Developing and Growing a Plugin with Garth Koyle


with Garth Koyle

Event Espresso

Welcome to the WP Elevation podcast “Best Of” series where we dig into the archives to bring you the best golden nuggets and business principals from over the last few years. Yes, we even looked at the metrics to find the most popular podcasts so if you have missed a show or are a fairly new subscriber, you will love this! 

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This week’s guest is Garth Koyle from Event Espresso whose goal is to grow his business into a $100 million dollar revenue company. How do you do this I hear you ask? Well, let’s get some hot business and marketing tips from Garth. 

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Show Notes

A Bit About Garth

Garth Koyle has over a decade of experience in business management and internet marketing.

Tune in at the 6-minute mark to find out a bit more about his background and what led him to Event Espresso. 

Garth joined Seth Shoultes to become the co-founder of Event Espresso in 2012 and has helped the company to grow significantly since they launched. He also co-developed a Saas version of the Event Espresso plugin called Event Smart, which he intends on growing to a $100 million dollar revenue company.

Finding Balance

We all know the stresses of being an entrepreneur and finding that balance can be so hard especially when you have little ones like Garth does! So he has found that having a healthy and distracting hobby is really important. He lets his hobbies take him away for a few hours a week to recharge his battery and give his mind a break from work stresses. Garth loves bike riding around the mountains where he lives. Riding a bike means that you can’t text or use your phone, it increases endorphins and helps energy levels.

Customer Focus

One of Garth’s favourite quotes is:  Management works within a system, leadership works on a system. So he says that he is constantly evaluating the system and making changes. The company’s core value is to give customers value and control through the systems that they provide.

He manages at a higher level rather than focusing on putting out fires. He says he’s learned to think about what the customer really wants. Customers generally don’t care about what the technology is, so you need to focus on the solution that will better their lives and their business rather than advertise the features of the product to the client.

Hot Tip

When you communicate and market you want to focus on the value and benefits rather than the technology.

Building a Team

Garth says his strategy for building his team is to have an awareness of the pain being experienced in the company. “You’ll figure out what you need when it becomes painful enough” he explains. If you have support backlog or UI complaints it can become damaging to the company you, therefore, need to:

  1. Listen to the pains from the customers and your employees
  2. Ask yourself, can we afford to alleviate that pain?
  3. Will it increase customer satisfaction?

They rarely use job postings to find staff. The staff that they hire has either approached them or they’ve found them by doing business together. Some of their staff were initially customers!

The company employs workers from the Ukraine to the West Coast of the United States.

Development of the Plugin

His company decides future development based on three factors:

  1. Feedback from customers
  2. Strategic Goals
  3. Speed of Development

To determine the validity of a new feature, Garth says his team will:

  • List the features
  • Give them scores from 1-5
  • Rank the importance
  • Rank the ease of development
  • Rank the speed of development

The team will then choose the top candidates for development and then they just table the other ones.

Measuring Success

Garth explains that it is difficult to determine the success of features in a distributed product because if you put a plugin in the WordPress repository, you’re not allowed to communicate with the users and it is, therefore, more difficult to collect data.

To combat the problem, Event Espresso uses limited surveys, watches sales, support loads, and attributes those support calls for certain features. They also build queries into the plugin to attempt to build data that will determine the usefulness of particular features in the plugin.

Marketing Freemium vs Premium Product

Event Espresso offers a free version, called Decaf which plays very little in the marketing mix for the company.  They focus most of their marketing on the fully-featured product. Garth explains that he’s gained more customers from other channels than through the free plugin and that people who are serious about marketing their events will end up using the fully featured product.

Competing on Price

Everybody has to compete on price eventually. However, in order to compete less often, you have to understand your value proposition:

  • What you deliver to the customer and how you deliver it
  • Understand what your product does and where it fits in the market
  • Leverage those differentiating factors and communicate them well

Then the customers will understand how they need you more than they need your competitors and price will be less of an influence.

Garth’s Secrets to Success

  • Build a good team. Do as much for yourself as possible then when you can’t do it yourself, take the time to find the right people to help you.
  • Content Marketing is a must. Garth says that in the early days the company was growing at 15% per month because of the content they offered through their website and then nurturing those customers over time.
  • Get to know your customers. The more you talk to your customers, the more you understand what’s important to them. Talk to your customers and you will get better at it with practice
  • Stay on track. To keep a project on track, make sure you plan ahead. Planning is expensive, but it can also help you be more profitable and meet expectations down the road. Then you need to follow the project outline as closely as possible. The due diligence up front is really invaluable.
  • Get referred! Make customers happy and ensure that they’re having a good experience. You can then ask them for referrals. They use tools to gauge customer satisfaction and if it is good, they will send the customer a message asking them for referrals. They use Help Scout, surveys and simply by watching support conversations.
  • Differentiate your company. Differentiating yourself is an ongoing task. Garth says that they want to be the lead provider for ticketing and registration, and that can only come as they focus on a complete product for their niche. They focus on what they do and not necessarily what their customers think they should do. 

Well, there you have it. Some hot tips from a guy who knows how to do plugins like a boss! Let us know what you think in the comments below. What tips do you have when it comes to growing your business or developing a plugin? We’d love to hear from you.


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Troy Dean

I am the Founder of Agency Mavericks. The reason I get out of bed every day is because I love helping people to grow their web design or digital marketing businesses. I do this through coaching, creating courses, speaking, consulting and heading up our awesome community.

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