FemtoConf 2018 Notes and Noteworthy

This is the central resource for a recap of FemtoConf 2018 in Darmstadt, Germany.
If you write/record/create ANYTHING related to FemtoConf please let me know (Twitter: @itengelhardt ) and I’ll be happy to add it here.

Notes on the Talks

 

Articles and Podcasts About FemtoConf 2018

  • Let me know about anything you write with regards to FemtoConf!

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Year in Review 2017

This a review of my business/personal year 2017. I do this mostly for future-me to reminisce and for present-me to reflect on what happened. That said, if you find something useful in my musings, that’s a nice bonus. 

Acknowledgements

There are a few people I’d like to thank – just in case they read this: 

  • My wife Katharina without whom my life would be misery. Thanks for always having my back. 
  • Benedikt Deicke with whom I produce a German podcast on bootstrapping & moonlighting called Nebenberuf Startup. Thanks for hosting a conference with me (more on that later) and countless times when you helped me by giving solid advice or just listening to (and sometimes talking me out of) my the latest idea 🙂 
  • My business friends – in no particular order: Michael Buckbee, Andrew Culver, Mike Taber, Jane Portman, Mojca Žove (nee Mars), Dave Collins, Ankur Kalra, Brennan Dunn, Victor Purolnik, Daniel Alm, Daniel Bader, Michael Thomsen, and so many more

Broad Strokes

2017… What. a. ride.

In January I first learned that my wife was pregnant and a week later that I’d be deploying to Afghanistan in six weeks – leaving my pregnant wife at home for a bit over four months. 

In February Benedikt and I hosted our first FemtoConf – it was amazing! I had so much fun and we’ll be back for another season in 2018 (sponsor tickets still available). 

I worked for a few weeks after I got back from Afghanistan and in mid-September, my son was born. I took a few weeks of work and my wife and I tried to adjust to a new lifestyle. 

When I went back to work in early November things were really chaotic and stressful and I didn’t get anything major done. The only project I got done was the sale of LinksSpy. 

Income sources

My business has three major income sources: 

LinksSpy, the SaaS application I developed in 2013, brought in most of the product revenue by a wide margin. It also came with highest support/time burden and I had frankly lost interest in the idea sometime in late 2014 / early 2015. I am relieved to finally have it off my plate (except for the agreed-upon maintenance work). As part of the sale, I agreed on not publishing any numbers beyond what was already out there. 

My book “SaaS Email Marketing Handbook” (and now my only remaining product) brought in $1,312 from 28 sales in 2017. Not much, but also not nothing. This is where I want to focus in 2018 and beyond productwise.

The final source of revenue is my consulting business. In 2017 I didn’t have a lot of time for it, but I worked with three great clients producing meaningful impacts to their bottom line – that’s always a pleasure to see. I’m looking to move away from coding and focus on email marketing automation going forward. 

Selling LinksSpy

I built LinksSpy back in 2013 and launched in early 2014. LinksSpy is a tool that helps SEO agencies and professionals build incoming links to their clients’ websites. 

LinksSpy grew considerably in 2014 and 2015, but then leveled off. I failed to find product-market fit with it and lost interest. 

All through 2016 and 2017 I only invested minimal time into LinksSpy – only answering emails and doing some maintenance. Looking back, I realize that I shouldn’t have built a product for an audience that I don’t enjoy working with. It’s not the people or anything, it’s just that I enjoy working with other founders a lot more. 

In October I found someone willing to buy LinksSpy and we agreed on a price pretty quickly. The transition finally concluded in December. Before I was able to sell it, I had to rewrite some of the backend code as right during the transition period Iron.io – which I used for queuing background jobs – decided to no longer grandfather their early customers in. That would have destroyed profitability for the new owner, so I agreed to put in a few days of work and migrate it over to AWS SQS. 

SaaS Email Marketing Handbook

In total I made $1,312 from 28 sales of the SaaS Email Marketing Handbook (SEMH). Here’s how that split up into the three packages: 

  • $574 from 16 sales of the “eBook only” / “Basic” package
  • $600 from 11 sales of the “Premium” package
  • $99 from one sale of the “Complete” package

The average revenue was $46.86, which means it was just slightly over the normal price of $39 for the “Basic” package. That’s to be expected as most sales happened with a discount code – either during sales or from people who used a promo code from the SaaS Email Marketing Crash Course or from the free chapter. 

It’s enough to cover the costs for hosting, my Drip account, and a bit more, but I’m looking to grow that revenue in 2018. 

Progress on the book & marketing experiments

Here are the things that I added to SEMH and marketing experiments I tried.

Email Marketing Automation Blueprints

The biggest change to the book in 2017 was that Drip added a feature called “Shared Workflows” that lets me set up email marketing automation workflows and share them with others. I’ve since added a number of such ready-to-use workflows to the Premium and Complete packages of the book. 

That has definitely increased the value of those packages to buyers and subsequently more people bought the Premium package. It’s something that I want to work on in 2018: Make the top two packages more appealing to customers. 

Upgrade path

One way to grow your business is to get more money from existing customers.

Since early on in the year I noticed that people where overwhelmingly buying the Basic package, I decided to provide an upgrade path to those customers. Included with the book download there is a PDF with a link that lets customers buy the Premium package for $30 – that’s a $16 discount compared to buying the Premium package right away. 
So far only one customer has used this, but we’ll see. I’ve only recently added some email marketing automation to promote the upgrade 28 days after purchase. 

Monthly Contest

I bought a lifetime deal for Vyper.io in July or August. I like all the built-in features that increase virality – e.g. giving points for following your social media profiles etc. 

I’ve run a few viral contests in the past, collecting a few hundred email addresses each time. So I jumped at the idea of having a more powerful/viral tool at my disposal and trying a few things. 

Vyper has a pretty cool drip email campaign after signup and one ideas was intriguing: Instead of your typical lead magnet, why not offer a monthly contest? 

I ran the first monthly contest in October and saw a roughly 100% increase in conversion rate over the email crash course. At least for October and November. Signups were down in December – which hopefully is due to seasonal fluctuations.

I’m currently trying to increase the virality. My latest experiment is to offer a way to get the Premium package of the SaaS Email Marketing Handbook for free if you refer 20 friends to the contest. 

Small changes 

I’ve done a few smaller changes to the marketing as well.

First of all, I added an evergreen content newsletter (ECN), which subscribers get subscribed to after they finished the crash course. I’ve also added a “promotions” workflow that takes people out of the ECN workflow and promotes the free chapter from the book. I plan on adding more evergreen content and more promotions to this. 
Overall, I see a lot of potential here as it allows me to incrementally improve my marketing whenever I find time for it. 

Secondly, I added a “write for us” page to SaaSEmailMarketing.net that gets me a lot of requests each month. Sadly, I didn’t follow through on any of them yet. The last months were too hectic. 

Thirdly, I’ve hired a javascript developer to build a range of calculators relevant to SaaS businesses such as the SaaS annual revenue calculator. This is pretty early stage, he’s currently working on the second calculator, but I plan to eventually have 10+ calculators and to hopefully get a good chunk of traffic through those. 

FemtoConf

Benedikt and I did a meetup for our podcast listeners back in 2014 and wanted to host a similar event again. Somehow one thing lead to another and this meetup turned into a conference. I wrote down my thoughts on running a conference – i.e. FemtoConf – in a separate article, if you’re interested. 

Overall, it was a great experience to get a bunch of inspiring people together and see all of them enjoy theirselves. Benedikt and I focused the conference on the “hallway track” – i.e. interactions between the attendees & speakers – and I’m super happy with how that turned out. 

We’re hosting another one this year (March 2-4 in Frankfurt). There are still sponsor tickets available that come with a bunch of goodies on top of a conference ticket – join us for an amazing conference experience!

 

Personal life

In mid-January my wife told me that she was pregnant. That was pretty exciting as it meant we’d have to renovate parts of the apartment and shift things around a bit. It also meant that my wife would stop working in her usual capacity as a chemical lab tech. 

About a week later I was informed that I’d be deploying to Afghanistan in March. That gave me about six weeks to prepare for deployment, visit our parents to let them know about the pregnancy, and finish a few things in the apartment that my wife definitely needed me for. 

Deploying to Afghanistan was fun. Finally, I was doing what I had been training for up to this point. Leaving my pregnant wife at home was clearly the downside, but overall it was a great experience. 

During my stay there I started a challenge: Do 200 push-ups every day. 
I started with doing 200 push-ups one day as a “Lets see if you can do this”-kind of challenge. I managed to do 200 push-ups, but almost died the next day. It took me 57 days to get to consistent 200+ push-ups every day. A few times I didn’t hit my goal for the day and had to double down the next day, but I managed to do over 35,000 push-ups in 2017. 
Currently, I’m about 15 days behind schedule with this for a number of reasons: I’ve had a cold on and off for the past three weeks and work was just too busy. But I plan on keeping at it and if I manage to catch up and do 200 push-ups every day I should start 2019 with 100,000 push-ups under my belt. 

In September my wife gave birth to a beautiful boy. The first few weeks were quite… interesting, but now he’s just the cutest, happiest, most even-tempered baby I know of. 
It’s crazy how much he has changed and enriched our lives. It’s so much fun to just watch him take in the world around him and learn new things. 

Goals for 2018

In 2018 I will transfer to a new post, which should decrease my workload considerably. I plan on going on paternal leave for four months (yay for Socialist Europe). 

Talking about the business, I have a few plans for 2018: 

  • Learn to focus again – I noticed that I have a hard time focusing on one thing anymore. “Flow” is all but non-existant for me. My #1 goal for 2018 is to learn to focus again and get some deep work done
  • Bring product revenue up to $2,500 per year. While this doesn’t look like much, it means almost doubling last year’s revenue. 
    • I want to spend some of the money I made from selling LinksSpy on testing Facebook ads. Not having mastered a traffic channel is probably among the top 3 reasons why I failed to grow LinksSpy. 
    • I’ve started writing another book. It’s going to target a similar audience, but is much smaller and will be sold through Amazon KDP. I plan on using it mostly as a lead magnet for SEMH. 
    • Do more cross-promotions. I’m looking for companies that could benefit from offering their customers a discounted copy of SEMH. I’ll hopefully find the time for an outreach campaign in February or March.  

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Paid Content Promotion: Promoting your content with QuuuPromote

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Is paid content promotion the way to win the marketing battle?

Content Marketing is on the front line in the marketing battle. It’s use is decisive in theaters such as SEO and social media.

While most people (this author included) focus on content creation, they often forget about content marketing.

QuuuPromote offers an easy way out: Pay for it and your message gets posted to hundreds of social media profiles.

I’m not exactly an advocate of social media marketing, but this sounded to good to be true, so I decided to give it a try.

Here is what I learned…

The content I shared

I decided to set this up as a test right from the beginning: I was going to use my article about the best SaaS email marketing tactic I know and promote it on QuuuPromote.

Then I would check how often that link got shared/clicked – except neither did I implement click tracking nor a notification for when the post got shared.

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I didn’t have a way to track either clicks or shares besides the analytics provided by Quuu themselves:

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Having your own share & click tracking

So with one completely botched-up test under my belt (how can this even happen after years in the marketing game?), I started all over again.

This time I shared an article detailing how we decreased the churn rate by 40% with a single email AND made sure I had click & share tracking in place.

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I used a simple “@itengelhardt” at the end of the tweet to track shares. This gave me insight into shares on Twitter.

I don’t know an easy way to track shares on other social media sites, but Twitter seems to be the major channel for QuuuPromote. So I’m good with that.

For click tracking I simply used Bit.ly which does a wonderful job of that, as you’ll see.

Analyzing the results from paid content promotion

The natural tendency is to mistrust any analytics coming from a promotion marketplace itself.

I expected QuuuPromote to over-report both shares & clicks after the first post – which allegedly had 201 shares and 91 clicks.

So after the second promotion has finished, here are the results:

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Now this one got a lot more shares, but a lot less clicks according to QuuuPromote. I didn’t count the shares in my twitter stream, but this is what it looked like for four weeks:

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Judging from that I’d say that the share numbers are not exaggerated.

But what about clicks?

I’m glad you asked. According to Bitly, the number of clicks are actually under-reported:

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Bitly reports a total of 157 clicks – 9 clicks on the link itself, 148 from other bitlinks to the same URL. It also reports 356 shares.

That number is in line with the 353 shares reported by QuuuPromote – plus a few genuine retweets, I guess.

I wonder how and why Bitly actually reports more clicks than QuuuPromote. If you have any ideas, let me know on Twitter (@itengelhardt)

Conclusion

I got 157 clicks (&356 shares) for an investment of $30. That comes down to $0.19 per click, which is phenomenally low Cost-per-Click.

Will I use QuuuPromote again? Absolutely. It’s a cheap investment with good returns and it takes maybe 5 minutes of my time.

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FemtoConf 2017: Thoughts on running our conference

On 10-12 February 2017 my friend Benedikt and I hosted our first conference – named FemtoConf – in Darmstadt, Germany.

These are my thoughts on the whole experience of co-running a conference.

Why we decided to host our own conference

Purely because we get this question quite a bit: “Femto” is a unit prefix in the metric system denoting a factor of 10 to the power of -15.

Benedikt and I are huge fans and avid attendees of MicroConf Europe, a conference for self-funded software startup founders.
I’ve been the semi-official scribe at microconfeuroperecap.com since inception.
We both <3 MicroConf, Rob, and Mike.
We even got them a celebratory cake for their 10th MicroConf (https://twitter.com/itengelhardt/status/759480902279979009).

That’s why – when it was time to name our conference – we decided to pay tribute to the legend. FemtoConf is designed to be the smaller cousin to MicroConf – just as the name implies.

We had done a meetup for our podcast listeners back in 2014 and had planed to do it again in 2016. For various reasons (work, family, and stuff), that didn’t happen.

Getting the ball rolling

So one day in late 2016 we said “Screw it, we’re doing this in 2017!”. Within 10 minutes we had decided on a date (10-12 February). We wanted to do it on a weekend, mostly because I work a day job and didn’t want to take a vacation.

We told a few of our listeners and friends about the meetup we were hosting. One of them was Jane Portman of Tiny Reminder, who on a whim told us “I’m coming and giving a talk” – color us surprised.

Turning things up a notch

One thing led to another and before long we had a full blown conference on our hands. We decided to kick things up a gear:
We had already decided to host the conference in Darmstadt. Darmstadt is perfect because it’s where Benedikt lives and easy to get to – it’s close to the middle of Germany and Frankfurt Airport is 30 minutes away.
We looked at conference rooms and found a suitable one at the Welcome Hotel Darmstadt costing 52€ per person per day. By chance my wife had stayed at the hotel before and gave it a raving review.

So we decided on a price: 99€ – enough to cover the costs for the conference room and a bit of buffer in case of unforeseen expenditures (this was a good idea poorly executed).

Benedikt signed us up for Tito so we could sell tickets. We thought that we could – at most – sell 8 tickets.
The plan was to have 8 attendees + speakers + Benedikt & I.

Starting up the marketing engine

When we started selling tickets, we did some serious grade A marketing! I kid, here’s what we really did:

  • we mentioned it to all our friends on all the Slack chats we hang out in
  • we sent an email to our mailing list
  • each of us tweeted about the tickets going on sale

Within 24 hours we were sold out. WHAT?! Looks like we hit a nerve there.
We decided to sell five more tickets and get a bigger conference room.

Finding speakers

Those five tickets sold out as well. So we were now up to 13 attendees + 2 hosts + 1 speaker. We wanted to have maybe four talks, so we needed three speakers.

Luckily, Jane brought along Mojca Mars, who was going to talk about Social Media Marketing.

Benedikt and I decided to approach two additional speakers: Thomas Smale of FE International and Craig Hewitt of PodcastMotor.
Both agreed to speak at FemtoConf and Thomas even was generous enough to be our liquor fairy – another MicroConf tradition; i.e. he sponsored drinks the first night.

The conference itself

There was a lot of preparation – mostly done by Benedikt – that I will only briefly list here:

  • coming up with a schedule
  • sending email updates to attendees (schedule, things to do in Darmstadt, pre-conference survey)
  • taking a look at the room
  • preparing gifts for our speakers (Apfelwein) and attendees (Christstollen)
  • collecting presentation slides from the speakers
  • making plans on how to record audio & video

Kick-off dinner

Fast forward to February 10: I’m heading out from home shortly before 07.00 and take the train to Darmstadt. It’s a four and a half hour journey. I arrive at 11.30 and head straight to the AirBNB I’m going to share with my friends Andrew Culver, Daniel Bader, Daniel Alm and Victor Purolnik.

The next fixed event is the kick-off dinner at Braustüb’l. Benedikt and I spent the meantime talking to the first couple of attendees over lunch and coffee and buying a presenter, because obviously I forgot mine at home. We also set up the audio recording hardware.

Dinner is fantastic, filled with lots of great conversations, and everyone seems to have a blast. The conference is already off to a good start.

The proper conference day

The next morning I wake up around 07.00 and walk over to the hotel to set up the camera and prepare my blog for some notetaking.
When I get there I realize that I brought my camera and my tripod – but that the connector is still on my DSLR, back home in Munich. I text Benedikt, who’s already on the way and he heads back home to fetch his tripod. Disaster averted!

I also realize that there is no cabling in place to supply attendees with power. I get a hold of an hotel employee and she fixes this in 15 minutes – they were on top of their game!

Shortly after 09.30 Benedikt & I kick off the conference with some general information and then we start a round of introductions. After introductions Jane Portman takes the stage and gives a fantastic talk on product strategy.

After that we have a long 50 minute coffee break, before Thomas talks about building a sellable business.

During the 2-hour lunch break we have lunch (surprise!) and we also go for a nice walk the close by Herrngarten. It was a nice change of speed, definitely not something we had planned for.

After lunch we had some more Q&A with Thomas. Than it is up to Mojca to teach us all about Facebook Ads and finally Craig tells us about his adventures in productized services.

Dinner that night was at Sitte – another great restaurant. I leave around 12.30 at night with the few remaining attendees and my head is buzzing with thoughts and ideas.

Sunday morning we have breakfast in the AirBNB and then check out. We all meet in front of the hotel and go for a short tour of the city, thanks to our guide Benedikt. Afterwards to storm into a coffee shop and sit together for a few more hours. Benedikt & I also take the time to record two episodes for our podcast.

My personal thoughts on FemtoConf

First of all, FemtoConf gave me exactly what I hoped for: a weekend with friends and a ton of motivation!

Every time after MicroConf I would feel energized and ready to deep-dive into building a business. The problem is that MicroConf Europe is only once a year.
FemtoConf was – as Andrew called it – a much needed shot in the arm.

I think that Benedikt and I did a lot of things right with FemtoConf:

  • the small size of ~20 founders allowed everyone to talk to everyone
  • lots of time between talks plus two walks throughout the city gave amble time to have deep and meaningful conversations
  • having four talks was just the right amount to get everyone excited about a few(!) ideas they could try in their business AND stuff to talk about with other founders
  • Darmstadt was the right city, especially considering how close it is to Frankfurt Airport (we had attendees fly in from Los Angeles and Crimea – among other places)

Benedikt and I were deliberate in keeping FemtoConf small and focusing on the hallway track. In my opinion those were great decisions. Our attendees share that opinion:

Things that didn’t go well

Aside from me forgetting both the presenter AND the tripod connector the biggest letdown for our attendees was that we wanted to play laser tag on Sunday morning and we couldn’t.
Based on our pre-conf survey I had reserved 7 spots for players, but when I asked around again on Saturday there were 14 willing players. That didn’t work out with the laser tag facility and we had to scrub it.
We all went on a sightseeing tour of Darmstadt instead, which was still great.

Lesson learned: Plan laser tag for all attendees + better halves

From the feedback we got it’s clear that we should give Sunday a bit more structure – maybe with one or two talks plus fun activities. That sounds great, but having additional talks would double our expenses, so we’ll have to see.

Not breaking even

Benedikt and I did improvise (and imitate) a lot for FemtoConf. We followed a solid “Ready, Fire, Aim!” approach when it came to pricing. ¯_(ツ)_/¯

This meant that we were a few hundred dollars short in the end.

That’s not a big deal: We host the pre-conf dinner for MicroConf Europe each year and that has sometimes cost us more than $1,200 bucks (which we are cool with).

Nevertheless, we’d like to break even next year. The biggest contributor to our net loss was that we paid the conference room for 20 people, but only charged 13 people for attending.

Additionally, there were a few extra costs like beverages during lunch, attendee & speaker gifts, and we swallowed a few of the drinks on friday (We had agreed to cap Thomas’ expenses at a certain amount).

I don’t want to charge speakers for attending as other conferences do, so there is only one option: Charge. More. (Hi there, Patrick!)

We’ll probably increase prices quite a bit, but we’ll also add to the FemtoConf experience. People already told us they’d be willing to pay way more, so we’ll see.

Conclusion

Overall, this was a fantastic conference experience. It was great to meet old friends and make new ones. The motivation and energy I feel after FemtoConf is just what I needed to get working on improving my book (SaaS Email Marketing Handbook).

Looking forward to next year!

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Craig Hewitt: “Evolution of a Productized Service – The Story of PodcastMotor” – FemtoConf 2017

The FemtoConf 2017 Notes and recaps can be found on the central hub page.

Website: PodcastMotor.com
Twitter: @TheCraigHewitt

The Premise of Productized Services

  • Quick to launch
  • easy to validate
  • Provide immediate profit
  • Have a clear scope and value proposition
  • Allow previously unprofitable business models to become profitable at scale

But does it scale..? 

  • Yes, however
    • Margin will only go down
    • We saw a ceiling in total revenue/customers
    • Questionable “sellability” of business
      • You don’t want to spend 20h/week working on something that cost you $200k to buy
    • Linear growth curve (along with expenses)

PodcastMotor History

  • 01/15 ==> Launch
  • 03/15 ==> 3 customers, $1k/mo
  • 05/15 ==> 3 team members
  • 08/15 ==> 6 team members
  • 01/16 ==> First $10k/mo
  • 05/16 ==> went full time
  • 07/16 ==> Launched first WP Product
  • 10/16 ==> $20k / mo
  • 12/16 ==> Acquired SSP
  • 01/17 ==> Launch in a Week Course
  • 02/17 ==> Launching PodcastMotor Connect

Lessons Learned Scaling

  • Document everything
  • Better Hiring >> Better Delegation
  • Revisit Monthly where/when you are Limiting Factor
  • Avoid Scope Creep
  • Retain Good Customers (and identify bad ones before they start!)
  • How to write SOPs: We use Snagit to record Screen caps and put them in the process document
  • Removing yourself from the business
    • Get better every month
    • ensure that you’re providing value > cost of support team
    • Do only what you HAVE to, not what’s CONVENIENT in the moment
    • Build in accountability into your team
  • Automatic Delegation
    • Rules in place for when/how to delegate
    • Give the team power
    • Periodic check-in

If I were starting from scratch today

  • Begin with your target pricing from the start (aspirational pricing)
  • Everyone goes on the same plans (no exceptions)
  • Have a service you can fulfill yourself – don’t be dependent on the customer
  • Document and Delegate, Early and Often
  • Structure for >50% margin from the beginning
  • Secondary Market
    • “Typically service based sites sell around 2x net profit, but we have seen them go higher if they have solid brand recognition or a long history of success.”
  • Productized Services can be just the beginning
    • Leadfuze – now Course and SaaS
    • AudienceOps – now WordPress plugins, course, and SaaS
    • Elastic Sales/Close.io – On-demand sales team turned CRM
    • PodcastMotor – WordPress theme/plugins, course, and SaaS

The Future of PodcastMotor

  • Diversifying our offerings
    • Productized Services
    • Information Products
    • WordPress plugins and themes
  • Surrounding the problem
    • Businesses – Concierge Service
    • New Podcasters – Startup Package, hosting, course
    • Existing Podcasters – Ongoing Production Support
    • DIY Podcasters – WP products, hosting, course

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Mojca Mars: “Strategic Growth – How to strategically grow your business with Facebook Ads” – FemtoConf 2017

The FemtoConf 2017 Notes and recaps can be found on the central hub page.

Website: SuperSpicyMedia.com
Twitter: @mojcamars

  • I don’t want to work with companies that just want to spend money on Facebook
    • I want to work with companies that want to see results from Facebook

Why Facebook Ads? 

  • Level playing field
  • Bigger budgets != better results
  • Effective
  • Profitable
  • Unlimited opportunity for scaling
  • Some results: 
    • Campaign 1:
      • LTV: $500
      • CPA: $26
    • Lead Generation: $0.4 per lead
    • Campaign 2:
      • Ad spend: $1,000 (1 month)
      • Revenue: $5,000 (first month!)
      • Total Revenue: $80,000

But how?

  • #1 Mistake…
    • Just starting to sell to people
    • You’re selling to a cold audience that doesn’t even know what your product does
  • Build trust
    • Trust is a highway towards increased sales
  • How to build trust with ads? 
    • Funnel
      • Share Value
      • Lead Magnet
      • Promotion
    • Goal of the funnel: Qualifying your audience
  • 3 Steps: 
    • Facebook Ads account
    • Facebook Pixel on your webpage
    • Facebook Page
  • Facebook Audiences
    • Existing Audience: Custom Audiences
      • people who visited your website (tagged by Facebook Pixel)
      • OR created from an email list
    • New Audience
      • Lookalike Audiences
        • based on an existing audience generated from email list
        • but different people!
      • Interest/behavioral targeting

Share Value

  • Target Audience: New Audience
  • how to share value: Valuable content (blog posts, videos)
  • Goal: build trust
  • Video content is incredibly cheap right now to promote

Lead Magnet

  • Target Audience: new audience & existing audience
  • What Lead Magnets: 
    • Checklist
    • Cheat Sheet
    • PDF collection of your best blog posts
    • eBook
    • Free chapter of an ebook
  • Goal: Collect emails
  • Use retargeting

Promotion

Things to do later today

  • Implement Facebook Pixel
  • Create a lead magnet
  • Develop and implement ads for lead magnet
  • Invest $50 – $200
  • Run ads for 2-5 days

Ideas

  • “Are you scared of losing work if you’d charge more? Learn how to avoid being seen as a cheap commodity and let’s double your rates together!”
    • Everyone wants to make more money
    • “scared” is a great emotional word
  • “Let’s say it as it is: Using paper time cards is incredibly inefficient. So why not eliminate them completely with ClockShark?”
    • background picture of a construction worker – target audience relates to that
    • Powerful slogan in the foreground
  • “Time tracking shouldn’t be rocket science. With ClockShark, it’s far from that. You can now track using GPS software. Easy”
    • again same approach for the visuals
  • “Have you hit a plateau in your service business? Learn about 5 key strategies that will give you a competitive edge in your market and leave your business thriving”
    • CEO Warrior
    • CTA: [FREE] 5 Secret Game Changing Strategies
    • Social proof in picture: “As seen on…”
  • “We’re uncovering our secrets! Find out about ONE tactic that can get you 1,000 email subscribers in 30 days! We tested the technique and it works!”
    • ConvertKit
    • CTA: “Get 1,000 email subscribers in the next 30 days (or less)!”
    • communicating the dream
  • “Are you tired of headaches that come with email marketing? There’s an easier and more enjoyable way to grow your business. Try ConvertKit!”
    • CTA: “ConvertKit: Email marketing, made easy!”

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Thomas Smale: “A Winning Exit – Your 4-step strategy for building a sellable SaaS business” – FemtoConf 2017

The FemtoConf 2017 Notes and recaps can be found on the central hub page.

Website: FEInternational.com
Twitter: @ThomasSmale

  • Started of with writing a book on selling websites
    • People started asking whether we offer a service for that
  • We’ve continued to buy & sell businesses for ourselves
  • 95% success rate on selling businesses
  • Now offices in Boston, London and Saigon
  • Did 100 deals in 2016

What Buyers Want

  • Important to understand from the beginning – need to position yourself correctly
  • What buyers look for
    • Low churn (sign that product & customer service is good)
    • Growing MRR 
    • MRR > ARR
    • Documented Code
    • Evergreen
    • Growth Opportunities

Process

  • Establish clear protocols
  • Document everything
  • Create a model that can operate in your absence
  • Make the business sustainable
    • Will the business still thriving in 10 years? 
    • Remove single points of failure
      • important employees
      • co-founder
      • yourself? 
    • consistency vs. one-time
      • Hacker News is not a great marketing channel (no predictability, no control)
      • do the boring stuff often if it works
  • Monthly beats annual
  • Consistent cash flow
  • Focus less on new customers
    • instead focus on retention

Step 4 – Sell at the right time

  • Sell while you are growing
  • Exit before you become stagnant
    • No new clients
    • Maxed out what you can sell to existing customer
  • Take emotions out
  • “If you wait it could be too late”

How we did it

  • Building a great team
  • Existing customers
  • Consistency
    • Employees are way better at being consistent than entrepreneurs!
    • When you find things that work, continue on doing them
  • Removed owner
    • Whether you’re buying or building – remove the owner!
    • Make sure you’re in a position where a buyer can take over from you
  • Systems
  • Platform agnostic

What is it worth? 

  • FEInternational Valuation Model
    • Proprietary data
    • Data from 400 deals, over 20,000 data points
    • Multiple of seller discretionary earnings (SDE)
      • SDE takes differences in owner pay into account
    • SaaS: 3-6x annual SDE
    • Content: 2-4 annual SDE
    • E-Commerce: 2-4x annual SDE

Key Takeaways

  • Your mileage may vary… 
  • Make yourself dispensable
  • Document your processes
  • Outsource as much as you can
  • Create recurring income & repeat business
  • Sell while you’re still growing
  • Know what it is worth
  • Complimentary e-course: http://feinternational.com/femto

 

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Jane Portman: “Product Strategy for Founders – How to Build Focused & Profitable Software Products” – FemtoConf 2017

The FemtoConf 2017 Notes and recaps can be found on the central hub page.

Website: TinyReminder.com
Twitter: @uibreakfast

  • Created “Mastering App Presentation” with no product strategy in place
  • Poor strategy is a recipe for disaster

Why your product should exist

  • Research your audience
  • find what pains they are experiencing
  • Do a “sales safari”
    • scour forums, etc. where people are not actively talking about products
  • Define your strategy
    • write down the strategy
  • Apply your strategy
  • Deal with new features
  • Think large scale

Define your strategy

  • four pillars of product strategy
    • Audience
    • Goals
    • Tasks
    • Objects
  • Audience
    • Who is your ideal user (paying customer)?
    • Do you know them? 
    • Do you like them? 
      • You’ll have to interact with them until the end of time
    • Can they pay you? 
      • School systems have tons of problems, but very little money to go around
    • Do you know how to reach them? 
      • Brick & Mortar businesses are notoriously hard to reach as a bootstrapper
      • Do they have online forums? 
  • Goals
    • What goals is the user trying to achieve with your product? 
      • Make more money? 
      • Look good in front of their customers? 
      • Example: I want to write a book because then I can…
        • build authority
  • Tasks
    • What primary tasks does the suer perform daily with the help of your product?
    • Where does the main value come from? 
      • e.g. TinyReminder sends reminders to clients and urges them to fill in an online form
      • online form building is an essential feature, but NOT the main benefit
    • Classify tasks by type
      • Analytical
      • Proactive
      • Reactive
  • Objects
    • What objects (entities, items) do users create and manage while performing their tasks? 
      • Gives you a good idea of how to structure your product
  • Use the real language of your customers to describe product strategy

Apply your strategy

  • In your sales copy
    • Address the audience
    • Appeal to their big goals
    • Describe their tasks
  • In your product design
    • Facilitate the important tasks
    • Focus on one task at a time
    • Carefully manage the important objects
  • What did I do wrong with my first book? 
    • Very vague name, audience, goals & tasks
  • What we did right this time with Tiny Reminder
    • Precise audience (consultants)
    • Precise Goals
    • Precise Tasks

Deal with new Features

  • Her mom gifted two fish to her kids
    • Implications: 20 gallons of water for the first fish, 10 gallons for each additional fish
    • Like to dig out plants
    • Bully other kinds of fish
    • Need daily maintenance
    • ==> Get rid of the fish
  • New feature implications
    • Strategy becomes more vague
    • Marketing & sales become vague (which feature is important?)
    • Support & documentation
    • Usability
  • Classic qualifying questions
    • Does this feature solve a real pain? 
    • What are the development and support costs? 
    • Can we build an integration instead? 
    • What part of the existing user base will benefit from this immediately? 
      • e.g. only free users? 
  • Product strategy questions
    • Does it serve your ideal audience – or does it exapnd it? 
    • Does it serve the big goal – or does it add more goals? 
    • Does it facilitate the important tasks?
  • More goals and tasks don’t make a happy user

Think large scale

  • Nothing exists in isolation
    • Product is attached to you, your personality and your existing audience
  • Simple product lineup
    • Free lead magnet (free course)
    • Entry-point purchase (book)
    • Main product (SaaS, consulting)
  • Advanced product lineup
    • Free lead magnet (free course)
    • Entry-point purchase (book)
    • Medium-touch product (course, workshop, or consulting package)
    • Main product (SaaS, consulting)
    • super-expensive “dream” product (no one buys it, but anchors the price of other products)
      • e.g. a $8,000/mo design consulting offering for developer teams
  • Think of your personal strengths
    • Marie Poulin
      • Digital Streatgy School (expensive course)
      • Doki (courseware)
      • Consulting business (helping clients build courses)
  • Content strategy
    • Mailing list setup
    • Free course
    • Blog & newsletter
    • Book 
    • Podcast
    • Videos
  • Only count on your own audience!
    • No magic from Product Hunt or Hacker News
    • No influencer friends
    • No help from the people you interview
  • Focused strategy is a luxury you can afford

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FemtoConf 2017 Notes and Noteworthy

This is the central resource for a recap of FemtoConf 2017 in Darmstadt, Germany.
If you write/record/create ANYTHING related to FemtoConf please let me know (Twitter: @itengelhardt ) and I’ll be happy to add it here.

Notes on the Talks

 

Articles and Podcasts About FemtoConf 2017

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20+ Attendees share their key takeaways from MicroConf Europe 2016 [Expert Roundup]

At MicroConf Rob Walling and Mike Taber encourage the attendees to set their goals for the conference as follows:

  • gain 3 actionable take-aways that you want to implement in your business
  • find 3 people that you want to build a relationship with over the next year

And boy, there were more than 3 ideas to take away from MicroConf Europe – and way more than 3 people that I would love to build a relationship with.

But I wanted to know what other founders took away from MicroConf Europe 2016. So I asked them to tell me which 3 key lessons they learned at the conference in Barcelona and here are their answers.

James Mayes

@james_mayes | MindTheProduct.com

  1. Ask for help. There’s always someone who faced and solved the problem before.
  2. Explore more tools to make better use of time
  3. Remember to look at long term strategy regularly and not get stuck in the weeds!

 

 

 

 Victor Purolnik

@_recurse | nontechfounder.co

  1. “If we’d stopped coding ourselves earlier we would’ve gotten to 12MLN faster.” –Peter Coppinger, Teamwork
  2. “Don’t rebuild the frontend and backend at the same time.” –Janna Bastow, ProdPad
  3. “Developers don’t estimate in time time, they estimate in flow time” –Anders Thue Pedersen, TimeBlock.com

 

 

 

Rachel Willmer

@rwillmer | luzme.com

  1. It’s more profitable to retain customers than to gain them
  2. It’s important to focus. Don’t spread yourself too thin.
  3. Just because it’s hard, doesn’t make it valuable.

 

 

 

Robin Warren

@robinwarren | getcorrello.com

  1. Talk to customers (more)
  2. Increase my prices (based on Patrick’s approach)
  3. Email might be how people use my app more than through the web interface

 

 

Christoph Engelhardt

@itengelhardt | SaaSEmailMarketing.net

My 3 big take-aways (along with a bunch of smaller ones) were:

  1. Gamified trials as described by Janna Bastow in her excellent talk. When she presented that idea I remember sitting there with my mouth wide open for a minute or two. Mind blowing!
  2. In some situations doing more customer development correlates with a failing product: If you have to talk to 200 people to get a dozen presales of your product, you do not have a winning product. Luckily, when you’re doing customer development AND asking for the sale, you’ll notice the pattern long before the 200th prospect.
  3. Giving an attendee was fun and it’s great to talk with attendees afterwards. I’m definitely going to repeat that next year

 

 

Kamil Toman

@katox | leafclick.com

  1. Don’t even think about coding, do your market research and validation homework first.
  2. Selling is uncomfortable and it doesn’t get any easier over time.
  3. Focus on important things disregard the rest. There are always too many things to be done.

 

 

Carlos Hernandez

@polimorfico | quaderno.io 

  1. Stop obsessing on acquisition. Work more on monetization.
  2. Founders must create and test their own predictable & scalable sales funnels.
  3. The best time to sell your business is when you don’t need to sell it.

 

 

 

Anders Thue Pedersen

@andersthue | Timeblock.com

  1. Ask for the close
  2. Working on being more aware of what is bothering me and what is bothering my employees
  3. Create buyer’s personas for my product

 

 

 

Martin Judd

@Martin_judd | www.kidsclubhq.co.uk 

  1. Need to get more leads and turn them into customers rather than spend time improving the product at this point
  2. Need to define personas for my customers to help with marketing
  3. Need to ask new customers to give me a referral to others they think may benefit from the product

 

 

 

Chris Kottom

@chriskottom | ChrisKottom.com

Here are a few things that I have already implemented since MicroConf Europe

  • Quantified sales funnel for my book
  • Planned new content for September and October
  • Released a simplified testing cheat sheet
  • Contacted several friends from MicroConf and scheduled follow-ups

And here are a few things that I am going to work on over the coming months:

  • Process feedback on new product ideas, make decisions on what’s next
  • Read through some of the book recommendations I got
  • Write up my own take-aways and post to blog

 

 

Benedikt Deicke

@benediktdeicke | StageCMS.com

I got my main takeaways during conversations with fellow attendees. They mostly revolve around changes to my product and the packages I’m offering.

I’ll most likely start to offer a “Done For You” package and focus more on the higher tier plans, maybe even discontinuing my cheapest plan.

I also got some good input on new ways to reach my target audience.

To sum it up: While the talks were great as usual, the main benefit for me was the hallway track. I’ve never had so many conversations with people at any other conference, but MicroConf.

 

Stephen Kellett

@softwareverify | SoftwareVerify.com

  1. Improve onboarding
  2. Improve email marketing

What I will do in the next few months? Who knows, I never get time to do what I want in the order I want!

 

 

 

Thomas Smale

@thomassmale | FEInternational.com

  1. Facebook Live & Facebook Ads are a great combination
  2. Selling a large business is an emotional process

 

 

 

 

Damian Thompson

@damianthompson | LeadFuze.com

My key take-away is to focus on funnel backwards:

  1. retention
  2. ARPU
  3. acquisition

 

 

 

Lukasz Bilangowski

@blukasz | MintRock.com

I have one main take-away: Lead source is more important than sales skills.

 

 

 

Daniel Hepper

@danielhepper | epicco.de

My main take away was that even the most successful folks struggled at some point. I’m going to implement what I should have done last year: start a Mastermind group

 

 

 

 

Alex Yumashev

@jitbit | www.jitbit.com

  1. Quantifiable customer personas – a metric-based portrait of your customer
  2. Gamifying trial experience (Janna’s talk) – adding tasks and rewarding users with more trial time on completion
  3. Concentrating on improving churn and trial-2-customer conversions instead of just customer acquisition (paid or organic)

 

 

Simon Nordberg

@simonnordberg | simonnordberg.com

I really started realising the importance of timing and seemingly random events. Spending more time on customer development might not be a silver bullet. Depending on analytics to make decisions during the early stages of a product/service may be counter-productive. Relationships are key.

 

 

 

Drew Sanocki

@drewsanocki | NerdMarketing.com 

Biggest thing for me was just meeting like-minded entrepreneurs. I learned a lot but more important was personal connection which got me thinking of a lot of new things.

 

 

 

Jacob Lonroth

@lonroth | mokini.com 

Janna from ProdPad showed us how they had implemented gamification of trials days. In their product a trial user starts out with 7 trial days and then based on the actions trial users make inside the SaaS give them extra days, e.g. +1 day for filling in your company name. Super smart and something I will try for sure!

 

Damian from LeadFuze told me the two reasons people buy and that it’s totally different if you sell to founders or employees. If you pitch to a founder you can

  1. save them money or
  2. make them money.

But an employee doesn’t give a #€%& about this, the only reason they buy is to

  1. Be the hero (i.e. get promoted) or
  2. Save their ass.

 

Patrick from Price Intelligently showed us combined metrics from 2k SaaS companies and introduced the concept of adding valued features, least valued features, WTP, CAC and LTV for each of your customer personas to make better marketing decisions which is a great suggestion and something I will implement for my SaaS.

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