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Alastair McDermott, Emily Omier, Voiceover
Emily Omier 00:00
You have very, very different positioning needs than even a closed source developer tool, because you have a project that you’re thinking about that that you want to grow, and you want to be sustainable and successful. Plus you have some other commercial offering, that you would like people that pay you money for, you have to position that you have to think about both things, you have to think about their relationship. And that creates positioning challenges that I think are unique.
Welcome to The Recognized Authority, a podcast that helps specialised consultants and domain experts on your journey to become known as an authority in your field. So you can increase your reach, have more impact, and work with great clients. Here’s your host, Alastair McDermott.
Alastair McDermott 00:47
Hey, folks, before we get into today’s episode, I just want to briefly mention that I’m going to be doing a couple of webinars in December and January. And they’re going to be focused on the journey to authority and helping you niche down. So if those are things that you’re interested in, sign up for the email list, if you’re not signed up already. You can get that at therecognizedauthority.com. So today, my guest is Emily Omier. And Emily helps open source startups position, their open source projects and commercial offerings to accelerate community and revenue growth. In fact, I’m going to read the positioning statement off LinkedIn. Emily, just to get us started. You have on LinkedIn, you have “I help K8s startups accelerate revenue growth with killer positioning.” And so I love that because it’s it’s already filtering people in your positioning statement. So a lot of people won’t know what “K8s” is, I guess that’s deliberate. Yeah?
Emily Omier 01:26
Yeah. So it’s actually pronounced “K eights”, and, yeah, also, also known as “Kubernetes”. Yeah, you know, my point about positioning is, well, first of all, one of your, one of your goals is to be, you know, clear, but it’s actually good if it is clear only to the type of person who you want to help or who your services or product is appropriate for. So that’s what I’ve tried to do. And, incidentally, I’m focused a little bit more broadly on open source startups than on Kubernetes. But there’s a huge amount of overlap. And I sort of coming at this from the the Cloud Native perspective. So that’s still there. Maybe I should update it. I don’t know.
Alastair McDermott 02:27
Cool. So let’s talk about, you know, how actually how narrow you are, because this seems to be pretty narrow in your focus. So when you were positioning yourself, did you have any fear that you were that you were going to niche that you might have to smaller target audience?
Emily Omier 02:45
Sure. I mean, we all have fears all the time, right? I’m not, I’m not like a special unicorn in that sense. But in my case, so I am very confident that this market has a unique need for positioning that’s different. So I, I don’t think that they’re served very well by positioning consultants who specialise even in b2b SaaS. So I, there are other positioning consultants out there who are specialists in b2b software. And what I do is really a subset of b2b software. But I’m very convinced that anybody, you know, a, if you’re selling into a developer or an engineering organisation, your needs are somewhat different in terms of it compared to other other software companies, other b2b software companies that are selling into, you know, HR, legal or whatever. And then even you know, more specifically than that, if you have an open source startup, you have very, very different positioning needs than even a closed source developer tool, because you have a project that you’re thinking about that, that you want to grow, and you want to be sustainable and successful. Plus, you have some other commercial offering, that you would like people to pay you money for, you have to position that you have to think about both things, you have to think about their relationship, and that creates positioning challenges that I think are unique,
Alastair McDermott 04:14
right? So there is a very unique problem. And the difference between those different target markets. It’s not nuanced. There’s there’s a very, very different need, in terms what they they’re, they’re looking for.
Emily Omier 04:28
Yeah, and I think, well, your original question is actually do I worry that my market would be too small? I mean, sure, I guess, sort of, but, you know, you also, I think a good way to think about this is like, how many clients can I work with in a year? And, you know, in my case, it’s like, in the vicinity of 20. And, and that’s actually a that’s a lot. It’s, that’s because of the specific way that I work with with clients. So, you know, I don’t know how many open source startups there are out there and In the cloud native ecosystem, which is not the same as open source, but the cloud native ecosystem, we’re talking like at least 1000. And, you know, open source startups. I’m not sure I’m sure there’s at least 1000. So I’m sure there’s like, you know, 1500 to 2000. Companies. And, you know, I always think, like, I think that I’ve discovered all of them, and I, then somebody sends me an email, and I’m like, Oh, I’ve never heard of these people before. So, yeah, I mean, it’s, I’m just thinking, there’s, there’s not that many people who are really directly targeting this this niche, and there are enough of them compared to how much I can realistically do. That’s about it.
Alastair McDermott 05:43
So just on those specific numbers, did you get guidance on those numbers for anywhere? Because I know a couple of people who’ve talked like David C. Baker, mentions in his book, he mentions kind of market size and things like that. Did you come up with that yourself? Or did you get some guidance on that?
Emily Omier 05:58
No, I mean, for myself, I, I don’t think that I was extremely intentional about thinking like, oh, I you know, I need a market. That’s exactly 1000 companies or something like that. Instead, it was really just thinking about, like, what’s a sort of? What’s it? What are characteristics of companies that I think I’m uniquely able to help? And, you know, obviously, I wanted to do some due diligence and make sure that I wasn’t, you know, totally limiting myself to five companies. But aside from that, it’s like, as soon as you see a giant list of members of the CNC F, you’re like, Okay, so that’s making me feel good.
Alastair McDermott 06:37
Yeah. I can imagine people listening to this kind of thinking, you know, I mean, when I’m talking to people about specialisation, niching, down, they get this fear around, you know, there’s not enough business out there. And so thinking about your market size, like you’re talking about, like a couple of 1000, potential market size, and then you’re talking about needing 20 clients, is that right? Yeah, those numbers, right. Yeah. So I mean, that to me, sounds sounds about right, you, you know, you’ve got 10 or 20 years given, you know, human a little bit of, of leeway. And the, you know, things will change a lot within within 10 years time. So, that sounds to me, like there’s plenty of potential clients out there.
Emily Omier 07:16
Yeah. I mean, I should say, like, I don’t need 20 clients, that’s like my maximum that I could, that I do. So I think that’s, that’s good. And you when I work with clients, and we talk about this, in a way, ask them, and often I work with venture funded startups, and they, they have a very concrete sales goal. And it’s not a huge numbers, I mean, we’re talking like, we need to close three sales in the next six months. So if they are able to be very, very focused, it actually increases their, their likelihood of closing those three. So the situation for a lot of the startups that I work with is, you know, the difference between closing, let’s say, three and six deals in the next six months, is not actually very material, whereas the difference between closing zero and three is like, it’s everything, it depends on whether your company survives or not. So you really want to focus as much as possible to give yourself the maximum chance of getting to those three. And that happens by specialising.
Alastair McDermott 08:29
Yeah. So that’s, that’s my question. How do you do that? So, so you give yourself your maximum chance, as you’re putting it by cutting down on the market size?
Emily Omier 08:41
Yeah. Because that allows you to speak specifically to the needs of, you know, a very well defined group of people, it also enables you to find them. So, you know, if, if I just want to sell something to companies, who, like I don’t even know where to start by where, like, where, who am I supposed to reach out to what conference am I supposed to go to? But if you’re really specific, or like, as I am, for example, like, I know exactly which conferences I want to talk at, I have a list of them. There’s like 10, and that’s it, you know, so it’s not overwhelming. And I and this the same thing, honestly goes for for my clients, because they don’t have limitless resources, either. They’re, you know, a team of six people, and the CEO is wearing five different hats. And so they they need to be able to, you know, sit down in the morning and think, Okay, so who am I going to write this blog post for, for example, or what conference am I going to sponsor? Or, you know, who am I going to send a LinkedIn message to? And the only way to answer that is by specialising?
Alastair McDermott 09:55
Yeah. And writing the blog post was probably the The thing that and I’m trying to plan a podcast, I was trying to do both of those things. And that was what brought me into the world of specialisation. Because I found that so difficult to do. And that was first what what brought me to the realisation that I was. I was positioned way too generalist. So, okay, let me ask you a little bit about how you actually niche down. So were you generalist? Were you a bit more generalist beforehand? Or Did did you go straight into this niche when you started the business?
Emily Omier 10:29
Oh, good question. So my background, way back in the day as a journalist, and I was a tech journalist, I actually want to pull a couple of things out here, because I don’t know what sort of subject most of your listeners are consultants in but this is relevant. So journalists almost always specialise. It’s really rare to have a general purpose journalist. They’re always specialised because they’re expected to bring subject matter expert expertise to whatever it is that they’re working on. Now, in journalism, sometimes this can manifest itself as like, this is this person is a breaking news reporter. But that in and of itself is a specialty, right? Just like crisis PR, is a specialty, right? Because not all PR, like not all PR firms specialise in mopping up the mess after some sort of crisis. And that sometimes matters more than like the subject matter. But the point is that journalists always specialise. I move from journalism to do more content marketing. So marketing writing, writers always specialise, or there’s very few writers, you you basically like, can’t put food on the table as a freelance writer, unless you’re specialised that, again, is something where having subject matter expertise is extremely valuable. Because you, it’s really important if you’re going to be writing, you know, for a particular audience, that you have some sort of idea what the vocabulary is, etc. So, I came to I started doing what I do now, basically, because I worked with a lot of companies. And I was like, so I’m gonna write this blog post, who am I writing for? And they’re like, Oh, no. And I was like, Oh, great. So you know, what, what value does your product provide? What’s the, what are the biggest benefits? And they’re like, Oh, well, here’s a list of our features. And I was like, great. Yeah. I don’t know, how am I going to get my job done? I don’t know. Alternatively, I would have like the, the I had one disaster, that really actually part of what pushed me to make this change where the marketing person was, like, here’s our point of view on this on this market. This is, you know, this is what we’re gonna this the topic that we’re going to be writing about, here’s the point of view. And we actually did this whole project, the CEO saw saw it and was like, no, no, no, that’s not what we want to be saying. We want to be saying, like, complete opposite. And I was like, You’re joking. And that was a failure, that that particular incidents was not just a failure of positioning, it was a failure of communication inside that organisation. But the CEO had some sort of position for the product in his head, that he failed to communicate to the rest of the organisation. And, you know, I would
Alastair McDermott 13:27
almost say that’s pretty typical for founder. Yeah. For founder led businesses, that you know, that they hiring salespeople, but they never really go into the kind of positioning.
Emily Omier 13:40
Yeah, so I was gonna say, like, you know, for you and me, right? We’re independent consultants, like, if our position just exists in our head, like, that’s fine. But as soon as you have somebody else involved, if you don’t write it down, like it doesn’t exist.
Alastair McDermott 13:57
Although I would argue that, you know, your positioning is really important to get the right referrals. And also when people check out your LinkedIn or your website and things like that to, to self select in or out
Emily Omier 14:09
Alastair McDermott 14:10
So what I was asking previously was, you know, how did did you then enter the market? Did you did you enter as a specialist, or had you come generalists? So it sounds like you realised, hey, this is a problem here. And what was that? What caused you then to then start your consulting business? He realised this is an issue for other people.
Emily Omier 14:33
Yeah, so sorry, I wasn’t clear. I was a marketing writer for the same industry that I work for now. So I was already very hyper specialised in in this specific industry. And then I moved to do more, you know, higher level messaging and positioning instead of just just marketing writing, basically, because I felt like for a lot of clients that the need was greater than what I had been doing.
Alastair McDermott 15:01
Yeah, and you’ve always, I mean, it sounds to me, like you have always been not just open, but you know, extremely aware of the, of this need for specialisation, which, to others of us, it took a while for me it took, you know, three or four years for the penny to drop from my first Realisation to actually kind of turning the ship. So,
Emily Omier 15:24
yeah, you know, it’s not that I There was never a point where I was just sort of take everything, but I was pretty aware even at the beginning that I needed to be, you know, somewhat focused. And it’s kind of like, you know, when you’re, when you’re just starting out, and you need to keep the lights on, then, like, you kind of don’t say notice stuff, especially if you like, if you need money, you, you know, you see an opportunity and you take it, but you just like, you know, I tell my clients to like just, we’re gonna focus down like this, if you get an inbound lead, and they’re, you know, really, really interested in your product, like, don’t turn them away, like, take it, but we’re talking about how to focus your, your outbound marketing, your your outreach, and then you know, a lot of this stuff takes some time to pay off. And so you know, you just do what you have to do to keep the lights on and then try to focus on the longer term, the longer game.
Alastair McDermott 16:23
Yeah, I think it’s important to note that what you do at the start, when you’re scrambling to make things work is different than what you should do later. Once you’ve niche down. You’ve specialised and you have a steady stream of inbound clients, I think you can afford to specialise much more at that point. But I think at the start, you know, you need to get out of that scramble phase, you need to get cashflow positive as quickly as possible. And at that point, I think it’s important that you know, you don’t need too much, you know, that you you take on what you need to do to keep the
Emily Omier 16:58
lights on. Yeah, exactly.
Alastair McDermott 17:00
So let’s just talk about what positioning actually is then. Because like we’re talking about specialisation and niching, and positioning, and I just want to discuss with you like, what do you think, where does positioning fit in, in the big picture of a business? And like, what actually is positioning is like, is positioning like just a facet of marketing? Or is positioning the business? You know? Is it like a core part of the business? Or where does it fit?
Emily Omier 17:29
Yeah, so I think it’s definitely a core part of the business. It’s often there’s a misconception that it’s marketing. But and that’s partially because messaging is more soundly in the marketing department, shall we say? And, and messaging and positioning are very related. Messaging is sort of how you how you’re perceived how you bring your positioning to life, like what? What’s the message that’s based on the positioning that that you put out in the world? So the the answer, though, to what is present positioning is basically, how do you answer the question? What is your product? I’m going to use product X, I’m a product person, what is your product? And who is it for? So in a services? Context, you could just say, like, what is your service? And? Or what what do you do? And who do you do it for? And that’s because there’s really the two components, you know, what, what is your product? What is your service is like, what’s the label that you’re going to slap on on this thing. And that is very important, because it creates a series of assumptions in people’s minds. And you want those assumptions to be accurate, or at least to be as close to accurate as possible. And that is really crucial, actually, like everyone makes assumptions. And term terminology always has baggage. You just want the baggage that comes with whatever label to be appropriate. You and you want it to make your particular value shine. So whether as a consultant or with a value of your product, you want it to make the value of the of whatever you do really shine through. And then the part of who is it for that’s the the niching down, and you want to be able to articulate both things. And one of the things like sort of a rule of thumb is that if you can’t say what your product is, and under eight words, you have a positioning problem, because that’s what’s really told me Yeah, yeah, that’s a that that just means that you are not clear on on what it means it probably means that it’s changing every single time you talk about it. And in most cases also means that whoever you’re talking to, or you know, talking to say on your website, copy or something is not understanding what you’re trying to say.
Alastair McDermott 19:53
Let me just ask about that concept of changing every time you talk about it. Because I do think There is this thing where maybe this is more so for like a consulting services type business, rather than a product business where the product is the product is kind of set. But I know that people in the consulting world, their positioning, can, their positioning statement can update very frequently, like, once once every month or so, or maybe even more often than that, while they’re tweaking and changing, have used Have you experienced that? But what do you think about that?
Emily Omier 20:29
I mean, geez, yeah, you should, you should tweak stuff. But, uh, you have to stop iterating after a little while, and just like, go with it. Because, you know, we talked about referrals, like this is a key, right? You want to get referrals. And when you get a referral, you want the information that has, how should I put this? So, you know, let’s think of a referral, like somebody that knows, you, tells their friend about you, the friend contacts you, right? Let’s, that’s, that’s how it goes. So you want the person who you know, to give their friend accurate information. And when you when that friend contacts you, you want to give them information you want everything about about your services, or your product to jive to match up with what they’ve already been told by their friend. Because if not, they’re going to be like, Hey, what’s going on. And
Alastair McDermott 21:25
this is why I mean, I see two big problems here. One is that you get bad referrals, which is just people who are not a good fit client for you. And, and it can be awkward to deal with those sometimes because, you know, they’ve been given a warm referral by somebody who trusts you. And then you’ve got to turn them away, because it’s not, not the right fit. And that can be awkward. And then the other thing is, and you’ll see this, maybe in the tech world, I see it in the tech world, I see it in marketing, I see it in business consulting, where people say, you know, I don’t really know how to describe what you do. And that’s a really common thing. And if somebody says that to you, I think that you haven’t done a good job with your positioning, because you haven’t explained it to, to, to those people, you know,
Emily Omier 22:16
yeah, absolutely. You want a situation where not just you know exactly who you know, what you do, and and who it’s for. But everybody that you know who’s in your orbit, you want them to understand both what you do, right? And who you do it for, so that when somebody matches that need, they send them to you. And you want that sort of cognitive process to be as simple as possible. And being really specific about both things is how you get there.
Alastair McDermott 22:48
Yeah. So let me ask you then about the actual way that you state your positioning or or positioning statement, I see this called a value proposition as well. And some places. Do you have a particular format that you work with your clients on?
Emily Omier 23:04
I do. Yeah. I would not call mine positioning statement, I have a positioning canvas that I work with. Okay, cool. Yeah, incidentally, is free and open to anybody I can send send you a link that you can put in the show notes. If you if anybody wants to have a look at it, it is obviously geared towards product companies, but and geared towards developer tools. But yeah, it’s, you know, in includes, you know, what’s the market category of a fairly lengthy description of what are the characteristics of companies that are in our target market, going into the values that the product provides. And then also articulating the point of view, I do think points of view are something we haven’t talked about, and they can be very important points of view are not a little secondary to sort of core positioning, right? It’s not, it doesn’t answer the question, what is your product? And who is it for? But it can, they can be very important for weeding people out of your funnel, because oftentimes, products or services, they are particularly well, or they have I should say they have a point of view on the world on how some particular process should work. And you want people that match that that point of view. So I think
Alastair McDermott 24:28
could you give, could you give an example or two of that, because just just to kind of paint a picture for the audience.
Emily Omier 24:35
Yeah, let me think just a minute. How technical are your audience members? Usually?
Alastair McDermott 24:40
So yeah, well, they’re smart people so they can take it.
Emily Omier 24:44
Let’s see. My most recent client was actually like, it’s, they’re not going to be a good example, because they’re, their points of view are very technical. Okay. So an example would be a point of view might be that developers should be responsible for their own security for the security of the applications that they that they write. And that that point of view is not shared by everybody. It is, it is probably more common now than it used to be. But that that is a legitimate and, you know, not, not entirely non controversial point of view that a company could have. And that it would be appropriate for a lot of security tools, security related to developer tools. And, you know, like, contrast that point of view, developers should be responsible for this, the security of the applications they write with, for example, like, developers should be able to control security for their applications, those are actually very different points of view, that could go along with exactly the same tool. But they have, you know, the normative statements that they’re that they’re making are very different.
Alastair McDermott 26:04
Okay. So, so these are points of view, held by the business that they express in their blog posts in their content, that help too. They work side by side with positioning in order to help filter for fit for the ideal clients. Definitely. Right. And developing. So when you’re talking to your clients, and you work with them on their positioning, do you help them develop those points of view as well?
Emily Omier 26:35
Yes, yeah, I help them see and see how the points of view are related. It’s interconnected. But but see how the point of view is related to the positioning? Absolutely.
Alastair McDermott 26:47
Yeah. It’s, it’s, it’s really interesting, because I mean, I think it’s really important in, in the world of independent consulting as well. I think that a lot like any any consultant with a few miles under the belt, will have pretty strong points of view on certain things. And just knowing that it’s okay. And not just okay, but but it’s a positive to articulate those, even if they’re somewhat contrarian. Now, I don’t really like the whole move in, in marketing and messaging towards being totally contrary, I think everybody’s trying to be contrarian these days. But I think it’s okay to be a little bit contrarian, and, you know, have something that’s, that’s that some people will disagree with.
Emily Omier 27:32
Yeah, I mean, honestly, I think it just has to be authentic. Like, you know, you don’t want to take a controversial view just for the sake of taking control you, like, be authentic? You know, those people? Yeah, exactly. Yeah. But be authentic. And, you know, it’ll it’ll show through, like, it also has to, yeah, it should support your, your sales. So whether it’s services or products, and, but yeah, they should, they really should go together. But on the other hand, you know, don’t be afraid to alienate some people, I think that that’s okay, as long as it’s not, you know, 95% of your, your customer base, but, you know, don’t be afraid that they’re going to make, you know, one or two people are uncomfortable by by having a strong point of view.
Alastair McDermott 28:22
Yeah. And I think it’s actually harder to alienate people than, than you might expect. Because even people who, who don’t resonate with everything will say, Well, you know, at least they have the guts to say what they believe things like that. So exactly.
Emily Omier 28:35
And, you know, you can have more experience, a lot of times you can have, you know, a conversation about the merits of your, of your point of view, which is good. But also, you know, just know, you know, if, like, for example, when the way that this manifests itself with my clients is often you know, that their point of view will be like, I think X Tex technology is the best way to solve a particular problem, where there’s, you know, two or three or four options in terms of ways that you could solve this particular problem. And so that becomes part of their point of view is that, you know, X technology is most appropriate for reaching this outcome. And that just means that, you know, people who are like partisans of a particular have a different technology, a, they’re not going to buy their product, they never were going to buy their product, because they don’t think that that’s the best approach. But it gives them also a space to have like substantive conversations about why they think this is the best approach.
Alastair McDermott 29:37
Yeah. So one thing I’m just thinking about there is, there may be things that you have points of view on that your customers don’t care about. And I’m just wondering, like, is there any point to use the phrase, is there any point in in publishing that?
Emily Omier 29:55
No, I mean, we all have lots of points of view. Like I think I think organic food is best, but by my clients don’t care. I’m not gonna I’m not gonna write about that. Yeah. You know, yeah, it’s just pick, pick the things that are going to like meaningfully differentiate you from other actors and that are going to connect you with with people in your target market and and weed out people that you would never have been a good fit for in the first place. Yeah, yeah.
Alastair McDermott 30:27
Okay. That’s, that’s really interesting. Is there anything? Is there a mistake that you think that that people typically make when it comes down to positioning and point of view, and getting, you know, putting that framework together?
Emily Omier 30:42
So if we’re talking about a company, I actually think that one of the biggest mistakes is just not doing it intentionally. Actually, you know, what, I think I might, I might say that this is a universal, that this applies even to independent consultants, I think it hurts more when you’re more than one person. Because it’s, I mean, you know, we’re all a little schizophrenic, right. But ultimately, it’s just, you know, we all we all get to be the dictator have our own independent consultant business. So we don’t have to have a negotiation about what our positioning should be. But when you have, you know, three co founders plus, like a team of nine, and nobody has actually sat and sat down and intentionally decided what the company’s position is, who the target market is, what the company’s point of view is, that can be really damaging, because, you know, you could end up having a situation where one person is espousing one point of view, and another person is representing the company, and has the opposite point of view. And then people are like, Well, what do you what do you all believe? And, or they just confuse people by, you know, having divergent descriptions of what their what their product is. So I think I think that the sort of lack of intentionality for independent consultants, I think it’s absolutely a mistake that they make as well. Just just not really thinking about it intentionally, and as a result, never making a decision to you know, serve this particular market. And that just kind of leaves them all over the place.
Alastair McDermott 32:24
Yeah, I think that that is less important when you’re when your business development is based around word of mouth, and referrals, and networking and things like that. But I think when once you start to try and expand out into inbound, that’s when your lack of positioning will really hurt.
Emily Omier 32:44
I actually am not sure. Well, I guess it depends. Like, if you’re talking about referrals from your, like, former day job then yeah, but I never got referrals, when before I specialised because why would somebody refer to me, like I was, like, I didn’t, there’s nothing really special about me, once I started being very specialised, you get referrals all the time. I recently got a referral. Like I talked to somebody in September of 2020. A year later, he sends me a referral. So right, he I talked to this guy one time, a year later, he sends me a referral. And that that happens, you know, with with some some frequency, I mean, not all, not all the time, but again, because I’m so specialised he was able to first of all, like, remember who the heck I am and what I do, and make a make a relevant connection. I mean, and it was it was a very appropriate referral to that’s also key to note here. Yeah, that’s, that’s key. Yeah. So after a year, maybe he just says, like, great note taking capabilities. But I still don’t think that would have happened without really focused positioning.
Alastair McDermott 34:00
Yeah. So where I’ve seen it happen with where people don’t have, where people don’t have strong niching down where they’re not specialised. But what they are getting good referrals is where they go in as a generalist and do a great job. And they can put their hand and like a lot of independent consultants, management consultants, people like that. They have a large toolset that they can apply to lots of different problems. And they’re very good problem solving. So they can turn their hand to things that they haven’t done before. So they’re not necessarily specialised, but they’re just very good at problem solving. And in that case, I’ve seen people getting referrals where they’re not specialised. But I think that if you want to go beyond that, I think there’s a I think there’s a natural limit to that.
Emily Omier 34:50
Yeah, I think that the other thing to consider is in how you’re delivering your services, because one of the advantages of being SOS specialised for me is that when I start working with a new client, I have a super short learning curve. I mean, I don’t know their specific product, but I know their industry. I know, I know, in and out. And so I don’t have to learn all the new jargon. I don’t have to know what I’ll learn what all the other actors are, although to be honest, I’m I always go in and I’m like, wow, more to learn than I expected. I always there always ends up being more to learn than like, I expected that there would be, nonetheless, for me, it is easier than it would be for somebody to come in who just didn’t have any of this, any of this background? And I think that that, you know, is it valuable for my clients? Yes. But it also means that I think I do a better job. And it’s easier for me
Alastair McDermott 35:51
100%, this is, is a major one for me. Because coming from the world of web design, is where I came from, quite a few years ago, before I kind of got into more into the consulting side of things. And what I was doing web design, working as a journalist working with lots of different types of businesses, and switching from industry to industry, every project, there’s a massive learning curve. And I got very tired, like literally tired of that. And so that’s why the the thought of, of niching down, and doing the same type of project over and over again, is very appealing.
Emily Omier 36:30
And that’s what I do. Yeah, you mentioned we might want to talk about sort of what I some nuts and bolts of what I do, I do the same workshop over and over and over and over again. So I have productized services. So this also has, like dramatically reduced the cognitive overload of my business, because I don’t ever have to worry about like, How much am I going to charge this new client for ex service? I just know, it’s I just I just know, I don’t even put together proposals anymore. I just like, I have like a sheet that I already like, it’s the same for everybody, I just send it to you. And you choose which option you want. And then that’s what we do. And it’s like just reduced the stress level for me dramatically, because not only do I not have to learn the anything about the industry, but I am doing the same service over and over again and getting you know, incrementally better at it, I would say, but I don’t have to worry about like, you know, is this client going to need? Like, what’s this? What’s the exact constellation that of my services that this client is going to need?
Alastair McDermott 37:42
So somebody listening to this might wonder if that is boring, doing the same thing over and over again? Do you find that that’s that’s an issue for
Emily Omier 37:50
you? No, I mean, I find that first of all, but my clients are different enough that it’s really not this the same thing over and over again, it’s it’s kind of a different adventure every time. And you know, I didn’t I don’t really enjoy doing. So what I was doing before, I guess I wouldn’t say it’s not like there was any more variety. It’s just that like, I had to think so much about like, what’s the exact, you know, arrangement of services that this client needs? And I don’t really think that, that putting in that that thought led to a better experience for my clients. And it certainly, like made it more nerve wracking for me. But I don’t think that it’s boring. I mean, I don’t know, we all get bored at our jobs. Some from Time, time to time. I think mine is my work is fairly interesting compared to most people that I know. So
Alastair McDermott 38:44
yeah, yeah. What I found is, as, as I specialised that the even though it seems like I’m doing this working on the same problem, as you go deeper, you start to uncover more and more nuance, you start to uncover the depths are fascinating when you go deep on one problem.
Emily Omier 39:04
Yeah. Exactly. And there’s always like, sort of different things to uncover, that I think, are really fascinating.
Alastair McDermott 39:11
Yeah. And I love what you say like, like, reduce your stress level. That’s, that’s a major one. Do you find that it reduces the amount of time that you need to spend working?
Emily Omier 39:23
Mm Hmm, good question. Time management is not my strong point recently. But yes, it does. It does reduce. I mean, every time I have to agonise over something less, it definitely reduces the amount of time that I have to work. I do think there’s a sort of filho philosophical question about how much time do you have to work and for me, I do work quite a bit more than I have to if you know what I mean. I mean, if I were to say how much time like how much do I have to work I mean, I I’m my own boss, right? I’m not I’m not I just have to worry about am I paying my bills and stuff. And if that’s the threshold, then I work like quite a bit more than I need to. On the other hand, I do not work a full time, like full time hours. So yet, but I have never worked full time hours. Okay. Yeah, I think I worked full time hours for like,
Alastair McDermott 40:25
the productize. ation, we were you doing custom projects before that, before you get into the products or services?
Emily Omier 40:32
Yes. So I that was gradual, I stopped doing custom projects. When even when I was still doing marketing writing, I started sort of increasingly like standardising my offerings. And then now it’s it’s just, it’s actually it’s not 100% True. I just did. I just was doing a custom proposal, actually, earlier today. And I was like, God, this is so stressful. Why am I doing?
Alastair McDermott 41:00
Yeah, yeah. So, I mean, I think that’s something that’s very difficult to do is prioritise services when you are not specialised, because you’re doing so many different types of projects, whereas when you you are specialised, you can productize, and you can start to standardise your offerings. Exactly. So, is there anything else that that you want to share about the, you know, the productization on your services? And I mean, you said that it reduce your stress level, I think that’s a massive one. It’s reduced your learning curve or almost no learning curve. You are doing the same thing over and over again. But it’s it is it is different every time. It’s different client every time else that that’s that’s important, too.
Emily Omier 41:49
Yeah, I do think people also get really nervous about productizing their services because they are worried about what what if somebody wants X? And that, first of all, I will say like, like I said, I was putting together a custom proposal this this morning. And then I was like, why am I doing this? But you can always say yes, if you decide you can have standard offerings, and if someone wants something that’s outside of that, you can always say yes, you can also say no, it depends how how interesting like this, this particular company was wanted something that I think is enjoyable to do. And so when they asked if I could do it, in conjunction to another of my standard offerings, I was like, Okay, I’m not going to say no, just flat out no to that. But so you don’t have to say no to everything, just because you have standard standard services. But you know, the other thing is that I think it makes it easier for customers to make a purchasing decision. And I think that that’s under like, underrated by consultants. You know, you’re selling your services more like a product. When when I go to like the bakery, right? I don’t, I don’t like tell them that I want a custom muffin, they just say like, we have a blueberry muffin, a brand muffin and a chocolate muffin, which one do you want? And I choose. And that, like otherwise, if I were to show up, and they were like, describe your perfect muffin to me, I wouldn’t like it would actually make it hard. And in fact, there’s research on this that I would I would be likely to go away and not buy a muffin. If if I was presented with that option, just because it’s so hard. So even though it can feel a little bit like you’re not giving your your customers or your your clients as much control, you are actually making their life easier. And you’re telling them like, look, I’m the expert, like people in your situation need x, or you know, they need they need X, Y or Z. So which one do you want? And that that makes it easier for them to say? Yes.
Alastair McDermott 44:02
Yeah. And I was just checking out your website, because there was a question I was gonna ask you, um, you do have your prices on your website. I love that. So it’s very clear.
Emily Omier 44:14
Nobody looks at them. I wish more people would look at them. But yes, I do have them on my website.
Alastair McDermott 44:20
Yeah. I think that’s a that’s a question. And sometimes it’s a fear that people have about putting their price on their website. But in my experience, it’s, it’s a good it’s, again, it’s another filter to help people who are not a good fit to self select out at that point.
Emily Omier 44:37
- Exactly. That’s exactly what I think, you know, to make the another consumer analogy you know, if you go to buy a muffin and you’re like, how much do your muffins cost and are like, well, I don’t know. Depends. Do you think you’d buy a muffin? No, you would, you would walk away, you know, even if, or even if they’re like, well, it’s It depends, you know, it’s a range from $2 to $10. they’d be like, Well geez, like to have to ask about each individual muffin. That’s annoying. And you know, you want to just walk up to the case and see like the the price marked on each, each muffin. And then then if one is twice as expensive, you maybe decide that that’s not the muffin you want.
Alastair McDermott 45:17
Yeah, very good. Okay, I’m going to start a wrap it up here, because just an hour of time, I just want to ask if there is a business mistake or failure that you’ve experienced, that you could tell us about. So what you’ve learned what you’ve learned from it,
Emily Omier 45:35
people people ask me about this, this question too infrequently. Yes. So when I was in my 20s, I tried to have a business called Sputnik guides, Sputnik guides was supposed to be virtual tour guides like that you could download onto an iPod. I do not think this is a bad business idea in and of itself, I do think I executed on it extremely poorly. And yeah, didn’t didn’t go anywhere. So then I had a magazine for language learners, that was called the Babel times, that was also an abject failure.
Alastair McDermott 46:10
What were the cause of those of you going back and guess what you did wrong?
Emily Omier 46:14
The cause of both was marketing problems. I did not market them at all. And it should be no surprise that like, if I didn’t tell anybody about these things, that they that that these things existed, that nobody, nobody discovered them. So anyway, yeah. This was like, you know, the circumstance where your mom knows about it, and nobody else. Again, like, neither were creative failures. I actually think they were they were both like creative successes, but like, absolute abject failures and all of their metrics.
Alastair McDermott 46:44
Yeah. Yeah. And by the way, you know, when you said that, they were marketing failures. I’ve seen these lists from various different places, which are, you know, the the top 20 reasons that startups or businesses fail, and you go through the 20 reasons, and an 18 of the 20 are because they didn’t get their marketing, right, you know, when you actually analyse it. And marketing is just such a major problem. Yeah, that people need to get right, you know, Yep, exactly. Yeah, it’s cool. So you were you were quite entrepreneurial, then?
Emily Omier 47:17
Yeah, definitely. Definitely. I guess I guess I still am. Um, I don’t know, I’ve never found a way to make a product. Business work myself. So maybe that would be a challenge for the future. We’ll see. On the other hand, I really like working with clients. So maybe maybe services is just cool. Certainly the way to go for me right now.
Alastair McDermott 47:38
Yeah. Let me ask you buy books do you have? Do you have any favourite business book or resource that you’d recommend? Yeah, so
Emily Omier 47:45
there is a positioning book. It is called obviously awesome by April Dunford. And that I definitely recommend. She is the the taking a lot of inspiration from her. I think she’s the really she’s really the example of like someone who specialises in b2b positioning, like b2b SaaS, and that I’m sort of trying to address a part of the market that I that I don’t think she is as able to address which is the open source startups and more more broadly developer tools, but open source startups
Alastair McDermott 48:21
cool. Yeah, that’s That’s clever. What about fiction? Do you read fiction?
Emily Omier 48:25
Hmm. Not really. To be totally honest. I have a I have a daughter as we been reading a lot of like, children’s literature. Actually, I really liked children’s literature period, so it’s fun.
Alastair McDermott 48:38
Do you have a favourite movie that instead or TV?
Emily Omier 48:42
Let’s go back to books. Can I just say that my I really like Matilda by Roald Dahl.
Alastair McDermott 48:48
Roald Dahl was brilliant that I read everything of his life as a kid. I read everything isn’t. So yeah.
Emily Omier 48:57
Yeah, there we go. Well, we’ll just leave it there. I don’t I’m not Yeah.
Alastair McDermott 49:01
So I think my favourite was always the twits. So
Emily Omier 49:05
we haven’t read reread that recently. But we just read the witches.
Alastair McDermott 49:09
Yeah, that was made into very cool film. And like they’re remaking that again, I don’t know why they need to remake it after was so good. But. So now we’ve lost half the audience. So, Emily, thank you so much for being here. Is there any question I should have asked you that that you think that that you think you want to share with our audience?
Emily Omier 49:30
I don’t think so. I think that we’re we’re pretty good.
Alastair McDermott 49:33
Excellent. Okay. Well, thank you so much for being with us here today. Of course.
Emily Omier 49:37
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