1. Hello! Who are you and what is your business?
My name is Harry Morton. I’m the founder of Lower Street, a company specializing in premium podcast production services. We’re a fully remote team, but I’m personally based in Somerset in South West UK.
My background is in audio, and after getting sacked from the studio I worked at in London 10 years ago (time flies), I spent six years in sales and marketing jobs planning how to start my own business.
A lot of my research was done listening to business podcasts and slowly the idea to produce shows for brands dawned on me. So now as the founder of an audio company, I’m able to combine both sides of my professional experience.
I started as many services businesses owners do, by doing everything myself. Salesman, producer, project manager, marketer, CFO, etc. As we’ve scaled over the last three years, I’ve been able to remove myself from the day-to-day work and focus more on our strategy and growth.
Today we’re making $25k/month, but after some key hires late last year expect a lot of growth in 2020 now that my focus has shifted away from project management. We are currently a full-time team of four with eight+ contractors who work with us as audio editors, writers, designers, marketers etc.
We operate a subscription model, but also help clients that want to launch highly-produced 6-12 episode seasons. Growth has come largely from clearly positioning ourselves as a premium service and focussing on customers who want to create the best podcast in their industry.
2. How do you attract and retain your customers?
I got our first customers through cold email outreach. In many ways I think this was the best way to begin. Through the responses – both positive and negative – I was able to learn a huge amount about the podcast landscape, the needs and struggles of podcasters.
The rest of our growth has come from some pretty basic SEO which results in a small amount of traffic – traffic that arrives at our site with a high level of intent. Therefore, the 30 or so leads we receive per month has proved to be enough to fuel us until now.
Our customer retention has been excellent for the most part. I put this down to making our clients lives as simple as possible, regular, personal communication, and continually helping them to improve and grow.
3. What were your challenges and obstacles of growing your business?
Our challenges have come from selling to the wrong kinds of clients. The original cold email campaign I mentioned targeted brands that were already podcasting. We figured we could help them do a better job. This worked and we are still working with many of those clients today. But it also exposed us to a lot of tire kickers and bad clients. Clients that expected the earth for a very low monthly fee.
We’ve found that by increasing our pricing and explicitly targeting high-ticket consultants, enterprises, and SaaS brands, we are able to charge rates that allow us to do our best work for clients that stick with us for the long term.
4. What has been helpful to help you to grow your business?
Hiring a rockstar project manager has been a pivotal move for the company. Putting someone in place that I trust completely to do a better job than me of managing our clients, the team, and the company’s day-to-day workload has allowed me to take a step back and look at the bigger picture.
Certainly, podcasting is a growing trend and a good market to be a part of. It’s the reason I started this business – I could see that content marketers were turning to audio more and more and bet the company on the idea that this would continue. Now doing this for three years I can see that we are still in the very early stages of the industry’s growth.
Growing a strong network in the podcast industry as well as the online founder community has been critical to our ongoing success. Mastermind groups, conferences, slack channels, and meetups have been an endless source of inspiration, guidance, and help in retaining my sanity. It’s the reason that a year ago I decided to run my own mini conference, Singletrack.
5. What is your advice for those are starting productized services?
My advice would firstly be to pick a large and growing market. If you see a lot of competition in the space, that’s a good thing. It means there is money moving around and you can figure out a way to carve out your piece of it. Differentiation is always a challenge for a service business, but it’s far better to have a ton of competitors than to stand alone in an industry where nobody is looking for a solution.
6. What are your plans for the future?
We plan to continue to focus on producing the highest quality branded podcasts out there.
The goal is to double our revenue this year and for me to step back even more from client interaction and management to focus on launching some new services we’re developing.
We are currently in pre-production on our own podcasts which will launch later this quarter to get our brand out there and show what quality production sounds like. We’ll also have a completely overhauled brand and messaging by early Q2 2020 which will help our sales and marketing efforts to reach the financial goals.
7. Where can we learn more about you?
More info on the founder retreat I run in Andorra is at http://singletrackconf.com/