In a conversation with a person who had a boutique SEO consultancy I realized that they weren’t actually skilled at SEO. Rather, they knew how to use MozSEO quite well and they sold very nice looking reports that contained recommendations. They weren’t the ones implementing these recommendations, but they were parsing the MozSEO reports and giving concrete suggestions.
The business was just two people, granted, but it was very profitable. They paid ~$600 a month for MozSEO (but probably could have downgraded to the smaller plan) and charged more than a dozen clients ~$500 each and worked part-time.
That conversation really brought home that all products, in one way or another, make money for their users.
And products could be classified into one of three types based on how they do that.
Products that allow users to earn directly
Marketplaces such as Airbnb allow users to sell a product or service.
A subset of these are platforms, like Twitch for instance, act both as a marketplace and a production tool.
Products that improve efficiency
These products allow users to either save money, or increase the efficiency of earning money.
Using a project management tool, for instance, might make your team more efficient increasing earnings per employee. An analytics tool could help you design your site better to improve conversion rate.
Abstract away a skill
The third kind of product is the most interesting.
These products replace having to know how to do something if you can use them effectively.
The point of my story above was that hiring an SEO expert stopped meaning hiring someone who knows SEO best-practices and how to implement them. Instead, it became hiring someone who will set up MozSEO and explain what should be done.
What’s interesting about them
They abstract away a skill
SEO stops being about adding
meta tags, and becomes about setting up MozSEO that tells you which ones to add.
They can be used by the end-user or can be re-sold
MozSEO can be used by a website owner, or they can hire someone who uses it.
They make using the product a desirable skill in itself
An SEO agency would be hiring people who’re already familiar with Moz.
They significantly lower the barrier to entry
It’s much easier to learn to use just MozSEO, than php, Google Webmaster tools and Google Analytics.
They result in an 80/20 end-result
Social media graphics produced using Canva look quite nice, but they are a bit similar since they follow a similar style.
Some more examples
Canva – You don’t need to know how to do graphic design. You get a premium Canva membership instead, and fill in convenient and obvious placeholders.
Shopify – Instead of coding a website, or using Wordpress with WooCommerce, you can set up Shopify and get a much better result.
Adwords – Instead of going into the depths of general advertising principles, you need to know how to draw conclusions from Adwords results. In my experience, hiring an internet marketing agency doesn’t mean hiring an advertising agency who’ll be able to study trends and positioning and branding. It means hiring someone who knows Adwords really well.
Buffer – There’s little point in managing a schedule yourself when Buffer can do that very well. A social media manager is expected to be able use Buffer effectively.