The Art of Being Different With Chris Lema

Web design in general and WordPress development have become very crowded markets.

If you want to know how to rise above the noise and attract bigger clients without lowering your prices, Chis Lema has some incredibly insightful strategies to share as we discuss The Art of Being Different.

Chris Lema doesn’t really need an introduction because most people in the WordPress community already know him. He is Vice President of Products at Liquid Web working on WordPress and WooCommerce hosting platforms for sites like memberships, online courses, and ecommerce that need to be fast without traditional caching. Chris is a coach for product companies. He is also a speaker including being the keynote speaker at many WordCamps, and he blogs every day.

Chris was one of my very first mentors. We met over 10 years ago when I hired him to help us develop our marketing strategy for a business we were rebranding. I credit that experience as the start of my personal shift into marketing.

How To Make Your Product or Business Stand Out

Timestamp: 02:56

It doesn’t really help when bloggers create articles titled “The 50 Best WordPress Whatevers” – ecommerce themes, online course plugins, hosting companies, etc. If there are 50 in the list – they can’t all be the best – at least not for the scenario you have in mind. So how do you sift through everything to find the gems?

This is a really important conversation – not just for people looking for good resources – but also if you’re trying to promote your product or business.

So, Chris breaks things down for us into three steps:

  1. Define the audience or segment you’re trying to reach
  2. Discover the specifics of what this segment cares about
  3. Build the narrative into the product itself 

Make it clear that the product is designed specifically for your intended audience.

Real-World Example Of Standing Out In A Crowded Space

Timestamp: 07:20

Chris takes his own formula and then gives us a specific example for how he is actually doing this type of marketing at Liquid Web by developing a customized WordPress hosting platform for people who are running ecommerce sites, paid memberships, and online courses. These types of sites can’t be cached in the same way as other types of WordPress sites. So, he creates a narrative that is embedded directly into the product itself.

Listen to this because Chris took a WordPress hosting platform (which is already a crowded space – think WP Engine, Pagely, Kinsta, etc) and grew it from $0 to over $3million in about 2 years. That’s brand new traffic in a highly competitive space!

How Clients Actually Find You

Timestamp: 13:30

Chris tells a cool story by way of analogy to demonstrate how clients are going to be looking for your business. This is really helpful information to know if you’re thinking about improving your search engine rankings or creating content for a content marketing strategy.

If you’re trying to figure out how to show your client value without dropping your price, Chris’s example about bathroom remodeling will give you a bunch of ideas.

How To Stop Using Lower Pricing To Win Clients

Timestamp: 17:25

Price tends to be the worst metric to demonstrate value but most service providers (especially web designers) tend to fall back to lowering their price to attract clients who are looking for better value. The result is this crazy price race to the bottom we’re seeing right now with web design.

Chris shares another story to demonstrate several other, more powerful value indicators you can use to attract clients looking for great value even if you charge a lot more than everyone else.

Should Web Designers Niche Down?

Timestamp: 20:20

I’ve found that a lot of web designers resist focusing their attention on a specific target market for two reasons:

  1. They don’t want to turn away clients they could help
  2. They feel like working on one thing would be boring and they want more variety in their work

Chris has an interesting perspective that he shares about attracting bigger clients with better “bait.”

Even more interesting than that, Chris unpacks the truth about why you’ll never get bored by specializing. You just go deep rather than wide. The story Chris tells demonstrates exactly how this works. The end result is you’ll help clients at a deeper level and that’s where the real value actually is.

Experts differentiate by knowing their space, not by lowering their price.

What Do Your Clients Think Is The Next Best Thing To You?

Timestamp: 31:54

Chris and I both agree that if you don’t think you have competitors or you don’t bother to look into what your clients think of as your competitors you’ll never be able to create effective marketing for why working with you is different and of higher value. Chris requires his product managers to fill out a spreadsheet of all of the competitors – but not for the reasons you might think.

If you want to be more effective onboarding clients, you need to know what else they’ve been exposed to. Chris gives an awesome example of how to win clients without pitching. It’s not about portfolios, free trials, and case studies.

3 Ways To Accidentally Kill Your Message?

Timestamp: 36:24

It’s easy to get excited about what you’re doing and go heads-down full steam ahead. But that is naive and dangerous because:

  1. You believe you’re new because you don’t know history
  2. You believe you’re innovative because you don’t know who your competitors are today
  3. You feel like your innovation is how you deliver the result, not the result itself

You can’t use “table stakes” as your differentiator. The way Chirs explains this will provide a lot of insight into what NOT to say on your website.

How Can Smaller Web Designers Thrive When It Looks Like The Big Guys Hold All The Power?

Timestamp: 40:40

A lot of smaller players – especially in the WordPress space – are getting acquired by larger businesses. For example, Kadence WP, Restrict Content Pro, GiveWP and many other plugins and themes have all been gobbled up by large hosting companies and big WordPress development teams.

Fighting giants on their field is a losing battle. But Chris opens up how to leverage your own playing field.

If you’re feeling like it’s becoming impossible to compete, listen to what Chris has to say about the opportunities that often get overlooked.

How To Win Clients Away From Wix

Timestamp: 48:22

If you feel like you’re losing clients to Wix, Weebly, Squarespace, etc. Chris tells you the one thing you need to do.

Where To Find Chris Lema