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Jon Hollenberg on Building a 7-Figure Business


From Freelancing to Five by Five

Jon Hollenberg, a web designer by trade, spent many years building websites out of his home office. Web design was a commoditised field with low barriers to entry, so Jon was careful not to overprice. He built hundreds of websites at affordable prices, but he quickly realised that it would be impossible to build a 7-figure business if he stayed on the same track.

The switch came for Jon when he had kids. Suddenly, he was booted out of his home office, and a long list of new expenses arrived. He started the process of changing his approach, with the vision of building a 7-figure web design business firmly in his sights.

Jon started documenting the process and making a note of common questions that his clients asked. He then started to publish content – answering his client’s queries in blog articles. Whenever a new client would ask a familiar question, Jon would simply refer them to the corresponding blog post. Not only did this help his sales process, but traffic on his website started to grow.

As traffic started to grow, so did enquiries, and suddenly Jon found himself in need of employees. He started hiring designers and assistants to help deliver the product and manage customer relationships. One thing that changed during this time was pricing. Suddenly, freelance rates weren’t enough to sustain a business with employees, so Jon had to make a change.

How do you make the shift to premium pricing?

Jon’s shift from low-range prices to premium pricing came incrementally. He was raised as a humble person, in a household where being extravagant and having nice things wasn’t the norm. This affected that way he priced his products. In the early stages, he didn’t want to overcharge or get rejected, so he kept his prices low, at around 2-3k for a website.

Once Jon started building Five by Five, he knew that his prices were too low. But he didn’t suddenly start charging 7-8k per website overnight, he made the shift over time. The process of delivering a website and getting feedback from his clients has helped him justify an increase in price.

A client would come back after a job had been completed and say they had 50 new leads in the past month from the website. Suddenly, a 2k investment sounded like a bargain. As a result, Jon used these results and started to increase his prices.

Now, his value proposition is this: “we can double your website traffic and enquiries in 6 months, and build a website that you’re proud of.” Being able to offer ‘double website traffic’ is the outcome that client’s want, and they’re willing to pay premium prices for those results.

How do you build an Ascending Transaction Model?

Next, Jon started to build out an Ascending Transaction Model. Essentially, an Ascending Transaction Model (ATM) is a Product Ecosystem that allows prospects to build up to purchasing your core product. It allows them to make small investments so they can get to know you and gain value from your expertise, rather than trying to sell them a high-ticket item right out of the gate.

The ATM is made up of 4 stages: Gifts, Products-for-Prospects, Core Product, and, Products-for-Clients. Gifts are a way for you to gain the trust of your prospects by giving them value without any commitment. This can be anything from a free guide, report, book, or audiobook. Next, is your Product-for-Prospects. This needs to be something like a strategy session, audit, or event, which prospects can purchase for a small monetary investment. It’s a way to qualify buyers while building more trust and moving them closer towards your core product.

Your Core Product is the next stage of your ATM. Once someone has consumed your gifts and purchased a product-for-prospects, it’s more likely that they will be ready to engage in a sales conversation. This is where you can make the pitch for your core product, explaining how your product can help them achieve even more success. Finally, your products-for-clients are essential for re-engaging your existing customers and helping them get more out of your product or service.

Let’s take a look at Jon’s ATM:

GIFT: Audiobook – “Love at First Site.”

PRODUCT-FOR-PROSPECTS: Book “Love at First Site.” Jon’s book tells readers everything they need to know about briefing a web design company. Essentially, it nurtures his leads, because it educates them and makes the process of selling his core product much easier.

Interactive workshop – Jon also runs a half-day workshop that dives deep website design. Similar to the book, it educates his prospects and sells them on the importance of an effective, attractive website.

CORE PRODUCT: Five by Five’s core product is, of course, building attractive, high-performing websites. They use WordPress to build handcrafted, custom-designed sites.

Entry level pricing starts at 7-8k, for a website that will last 3-5 years.

PRODUCT-FOR-CLIENTS: Five by Five offers a range of services for clients, including website content, asset creation, maintenance, support, and hosting.

Jon’s decision to publish his book, “Love at First Site”, was the catalyst for his businesses rapid growth. It separated him from his competitors and instantly positioned him as an expert and authority in his market. Re-purposing his book into a free audiobook was also a masterstroke. The digital download enabled prospects to immediately gain value from a unique content asset while introducing him and his company as experts in their industry.

As for being able to send a physical hard-copy of the book to prospects, Jon believes this differentiating factor has helped him break through in an industry that is always online. Physically sending someone a book in the post or walking into a meeting and slapping it on the desk causes real pattern-interruption. People take notice. They sit up, they grab the book, and they consume it.

Most importantly, publishing a book has had a massive impact on Jon’s numbers. Since launching and distributing the book, Jon’s proposal conversion rate went from 1 in 5, to 1 in 2. The initial time and cost investment of writing, publishing, and distributing a book has more than paid for itself, thanks to the remarkable increase in conversions.

Jon now leads a team of 12 at Five by Five and is well on his way to achieving his vision of becoming Australia’s leading website design company.

Jon Hollenberg will be joining us at Influence and Assets on 11 September in Brisbane where we will deep dive into the principles for building more visibility in your industry while formalising IP into business assets. The best bit is, I’ll be sharing these insights through the lens of real-world case studies. Early bird ticket sales is closing tomorrow, 31 August so hurry and grab your ticket now.