Adrian (my co-host) last week went to CaboPress and in this show we discuss some of the main things he learnt during the week.

What you get from CaboPress is actionable input. Practical and direct insight that can be applied to your business the day you get home. No high level platitudes or pontification. Just the questions and suggestions to challenge you to level up.

If you’re going to meet with folks that will challenge you, what better place to do it in than in a five-star resort in Cabo San Lucas. It’s refreshing and relaxing and the perfect place to reflect on your business.

Jonathon: Welcome back folks to the WP Tonic show. It’s episode 438. I’ll almost say 300 listeners and viewers. I am kind of downplaying myself. It is 438 listeners and viewers. And this is going to be a special just me and my great cohost Adrian. Adrian has been off on a business conference. And he’s all pumped up and he’s going to be telling us a bit more about his experiences. But before that listeners and viewers, I am going to talk about one of our great sponsors. And that`s Kinsta hosting. And what is Kinsta hosting? Well they only host WordPress websites. They really based for WooCommerce, for learning management systems, for membership sites or very large websites. They are fantastic team of WordPress junkies and experts. When you send in a ticket with them, you’re not getting somebody that’s not given a lot of training.

You’re getting it premier support professional that has the ability to answer your question straight away. Can you imagine it, listeners and viewers? No three calls in a row, no three hours on the phone. You just get your problems answered. And they use Google web hosting so you get the best. You get a superb UX design. I was in my Kinsta account yesterday and it’s just fantastic to use. There’s no guesswork where stuff is. It’s just all simple and they obviously spent enormous amount of time. So if that sounds really interesting, go over to and try them out. Buy a package and also tell them that you heard about them on the WP tonic show. Now into the show, so Adrian you went off to Capo. Chris Lammer`s little joint in Mexico. How was it?

Adrian: I had a great time. It was probably the best big fat check. Or the most worthwhile, a big fat check that I’ve ever written to somebody to go anywhere and learn something. I was there for five days, Monday to Friday last week, which was why I wasn’t on any of the shows last week. But it was definitely worth missing out. Sorry.

Jonathon: I am offended. I am never going to talk to you again Adrian.

Adrian: I’ve brought back some I think a few tidbits of value for listeners.

Jonathon: I was speaking to Chris Badger couple days ago. And I said does Adrian look younger in the flesh than on zoom, because he is much younger looking.

Adrian: The camera makes me look a little bit under a few years. But yeah, and I met up with like Chris and kind of like the who’s who of some of the WordPress community was there. I’ve met some heavyweights like Devin Walker from WP, if you’re not familiar with that. It’s like kind of like the de facto donations plugin that exists at the moment. The people from jet pack with our James laws from Ninja forms. And actually a relationship came out of that, which I’m super excited about. Michael Short from the last pro community. And while Chris Lammers the organizer of the whole event, if you’re not familiar with him he’s currently a product manager at liquid web.

But he’s been kind of like in the WordPress community for a very long time doing a whole lot of cool stuff. So I met a sponge of people way, way more experienced in doing this a lot longer than I have. And I went there with the expectation of kind of just meeting some people and building some relationships that I might be able to like mooch off their list and help grow my business.

But I actually came back with the significantly more valuable asset. And that not some very important knowledge that I’m actually gonna share with the audience today. So I’m super excited about that. The first thing that I want to share is, I am going to be talking about value. And pricing equivalency to value, specifically free is the word everybody loves free stuff. And I’m going to talk about when and where you should be using free, how much you should be giving away for free. And we’re free is actually devaluing your business. Which probably the most important lesson that I learned while I was there as someone who has a very significant free product. And then after that, around after the break, I want to talk about the role of competition in the marketplace. Something that I also have a significant amount of.

And I’m sure if you’re a course creator, you’re a Facebook ads expert, you’re an agency, you also have a significant amount of competition. Everybody argue or everybody’s kind of like squabbling over the same amount of like finite customers and all of that stuff. And how you can actually use competition to your benefit. And some frame of mind changes that that you can take on in order to lessen the anxiety that you have about competition. So that, and then after, if they’re stick around for bonus content, I’m going to share with you a direct talk that we got from Chris Lemon about how to craft an engaging story. And that will be available in bonus content and maybe some other tippets as well. So I want to start off with the talk about value and free and pricing.

Jonathon: Which is a bit of a nightmare isn`t?

Adrian: It is a bit of a nightmare I have to agree. I have gone through in my experience with the WordPress community through Groundhogg, through form lift and through being in an agency. I have gone through more pricing changes than I would care to count on 10 hands. It’s a constant work in progress and there’s no kind of like one size fits all perfect solution for every business out there. And you kind of just got to like test and pluck away at it until you find what works. But I did come back with some guidelines. Now if you offer a free product, for example being in Groundhogg, we offer a free plugin, which I think provides a significant amount of value. We offer that free plugin and it’s free and then we ask people to buy extensions and add on`s. And that’s a fairly typical pricing model throughout the WordPress community.

If you’re a course creator, you might have like a free sample course that someone signs on for. And then you can upgrade them to later courses. If you’re an agency, you probably have a free white paper or an SEO audit or anything like that. And those act as very, very, very good lead generators. But when you’re talking about how much should be free. That was kind of like the eye opening moment for me. I was talking on my day one, I was there, and we had dinner the first day. Everybody meets up for the first time around 5:45 PM and then you break off into like power groups and then you go eat dinner with four or five people. And you get to know each other. You go around the circle, you do the kumbaya, and basically they share why you’re here, what you want, what’s your scared of, et cetera, et cetera.

And when it came my time to share, I’m like, well, I run Groundhogg.

Jonathon: It sounds like WordPress therapy.

Adrian: You know what it does. It actually, you know, when you put it that way, it is a lot like WordPress therapy. You basically just get to unload and you get a bunch of people say what their experiences have been. And essentially help you and allow you to come to some like, Eureka moments. So, my eureka moment almost happened on like day one. Hadn’t even like eaten dinner yet, but I was talking to Tessa Kreisler. You can find her on Twitter. Very, very, very smart person. She just left Pantheon and she’s moving somewhere else. I don’t remember though. And I was talking about what Groundhogg basically allows. It is functionally equivalent, if not superior to Infusionsoft and Hubspot, but like within WordPress. And that functional equivalency comes at the price of free, which I think is pretty, pretty cool.

You can get all that stuff for free. And then Tessa kind of like looks at me. She’s sitting next to me, she looks to her left and she’s like, are you crazy? And I’m like why would I be crazy? And she says, you’re giving away way too much. And I’m like, well, what are you talking about? And it’s like you’re saying that people, you’re giving away software that’s a equivalent to something that costs upwards of $99 a month, which you know, comes out to like $1,200 a year or more. And you’re just giving that to people for free. And I’m like, yeah, it’s awesome, isn’t it? And she’s like, no, it’s not. No, it’s not, you’re leaving so much money and you’re leaving so much value on the table. And I’m like, what are you talking about?

Jonathon: Can I interrupt?

Adrian: Yes you can.

Jonathon: But I don’t know if you want to discuss this here and now on a live program. But I’ve always felt that I agree with her slightly. I agree with her, but I think you are offering the wrong bits for free.

Adrian: We’re going to get there. Don’t worry. It’s all part of the story. We’re building it up and so I’m trying to like equivalent this to, I’m trying to frame this in the mind that will be accessible to everybody. So if you have currently I like a free course or a free product or if you’re like a plugin developer like me and you have a free version. It’s hard to know when to stop providing value for free. It’s hard to decide, well how, you know, I want them to be able to get value out of it. But I also don’t want to give too much value that they ended up having to eventually pay for something. But I don’t want to seem like a bad business owner and basically it’s like trial and error. And I don’t want them to like be forced. So that fine line of where to decide how much is too much and I didn’t really make a good, well I learned that I didn’t really make the best decision.

Jonathon: Well it’s a similar situation to the course developer. I always have. I’m a lot of people in it on their first pony ride when they’re building a course. They think by offering, I’ll call it the warm piece course. I think by building a course that’s like 50, 24 or 50 lessons. And they throw in the kitchen sink and they throw this in there, throw that in. That will diminish the possibility of failure. And it doesn’t.

Adrian: It does not. It actually, the only thing, so here’s what I learned. So take, I know it’s kind of like putting this analogy together before I came on. So let’s say you have a civic, a Honda civic, and a Ferrari, a Honda civic. Like what? $20,000 MSRP? The base model, you got a Ferrari, it’s like $200,000 MSRP for the base model. They both do the same thing. They both get you from point A to point B on four wheels with an engine in it. But which one’s more valuable and which one do people want? The one that costs significantly more is the one that’s more valuable than the one that people want. Nobody wants all you might want, but nobody really liked the bottom of the heart wants to go out and buy a Honda civic. What did they want?

Jonathon: I own a Honda Civic.

Adrian: I mean, do you want the Honda civic or do you want a Ferrari? So putting this analogy together, how do we translate that into our products?

Jonathon: I love my Honda.

Adrian: I’ve seen good car. There’s no question about it, but it put it in front of you. Which one do you want? Do you want the Ferrari?

Jonathon: Actually I would want the Honda because I know I have some friends in the UK that had a Ferrari and it was a fricking nightmare.

Adrian: Well we’re just going to make you an exception to the rule. We’ll replace the Ferrari with a Rolls Royce. Okay and does that make you.

Jonathon: I don’t like Rolls Royce.

Adrian: You get where I’m coming from though. You get where I’m coming from. The thing that costs more is inherently to our psychological, economic purchasing brain more valuable.

Jonathon: Well, it just depends. This is such a nightmare now because it really depends on branding and placement. It really depends if in your mind you think it meets all your requirements or meets all, you’re kind of inbuilt aspirations.

Adrian: Here’s where I’m going now, here’s where I’m going. But do you have a free course or a free product like I do and you’re giving away a whole ton of value for free or for at least a very, very, very low price point. Let’s say you have a whole bunch of value packed into your Honda Civic. And some people buy it, some people use it, whatnot. But it doesn’t exactly have that. I want that factor. Let’s put a more reasonable expectation of mine. Let’s say you have plugin A and you have plugin B. Plugin A is free, plugin B is $99 a year.

Let’s say. Very super reasonable buying like position. They both functionally do like the same thing, but which one would you use? Would you use the free one or you could use the $99 a year one. Which one would you choose? At the end of the day? Some people, we’ll choose the free version obviously because $99 may be cost prohibitive.

And they might think, I don’t really need it for that much. So I’ll just use the free version if it gets me by, gets me by. But the vast majority of people, at least everybody that I talked to while I was there and everybody that I’m talking to now saying, all right, well if I actually decide to charge $99 a year, would more people buy it? And the answer to that question is absolutely. Because in our brains, $99 is just worth more. You think you’re going to get more value for $99 than you will get for free. When we think of free, we go to the mall, we get free samples. When you get things that are of low value. So if you’re giving away a ton of value for free, even if in your mind you know that this will change your life and your business and we’ll do all of these amazing things for your company, it gets associated with providing low value. Because that’s just what free is.

Free is low value. Even if it is the valuable thing, that’s just how we associate it. So if you’re currently providing a huge ton of value for either like a very, very low price point or for free like I am, then you have to kind of like take a step back and you have to look at it objectively. Like, all right, how much value is this actually worth? Like if I were to put a price on this and not free, how much is it actually worth? And if it is worth more than like $1,000, you’ve got kind of scale back. So what we’re doing at Groundhogg right now is we’re reassessing how much value we’re going to give for free.

We still want people to be able to successful and people to get started. Almost like we’re going to create a light version of the current product that we’re giving away for free. We’re gonna create a light version, we’re gonna pull some value out of it, and we’re going to attach costs to that. Because if we attach a cost to kind of like the super special bits, then people will start to see, Oh wow, this program or this product or whatever it is can actually help my business because it’s valuable.

Jonathon: So are you really then talking about what our friend Chris Badger over at Lifter LMS has done where, you know the actual core. Cause he doesn’t exactly provide a light version. He provides a lot of functionality in the core product, but it has a lot of additional funds. Some of it is critical, like being able to take payments. Cause some of them so which, which is not so uses the other model doesn’t it?

Adrian: He does. And we’re actually going to be adopting a similar model. We use the same model essentially, but we’re going to be adopting a lot of. I talked to Chris while I was there and Lifter LMS, he uses free as a distribution model, not a pricing model. So if you have a free product right now, you should consider free, not as part of your pricing. But as a part of your distribution, which is a very, very different thing than equating it to pricing. So you can use free to basically get as much as your product to as much as many people as possible. But you don’t necessarily need to like give away the whole house with it. You just use it to put it in people’s hands and then you upsell those people to pay product. But you make sure that, you know, if they have that free product, they shouldn’t be able to just build the house or get the whole house or whatever, how, whatever analogy you want to use, they shouldn’t be able to do everything with that free product.

And that’s what we were doing. We were giving away the house and then asking to payment of one. That is an analogies that they use a lot in Cabo.

Jonathon: Well, it’s tricky. It’s tricky. This is tricky. Do not be too hard on yourself.

Adrian: It’s always a work in progress and you’re always learning. But if I were to like some, everything that we’ve just been talking about for the past 20 minutes, I’d put it in free is not equal to value. These two things are not the same. If you provide a lot of value but you’re equating it to the free price point, it is not valuable no matter how valuable it actually is. People will just not perceive it as valuable. You have to tack on a price to it and you have to scale back the amount of value. Use free as a distribution method, not as a pricing model. And then you’ll start to see at least people start to value your product. You will start to see better retention rates. You’ll start to see a whole bunch of things improve in your business. And that’s kind of like the roadwork now going, we’re going to go down and that’s, that’s all I have to say on the free matter.

Jonathon: We’re going to go for our break. Adrian is very animated. I have never seen him so pumped up actually. We will be back in a few moments’ folks.

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Jonathon: We are coming back. Before we go into part two, I want to talk about one of my other great sponsors and funnily enough that’s Lifter LMS. Basically what is lifted LMS? Well, if you’re looking to build a course looking to build a membership site and you’re looking for one of the best products to do that, to help you build that. Or you’re with a SAS platform like learnable or Kajabi and you want more flexibility, more control, more power, this is the tool for you, Lifter LMS. It’s got amazing functionality, customization and the team at Lifter LMS as just recently added three add on`s. That will give you even more customization and power to build the membership site or the learning management system that you’re looking for. That was in that initial dream when you first built your first course. If that sounds interesting, go over to Lifter LMS. You can download a fully functioning system for free and try out. And also tell him that you heard about them on the WP Tonic podcast. Back over to you Adrian.

Adrian: I just want to share one last tidbit about the free thing. Now that you mentioned Lifter, a neat thing that I learned from Chris while I was there was that nowhere on and now nowhere on Or nowhere on any of the major plugins sites will you actually find or mention of free download. So if you go to any premium or freemium product rather, so like Groundhogg or Lifter, or Astra or Elementor or any of those polygons everything is directed towards the pricing page. And it’s actually quite difficult on those websites in order to find where the free thing is. So if you are currently like sending a lot of your people or a lot of your traffic to the free thing on your site, I would ask you the question is that actually working out for you?

If you were to send that same amount of traffic that you’re currently directing to a free thing, if you were to take that same amount of traffic and directed to something that’s paid, what change would that mean for your bottom line? They can find the free thing and other ways, you know, there are blog posts and there’s the WordPress repository. And there’s bunch of other places, distribution methods like Facebook and Twitter that people can use to find your free products. Well on your website if you were to take that traffic and directed to a paid item. I just want to put that seed out there and that’s actually a change that we made recently. And already we’re seeing some like big, big changes in results for the bottom line as far as that’s concerned. So just the last bit tidbit, cause nowhere on Lifter LMS is there actually a free plugin.

Just a last thought. Now I’d like to talk about the role of competition in the marketplace. This was a conversation put on by Jilt. Jilt is actually my competition kind of. They are a WooCommerce and easy to do that unloads and Shopify focused marketing automation platform. They do email card, abandonments, broadcast, all, all those same stuff. And they were talking about, what’s the first thing, you know, if I were to tell you Jonathan, there is a brand new agency down the block from you and what they’re doing is they’re putting together customers. And they’re putting together a platform in order to be able to provide people with bespoke membership and LMS sites. How would that make you feel?

Jonathon: It would make me feel fantastic, but I wouldn’t worry about it too much. Because this is a very similar conversation to our conversation in the first half is balance. If anybody says to you that they not interested in their competition, they’re lying to you. But on the other hand, if you’re totally fixated about the competition and what they’re doing, you’re wasting a lot of psyche energy. It’s about keeping balance.

Adrian: Well, you must be very enlightened, but for a lot of the people, at least that were there, it causes anxiety. You know, you’re worried that you’re going to lose your market share. And is it constant? Like you’re worried that there’s not going to be enough for everybody. They’re going to put my business under whenever like a new.

Jonathon: Well is the point. Obviously if they doing things that are a lot better than what you’re doing, you should be, you open to being able to see that. But on the other hand, what is the fundamental point of worrying yourself to death over things that you absolutely have no control over?

Adrian: Well, here’s the thing, that’s kind of what we’re going to talk about. You don’t really have any control over your competition. The best thing that you can do is if competition arises or if you have a significant amount of competition already is just go buy their stuff. And observe what they’re doing but don’t copy them. So a lot of what we talked about in our competition discussion at Cabo press was, you know, why we feel the way that we feel. Is because we’re worried about market share, we’re worried about losing customers. We’re worried about people who are going to leave. But here’s the thing about competition.

So business right now is, at least for us business is booming. There is a never ending stream of people starting new business people getting into the ads for people needing LMS sites, people wanting to share the information, the knowledge that they’ve acquired over the years, and then resell that to people. There is no like stop of those people. As long as people are giving birth, there will be business to be had by everybody. So if you put that in perspective and you start thinking, wow, you know, I’m putting it in my mind and I’m saying, yes, there’s a lot of competition, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that they’re gonna put me out of business.

Jonathon: Let me add one observation to this, see if you agree with it. I had a possible client because I’m very open, you know, on the website you can book a consultation with me for totally free. So I have a lot of people approaching me and a lot of the time it doesn`t lead to anything. But one lady, she approached me yesterday and so we had a quick session on zoom. And she’s got Lifter LMS and she’s built a really nice website. But she was looking. She spent a lot of time trying to find a scheduling plug in. But she was looking for scheduling functionality. And also she had been advised by Chris and the team to these other factors. So she was looking into something that could really integrate with WooCommerce

And she downloaded one plugin and basically doesn’t integrate with WooCommerce. So she asking me and I’m a bit careful about what I recommend because I normally try and recommend that something I’ve used, but I haven’t done a really major scheduling integration. The last one I did was a couple of years ago. And so I said I’ll get back to you. And there was a couple of ones I wanted to check to see if they work with WooCommerce that well. So I did a little bit of about half hour to 40 minutes, because I’m seasoned so I know what to look for in that. And I was just go smart about by them man of competition in the past two years. The amount of competition there is in scheduling plugins. I take this as a master full in general because I think the WordPress ecosystem. The plugin ego system has become globalized.

It was very dominated by American developers in the first five to six years, seven years. Because I’d go in at WordPress inversion free, but especially the last two to three years, it seems they’ve got even more globalized with a lot of players in Israel. And also a lot of very powerful professional teams based in Eastern Europe, in the old Eastern Europe. Now this is part of the European community. And I would say when it comes to scheduling plugins. They must be literally 15 to 20 that you can find quite quickly by doing Google searches. I feel it is the same in a lot of sectors. Is that just the amount of competition is definitely increased.

Adrian: Absolutely. I mean, if you were to go onto Google and type in Facebook ads course. There’s not 20 of them, there’s 2000 of them. But here’s the thing about having a lot of competition. If you have a lot of competition, or you’re looking to enter somewhere that has a lot of competition, don’t think of that as a hindrance. Don’t think it’s like, wow, there’s, you know, they’re taking up all the market share because the only thing that competition truly does is validate that people need it. All it does is validate the market. It shows you that there is an opportunity for you to do something differently in the same area that people are already in. For example, email marketing. The one that I’m in is an $18 billion industry dominated by MailChimp, Hubspot active campaign and Garris bonds.

I am a two person team plugin developer for WordPress operating out of a digital marketing agencies office in Toronto, Canada. No big frilly office, no big thing. However, we’re out our space of the market based on one simple thing. We just do what they do differently. We do it on WordPress. It’s not SAS, it’s not whatever. It’s simple. It looks like WordPress. It integrates easily with WordPress. So while we technically do the same thing that all of the rest of our competition, and we’re just doing it differently. And at the end of the day, if you can just do the same thing that everybody else is doing differently, different is better than better. You don’t necessarily need to be better than your competition. You just need to operate in a manner that sets you apart. Because people will always be unhappy, even with the most awesome and expensive and feature rich products.

People will always find something wrong with it. And at that point they will move to something else that they’re going to try and find and like. And you can be that person because no one is ever truly satisfied with the solution that they’re on. And that means there is always room for to enter the market and provide the same solution differently. So that a certain subset of people, it might not be the majority of the market, might even just be as tiny minority of the market. But there was always that tiny minority that needs to be served that isn’t currently being served that you can get into that super competitive space and fill the desire.

That’s kind of like the biggest thing that I learned about competition. Is like, yes I have $18 billion worth of competition, but we do it differently and different is better than better. We will serve the people who need marketing automation and use it for WordPress and for like the 20 different scheduling plugins. There’s like acuity and there’s a schedule once and there’s so many of them.

Jonathon: There is an army of them.

Adrian: They all do it differently. So you’ve got to find the one that does it in the way that you like. And then for the ones that don’t like it that way, they’re going to go get a different one and that’s totally fine. There’s enough for everybody.

Jonathon: We are going to wrap it up now. Those 35 minutes had gone quick. But we’re going to continue the discussion with some bonus content as well, which you’d be able to see the whole interview plus the bonus on the WP Tonic YouTube channel. And we publish our interviews and round table shows on the WP YouTube channel the quickest. So if you can’t get enough of us and the panel go to our channel and subscribe. And you’d be updated automatically when I publish on that platform. So Adrian how can people find out more about you and Groundhogg?

Adrian: Well, I recently actually shared a whole lot more about Cabo press on my office hours on our Facebook group. You can go to Facebook and then search for the group, Groundhogg WP, and you can actually watch the replay of that office hours. If you’re interested in more about what we’ve been sharing on this podcast and you want to find more about that. If you’re interested in marketing automation for WordPress specifically, then you can go to again, that’s with two G`S. And you can see what options we have to serve you and your marketing automation needs.

Jonathon: That’s great. We’ll see you next week where we are going to have a great guest. I actually, I’m excited about the final third of the year. I’ve managed to rustle up an amazing group of experts for the last part of the year. Folks am sure you’re gonna be amazed at the quality of interviews. I’m already pumped. It is going to be a strong ending to the year. We will be back next week with a great expert to give your insight in how to build your course, your WordPress site. We are just WordPress junkies and learning management junkies. We’d be back next week.

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