:** There is a main character in a story who wants something, and very early on in the story, we know what that character wants. So Jason Bourne wants to know who he is and where he comes from, right? We can name that. Or somebody wants to get a raise or somebody wants to get the girl, or something in that space.

[00:22:04] **Dr. J.J. Peterson:** We know very early on. That what they want. Then the second element is that hero encounters a problem and there's something gets in the way of what they want, and the problem is the hook of the story. It makes the story interesting. If there is no problem in the story, if the hero is just walking around shopping, enjoying the day.

[00:22:26] **Dr. J.J. Peterson:** And nothing bad happens. We're done. We're out. So instead like their daughter needs to be kidnapped or a bomb is gonna go off, or something big is happening that the hero has to overcome. Then the third element is the hero meets a guide. They meet somebody who comes alongside to help them overcome the problem.

[00:22:46] **Dr. J.J. Peterson:** So Gandolph or Yoda or Hamit in Hunger Games, there's a coach, there's a guide. There's somebody who comes alongside to help the hero win. Then the fourth step of story is that then the guide gives the hero a plan, and the plan is just there's, if you think about movies, how many times you've heard the phrase, what's the plan?

[00:23:09] **Dr. J.J. Peterson:** Or here's the plan. There's always a plan in the movie or in the story that shows that the way forward for the hero is easy, and it's very clear. Then the fifth element is there's a moment where the hero has to be called to action. There's a moment the hero has to be in or out. Usually there's a countdown clock, a bomb's gonna go off, or 24 hours, their daughter's gonna disappear, or a tsunami's gonna destroy us, or a meteor's gonna come to earth in two days.

[00:23:37] **Dr. J.J. Peterson:** There's something that. Forces the hero to act. And then the last two are what creates stakes in the story, which is success and failure. Sixth element is success, so we need to see in the story that there is hope for a happy ending. That the hero can move towards a brighter future, and we all are rooting for that.

[00:23:59] **Dr. J.J. Peterson:** And then failure, the last element is the idea that there is something, some kind of tragedy or pain that the hero is trying to avoid. So if the bomb goes off, everybody's gonna die. And we know that, right? So we're rooting for happy ending success, and we're trying to avoid failure. So those are the seven elements.

[00:24:18] **Dr. J.J. Peterson:** Character wants something. Encounters a problem, meets a guide who gives 'em a plan that calls 'em to action that results in success or failure. So what we do is we teach companies and individuals and freelancers how to understand this and create talking points for each of those seven elements of story.

[00:24:38] **Dr. J.J. Peterson:** But the idea is your customer is the hero. So naming, what does your customer want? What problems are they experiencing? How do you position yourself as a guide? What is your plan for them to show them how to win the day? What is your call to action? What Buy now Schedule a call. What do you need them to do?

[00:24:59] **Dr. J.J. Peterson:** And then you need to show them in words and imagery what their life is like if they do buy your product or service success, that Happy Hope lending, and what pain they're going to avoid. What failure they're going to avoid if they don't. So those are the seven elements. We teach people how to create talking points for that.

[00:25:17] **Dr. J.J. Peterson:** When I, this now is getting back to your original question.

[00:25:21] **Jonathan Stark:** Yeah. That was a tight summary. You've done this before.

[00:25:24] **Dr. J.J. Peterson:** Your original question is differentiation, right? So the first differentiation is not positioning yourself as the hero. Your customer is the hero. And in the story, the three main areas where you differentiate is problem guide and plan.

[00:25:38] **Dr. J.J. Peterson:** So you have to decide what is the problem that you solve and what is it, how do you solve it differently maybe than other people do? And how do you articulate that? The guide section is showing how you are the guide for the customer's hero journey. You are gonna help them win. So what is it your specific, unique.

[00:25:58] **Dr. J.J. Peterson:** Experienced talent skills that have that can help the hero win. And then how do you do it differently? What is the plan for them? How are you gonna work in this process that is different than other people? That shows them that they're gonna win, that they're gonna get value. The other pieces you also still have in there, but those really are the three main pieces of your story that you wanna differentiate.

[00:26:21] **Dr. J.J. Peterson:** How do you solve the problem differently? What skills do you have that make you stand out and a better guide for them? And then what is your plan and how is that different When you can articulate those, that's okay. When you articulate those, what you then do is you're selling more than just a product or service you're selling value of.

[00:26:39] **Dr. J.J. Peterson:** Because most of us do not buy the cheapest products that are out there. We don't, we also typically don't buy the most expensive. We buy something in the middle that we feel like can offer us value.

[00:26:50] **Jonathan Stark:** The perfect fit. The thing I wanted to drill into is the experience thing, because I see a lot of developers, especially ones with gray hair like me, that.

[00:26:59] **Jonathan Stark:** Will point to my 15 years of experience developing rails, applications or whatever, and feel like that should be self-explanatory. Oh, here's my unique differentiator. I've been doing this for 15 years. D debunk that a little bit for me. Cause I know you, that's not what you're talking about when it comes to

[00:27:16] **Dr. J.J. Peterson:** experience.

[00:27:17] **Dr. J.J. Peterson:** Yeah. The only experience you talk about is the experience that directly solves your customer's problem. So 15 years can be a differentiator. But is it 15 years? Because you've seen let's say this client that you're working with or the clients you often like to work with are people who have tried other things that didn't work well.

[00:27:38] **Dr. J.J. Peterson:** Your 15 years of experience means that you've actually seen a lot of stuff that didn't work and can help them overcome that before they even get in that situation. So it's just a little bit different shift on how you talk about it. You're, it's not about you, it's about what your skills and experience does to solve their problem.

[00:27:56] **Dr. J.J. Peterson:** Now, what the, you can still name all that stuff. I've had 15 years. I ha I have experience in these industries or with this type of coding or all that different stuff. But in what the mistake most people make is they lead with those things. When you lead with those things, that's what makes you the hero of the story.

[00:28:17] **Dr. J.J. Peterson:** So if the biggest thing when you come on your website or when you're sending out an email is I do this, I have this, I've done this. I'm great at this. That makes you the hear of the story and in our context, what that actually does oddly enough is position you in opposition. Of your customer.

[00:28:34] **Dr. J.J. Peterson:** Because if the customer is the hero of their story and you are the hero of your story, you're actually in competing stories I have as a customer. I'm going they are great and they need to win, so they're gonna be really expensive and charge me more money than they're worth. And you, as the hero of your story going I need to get as much money out of the customer as possible.

[00:28:54] **Dr. J.J. Peterson:** That's really what kind of the subconscious positioning does. But when you lead with, here's what your customer wants, and be able to name that and then name the problem they're experiencing, that gets in the way of that, and then list your experience and talk about it. Now that experience has context, right?

[00:29:14] **Dr. J.J. Peterson:** If you just lead with 15 years of experience and all this great coding, Now I, I have no context for why that's important to me, but look with the first stuff and then talk about your experience.

[00:29:24] **Jonathan Stark:** Yeah. If you've, if you, so just speaking to the dear listener for a second if you have 15 years of experience at writing Rails apps, But you can't do what JJs saying here, which is, name the problems that has solved for people, or, here are the results that I've delivered to clients over the past 15 years.

[00:29:42] **Jonathan Stark:** All you can say is, I've been typing semicolons for 15 years. It doesn't speak to the benefits that they've received or your past clients have received. So this, the whole conversation started around the concept of amateurs versus professionals and a professional is, if you're. I know most people listening probably all are like thinking they're good at what they do, unless they're branch spanking new.

[00:30:04] **Jonathan Stark:** They're like, I'm pretty good at what I do. I'm good at this. And, but I, in my experience, fully half are thinking that they're good at it. Because of the time, amount of time they've been doing it like a craftsperson, like I'm a great knitter, I'm a really good guitar player. I can prove I'm a really good guitar player because I set the metro room to two 20 and I can shred through these scales.

[00:30:24] **Jonathan Stark:** But that doesn't mean you can get on stage and wow an audience or make them dance or cry. So what are the results that the audience. The benefits that the audience is getting from your shredding, shredding on your guitar. It's one thing to say, I've been doing this for a long time. It's but did you learn anything in those years about what value it delivers to the client?

[00:30:45] **Jonathan Stark:** Painfully, I'm sorry to say, most people I talk to can't do that. Even if they have 15 year of years of experience, they don't know the value that has been provided to their employers or clients. They just know that they're really good at their craft. Is there, do you have a riff on the difference between delivering results and like being good at your craft without understanding the outcomes that you're providing?

[00:31:05] **Jonathan Stark:** Yeah.

[00:31:06] **Dr. J.J. Peterson:** Don't do it.

[00:31:09] **Jonathan Stark:** How would I recover? Let's say I just, let's say I just called someone out and someone's feeling really seen in the audience right now. Yeah. How would they recover from that situation? How could they find out retroactively what benefits they've

[00:31:22] **Dr. J.J. Peterson:** delivered? Yeah. I mean I think one way is just, especially cuz we're in people who are in the kind of the contract space and freelancers and any of that kind of space, you're constantly having to pitch yourself to new people, right?

[00:31:35] **Dr. J.J. Peterson:** So you're always typically going out and getting new jobs. And when you're looking at your resume or you're looking at your portfolio or anything that you're going to put up as an example of the work that you've done. I think a lot of times when we live in that world, we think if we put up this portfolio that looks really complicated and everything, everybody will automatically see the value.

[00:31:59] **Dr. J.J. Peterson:** They don't know our world, so they don't know how much it took or how complicated that is, or how special it is. So what you actually need to do on your resume, your portfolio, anything, case studies that you're putting up. You really actually want to follow the same formula that I just gave earlier.

[00:32:15] **Dr. J.J. Peterson:** Don't just put it up there and go here's something I designed. It's beautiful. You should be impressed. No. Talk about what was it that the customer was looking for or even start with what was the problem they were experiencing. How did you solve it? That is the portfolio, that is the object.

[00:32:33] **Dr. J.J. Peterson:** And then what were the results after? So how did it get them more clients? How did it position them? Did it win awards? Did it move them forward? Did it save them time? What did it do that actually moved their story forward? So if you can articulate those things in your portfolio or your resume of problem solution success.

[00:32:54] **Dr. J.J. Peterson:** Those three components in explaining it. Now what you're doing is telling a short story, and ideally then the customer who you're talking to will then identify with that same short story and go, yes, I have some of those same problems. I would love that solution and I would love my life to be like that after we get this done.

[00:33:12] **Jonathan Stark:** So let's get a little tactical, right? So we're, we've been talking for a few minutes now about finding out what to say. You know how to frame the results that you've delivered over the years instead of positioning yourself as the hero. And how do you then get the word out? Obviously, you're gonna have a website, but the thing that I think is less and maybe a LinkedIn or some social media, that sort of thing, and you know what to say.

[00:33:35] **Jonathan Stark:** You've followed all this advice and you know what to say. Where do mailing lists and podcasts come in for you? And is there an interplay between those two things? Does one feed the other? Are they like Ian and Yang, or are they just two possible choices that you could pick to increase awareness and trust in the marketplace?

[00:33:55] **Dr. J.J. Peterson:** Yeah I would say first, the very first thing is what you said at the beginning is there's an assumption. I think a lot of people think they know what they're saying and they've got it down. And if that's the case, then awesome. If people don't, what I would always say is clarify your message first.

[00:34:09] **Dr. J.J. Peterson:** Figure out what your messaging is gonna be before you do spend money on anything, creating anything else. Because if your message is confusing or overwhelming or doesn't differentiate, then all you're doing is basically we like to say, you're like giving bullhorn to a monkey, right? You can be loud, but it's just gonna be nonsense.

[00:34:29] **Dr. J.J. Peterson:** So if you've got a podcast and you don't know what your messaging is, or you've got, you're creating lead generators or email lists and you don't know what your message is, you're wasting money. So start with a clear message and you, that's what we do. We help people do that. But if people are interested in kind of just getting a headstart and trying to figure this out, we have an online tool called brand Script.

[00:34:51] **Dr. J.J. Peterson:** A brand script is really just a tool that we use to create these seven talking points for your the story, and people can go to storybrand.com/brand script, one word, storybrand.com brand script, and you can play around with it to start to clarify your own message first. After that, after you really get those seven talking points down, then what you wanna do is you wanna find a way to get in front of audiences who could use your product or service.

[00:35:21] **Dr. J.J. Peterson:** So where are they hanging out? If you were selling Cupcakes or baked goods. You would want to be online probably, but also like you'd want to go to the farmer's market because that's where people are buying those things, right? So as a developer or as a designer, where are the people hanging out that.

[00:35:42] **Dr. J.J. Peterson:** You that you want to attract. So is it LinkedIn, is it Instagram? Is it Facebook? Is it conferences? Is it, where is it? What are the stages you need to be on, essentially? And for most of us, LinkedIn and Instagram or are a part of it, podcasting is building your own stage, attracting people to it. So what you just wanna figure out, you wanna be on those stages. Then the second part about that is once you figure out where you wanna be, you wanna go into those places and you wanna add a ton of value. Don't wanna actually go in and sell. You wanna show people that you're an expert in the space, it really positions you as a thought leader, but you wanna offer value.

[00:36:24] **Dr. J.J. Peterson:** How can you help them solve a problem before they even hire you? So can you offer five tips? Can you talk about trends that are happening, or five mistakes that people are making that you can help them avoid? And that just gives them value and begins to position you as a. Thought leader, but more importantly, position you as their guide, somebody who can help them win.

[00:36:49] **Dr. J.J. Peterson:** So really then what you're doing is through that. Some of it, on social media, like on Instagram or LinkedIn, you can offer free stuff that just continues, starts to build your brand a little bit and position you as a thought leader. A podcast does that as well. But ultimately what all of those things, what you do wanna do is get them.

[00:37:10] **Dr. J.J. Peterson:** Get their email address, you actually do want to build an email list. So you wanna start by offering something of value, for free, and then you wanna figure out how you can create a lead generator or something that is even of more value that people are willing to exchange their email address for.

[00:37:29] **Dr. J.J. Peterson:** So this can be a P D F, this can be a video. This can be something that you offer up and say, Hey. Send me your email address and I will send you this video, or I'll send you this and I don't like white papers, but I will send you this PDF or something like that that just gets their email address.

[00:37:49] **Dr. J.J. Peterson:** So if you don't have any of that stuff built already, what you wanna do is start with building your audience with free stuff and then charge quote unquote, for the next level, which is to give your email address. Then once you start gathering those email addresses, you want to first send out a sales sequence.

[00:38:06] **Dr. J.J. Peterson:** So you wanna send a couple emails that actually sell your product or service. Again, describe the problem they're experiencing, how you solve that problem and how they get it. So make sure it's it you are writing that in the emails, what problem they're experiencing, how you solve that problem, and how to get it.

[00:38:25] **Dr. J.J. Peterson:** That's the call to action piece. And send out a couple of those. Then if people, say if you're a developer, especially right now, people, there's some people who have ongoing needs for software development, but a lot of people like are looking for people in emergency situations. I would imagine in for your audience that they're in a situation where, They have a deadline coming up.

[00:38:51] **Dr. J.J. Peterson:** They're not able to hit it. They're, they need some people to come in, especially say even over the holidays or something like that. They need to hire somebody to come in to augment their team, and they need it now because they're behind on a deadline. They can't do it internally. I. So what that means is the sales cycle for people who are trying to, be on demand developers, it's not real long.

[00:39:13] **Dr. J.J. Peterson:** People need to like, are looking for you and they're looking for you right now. Yeah. The urgency is high. Yeah. What that means is you have to be there when they need you or when they're thinking they have to be almost constantly thinking about you. So that's where then you send what I call nurture emails on an ongoing basis.

[00:39:31] **Dr. J.J. Peterson:** So maybe once a month. Maybe once a quarter. All you're doing, once you have that email list and after you've gone through the sales cycle of it, like a few sales emails, is you're sending out maybe one email a month, one email, a quarter every other month, something like that. That just once again gives value.

[00:39:49] **Dr. J.J. Peterson:** Here's some hot tips that are coming your way. Here's some trends that are happening. Continuing to pitch. Position yourself as a thought leader, so when they have that emergency, Your email is there, they've, they may not have even read those emails, but they've seen your name in their inbox six times this past year, and they know who to call first.

[00:40:09] **Dr. J.J. Peterson:** That's really important. So you want those emails so you can stay in front of people, stay connected with them on a regular basis. A podcast can do that really well. Also, but podcasts take, podcasts take a lot of work, production and content and getting guests, it take a lot of work.

[00:40:26] **Dr. J.J. Peterson:** So you wanna be really ready to do that and be prepared if you're gonna do a podcast to put in the work. And they can be incredible. They be incredible lead generators. But even then, like for you at some point, During your podcast, you don't have to do it every single podcast, but you're gonna wanna say, Hey everybody, if you're interested in finding out more about this, or you need help with this, go to my website and download this pdf f or download this video so you can continue learning.

[00:40:56] **Dr. J.J. Peterson:** And then what that does is now you're building your email list so that then you can send stuff out, a sales sequence out, and then ultimately a nurture, continue nurturing the relationship by adding value so that when they're ready to hire, they know who to call.

[00:41:11] **Jonathan Stark:** Let's drill into super getting super tactical here, but what should people be thinking about in terms of frequency?

[00:41:16] **Jonathan Stark:** Is it basically like what the, what their particular audience will bear, or is it more quarterly doesn't sound frequently enough to me.

[00:41:23] **Dr. J.J. Peterson:** It's not. I'm very honest, but more what I'm thinking of is talking to the individual who doesn't have a marketing staff and they're already running all their own projects and now they have to create marketing.

[00:41:34] **Dr. J.J. Peterson:** That's the main thing is if, mainly what I would say is if you're not doing anything, then start with quarterly. Okay. That's fair. If you're, and then if you have the space, at least do it monthly. We like to send out from a nurture perspective at least once a week. Now in most of those, what we're trying to do, depending on which list you're on in our system, but depending on, but we try to send out at least one email a week that just says, here is what our podcast is this week, and here's the value you're gonna get out of it.

[00:42:07] **Dr. J.J. Peterson:** It's not a sa heavy sales email. There may be a call to action. We may highlight an event that's coming up, but the purpose of it is not really to sell hard, it's to remind them we're there. Offer some value and then throw in a little bit of what we're doing that they can be a part of. But I do know for a lot of people who are on their own writing wouldn't email a week on top of everything they're doing can be really hard.

[00:42:31] **Dr. J.J. Peterson:** I would, that's the only reason I say quarterly is like I. Just start with something. If you're not sending out emails, you gotta start somewhere and then work up to a month every month and then work up to every other week and then work up to every week. And really, I think if you can stay in touch with people every week, that works.

[00:42:48] **Dr. J.J. Peterson:** And people will unsubscribe and that's okay. That's okay. If you're delivering value though, they won't, even if they don't read it they will they will keep you in their inbox cuz they're waiting for that one article that really hits 'em and they can read it. We also, we certify StoryBrand certified guides, so people who are certified in our framework and so people can hire that.

[00:43:09] **Dr. J.J. Peterson:** Like we hire, we train and certify freelancers, right? It's freelance marketers. So they can hire people, can who can do that. If you don't have the time and space to do that, but still see the value in that, it could work. Then you can hire a StoryBrand certified guide or a marketing agency to create those kind of things for you as well.

[00:43:27] **Jonathan Stark:** Awesome. Yeah. I know we're coming up on time here, so is there any thoughts you wanna leave the audience with? And then I can put, links to everything you've mentioned here in the show notes as well. But if you want to mention any, like the, what's the best place to go and

[00:43:41] **Dr. J.J. Peterson:** all of that.

[00:43:42] **Dr. J.J. Peterson:** For, like I said, I think for people who wanna figure out their message and really start there, I would go to storybrand.com/brandscript. That'll give you the framework, everything that I list listed today, the seven parts, and you can begin the process of just creating your talking points.

[00:43:58] **Dr. J.J. Peterson:** For what ultimately will be your marketing and messaging. And then if you are interested in either becoming, say you are a digital creator who creates email lists or creates websites and wanna be certified in our framework to be able to do this for other people you can go to. Marketing made simple.com, and that's where you can either hire a StoryBrand certified guide or become a StoryBrand certified guide.

[00:44:24] **Dr. J.J. Peterson:** So those are the places that I would say to go to the resources that we have. So storybrand.com/brandscript or marketing made simple.com. And I would just say, I think a few things that I would leave just recapping what we've already said is that I, I am, I very much have a heart for people who are building businesses and who are building the life that they want based on because of those businesses and.

[00:44:48] **Dr. J.J. Peterson:** Have to hustle to get the work. Like when there's a lot of advantages to working for a company and there's a lot of disadvantages to that, and there's a lot of advantages to working on your own and a lot of disadvantages to that. And one of those is really how to position yourself, how to market yourself, how to get yourself out there.

[00:45:06] **Dr. J.J. Peterson:** And so I have a lot of compassion and heart for people in that space. The biggest thing I would say is, We talked about this, but don't undervalue your services. What you bring to businesses and the problems that you solve and the value that you bring is huge. So don't sell yourself short. It may take a little while to land on some really solid pricing, but don't be afraid.

[00:45:30] **Dr. J.J. Peterson:** Don't be afraid. Start putting it out there. Start talking to other people who are in your space and. Then set your pricing and say, this is what I would be willing to fist pump for earlier. Get excited about what you're doing because I think for a lot of us, we get into business and what happens is we end up our business becomes a little bit of a prison for us.

[00:45:51] **Dr. J.J. Peterson:** Like it creates these walls and boundaries that feels really stressful. And I really believe that we should be working to build playgrounds instead of prisons, right? That we wanna build. The business and the life that we want. That is fun. Like the reason we got into this is have fun and be in control and build the life what we want.

[00:46:10] **Dr. J.J. Peterson:** So let's work to build those playgrounds and have more fun doing it in the process. Wow, that's a

[00:46:16] **Jonathan Stark:** perfect place to leave it. This has been great. Thanks so much for spending the time with us today. Oh,

[00:46:20] **Dr. J.J. Peterson:** it was my pleasure.

[00:46:21] **Jonathan Stark:** All right, folks. That's it for this week. I'm Jonathan Stark, and I hope you join me again next time for Ditching Hourly.

[00:46:26] **Jonathan Stark:** Bye.

Creators and Guests

Jonathan Stark
Jonathan Stark
The Ditching Hourly Guy • Author of Hourly Billing Is Nuts • Former software developer on a mission to rid the world of hourly building
J.J. Peterson
J.J. Peterson
Most companies struggle to talk about what they do. At StoryBrand we've created a story framework to help people clarify their message so their business grows