Rachel Andrew – How Customers Hold the Secret to Your Success – MicroConf Europe 2014

The MicroConf Europe 2014 Hub Page has notes on all the talks and additional information.

Website: Grabaperch.com
Twitter: @rachelandrew
Slides: here
Additional Material: here

 

EdgeOfMySeat.com – Getting Started

  • 4-year old daughter, during DotCom crisis
  • Lots of friends turned up for work in the morning and the company was gone
  • started own company as a Perl troubleshooter (!)
  • later turned business into a consultancy
  • turned bits of the consultancy into products
    • CMS framework licensed along with development services
    • license cost $4,800
    • average cost per site built $10,000

Moving on to Perch

  • downloadable self-hosted CMS software, licensed per site
  • Recurring revenue because designers build multiple sites on perch. Average 2.8 licenses/customer
  • Motivation behind Perch
    • need to have tool that would make small jobs profitable
    • drop-in CMS for tiny sites
    • started as internal tool, quickly turned into standalone product (“Scratch your own itch”)
  • “We had no idea what we were doing”
  • version 1
    • built over 4 weekends
    • sold for $55 on launch
    • “profitable” in 24 hours

Keeping Your Customers Front and Center

The “Missing Features at Launch don’t Matter to Anyone but You

  • Solve a complete problem for your customers
  • Sell your solution to that problem
  • Existing customers enjoy getting new features after they paid – FREE STUFF!

Scratch Your Own Itch but be Aware that You are not Your Ideal Customer

  • Version 1 was the product we wanted & needed
  • Our first customers were our friends & peers (People like us)
  • Second wave of customers had different requirements
  • ==> Version 2 was the product that our real customers needed

Lesson 3: The Happy Majority will be Silent

  • Provide great customer support
  • there are many terrible ways to configure PHP web hosting – we know all of them
  • The more people CAN do with your product, the more they WANT to do (more feature requests)
  • June to October 2014
    • 38% of people who bought also raised a thread in the forums
  • Your best customers may never speak to you
    • Find out who they are & get in touch.
    • Ask for feedback
    • surveys can prompt customers to give feedback
    • Happy, Silent Majority will answer with “Please don’t change anything”
    • Ask for feedback BEFORE you change features
      • Helps you not to break things for existing customers
      • when it feels like “everyone” is asking for features, it’s often just a few noisy people
      • Make sure you don’t break your product for the happy majority because of a few noisy people

Lesson 4: Your Customers can Show You how to Sell Your Product

  • We love:
    • Storing structured data
    • Templates defining a schema
    • Speed & efficiency of the template engine
  • Our customers love:
    • not having to know PHP
    • that the CMS doesn’t mess with their markup
    • that the end client doesn’t need handholding to edit the site
    • that they can use any Bootstrap template or jQuery plugin
  • The fact that great code makes that possible is NOT a selling code, the side-effects are!
  • “The things your customers tell you they love should be your headlines”

Lesson 5: We’re NOT Looking for Features, we’re Solving Problems

  • Customer: “Can you add a setting for this?” (Blog post: Checkboxes that kill your product)
    • Ask back: “What problem are you trying to solve?”
    • As the product owner you need to get from specific to the general use case
    • Collect use cases from support, from feature requests, from the way you see people use your product
  • New features keep your existing customers happy and sticking with you as their needs are met

Lesson 6: Expecting new features to mean more sales is a mistake

Lesson 7: You can Learn a lot from the “misuse” of Your Features

  • Perch has blog module
    • customers didn’t use it as a blog, but as a portfolio, gallery etc
    • “Why are they doing that?”
    • They used it because it allowed them to CATEGORIZE!
  • Pave the cowpaths
    • See what users are already doing
    • Don’t penalize them for making that choice
    • Find ways to help them do the thing they want to do in a better way

Lesson 8: Great Support can be Your best Feature & Your most Effective Marketing

  • Keep your clients (and their clients!) happy
  • Help people to do things they couldn’t do before they started using your product
  • “One customer well taken care of is more valuable than $10,000 worth of advertising”
  • Care about your first run experience (Minimum path to awesome)

Lesson 9: The Influencers are Fickle

  • ideal perch customer
    • freelancer or agency building lots of sites
    • understands that time is money
    • prefers running a solid business over constantly learning new things
    • often does fixed price website builds
  • the “influencers”
    • well-known in the web industry
    • can charge a premium for their work
    • can treat each project as a “special snowflake”
    • have time in higher budgets to try new things
    • have a need to learn new things in order to be able to talk about them in their influencer role
  • ==> We don’t chase the influencers
  • Don’t rely on influencers for marketing; treat attention from them as a bonus

Lesson 10: You are NEVER Done

  • We are so lucky
    • We can live off our product
  • We are so tired
    • We’ll answer support requests from the beach
    • We’ll add new features occasionally
  • We swapped 10 clients per year for 1000s of customers
  • We are supporting our customers every day of every year and have been doing for over 5 years
  • With no exit plan, we are never done. We need to learn how to make this work well.

Questions & Answer

  • Up- & Downsides of building a business with your significant other:
    • You don’t stop thinking/talking about your product
    • If things aren’t going well it is doubly stressful (business + personal – i.e. financial problems)
  • Can you tell us more about your 24 hours to profitability?
    • We built a landing page, told our friends
    • got mentions on Twitter
    • –> 500 people on launch list
    • costs were really low
  • Was it a conscious decision to NOT grow the company more?
    • Never wanted to be a manager of people (again)
    • Purposely didn’t take more work with consultancy
    • With Perch we wanted to learn how things work before we hired
    • We need to grow now, we need PHP experts to bounce ideas with
  • Why have you not done a SaaS model?
    • we want to have a SaaS option in the future (less server configurations)
    • We didn’t want to provide hosting (low-margin) in the beginning
  • How are you going to grow exceptional customer support?
    • Hard, because our support is highly technical
    • Train people by installing perch for new customers
  • How do you resist urge to implement every feature request?
    • Drew will see interesting code challenges, Rachel is more pragmatic
    • Keep complexity down, don’t add features that add complexity
    • Keep Perch simple and do complex things in new product (Perch Runway)
  • How did you grow business after the initial “friends and peers” phase? What’s your best marketing strategy?
    • Word of mouth
    • Content marketing
    • Speaking at conferences
  • What did you do to keep yourself motivated?
    • Go for long runs
    • Listen to podcasts
    • Set achievable goals

Social Share Toolbar

LinksSpy.com – Monthly Income Report August 2014

I wondered for a long time whether I wanted to share my income publicly. I have done it in the past – either on the podcast I am co-hosting or in the Micropreneur Academy. But these places are either a closed community (the Academy) or no one really listens to them anyways (my podcast 🙂 ). Publishing it on the blog for the world to see, and for Google to index, is a whole different ball game.

But people like Pat Flynn, Matthew Woodward and Josh Pigford as well as companies like Moz and Buffer convinced me to do this.

I write this report for people like myself: People who are building a product and are struggling with the first steps of the journey. Not with the technology, but with actually bringing it to market and growing it.
I write it for reactions like this one from Nathan Powell:

Hey Christoph.
It’s so nice to read about a “normal” launch.
Encouraging even. Keep it up, and here’s to 2022!

In short: I write this report for YOU. I want to encourage you to travel this (hard & stony) road. It’s immensely fun.

What is Covered in This Report

I will only cover what I make from LinksSpy; if you want to know what LinksSpy is, then here’s an article on how I started. This means, that I do not include money earned from consulting/freelancing nor what I make in my day job.

I will try to provide detailed information on my expenses as well, but my systems for accounting are lacking in precision (read: “I suck at keeping track of all the invoices”). So the numbers could be off by a bit.

Looking Back – The History of LinksSpy

I launched (and started billing customers) in May 2014 after a long private beta. I started out with 10 customers and $190 in Monthly Recurring Revenue (MRR) after a few days.

In the months after that I saw slight improvements from new signups. I don’t get many visitors to the website (yet), so there isn’t much volume going into the funnel.

In June my revenue went up to $235 from 13 customers. Than it was $255 from 15 customers in July. On August 1st it was down to $235 again – this time from 16 customers (I lost one customer with $40 MRR, but gained 2 customers at $10/mo each).

The Numbers

Revenue in August

August has been the most successful month so far in terms of MRR growth: I more than doubled MRR to $489 from 21 customers. I’ll talk about how I did this in a bit, but first focus on the numbers.

In total I collected about $478 in payments from my customers.
My Stripe account is in Euros (€) and I used today’s (14.09.2014) exchange rate to calculate the dollar amount – so this is a bit off.

Expenses

Due to the way LinksSpy is set up my costs are really low. It was one of my design goals to keep most things running on Heroku‘s free tier. This is partly because I’m really cheap and – more importantly – because I didn’t know how well LinksSpy would do and I was afraid of catastrophic failure.

Thus, I only pay $9/mo for the hobbyist database plan and $20/mo for the SSL endpoint.

Other expenses:

  • $20.48 in Stripe fees
  • $49 for Drip
  • $166.65 for 3 blog articles written by my content marketing genius
  • $20 for design work for a blog article I wrote

If I didn’t miss anything (which I probably did), the total costs were $435.13.

Profit

For the time being, I don’t plan on making any profit from LinksSpy. I want to focus on growing it as fast and as big as possible, thus I’m re-investing everything back into LinksSpy.

However, I didn’t spend all the moneyz in August and so I made a small profit of $42.87. Rest assured that I will find a way to spend that money in September 🙂

My Takeaways

So what caused this steep increase in MRR?
The single biggest factor was/is that i doubled my prices for NEW signups – I grandfathered all my existing customers in at their old rates.
Yeah, you read that right: I DOUBLED prices. Insane – isn’t it?

That – of course – wasn’t my idea, but rather Patrick McKenzie’s idea of “Charge.More.”. I think it was at MicroConf Las Vegas in 2013 where he laid out a simple enough rule: “Double your prices; watch conversion rate; repeat until conversion rate drops significantly”

That rule is REALLY easy. It makes sense intuitively: As long as people sign up with (more or less) the same frequency, they are seeing the value in your product.
The only problem with this is: You have to overcome internal objections to actually double prices. It is hard; You have all the worries in your head that people will hate you for it.

Fact is: No one will hate you for it. Most people won’t even realize that you doubled prices. Plus, you can always just go back to your old pricing, if the need arises.

Another contributing factor is that I randomly threw money at the problem: I invested $100 in StumbleUpon and $50 in Twitter advertisements.
Of course I didn’t set up ANY analytics AND/OR tracking (that’s for cowards, obviously), so I don’t know which (whether?) of the two ads brought in customers. Well, there’s always room for improvement – in this case there is a LOT.

Overall, I think that the biggest factor was that I finally focused on marketing, instead of coding away on LinksSpy.

Progress in August

Despite being away on holiday for two weeks in August, I managed to finish quite a few things:

  • moved the LinksSpy blog to http://blog.linksspy.com and the application to www.linksspy.com
  • I finished writing a really cool blog post about the costs of paid links – I’ll talk more about the impact of that in my September report
  • numerous small improvements in the application itself – among them lifecycle emails. E.g. users who entered their email address, but didn’t enter credit card details (i.e. they churned during signup) now get an email the following day which reminds them to finish the signup process

What to Focus on Next Month

I’ll try and focus more on marketing again. After all, that’s what will get me new customers. Despite all my vows to do more, I still suck at actually doing it.

Conclusion

August was an incredible month for me. It really fueled my motivation for LinksSpy. That said, you can see for yourself from the numbers above that I am no where near making a living off of LinksSpy.
It is easy to loose motivation when you compare yourself to the likes of Brennan Dunn, Nathan Barry, Patrick McKenzie, Mike Taber et al., but if I look at things with a bit of realism, I feel like I’m not doing that bad after all.

Oh.. and my goal of making enough money out of LinksSpy by 2022 suddenly became a lot more realistic 😉

Social Share Toolbar

How I Made The World A Little Bit Better In 2013

I planned on going for a more general title like “This Was My Year 2013”, but then Brennan Dunn went forward with a very audacious “How I Changed The World In 2013“.

I’m in no-way even close to what Brennan achieved with his business, so I won’t be as bold. But I feel like I made the world a little bit better in 2013 – and here’s why.

The Things That Went Well

I am still happily married

I know this doesn’t seem like a lot and it is not an achievement in the eyes of most readers. But it means the world to me.

My wife and I have been a couple for close to ten years now and have been married for over six. For me this is the single most important thing that “happened” in 2013.

I Worked For Moz

This was probably the highlight of my year. I spent five month in Seattle to work for Moz as an intern (for legal reasons).

Being able to work and life in a different culture was an eye-opening experience. The way Americans think about gender/racial equality is quite different from the way Germans see it. The way our economies work in respect to hiring/firing, paid sick leave and other social benefits is totally different.

For instance, Moz received an award for what they call “paid-paid vacation” – you get $3,000/year if you go on vacation.
It took me a while to realize, but about 46% of all employees in Germany get “Urlaubsgeld” – which is the very same thing.
Now, don’t get me wrong! Moz is – considering only pay & benefits – by far the best employer I’ve found in the US so far and they deserve getting this award. If you take into account the people and the culture at Moz they easily surpass most companies in Germany. I just want to say (again speaking only benefits) that the most generous US company is sub-par for German/European standards.

On the other hand, it seems to me that it is way harder to get hired in Germany – especially if you lack the proper diplomas. In the US (at least in tech) interviewing processes are geared towards testing how well you fit the job you’re being interviewed for – in Germany it is a lot more about having a university diploma or a “duale Ausbildung” (a typically 3-year education consisting of vocational school and training on the job).

Overall hiring seems to happen a lot faster in the US and it happens for jobs as well. Of course most people are at-will employees – a concept that completely shocked me and I still have a hard time understanding how millions of people handle the stress.

Learning those differences was worth the trip itself, but I also got to work with the amazing people at Moz. I’ve spent a good amount of time outside of work with great people from Moz and became friends with some of them. And it also taught me, that I have a lot to learn in terms of intercultural competence.

Here are some pictures I took while in the US for your entertainment

I attended MicroConf and MicroConf Europe

One of the benefits of spending five months in the US was that I was able to attend MicroConf. Spending three days around such smart and driven people was incredible and it helped me against my own procrastination.

While there I started taking notes of all the MicroConf talks on a hunch. I am still amazed by the success this was.

Success is relative here, the best I ever got was about 500 visitors on a single day. It has now settled to about 500 uniques a month. I am quite sure most of you easily have more than that.

Taking notes made me kind of instant-famous in the crowd and it increased my luck surface area substantially. Good things that happened to me, that I attribute to my taking notes:

  • a made a lot of good friends (Dave Collins, Brennan Dunn, Oliver Grahl and many others)
  • I got invited into a Mastermind group with really amazing people (including one of the speakers)
  • I joined a chat room with a lot of MicroConf and BaconBizConf attendees (all of them very smart, with a lot of great business ideas, and very inspiring)
  • I had dinner with Joanna Wiebe & Lance Jones of CopyHackers.com, Ruben Gamez of Bidsketch and a few other folks after MicroConf
  • lots of incoming links, tweets, and visitors 🙂

MicroConf Europe

Subsequently, I attended MicroConf Europe, took notes and organized an attendee dinner with about 80 attendees. Organizing the dinner was a really good idea. I had a lot of good talks during the conference, because I organized that dinner.

Take-away: Go to a conference, but don’t just sit there passively. Get active, get involved. Take notes, organize a dinner, do whatever. Just do something!

Micropreneur Meetup Munich

In late 2013 I founded a local meetup group for micropreneurs here in Munich. It’s great to have like-minded people around you to talk about stuff every once in a while. We had one initial meeting in November and the next one is scheduled for January 3rd.
If you live close by, please join us 🙂

I started making money on TerminRetter

I started working on TerminRetter back in 2012. Then I tried my hand at marketing it. I still have to figure out how to do this properly. My attempt at print magazine advertising failed utterly. As did my direct mail campaign.

I have no real idea why those campaigns didn’t work. I have some assumptions, but no clear idea. Maybe I should have kept at it for longer to learn more and make it work. Coming to think about it, I probably should have.

However, I still managed to find customers. It has been a struggle, but it feels awesome to know that you are delivering value to someone and make the world a little bit better for them.

Graduating From University

Attending University has been my day-to-day business for the last 4 years. I can happily say that this is over. I graduated with a Master’s degree in electrical engineering and computer science.

Being finished with this is a big relief. I did (very) well, but at the same time I didn’t like it one bit.

It feels great being done with this. Plus I now have one of those diplomas that employers care sooo much in Germany – Yay!

The Things That Didn’t Go So Well

Not Living Healthily

This is something I am battling with all the time – and loosing most of the time. I wish it were easier for me to exercise regularly, but sadly it isn’t.

I gained about 10 kilos while I was in the USA. After my return to Germany I started exercising more regularly (boy is hard to run with all that extra weight) and lost 6 kilos so far. Slower than I hoped for, but it’s a start.

Maybe I should form a new year’s resolution around this 😉

Struggling With Marketing

Honestly, marketing is still a mystery to me. I’ve spent a lot of time in 2013 reading about marketing and I tried my luck with implementing some of that knowledge. It helped very little.

I seem to understand the concepts (customer development, copy writing, collecting & nurturing leads). The execution is the really hard part of it. There are so many details that I don’t fully understand (e.g. which questions to ask best during customer development).

For TerminRetter it seems like I picked a really tough market (i.e. Germany) – or so a lot of people who sell both international and on the domestic market tell me.

That being said, I feel like I am getting better at this with every time I try something. This may take me longer than other stuff to learn, but I’m hell-bend on mastering it.

Procrastination

I am easily distracted. I spent countless hours reading articles on the web (Hey there, Hacker News, thanks for keeping me from being productive!)

I like to play World of Tanks or watch TV series (Supernatural, The Walking Dead, Falling Skies, Under the Dome).

If I were a better man, I would stop doing all that and focus on moonlighting my business. Alas, I am not.

Plans for 2014

Launch LinksSpy.com

I’ve already started slow launching my new SaaS product LinksSpy.com. I shifted the focus away from TerminRetter because I feel like it is easier to sell to an international audience.

So far the results are pretty decent and I have over 250 subscribers on my email list (10x what I ever got on TerminRetter mailing list).
The beta testers I onboarded seem to be happy with the results they got out of LinksSpy so far, but they also showed me a few features that are still missing.
I’ll have to iron that out before I can launch it – and I have to put more effort into the marketing side of things.

Attend MicroConf Europe

Due to me being busy with the day-job I probably won’t make it to MicroConf in Las Vegas, but I plan on going to MicroConf Europe (if they do it again and it takes place over the weekend).
If I do, expect to see some notes on the talks somewhere on this blog 😉

On The Job Training

In 2014 I will be very busy with my day-job, because I have to undergo a lot of training courses year-round. We’ll see how that goes, but I am looking forward to all the new things I learn.

Conclusion

Last year was amazing. There were a TON of great things that happened in my life (and some not so great things). I hope that 2014 will be similar in this regard.

So long have a Happy New Year 2014!

PS: What are your plans for 2014? Let me know in the comments, maybe there’s a good plan that I can steal implement as well 🙂

Social Share Toolbar

Patrick McKenzie (Patio11) Newsletter Archive

Patrick McKenzie (Patio11) is giving out great advice in his newsletters (You probably knew that part already). But did you ever end up in the situation where you thought “Damn it! Patrick wrote about that topic a while back.. now where is that newsletter?”. Yet  you couldn’t find the right one in your inbox or maybe you lost all of them because your HDD crashed.

Well, I surely did. But since I can view all the newsletter on the web, I’ll start an archive for all the greatness that is Patrick’s newsletter.

Thanks to Matthew Lehner for letting me know there is already an archive page online. I’ll keep mine up so you guys have a small summary for each email

Main Newsletter

Social Share Toolbar

Google +1 Korrelation mit Suchergebnissen

Diese Woche gab es einen extrem interessanten Artikel im Moz Blog mit dem Thema "Amazing Correlation Between Google +1s and Higher Search Rankings" in dem Cyrus aufzeigt, warum es (aus SEO-Sicht) deutlich besser ist ein +1 auf Google+ zu bekommen als z.B. ein Facebook Like oder einen ReTweet auf Twitter.

Die Ergebnisse der Ranking-Factors-Untersuchung

Vor etwa einem Monat hat Moz die Ergebnisse der jüngsten Ranking-Factors-Untersuchung bekannt gegeben.

Auffallend war damals schon, dass die Anzahl an Google +1 stärker mit der Reihenfolge in den Suchergebnissen (SERP für Search Engine Results Page) korreliert als jede andere (nicht-abgeleitete) Metrik.

Korrelation ist nicht Kausation aber es ist schon sehr auffällig, wenn die Korrelation höher ist als z.B. die Anzahl verschiedener Webseiten, die auf den Content verlinken.

Die Frage ist also: "Beeinflussen Google +1 direkt die Suchergebnisse?"

Warum Google +1 anders ist als andere soziale Signale

Im Gegensatz zu Facebook Likes und Twitter Mentions hat ein Google +1 zwei entscheidende Vorteile:

  1. Es wird fast sofort von Google in die Suchergebnisse aufgenommen. Das ist einer der Gründe, warum Google sein eigenes soziales Netzwerk hat: Dadurch hat die Suchmaschine sofort direkten Zugriff auf Veröffentlichungen in einem sozialen Netzwerk und wird nicht abgeschirmt (wie z.B. bei Facebook)
  2. Links in Google+ haben einen positiven SEO-Einfluss. Im Gegensatz zu Links auf Twitter (die allesamt nofollow sind) geben Links in Google+ den Link Juice weiter.

Fazit

Ich würde auf jeden Fall empfehlen den Artikel von Cyrus komplett zu lesen. Eines ist aber ziemlich sicher: Google +1 lohnen sich für den Inhaber einer Webseite mehr als Twitter Mentions oder Facebook Likes.

Social Share Toolbar

The 1 Question To Ask When You Meet Fellow Bootstrappers

John D. Rockefeller once said “A friendship founded on business is better than a business founded on friendship.” I could probably find a few dozen more quotes that higlight the fact that connecting with people around you is a sure fire way to increase your success in business.

But I'd rather show you a way beyond traditional "networking" and tell you about how I discovered the one question that changed how I do networking.

Networking > Exchanging Business Cards

The first steps young entrepreneurs (me being no exception to the rule) usually take down that path are:

  1. get fancy business cards
  2. Go to "networking events"
  3. Exchange business cards
  4. Wait for spam in your inbox

I learned one important lesson:

Superficial "connections" get you nowhere – friendships matter!

After I learned that lesson, I knew that I had to change things around.

What I am doing different now

So instead of trying to meet as many random people as possible in 2 hours of "networking", I now focus on having more contacts with the same people. And you know what? That (for me) is actually more fun. I don't like meeting 50 people and forgetting 49 names instantly. I enjoy spending an hour (or four) with truly inspirational people over dinner or a coffee.

This gives you way more time to actually talk about interesting stuff – instead of trying to memorize names and exchanging pleasantries – and getting to know each other.

The Question That Makes People Scramble For Words

A while back I was travelling to Victoria, BC, Canada and while I was in town I managed to have coffee with Matthew Lehner – a fellow bootstrapper. After about an hour of covering topics ranging from places to see around the area to consulting gigs to building a SaaS application, I asked him one very simple question:

"How can I help you?" – and what followed were at least 30 seconds of silence 🙂

Matthew – never having been asked that question before – just didn't know how to respond to that. We are just not used to someone being sincerely interested in helping you.

It's a bit like customer service: The bar for good service is so low, that it has become ridiculously easy to stand out of the crowd. The same is true for networking: Put the other person first, try to actively help him and you are on a good track to making new friends.

Matthew even followed up with the following tweet:

Just had coffee with @itengelhardt. He asked "What can I help you with?" My response: "derrrr.. never been asked that before.."

In the same conversation he later concluded:

I feel like asking that might be a cheat code for life.

 

Hell, YES, Matthew! That is spot on! I didn't know it up to seeing his reaction, but it really is a cheat code. It immediately tells your fellow bootstrapper, that you genuinely care about him (You of course have to mean it…).

Please, go out and use this hack. I have made it a habit since to ask every founder I meet the very same question: "How can I help you?" – You wouldn't believe how happy they are just to hear those words! It works even better, if you can help them by giving feedback, buying their product or connecting them to other people you know.

PS: Another awesome idea (that I haven't tried yet) is the "Help Me Help You" dinner. I have not the slightest doubt, that it is well worth imitating – and it limits the number of names you have to learn in one evening. 🙂

Social Share Toolbar

Können Großzügigkeit und Hilfsbereitschaft dein Unternehmen zum Erfolg führen?

Wir als Unternehmer haben eine soziale Verpflichtung, die über das Zahlen von Sozialversicherungsabgaben und Einhalten von Arbeitsgesetzen hinausgeht. Unsere Unternehmen sollen dazu beitragen, das Leben unserer Mitmenschen besser zu machen.

Das kann auf viele unterschiedliche Arten geschehen:

Welche Unternehmen & Unternehmer mit Großzügigkeit glänzen

Es gibt zahlreiche, sehr gute Beispiele von Unternehmern, die – teilweise enorme – Großzügigkeit an den Tag legen.

Für mich ganz oben auf der Liste: Bill & Melinda Gates, Warren Buffet und die anderen Unterzeichner des The Giving Pledge. Diese Menschen haben geschworen den Großteil ihres Vermögens dem Wohl der Menschheit zu widmen. Bill und Melinda Gates haben sich mit ihrer Foundation nicht weniger vorgenommen als Polio, HIV und Malaria auszurotten – ganz sportlicher Ansatz, oder?

Moz (früher SEOMoz) hat Großzügigkeit ganz groß in die Unternehmenskultur aufgenommen. TAGFEE (gesprochen “Tägfii”, das Kurzwort für die Unternehmenskultur) steht dabei für “Transparent, Authentic, Generous, Fun, Empathatic, Exceptional” – auf Deutsch etwa “Transparent, Authentisch, Großzügig, Spaßig, Mitfühlend, Außergewöhnlich”. Dabei bleibt TAGFEE keine leere Worthülse wie in vielen anderen Unternehmen. Moz teilt sämtliche Umsatzzahlen und Metriken wie Churn mit allen Mitarbeitern. Der CEO Rand veröffentlicht sogar seinen Kontostand in seinem Blog.

In Sachen Großzügigkeit schaut es auch nicht schlecht bei Moz aus:

  • Paid, Paid Vacation (d.h. nicht nur Urlaub, sondern bis zu $2.500 pro Jahr Urlaubsgeld)
  • kostenloses Essen&Getränke für alle Mitarbeiter
  • Moz stockt alle Spenden der Mitarbeiter um das 1.5-fache auf. (Spendet ein Mitarbeiter $100 an eine Hilfsorganisation, dann spendet Moz nochmal $150)

Wie jeder von uns großzügig sein kann

Natürlich hat nicht jeder von uns ein paar Milliarden rumliegen, um mal eben eine ganze Krankheit auszurotten.

Aber auch für weniger betuchte Unternehmer gibt es genug Möglichkeiten, um großzügig zu sein.

Vorleben tun das zum Beispiel Patrick McKenzie, Rob Walling, Jason Cohen, Hiten Shah oder Joanna Wiebe. Sie alle sind großzügig, indem sie ihr Wissen mit uns teilen und man sie einfach fragen kann, wenn man an irgendeiner Stelle Rat braucht.

Was DU tun kannst

Und genau das ist, was wir alle machen können! Jeder von uns kennt sich auf irgendeinem Gebiet besonders gut aus: Kaltakquise, E-Mail Marketing, Programmieren, Conversion Optimization oder egal was. Jeder von uns kann irgendwas beitragen.

Wenn man glaubt gar nichts zu wissen, dann kann man eine Konferenz besuchen, Notizen schreiben und in seinem Blog veröffentlichen (das habe ich zum Beispiel auf der MicroConf gemacht).

Außerdem gibt es eine Menge anderer Ideen, was du machen kannst:

  • JEDER hat ein Netzwerk. Versuche Leute in deinem Netzwerk miteinander zu verbinden, so dass beide Seiten davon profitieren. (Ich vermittele z.B. recht aktiv Gastartikel in meinem Netzwerk)
  • Halte Vorträge/Webinare zu einem Thema mit dem du dich auskennst. Teile dein Wissen (denk dran, dass die meisten Leute NICHTS über das Thema wissen. Wenn du also DAS Buch zum Thema gelesen hast, weißt du meistens genug, um anderen etwas beizubringen)
  • Schreibe ein Blogpost über deine Erfahrungen & Erkenntnisse (z.B. über die Einrichtung von Lifecycle-E-Mails)
    -Organisiere ein Meetup oder ein “Help-Me-Help-You-Dinner
  • Arbeite ehrenamtlich für eine Hilfsorganisation oder einen Verein – und wenn es “nur” die Betreuung der Webseite ist
  • Wenn du ein Blog oder eine Webseite hast: Linke zu anderen Webseiten. Das tut dir nicht weh und andere freuen sich darüber.
  • Sei generell ansprechbar, wenn jemand eine Frage hat (An der Stelle sei gesagt: Meine E-Mailadresse ist christoph@[Irgendeine-Meiner-Domains] – ich lese & beantworte JEDE E-Mail)

Was dir diese Großzügigkeit bringt

Es sollte NICHT dein Ziel sein, nur deswegen großzügig zu sein, um deinem Unternehmen weiterzuhelfen. Das ist so leicht durchschaubar und wird nicht langfristig funktionieren.

Ich helfe Leuten, weil es mir Spaß macht (selbstsüchtig – oder?). Ich bin seit ich 14 war im Roten Kreuz, weil es mir Spaß macht, anderen Menschen zu helfen und großzügig zu sein.

Und trotzdem ist es nicht zu leugnen, dass sich diese Großzügigkeit (langfristig) für mich immer ausgezahlt hat.

Die Notizen von der MicroConf sind rein aus dem Gedanken “*Irgendwas* musst du doch auch beitragen können” entstanden. Das Ergebnis? Hunderte Tweets & Retweets auf Twitter, tausende Leser auf meinem Blog und die Domain Authority meiner Webseite hat sich über Nacht verdoppelt.

Benedikt Deicke ist nicht nur in der Open-Source-Szene sehr aktiv, sondern auch ein Mentor für Rails Girls Frankfurt. Dort bringt er interessierten Frauen die Programmierung näher. Die Kontakte, die er dort geknüpft hat, haben ihm ermöglicht den Sprung in die Selbstständigkeit zu wagen. Unerwartet, aber ein ganz angenehmer Nebeneffekt – oder?

Der Geheimtipp lautet: Probier gar nicht erst auf eigenen Vorteil zu spielen, indem du großzügig bist. Sei großzügig, der Rest erledigt sich von ganz allein.

Zusammenfassung

Großzügigkeit und Hilfsbereitschaft können (ich glaube sogar werden) dazu führen, dass dein Unternehmen mehr Erfolg hat. Anderen Menschen zu helfen ist unglaublich lohnend und macht irrsinnig viel Spaß (zumindest mir).

Hast du eigene Ideen, wie man seinen Mitmenschen und anderen jungen Unternehmern helfen kann? Dann behalt’s nicht für dich, sondern teile es mit uns in den Kommentaren!

Social Share Toolbar

Sri – The Product Management Road Ahead – 10 Lessons To Apply Going Forward – PMCNW Meetup

 

 

  • Ultimate goal of a product manager: Create, Capture & Deliver value to your customers & your company
  • 4 P (of the marketing mix)
    • Product
    • Place
    • Price
    • Promotion
  • Conversation has shifted to:
    • Solutions (Nike does not want to sell you shoe. Tries to sell you a product that helps you achieve your goal of loosing weight by counting the foot steps – in the  form of a shoe)
    • Access
    • Value
    • Education

Who Influences Value?

  • Conceptualize
    • Visionaries
    • Entrepreneurs
    • Strategists
  • Design & Build
    • Product Line Managers
    • Designers
    • Manufacturers
  • Sell
    • Merchandisers
    • Buyers
    • Planners
    • Category Managers
    • Pricing
    • Sales
  • Analyze
    • Analysts
    • Management
    • Executives
  • All these roles are essentially Incarnations of Product Managers!

 

  • Empirical evidence: IE users get charged less than Chrome
  • Immediate Pain Points:
    • Showrooming
    • Dynamic Pricing (Amazon changes prices up to 3 times in a 12 hour period)

Outcomes

  • Get ahead of your competition (by analyzing their products, prices & brands in real time)
  • improve your margins (by optimizing your pricing & mix)
  • pinpoint opportunities for growth (by identifying products, categories, stores & geographies to expand to)
  • monitor the pulse of your market and industry (by monitoring trends, news & buzz and how they affect your business)
  • scale more efficiently and with confidence (by reinforcing your business decisions with concrete data)

Lessons Learned

  1. Leave the Building (Steve Blank – Four Steps To The Epiphany)
    1. Learn whether you are creating solutions that customers want & are willing to pay for
  2. Ship, then Test
    1. Get your product into the hands of people to TEST whether they really use it as they said they would
    2. It happens too often that users don’t use your product in the way they told they would (e.g. Kleenex is used to blow your nose, not to wipe off the make-up)
  3. Decide with Data
  4. Set Realistic Expectations – for yourself, your stakeholders, your spouse
  5. Leverage Collective Wisdom – Go and ask for help! It is a sign of maturity and self-awareness
  6. Access Informs Design – How, when, where your customers access your solutions should materially impact design
  7. Engage and Delight – Through content, Through service, Through simplicity
  8. Keep it Simple
  9. Have an Alternative
  10. Never Stop Learning – about your customers, products, market & competitors

Social Share Toolbar

How You Can Get Retweeted 50 Times To 130k+ People – Even If You Have No Following And Don’t Know Jack

Wow. This week has been amazing for a whole lot of people at the MicroConf 2013 in fabulous Las Vegas – I was lucky enough to be one of them. And to share at least some of the great insights with you, you will learn in this post how to:

  1. Get retweeted  at least 50 times to a global audience and mentioned over 80 times
  2. Get in front of more than 130,000 people all over the world
  3. Get a ton of attention from successful entrepreneurs such as Hiten Shah, Rob Walling, Mike Taber and Josh Kaufman (to name just a few) – and their gigantic following

And you can achieve all this, even if you don’t know jack about marketing and don’t have an outrageously big following.

How It All Started

I have been following Mike Taber, Rob Walling and MicroConf for over one year – mainly through the Startups For The Rest Of Us Podcast. This year I got my big chance and was able to attend MicroConf.

The only trouble being: I practically know nothing about marketing (aside from implementing different ideas with my product TerminRetter). I can not just go to a conference, lurk around and not give something back to my fellow attendees or the hosts.

So I wrote Rob and Mike a week or two in advance and told them, that I would be in Vegas early, gave them my number and told them, that I would be available, if they need someone to run an errand or needed help otherwise.

However, the conference came around and I hadn’t provided any value to anyone.

I decided on the morning of the first day, that I could do something else. I planned on taking notes anyway (because speakers at MicroConf are famous for shelling out great actionable advice) and figured, that others might find those notes useful as well.

After all, I might not know anything of value, but I sure as hell can type pretty fast.

What You Can Do To Delight Attendees At The Next Conference You Visit

You are reading this article, so I am going to assume that you have at least one blog (based on WordPress) and a twitter account.

What you are going to do is pretty simple and straightforward: You are going to write the best, most detailed notes you possibly can and provide them to others in a timely manner.

If you do a good (enough) job at this, you will be approached in the hallway by other attendees, who recognize you as “the guy who shares those detailed notes” – something I did not anticipate.

How To Prepare For This

To take good notes you need to be able to reproduce the structure of the talk into a (somewhat) formatted blog post.

To make things a bit easier for you, I recommend you do the following:

  • Set up a “hub page” on your blog, where you can put links to all the posts you will write (mine is here: MicroConf 2013 Hub Page)
  • Set up a scaffold / template for every post you are going to write (I didn’t do this in advance due to a lack of time – please be smarter than me and do this). Things to include in the scaffold:
    • Title of the post – You should use a common structure – e.g. “[Name of Speaker] – [Title of Talk] – [Name Of Conference]” (ExamplePatrick McKenzie – Building Things To Help Sell The Things You Build – MicroConf 2013)
    • Make sure the URLs for the scaffolds are good from the SEO perspective (again, I messed this up, but you will surely do this way better than me)
  • Link to the scaffolds from your hub page. You might want to skip this step. However, I recommend you put all the scaffold posts and the hub page out there. It saves you time during the conference
  • Talk to all the speakers and inform them about your plans, ask whether they are good with the information being public and if they will put the slides online (where and when?) – Again, I failed to do so; Learn from my mistakes

If you get all this set up before the conference starts, you should have a pretty relaxed time putting together the actual notes.

Let The Talks Begin!

Now, when the talk begins, all that matters is, that you type like a boss. Seriously, you will need to follow the talk, put the content into good, short, yet detailed notes and add some formatting here and there (headings, lists with different levels of indentations, some bold and italic text).

During the talk, just focus on putting the content into your post. Try to follow the speaker and especially put the information into the notes, that is not on the slides.

Most speakers will put their slides online, so that information will soon be available. But what the speaker says, is not immediately available online – and it might well never be.

If you don’t manage to take good notes on a talk, just try to settle on a lower standard – don’t give up (Thanks to Nathan Barry for giving me this advice). Put out whatever you can, focus on the most important bits of advice the speaker gives. Try to add the missing information later on from the slides.

What To Do Between Talks

Once the talk is over, you have a few things to do:

  1. Take a maximum 5 minutes to finalize your post – bring it into an acceptable format; add some information, if you can
  2. Publish your notes on your blog
  3. Tweet a link to the blog post, make sure that you include the conference hashtag (#MicroConf) and CC the conference account (“/cc @MicroConf“). Keep the tweet short and sweet and leave room for ReTweets – aim for a length of less than 100 characters. Example: “Notes on Patrick McKenzie’s #MicroConf talk: http://bit.ly/10wabZN /cc @MicroConf
  4. Go to the restroom, seriously! Don’t miss part of the upcoming talk because you had to go outside

Now Go Out And Crush It

That’s it. If you follow this guide you will be able to make great friends with a lot of amazing people.

Out of 18 speakers at MicroConf 2013 at least 12 tweeted a link to the notes at least once. Many of them even came over to personally thank me and shake my hand and talk to me. That was probably because of the atmosphere at MicroConf, where everyone was very approachable.

I also got 70 new followers (which means +56% for me!) in just 4 days!

Now, are you up to the challenge and will make sure that the wisdom of the speakers at your next conference will be stored for eternity? Are you prepared to give something back to the community, even if you don’t know much about the topics (yet)? I would love to hear from you in the comments.

PS: the initial version of this article was named “How I Got Retweeted 50 Times To 100k+ People“. But it eventually dawned on me, that I would let my mentors (and idols) – most notably in this regard Joanna Wiebe and Nathan Barry – down, if I don’t put what they taught me into action. That’s why the title of this blog post is now all about YOU instead of ME. And that’s why there’s the ‘Even If…’ in the title. And that’s why this blog post has more than 1,000 words, because I want to be at least half as successful as Nathan Barry (who writes 1,000 words EVERY. SINGLE. DAY.).

PPS: Follow me on Twitter @itengelhardt

Social Share Toolbar

Wie man 40.000 Links verschenkt

Gerade bin ich bei der Recherche im Internet auf eine wirklich große Seite gestoßen, die trotzdem einen der einfachsten SEO-Fehler begeht und dadurch 40.000 Links von fast 3.000 unterschiedlichen Domains verschenkt.

Der Grundgedanke dieses Blogposts ist NICHT diese Seite an den Pranger zu stellen. Ich will damit zeigen, dass selbst die "Großen" nicht vor Fehlern gefeit sind. Und ich will damit erreichen, dass mehr von uns "Kleinen" diese Fehler vermeiden. Schließlich würden bei uns der Link-Juice von 40.000 Links bestimmt deutliche bessere Platzierungen bei Google nach sich ziehen cheeky

 

Welche Seite "verliert" 40.000 eingehende Links?

Bei der Seite, um die sich dieser Artikel dreht, handelt es sich um die Webseite des Deutschen Industrie- und Handelskammertag (http://www.dihk.de)
Hier ist schon einmal die Linkstatistik für www.dihk.de:

Wie man 40.000 Links verschenkt - Linkstatistik www.DIHK.de OpenSiteExplorer

Wie verliert www.dihk.de denn nun 40.000 Links? 

Hand auf's Herz: Wer wusste, was der DIHK ist? Normalerweise sprechen wir doch alle von der Industrie- und Handelskammer (IHK). Deswegen hatte ich auch http://www.ihk.de in meinen Browser eingegeben und eine Weiterleitung bemerkt. 

Hier ist die Linkstatistik für www.ihk.de: 

Wie man 40.000 Links verschenkt - Linkstatistik www.IHK.de OpenSiteExplorer

  • Fast 40.000 eingehende Links
  • von fast 3.000 unterschiedlichen Domains
  • Domain Authority 77 / 100
  • Page Authority 80 / 100
  • einige dutzend soziale Signale in Facebook und Twitter

Der gelbe Kasten unter der Statistik weißt schon darauf hin: Diese Seite leitet auf www.dihk.de um. 

Soweit so gut, das Problem ist nur, dass dafür ein sogenannter HTTP 302 – Redirect verwenden wurde. Damit signalisiert der Server dem Besucher, dass es sich um eine temporäre Umleitung handelt.

40000 Links durch einen 302-redirect verschenkt

Für Google bedeutet das: Der Link-Juice (also der positive Effekt, den eingehende Links haben) wird nicht an die neue Seite (www.dihk.de) weitergereicht. Um das überdeutlich zu machen: Wenn man einen 302-Redirect verwendet, dann verliert man jeden positiven Effekt, der durch den eingehenden Link entsteht.

Wie man es besser machen kann

Besser (aus Sicht von Google) ist ein sogenannter 301-Redirect – eine echte, permanente Umleitung. Diese dauerhafte 301-Umleitung zeigt Google an, dass ein Umzug stattgefunden hat und Google überträgt dann den Link-Juice von der alten Domain (www.ihk.de) auf die neue Domain (www.dihk.de).

Ich habe das zum Beispiel gemacht, als ich mein Produkt von Termin-Erinnerungen.de in TerminRetter.de umbenannt habe. 

HTTP 301 Umleitung richtig gemacht

Mehr zum Thema kann man in den erstklassigen Unterlagen von SEOMoz lernen: Redirects and SEO 

Im Grunde ist es aber alles ganz einfach, wenn der eigene Webserver mod_rewrite unterstützt: 

Im Root-Verzeichnis der alten Domain (www.ihk.de) eine Datei mit dem Namen .htaccess und folgendem Inhalt anlegen: 

RewriteEngine On
RewriteRule ^(.*)$ http://www.dihk.de/$1 [R=301]

Diese Datei sorgt dafür, dass alle Aufrufe von www.ihk.de auf www.dihk.de umgeleitet werden – mit einer dauerhaften 301-Umleitung.

Das sorgt dafür, dass alle Links in Zukunft auf www.dihk.de zeigen und den Link-Juice an die neue Seite vererben. 

Mehr Fehler auf ihk.de und dihk.de

Der zweite schwere Fehler, den die Administratoren der Webseite begehen, ist dass die Webseiten nicht unter http://ihk.de bzw. http://dihk.de erreichbar sind. Hier fehlt also jeweils das "www." vor der Domain.  

Hier hat sich die Lage im Web in den letzten Jahren dramatisch geändert – vor allem durch das Aufkommen von mobilen Geräten wie Smartphones. Da hier das Eintippen von Text deutlich schwerer ist als auf einer richtigen Tastatur, sparen viele Nutzer sich das "www." vor dem Domainnamen ein. 

Dadurch gehen dem Domaininhaber letztlich alle Nutzer verloren, die die kurze Adresse direkt eingeben. Dagegen fallen die etwa 200 eingehenden Links auf ihk.de bzw. dihk.de schon fast gar nicht mehr auf. 

Die Lösung ist auch hier einfach: In den Einstellungen des Webservers muss einfach die entsprechende Domain erreichbar gemacht werden und dann mit dem oben genannten Skript auf www.dihk.de umleiten. Genau diese Methode wende ich auch bei TerminRetter.de an, das direkt auf www.TerminRetter.de umleitet.

Fazit

Es sind nur Kleinigkeiten, die keine 15 Minuten zur Reparatur benötigen, aber sie führen dazu, dass dem Deutschen Industrie- und Handelskammertag jeden Tag sicherlich dutzende – wenn nicht hunderte – Besucher entgehen. Der DIHK kann das bestimmt verkraften, aber wir müssen auf sowas achten und dafür sorgen, dass es uns nicht so ergeht. 

Habt ihr andere Seiten entdeckt, die die gleichen Probleme haben? Ist es euch vielleicht selbst schon so ergangen? Ich freue mich auf eure Kommentare!

 

Social Share Toolbar