Earlier last week, I had a call on Clarity with Will Lam and he asked me a great question: “What are the key takeaways you would give to someone that is trying to grow their startup?”. I thought I would write out the answer in this blog post for everyone to read. Keep in mind that these are traits that I’ve either developed through experience or picked up from other startup marketers.
1. 80/20 rule from Noah Kagan
Appsumo’s founder, Noah Kagan, notes that one rule of thumb that they follow is to use 80% of their marketing budget for things that are working and 20% on newer marketing initiatives. One more thing: they go all in when they find marketing channels that work. You can watch one of his presentations where he shares his experiences of growing Mint, Facebook, and AppSumo here.
2. Communicate, communicate, communicate
At Treehouse, we work remotely and as you might imagine. There are some that think there is no replacement to working in person while others support it. For us, we’re half and half – we have an office in Orlando and we also have a team up in Portland. The rest of us are distributed. But hey, it works because we communicate a lot.
If you don’t feel like you are running enough A/B tests, speak up about it. If you feel like the team needs more developers, speak up. If you feel like an executive decision is going to cost the company money in the long run, talk. People might not always agree with you but it’s your job to communicate.
You’re doing the company a disservice if you aren’t being honest.
To get you started, here are some tools we use to communicate:
- Google Chat
- Google Hangout
- GoToMeeting – we use GoToMeeting for our leadership meetings. It’s very simple to use and the video quality is pretty good.
- 10 Useful Findings About How People Use Websites – ConversionXL
- 5 Landing Page Conversion Killers – Unbounce
- The Ultimate Guide to Conversion Rate Optimization – SEOmoz
3. Be a voracious reader
Although there’s a lot of crappy content circulating the internet, there’s always going to be someone you can learn from. The key is being able to discern signal from noise. For example, if I’m looking to learn more on conversion rate optimization, there are great blogs such as Unbounce, ConversionXL, KISSmetrics, SEOmoz, and more. Just look at the detailed blog posts that they write:
If your goal is to squeeze every penny out of your website, you should be reading conversion rate optimization articles like the ones above. They cost no money to read and stand to help create original ideas that will eventually create more profit for you. This applies to any topic you’re interested in.
Using the right tools can go a long way in helping you save time. If you’re on the go and don’t have time to read, you can use Pocket. To help you find relevant topics/articles via Twitter, you can grab curated lists using Listorious. Finally, I like picking off interesting topics from Inbound.org or Hacker News.
Key takeaway: don’t read every single blog out there. Find the ones that actually add value and follow them.
4. Never assume you know everything
They say two years in the tech world is like ten regular years. Things move very quickly so it’s important to stay grounded, even if you’re doing well. What worked two years ago might not be effective today. For example, if you wanted to rank well in Google for certain keywords in 2008, all you had to do was spam forum links with exact match anchor text. Doing that today would get you torched by Google.
Be willing to adapt and be humble. It’ll take you a long way.
5. Be willing to listen to other people
People will often have opinions or ideas on how to help drive growth for the company. Listen to them. Sure, they might not have the hands on experience that you have it comes to marketing but it doesn’t mean they don’t have good ideas. Marketing/growth is a company wide initiative and everyone should be participating.
I’m not saying that you have to take action on everything others tell you, but listen closely and try to discern the signal from the noise.
6. Test everything
We live in a world today where you no longer have to be afraid of challenging executives when you think something is wrong. If you feel strongly that something should be a certain way, all you need to do is fire up an A/B test and have the two variations duke it out. The data decides the winner.
And if you are the executive and someone comes up to you with a seemingly stupid idea that you think will never work? Test it. And if their test goes to shit, then they’ll know to come back to you next time better prepared. That’s what makes data great.
Don’t know what to test? Look for case studies such as this one to get ideas. Then gather feedback/data from your customers and decide on which elements you should be testing and do it.
Don’t waste your time trying to outsmart your peers on why your idea is superior. Just shut up and test.
7. Talk to others
Talk to others. A lot.
I make it a habit to talk with other Chief Marketing Officers/VP of Marketing/Growth Hackers because they share valuable experiences that might help my company grow. In return, I do the same so the relationship is mutually beneficial.
If you’re starting from scratch and need a way to talk to these people, Clarity is a great way to do so. You can connect with some of the world’s brightest minds not only in just marketing, but in other areas such as angel investing.
Another method is to read a lot and reach out to authors who have written articles that are truly remarkable. These are the articles that make you go ‘wow, this guy really knows what he’s talking about and I could probably learn a lot from him’. If you get that reaction, then it’s worth it to shoot them a tweet or even e-mail them. I used this method to find my present day mentor, who has helped accelerate my growth considerably.
The key is to keep reaching out to people – you never know which relationship might sprout into something very powerful so you just need to keep at it.
So there you have it, 7 helpful tips to help you get better at customer acquisition. In most cases, these tips not only apply to marketing, but to life in general. I’m confident that if you optimize in these areas, you’ll be significantly more effective at everything you do.
Image via Pixabay.com