In the winter of 2013 I spent a week in a sweet chalet in St Martin de Belleville in the Three Valleys doing ski biznass. I first started skiing on snow at age 11 and skied right up until I found snowboarding on a Hull University ski club trip in 1999. Since then boarding grabbed hold of me hard and I’d only skied two days in the last decade. This year I was really excited about getting back to skiing, possibly due to an awesome olympic ski slopestyle, but probably at age 34 just wanting to see if I still had it mobility wise.
Well skiing really is like riding a bike and as soon as I remembered to always have some pressure at the front of my boots I was ripping it once again – as Alan Partridge would say “it felt gooood”.
But then it dumped 25cm in 24 hours last Thursday and the only thing that made sense was a board. After 10 seconds of riding I had the biggest grin on my face and couldn’t believe how much better it felt.
I hadn’t had a proper powder day since doing a season in Whistler back in 06 and the feeling of ripping through trees in a foot of fresh is truly magical and will keep me enthralled for another decade.
But onto biznass…
I’ve been trying to make the complete transition away from client work for some time. I sold all my clients to another agency (which I describe in my book) before heading to Boulder last summer but in transitioning into a new niche last October the best way to learn market intelligence was to pick up clients at the ski show such as snowboard instructor course company Basecamp Group. I knew I wanted to move back into the products space having learned a ton from my failed muse business but wasn’t sure how.
THE PRODUCTIZATION OF SERVICES
As is often the case, the Tropical MBA podcast produces content at just the right time for me and their podcast episode on productized services allowed me to see how this could be done. Since the recent post by Matt Cutts, head of webspam at Google, on the decay and fall of guest blogging it’s been apparent that quality, journalistic level content written for readers rather than links is the future. Playing to my strengths of understanding content & online publishing I created content marketing products which I believe deliver the greatest ROI over spend in other marketing channels for most ski businesses.
I started off pricing the packages way too high and from customer feedback I dropped the starting price from £499/m to just £149/m making it a great entry into the world of content marketing for ski companies new to blogging and creating sharable content.
Running a productized services business is exciting as it can be both a highly profitable AND scalable business model compared with consultancy (hard to scale) or SAAS (hard to profitably acquire customers) and it’s the first business I’m designing to remove myself completely.
It also means no more spending time writing (SEO) proposals in the hope that they’ll convert and no more time spent generating invoices as this is all taken care of through paypal recurring monthly payments. Monthly recurring revenue (MRR) FTW.
I’m currently doing the onboarding of new customers however I’ve put together a team of freelance content writers who have previously written for the ski industry or have their own ski blogs. As the business scales I’ll be looking to start employing them for the start of next winter season and then to take on a sales manager to build the customer base without me.
Every business needs to be putting out fresh content to build brand, inform and bring potential customers from social channels to their site and also to maintain head keyword rankings in search (although I advocate going after the long-tail). All I need is my 56th customer signed up at the lowest priced product for six figures of MRR. As can be seen in the pricing table (built using the awesome plugin Easy Pricing Tables) on the product page the most popular product is the one priced at £399/m meaning I just need to get to my 21st customer at that level for a six figure biznass.
And after my trip to St Martin in the Three Valleys staying in an independent chalet and talking with other chalet owners out there I’m going to be creating a separate ski agency site or pivoting snowbistro.com from a media publishing business to a high-end ski chalet agency based on a simple lead-gen / commission business model where I find customers for independent chalet company owners.
Good things happen when you love the industry you work in. It’s taken 4 years of being in business to figure that out!