San Diego entrepreneur. General Manager of 7-figure SaaS startup SendFox and KingSumo. First marketer at Student Loan Hero (acquired '18). Startup, marketing, and tech advisor.
I'd think about this from two angles...
1) Who are the people you can get to start using the platform IMMEDIATELY? Think your friends, network from college, or even LinkedIn connections. "Prime the pump" with people you know at first, to help get the network growing.
2) The point of a MVP is to quickly test a product idea, and iterate until you have a compelling product. I have a friend who runs multiple 7-figure businesses, and he says that he always looks for a "wow" reaction when he shows off a product — even a MVP, if it's just the concept of what it can accomplish. Remember you don't want to build more than you need to at first. A good product adapts to what gives the most results to your users.
Hope this helps! If you need any additional help, feel free to book a call. I recently grew a MVP to six-figures ARR, so can share the things we tried.
This is a tough one, and the truth is you're going to deal with a lot of rejections with any idea. Even with our newest product, which is generating 5-figures in MRR, we only heard responses from ~20% of people we outreached.
Here are a few tips to make it easier, that we've done ourselves:
1) Who are you talking to at the companies and unis? If you're cold outreaching to just random or general info@ or help@ email addresses, you'll likely to be ignored. Think about how many emails a company gets a day. How can you be different?
2) I'll typically use LinkedIn, or look at their website, and then use a tool like hunter.io to find the email address of the #2 or #3 in charge. I usually avoid the #1 because I assume everyone emails him, and the #2 and #3 are slightly more accessible.
3) When I do an outreach attempt, I try to make it slightly funny and different so it stands out. I also keep the sentences very short, and I don't use big words. This makes it MUCH easier for people to read if they're busy. If I don't hear back, I follow up two days later — and usually try with a simple video hello using the tool useloom.com.
No affiliation to any of the tools mentioned above, I just like them.
If you have any follow-up questions, feel free to reach out for a call. I've done a lot of outreach and sales to grow our products, and I've learned from some of the best sales people in the SaaS industry. Hope this helps!
This is a really great question.
It's not necessarily bad to be a middleman, but your intuition is correct — if you can move move downstream and directly tie into the value a customer gets, your customers are less likely to cancel/move out of your coworking space.
I'd think about this in three ways...
1) What are COMPLIMENTARY services you can offer your customers? In other words, what else do your customers need? The immediate thought for me are startups and SMEs always want more help growing their business. If you can give them a network of experts — like maybe access to a law professional 1x per week, an email marketing expert 1x per week, etc. — during physical or virtual office hours, that could be a huge benefit. Think about WeWork... it's not just about the space, it's about the benefits and network.
2) I think partnerships, in general, are highly underutilized but extremely beneficial. Think of all the local businesses in the area of your coworking spaces. Can you offer them gym discounts? Discounts to the local FedEx Kinko's for shipping and scanning? Most local businesses are desperate for customers, so the odds of getting a deal and increasing your footprint are easier than one typically thinks.
3) Ask your customers! When they signup or join, ask them what's the #1 thing they're struggling with their business. Most people are bad at telling you what they want (the great book "Ask" talks about this), but are GREAT at saying what they don't want, or their bad experiences in the past. Asking them their #1 frustration makes it easier than an answer to get their top 10. I'm not of the belief that the customer knows everything — you'll have to read between the lines sometimes and make some educated guesses — but it can help you sometimes get pointed in the right direction.
Hope this helps! If you have any follow-up questions, happy to jump on an hour call. We built an 8-figure online company by building complimentary products, so I'm familiar with how this is approached.
We've started a few businesses — and I've learned from some of the best like Ramit Sethi and Noah Kagan — and here's what I've observed...
Whenever we start or grow a business, we focus on first validating the idea and then expanding it.
Thinking about scaling before actually scaling is wasted time. As one CEO told me, "if only we were so lucky." We deal with scaling issues WHEN they happen.
One small example I can give is I once started a food prep company. The first thing I did was get the food from a nearby grocery store, and my margins were low.
However, as time went on and I got more interest, I would figure out in real-time how to find the deals, what to buy in bulk, and how to increase the margins.
At the beginning I ONLY focused on creating decent food and at least breaking even. Then, once people like the food, I was able to expand and invest more money.
Start finding 3 clients. Reach out to friends of friends, your network, meetups, and more. First validate that people want your help before investing more to grow. Only grow when you run into issues of not being able to keep up with demand.
Feel free to book a call if you have any questions. I've grown a few freelancing businesses from scratch myself (including a six-figure business), and I can help you answer a lot of questions in an hour call.
I consult for a 7-figure ecommerce business, and here's what we've observed about reviews...
They're important, but not the MOST important thing.
To get more reviews, we will send a post-purchase email a few weeks after the product was purchased to leave a review. Most good ecommerce businesses I know follow a similar strategy (review email post-purchase).
In general, a good strategy for understanding whether something works is to observe what the most successful companies are doing! Sign up for their newsletters, look at their popups.
To give you actual data, we send our review email 30 days after purchase. We see a 51.3% open rate, and 9.1% click rate. Use these numbers as a baseline for your own numbers.
What we've noticed is MORE effective than reviews are referrals from friends. In other words, incentivizing friends to share with their friends and become ambassadors for your brand.
Since it's against most terms of service for review sites (like Google, Yelp, and Amazon) to incentivize for review you can't do it there.
However, we often do something like "give $10, get $10" using a tool like ReferralCandy (no affiliation). In fact, another company I help generated five figures in income last month through referrals alone.
Hope this helps. If you have any follow-up questions, feel free to book a call. Can answer a bunch more questions about reviews and what we've done in less than one hour.
Last year, I made six-figures from consulting on the side (while I had a full-time job). Here's how I did it...
I think a lot of "wantrepreneurs" overcomplicate the process of starting a business, and just throw up their hands because it can seem overwhelming and complicated.
A lot of my work came from referrals. By simply finding one person who needed help, I was able to two additional clients who needed help (that came recommended by the first person).
The first person found me on LinkedIn, so I would look into optimizing your LinkedIn profile. Search around for consultants in your industry and see how they write their headlines and biographies especially.
If you want to scale to a large company, it first starts with one client. And snowballs from there.
One great tip I've heard is whenever you have a client, ask them "I don't spend anything on marketing because I want to spend all my time helping you. So I rely on my clients to give me more referrals. Are there 3 friends you know who would be interested in my services?"
I think you can grow a sizable consulting business through referrals only. Most people overcomplicate thinking about Facebook Ads, hiring a bunch, and other things.
Walk before you can run!
This is a fun question — you might know that Tim Ferriss also tested this strategy out on one of his earlier books.
I'm going to answer your question in a roundabout way, but I still think it'll be helpful...
There's no one-size-fits-all marketing approach. We have multiple seven-figure businesses under our parent company, and even though our businesses are all related, different marketing channels work well for different types of products/businesses.
For example, one of our businesses (Sumo) makes a good percentage of revenue from content marketing. Another one of our businesses (AppSumo) has historically struggled to gain much traction with content marketing.
We have a philosophy at our businesses: Test out a new marketing channel every month, and look for ones that hit.
A month is a good amount of time to iterate a bit on the channel and see if it can work. If there's no traction, move on to the next one.
Generally speaking, to test a MVP, I've noticed it is very valuable to depend on word-of-mouth and going "viral", because typically it's not reasonable (or worth it) to spend big budgets on advertising on other more sophisticated channels.
One of the biggest wins we've seen recently is using partner giveaways to partner with some similar products and get cross-promotion. We've gotten leads ourselves for about $0.10 per lead (the cost is any products we wanted to buy, but you may have partners give you products for free).
Hope this helps, and good luck.
This s a really great question. I've done email marketing for multiple 7- to 8-figure companies, and here's the secret...
There ARE trigger words you can use to increase sales, and increase your results.
I love the subject line tester from Send Check It (no affiliation): https://sendcheckit.com/email-subject-line-tester. I use it myself to test for subject lines before sending, and it works very well.
I also highly recommend you make sure your tech stack is set correctly. Before you send an email, make sure your SPF, DKIM, and (maybe) DMARC are set up correctly. Your web host can help point you in the right direction. This will help make sure your email actually gets delivered! Even the best messaging in the world won't matter if you're running into delivery issues, and ISPs are cracking down on unauthenticated emails more nowadays.
For body copy/text, emulate companies that you like. What email newsletters do you subscribe? Copy them. If they're a successful business, chances are they've optimized their email copy and layout quite a bit.
After you've drafted your email, I also recommend the site mail-tester.com (again, no affiliation, I just like their tool) to make sure your email body copy isn't too spammy.
Also, I highly recommend one week later sending the email to all non-opens. We've noticed ourselves that re-sending to non-opens with a new subject line and maybe slightly adjusted copy will often result in a ~10% open rate. In other words, more traffic for a very minimal amount of effort.
Finally, the length of your email and the type of content you feature really does depend on you, your brand, and your audience. Do you LIKE writing long emails? Is your other email content long, or short? I've seen both work very well, and it's often a preference of the copywriter.
What I do think is valuable is, for a big launch, don't just rely on sending an email. We use a "content multiplication" concept where we feature a product launch EVERYWHERE — we send an email to our list, we email our friends, we run a giveaway, we post on social, we do some FB ads. The more places you can get your product to show, the better the results.
Hope that helps, and good luck.
I'm going to give you advice that's contrarian to what you'll find online. Why? Because most advice out there I've noticed is by people who haven't actually done it.
These strategies worked for our business to generate real, actual revenue for selling a digital product — and it's inexpensive to start.
1) Outreach to friends — with a catch. Everyone has heard the advice that you should email your friends who are interested. I think that's true, and we've closed roughly 20% of our friends who we emailed about our product (or texted). But even for those friends who aren't interested, a good trick is to say "I know you're not interested, but who's one more person who might be? I'm happy to give you an affiliate commission if you refer someone." Because digital products are so inexpensive to produce, you could give $5 to a friend for referring someone because the margins on the sale are typically so great.
2) Partner giveaways. Giveaways still work well. We have a sister company that generates five-figures in net new revenue each month from giveaways. Their secret is partnering with other companies. Use a tool like BuzzSumo (or just Google) to find products in your niche. And then use a free giveaway tool (disclosure: my company makes one, but I don't want this post to be biased so I won't name it... just Google and use whatever you want). You want to aim for 3-5 partners. Just reach out and ask for a free product, in exchange for linking to them and mentioning them on the giveaway page/your promotion emails. That's typically good enough. You will fail with people who turn you down, but the benefit is partners will help you cross-promote which give you 2-5x the number of entrants. You can then promote your product to all your new email subscribers.
Good luck! I hope this helps.