357: Productized Service Coaching: Building a Product Ladder

Side Hustle Nation is dedicated to improving your personal profitability. To do this, we often partner with companies that share that mission. If you sign up or make a purchase through one of our partners’ links, we may receive compensation—at no extra cost to you. Learn more.

You’ve started a business.

You’ve created a product or a service.

You’re selling it to clients and getting great feedback.

That’s great, you’ve overcome so many of the hurdles we face as entrepreneurs. But the next step is finding a way to keep new customers coming through the doors and scaling up your services.

That’s the challenge today’s guest Matt Rudnitsky of Platypusbooks.com is facing. Matt helps entrepreneurs and other interesting people turn their ideas and expertise into books.

For this, Matt earns $30k and up per project. But, as you might have guessed, it takes a ton of work and the client pipeline is sometimes dry for months at a time. Matt has also created an online course teaching self-publishing, but hasn’t enrolled any students yet.

So, I invited Kurt Elster from EtherCycle.com back onto the show. (Some of you will remember Kurt from episode 71 back in 2014 where he talked about productized consulting).

Kurt hosts the unofficial Shopify podcast and is a leader in productized consulting in the Shopify space. He’s faced all the same problems Matt, and a lot of you reading this are currently facing.

Tune in to hear our take on Matt’s business and Kurt’s recommendations for next steps. As you listen in, put yourself in Matt’s shoes and see how a similar product or service ladder can apply to your own business.

What Was Matt Looking to Get out of the Call?

“There are a million potential things I can do, and I don’t know which are the most important,” Matt told me.

Matt’s order pipeline is very opportunistic. Most of his business comes from referrals, and he has no trouble closing the deal when opportunities arise. Matt’s problem is getting consistent leads.

He also said he finds it difficult to segment leads into people he can sell a $500 course too, and those who are looking for a $30-$50k ghostwriting project. Matt has the capacity to take on at least two big jobs at a time. The challenge is keeping that work flowing at the moment.

Kurt had a lot of positives for Matt, saying it’s great that he’s getting referral business and has high ticket sales. And, looking at Matt’s website, Kurt said he can see Matt has a validated business. “100% you know this will work, this can be made to generate a substantial full-time income for you,” Kurt told Matt.

Kurt explained that to solve Matt’s problems, he needs to put processes in place to make sure these referral sales are not just happening due to circumstances. Matt needs to “engineering his luck” to capture more of these big sales.

Why Matt Should Focus in on His Ideal Customers

Kurt said that Matt’s current spectrum of customers spanning $500 courses to $30k ghostwriting projects feel like they overlap, but they really don’t. These are very different customers, and he would benefit from narrowing down his focus.

Kurt asked Matt, “who is your ideal customer?”

“I’m more passionate about helping the lower end of the spectrum. But I find them harder to reach, and harder to sell,” Matt said.

Matt’s favorite client was one of his first clients. He coached someone through the process of turning a series of memoirs and articles into a book. He would like to work on more projects like this, but doesn’t know how to find them.

Kurt said the number one way to attract a certain type of client is to work in public and share a successful case study. He told Matt he should use his first client as a case study and share this story. This will attract more people looking for this type of service, and they will reach out to Matt.

The second thing Kurt recommended is changing up the copy and layout of Matt’s homepage. Matt needs a “positioning statement” at the top of his page, making it clear what his mission is when someone lands on his site.

How Matt Can Funnel People into Buying His Course

With Matt’s course in beta and his ideal customers falling into this part of his business, he needed some help focusing on how he’s going to generate course sales.

Matt told us he has 400 people on his email list. I suggested he send them an email and try to get some people to buy his course so he can start getting feedback. Kurt said the $500 price tag might be a little high for someone to jump to without a lead magnet. He suggested pulling out a core part of the course and selling that first as a lead-in.

Kurt explained that if you can help someone get unstuck and take action on a smaller step first, you’re more likely to be able to upsell them to a course or a more expensive product. He recommended Matt take this approach with his first course.

How Matt Can Use Price Anchoring as a Lead Gen

Another tip Kurt shared, and it’s something he uses on his own site, is what he calls “price anchoring”. He said Matt can advertise his high-end services like his ghostwriting that starts at $30k, then lead people to less expensive courses and services he has.

This lets people who are interested in his course know that Matt really knows his stuff if he’s charging that much for coaching. It’s also a way they can work with him without signing up for high-end services.

Looking for Commonalities in Previous Customers

An idea I ran past Matt was to think if there are any commonalities with his previous customers. If he can profile his ideal customers, he can narrow down his search and target those people.

Matt said most of his ideal clients are, “Anyone who considers themselves an expert in some sort of specialized field.” So, people who are experts in a given topic, and want to write a book on that topic.

Kurt said this is great, this means he can market his services as helping people become “the authority” in their industry.

How Matt Can Use Past Clients as Assets with an Offboarding Process

Matt doesn’t currently have an offboarding process. Once he’s finished working with a client, they part ways. Kurt said past clients can be valuable assets, even unfair advantages, if used correctly.

Kurt suggested going back to past clients and:

  • asking for feedback to write up case studies
  • requesting a testimonial
  • asking them if they know anyone who would also benefit from Matt’s service

How Matt Could Be Using Cold Outreach to Secure High-End Clients

A couple of ideas we ran past Matt as a way of attracting high-end clients were:

  • Contacting his ideal customers, those people who are experts in their field that don’t already have a book
  • Offering a lower upfront price point and negotiating a deal on royalties from the book sales

Matt said he’s dipped his toe into both of these areas. He didn’t have much success with cold outreach, mostly he said down to the $30k price point. He’s also said the royalty split will not work with a lot of his clients as their books are often used to sell their courses and other services.

He hasn’t really targeted clients that already have a high-end course, but don’t have a book as a lead magnet yet. This is something he’s going to explore.

How Matt Can Increase His Conversion Rate on Sales Conversations

Matt said he’s not having much luck closing sales, so we asked him what his sales conversations go like. “They always say they’re really interested, it sounds super cool, they don’t doubt me, but it’s not an urgent priority,” Matt told us.

Kurt said there are a couple of things Matt can do to increase his conversion rate when talking to potential clients:

If they sound like they’re on the fence about making a decision, Kurt said to tell them you’ll only make time for them now if they make a deposit. This adds some urgency to the deal to try and ease them into a sale.

If it’s earlier in the conversation, make a case that they will see a positive return on investment. This is where the case studies and social proof comes into play Kurt spoke about earlier. If Matt can show a potential client that they are likely to see a positive return on investment by working with him, it’s hard for them to turn it down.

Next Steps and Things to Prioritize from the Call

“Number one would be cleaning up the website,” Matt said. He’s going to add two different positioning statements on different pages. One will talk about the case study he’s going to write up. The other is explaining how he can help experts become an authority in their industry through publishing a book.

The second thing he’s going to focus on is the cold outreach Kurt talked him through. This way Matt can start bringing in business instead of waiting for referrals via word of mouth. He’s going to work on selling a lead magnet first and upselling later.

The third thing is getting in front of other people’s audiences to promote his course and other services. Matt is going to try and land some guest posts, get on more podcasts, etc.

Links and Resources from this Episode


  • Ahrefs – Start your 7-day trial today for just $7!

  • Blinkist – Start your free trial or get 3 months off an annual plan and get instant access to 3000+ bestselling book summaries.

Want More Side Hustle Show?

Subscribe to The Side Hustle Show on iTunes!

Subscribe to The Side Hustle Show on Android!

Subscribe to The Side Hustle Show via RSS!

Or use the player app above to listen right in your browser.

Like That? There's More!

Join the 100,000 Who Get My Best Stuff via Email

I'll also send you my free guide: The 5 Fastest Ways to Make More Money.

Nick Loper

About the Author

Nick Loper is a side hustle expert who loves helping people earn more money and start businesses they care about. He hosts the award-winning Side Hustle Show, where he's interviewed over 500 successful entrepreneurs, and is the bestselling author of Buy Buttons, The Side Hustle, and $1,000 100 Ways.

His work has been featured in The New York Times, Entrepreneur, Forbes, TIME, Newsweek, Business Insider, MSN, Yahoo Finance, The Los Angeles Times, The San Francisco Chronicle, The Financial Times, Bankrate, Hubspot, Ahrefs, Shopify, Investopedia, VICE, Vox, Mashable, ChooseFI, Bigger Pockets, The Penny Hoarder, GoBankingRates, and more.

1 thought on “357: Productized Service Coaching: Building a Product Ladder”

  1. Thanks so much for this episode, it’s been a real inspiration for me – as are most of your podcasts. I find myself at age 61 without the ability to retire and unable to secure employment befitting my experience. I am the elder statesman of side hustles. I mainly do freelance media production, audio engineering, music composition and production and on the side side also DJ at parties and weddings.
    This year I started a podcast https://www.sharesforbeginners.com/. Shares are what we in Australia call stocks. It’s actually getting reasonable downloads and I’m beginning to gain a profile as a podcast host and personality.
    My aim to monetize the podcast is to use it as an advertisement for myself to approach financial services companies to produce podcasts for them. I’ve just picked up my 2nd project so getting quite excited. I’m also grooming some leads as a speaker and voice over artist for finservs.
    It’s a wonderful and inspiring journey. This journey is greatly enhanced by listening to your podcast at the gym and getting mentally and physically pumped. Thanks Nick


Leave a Comment

Usually Hustling, Occasionally Social

plutus winner

The Company

4580 Klahanie Dr SE #155
Sammamish, WA 98029

The Fine Print
Terms of Use
How We Make Money
Do Not Sell My Personal Information
As an Amazon Associate, we earn from qualifying purchases.