As you can see from my post count, I'm a very new WPMU subscriber. I started subscribing to the service to meet the needs of a specific client. Now I'm using it for other client projects, as well. I thought I would describe how WPMU helped me hit a home run for a client and me.
My approach to website development is a little different than most. With so many people giving away WordPress websites for next to nothing, I decided to create a different sales approach that beats the bottom-feeders at their own game. I give away the website completely if the client agrees to let me develop the content pages and gives me a 1-year SEO contract. This approach works because creating good content is far more difficult than putting up a basic website.
My latest client had an interesting website design problem. While most websites have a clear client focus, they have three different types of clients:
- End customer
- Employers of the customer
- Agents that sell the product
Working on the wireframe design, it was clear that what they needed was four unique navigation structures. While this could have been accomplished by coding a theme with different page templates and menus, I decided to attack it with WP Multisite.
After delivering the four-in-one website, my client flipped and immediately asked if I could create a site that would provided a totally automated electronic quoting capability. Two days later I had their second site finished. WPMU took at least four hours off of the traditional WP setup time, so I was able to focus all of my effort on the design and content.
Then something amazing happened. It dawned on me (doesn't happen often) that all of the great content I had created for their new websites to attract customers is ideal for their employers and agents. So I pitched the idea of creating employer portals and agent sites on their WPMU platform. All of a sudden their website became a money making machine for them. All that was needed is a mechanism to control content. Let me explain.
My client sells health care insurance for seniors (Medicare). Due to the fact that seniors are working longer before they retire, employers need to get their working seniors off of the company health benefits and on to Medicare to control the benefits budget. When approaching employers about how they can help, my client was getting shut down by the HR Manager. They directed them to their existing health care agent. However, when I gave my client an example Medicare portal that a company can put inside their domain, the game changed. All of a sudden, the HR manager had a tangible "look at what we're doing for you" benefit for the senior workforce.
After the first employer win, my client came back to me with the challenge to make the setup cost of each employer portal less than $100. This became a slam dunk using the New Blog Templates plugin.
As you can imagine, hosting Medicare agent websites was the next discussion. Again, the WPMU toolkit was instrumental in pulling this off. The only thing missing for both the employer portals and the agent websites is a way to distribute the same content without it being the same. I'm working on that right now and have the solution 70% complete.
What I'm building is a plugin that allows for the creation of a rich document catalog that contains a "plain text" version and a "spun" version. The catalog runs at the root site level. At the sub-site level another plugin is used to display a catalog of the available documents and the shortcode to use to add the spun text to a page or post. Each sub-site gets a unique seed key that guarantees their documents will be unique to their site.
What I tapped into is a way to use WPMU to create vertical market websites. The new opportunities are endless:
- Real Estate Agents
- Insurance Agents
- Loan Brokers
- Business Coaches
The list can go on for pages.
Creating a nice-looking website with great content is beyond the reach of most professionals. They can hire someone to do it for a hefty price, or they can use a service provider in their industry and pay them a monthly fee. WPMU allows us to compete with the niche service providers that spent BIG BUCKS to create their one-off platform.
Here's what the competition looks like:
They claim to have over 2,000 clients.
Here's one claiming to have 8,000 client in a single vertical:
They are just now getting into providing websites for their clients.
If you are having difficulty getting your WPMU based business off the ground, I encourage you to go vertical. It allows you to focus all of your energy on one type of client. If you develop libraries of quality content you become invaluable to your clients. The content becomes an additional monthly subscription fee that your clients will gladly pay to receive (think articles, blog posts, white label videos, pod casts, etc.). Plus, you can spin and syndicate the same content again and again to produce backlinks for your clients (monthly SEO service!).
In closing, here's my WPMU DEV homepage quote:
"WPMU DEV allows me to create killer vertical market website services at a small fraction of the cost of custom development. As a result, I can focus more time and energy on creating the content and value-added services necessary to fuel vertical market success."