182 podcast episodes 🎙️

In today’s episode, Joe talks with David Yarde, Creative Director and Partner at Sevenality. David’s expertise and experience is at the intersection of visual communications and software engineering with a focus in brand development, communications design, user experience problem solving.

Joe and David discuss the importance of knowing your customers and prospects, how to overcome stage fright when speaking in public, maximizing referrals to grow customers, and the interesting journey of being both a developer and a designer. 

Tune in to learn more about designing, developing, and business growth!

What to Listen For:

  • 00:00 Intro
  • 01:31 Welcome to the pod, David Yarde!
  • 03:15 How did you find yourself at the intersection of a designer and developer?
  • 08:35 Having a connection and passion for the industry
  • 13:13 Starting up Sevenality
  • 18:42 What introverts can do when talking in front of an audience?
  • 25:59 What’s it like to not have a lead acquisition channel?
  • 31:20 How to make referrals a little easier?
  • 37:08 Coming up with the referral discount program
  • 41:36 The Loveable Brands program

Episode Resources

Podcast Transcript:

Joe Howard: [00:00:00] Hey folks, Joe Howard here this week, I got to chat with David Yarde. David was a really refreshing person to talk to this week as folks who’ve listened to podcast in the past Christie and I, you know, sometimes we say things that are a little off the cuff. Sometimes we make things up as we’re going along, you know, we kinda chit and chat and that’s just kind of the style of the podcast.

David man, he’s so thoughtful. In his, in his word selections. And just how he, I could tell while talking to him how focused he was really wanting to translate exactly what he was thinking and to something you wanted to say, super, super eloquent, and really was a joy to talk to him. One really actionable part of the podcast today was David talked about how he grows his agency through referrals.

And we had a really, really actionable conversation about exactly how he optimizes referrals and exactly how he does referrals to make it so that every. One person that finds his business, you know, two or three more being referred by that person. And so listen towards the end of today’s episode, because that, I think that was a really a magical spot and something I’ll be taking away a lot from and talking with my team about, Hey, maybe how could we implement something similar to that, to that.

So, yeah, that’s all for the intro. Enjoy today’s David. Welcome to the podcast. Tell folks a little bit about what you do with WordPress and in general.

David Yarde: [00:01:39] I’m David Yarde. One of those people does five of these in their names. I’m a designer in this whole development space of WordPress, but I’m also a developer that helps translate design as well. I run a brand development and, uh, Strategy firms with a partner of mine and we do some pretty amazing things. We, uh, help people figure out how to connect their ideas to the tech space and how to grow them, how to leverage WordPress, but more importantly, how to be lovable at their core. So, uh, yeah, it’s been a pretty fun run over the past 17 plus years. Time is flying. I can’t believe it. So yeah.

Joe Howard: [00:02:18] Wow. Yeah, it’s a long time to have been in the game. So I’m lucky to get to talk to you today. I get to talk to someone who has more experience than I do in a lot of this stuff. And I, I know that your brand stands for a lot of love because I was checking out the website and it evokes that for me. And I scroll to the bottom and in the footer, it has that made with the heart emoji.

So I always like that when people have that in their footer. So I know you’re, I know you care deeply about it. At the intersection of design and development too, which is when I was reading, just reviewing quickly, the notes for recorded here, I was like, Oh, that’s such an interesting thing to talk about because I feel like most people in the WordPress space and probably most people in tech space they’d either consider themselves a designer or a developer.

And to have those skill sets, crossover is I think. Pretty rare. I think most people would consider their strengths to be in one or the other, but you kind of live there in the middle. I’d love to hear like, kind of, did you start on design and move more to development or the other way around? How did you find yourself at the intersection of those two?

David Yarde: [00:03:18] I would say my space is probably like the smorgasbord for this, because it’s like, Oh, I can design a cute little cool layout or whatever, and then I can, you know, make it interactive. And so that’s kind of where I guess the interest in being able to do this professionally started, but before then, I would definitely say surprisingly enough, it just started with the writing.

I used to write a lot of poetry when I was younger. I used to write a lot about. Just different things I wanted to see happen. And after a while it became a thing where, you know, writing became sketching and then sketching became kind of like, Oh, maybe this could be a fun game or like a story or whatever.

And then I learned that, you know, what I was doing was very close to wire framing. And so it was kind of like, Oh, This is just basically storytelling in a different medium. And so yeah, that writing background just kind of fueled a lot of it. You know, you’re writing interactions for a website you’re writing transitions, you’re writing all different sorts of things.

And so, yeah, it became a lot more fun. Um, after that MySpace experienced. And then from there, I pretty much focused heavily on design. You’re a few years. I want to say four or five years where that’s all I did. Didn’t really care for development. They was cool. I liked what I could do with it, but at the time I felt like in order for me to understand that I really had to understand design a lot better.

I had to understand what it was that I was going to be building versus just hopping in and building it. And then things happened by the time I graduated, I want to say high school. I ended up in this odd position where it was like, Oh, look, there’s a recession. What are you going to do? You’re going into the job for right.

You trying to get into college, trying to do all these things, but college wasn’t an option for me. And I decided that if I’m going to survive, I’m going to have to have, you know, some serious skills. People are like, Hey, you know, you design, you should do this. You know, trying to find a job as a designer, good luck.

There are a lot harder than development jobs. And so I realized that maybe I should lean a lot more into the development side of things. And so that’s what I did. I ended up getting a job at an advertising agency, worked for like a insurance marketing startup. I just threw myself into those areas where I had no choice, but to learn how to.

As a developer and it paid off because I ended up becoming like a front end developer, full stack developer, you know, quote unquote, that and designer, which is basically just user experience person on steroids. And I got to work on cool projects. Right. I got to literally build the online dictionary for Merriam Webster and I’m like, wow, who would have thought?

Right. Because it’s a humble beginning. You don’t realize like these things could happen on that journey. And so like now legit, I am super thankful. Like we were talking earlier about how the WordPress community is still like a loving and like pulling together. But I got to say there are there just some outstanding of people in this community that like the days where I literally felt like giving up.

I got a call from them or they told me to, you know, come over, let’s have a chat, let’s take a walk with, do something. Yeah, let me stop because I usually don’t cry, but this is probably one of those times I actually will. It’s been great to be a part of this community is what I’m just going to end that little part with.

Joe Howard: [00:06:42] Yeah. I love that. Feel about the community, man. I feel like I remember finding the community for the first time too. Like I was, you know, doing agency work and some, some marketing and like SEO stuff. And I used WordPress for sites. I was building an, and I remember the day that I realized there’s like a community around it.

Like, it’s not just like this piece of software. Like there are people that like are WordPress people and like, Oh, I can go to this word camp. I’m going to my first like WordCamp, Lancaster. And it’s been like, wow, this is like, I th I’ve legit agree with you. I think you’d agree. I would say it like it did change my life.

The train changed the trajectory of what I wanted to do, because instead of just maybe using WordPress for some of the project I was doing, I was like, I want to like be a part of this group. I want to be a WordPress community member. I want to be part of this, something bigger than myself, but that also, man, it like makes me so happy.

Because everyone’s so positive and energizing and everyone wants to help each other, like really as an open source like that, that open source feeling like really, uh, supported by the community. So I’m totally with you, man. I try not to make you cry on the podcast, but I can’t promise anything because you know, in the WordPress community is super awesome.

So the design work, it sounds like the design stuff, some of the projects you worked on. You really just kind of like dive into these new projects, just kind of took opportunities as they were given to you. Um, I just had Joe Simpson on the podcast yesterday and we talked a lot about taking opportunities as learning experiences.

And I think this would reflect that a little bit. Like, I guess my question would be kind of, did you have. Like intense passions behind the actual like industry is those things we’re in like the insurance stuff. Like when people hear that they’re like, that doesn’t sound like the sexiest kind of project to work on, but it’s clearly a learning opportunity.

And clearly you can still do, you know, some storytelling and some user experience and, and good design work. Even if it’s not in quote unquote, the sexy industry. I just wanted to know if you had a connection with those industries before, whether you were really seeing it as like, I want the opportunity and I know I can. Do something regardless of this, I love this area.

David Yarde: [00:08:45] I like that question in the beginning. I don’t think I really had a passion for a lot of the stuff that I worked on outside of the fact that it got me to work on either design or code. I was very ethical because I didn’t really have the whole thing.

Like, I didn’t really care for alcohol brands. Didn’t really care for like tobacco brands. Yeah. Insurance. Isn’t like the. Oh, fun or attractive thing. But once you start digging into, let’s say high risk insurance, or you start digging into like the more nuanced insurance levels and you realize like here’s a difference that it can actually make in somebody’s life.

Or, you know, this agency was able to protect, you know, this community. Cause a lot of those smaller insurance agents, they’re very community driven. Like they have to get to know their community. They have to get to know the people around them that they’re selling policies to. They have to be very intimate in some ways with them.

And so kind of. Being in that industry at the time, it was a startup. I was employee number two. I got the opportunity in my very early twenties to build out a team, to set processes, to, you know, that project and product roadmap and to take a company from what I believe at the time was like a $50,000 investment.

To be valued in the millions and then be rolled into a larger company and then packaged and sold for a good chunk of million. Even though I didn’t get anything from that, except for the experience. I think I wouldn’t do it differently. It sounds strange, but I wouldn’t do it differently because a lot of it, the places you go and you end up working, whether you’re a designer or developer, you have this so weird pecking order that happened.

And the opportunity to learn is shrouded a lot more in don’t mess up. Don’t screw up. Don’t push bad code, don’t write bad code. And in this environment it was like, all right, we have, you know, three months where we can make as many failures as possible, but at the end of those three weeks, we need to have something that is stable, that we can work with, that we can push forward.

And yeah, two years later we had a system that was basically pushing outside within two weeks of onboarding a client, you know, capturing all their details, their product lines. You know, working like every department was communicating from that initial meeting. And, uh, yeah, I try to keep those principles going as time went on and I ended up other places that weren’t startups, but they still allowed.

That room for, um, not necessarily sailing, but growing and learning. And so, yeah, I would say anything that I saw that came up if I had 65% of the skills at four, at 50% of the skill set for like, Hmm, let me try this. Right. Or let me start with what I solidly know and then, all right, cool. I’m confident in there.

How does that work? Can I try that out? And then also being lucky to just have people who are like, Oh, I’ll help you figure this out or I’ll be a mentor to you. But then I would say the harder parts too were definitely when I started building out,  when we came up with the idea and we decided that this was the thing that we wanted to do.

It, of course was also right at the time when the major recession was happening in 2008. And so it’s like we were building a company and working full time. So it’s like trying to garner as much experience as possible because ultimately I wanted to work for myself and make that transition. And so, yeah, I mean, Experiences there when you see something, when you like have an idea for something that you really want to do, you’re not sure how to fully complete it start like most times the questions that we’re trying to answer at a fence though, can only be answered when we’re in motion.

Joe Howard: [00:12:30] I hadn’t heard it put exactly that way, but I totally agree with that sentiment. The learning a lot of times can’t come from a static position. Maybe some of like the theory and like quote unquote, best practices can, but. To actually learn how to be successful in the actual thing that you’re doing. You have to be like doing stuff.

You have to be active. There has to be some sort of kinetic energy going, because like that movement actually teaches you whether you get something right, or get something wrong, that’s going to always teach you. So I like, I’m going to quote you on that. I’m gonna steal that quote and use it. Cause I think that was, that was good.

So seven allity.com is. Your company. And so the website that you’re running, um, I think you mentioned that you started seven hourly while you were working full time somewhere else. And so I’d love to hear a little bit about that transition, because I think there are a lot of people who may be working a full-time job somewhere and are thinking about starting their own job.

And I think a lot of people think like, okay, the only way to do that as I got it, Quit my job. And then I got to go hustle culture, and I got to like, get it figured out with, by sacrificing the paycheck I was making. I’d love to know what your experience was. Did you do that or were you kind of working on it a little bit on the side on seven Audi while you were working somewhere else?

David Yarde: [00:13:38] So you’re going to love this one. I did the absolute. Do not ever do this, if you’re starting a business. Perfect. This is great. Great to talk about because this is a great conversation. So I don’t think I’ve even publicly gone into this story two months. So I was working for that start up for a while. And a few years after that, I was like, I really hate it here.

You know? So now that was pretty early. We’re starting to gain traction, you know, and. We were landing a pretty big client at the time. And I was like, all right, I’m going to quit. And I’m going to work totally on this client. Bad idea. Horrible idea. Number one, they decided that they weren’t going to sign the contract and do all of that stuff immediately.

Right? It was probably another two months after that whole thing. I didn’t have a marketing plan. I didn’t have a lead pipeline. I just thought that, you know, I am so good at what I do. People are going to instantly see it and want to work with me. I felt horribly. Okay. Like I, I tell you that was the worst space plan situation ever.

And I still didn’t learn from it. I really, I did that probably two more times solely because I was like, Oh, I’m just going to burn all the boats and I’m going to do this. This is what, you know, these books. They, you should do burn the boats and go all in. Yeah, no, no, no. So how I eventually made the transition a lot more with my sanity impact, I decided that seventh Avenue really needs a purpose.

Right. At that point, it was just like a cool name. We did design projects. We did web projects. And I think this is where the branding part of me or really started to bubble up where I realized naturally I was like starving this side off because I just wanted to be technical. I wanted to do the tasks. I wanted to knock everything out, but the strategy behind it.

Matters just as much. Right. And so diving in, I was like, you know what, the seven hours I really mean, what does it stand for? And we would get questions about it and I’d be like, Oh yeah, we’re just a design firm. You know, totality that, uh, and then one day it hit me what we actually do for people based on the reviews and everything.

We help them create an actual brand ecosystem. One that has a design components, the messaging, you know, the strategy and everything. That’s, self-sustaining so much of the story of creation. Not that awesome. But similar. And so we’re like, all right, this actually works. This is who we are, and this is what we’re trying to do.

And it became a lot easier to really address problems, you know, help and bring solutions about. But then to really get that transition going, I was like, well, How are we showing up? And that’s when we kind of like really doubled down on giving back to the workforce community, because started out we were community-based business.

We wanted to help businesses brand themselves better in the middle, the various session. But then of course, survival kicks in and you forget about that. We got back to that core, got a lot more involved in the WordPress community started helping organize our local meetup or they, you know, helping organize even virtual meetings happened really quickly.

I find that in this community, the moment you used to signal that you want to be a part of something and help people we’ll find places to like quickly put you. And so, yeah, it just kept going. And then after a while they were like, Oh, you should start speaking. And I’m like, yeah. You sure. Like I’m an introvert.

I’m okay. Where I’m at, you know, I’m, I’m okay. Doing all of this behind the scenes stuff over here. Why are you going to put me into that position? And then I gave my first talk and I was like, okay, this is terrifying. And then I got invited to do another one. And I was like, Oh no, This is big, bad, right?

Like what happens from here? Like what happens if I mess up and, um, I’ll never forget. I, it was a conversation with David  from work at Miami and he said to me, he was like, you know, don’t overthink it. Like when you’re submitting a talk or when you’re submitting anything, just submit, you know, two or three ideas that you want to talk about.

Because if you submit just one that lessens your chance of being accepted, right. But if you submit two or three, you know, here’s the thing that you probably will be accepted more likely for. And when you do it get accepted for one. Now you can just hone in on that one topic. Right. And that was a life-changing piece of advice because I was like, wow, I don’t have to try and be something that I’m not, I don’t have to try and talk about things that I don’t really know about.

Just to show that I’m a professional, I can talk about the things that I see, the gaps that I’m trying to feel and how they help people. And so, yeah, it became a pretty cool thing and kind of sharing, Hey, as a designer, as a project manager, as a UX guy in this space, there’s some cool things that we can do that, you know, we could probably help the world with a lot more. I mean, I haven’t looked back and I have no regrets and I’m excited to see where things go.

Joe Howard: [00:18:41] Yeah, cool, man. I’d be interested to hear what your, like, what you would say to other folks who would consider themselves introverts and kind of want to get more into the community. Maybe they want to give more talks and it sounds like it was scary for you.

I think honestly, even for extroverts, people who enjoy being in front of people or stuff, it’s giving your first word camp talk or talk in front of an audience is always a little nerve wracking. So if there’s someone listening out there who is consider themselves a little bit more introverted and maybe wants to. Try to give a talk somewhere. You have any advice for them, or maybe like how they can, how they can do it successfully.

David Yarde: [00:19:17] Yes. Um, have a lot of conversations with yourself. First people will think that you’re crazy, but who cares? How you communicate with yourself first is going to determine how you communicate with the world.

And if you keep saying to yourself, I can’t do this, it’s overwhelming. It’s too much. You don’t even begin to try. Right. But if you take it like the little engine that could approach where it’s like, I think I can. I think I can. I know I can. It becomes a lot easier because now you’re like doing that little incremental change and was like, all right, I think I can do this.

I can give a talk about this plugin that I love. I can give a talk about this design hack that I’ve found. Um, and it doesn’t have to be extremely long, right? A lot of meetups, especially now in this virtual space, have a little flash talks that you could give a lightning round talks that you can do, or you could even.

Open up your phone and record that video, talk about it and don’t post it, do it. So you get comfortable with it. I mean, I took courses online for public speaking. I took little Toastmaster events. I hated those. And then after awhile, I would just imagine that. So talking to a friend and it became a whole lot easier after that, because it was like, all right.

I’m sharing with my friend in the space about this thing, or having a deep conversation about it, you know, what are some questions that are going to come up? And then from there, just jump in. Uh, whether it’s a one meter, whether it’s a little sidebar at the meetup, whether it’s the happiness bar somewhere online, virtually offline, wherever, start building up that experience with connecting with people, with just talking with them, which sharing, you know, what you’ve been through your expertise and the things that you wish people don’t have to learn the hard way and becomes a whole lot easier. But if you try to play to that side of, Oh, This professional is sharing this thing this way. And I need to talk about this. You’re going to get overwhelmed and not even try it will knock you out.

Joe Howard: [00:21:14] Yeah. I love that advice a lot. Yeah. I think I might add onto that by saying like, as someone who myself is a pretty seasoned speaker and you yourself at this point, you know, you’ve given talks as well.

Like those of us who have lots of WordPress experience, I think there’s kind of this thought that like, those are the people that should be giving. Cox and they should be giving, you know, their experience back to the WordPress community. But I’ve actually found when I go to talks first time talks or people who haven’t done a lot of speaking or who are newer to the WordPress community, I learn so much really important stuff that like come from someone who’s maybe more of a beginner or like giving a talk then maybe I haven’t heard about before, because.

I, as someone who experienced in, in WordPress and the community, like, it’s almost like, um, I know too much, like I’m too high level. Like I, I need to like relearn some of the basics and beginner stuff. Totally, totally. And so I really value. Talks from people who maybe haven’t given a lot of word camp talks before, who are newer to the space.

Like your content is so important for everybody in the WordPress. Cause we need fresh ideas. We need new people thinking about how to do things differently. We need the, honestly like the next generation of WordPress folks to like come in and start giving talks. And it always starts with the first one. And so people are listening who are thinking about starting that, like this would definitely be like a. Your content is valuable, even if it’s a first time talk or beginner content.

David Yarde: [00:22:44] And, you know, I think I enjoy those talks a lot more as well because of their passion. Because they’re not necessarily jaded or cynical about, Oh, well we’ve been doing it this way.

It’s just kind of like, Oh wow. Like, look at what I had down. I figured. And like even problems that, you know, more seasoned people will literally curse their computer and walk away from, that’d be like, Oh, this is what I did. This is how I figured it out. And you’re like, Wow. I wish I had that excitement again.

And then you start to like, think back, when did I lose it? Right. And then you like, Oh, and then, so you want to start going again and, you know, connecting and helping. And so, yeah, I mean, It keeps community going. So definitely. If you feel like you can’t or you never had, please make 20, 21 the year, you do your first stop.

Joe Howard: [00:23:35] Yeah. Agreed. And it’s a digital year, all digital year. So you don’t have to travel and truly get up in front of people. You have a digital audience, which I think makes it a little less stressful. Maybe I don’t know about that. I mean, maybe some people will still feel stressed being on a camera in front of a lot of people, but I think.

Literally seeing, you know, a hundred eyeballs on you is definitely, that was stressful to me the first time I gave a talk. So, yes, for sure. I’d love to dive a little bit more into the work you’re doing at seven ality. Cause you mentioned before, I’m going to kind of like loop this back into when you started seven Audi, you mentioned one of the mistakes you made, or one of the challenges you had to overcome was you didn’t really have like.

A lead acquisition channel. He didn’t know how to like get new customers or you didn’t have that, like those funnels set up yet and, and running so that you were attracting new customers, getting new customers now, you know, 10 years later, or a little bit more, you know, in 2020, how has that evolved through the growing of seven Audi’s? How do you attract new customers? How to new customers find you or new clients, however, you

David Yarde: [00:24:34] it’s a smorgasbord of like my first three or four failures. Right? So I took the failure from. Actually predating all of that, like design and development stuff. I tried to do a clothing line and that failed, which pretty cool.

But the thing that I learned from that, that I pulled into seven reality was awareness is key. Like, if you feel as if people don’t know you exist, they probably don’t right. Promo yourself with like that confidence, like. This is a horrible example, but look at a crack head, right? You ever seen one on the side of the street?

They do not care, right? They have a mission and they’re going to let everybody know about that mission. If you look at the opposite side of like good people, we, we talk about good. But when it comes to like our opponents, They go the full distance of like converting people of like putting things out there and setting up, you know, institutions around them.

Meanwhile, good people are kind of looking at it like, Oh, this is what we believe our values will guide us. Right. So awareness is key. If you people aren’t aware that this exists there, aren’t aware that this boundary is there. They’re going to keep crossing it. Right. They’re going to ignore it. They’re going to, you know, do whatever.

And so taking that into seven Allity, we realized that awareness for what we do goes beyond just, Oh, we can design your logo or your website. In most cases, if I could, I would actually avoid it. People’s websites they include, because what really needs to be designed is the processes behind the business.

Is how you communicate, you know, your products and services. When you get to the website or your logo, that’s just the expression of the medium of what was actually designed. So when you think back and look at a lot of great companies, they realized that this awareness thing was also key Nike. Like they stick in your head with that, just do it.

You’re not buying shoes. But now you’re thinking about action. You’re thinking about sports. You’re thinking about fitness, that kind of a thing. And so that’s the approach that we took with, you know, really building out and creating lead pipelines and breaking it down to things that we can actually track and measure.

So you have referrals. Okay. Well, what type of referrals are they? You can’t really grow a business on referral, like traffic or stuff like that. But what you can do is make it a lot easier for people to do referrals to you, right. Or send referrals your way. And then if they do send it your way, how do you take care of them?

So they’re more likely to send another referral back to you. Right. And of course, this depends on the industry you’re in, because if you’re working with lawyers or financial people, there are certain things you can’t do in terms of giving them that’s a referral finder’s fee or whatever. And so navigating a lot of those things kind of determine some of the industries we really wanted to be in as well.

Um, going back to that earlier question about passion, we realized like for us, it was about education. Connecting people to new ideas and new thoughts, things that help better them help them reach that better version of themselves. And then from there, we realized that the hobbyist, the person that has the creative idea, that doesn’t necessarily fit into the normal thing.

They need a space to do their thing too. And so showing them how they can be creative and run a business and, you know, Manage the things that they don’t like, but be able to still do a lot of the things they do. Like, so, yeah, I mean, it was really just understanding here’s how to score a lead. Here’s how to, you know, move the lead from this stage.

And then by the time seven reality really was up and running and rearing its head the right way. It became a lot easier because we know, Oh, if we traveled to like three or four word camp, there’s a good chance. We’re going to reconnect with, you know, old friend or whatever, or meet new friends. And there’s a good chance that we’re going to come home with at least one or two projects.

Not that we’re going there for that. It just worked that way out. We get into one conversation. And they’re like, Oh, Hey, we’re trying to find a designer for something. You’re like, Oh, well, have you tried this? Or have you worked with this person? They’re like, Oh yeah, they’re booked out. You know, this one doesn’t know anything.

And in terms of like being able to do this, their print design, we need a web design. And then next thing you know, you’re like, Oh, we do web design. Um, what’s the problem. And you start talking, they were like, Oh, you guys would be perfect for this. Right. And it’s like, you have a little interview on the spot almost.

And no, one’s trying to look and say, Oh, I need you to do 10, get help pull requests before you can work for it. Right. So yeah, it became a lot easier to just really look and say, who are we trying to serve? How are we serving them? And, you know, once we step outside of the WordPress space, it becomes a lot different, uh, people aren’t as loving people, aren’t as, uh, empathetic, um, people can be a little bit cold and rough around the edges, but you learn that.

Everyone has that battle that they’re fighting and everyone has something that they’re trying to accomplish. And it doesn’t change the fact that you have skills that they need, and they have a problem that you are kind of excited to solve based on the skills that you have communicating to. That became a lot easier. And then it just kind of, after that, it’s really hard to say how it evolved. Things just kind of clicked in the space place where it’s like, you know, you have your marketing funnels, all the other stuff, and you just roll with it.

Joe Howard: [00:30:21] Yeah. I like how you said about just like knowing your customer. I think it’s probably like, everyone knows that at this point, there’s probably not a lot of people listening who are like, I need to know who my customers are in order to like, find those kinds of customers.

But I think that there’s a huge difference between does your customer serve as your customer, like a B2B organization or business that serves startups that are, you know, making maybe like. $50,000 a year and really starting out, or are they serving million $2 million a year businesses that are still not huge businesses, but they have a budget.

And like, this is like, those are really different kinds of clients. So just like knowing who you’re catering to is going to totally determine how you target those people. So I pick that out of what you said, which is important as well. It sounds like the two big. Areas for referrals for you are, or the two biggest, like lead-generation areas for you are referrals and just like WordPress community being active in the WordPress community and cultivating your network there a little bit to find either referrals or work with people in the WordPress space.

I’d be interested to even to dive a little bit more into that referral thing. Cause you mentioned kind of everyone knows like referral is a way you can get new customers, right? One of your customers says, Hey, they’re great. I have a friend like go tell my friend, you should go work for seven hours. But I think there is.

More ways you can make that easier to make that referral happen. And you were kind of talking a little bit about that. Are there any ways at seven out of that you make referrals easier for people? I feel like I have some ideas rolling around in my head, but I just wanted to first see, like, how do you, how do you guys make referrals a little easier?

David Yarde: [00:31:48] I didn’t do, I’ve gotten creative with that over the years, right?

Joe Howard: [00:31:52] Yeah. I’m sure you’ve tried some stuff that has worked and tried some stuff that hasn’t worked. And so. Any of it, I’d love to hear about the experience of it.

David Yarde: [00:31:59] So the thing that has failed are anything that involves those, uh, or the BNI groups where it’s like you come in with two leads or you refer someone and it’s kind of lead generation groups. Those have not worked for me,

Joe Howard: [00:32:14] Like a Facebook group or like a Slack group or something

David Yarde: [00:32:18] Like a Facebook group. But these are like, Pre chamber type groups in some areas, they call them B and I, I think it is business networking and international or something like that. I never heard of them before really weird.

Cause they were like, Oh, they only let certain people in, um, based on industry. So if I do design. Um, but I happen to do design for like marketing people and stuff  comes in and they do like advertising and whatnot. They’ll be like, Oh, there’s competition there. But to me, it’s like, no, that’s, uh, you know, that synergy, that’s where I get to focus on design.

They get to focus on ads and we could work together. So that was the first thing I didn’t like about those situations. Second every week they would make you bring like two or five people. And that’s the referral that you give nine times out of 10, the name that you got from someone else. They had no prior relationship with them, but it was like a cold lead, but it’s like, okay, you’re just basically Googling and handling me go cold leads.

Right. What we did. Yeah. It feels like there’s a lot of room for spammy stuff happening. So we did was we looked at that and we’re like, all right, cool. Initially, when most businesses started out, it’s friends and family that they’re working with, right. We didn’t really want to do that because friends and family expect a lot of discounts.

I don’t really believe in discounting things because there’s the appreciation side where it’s like, Oh, I didn’t really have to pay much for that. Or I got at a discount. Like I don’t value it much. Right. And so I really wanted to work with people that value our process, their value, what design can do.

And so what we did was whenever we’d have a client come in that matched like a really nice client profile, what we would do is if there was an objection about price, if there is an objection about, you know, something else you would say, Hey, we’ll knock off X amount. If you refer to us by the time he hit the third or second or third project, wait point to new people, right?

If we close one of those people by the time the ending of this is done. You get this discount. And so what it did was we had a very solid client profile. They love the fact that they could get a discount off of something. Some of them even got projects for free because they referred a bunch of people that also match that nice profile and that worked great.

And then after a while, you’re like, wow. You don’t even know where a referral is coming in because it’s like, this person just said, Oh, go talk to this person. And then they pop up later, like, Oh yeah. Did someone talk to you? All right, cool. I’m ready to start a project now. And you’re like, Oh, okay. This is going to be overwhelming.

Hopefully. Yeah. I mean, it was really great. I would say within like the first two or three years, we grew exponentially. Like it wasn’t a problem at that time, but I will say, you know, depression and all those things kind of jumped in there and cause problems, but it still works to this day. Like hands down referrals make up a good chunk of our business, which I’m shocked.

Not because it’s like, Oh, people are still referring people. It’s just kind of like, Oh, wow. I can say every month, one to two people may come in from a referral. Now it’s a lot more predictable. So yeah, there is a way to make referrals predictable in your business. It just takes some time, but you got to get creative too.

Joe Howard: [00:35:49] Yeah. I mean, that’s a cool idea. It’s kind of like a. Referral-based payout system that gives you a discount on your project, but it’s also time bound. So it’s like, by this time you give a referral, then it kind of pushes people a little bit to be like, okay, I guess I really should check out like my context today, as opposed to like, I can kind of do this whenever it kind of sounds to me like an affiliate based systems.

Like, but it’s specifically for customers, it’s more like a referral based system and there’s no like cash payout, but. Or commission payout, but there’s like the discount off your current projects, you know, and if someone’s paying $10,000 for a project, Hey, uh, for, for a couple of people over, it can be 9,000.

David Yarde: [00:36:31] Yeah. If they have a good chunk of money.

Joe Howard: [00:36:32] That sounds like it, easy thing to do. And Oh, if one of those people signs up, it’s 8,000. Yeah. There’s a, I can see how that could work. So, yeah. Cool. That’s like a pretty creative way to do things. I’m sure that. You had to tinker around a little bit while you were, uh, while you were trying out that were for a method to say like, Oh, do I need to make this time bound?

Like, how do I make the prep? How do I do the math in the back end to make sure that, you know, I’m still profitable on these clients, obviously with the free clients, maybe not so much, but if they’re referring 10 good leads to you and five of them sign up then totally. Makes sense because their profits coming from those five referred clients. But did you have to do a little, like, kind of back of the napkin math before you felt comfortable, like giving people discounts for referring folks?

David Yarde: [00:37:15] Yes. A lot of the back of the napkin math actually. And so here’s the other side, I’m a very strategic person. And so if I am giving out a discount or something, usually. There is a way, because if you think about it, money currency, it’s just whatever we assign the value to. So if there is a, say an introduction that would be super valuable for me. And I know this person carries the weight to make that introduction. Um, I’m willing to bet for that, right? If there is a leapfrog situation where if we finished this project and of course we get a great review from it, those work is out and about, and, you know, people are seeing it and relating it back to us.

It gives us a great boost in terms of brand positioning, brand strategy. Right. And there may be cases where, you know, I’ll say to someone, Hey, if I get your financial situation, isn’t really that, you know, perfect. Um, it may not match our ideal budget, but you have a drive where all you need is this little thing to get over the obstacle.

And you’ll be fine after that. And I’ll be honest with you. There’s actually a site that we did probably seven or eight plus years ago. That to this day still refers people to. They haven’t redesigned. It haven’t had to do anything to it because they loved it. It was very simple. We worked well with their illustrator and they were like, Hey, they will actually call us periodically and be like, Hey, are you still getting traffic from it?

I kept the link at the bottom. Like it is because we gave them a good experience. And so there are a lot of things where it’s not always about the money, but it is always about the value, like value is relative. Let’s say to a kid, a cookie could be supremely. Awesome. Right? Like I’m getting a cookie. So an adult it’s like really?

You’re just giving me one cookie. That’s it like, you feel like I don’t deserve more than one cookie. And so yeah, you have to understand the context of where your value is, how it’s being dispersed and received and all those things. And then just sometimes where it’s like, we’ll do work for a nonprofit and we’re like, I get it.

It’s small. They’re trying to do something. And we’re trying to test that in your process and your software and you, whatever. And we’ll just be upfront and be like, Hey, this may be a beta program that we’re running. This may be something here. We’re trying to do this. And you’re trying to do this. Can we put them together and both come out at the end and do something else?

Kind of same with what we’re doing right now with a, uh, like our brand development platform has been internal for so long. And then over the past, I would say maybe four or five years, it’s becoming a little bit more external. And so in order to do that, we have to run a lot of, let’s say training classes.

We have to do a lot of research and development. And I think that we’re doing to build out like this curriculum. We can just say, Oh, we’re going to charge you full price for it because we don’t even know the results that are going to come out of certain aspects of it. And so we’ll run a very, you know, well put together a cohort system of here’s what we’re tracking.

Here’s what we’re trying to do, you know, and those people may get a discount for it. Then at the end, when we’re done, it’s a different story. They end up getting. Full price. Like everybody has to pay full price after that. Uh, you should have signed up during the beta, that kind of a thing. And so we’re able to leverage a lot of, let’s say growth tactics or pricing tactics with different objectives that we’re trying to meet, make it fun, make it interesting.

And I mean, we’ve bootstrapped our company. Two or three different product lines, not just web development stuff. And I mean, it works with them and you have a strong community, you understand the value you get to know the people you’re trying to serve. It becomes a lot easier, like for, I think every hour of research that you put into a project, it saves you 10 hours of development.

So why wouldn’t I do the research and say, I’m going to give myself, you know, 15% of this total project is a research time. All right. That means once it’s 15% of used. Cool. Everything else from here is learning time, implementation time, reiterating on what we’ve learned. Right. That’s what it’s about.

Joe Howard: [00:41:36] Yeah. Cool man. And I think that you’re touching a little bit on the work you’re doing with these, this lovable brands program. If there’s anything else you wanted to chat about that I have that on my list of kind of like, Oh, that sounds pretty interesting. And it sounds like it’s kind of gone from internal to somewhat more external as maybe a new product line for you or a new product that you’re potentially offering in the future. I’d love to hear a little more about that.

David Yarde: [00:41:57] Yes. This is also where the WordPress community comes in and it’s amazing. Right. So when I started this and I’m like, all right, cool. I want to do branding. And I start talking about this. I didn’t realize I had notebooks upon notebooks of stuff that I was writing and like testing different module or you know, stuff.

And then one night I’m sitting and I’m starting to bring more of it out into the public. Um, you know, doing the local business incubators now, not really gaining as much traction and I’m like, maybe I shouldn’t give up. No, no one meetup. I ended up meeting John Meda. And it blew my mind and I was like, it was wild because the list is there and they’re like, yeah, you know, Matt Mullen was coming and I’m like, yeah, that’s pretty cool.

And they started naming off, you know, all the other cool developer people. And then, you know, but he goes John Meda. And so I pull out my phone, I Google it. And I’m like this John Maida. And he’s like, yeah, you know him? And I’m like, this is like a design. Person’s dream right here. All right. If you’ve done anything with design thinking with, you know, computational anything you’re like, all right, cool.

When I tell you my hands are sweating buckets, like I had paper towels in my hands clenched up like this, and my hands would not stop sweating. Like I was that nervous about it. And so I’m talking to him and he’s like, Oh, so how are you in the workforce space? And I’m like, yeah, I’m a designer. And he’s like, Interesting.

And so you started talking a little bit more and then he gives me this challenge, right? Whatever I’m doing with level brands 10 times. And I’m like, all right, cool. He’s gonna forget about this conversation that we end up reconnecting again in word camp Miami. And he has this whole conversation again and start going deeper into it.

And so lovable brands for those that don’t know is a way for creative people and non-creative people to communicate and build things that they enjoy. Being in this space, the hardest thing ever is communicating with creative. We either will tell you, no, we will look at you strange, or we will be like, wow, this person just doesn’t know what’s happening here.

Why are they having this conversation with us? And then the other side it’s like, the person is looking and saying, well, how do I even get this idea across? Like, if I say, make it pop, I’m going to get laughed at. Right. And so. Digging deeper into it. I realized it actually was a framework that helps people to create more of the things that help with pain upward.

And by that is, it looks at the individual. And actually that can do a quick exercise right here, right now as an individual, we have the things that we value. We have the things that we want to achieve, but then we also have the things that are so. They’re so special to us that we try to find a way to incorporate it into everything.

Right. And that little space right there, whatever energy we pull from there, that’s kind of like the lovable core or like your quantum lovable state. Right. Because if it’s design or development, even if it’s brewing beer, You will find a way to talk about that thing in something else, or try to map the world out with that understanding.

And so, you know, looking at the individual person packets empathy, then it jumps into the community portion, which is the one that I really love. And it’s really looking at what are the areas that you’re involved in? What are the areas that you could probably create stuff in or create a community in.

That bridges, the individual to let’s say the industry, most people look at the industry being the thing that defines the individual. In this case, we’re defining the individual or helping them curate and create communities that impact them as the person with a skillset in the industry. And so what this did in the past, I would say the top three case studies that came out of this one was an intellectual property law.

The other was in public equity and venture capital. Um, and the other one was just, you know, general, everyday people trying to create something cool. And each one of them had this weird light bulb moment where it was contagious. It literally was focused pages. I was like, Did you guys study something else?

Cause I don’t think this is what I gave to you right here. And what they found was having empathy, especially to oneself, may easier for them to be more forgiving, not only to themselves at mistakes, but lower the amount of burnout that they would have in doing things around groups of people and pushing their ideas forward because they were more excited.

They were less worried about failing. They were less worried about what other people thought. And they were more focused on being able to create things from that place where they just saw the world. Right. Like they just wanted to help the world do these things. And that was their skillset in doing it.

But they also had, let’s say two or three other skills that could compliment it. Right. And so, yeah, it was just the way to organize and build a bridge between creative non-creative. Or you as a person who feel that you aren’t creative and the part of you that is creative to be able to communicate with the world.

And so, yeah, now it’s, uh, getting ready to do the fun WordPress part of building the learning management system for that we’re using learning, we’re using it with WP fusion, of course, gravity forms and all that other good stuff. But it’s going to be a gamified experience where you get to learn about personal branding.

You get to see how it relates to building business brands for not building a business brand, how you operate within someone else’s business as an employee contractor, vendor. But really honing in on just sticking to what you values thinking to practicing more empathy, developing the soft skills that are transferable between any category that you go into. But yeah, having fun along the way. That’s literally all it’s about.

Joe Howard: [00:48:13] Cool man. That’s a, a great place to wrap up. I’m excited for that. You definitely got to let us know when that launches so it can help share around. And so we can check it out our team, you can check it out. Why don’t you tell folks where they can find you online website, social media, all that stuff.

David Yarde: [00:48:27] So I’m mostly active on Twitter. Uh, so if you’re looking for me, it’s D S M Y or David yard.com. Remember there’s that silent EA after the yard in there? Yeah, that’s pretty much the best places to find me. Newsletter that’s rebooting in the beginning of the year, but Twitter, if you want to get a quick question in or be like, Hey, have a thought or whatever it may with the DM hit me at the tweet, hit me with a fleet.

Joe Howard: [00:48:55] Oh man. Now we’re diving into stuff I don’t even know about. I think I heard about this, like. Is a Twitter turning into Snapchat, turning into Instagram and all that stuff. So, yeah, I just gave you a follow on Twitter, so I’ll be checkout and I hit that little alarm button. So I’ll be checking out some of it to some of the tweets and stuff last but not least. I always ask my guests to ask our listeners for little iTunes review. So if you wouldn’t mind asking our listeners for a review on iTunes, I appreciate it.

David Yarde: [00:49:22] For sure. So you guys have been listening to this podcast. It’s absolutely amazing in this space and what it does and the people it brings together. So head over to iTunes, leave a review and share why it has been so amazing to you.

Joe Howard: [00:49:35] Awesome man. Yes. If people go to WP mrr.com forward slash iTunes, it redirects you right there. If you’re on your iPhone, you can need a nice review in the iTunes app. And if you’re listening on YouTube right now, or if you’re watching Sasha sing on YouTube, you can just open a new tab.

wpmrr.com/itunes. And you have a little review. If you leave a comment, you can just leave five stars. That’s cool. But if you leave a review, tell us something you learned from this episode. Uh, we can send a screenshot to David and say, thanks, man. Appreciate it. It also helps us to know what new episodes, new content we should do.

Obviously do a lot more around the intersection of design and development. If we get a few nice reviews for this episode. So yeah. Feel free to go and leave a review there. If folks are new listeners to the show, we’ve got like 120 or so. Previous episodes. If you’re having a specific challenge right now, go to the search bar bar WP mrr.com forward slash podcast.

Do a search pricing, MRR fortune 500. Yeah. There’s tons of different searches you can make to S to find episode that hopefully will help you with your specific. Challenge you are having right now. Uh, if you have questions for us at the show Christie, and I do like to do the occasional Q and a episode, so you can shoot questions to yo@wpmrr.com or just hit me up on Twitter at Joseph H. Howard Twitter is probably better. I probably check Twitter more than I check email. I’m not, I’m not great with my email, but I’m a little better on Twitter. That is all for this. This week’s episode of the podcast, we will be in your podcast players again next Tuesday, David. Thanks again for being on man. It’s been real.

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