[59] The Dark Art of Product Validation

[59] The Dark Art of Product Validation

 
 
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Ah yes, idea validation. The mythical ideal we all know that we should pursue before giving ourselves the green light on a new project. Today we talk about different methodologies to follow, and mix in our own experiences to provide you with a handy guide to keep close to your heart the next time a bright, shiny object passes into view.

Check it out:

Updates

Brian’s update:

  • Big Snow Tiny Conf.
  • Thinking about “what’s next”.

Jordan’s update:

  • Last week we talked about Product vs Marketing and where to spend your time, but there’s another little wrinkle we didn’t mentioned – working on the Business – and that’s where a lot of my focus has been. I heart lawyers.

In This Episode…

Known frameworks:

  • Lean Startup – hypothesis then test MVP (Buffer)
  • 30×500 – Sales Safari – easier to find people already experiencing a problem
  • Foundation – Idea extraction and pre-selling

The validation process:

  • Idea (starts internally) – 10% valid
    • Scratch your own itch – WPBids – 37signals (sell your byproducts)
    • See a problem / opportunity to solve it – Restaurant Engine
    • Seeing others succeed in solving a problem – dangerous!
    • Question: Is this the right idea for me to pursue right now?
  • Research – 20%
    • Research potential competitors
    • Early marketing / customer acquisition ideas
    • Question: Is this the right market for me to enter?
  • First conversations – 30% valid
    • Survey your audience
    • If no audience…
      • Cold email campaign
      • Landing page + PPC campaign
    • Question: Do others resonate with this problem/solution? If so, who?
  • Prototype – 40% valid
    • If possible, deliver manually
    • Or develop minimal / focused version 1
      • Based on the key need discussed in early conversations
    • Get it in the hands of early test users (free beta), monitor and get feedback.
    • Question: Do customers actually get value from the prototype?
  • Paying customers – 50% valid
    • See how many of your early test users are willing to become paying customers.
    • Start pitching the product to other first paying customers.
      • Use intelligence you’ve gathered in your early marketing/pitch
    • Question: Is anyone actually willing to pay for this?
  • Sustained value – 60% valid
    • Will customers stick around?
    • Is value consistently being delivered on an ongoing basis?
    • Are there any new objections?
    • Question: Will customers pay repeatedly (2+ months subscription), or will churn be a major issue?
  • Customer acquisition – 70% valid
    • Test repeatable customer acquisition channels
    • Question: Are you able to reach potential customers at scale?
  • Funnel optimization – 100% valid
    • Building predictable revenue streams.
    • Question: Now that it is validated, how do we grow?

Links

 

[56] How to Hire for Customer Support

[56] How to Hire for Customer Support

 
 
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This week we get to tap into Brian’s expertise in hiring for customer support. If you find yourself spending too much time on customer support and not enough time on growing your business, it might be time to hire for the role.

Not only will it free up your time to pursue more strategic activities, but your customers will actually get better service as well.

Check it out:

Updates

Brian’s update:

  • Developer position link to application: http://casjam.com/developer
  • Hiring a 3rd customer support rep this week.
  • TRYING to focus on my sales funnel, which I kind of am, but getting sidetracked with support queue.
  • Adam Clark’s upcoming course, Irristable Podcasting — Pre-sale ends this Sunday — http://avclark.com/course/

Jordan’s update:

  • Feeling a tad overwhelmed with all the things I’m trying to do at the same time, but just trying to be methodical in putting the people and pieces in place to be able to accomplish everything.
  • Working on sales and partnerships and coming to terms with the fact that I need help.
  • Recently came across an amazing talk given by Jason Cohen at Microconf from a year or two: http://www.microconf.com/videos-2013.html

In This Episode…

How to hire for customer support:

The big problem:

  • Spending too much time on customer support instead of more strategic issues.
  • Ways to ease the support load in the early days (improve documentation).

What can I do as a bootstrapper?

  • When should we hire first customer support?
  • Find a developer to build it in exchange for a piece of the business.
  • Get a marketer to drum up demand in exchange for partnership.

Pre-Sales Questions Support vs. Customer Support:

  • Distinction in job role.
  • How to hire for these two roles.

Hiring an outsourced customer support person:

  • How can I have the confidence to hire someone overseas to take care of my customers?
  • How can I find the right person?
  • How much should I expect to pay them?
  • How do I train them?
  • How do I keep track of the quality of their work?

The role of Tech / Software:

  • Documentation / Knowledge-Base
  • Help Desk Software / Managing tickets

Links

 

[53] Get More Leads with Brennan Dunn

[53] Get More Leads with Brennan Dunn

 
 
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You could do a lot worse than to take advice from Brennan Dunn. Whether you’re building an agency, a SaaS, a course, or a productized service, he’s done it all and done it well.

In today’s episode we talk to Brennan about the right way to generate leads, how he does it, and how he plans to do it with his newly launched agency. You can find out more about that new agency here.  We’re looking forward to following along on the journey.

For some reason, Brian forgot to say the intro.  Why?  We’ll never know.  So on this episode, we dive right into the good stuff with Brennan.

In this episode

  • We ask Brennan about what he’s been up to and what he has planned for 2015.
  • The mindset required to break free from the typical feast or famine cycle.
  • How Brennan built his agency using a sales funnel that combined in-person networking and email marketing.
  • Brennan’s advice for generating  leads as a freelancer/consultant.
  • The struggle so many developers face in marketing and sales.
  • How Brennan plans to build a sales funnel for his new agency.

Links

[52] Exactly How to Build a Sales Funnel From Scratch, and Why

[52] Exactly How to Build a Sales Funnel From Scratch, and Why

 
 
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Today we talk about exactly how to build a sales funnel from scratch. We cover WHY a sales funnel is important, and exactly how to create one.

Check it out:

Updates

Brian’s update:

  • I listened to Rob Walling’s new audio documentary which follows their launch of Drip.  Listen to it here: http://www.startupstoriespodcast.com/
    • I really enjoyed it, even as a podcast listener and a Drip customer. I kinda knew the general outline of the story, but this really gives a closer look at their thought process while things are happening — exactly the kind of real world case study that I love.
    • My big takeaway from it was how laser focused Rob is when it comes to figuring out WHO is Drip’s actual customer. That changed over the course of that first year for Drip, and it was interesting to hear their process truly understanding who their customers are, and why they might look at using Drip in their business.
    • I’m really glad they moved toward the email automation stuff, because I’m definitely in that group.
  • My RE Webinar was a complete failure 🙁 …Everything that could have gone wrong did.
  • This month I’m re-working my marketing funnel for Restaurant Engine, starting with the top of the funnel, a new video series for restaurant owners. I’ll report back on this in January and February once this new funnel really kicks into action.

Jordan’s update:

  • Travel is bad for productivity, but really good for strategic thinking.
  • Been feeling like CartHook is at a crossroads and I need to decide on the right path forward for 2015.
  • Been feeling stressed out by the fact that the way I’m doing things now is not achieving the results I want, so I need to come to terms with the fact that I need to change HOW I do things, not just what I do.

In This Episode…

How to build a sales funnel:

Step 1:  Customer Avatar

  • Define your target customer. This is super critical. Get this right and everything will be easier and more effective.

Step 2: Desired End Result

  • You need to identify the real desired end result of your customer. This is what your content will be helping them get closer to achieving.

Step 3: Email Nurture Sequence

  • Your email content should provide value that brings your prospect closer and closer to their desired end result.

Step 4: Offer and Follow Up

  • Make sure to position your offer as valuable. And don’t just make the offer once, follow-up!

Step 5: Lead Magnet

  • Create a lead magnet that leads into your funnel, takes a few minutes to consumer, addresses a specific problem, and doesn’t take you more than a few hours to create.

Step 6: Software Integration

  • There’s a reason software comes last. It’s because it’s the least important part of this whole thing. With that in mind, I recommend you do two things. First, keep things as simple as possible. Second, use software that’s built for this purpose.

Links

 

[50] Getting First Customers For a SaaS, Pricing Your Product, & Other Listener Questions

[50] Getting First Customers For a SaaS, Pricing Your Product, & Other Listener Questions

 
 
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In this week’s show we take listener questions on early-stage SAAS sales process, picking your pricing, and more.

Check it out:

Updates

Brian’s update:

  • Listening to Ask Gary Vee episode 45, he said something interesting: “People fall in love with the way they make money” – He was talking about getting too comfortable with the way you’ve always done marketing. You’ve got to constantly be trying out new things, even when what you’re currently doing is working.
  • …Which I really relate to in my Restaurant Engine business. We’ve relied almost exclusively on our content marketing and organic channels to drive new signups and I feel like I’ve become stuck on this strategy for too long.
  • This month I’m working to add a new, more predictable marketing funnel by running some Webinars. So I have our first webinar for Restaurant Engine scheduled for Monday and Tuesday of next week. We’ll see how it goes.
  • On the Productize side of things, this week I sent a survey out to people who didn’t buy so I can try to get a handle on the key objections. Here’s what those were:
    • Some people said “not right now, but plan to buy later” — a common reason cited was that they’re currently going through a different course and don’t want to do several at once.
    • Some felt the price was too high, but they didn’t have unreasonable comments about price. Most said they’d like to see a price point in the 100-200 range.
    • Some said they don’t like video courses and prefer text. I must have done a poor job of communicating that in fact all lessons come in text, audio, and video formats.
    • Some felt they already had a handle on the concept of Productizing… Again I did a poor job of communicating this. 2 thirds of the course go well beyond just picking a service to productize… it gets into systemizing and marketing strategy.
    • …So I’ve got some work to do 🙂

Jordan’s update:

  • Thinking aggressively on the sales front again.
  • Launched a Facebook ad campaign – it’s good to make concrete progress.
  • Really enjoyed Brennan Dunn’s podcast episode with Scott Yewell – http://doubleyourfreelancing.com/100kprojects/ – amazing value and inspiring story. And also related is Brennan’s post on a new agency he’s going to launch that’s a hybrid productized service, with a recurring element to it – http://doubleyourfreelancing.com/new-agency/

In This Episode…

  • Anthony Franco asked about early-stage sales process for his SAAS BetterCater
  • Anthony also asked about liability insurance for web businesses.
  • Ryan Frank asked about pricing for his calendar appointment app TossBlocks

Links

 

Do you have questions or topics you want us to cover? Head over to this page and let us know: http://bootstrappedweb.com/contact/

Or leave a comment below and we’ll make it happen.

[45] To Build An Audience Or…

[45] To Build An Audience Or…

 
 
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Today’s episode is all about the right way to build an audience and the right reasons to do it. Brian gives his advice and perspective as someone who has built an audience over the past few years, while I’m in the very early stages. Whatever position you find yourself in, you’ll get a lot out of this one.

Check it out:

Updates

Brian’s update:

  • Launched Productize! Just 2 days in and very happy (and relieved) with the response so far… I promise to share full details and numbers in an episode in November.
    • Actually had the first sale before I even announced it was open 🙂
    • And now that we have a good number of customers already inside the course, I’m excited to open up the new community (private Facebook group) for everyone to interact…
    • A few people asked about the Productize Workshop and what’s involved there… I’m breaking it into small groups of about 5, and as a group we’ll hammer through personalized feedback and strategy on each attendee’s productized business. Very interactive. Some have called it a Mastermind call and I think that describes it well.
    • $100 off sale is currently still on through Halloween.
  • Overall, just relieved and happy to get some rest.  I was actually in the office until 5am the morning of launch getting all of the videos finalized and uploaded.

Jordan’s update:

  • Remember when I talked about clearing my plate and being able to focus about a month ago? Yeah well, that’s finally happening. It’s amazing how much progress you can make when you start to focus.
  • CartHook is picking up momentum, have the most free trials going I’ve ever had, and we’re releasing new features.
  • Still struggling with finding a developer to build new integrations, but I’ve got a few prospects that I believe will work out.
  • Been thinking A LOT about the next move on the info product side of things, which leads right into today’s episode.

In This Episode…

The power of the email list.

  • Gets people to return. Basically no other way to do that, reliably.
  • Your early email subscribers are your most loyal, they’ll help spread your content.

What should you write about?

  • Write about what you know and what you do every day.
  • Every time you deal with something difficult, that’s an opportunity for content.

Guest blogging

  • Best way to get in front of new audiences.
  • How to start…
    • Start small (but not too small)
    • Pitch a topic that you know is relevant to their audience (do your research)
    • Leverage guest publishings to land more (bigger) sites
    • Snowball effect: Blogs come to you… Mentions and random meetings turn into guest blog opportunities.

Podcasting

  • Truly different dynamic. Audience really feels like they “know” you.
  • Less competition. Easy to rank highly in iTunes (but hard to get to the TOP).
  • I see podcasting as an inbound channel. People discover the podcast first (iTunes/Stitcher) and then make their way to my site and newsletter.

Links

 

[44] How to Build a Productized Service Business w/ Nick Disabato (Draft Revise)

[44] How to Build a Productized Service Business w/ Nick Disabato (Draft Revise)

 
 
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Really great show for you this week all about Productized Services. We talk about examples of Productized Services and the first step to productizing. Then we have a great interview with Nick Disabato, founder of Draft Revise.

Check it, check it out:

and the interview with Nick:

Updates

Brian’s update:

Jordan’s update:

  • Too much travel on the personal front – stressing me out but back to normal now.
  • Trying to move things forward with CartHook – having trouble finding development help.

In This Episode…

Brian shared a few high-level concepts pulled from his course material, including:

  • Common scenarios for freelancers or bootstrappers to get into Productized Services
  • Types of productized services (consulting, scalable, and software/service hybrid)
  • 1st steps to get started with productizing
  • How to choose one service to focus on
  • How to choose one niche to focus on

Plus plenty of examples pulled from Brian’s research interviews, like:

 

Nick Disabato

https://draft.nu/
https://draft.nu/revise/
https://twitter.com/nickd

[43] How to Raise Prices, Outsourcing, and Other Listener Questions

[43] How to Raise Prices, Outsourcing, and Other Listener Questions

 
 
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In this week’s show we take listener questions about raising prices, validating product ideas, automating lead gen, and more.

Check it out:

Updates

Brian’s update:

  • It’s crunch time, and it’s getting a little stressful. I am planning to open my course, Productize, on October 21st. But I have A LOT to do in order to make that happen. Namely, produce all of the lesson videos. So I’m working later than I usually do, and spending some weekends in the office to make it happen.
  • Once this is launched, I want to take a short break at the end of October to regroup and refresh. Then dive back into Restaurant Engine in November.

Jordan’s update:

  • Focused on CartHook and making progress on multiple fronts. New features being built, hiring a developer to build new shopping cart integrations, and I’m spending my time on sales and marketing.
  • Staying focused on CartHook until the marketing systems are in place, but doing a lot of thinking about the consulting front. Developing my strategy for shorter term revenue that combines consulting with an online course.

In This Episode…

  • Matt Medeiros of Matt Report asked about the upcoming product launch of Conductor, a WordPress plugin (that looks amazing, btw).
  • Matt Ward of The Art of the Kickstart asked about productizing his Kickstarter consulting business.
  • Alejandro Ruiz asked about automating lead generation on Facebook.
  • Julio Barros asked about validating an idea whose audience is primarily offline.
  • John Hooley asked about evaluating new opportunities as a bootstrapper.
  • Two listeners asked about the challenge of raising prices when they’re outsourcing the work.

Links

 

Do you have questions or topics you want us to cover? Leave a comment below and we’ll make it happen.

[42] Using Webinars as a Bootstrapper

[42] Using Webinars as a Bootstrapper

 
 
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This episode is all about Webinars. We all hear about webinars and how effective they can be and we watch some people make an absolute killing using them. In this episode we talk about why to use them, how to use them, and how we plan on using them in the future.

Updates

Brian’s update:

  • Starting to pay more attention to other’s marketing tactics and actually study them by taking notes.
    • Subscribing to email launch sequences then reviewing them
    • Attending a webinar to see how it’s done
  • This week I wrote a post called How to Delegate When You’re Creative, which seems to be resonating and getting retweeted quite a bit.
  • I discovered how to Pin a Tweet to my Twitter profile. So I created a tweet, which promotes my free crash course in Productizing, included a big banner image on it, and then Pinned it to my profile. Now anyone who views my profile sees this. Big spike in opt-ins this week, we’ll see if it’s permanent.

Jordan’s update:

  • Keeping the momentum going from the previous few weeks – really working my ass off to take full advantage of every opportunity that comes up
  • Really enjoying the narrowed focus on CartHook now and it’s starting to pay off
  • Been taking a page out of Brian’s book and planning things out over the next few months instead of seeing everything week by week

In This Episode…

  • Why are webinars effective for getting customers?
  • Are webinars over-used?
  • How are each of us using webinars in our businesses?
  • What are some key techniques we’ve picked up when it comes to doing webinars?
  • How can we track and measure a webinar sales funnel?
  • Tools we use to run webinars?

Links