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Walter Bergeron Started From Scratch, Built and Sold His Company for $10M

Walter Bergeron is a multi-millionaire serial entrepreneur, a best selling author and Marketer of the Year. This Navy veteran started his entrepreneurial journey at the young age of 12, detailing automobiles in his parents’ driveway and has owned many businesses since then.  In 1996, after he completed a U.S. Navy tour aboard the nuclear powered aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson, he started his industrial repair company in a small shed in the middle of the sugarcane fields of Louisiana. His entrepreneurial path led him to sell his industrial company for $10 Million and is now guiding other driven entrepreneurs on a path to exponentially grow and sell their business to achieve their own 8 figure lifestyle liberating payday. For a free copy of one of his bestselling books go to www.walterbergeron.com .

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Our Chat Today

  • Tell me about the Pivotal moment you had before sales recently increased.
  • So you doubled your previous years revenue in just 90 days?
  • What did you do to freely gain an understanding of your market and clients?
  • Please tell me about the newsletter you created and the results you achieved.
  • Please tell me about the new client acquisition campaign.
  • Please tell me about the steps that lead up to your industrial case.
  • How did you get traffic to your landing pages?
  • Please tell me how you upgraded your lead generation system.
  • Tell us about the other companies that you bought.
  • Please tell me about how you create systems to run your business.
  • How did you sell your company?

Additional Resources Mentioned

How I Made $19,000 While Learning to Create My First Software Product – And What I Plan to Do Next

Software

First, let me say this: I cannot write code – AT ALL.

Luckily, to be successful in software, I don’t need to know how.

My first attempt at creating software was a WordPress plugin that helps agencies connect with clients that don’t have mobile-friendly websites. I hired a developer to create the MobiLead Magnet for me.

To ensure that the developer built exactly what I wanted, I created a mockup that showed what every screen was supposed to look like and then created labels that described what each button would do when it was clicked. This didn’t require me to have any special technology skills, so no matter what your background is, you could easily create a mockup, too.

The plugin cost me about $1,200 to build and so far, I’ve sold about $20,000 worth of it. Given that this was my very first project, I’m pretty happy with the $19,000 profit earned so far.

The success of my landing page plugin has definitely increased my desire to improve the product and turn it into a fully featured Software as a Service (SaaS) app – and I’m very happy to say that is exactly what is going to happen—only this time, unlike every other venture I’ve been involved in so far, I’m not starting from scratch.

My Next Move in Software

A few weeks ago, I reached an agreement with the founder of ConvertKit.com to buy half of the company and in today’s post I’d like to share with you the thinking that went into this decision. I’d also like to invite you to come along for the ride as we attempt to grow this business from where it is today to our first goal of $30,000 a month.

Before we get into too many details, let me give you some background into why I think this particular business has so much potential. My hope is that when you see what my partner and I are doing, some of you will see ways that you might also get into the software business – even if you can’t write code to save your life.

5 Million Reasons to Love Software

Not so long ago I learned that Lead Pages had raised financing of $5M in a Series A round. I had heard the company was doing well prior to the round, however, I really didn’t think that a company making landing page software for Internet marketers would ever close a $5M round of VC funding.

I guess that shows what I (don’t) know!

Hearing this news made me think: if VC’s are backing a company with a SaaS app that makes creating landing pages easier to do, that must mean that some pretty smart folks see this as a market with HUGE upside, otherwise they wouldn’t have made the investment.

In case you aren’t familiar with the VC model, they are only interested in funding companies that can grow really big, really fast. Doing so involves huge risk (most fail); however, when the winners come in, they come in BIG TIME.

My First SaaS Business: a Software App for Marketing Agencies

BloggingImprovesInboundROI

(Source: Hubspot 2013 State of Inbound Marketing Report)

Longtime readers will know that I am the co-founder of a SaaS company currently in development. The software is designed for marketing consultants and agencies that want to profitably scale a “blogging for clients” service and helps them to significantly increase their productivity in this regard. It doesn’t even have a name yet, though we are getting very close to releasing the software to a select group of beta testers.

The thing that I love about the product that we are creating is that it is very much in sync with the massive increase in popularity of content marketing. For consultants and agencies, this represents a substantial opportunity to increase their retainer income by creating blog content on an ongoing basis for their clients.

The thing that is yet unknown about this is whether or not consultants and agencies will actually pay for the software that we are creating. We do have plans to take pre-orders, but we aren’t there just yet and I will feel a LOT more confident about the prospects for this business as soon as I have some pre-orders booked.

Normally, when I get into a new business, there is a lot of existing competition, so I have a very high degree of confidence that I’ll be successful. After all, if there isn’t any demand for a product, there wouldn’t be any competition, right?

“The existence of plenty of competition is a very clear indicator that customers are quite willing to pay for a solution and I believe there is always room for one more competitor”

With the SaaS app I mentioned above, we don’t really have much in the way of direct competition, and that worries me a bit. In the landing page space, however, there is a truckload of competition. This competition indicates a massive opportunity…plus a guarantee that people will actually pay for software that makes it easier to create landing pages.

My Second SaaS Business: Say Hello to ConvertKit

NathanBarryShortly after moving to Boise, I was introduced to a guy by the name of Nathan Barry. After meeting him for the first time, I came away from our meeting very impressed with how much Nathan had accomplished in his first year as an entrepreneur. To say that he’d made a success of himself is an understatement.

Nathan is an extremely talented designer, has written 3 books, has built a large following for his blog, and has extensive experience designing software. He is also the founder of ConvertKit.com, a SaaS business that makes it very easy for marketers to build a profitable audience. In fact, I highly recommend you follow along with our Audience Building Challenge.

As of this writing, ConvertKit has close to 100 customers and provides them with an auto-responder and responsive form creator. Did the world need another auto-responder with a form creator?

No, it didn’t need another one, it needed a better one, and that is exactly what Nathan has built.

The Product

There is definitely no lack of competition in the email marketing software space. The list of competitors includes names like Aweber, GetResponse, MailChimp, and many more. However, as I described before, wherever there is a lot of competition, there is also a lot of opportunity. To be successful, all one needs to do is create a product that is better than the incumbents for a well selected target market.

Notice that I said ‘well selected target market’. That is key. To attempt to go head-to-head with industry giants is generally a foolish move because there is simply no way to out-spend them.

However, when you are a scrappy start up that can make decisions and iterate quickly, there is also a substantial opportunity to pursue a niche market by creating a product, that for one reason or another, is better that what is currently available.

In fact, I’d go so far as to say that even if your product is only “just as good”, but your marketing message is better (for that niche), then you the odds that you will succeed are stacked in your favor.

Our Target Market

In our case, the niche that we are going to initially pursue is marketing agencies and consultants. The reason for this is pretty simple. Both Nathan and I have a fairly large following of these folks and we feel that we will be able to use this following to help us achieve our initial goal of $30,000/month in revenue.

Based upon the success of my MobiLead Magnet, I also know that consultants need a lot of help creating landing pages that will help them to attract more clients. To help them do this, one of the things we plan to add to ConvertKit is an updated version of the landing pages the MobiLead Magnet was designed to create.

While $30,000 a month might sound like a lot, in the grand scheme of things, a company that earns $360,000 a year is a very small company and we both believe that growing ConvertKit to this size is something we can achieve.

To help us get there, we intend to add features to ConvertKit that will make it a very compelling tool for our target customer and then use our marketing chops to attract enough customers to reach this first goal. Once we get to $30,000/month, we’ll have a very nice “lifestyle business” on our hands and will then need to make more decisions about our goals for the future, one of which will likely include our exit strategy.

Our Exit Strategy Options

exit-signOur goal with ConvertKit is to build a real business that generates a meaningful stream of predictable revenue (low 7 figures) and we anticipate that this will take us a number of years to achieve. The journey towards this goal will be filled with ups and downs, plenty of mistakes, wonderful lessons, and personal satisfaction.

In other words, it’s going to be a lot of work – and a lot of FUN.

When we achieve $1 million in annual revenue, the lifestyles that we will be able to enjoy will be fantastic and we’ll have done it by creating real value for our customers. At this point, I think that we’ll have much to be proud of.

We’ll also have some options for an exit that would not otherwise be available to us – and I’m sure that one of these options will be to sell the company for a healthy multiple of it’s revenue. If we were building a service business, as opposed to a SaaS business, the company would not likely be nearly as valuable because it would have lower profit margins and would not be capable of growing as fast as a SaaS company can – all else being equal.

I point this out, only because if you are building a company today, it’s very important that you begin to think carefully about how the business model (product or service) of company you are building now will affect your options to “exit” that business down the road.

The Team

As much as I like the product that Nathan has already built, the real reason that I bought into ConvertKit was because I wanted to build a landing page company and I want Nathan to be my partner.

ConvertKit is ideally suited to becoming a landing page company that also includes an auto-responder. Nathan has laid the foundation for that with what he built before I ever showed up.

I did consider some other options for developing a landing page company, but none of them included getting to work with a guy as talented as Nathan is – and, for me, that made buying into ConverKit the obvious choice.

The Opportunity That We See

It’s rumored that Lead Pages is currently doing about $250,000 a month in revenue. Having used their product, I can see why. They’ve made a terrific product that is very easy to use – and they’ve got a lot of traction with the Internet Marketing community as a result.

From a technical perspective, what they have created is actually quite simple and creating similar features in ConvertKit will not take us very long to do.

What Lead Pages hasn’t yet done is gotten traction with marketing agencies, consultants, and mainstream businesses (or if they have, they don’t promote that fact at all). They also haven’t build an auto-responder into their software so anyone that uses it must connect to yet another SaaS application. If you have been around online marketing for a while, this is no big deal. But if you are just getting started, it’s another point of friction in the user experience.

Think a bit of friction in the user experience is no big deal? Just tell that to Apple. Seems to me that there are quite a few people who are willing to pay extra for things that are incredibly easy to use.

SaaS30KTweet

Get ‘Em Young and Train ‘Em

When it comes to creating landing pages for mainstream small businesses, I think that the market potential is absolutely huge and for now, there is more than enough room for a number of competitors.

At the high end of the market, you have Unbounce. This is a very powerful tool, but it’s quite expensive and rather complicated to use. In my opinion the chances of a small business owner using it are quite slim.

There are plenty of existing plugins to create landing pages. I’ve tried many of them and they all seem to suffer from one limitation or another; and worst of all, they don’t really come with much in the way of pre-made templates. Without pre-made templates, there is more friction in the user experience.

I think that this is one of the reasons why Lead Pages has done so well with the Internet Marketing crowd. When I first signed into Lead Pages, the very first thing I noticed was how much effort they’d put into creating a fully stocked library of templates. Thanks to all the templates, I was able to create my first landing page in about 5 minutes.

By creating a product that serves the needs of customers who are just beginning to adopt online marketing, we believe that those customers will stay with us as they grow, so long as we keep developing more advanced features. That is one of the reasons that I quite like ConvertKit: thanks to Nathan’s design skills, it is very easy to use and is therefore ideal for people who are just starting out and don’t have to have to “read the manual” to get going.

Our Vision

With ConvertKit, our goal is to create an application that comes equipped with a wide variety of pre-made, yet completely customizable templates, all designed with the mainstream business owner in mind.

By giving these mainstream entrepreneurs a powerful tool to create high converting landing pages, as well as giving them a well designed auto-responder (so they don’t have to sign up for two different services and then figure out how to connect them), we feel that we’ll be able to get a lot of traction with them, and/or the agencies and consultants that serve them.

So What’s Next?

Building a successful business is not easy. The road to success with ConvertKit is going to be filled with highs, lows, and plenty of mistakes. To succeed, we are going to have to be smart and work our butts off.

If you’d like to come along for the ride, you’re going to get an insider’s view into everything we do – and we are going to share it all for free. It’s totally free and you don’t need to be a ConvertKit customer. To get each post emailed to you as soon as it’s published, sign up for the $30,000 mailing list below.

[xyz-ihs snippet=”SaaSChallenge”]

Josh Ledgard on How Kickofflabs.com Got 24,000 Customers in Just 2 Years

He shares the groundwork they put in place, including how they came up with the Kickofflabs name, how they defined their target market, and how they used Twitter for research.

Josh also tells how they actually generated all those customers – getting the word out through Quora, directories & lists; reaching out to other people’s audiences; and buying traffic.

For details on exactly how they did all this, as well as what they did for lead conversion and nurturing, you’ll definitely want to give this podcast a listen.

(If you want to learn from other software founders as well, check out all our posts on software development.)

Listen now and you’ll hear Josh and I talk about:

  • (05:10) Introduction
  • (05:10) Overview of a launch and results they’ve achieved
  • (07:10) Overview of how they came up with the company name
  • (10:30) Why didn’t they let competition deter them from moving forward
  • (15:10) How they used Twitter to do research
  • (18:10) How they defined their target market and defined their MVP
  • (25:40) Overview of the developments leading to the very first sale
  • (28:40) Overview of marketing mistakes they made and lessons learned
  • (31:10) How to leverage other people’s audiences
  • (33:40) How posting on Quora has impacted their traffic and sales
  • (35:40) Some refinements they made for lead generation
  • (37:40) How being in directories and lists impacted their revenue
  • (39:25) Overview of how they are nurturing their leads to become customers
  • (45:00) Explanation of how they are using subject lines in their free 30 day landing page course
  • (48:10) How they follow up with costumers that leave and what they learn as a result
  • (51:40) How outsourcing has played a role in their organization
  • (55:40) Overview of how they are buying traffic

Resources Mentioned

Crunchbase
TaskRabbit
Perfect Audience for Facebook
kickofflabs.com

More About This Episode

The Bright Ideas podcast is the podcast for business owners and marketers who want to discover how to use online marketing and sales automation tactics to massively grow their business.

It’s designed to help marketing agencies and small business owners discover which online marketing strategies are working most effectively today – all from the mouths of expert entrepreneurs who are already making it big.

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Connect with Trent Dyrsmid:

Transcript

Trent: Hey there, bright idea hunters, welcome back to yet another

episode of the Bright Ideas podcast. I’m your host, Trent

Dyrsmid, and this is the podcast for marketing agencies,

marketing consultants, and entrepreneurs who want to discover

how to use content marketing and marketing automation to

massively boost their business without massively boosting the

amount of time that they have to work every single week. And the

way that we do that is we bring proven experts onto the show to

share what’s been working for them, and this episode is no

different.I am very, very happy to welcome to the show a fellow by the

name of Josh Ledgard. Josh is the cofounder of a software

company called KickoffLabs, and you get to it at

kickofflabs.com. It’s a software services company, kind of as

everyone’s software company is these days, that specializes in

creating effortless landing pages plus smart email marketing and

social referrals, all with one goal: to get you more leads. They

are serving so far over 24,000 customers, and have generated

over two million leads. And the company is just two years old at

this point in time, and very nicely profitable as Josh is going

to share with us very early in the episode.So in this episode, first of all there is one of almost my

record of golden nuggets. I recorded six golden nuggets in this

episode, so you’re going to be learning how to use Twitter to

talk to the customers of your competitors so early on in the

lifespan of your company that you can find out exactly the

problems you need to focus on solving. How to keep in touch with

your early adopters using surveys, and Josh explains how he did

that and how it made a very, very big impact on their company

when it was very young and just getting going. And then how he

also makes personal connections with those same early adopters.

He talked about where he guest blogged, and in particular, he

describes how he chooses where to guest blog so that the

probability of the traffic of the people that are going to read

those posts becoming customers is the highest. So you’ll

definitely want to tune in and hear how he does that.And then he says he works in the library a lot, and there’s

something unique about sitting across from the magazine rack

that has really helped him with his copywriting skills. So there

is a whole bunch more that we talk about throughout this

episode, and I’m really excited to get it going, and in just a

moment we’re going to welcome Josh to the show.Before I do that, I want to tell you about two quick things that

Bright Ideas has going. Number one is that I am writing a book,

and it is on content marketing and marketing automation, and it

will be all the lessons that I have learned, as well as the many

lessons that I have extracted here from the guests on the show.

And you can become an early bird for that book at

brightideas.co/book. And if you run a marketing agency or you

are a marketing consultant, and you are looking for a mastermind

group to join, so that you can hang out with likeminded people

who are in the same business as you, who are looking to become

more successful than they are today, head over to

brightideas.co/mastermind and you’ll be able to get all the info

there.So with that said, thanks very much for tuning in, and please

join me in welcoming Josh to the show. Hey Josh, welcome to the

show.Josh: Hey Trent, great to be here.Trent: Thank you so much for making the time to come onto the Bright

Ideas podcast and share the story of how you have launched and

made KickoffLabs a success. Before we get into all of those

details, I’m sure there are plenty of people in my audience who

aren’t yet familiar with you, or your company, so please take a

moment and just introduce yourself.Josh: Yeah, so I’m one of the two founders of KickoffLabs, and we do

landing pages and email marketing. So our goal is setting up a

campaign that involves a landing page that somebody might get to

via an advertisement or some other promotion, and then the email

capture and promotion delivery via that service are relatively

easy. So our customers range from people starting new

businesses, like a cupcake stand in a mall that opened last week

using our product, all the way to a company like [Kalem]

Airlines, running a contest to get people to register for their

newsletter, register for their deals flying [Kalem] Airlines.Trent: Wow, from cupcakes to airlines, that is a broad spectrum of

target customers to say the least.Josh: Absolutely.Trent: So we’ll get into that, I do want to talk about how you go to

market and how you pick your niche and so forth. How long have

you been in business, and let’s talk about recent revenue, just

so we can give the listeners a bit of an idea of what it is that

you’ve accomplished, so that will make the rest of the story

more compelling for them.Josh: We’re kind of a typical good growth curve. We launched in the middle

of 2011, and we made what I describe as next to nothing that

year, if you look at tax returns. And then 2012 saw us grow into

a business that was paying its two founders, myself and Scott

Watermasysk, decent salaries, and this year has seen us so far

grow to hire a support engineer, a designer, a marketing person,

and also pay ourselves much better salaries that are much more

similar to what we were making in past jobs. So we’re making it

very worthwhile for us.Trent: So that sounds like it’s probably between 500,000 and a million

year run rate at this point?Josh: We’re heading towards that, yeah.Trent: Terrific. And this is a business that you created with or

without any outside funding?Josh: Yes, absolutely.Trent: Without.Josh: Without, sorry, yes.Trent: So that’s why I found this story so interesting, because that’s

what I thought that it was. And there are so many people out

there, I’ve had many of them on my show in the past, Sam Ovens

and Brandon Dunn, two other fellows who have created very

successful software as a service businesses. Neither of them,

like yourself, took outside funding, so I think that there is a

really good story here, so let’s kind of dive into it. The first

thing that I’m really curious about is the name, KickoffLabs. I

think I read on your blog that you had ten product ideas when

you were first starting off. Is that it?Josh: You definitely did your research. When Scott and I got together, we

knew that we wanted to work together to build something, and to

build a business, we had close to 25 one-sentence or one-

paragraph ideas that we were throwing out there as things we

could do. We kind of vetted all those against what we had

personal experience in, and what we did not. What could we

contribute the greatest to? Some ideas even had us selling

physical products, but neither of us had experience with

manufacturing or doing a physical product, so we kind of ruled

that out.We narrowed it down to five or six that we wrote what I would

call mini business plans for, anywhere between five and ten

pages, talking about competitors, talking about the opportunity.

And I loved all those ideas that we had, and we started

discussing them after writing that up. We realized that any

further discussion was just circling around imaginary numbers.

We could have made any of those ideas look good on paper, and

probably they were all good on paper, and had potential in

reality. But what mattered to us was could we get people to pay

with their attention for the idea.So we were like, we should put up some pages and see if we can

get some people to subscribe to email. And then we kind of joked

and said, why don’t we just build a product that does that, and

then in the worst case we’ll have a product that puts up landing

pages. And so that wasn’t actually one of the five ideas at

first, and so that kind of stuck. And there are probably a lot

of people in our position. So the product was built with

ourselves in mind at first, to solve this problem-that would

eventually be called the Lean Startup Movement-had, which was

trying to build an audience for something.I think my answer in terms of why KickoffLabs would be, we’re

terrible at naming. We’d like to have a really catchy name like

Yahoo or Google or something, but I don’t necessarily think it

matters. To me, I think it came from thinking about all of this

as an experiment. It was an experiment for ourselves, and all

businesses are inherently experiments until proven otherwise.And even as we’ve expanded our market, our campaign is

experimenting. You as a marketer might run a contest or a

promotion, and you are betting that you’re going to get more

customers than you’re putting into it, but it’s an experiment.

And the idea that we could make those experiments and those

campaigns quicker and easier to set up and either quicker to

fail or quicker to succeed, there was going to be a market for

that kind of thing, for helping people to experiment more

quickly.Trent: You know, that’s such a profound and important concept that I

think a lot of especially new entrepreneurs don’t have a strong

understanding of. I see people, they put all this time into

putting up a full website, and they write all the copy, and they

do all this stuff before they’ve done any validation whatsoever.

So tip of the hat to you, and I think the KickoffLabs name is a

great name to be honest with you, because it is very

representative of what you guys are doing.So when you first started, there’s things that get in peoples

way from taking action and moving forward, and one of those

things is competition. I see people, they find an idea, and they

go, “Oh, somebody’s already done that. I can’t do it.” And you

came into a space that there’s an 800-pound gorilla, called

Unbounce, which they have a super well-developed product. They

have tons and tons of customers. There are a number of other

ones that are around. Were they there when you guys started, and

were you aware of them? And if that was the case, why didn’t you

let that deter you?

Josh: Unbounce was around when we started, and so were about 20 other

companies doing not just general, because there are categories

of website development. There’s actual website development,

something like [Wicks], something like WordPress. We didn’t put

ourselves in the category of competing with that, we’re more

complimentary. So something specifically around landing pages,

we’ve captured probably 20 to 30 different larger to smaller

players in the space, so it wasn’t just them although like you

said, they certainly had the most professional looking offering

at the time.

But two things, one, it felt like our niche, going after the

basic, just email collection and idea validation market at

first, was being underserved by their product. We knew that from

talking to people that were using their product on Twitter, on

forums, online, so we knew that there were people that felt like

they were being underserved and weren’t necessarily the target

of what Unbounce is going after. The other piece of the puzzle

is when you look at something like keyword trends on Google, and

you start looking at what is your business targeting as landing

pages, and just seeing the number of searches that people were

doing for marketing automation, landing pages, those kind of

search trends have more than doubled every year for the last

five years.

And so that tells me that there’s a market that’s not only

large, but growing, and although a company may look like a 900-

pound gorilla, I’m sure that Unbounce feels that they’ve only

captured one percent of their potential market. So there’s a

huge potential market out there, and I think this is true with

any idea, until you get to Facebook size and you can say, “Wow,

half of the U.S. is on Facebook,” most businesses that will

start out, if you’re looking at competition, there’s not

somebody who truly has 90 or 99 percent of the market share.

Now, if you said your business was going to be a search engine,

I might tell you that there is an 800-pound gorilla in the room,

but if you said your business was going to be a search engine

that specialized in finding gluten-free menu options and scanned

the menus of every gluten free location and went ahead of Yelp

in that sense of doing far more than they did, and you took that

niche and that was going to be your product, I’d have a lot more

faith that you stood a chance of making some money in that

niche. I’d still have some questions if your longer term goal

was to become Google. But in the space that we’re in and the

size of competitors, I never viewed anyone as an 800-pound

gorilla, and I think that the market is healthy, and there is

room for competition.

Trent: Absolutely.

Josh: And personally, I’ll add one more thing. I’ve met the guys from

Unbounce, they’re in Vancouver, and actually I really like them.

We’ve sent customers their way, and vice versa. I have no

problem if someone is met better by some of their product

offerings, then I have no problem telling people that they’ll

have a good experience, because I know that they share some of

our same values around customer support and experience.

Trent: And I’ve used both products, and when I say used, I’ve used

theirs for a landing page, and yours, you were kind enough to

give me a trial so I could get in and play around with it, and

they’re different. Yours is definitely easier to use. Unbounce I

think does more, but it’s more complicated, and as you

accurately put it beforehand, there was a portion of the market

that they weren’t doing a good job of serving. And I think

that’s another very valuable lesson for people too.

You mentioned that you did research on Twitter, so I’m curious

about that. Did you go and find people? Did you set up a Twitter

search, for example? Just talk about how you used Twitter to do

that research and connect with those people?

Josh: Literally, we took a few of the competitors, Unbounce, Lander App, in

the startup space there’s a company called Launch Rock that

opened shortly after we started doing what we were doing, and

had a lot of fame. And we just started looking for mentions of

those services. And I just wouldn’t look for mentions, I would

look for the really positive or the really negative mentions. So

the really positive mentions, like “Oh, I love the product,” I’d

just follow up with them and say what do you love about

Unbounce, what do you like about it? I wouldn’t say, “Come use

our product,” that’s obviously in my bio and some people

probably clicked over, but my goal wasn’t to get people to use

our product, my goal was to learn where there was room to

improve or not to improve.

And once I’d asked what they loved about it, I’d say what do you

hate about it, what do you wish was better? And then obviously

the inverse questions for people who said I’m frustrated by

this, or I can’t figure out how to accomplish this with that

product. So you just sort of have conversations with people

online, and at one point, I was probably sending out 35 to 40

tweet replies to people that were using a potentially

competitive service to ours, to grill them on what we could do

and what paths would be best for us.

Trent: I think that’s an absolutely brilliant idea, using Twitter to

talk to the customers of a competitor. You know, the guy that I

interviewed earlier this morning, we were talking about books,

and he has a particularly good idea that’s been shared with me

now a couple of times, and I just want to pass it along. When

writing a book, or researching any kind of product, he goes to

Amazon, looks at the competitive products, and looks at the one-

star reviews. Because those are the people who aren’t happy, who

are saying it’s missing this, it’s missing that, and it’s

missing the other thing. And I thought that was an equally

brilliant way of getting insights into ways that you could add

value that didn’t currently exist.

Josh: And it helps, because you sort of see where you’re going. You just

have to be careful, because the trap I see some people fall into

is, like if somebody came to us and say, “I don’t like Unbounce

because I can’t do these 50 others features.” And I’m thinking

to myself, Unbounce is pretty fully featured. You want these 50

other things, is not to then add to my work item list, do those

50 things, because then person is not our customer as well,

given that we’re trying to go after the quicker, easier market.

Trent: Absolutely. The next two things I want to talk about are one,

how you defined that market, how you really figured out who your

customer was, and then how you developed an MVP, a minimal

viable product for them? So can you walk us through that?

Josh: So there was some of that research at first, there was looking at the

cross section of what’s the same about all these services and

the competition, that we would say to compete in the space we

absolutely have to have. And we took that list, and we said this

could be our MVP, and then we didn’t do some things that we

probably should have done at that point. We did put up our own

landing page, and eventually moved it over to our platform when

it was ready.

There are some things we didn’t do, like we could have taken

advantage of the people that we signing up to our list, and

sending them surveys and questions along the way. And that’s

what some of our better customers do today that have success,

they’re actually using our tools and emailing people every week

and saying, “Hey, check this screen shot of our product out,

what do you think about this versus that?” And so it was a lot

of what do we need to launch that we could be using as a

customer to get the very first thing out the door? Since we were

that customer.

Once we got the very first thing out the door, and when I say

out the door, we did a really limited beta. We invited maybe 10

people, most of which were friends that we could trust would

give us honest, good feedback, and then we launched it and put

up a “Pay for this” button. We didn’t have an interest in doing

a free beta for very long, because to be honest people who don’t

pay any money give terrible feedback. Once someone is paying

money, they tend to tell you what they really need.

So then we had a free plan signup and a paid plan signup, and

literally everybody that signed up, because when we launched we

weren’t doing tons of business in the first couple of months, I

just connected with them personally. Because what else was I

going to do? I could just spend time writing a feature I didn’t

know if anybody wanted, I could spend time trying to market,

which I did with the rest of my time, or I could start having

conversations with the people we were grabbing and say, what do

you need next?

For example, the first thing that we launched had an email

capture, but there was no automatic reply or follow-up. We

didn’t have that as a feature, and when about the fifth person

who paid us money just for doing the email capture said, “Boy,

you know this great, but what I hate is that now I’ve got to go

get these emails and put them in Mail Chimp or put them in

AWeber, and then I’ve got to go set up an auto responder. Could

you just make email as simple as setting up your landing page?”

And that fit right in with this value that we try to have of

keep things easy and simple. And so we said, obviously, it’s a

one stop shop, why should you have to go to a Mail Chimp to do

email? If you’re doing a quick campaign, why shouldn’t it just

be automatically set up for you that there’s an autoreply?

It seems like a fairly obvious feature, I’ll grant you, and we

waited until a few people who paid us money repeated it, and

said, “If you had that, I’d pay you twice as much.” And we said

fine, pay us twice as much and we’ll do that, and they did. And

so we raised prices, and those people were okay with paying

more, and we added the foundations of some email marketing to

our solution.

That was a good example, because we talked to the customers

personally. I emailed everyone who created an account with us

personally. I looked at their landing pages, I’d give them tips

for their page, and say your copy might be better if you do this

instead of that, and build the trust a little bit, and then get

their feedback personally.

When we got the feedback, we’d separate it into feedback from

people who were paying us, and feedback from people who weren’t

paying us, and it became pretty obvious what things people who

were paying us valued. And we evolved the product along those

lines and values since that time, keeping our core value

proposition in mind, but as people have suggestions along those

lines, if it comes up consistently from people who are paying us

something, then we’ve evolved the product in that direction.

Trent: Very smart. If you can come up with enough of an idea to get

early adoption and paying customers, and then listen to your

tribe, they’ll take you in the direction you need to go.

Josh: Exactly. And it was just looking at how people were using it. We

didn’t used to have a section of themes and templates and

features for people who were running contests, but then we

quickly discovered that people were using our platform to run

contests. It was kind of shocking to me, I hadn’t noticed, and

then one day I looked at the sites that were getting the most

subscribers. At first you have to deal a lot with informal data,

conversational data, but when you start getting more usage, and

you start running some queries, and you say what were the top

viewed pages across our landing system for the last month?

And then those top viewed, what are getting the most

subscriptions, and then of those, what pages are those? And a

third of the subscriptions were coming to contest pages, and

we’d never even marketed for people doing contests before. So I

reached out to a couple of those customers, and they said, “Oh

yeah, I just love it. We just set up simple contests all the

time, and we run them with your system. We love your system,

it’s great.” And I was like, we’ve got to get a case study out

there and actually market and do some features for you guys, and

evolve the product that way too.

Because it’s the same thing, it’s a campaign, it’s something

that people want to be able to set up and close really quickly.

We had some features like the referral feature we do, we have a

built in refer a friend feature that works really well for

contests. It made sense after we saw that data, but it was not

something we thought of before.

Trent: Talk about being able to extract the most valuable insights

having access to all that data, that’s absolutely just a gold

mine of brilliant, or I guess I should say bright, ideas.

Josh: It’s definitely a gold mine of ideas. You have to have a question

that you’re asking first. The question that I was trying to

answer was, what are people using our product for today? What

are the usages for it? That’s why I had to start digging the

data, and dumping it all into a spreadsheet, and categorizing

things, and really scrubbing it to figure out how we could

leverage that?

Trent: So I know there are people who are listening to this now who

would probably love to create their own software as a service

business. And maybe there are some limiting beliefs standing in

their way, and I’d like to see if we can knock a few of those

down. So first of all, are you and your cofounder, are you guys

coders yourselves?

Josh: We both come from the technical background, so I was the VP of

Engineering at the last company. If I remember, Scott was the VP

of Architecture, so he was much more technical than I was, so he

led the overall design and architecture of the product, whereas

the rest of the engineering staff, the testers, the designers,

the product managers reported through me.

Trent: How much time did it take you from no code to when you were

able to put up that very, very first buy button?

Josh: About four and half to five months of time. We started toward the end

of February and we launched at the end of June in 2011.

Trent: Okay, so that’s actually quite a bit longer than I thought.

Josh: It took us longer. I think we got caught up in some traps that people

get caught up in for building the first version of a product.

And I think both of us, until we started to see some results,

were maybe not necessarily 100-percent committed at the time.

Trent: So during those four and five months, this wasn’t your full-

time venture?

Josh: I was doing a couple of things on the side at the time, and it wasn’t

necessarily full time for me during that period.

Trent: Okay. So what advice would you give to someone who wants to

start their own software as a service business? They want to

tackle one problem, so we’re not talking about building another

InfusionSoft or anything like that. Do you think that if they

don’t know how to write code, they shouldn’t do it?

Josh: It’s really hard for me to answer that question, because I want to

just say no, because especially lately has we’ve hired people

and outsourced some development work of features and parts of

the product, we’ve realized that the coding part is some of the

least valuable pieces of what we can do for the product. But at

the same time, we would have eaten through a lot more of the

savings we had to fund it if we had to pay for that stuff

initially.

So the approach I see working now for some people is going about

building a related information product, selling that to get some

funds that you can then use to fund the development. I can’t say

that you don’t have to. I think it’s been really helpful, but at

the same time it’s held us back, because we didn’t know how to

market a product at first. We had no marketing experience. And

so we would have gotten to success a lot more quickly after we

had the product had we understood how to properly market it. And

not necessarily wasted the second half of 2011 making very

little money.

Trent: I want to talk about that, but before I do, I want to give a

link out. So I had a fellow on my show by the name of Sam Evans,

you can get to him at brightideas.co/69, and Sam did pretty much

what Josh just said, although he didn’t use an information

product. He did consulting work, and he used the profits from

that work to fund his software business which is Snap Inspect,

and it has taken off big time, Sam is now doing very well. But

definitely go and check out that interview. So Josh, you’ve

mentioned that you made some marketing mistakes. Can you talk

about the mistakes that you’ve made?

Josh: They’re so numerous.

Trent: Well, this is where the best lessons are, so this is why I want

to get into this.

Josh: When it comes to KickoffLabs, there were lots of mistakes going into

  1. We got hung up on typical stuff like logo design, and design

of the marketing site aspects of the product. And none of that

stuff really mattered, and we focused so much on those kind of

designs, and not enough on the copy and writing down compelling

reasons for people to buy or use the product or sell the

product.

And even when we did focus on copy, we did the classic mistake

that an engineering focused team will make. We focused on the

features, and not the benefits. So we would say, we’ve got this

feature, and that feature, and we’ve got referrals, and we’ve

got easy put up pages, and great templates, but not putting up

the why or the benefit that people would get. We weren’t

speaking to customers, and that’s just the stuff we learned

after we launched.

Before we launched, we didn’t do enough to build an audience.

We’d had a few hundred people sign up for our list, but the way

we’d gone about building the audience was trying to leverage

people we knew in our own networks in a poor way. So we would

just say, tell your friends about our idea, or check this out,

like us on Facebook, and sign up at our page if you like it. We

were trying to use our own megaphones, as opposed to finding

other people’s audiences and megaphones.

And I see this mistake with some of our customers as well, we

set up a blog and started blogging. We said, you’ve got to have

a blog, you’ve got to post on your blog, but if no one comes by

to read your blog, what value is that post doing you? Especially

in the short term? Now, in the long term, a blog post can have

some great long tail, SEO effects, but in the short run, where

you’re just trying to get a burst, and get an audience, and do

that initial launch, and make more than 10 dollars in your first

month, I don’t think a blog is very helpful for that. Because

you don’t have an audience to start with.

So what is more helpful is leveraging other people’s audiences.

So stuff we learned along the way includes going to public

communities, like Quora or the Internet Marketing Forum, going

to inbound.org, and participating in those communities, and

building a reputation with just a minor link back to your site,

those are much more valuable, because you’re leveraging other

people’s megaphones . . . or going to other people’s blogs and

writing a guest post. You’re leveraging somebody else’s

megaphone to get attention on what you’re doing. Where can you

play up somebody who has a bigger but related audience to yours,

is a lesson that turned out to be really valuable for us that I

wish I’d known sooner.

And a lot of our customers do this much better than us. They go

out and they just set up the landing page, they don’t even have

their own blog, and they go out and they market the landing page

in these kind of communities and forums, and other people’s

newsletters, and instantly they’re able to get few thousand

people in the course of a few months sign up. And then they have

their own audience, then they can start email marketing, then

they can start promoting their own blog posts. But that initial

building of new audiences by leveraging other people was

something that we didn’t do very well at all.

Trent: Have you ever heard of a fellow by the name of James Clear?

Josh: No.

Trent: It’s very relevant to this; I’m going to bring it up. I spoke

to James; I did not record this interview I had with him this

morning. I was referred to him by another fellow that has been

on my show, and it’s just so timely I want to share it.

So James has a blog at jamesclear.com, that at the beginning of

2012 had 500 subscribers, and I think he had about 11,000

visitors in that month. He now has 20,000 subscribers and he’ll

do over 100,000 visitors this month, and what he did was

literally reposted his content on medium.com, on [Quora]. He

hounded the hell out of the Huffington Post until they published

one of his articles. He hounded the hell out of Life Hacker. And

he said, much to my surprise, that he’s been getting great

results from using Google Plus.

And I asked him, has there been any negative impact on your

traffic from SEO as a result of literally cutting and pasting

the HTML of the entire blog post onto one of these other

platforms. He has his little byline at the bottom. Everything

leads back to one very simple landing page, which causes his

subscribers to grow. And he said, “No, not at all.” No negative

impact on SEO, no penalties for “duplicate content,” and as a

result of warming up that content on, we’ll call them these

outposts, his lead capture page, which is incredibly simple,

converts at over 80 percent. It’s mind blowing.

Josh: It’s lower now in the last few months, but going through 2012, a

third of our revenue came from posts on Quora that we’d made,

and so people that I could track back, their original referral,

where they heard about us from, a third of our revenue was

coming from some questions that we’d answered on Quora about

landing page best practices, launching a new campaign, launching

a business. We answered all sorts of those questions, and that

was leading to a significant amount of our revenue. I’ll go and

post stuff as answers and use that as inspiration for our own

blog. And the ones that get popular, where I can probably write

this up, do a better job of it, and put it on our own blog, and

so I’ll take some of the better answers and repost them to our

site as well, so we get the long-term effect.

Trent: It was a big eye opener for me, and something I have not been

doing a good job of, so you can bet that like you I’ll probably

be making some experiments very soon.

So what should we talk about next? In terms of lead generation,

we’ve talked about a fair amount already. Is there anything that

has worked very well for you Josh that we have not yet

discussed?

Josh: It’s some refinements of things that we’ve talked about, in terms of

lead generation. For example, when people look at guest

blogging, I think it works best not to just look for this person

is an influence or in marketing, but does this person have an

audience that’s willing to pay money? So some of our best guest

blog posts have been with complementary products. We’ve done a

few guest blog posts on the User Voice blog, on the Kissmetrics

blog, for example. Those are complementary products that our

customers are also using, that charge money for something. So

the audience there is already familiar with the concept of

paying money for a service online, and although those blogs have

a smaller audience than some what I would call influencers in

the marketing space, the conversion results are much better from

those locations.

So when you’re looking for places to post content, thinking

about where there are people that spend money, hanging out and

reading, and going for it that way. So we’re participating with

Joanna from Copy Hackers, who is doing a 30-day boot camp course

with videos, and we’re contributing one of the videos, because

we know that when we do a promotion with Joanna, she’s got a

segment of customers that are already willing to pay for copy

and marketing services. So I know that while that video might

not get a million views, the views that it does get are going to

be really valuable for us.

The things I didn’t expect to convert at first, the things I

kind of ran a checklist that I went and did, because we tried a

little bit of everything, we’re about experimenting, being in

directories and lists related-whenever anyone would make a list

of the best landing page tools, trying to email the author and

get into that directory. And even just straight up directories,

like editing our entry in Crunchbase, editing our entry in other

places where there are just tools you can use. There are all

sorts of these directories and list building services, and as

long as you write up a couple of standard answers to questions,

and have a couple of standard screen shots you use, you can even

outsource that and have people submit you to 25, 50 directories.

And there are a couple of these directories that I would have

never guessed would drive us traffic and referrals. But for the

cost of having someone push promote us to a couple of those

directories, we get a good amount of revenue every month, and a

good amount of conversions every month form those locations.

Trent: Which were the top three, the best three locations for you?

Josh: I’d have to look that up. We do get a lot, in terms of directories,

from Crunchbase because in our market, people do look for a

competitor too, and they’ll type in a product. And Crunchbase

has a good tagging of competitors, so we made sure to tag all

the competitors, that we are a competitor to them. Which then

adds them to our listing, but then we get the vice versa listing

as well. And that’s been probably the biggest. To go beyond

that, it’s a lot of onesies and twosies that add up over time.

So I’d have to go back and look at the data to tell you. I don’t

have that in front of me.

Trent: Fair enough. So capturing leads is one thing, but as anyone who

has done that will know, not all leads are created equal. Some

people are ready to buy, some people aren’t, so there is a

process of nurturing those leads to lead them towards a

conversion. Can you talk a little bit about how, I’m assuming

you have an automated funnel that’s doing that for you?

Josh: Yes.

Trent: Can you talk about it?

Josh: Yes. So what we do if somebody comes, and they’re not signed into our

website today, they’ll see a pop-up that comes up that says,

“Sign up for a 30-day email course.” And so the email course is

all about how to design and write landing pages, so it’s called

Landing Pages 107. The point is, we’ll send anywhere from eight

to twelve emails throughout the course, we’re constantly

refining and playing around with it, but basically walking

people through researching for a landing page, designing the

landing page, writing the copy for the landing page. We’ve got

some downloadable worksheets that go with it.

It’s my belief that the best ads are educational in nature. Even

if you think about some of the best Apple ads, for example, that

talk about the iPhone, they’re showing people how to use it.

They’re showing people, here is an app you can download, and

here’s a finger actually using that app, to show you how simple

it is to do it. I think that’s genius, because it’s not just an

emotional play in the ad. They’re great, because they combine

the emotional play as well as this educational play, but what’s

often overlooked about great ads is the educational value of

them. The better we can do through this nurturing process of

helping people with education, and getting a better

understanding, then the more trust they’ll have for us, and the

more they’ll come back and spend money.

We get anywhere from 10 to 20 percent of conversions from people

who only ever signed up for the email course, and then decided

later to come back later and sign up for a free product, and

then maybe upgraded down the line to a paid product. The numbers

are potentially higher, but it’s sometimes hard to measure when

people go back and search. I ask people all the time, I have

kind of a vague how you found us, and they’ll say, “Oh, I took

your course,” and I’ve got no way to see that they did. I’ll go

back and look them up, and I can’t tell that they did, but

they’ll say, “Oh, the course was great. Somebody told me about

it, and so I signed up for the product,” but then they used a

different email address.

So you just have to ask constantly how people heard about your

product, because the best tracking and automation online doesn’t

always capture what’s bringing you leads. But I can tell you it

was 15 percent last month, people signing up for this course. So

we do that, and then after the 30 days are up, we have them on

our continuing education newsletter list, so every other week we

send out a tip or an article to promote something that we’re

doing. And we also sign people up for newsletters on

KickoffLabs, when they sign up for a free account, then they’ll

start getting alternating every other week between that

continuing education email and a new feature or announcement or

promotion with KickoffLabs that goes into it. In terms of

marketing automation, I call it human automation. I also wanted

to keep that concept of having a personal touch with customers

and following up with them.

So we have an email that comes out every day to the support

person, and it shows them new customers, new landing pages

they’ve created, whether they’ve paid or not, and some

information about the landing page, with a link to the page

they’ve created. And we’ve got essentially almost a sales script

developed, where, depending upon the stage that that customer is

at in their lifecycle, we’ll have him follow up, give them some

tips, and ask them some questions.

Now, you could say, why don’t you automate that, because

obviously the product knows roughly what the person has done,

what they’ve accomplished, whether they’ve published the page or

they haven’t? That script could be automated, and over time we

may do it, but there’s a huge value in personally reaching out

and saying, it looks like you’re setting up a contest, because

that’s a determination probably only a human can make on a

landing page, it looks like you’ve got about all the copy in,

but it doesn’t look like you’ve got a video in yet. Or it looks

like you haven’t set up the follow up email yet. Can I help you

with that? Here’s a link to a resource that helps you with that.

And so that is semi-automated, in the sense that there’s a

script and a path that people go through, but we get a lot of

follow-ups from customers that say, “Wow, great, thanks for the

tip. I don’t have anything right now,” but I can tell from the

follow ups that we’re getting that it’s creating a positive

impression and people are more likely to buy, or continue to be

customers from month to month, because they know that not only

are we available via support, but that we’re already helping

them proactively. And so there are those two things, being very

automated on the email side, and then the semi-automated

scripted human side of the follow up are the two big marketing

automation tools that we use.

Trent: So while you were talking about the free sequence, I made a

little not to myself, subject lines. And what I meant by that

is, that everybody gets a ton of email. So there’s always this

huge challenge of writing a subject line that’s going to get the

email opened. And there’s a fine line between too much hype and

not enough. In your educational series that goes over the 30

days, what style do you have with your subject lines, as I have

not opted in and seen your subject lines?

Josh: It’s a mix. I tend to believe that although headlines grab people in,

the headlines should match the style of the content, so the

content is very varied. Because I believe when you are doing one

catch-all for marketing, like this 30 days course that gets

thousands of people to go through it, there’s not necessarily

one email that’s going to drive them all to sign up. You never

know what will drive that particular person, so we try to vary

the style.

So within that course, there’s one that’s learning about the

design of landing pages, so the style is very much a play on see

how Apple designs the best landing pages. So that subject line

works really well, because people associate Apple with design,

and we do have a case study that walks through some Apple

developed landing pages, and why they’re tremendous landing

pages. So people love that follow up, but then we have another

one that’s a list later on, so in the measurement section, the

classic ten things you should be measuring, and that tends to

work really well, but it pairs with the email, because the email

really is ten things you should be measuring.

I go to the library a lot, and I work from there, and sometimes

I’ll sit across from the magazine section. They’ve got a huge

magazine section at the library, and I see all these headlines,

and it’s just great fodder, because you can see the Cosmo

headline, right next to the Economist headline, which is a weird

mix. I don’t know how they order the magazines, but you get on

one end “The 10 Secrets your Boyfriend is going to Love in Bed,”

and on the other side of it, you see “The Cause of the Economic

Collapse and what So and So does to Prevent It.”

This great mix of headlines is an inspiration. I recommend

anyone go to a magazine stand and just borrow from those

headlines, and then create the emails that really map to that

headline. Because there’s nothing I hate worse than a bait email

that then doesn’t match up with the article. Not one style per

se, but we’ve leveraged all these classic headline formulas to

improve the open rate of the course over time.

Trent: And what open rate do you have, overall? And I realize that’s a

really hard question, so it’s more of an opinion.

Josh: Yeah, because it varies. And so the different tools you use give you

different answers, but I’m pretty confident in saying that we go

anywhere from 25 to 35 percent open rates, depending upon the

email that goes out.

Trent: That’s pretty good. Is there anything on nurturing that we have

not yet talked about?

Josh: I think we covered the stuff that I meant to cover on nurturing

leads. I’d say that the piece of it that a lot of people

overlook is the following up. So there are two pieces. One is

following up when people leave the service. It’s not necessarily

nurturing a lead. Well, it is like nurturing a lead. There are

two categories of people who leave a service like ours. There

are people that are done with their specific campaign, and we

can tell that by looking at their page and the note they’ll

leave in the reason box. And so we’ll follow up personally with

everybody that leaves, and it says, “Did you have a great

experience? What can we do to make your next experience or

campaign better?” And just follow up with them to remind them

that we might be able to offer this for you in the future and do

an even better job of that in the future, and we see a lot of

those people come back for campaigns down the line.

The other category are people that leave because they don’t feel

like they’re getting the results that they wanted. So then you

can follow up in terms of why don’t you think you were getting

the results that you wanted? What could we have done better on

the product? And it turns out that we end up turning some of

those people around as well. And if somebody had good results,

we’ll say, “We noticed that you had good results. Do you mind

sharing them with people?”

So this is the second part of it, personally asking for

recommendations. And a lot of people don’t do it, so when people

do email support, and somebody says, “Wow, thank you, that

totally solved our problem,” a lot of times they’ll get a reply

back from us that says, “Don’t thank us, go on Twitter or

Facebook or your blog, and tell 5 to 500 of your closest friends

about us, and that will be thanks.” And people do, and it works

a lot better than just having like us on Facebook as a button.

When you have that as part of the process and the workflow, when

you’ve caught people at a time when they’re feeling great about

your service via a successfully resolved support case or a

question that you’ve answered for them, to actually say right

then and right there, “Don’t thank me. Go on Twitter, and

promote our service.” I’m not saying it that directly, but if

you see a lot of positive stuff about our service out there,

that’s where it started from.

And I’ll tell people, “Hey, did you know you can get your next

month free if you write a blog post about us? So if I see

somebody who’s got a blog, and someone who’s had a successful

support story, I’ll tell them, “Write a blog post about us, your

next month is free.” I’m not beyond bribery, it works. And we

get a blog post written about us. And even if the person doesn’t

have a big audience, you get enough of those over time, and the

onesies and twosies build up over time.

Trent: That’s a very good investment in marketing. I’m jotting that

one down too. I don’t know if you know this, but I always talk

about these golden nuggets in the episodes that I record, and

you have up to six golden nuggets so far.

Josh: Sweet. Don’t tell me what the record is, because I’ll try to beat it.

Trent: Actually I don’t know what the record is. I’ve not done a good

enough job of keeping track, but you’re close. You’re in the top

20 percent at this point, because I only have five lines on my

sheet, and so I’ve had to make extra space for yours. So folks,

if you want to be able to get to all of the show notes and so

forth for this episode, that’s going to be at brightideas.co/82.

All right, so continuing on then, and we’re going to wrap up

pretty quickly, I want to know if outsourcing has or does play a

role in your organization, and what your thoughts on using

overseas outsourcers are.

Josh: I haven’t had much success with overseas outsourcing. We’ve tried a

couple of small projects, we’ve tried a range. We’ve tried from

content creation through to some development projects, and have

not had much luck with those two categories of things. We’ve

ended up doing a much better job with onshore offshoring, if

that’s a term. Because I’m in Seattle, my cofounder is in New

Jersey, the marketing person is in New York, the support person

is somewhere else. Since we’ve done a great job hiring around,

it has been easy for us then to take on and give some projects

to people that live in the middle of nowhere, so they then have

a cheaper requirement for their rate than if I was to go hire

somebody in Seattle, to be honest because it’s not cheap to live

here.

We’ve had more success in coding and content creation projects

looking for other people within the states. The area we’ve had

some success with outsourcing, and it ended up being overseas

outsourcing, has been in smaller design projects. So, if we need

to have a banner ad created, we did a banner for our WordPress

plugin, and I wanted it to look much nicer than anything I was

doing, and I didn’t want to take our designer and do it. I just

put up a mockup on freelancer.com and said “Do this as a

contest.”

For banners, we’ve generally run contests or gone back to one or

two people, and gotten designs that have worked out well for us

in the past, and that seems to work well for an extremely

scoped, non-mission critical design thing. And there’s a lot of

those that you end up needing over time to have done. So that’s

where the offshore outsourcing works. For everything else, core

development, core design, core content and marketing, we haven’t

figured out how to make that work with the offshore labor yet.

Trent: Okay. Things that I’ve had a lot of success with offshore labor

are tasks that are checklist oriented, where you can really

detail step one, do this, do that, do that, do that, repeat.

Things like research, if I’m going to write a post, and I want

to be able to cite other examples, I can say, “Go Google these

terms, catalog these results,” that kind of thing. I think

that’s an area where it works really well.

And folks, there is a fellow who is going to be on my show

sometime in the near future, Chris Ducker, and if you go to

chrisducker.com/101, Chris is the founder of a company called

Virtual Staff Finders. They’ve had a lot of success and built a

great reputation for themselves, and in that post, you will see

an example of 101 things that Chris feels are very suitable to

be outsourced.

Josh: You did remind me, I guess I did do that once. When I talked about

the research that I did on people using our service, to

categorize all the landing pages we had, I did like the first 10

or 15 or so, and then I realized it was going to take me

forever, so I used Task Rabbit, and wound up with somebody

offshore from Task Rabbit to go and categorize the rest of the

stuff on the spreadsheet.

Trent: I haven’t heard of Task Rabbit before, is that like an oDesk or

Freelancer kind of thing?

Josh: Yes, and it’s built more so around you have one single task to do.

Their UI is much more like, I’ve got this one job to do, not I’m

going to keep rehiring this person hourly to be like a virtual

assistant. But if you’ve got one specific job that you know is

going to take you a day, that somebody else could be doing

instead of you.

Trent: Cool, there’s another little golden nugget for us. Thank you

very much. That’ll be in the show notes as well. All right, so

let’s wrap up with this. Are you doing any paid media to drive

traffic to help boost the growth rate?

Josh: Yes. We do campaigns. We’ve done retargeting through Perfect

Audience. We’ve done standard Google AdWords, and we’ll run

Facebook campaigns as well. And we’ve run Twitter campaigns.

Facebook and Twitter straight up campaigns that are not

retargeting campaigns have not worked out as well as the AdWords

and retargeting campaigns have done for us.

Retargeting, I like it, it makes a lot of sense. You did the

work to get them to a page, and no matter how good your initial

conversion rate is, the vast majority of people are going to

leave your page once they got there, so reminding them that you

exist for the case a month down the road where they’ve got an

actual need for you, and it’s more dire at that point, seems to

work really well for retargeting. And then for straight up ads

to draw in a new audience, using AdWords it took us a long time

and a lot of wasted money, but we’ve got a few campaigns that

seem to work really well now, in terms of refining it. Maybe it

was just not knowing enough about AdWords at first.

I wound up contracting a couple AdWords experts to teach us how

to do AdWords better, and through the lessons that they taught

us, some of the stuff they set up on our campaigns, they’re now

profitable campaigns on AdWords as opposed to audience building

campaigns, which is my nice word for unprofitable AdWords

campaigns. At least they’re helping to get the name out there,

even if they’re not profitable. But it’s better if you can say I

make money on this ad, rather than I’m just getting my name out

there.

Trent: So you used the term retargeting, and I think there’s a lot of

people who don’t know what that is, so just quickly explain it

if you would.

Josh: Retargeting in a lot of services, and Google offers it now, is just

the concept that you have somebody that may have heard about

your product or your service or what you do. They visit your

website, and they visit it once, and they may click around a

little bit, but they don’t do anything to give you their email

address or sign up or give you any information. Retargeting

systems in advertisements let you essentially stalk that person,

for lack of a better word, across the Internet, wherever there

are banner ads or other places. Wherever there are retargeting

spots that I end up seeing, I’ll go to a news website and it has

banner ads, all of a sudden I’m seeing these banner ads for

other [SaaS] products I’ve seen recently fill up my screen.

And it actually is good, because it reminds me that I did mean

to go try out this new service, I did mean to go try out this

new support tool that I visited and checked out. And also

through Facebook. Perfect Audience is a product that allows you,

when somebody visits your website, then serve up Facebook ads to

that person from within Facebook. And that seems to work pretty

well as well, getting into their social feed. I wouldn’t have

thought that it worked well, because at least in my case I’m

interjecting business into what I would think would be a

personal thing, but it tends to get people to sign up for our

course and it gets people to sign up for the product. They come

back to your site when they’re ready to take action, and then

they sign up.

Trent: Does Perfect Audience work only with Facebook, or is it like Ad

Roll, where you can retarget anywhere?

Josh: It’s primarily Facebook. We used AdRoll as well, and had a little bit

less success. I honestly didn’t like the fact that I had to come

up with as many fancy banners that I had to for AdRoll. It was a

little heavier weight than I was looking for, whereas Perfect

Audience is a little lighter weight, and easier to get started

with.

Trent: Okay, that’s one for me. I’ll have to check that one out too.

All right, well with that said, I think I’m going to wrap this

up here. If anyone wants to get ahold of you Josh, or they want

to try out your stuff, what is the best way for them to do that?

Josh: They can try out our stuff at kickofflabs.com. Our email course that

we talked about a couple of times is at landingpages107.com, and

then if you want to email me directly, it’s

josh@kickofflabs.com. And I’m Josh A. Ledgard on Twitter.

Someday I’ll hold the person who has Josh Ledgard at Twitter for

ransom, but so far they have not given me my name.

Trent: Why landingpages107? Everyone does 101, you did 107. What’s the

significance?

Josh: Because everybody does 101. Because we want to look different. It was

a tip I learned from a [Mixergy] interview about using odd

numbers to promote things. We found out that on our homepage,

instead of saying we’ve served 20,000 customers, to actually say

over 21,582 customers, that tends to convert better on our

homepage. And I’ve been applying that to other things. I did a

presentation I’ve done a few times on getting your first 989

customers, as opposed to saying your first 1,000, because

everybody does your first 1,000 customers, this is just your

first 989. And it leaves people wondering, how do I get the next

11 customers to get to 1,000? And when people ask the question,

they’re a little bit more engaged. So that was just the reason

we did landingpages107, because ours is better and it’s a higher

number, and it’s different.

Trent: Absolutely. Well thank you so much Josh for making the time to

be on the show, it has been a pleasure to have you on board.

Josh: Yeah, it was a lot of fun. Thank you.

Trent: Okay, so that wraps up this episode. To get to the show notes,

go to brightideas.co/82. After we stopped recording, Josh was

kind enough to extend to me an explanation of a contest he wants

to run, and here’s what we’re going to do. He’s going to give

away three promo codes, so in other words three free licenses

for his landing page software, to the best comments that are

left on the post, and you’ll get to that at brightideas.co/82.

Now this post will be going live on November 12th, and this

contest will run for a full 30 days after November 12th. So make

sure you go and leave your comment, because number one you’re

going to get an answer to the question that you ask, but number

two you stand a decent chance of getting a free license to

Josh’s software.

Now the other thing that I’d like you to do if you would is to

please head over to brightideas.co/love. When you are there,

you’ll see a prepopulated tweet to help spread the word about

the episode, and as well there is a link and a video to show you

how to go to iTunes and leave a rating, hopefully a five star

rating if you’ve enjoyed this episode for the show. And it

really means a lot to me when you do that, because it helps to

get more exposure in the iTunes store, and whenever that

happens, more entrepreneurs discover all the bright ideas that

are shared with them by the guests here on the show, and it just

helps a whole bunch of people, self included obviously.

So thank you very much in advance for doing that. So that’s it

for this episode, I am your host, Trent Dyrsmid. I look forward

to having you tune in on the next episode, which will be number

    1. We’ll see you soon. Take care, bye-bye.

About Josh Ledgard

JoshLedgardJosh Ledgard is the co-founder of KickoffLabs – subscription software for landing pages, online forms, and email marketing – and the author of My Toddler Perfects Your Sales Pitch and Landing Pages 107.

Follow Josh on Twitter @joshaledgard.