11 lessons learned from a white label failure

‘White label’ is when another business on-sells your service and they get the kudos.

We’ve spent 4 months trying to white label our WordPress support service to agencies, developers and hosting companies.

This post will outline the challenges we faced with white label and we hope it’s useful for you in your business. As a bonus, we’ll reveal our final revenue at the end of the post… spoiler: it’s depressing.

Let’s get started!

1. You lose focus

focus

Trying to be all things to all people will make you lose focus. We already struggle with focus, so when we tried the white label model, we introduced a massive distraction we didn’t need.

Focus is the core reason why our business has started to gain traction.

We’ve locked in our price point, said no to thousands of dollars of web design work that doesn’t fit our model and doubled down on our core offering.

If introducing a new customer type feels like it will be a distraction, go back to what works. If your service solves a problem, you will get customers.

“Lack of direction, not lack of time, is the problem. We all have twenty-four hour days.” – Zig Ziglar

2. You lose simplicity

simple

24/7 WordPress support. Unlimited fixes. $69 per month. Simple!

Each web agency we spoke to had different needs. Some wanted chat support only. Another wanted monthly maintenance and maybe a few fixes. The majority wanted larger project work.

Agency owners have different problems than our core customers. They mostly wanted cheaper development and to pay per project. This transformed a simple offering into a very complex agreement. We struggled with different price points, different needs and articulating exactly who would do what work.

If you can’t explain the problem that your business solves to your customer, you’ve got a problem.

Keep it simple.

“Life is really simple, but we insist on making it complicated.” – Confucius

3. You lose touch with your end customer

customers

A quick way to blow away your assumptions is to ask your customers what they really care about. We do this frequently and it keeps us on our toes.

When you put an intermediary between yourself and the end customer, you don’t get the opportunity to build a relationship or improve your understanding of your customer’s needs.

When you take the time to find out what matters to a customer, you can do more of what makes them happy and less of what they don’t care about. This customer feedback helps us to build plugins and create useful content that people actually use and share.

Your customer feedback loop is critical – don’t overlook it! Understanding what customers want is critical to your success.

“A satisfied customer is the best business strategy of all.” – Michael LeBoeuf

4. You are forced to compromise

compromise

We tried to tailor our WordPress support service to fit agencies needs and by default, were forced into a position of compromise.

When you work in a grey area with a completely different type of customer, your back will be against the wall as you try to force your way out by compromising on your core offering.

When you actively seek your ideal customer, it’s simple: they will pay or they won’t.

You don’t need to be desperate. If you have a good product or service, people will pay.

“Don’t compromise yourself. You are all you’ve got.” – Janis Joplin

5. You confuse the problem you’re solving

confused

We solve problems for business owners. We save them from wasting time on their WordPress site. We reduce their stress. We help them when they need it.

In a white label arrangement, the problem changes. We solve a financial problem for an agency. Most established agencies have developers who fix WordPress problems, but our differentiator is to do it faster and better, because it’s all we do. The agencies we spoke to weren’t interested in our  speed or the quality of our work. They were laser focused on price, because they can keep doing what they do and  retain their customers.

When your core differentiator becomes price, you’re in trouble… unless your name is Jeff Bezos and you run Amazon.

Solve the problems that your core customers have, everything else is noise.

“Don’t fight the problem, decide it.” – George C. Marshall

6. You compete with your customers

horns

There’s a fancy term for making a mess of your own market – it’s cannibalization.

The overwhelming response when we explain our service to some people, but in particular agencies and developers is:

“WTF? How do you actually provide unlimited fixes for $69 per month?”

There’s no secret to our business model, it’s in the open. We focus on WordPress support. That’s it. No SEO. No PPC. No design. This makes some people very uncomfortable, which is OK. If they can’t understand the model, that’s also OK. We’re not going to force it.

The problem lies in the fact that we are competing with the agencies we were trying to pitch to. That’s a hard sell.

Consider how long it takes to establish a good business relationship with a website client who’s had bad experiences and been overcharged by a few dodgy developers. It’s completely fair that agencies wouldn’t hand over their client sites, there’s a lot of trust involved.

Put yourself in the white label partner’s shoes and you’ll quickly realize if there’s product / market fit.

“Competition is not only the basis of protection to the consumer, but is the incentive to progress.” – Herbert Hoover

7. You lose momentum

stop

The sales cycle for a white label customer is waaay longer than for a small business owner.

A white label customer will seek input from their business partners or want to see a proposal. On the other hand, a small business customer will make a decision which is based on whether our service is a good fit or not.

I spent 2 hours on the phone and worked through a thread of 45 emails before I was turned down by an agency owner for a whitelabel agreement.

Our ideal customer visits our homepage, reviews our blog, reads some content and compares our offering to the alternatives. If our service makes sense, the deal is done. BOOM! Instant sign up – they get access to us, we get paid and everyone is happy.

In the early days, our assumption was that it would be much easier to sign up 1 agency with 20 customers, than sign up 20 individual businesses. That was wrong. Dead wrong.

The other area that will be impacted is your motivation – it’s disheartening to spend weeks trying to sign up an agency with no result. Every business owner we sign up brings us closer to our goal and boosts our motivation.

“Sometimes thinking too much can destroy your momentum.” – Tom Watson

8. You want a testimonial? Good luck!

thankyou

Customer testimonials are gold.

Here’s a shining example of a customer testimonial, directly from our amazing client – Selena Tan.

“Ever get driven nuts by niggling website issues or changes you want to make that take up too much of your time, or that you simply don’t want to deal with? Enter WP Curve: Alex & Dan’s team is incredibly friendly, easy to communicate with, don’t hesitate to give their best advice, and follow through on requests without fuss. Simple, expert, done.”

You know what you will get in a white label agreement…”Attaboi”

You’re not put in a position to amaze a customer, so you don’t get to reap the rewards of feeling like you’ve done a good job.

Goodwill and word of mouth is another critical factor for rapid growth in the early stage of your business.

You’re doing the work, so make sure you get the praise!

“Courteous treatment will make a customer a walking advertisement.” – James Cash Penney

9. You devalue your service

cash

We stripped out each service and tried to cost each component on an individual basis.

It also torpedoes the value of your service. It muddies the water of what your  service is and gives an opportunity for negotiation, which quickly deteriorates to haggling.

Our business model is reliant on a high volume of customers at a low margin, so when we started costing individual components – we were on a razor’s edge.

Doing this to your product or service is a terrible idea – please don’t do it.

“Price is what you pay. Value is what you get.” – Warren Buffett

10. You have to manage unrealistic expectations

angry

In a past life, I was a IT consultant for large Australian companies. One thing I learned was that when everything is going well, you don’t hear a peep from anyone, good or bad. However, when something goes wrong – you need to drop everything to fix a non-urgent issue.

Based on our lengthy conversations with a number of agency owners, we realized that supporting agency clients who are paying a substantial monthly retainer would be difficult and is not a position that looks very comfortable.

If you feel like your client is going to have unrealistic expectations, set them up front.

“Personal satisfaction is the most important ingredient of success.” – Denis Waitley

11. You put all of your eggs in one basket

eggs

There is a lot of financial risk borne by a service provider who has one or two big clients.

Financial certainty helps me sleep at night, so if 30% of our revenue was at risk every day… well, I wouldn’t be getting much sleep.

Barring catastrophe, it’s unlikely that a large percentage of your customer base is going to churn over the course of a month, let alone a day.

Try not to be seduced by the siren’s song of a big payday, as you might find yourself on the rocks!

“It is better to risk starving to death then surrender. If you give up on your dreams, what’s left?” – Jim Carrey

Post-mortem

The net benefit to our business was $49 revenue for a single one-off fix for an agency. During that time we signed up 100 businesses for our standard service.

The lessons learned are priceless.

If you’ve read this far, Dan and I would love to hear your thoughts in the comments below, on white label and if it’s worked for you.

“White label is when another business on-sells your service and they get the kudos”. CLICK TO TWEET THIS

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Locking horns Image from here. Thankyou image from here. Customer image from here. Compromise image from here

About

Hi, I'm Alex McClafferty. I'm the co-founder of WP Curve.

60 responses to “11 lessons learned from a white label failure”

  1. Great stuff mate, I especially like points #3 & #6

    Get your grind on son!

  2. Great stuff mate, I especially like points #3 & #6

    Get your grind on son!

  3. I have made white label work well by not changing the price. Just serve it up and they can add a margin. You are already at wholesale rates (or below wholesale rates) for agencies.

  4. I have made white label work well by not changing the price. Just serve it up and they can add a margin. You are already at wholesale rates (or below wholesale rates) for agencies.

  5. Thanks Damian. Focus + Grind = Success, right?

  6. Thanks Damian. Focus + Grind = Success, right?

  7. Thanks James. Does your white label offering include support and maintenance? Do you do offer a monthly recurring service or blocks of development time or both?

  8. Thanks James. Does your white label offering include support and maintenance? Do you offer a monthly recurring service or blocks of development time or both?

  9. The closest service we have to you is our fully ‘done for you’ plugin updates maintained fast hosting package. It includes web dev and security checks plus backups. It is recurring, we deal with our reseller rather than the end user. We also sell blocks of time for our web dev and again we deal with our reseller rather than the end user. We do get asked to deal with the end user via an unmarked brand – we do that for our examples website but dont setup end user experiences for them. They do that and get paid a margin. We are vendor level supply.

  10. The closest service we have to you is our fully ‘done for you’ plugin updates maintained fast hosting package. It includes web dev and security checks plus backups. It is recurring, we deal with our reseller rather than the end user. We also sell blocks of time for our web dev and again we deal with our reseller rather than the end user. We do get asked to deal with the end user via an unmarked brand – we do that for our examples website but dont setup end user experiences for them. They do that and get paid a margin. We are vendor level supply.

  11. Thanks for your input and clarifying that, James. I can’t wait for you to visit us in the Content Club to drop more wisdom =)

  12. Thanks for your input and clarifying that, James. I can’t wait for you to visit us in the Content Club to drop more wisdom =)

  13. I think I have a date booked for that – you can make am a member 😉

  14. I think I have a date booked for that – you can make am a member 😉

  15. Does that mean you want to sign up?

  16. Does that mean you want to sign up?

  17. No it means if you make me a member i would contribute. it is not something I would pay for be cause i have a strong concept of where i am moving and of course my own community to nurture.

  18. No it means if you make me a member i would contribute. it is not something I would pay for be cause i have a strong concept of where i am moving and of course my own community to nurture.

  19. Dan said no discounting and that he learned everything he knows from you.

  20. classic. Obviously not everything 😉

  21. FPE Services says:

    This is a great post! Maybe think about the type of companies you would white label to (small, medium, or large). Is it safe to assume that you were pitching larger companies who really want all the customization you discussed? Or smaller companies that simply need to outsource this kind of work?

  22. This is a great post! Maybe think about the type of companies you would white label to (small, medium, or large). Is it safe to assume that you were pitching larger companies who really want all the customization you discussed? Or smaller companies that simply need to outsource this kind of work?

  23. Hey! Thanks for your comment. I spoke to everyone… from established hosting companies down to freelancers who only have a few sites that need support. I absolutely think that there’s an opportunity here, it’s just that we haven’t found an agreement that both fits our model and isn’t a nightmare to manage. I hope this answers your question.

  24. Hey! Thanks for your comment. I spoke to everyone… from established hosting companies down to freelancers who only have a few sites that need support. I absolutely think that there’s an opportunity here, it’s just that we haven’t found an agreement that both fits our model and isn’t a nightmare to manage. I hope this answers your question.

  25. As an agency, the biggest risk of using your services is reputation. I would be happy to sell your services without the white label because it allows me to focus on higher-value services, and pass on the value of what you do to clients without having to worry that I’ll take all the heat if something goes wrong. I think that’s a win-win-win.

    Thank you for sharing all of that. Who knew white label would be so fraught with difficulty?

  26. As an agency, the biggest risk of using your services is reputation. I would be happy to sell your services without the white label because it allows me to focus on higher-value services, and pass on the value of what you do to clients without having to worry that I’ll take all the heat if something goes wrong. I think that’s a win-win-win.

    Thank you for sharing all of that. Who knew white label would be so fraught with difficulty?

  27. FPE Services says:

    Yup it sure does!! Let me know if and when you decide on doing this (I have clicked the white label link and it sends me to he home page) I’m a small startup and this is one service I do not offer in my maintenance package. When I came across this I was excited. Hope to be able to partner with you soon.

  28. Yup it sure does!! Let me know if and when you decide on doing this (I have clicked the white label link and it sends me to he home page) I’m a small startup and this is one service I do not offer in my maintenance package. When I came across this I was excited. Hope to be able to partner with you soon.

  29. We’ve put white label on the backburner for now. We’re actually launching a new business in 7 days, which you can keep up to date with here: thedannorris.com/7daybusiness/ – it’s going to be a blast!

    If you are interested in offering our services to your clients, the easiest way is to sign up as an affiliate here – wpcurve.com/affiliates/ . We will pay you $10 per month, per client for 12 months.

    If you have any questions, please email me at alex@wpcurve.com 🙂

  30. We’ve put white label on the backburner for now. We’re actually launching a new business in 7 days, which you can keep up to date with here: thedannorris.com/7daybusiness/ – it’s going to be a blast!

    If you are interested in offering our services to your clients, the easiest way is to sign up as an affiliate here – wpcurve.com/affiliates/ . We will pay you $10 per month, per client for 12 months.

    If you have any questions, please email me at alex@wpcurve.com 🙂

  31. Amen Aaron, Amen. I mentioned this link in another comment below, so feel free to jump on board as an affiliate.

    Even though white label was an absolute struggle, I’m glad we were objective about it and went back to focusing on our core offering!

  32. Amen Aaron, Amen. I mentioned this link in another comment below, so feel free to jump on board as an affiliate.

    Even though white label was an absolute struggle, I’m glad we were objective about it and went back to focusing on our core offering!

  33. David Wang says:

    Hi Alex, thank you for sharing this. I run a similar service to WP Curve and have been approached with white label requests several times now. I have decided against it thus far and your post validates my decision. I wish you guys the best with your current strategy!

  34. David Wang says:

    Hi Alex, thank you for sharing this. I run a similar service to WP Curve and have been approached with white label requests several times now. I have decided against it thus far and your post validates my decision. I wish you guys the best with your current strategy!

  35. Dan Norris says:

    Good stuff David, I’m glad it was useful. Sounds like we saved you some time ha.

  36. Dan Norris says:

    Good stuff David, I’m glad it was useful. Sounds like we saved you some time ha.

  37. James Albis says:

    Spot on!, I think there is way to much air the room when you start to introduce a white label strategy within an agency environment, given most look at one another as “competitors”

  38. James Albis says:

    focus on the goal of “ACTION”- getting people to do something….
    If you are not selling or
    doing something unique or even being one of the leading providers, this is a
    a LOSING STRATEGY, and ZERO SUM GAME that agencies would decimate.

    The Focus should be DIFFERENT FROM THE COMPETITION AND CLAIMS SHOULD STAND OUT in a very meaningful way, this is very hard to achieve using a White Label Strategy…

  39. Thanks for the comment @jamesalbis:disqus – I feel like you are YELLING, though :S

  40. Cath Beaton says:

    I’m one of those who asked David for white label services (hi David!) and I completely respect his decision not to offer it. So glad you publicised your learnings on this one Dan, transparency breeds respect in these situations. I’m now on the look out for a VA to help me support maintenance in my own business as it grows. Perhaps a pool of WordPress maintenance VA’s is the next best thing to white label. Thoughts?

  41. Dan Norris says:

    I think there are a lot of ideas in this space that could work if someone wanted to try. Another one would be a live support service for actual developers. We get enquiring from devs all the time but they aren’t a good fit for us.

  42. Cath Beaton says:

    As in emotional support? 😉 Haha, but truly, I think that’s a great idea. There are services (such as Clarity) where that space could be expanded on with a more niche emphasis. Meanwhile, a hotline of counselors just for devs – awesome!
    (sorry to side track your article, have a rad day)

  43. Dan Norris says:

    Ha true. We actually have a lot of devs who are working at home and have done the online training but just need help with a really specific problem. We’ve definitely got some who are prepared to pay a monthly fee to have someone available to help. Most I think just want a quick answer. Someone like Stack Exchange could monetize with a service like that very easily. Devs aren’t our audience though.

  44. Dan Norris says:

    Yep there is definitely a lot of that James.

  45. Trevor Mauch says:

    Solid post Alex. Funny, randomly ran across this post in a google search (don’t ask me which one)… and earlier today a client of ours mentioned wpcurve to me in a separate convo. You guys are getting around!

    So, at my startup, Carrotly… we’ve had bouts with people wanting to whitelabel our WP based inbound online marketing website platform over the past year. It was really tempting when people say “I want to get 300 customers in the doors” (blah) and all you initially see is the dollar signs.

    But, I made a strategic decision very early on about what we’re building here at Carrotly. That our brand and core values are very important…. that having full control over the ability to deliver an insane customer experience is huge to us… and we want our product name to be seen as the only viable choice in the market for what we do.

    Whitelabel just wouldn’t let us do any of that to the level I wanted.

    … and a person who closed shop 4 years ago with a very similar (but outdated) product to the same market place, his business model was 100% whitelabel (every big player in our market at that time was using his website builder as a whitelabel, for their clients). They got his margins really slim… piled in 1k+ customers in less than 8 months… and it was a nightmare for the customer, the company, everyone involved.

    I really feel for our company, we’ll never do a whitelabel because we lose control over the full customer experience and we dilute our own brand power in the marketplace.

    But what has worked man is this…

    … there are still some great agency type relationships who are a fit and have our core values and who love our product.

    We started pitching to them a “managed user” type service where we created a higher level of our software where they can get an account where they can create accounts for their clients to build their lead generation websites with our system. Everything is still fully branded w/ our company, the customer fully knows the service is provided by “InvestorCarrot” (so that gives us an endorsement right there to the marketplace), they interact directly w/ our support, etc.

    The agency loves it because we just invoice them monthly for the # of active users they have and we take care of 100% of the support (which we love because we can wow the clients and the interactions always lead to more sales opportunities).

    It’s working great now. Just need to find those agency type clients who actually value wpcurve for not “what” you are… but “who” you are. They love your core values, love your service, love what you’re about… and they’re proud to put right there front and center in their product offering “Instant WP Support by WPCurve” rather than thinking their customers give a crap if its provided directly by them.

    So I wouldn’t ditch the agency type setup… instead, keep building up your expertise in this industry and keep gaining that traction. Become the industry’s leading expert on instant WP support fixes… so agency’s value your service more and would love to forget about whitelabeling… and instead put “Powered by WPCurve”. Nice profit center and builds your brand directly in your core skillset.

    I can let you know how we did it on pricing so we’re netting the exact same per user w/ our agency clients vs. a sale on our website… just hit me up anytime man!

    Keep up the great work! I LOVE your concept!

  46. Dan Norris says:

    Hey Trevor thanks man interesting stuff. We come back to this all the time because to this day we are turning down agencies, whitelabel and even multi site clients on an almost daily basis. Our main issue for now is still focus, our core business is growing quickly and we don’t want to lose focus there. We’ve more or less decided to do exactly what we are doing until we hit our next goal of $83k / month. Once we get there I think we will come back to these things and see what we can do.

    This higher level user idea is an interesting one for sure.

    Stay in touch.

  47. Trevor Mauch says:

    I love the focus man! Thats where we are as well. We’ve been turning down higher dollar one-off sales and even monthly retainer consulting gigs w/ people in our target market… for the same reasons as you guys.

    Focusing in on our core which is our SaaS plans. We launched this startup spring of last year, and it’s crazy how when you start to get momentum rolling…. things start growing fast. We’re about to hit a big milestone for us (1,000 active subscription members) and our nex rev goal is the same as yours right now. Hit just over $65k last month.

    It’s really weird…. since we’re not doing any active marketing (much like you guys. It’s content marketing, SEO, word of mouth, and some affiliates)… the last few months I keep going into the next month thinking… “man, how are we going to do better than last month?” . And every month this summer somehow it just works out where the company grew. Just having that milestone goal of the $1mm/yr run rate in of itself is huge because it almost puts it out there to the world what your intentions are…. and you figure out ways to get there.

    Man, the $83k/mo level for you guys will be just the start for you. When we started I thought we’d be golden when we hit 1,500 active members and we’d take the software and go into a different vertical to grow…. but now I’m seeing how darn large the market is we’re currently in… and seeing 1,500 actives as just the start. You guys will see the same. Huge market. Good luck man!

  48. Dan Norris says:

    Thanks man wow exciting. SAAS is a winner, the margins and scale are unbeatable. We are with you re verticals. We haven’t even considered going outside of where we are for now and I don’t think it will be necessary for years if at all.

  49. Great post! There are so many parallels to our business … you did a great job listing them all out and explaining them.

    We have been selling white label WordPress development services since April 2013 when we hired our first developer and we just made offers to our 13th and 14th developers this week. We have been successful offering fixed price quotes for what amounts to PSD-to-WordPress work as well as “renting” developers to other agencies for an hourly rate and having the agencies manage those developers directly via Skype, Basecamp, email, etc.

    Expectation setting and communicating requirements are clearly the biggest challenge we face. We provide a custom quote for each fixed price project and communicating what’s included in that price is an ever-evolving situation. Even given the standardization that WordPress brings to the table as a platform, we are still working on a custom product with one or more distant project team members (PM’s, designers, etc.) – no mean feat. What we are working on right now is creating a customer profile that will allow us to clearly communicate to any one of our developers who might be assigned a project what each client expects. Not just simple stuff like they prefer Bootstrap vs Foundation or they like CF7 vs Gravity Forms … we are getting into cataloging more elaborate requirements like Client ABC wants the phone number, email address and street address of the customer created as a single widget so their customer vs Client XYZ who wants that same info captured as custom posts.

  50. Dan Norris says:

    Thanks Allen yeah projects are always going to be tricky. I chatted to a guy the other day who does only white label services as well, very similar business to yours. It seems he has been able to make it work as well. We might look at it again when we are bit more stable but we are still growing quite well without it so there’s no real point in complicating things.

  51. Brilliant post Alex. A wealth of experience there, generously shared. Your points highlight the importance for a venture to be crystal clear on their business model, end customer, how you’ll reach them and your value proposition to them. White labelling can work for some (depending on business model), but you’ve highlighted the importance of staying true to your core business model.

  52. Regarding Focus and Turning Down High-Paying Gigs:

    I understand that in order to maintain focus during the launch of your service, you had to decline large projects. After all, in the beginning, there were just 2-3 of you. Makes sense.

    However, now that you have more help (and a solid recruitment system), why not experiment with larger projects as “sides of gravy”? Not necessarily white label projects either. Perhaps you can treat it as a pilot program.

    You hand over the reigns. Have a new guy recruit and manage a small freelance team to do the work. Meanwhile, you and the core team remain focused on your core WP services.

    Use the extra revenue for one-off expenses (e.g., servers, office build-outs), and/or invest it as capital, cash reserves, and so on. If you keep it separate, then no late night worries about losing large chunks of operating revenue from one client.

    If the “sides of extra gravy” start interfering…then you either ramp up the freelance team, or simply end the pilot.

    Easier said than done, of course!

    Thank you for all your contributions to the WP community!

  53. Dan Norris says:

    Hey Blaine thanks for the comment mate.

    No we won’t be doing larger projects. You can read about my philosophy around creating high growth companies in a few places:

    1. This post http://wpcurve.com/saying-no/
    2. My book http://www.amazon.com/Day-Startup-Learn-Until-Launch/dp/1502472392/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1420699305&sr=8-1&keywords=7+day+startup and associated free resources (including a template on some of those growth elements http://wpcurve.com/the-7-day-startup-resources/
    3. This presentation I did at WordCamp http://wpcurve.com/build-a-wordpress-business/
    4. This interview http://wpcast.fm/wpcurve

    I hope that clarifies my position. In short I believe there is far more opportunity in building something simple, recurring in a big market than there is in doing projects.

    I think people thought I was crazy at first but I am pretty confident WP Curve will grow into a much more valuable business by doing it this way.

  54. Hi Dan and Alex. When does a mantra that guides daily decisions and keeps them on track become a dogma that impedes progress?

    We have a number of clients who have outsourced their marketing to us. That’s a little different from an agency model – we can discuss if you want – as they are buying labour, not project outcomes. These are small growth companies who can’t afford a full time marketer and one of our guys becomes a member of their team, but perhaps 1-2 days a week. sometimes onsite, sometimes at our office. Always we are their team, not an agency where you go to get great things done.

    What DOES make us look like an agency to you is that the clients give us a monthly budget for everything (lists, web, research, copy, ebook development, social, sales collateral, much more – everything an in-house person would do, usually about 40 tactics) and its up to the marketer to spend that budget according to agreed priorities we negotiate every month. So this means the fees for agencies (web, development, telemarketing), or in your case site maintenance, comes out of our budget, so we pay it. When we do, we are acting AS the client, not FOR the client. Our appointed marketer usually has an email address from tat client, but sometimes we’re more transparent than that and use our own company’s email address.

    I read through Alex’s post (wow, how well was that thought through and articulated?) and not one of the 11 lessons hold: Without going chapter and verse, let me highlight how none of those otherwise-valid tests applied.

    I heard Dan on a podcast (I think it was tropical MBA, but might have been startups for the rest of us) and had exactly the customer-reaction you were looking for: “That’s exactly what we need for [company name]”. As is, no change in terms, not ‘cheap web labour’ but site maintenance from time to time for our site as you envisage, transparent to the client, you be the hero, ask for a testimonial if you want, feel free to speak to the client directly (might be we answer the phone though – haha). And if you want to understand where the company is going so you can shape future services, go right ahead – they will likely ask me to take the call though because that’s my job on their team. I want the same thing for our own site after we move to WP in June.

    When we tried to subscribe, we were rejected. Ouch!

    Like you both, and others who have supported your view on this post, I believe your simple business model is a key to your current and future success. Your focus on a single buyer type is likewise smart, and lets you keep your model simple (great reinforcer). I wish we could get half of our clients to buy that too.

    Somewhere between your strategy and its execution though, is it possible that mantra has become dogma?

    Independent of whether you ‘let us in’, I’d enjoy the discussion as I’ve listened to / read enough to know that your views are interesting and well thought through.

  55. hannah wiley says:

    It’s weird…why can’t you just tell agencies and everybody else that the service is what it is and that’s it…And if they want it, they buy it, and if they don’t, they don’t. I actually think part of the problem here was that YOU were trying to change yourselves to adapt to the agencies, and then not liking the results, and so then banning every future service provider. I provide marketing services to my clients and am just looking for somebody who can make website updates when needed, and would purchase the wpcurve solutions, just like any other customer would…But because you guys have had these problems with other agencies (which came, again, from trying to change your services to fit their needs), you will not take me on as a client, even if I act like every other client of yours (albeit with more websites). I really think this is a case of throwing the baby out with the bathwater. Let anybody who wants to purchase your services, as they stand. Treat them just like every other customer. Don’t change for them because they are an agency or a service provider…but don’t ban them because of it either. My 2 cents.

  56. Anand Agarwal says:

    great article, almost saved me from ruining my product and service. Just read in time.

  57. kyra says:

    It’s been our experience that offering a white label web design service is a lot of hard work. More than what one would imagine. Partners take some time to learn how to brief, get info from their clients, and respond to queries. And in line with the experience of many white label partners it’s expected to be for next to nothing. But after some time one can train the partners and build a business. Anyway that’s what we have experienced.

  58. Agreed – why can I not use this service, just as all of your other clients would, just because I’m acting on behalf of a client??

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