Jason Resnick is a consultant who also educates other consultants on systemization and building sustainability via his program, Feast at Rezzz.com. His mission is to help other freelancers and agencies create recurring revenue using automation. Jason has developed his skills working in both the independent and corporate worlds, and has learned the ins and outs of what customers want and why they buy. More recently, Jason has leveraged personalization for his clients and himself which is essential for creating trust and building longer-term relationships with clients. He sat down with Brennan to discuss what tricks he’s learned about building sustainability into his funnel.
Jason Resnick has automated his business to be fully sustainable, bringing in recurring revenue for more than 8 years. His business grew out of his programming knowledge and experience working at large-scale corporate organizations, but Jason has learned that some commonalities exist among clients no matter what the scale of the business they hire. His study of how consumers think, why they buy, and how companies fulfill or exceed their expectations has enabled Jason to become an expert marketer and to teach his automation strategies to other freelancers and agencies. He shared some of his expertise with us.
Developing the Skills
Jason started learning web development in the mid-late ‘90s when he was in college. He says at the time web development skills were looked at by employers like having a backyard pool: unnecessary but nice to have. He honed his craft while working at design agencies and Fortune 100 companies. Meanwhile, he leveraged his web design skills as a side hustle. Between side jobs and his full-time work, Jason expanded his development knowledge, while he started to learn how to grow and run a business. In the DotCom boom and bust, Jason learned the importance of deliverables the hard way. He was laid off, but knowing he had the development skills and numerous freelancing gigs under his belt, Jason struck out on his own. Within a year, things failed to go as planned and Jason wound up back as an employee at an agency. This time, recognizing where he had fallen short, Jason paid extra attention in his new position to the business management side of things.
Eventually, when the time was right, Jason eagerly pursued freelancing full time again. A key factor in Jason’s interest in freelancing was that he wanted to be in charge of his own time. That’s why for Jason, automation was an essential part of his path to independence. As a one-man operation, he needed time-saving systems in place and he knew his clients would too. So Jason started out building websites with WooCommerce integrations. Today his offerings have expanded and now include him setting up entire automated marketing campaigns for businesses of all types that make online transactions.
Convincing Clients You’re Worth It
Brennan recalls being intimidated when he first started conducting paid consultations with clients. He says it became easier as he saw the positive results but asked Jason if he experienced any self doubt in his sales meetings while expanding his skills. Jason says the hardest part of these meetings for him was simply convincing clients that the automation would be beneficial. Clients didn’t believe the time investment upfront would produce any valuable changes in the long run. To address this common fear, Jason came up with a solution that provides a visible argument that it will. He builds custom KPI dashboards for customers that feature spreadsheets and graphs and show his clients’ transaction sequences. This is where paying attention to the client’s perspective comes in handy. Understanding the buyer’s journey and its nuances is the key to knowing how to measure a campaign’s success and to improving it. Diving deep into the customer’s experience not only allows Jason to better predict and evaluate the value his service will have on the agency he’s working with, but he’s also better able to sell long-term services by speaking to their interests and needs. One drawback that Jason acknowledges is that having a shorter-term project (as is frequently the case for independent consultants) does make it harder to gauge results, but this makes it all the more important to empathize with the customer whenever possible.
Evaluating Long-Term Business Needs
Jason believes the business should drive the technology instead of the other way around. As a result, he doesn’t mind telling businesses if his skills are not going to be helpful to them. Although a customer’s buying decision is usually made before they ever contact the business, focusing on the lifecycle of a customer helps Jason know what he needs to do next. He says his first task is to find out what areas of the cycle he can stream-line to accelerate the customer’s time to purchase. One way to demonstrate your ability to address the customer’s need is with personalization.
Jason started pursuing personalization when he was preparing to go on a three week honeymoon. He started wondering what his clients’ businesses would look like after he was gone for nearly a month. How would that time away continue to impact the businesses months down the line? This longer-term thinking prompted him to start asking his clients what they needed from him which incited further questions like “what am I doing for them that could be recurring in their business?” Additionally, Jason recognized that different businesses had different peak seasons and events that require prepwork or extra attention leading up to them (e.g. nonprofits often needed more help in the spring to prep for summer events, and product sites need more help in the fall leading up to Black Friday). In anticipation of these various events, Jason began regularly meeting with organizations to find what they needed and also what they liked about working with him/where he could improve. He learned a lot during these chats that he says would not have been brought to his attention had he not stepped into his client’s shoes.
Jason was also trying to build a bigger client base on his own (naturally it had been easier to find clients as an employee). Jason started to look at his own leads and considering who they were and what they wanted. He distilled what he learned from the client calls to a set of 5 or so things and set up emails with trigger links that corresponded to them. He then sent those emails to his list. He garnered some valuable information from the experience including solid examples of what services respondents were looking for and also features he could package as products that he hadn’t considered before. For example, Jason says he over-communicates via email when possible but learned through this experience that calls are sometimes better for others. The results prompted him to change his marketing as well as his service offering and the new version included a phone call option. At the time, most of Jason’s work was agency overflow work and eCommerce companies rather than working with coaches or individuals. The data Jason gathered gave him the knowledge to open up this whole new audience and help other freelancers discover their client’s pain points and how to address them.
Building Recurring Revenue with Business
The more Jason showed leads what they wanted, the more he noticed changes in who was coming to him. He received project briefs from many new people and the quality of his leads increased as well as the numbers. Jason chalks this up to giving leads more of what they wanted through automation. When Jason asked these new customers the first question: “why did you sign up with me?” responses included “You’re responding to me weekly,” or “I want you to create a custom dashboard for me.” While this question remained relatively intact in every version, Jason says the form a given client actually sees changes based on the client’s intent — that is, someone wanting help with digital marketing will see something different from someone who wanted a custom page. Today, Jason’s form is designed to get those answers worked out pretty quickly.
Brennan likes that the trigger links allow users to self subset. When tracking their funnel, most people stop at calculating whether each lead is resulting in a conversion. For Jason, segmentation helped him provide better service by narrowing the gaps in what customers want. Brennan asks if his numbers are sorted further and how clients are responding. Jason says they’re happy and his sphere of influence has shifted to include a few coaches and other professions. Email marketing has become a huge part of Jason’s life since that is where his best customer is found. These listeners are intelligent and focused. They like that Jason will listen to and care about their own bottom line rather than his own (as an agency would most likely do). Personalization has allowed Jason to expand his offerings and change his business, again putting the customer’s need in front of what technology can do.
Where to next?
What comes next? Jason wants to take the skills he has learned helping other people and their businesses and apply them to his business. His next goal is to create more of a back and forth dialogue with his audience, allowing them to ask him questions and allowing him to service their exact needs. Jason says he’s a better salesperson now thanks to automation enabling him to give customers what they want, and telling him when they’re ready to buy it. With his current focus on lifecycle-based marketing, Jason is keen to try more and more personalization to create a more human sales process — a goal that ironically, will likely involve even more automation.
Links for further reading:
Jason is a WordPress developer by trade, and has focused solely on WordPress for several years now. He “grew up” learning Java, went down the Ruby on Rails path, all the while doing custom PHP development. Jason and lives in Oceanside, New York with his wife Joanna and their son, TJ. He enjoys nothing more than spending a ridiculous amount of time with them, family and friends.