Shai Schechter – Talk Recap FemtoConf 2019

Get all the FemtoConf 2019 notes

Website: RightMessage
Twitter: @shaisc

Personalised CTAs: happier users, more conversions

  • There are 5,000 advertising messages a day thrown at us
    • We recognise 50
    • We remember 4
  • Important filter questions:
    • “Is this right for me?”
    • Can this help me?”
  • Personalization should be based on intent, knowledge level, etc.
  • Instead it is based on the first name

3 things that you can do next week that will make your CTAs more relevant so they convert better and your users are happier

  • When you click through to a website from a link in their newsletter, don’t show a CTA that say “signup for newsletter”
    • Adjust CTA based on where people are in your funnel
    • Has never heard of you? “Signup for Newsletter”
    • Is on the newsletter? “Buy my book”
    • Bought the book? “Buy coaching”
  • “I am a ____________ and I need your help with __________”
  • “I work in retail and I need your help with increasing average order value.”
  • Things you can segment on:
    • What are you struggling with right now?
    • What excites you most about [thing we do]?
    • Why are you intersted in [product]?
    • How much do you know already about [product/problem]?
    • When are you looking to make a decision?
    • How do you solve [problem] at the moment?
    • What industry are you in?
    • What’s your job role?
  • Actions:
    • Lead magnets
    • Webinars
    • Purchases
  • Surveys
  • Trigger links

What if you don’t know what your segments should be?

  • Ask what people are hoping to get out of signing up for your email list
  • Great place for that is the “Thank you” page
  • put everything into a spreadsheet and you’ll learn what your segments are

Describe the same thing differently based on their who/why

  • Address people as Freelancers, Freelance Writers, Design agencies, Freelance designers, etc.
  • e.g. car buyers:
    • “I care about safety” – Highlight safety features
    • “I care about price” – Highlight what a steal this is
  • Niching without actually niching
    • E.g. your tool integrates with Paypal, Stripe and Braintree, change copy to Paypal/Stripe/Braintree if you know what a visitor uses

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Jaimee Gilbertson – Talk Recap FemtoConf 2019

Twitter: @jmegilbertson

A Successful Exit: 4 Lessons from hundreds of millions in deals

  • Universal truth: “We are all going to leave our business someday.”
    • retirement
    • want to start something new
  • Document everything
    • Metrics
    • Track financials
  • Test, test, test
    • remove single points of failure
    • Still thriving in 10 years
  • listen to those who pay you the most
    • build for your biggest customers
  • Sell while you’re still growing
  • Exit before you become stagnant

What is a business worth?

  • Multiple of Seller Discretionary Earnings (SDE)
  • SaaS: 3-6x annual SDE
  • Content: 2-4x annual SDE
  • E-commerce: 2-4x annual SDE

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Ashley Baxter – Talk Recap FemtoConf 2019

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Twitter: @iamashley


  • Self-funded
  • single founder

Lesson One: Position your product to a tiny audience

  • Ashley did not re-invent the wheel. She is selling an existing insurance product
  • Messaging (“We’re the insurance company for freelance designers and developers”)

Tips for choosing your tiny audience

  • Have experience in their world
  • Like the audience you serve (would you have coffee with them every day?)
  • Have an existing network in that space
  • Target an audience others in your field are ignoring (but be mindful of why they’re being ignored!)
  • Questions to ask when choosing your tiny audience:
    • Do you need high volume to make money?
    • Is churn high?
    • Is the market big?

Lesson Two: Resist the urge to over engineer

  • As a self-funded startup, you don’t have the resources (time & money) to build everything
  • Ashley’s expectations before starting:
    • A suite of products
    • A dashboard to manage your insurance
    • Instant quotes and cover
    • Polished customer journey
  • Reality:
    • One product
    • Manual quotes
    • No dashboard
    • Incomplete customer journey

The benefits of not over engineering

  • Customer conversations lead to insightful data
    • Where they’ve come from
    • their thoughts on the experience
    • what features to build next
  • Converting at a rate of 40%
  • Discover common questions to crate educational tools/resources
  • Can you scale back the tech?
    • Buffer emailed users when they got a sale because they didn’t launch with a payment system
    • Stripe delivered ‘instant’ merchant accounts by manually adding users behind the scenes
    • DoorDash collected food orders from restaurants and delivered to customers

Lesson Three: You’ll only discover problems post-launch

  • My process to gather feedback and discover problems:
    • Personalise the email
    • “As a small business, this feedback really helps”
    • Try surveys – when asking for feedback, I got more feedback with a survey form vs. asking for feedback in the email directly. I use

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Charles Perry – Talk Recap FemtoConf 2019

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Twitter: @dazeend

Brute-Forcing Customer Acquisition with Cold Email

  • started out with RelaNet, trying SEO
    • no customers, very little traffic
    • needed revenue right now
  • tried Content Marketing next
    • very few conversion, because I had no traffic
  • tried Facebook Ads next
    • it worked somewhat
    • spent money faster than revenue came in
  • Realization:
    • I need to hunt down my customers
    • So I started cold emailing

The Process

  1. Create Email List
  2. Compose
  3. Send

Step 1: Create Email List

  • nice thing about B2B: businesses want to be found (on the internet), makes creating the email list easier
  • Three step process:
    • Target Audience
    • Decision Maker (who can say yes to purchase decision?)
    • Categorize by need (helps you personalize the message)
  • Define your target audience by:
    • Occupation
    • Revenue
    • Number of employees
    • level of sophistication (expressed through job titles)
    • Geography
    • Technology

Targetting by Occupation

  • are you trying to get in front of people who need to register with the government?
    • e.g. pharmacies, dentists, firearm instructors
    • There is probably a society and a website that has all the registration data

Targetting by Size (Revenue, Number of Employees, Job Titles)

  • LinkedIn is the way to go
  • LinkedIn has a boolean search capability
  • Use LIX (LinkedIn search eXporter) to export search results

Targetting by Geography

  • almost all governments make the business registrations available online
  • powerful way to find businesses

Targetting by Technology

Finding the Decision Maker

  • get a virtual assistant to find the relevant contacts and fill in the blanks in your contact list

Categorize by Need

  • categorized each business by
    • has a nice website
    • has an ugly website
    • has no website

Step 2: Compose Emails

  • two things to compose:
    • Subject Lines
    • email bodies (plural)
  • tips for subject lines:
    • use their name or the company name in the subject line
  • Email bodies:
    • write one email body for each category we identified earlier
    • best email bodies are: Relevant, Genuine, Personal
  • Structure for a good email:
    • “Hi $Firstname”
    • Introduce yourself and your company
    • Mention that you are local (if applicable)
    • In simple words state the problem they have (“I was looking at your firm’s website, and noticed that it might be due for an update”)
    • Offer to help (“If you’d like a hand with this, I can help”)
    • Show them how you can solve it and why you’re the best choice for the job
    • Write a clear Call-To-Action that is appropriate to your audience (e.g. accountants are used to doing business on the phone)
    • Sign off and mention your contact details

Step 3: Send Emails

  • Don’t send them by hand one at a time


  • based on when I used MaxBulk Mailer, so no follow-ups!
  • I expect that all of these results are way better now
  • 6.6% Response rate
  • 1.5% book call rate
  • 0.4% email-to-close rate
  • Knowing these statistics allows you to calculate how many emails you need to send

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FemtoConf 2019 Notes and Noteworthy

This is the central resource for a recap of FemtoConf 2019 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

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Sherry Walling: Mental Health Superpowers – Workshop Recap – FemtoConf 2018

The FemtoConf 2018 Notes and recaps can be found on the central hub page.

Title: Mental Health Superpowers – self-reflection, relaxation, and connection for the entrepreneur
Twitter: @ZenFounder

The Entrepreneur Life

  • No one else is writing your paycheck
  • You take what’s inside you, put it out into the world and make money
  • Really high highs and really low lows ==> emotional rollercoaster

Why did you choose this path? 

  • 70% did it because of freedom
  • 40% creativity
  • 30% more money
  • 40% terrible bosses
  • There are some great upsides
  • A lot of “internet marketers” are selling the dream and giving the impression that you are failing if you’re not killing it
  • Downsides: 
    • Isolation
    • Anxiety
    • Burnout
    • Failed relationships
    • Sleepless nights
    • Becoming obsolete
    • Instability
    • Self-doubt
    • Failure
    • Selling yourself over and over and over again
  • ==> The psychological price of entrepreneurship
  • We need to pay attention to our well-being
    • Your work depends on YOU


  • Z73.0 Burn-out state of vital exhaustion
    • Physical & emotional exhaustion
      • not having any energy
      • no spark
    • Cynicism & detachment
      • You don’t care anymore
    • Ineffectiveness & lack of accomplishment
      • No relation to reality
      • You feel like you’re not moving the needle
  • Burnout has the power to change the function, structure, and chemistry of our brains
  • 30-40% of attendees feel they have experienced burnout
  • Burnout is caused by: 
    • Not enough social support
    • Lack of clear, meaningful goals
    • Too much work (multi-tasking – great book: “Deep Work”)
    • Few observable or rewarded successes
    • Limited control over work
    • A mismatch between what we think is important and the demands of our work day
    • constant interruptions
    • conflicting goals (family vs. business)

Founder Superpowers

  • #1: Breathe
    • Breathe deep into your belly
    • Sit relaxed, place a hand on the belly button, inhale & exhale through the nose, try to move your hand
    • 5 deep breaths (5 seconds in, 5 seconds out) are enough to start calming you down and push anxiety away
  • #1b: Sleep
    • sleep is the most important way for our brains to reset
    • Benefits: 
      • Improve memory
      • Improve concentration
      • decrease excessive eating
      • improve mood
      • build immunity
      • decrease mistakes
      • improve productivity
      • extend life
  • #2: Body
    • stand up straight and stretch your body for 2-5 minutes
    • If you battle your body, you will lose. 
  • #3: Brain
    • Add some silliness to the thoughts that frighten you and put it on a shelf
  • biggest protective factor: friendships & connection

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Patrick Campbell: Value Based Pricing – Talk Recap – FemtoConf 2018

The FemtoConf 2018 Notes and recaps can be found on the central hub page.

Twitter: @Patticus

  • How growth is changing: What we think works doesn’t actually work. This has dire consequences for your business. 
  • We are living on another planet: 
    • 10 years ago you could build a database with a shiny UI and you were good
    • Today you face fierce competition
  • Number of competitors when you started: 
    • 5 years ago: about 3
    • 1 year ago: roughly 10
  • Sales & Marketing channels are plentiful
    • Number of sales & marketing channels utilized
      • 15 years old: 2.31
      • 1 year old: 13.22
    • competition is getting harder and harder
  • Time taken to fully onboard product in an organization: 
    • 10 years ago: 56.7 hours
    • 1 year ago: 
  • Customer acquisition cost (CAC) has increased significantly by about 70% over the past 5 years
  • relative value of features is declining
    • willingness to pay has declined over time
    • Customers do not care about your features (average NPS is actually down from 33 to 10.2) 
  • What once worked is no longer working for building a business
    • Our playbook was acquire, acquire, acquire
    • Pricing (and retention) is an afterthought
  • Acquisition is now table stakes
  • Impact of improving:
    • Monetization >> Retention >> Acquisition
  • We are building the wrong product, because we don’t talk to our customers enough

How do we fix this?

  • Stop building. Stop buying ads. Stop guessing and checking. 
  • For the love of God: Talk to your customer!
  • How do we do that? 
    • There are three types of data you’re really looking to measure: 
      • Demographic data (purely for segmentation – i.e. size of team, revenue, software they are using)
      • Relative Preference Data
      • Willingness to Pay Data
    • Surveys
      • a non-compensated survey should be at most 5 questions long
      • compensated surveys maximum of 15 minutes
    • Start with a draft of your buyer personas
    • What’s our experimental design look like? 
      • Relative preference: What do people value? 
        • Don’t let them rank features on a scale of 1 to 10
        • Force them to decide on the most/least important feature
  • How much are people willing to pay? 
    • At what (monthly) price point does PRODUCT become too expensive that you’d never consider purchasing it? 
    • At what (monthly) price point does PRODUCT start to become too expensive, but you’d still consider purchasing it?
    • At what (monthly) price point is PRODUCT a really good deal?
    • At what (monthly) price point does PRODUCT become so cheap that you question the quality of it? 

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Mike Taber: Follow-Up Emails – Talk Recap – FemtoConf 2018

The FemtoConf 2018 Notes and recaps can be found on the central hub page.

Full title: Following up… without looking & feeling like a complete dirtbag
Twitter: @singlefounder

  • When you email people it is hugely important to you, but barely registers with them
  • Clarification: Follow up email!= Cold email
  • Why follow up? 
    • Was it received? 
    • Did they make a decision? 
    • Did they inform you of that decision? 
  • If they don’t answer those questions, you have an open loop
    • Follow up is about closing the loop!

Email Black Hole

  • There are 4 common reasons
    • #1: They never received it
      • Mail server issues
      • Wrong email address
      • Filtered as spam
      • Out of office/vacation/traveling
    • #2 Received, but dismissed
      • Email filters or rules
      • Irrelevant subject line
      • Skimmed & made “wrong decision”
      • Gatekeeper said “Nope!”
      • Wall of text
    • #3 Received with best of intentions
      • Traveling, working remotely or mobile device
      • Mailbox flooded / Email Bankruptcy
      • Dropped off their radar
      • Something on fire
      • Guilt from not responding sooner
        • BONUS: Follow ups give permission to reply
      • Popular misconception: 
        • If it’s important to them, they’ll reply
        • ==> Follow up more than feels comfortable. It works.
    • #4 They hate your guts
  • #1 Incorrect Value Association
    • The value of an email is measured in 2 places
      • The Recipient: What does the email do for them? 
      • The Sender: What does a response mean to them? 
    • The value of a response does not feel measurable at the time an email is sent
  • #2 Time Constraints
    • Feels like busy-work
    • Because… deadlines
      • I love deadlines. I like the whooshing sound they make when they pass by. 
  • #3 Your Emotions Will Get the Better of You
    • Sending follow up emails is emotionally painful
      • You feel like you’re repeating yourself
      • Variable rewards schedule
      • Negative emotions disproportionally outweigh positive ones
  • #4 We are afraid
    • Terrible emails

Does Following Up Work? 

  • 52.8% average open rate
  • 5.9% average reply rate
  • Average of 11.3% subscribers block tracking pixels – you don’t get “open rate” stats for those!

Successful Follow Ups

  • When: Select situations where it makes sense
  • Action: Clearly define the single action you want the person to take
  • Automation: Templates, software, reminders, Zapier, outsourcing, etc. 
  • Personalization: Use their name, use your own domain, reply to previous emails, etc.
  • Pass along first name, last name, and email address when redirecting people to Calendly/etc!
  • First email in sequence requires users (your!) approval, all steps after that are fully automated

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Aleth Gueguen: GDPR – Talk Recap – FemtoConf 2018

The FemtoConf 2018 Notes and recaps can be found on the central hub page.

Title: Achieve GDPR compliance without losing your mind
Twitter: @pl4n3th 
Slides & help: Slides //

  • Protects personal data of persons inside EU
    • any piece of information that can identify a physical person
    • Data subject’s rights
  • any person who’s physically inside EU
  • Privacy
    • What you can do with people’s data & what you can’t do
  • Security of processing
    • Processing is collection, recording, organisation, structuring, storage, adaptation or alteration… EVERYTHING. 
      Once you touch data, you’re on the hook
  • Joint responsibility as Data Controller & Data Processor

Risks & penalties

  • European companies will ask for GDPR
  • people will ask for their rights
  • Stop collecting and/or processing personal data 
  • Fines… 

Set of best practices

  • Marketing & customer relationship
  • Security
  • Functionalities

Keep Calm & Document

  • processes & procedures
  • Record of processing activities
  • Privacy notice
  • Take inventory of your data
    • You want to know the Who, What, Where, How long, Why, and How?
    • Do I really need that data? Do I really process it? 
    • Where? 
      • Transfer to third country: 
        • Adequacy decision
        • “Privacy Shield”
        • Standard data-protection clauses
        • Data Processing Agreement
    • How long do you store the data? 
      • You need to state a duration
  • Train your team on privacy & security
    • Identify when “it’s personal data”
    • Procedures for: 
      • Marketing campaign
      • New users stories
      • Transfering list of contacts
    • Privacy by design & by default
    • Profiling, retargeting
    • Notification of personal data breach to authorities within 3 days

Review information to people

  • What you’re doing with people’s data
  • How they can exercise their rights

Update your consent process

  • Clearly distinguishable
  • Intelligible & easily accessible form
  • clear & plain language
  • Make it easy to withdraw consent

Implement data subjects’ rights

  • Access
  • Rectification
  • Erasure (“right to be forgotten”)
  • Portability (easy to read by machines. Make it easier for people to switch services)
  • Restriction of processing

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Claire Suellentrop: Brand Sprints – Talk recap from FemtoConf 2018

The FemtoConf 2018 Notes and recaps can be found on the central hub page.

Full title: Why even the tiniest companies should think about their “brand” – and how to get it over with in 3 hours or less
Twitter: @ClaireSuellen
Slide deck & brand sprint templates:

  • I’m not an expert on “brand”, but I had to become “okay” at it
  • Brand or Brand Development
    • Brand is a promise you make to your customers
    • Makes your life easier and your company more attractive
  • branding 
    • Messaging & positioning
    • voice & tone
    • color palette
    • website & product design
  • Brand Marketing
    • Efforts to build top-of-funnel awareness of your brand, sometimes in ways that are difficult to quantify – e.g. billboards
  • Brand dev challenges you to think more holistically
    • Where will my company be in 5 or 10 years? 
      • Lets you make smarter marketing and pricing decisions
    • Your company will keep growing. That’s what successful companies do. They don’t stop. – Jason Cohen, MicroConf 2014
  • Brand development simplifies all the “squishy” decisions
    • How do we describe our features? 
    • How do we tell people how awesome our software is? 
    • What should the logo look like? 
  • a consistent experience makes your company feel trustworthy
    • Imagine meeting a person in t-shirt and jeans one day and a tuxedo the next day. Which of the two versions “are” they?
    • It’s confusing, same goes with the brand
    • Brand development lets you outsource work – without worrying about losing consistency
      • How should a page on the website look? 
      • How do we write copy? 
      • What’s our tone when we do customer support? 
  • Brand Development helps your employees, customers, and potential strategic partners (3 target audiences – not just customers!)
  • Slide deck & brand sprint templates:

How to run a Brand Sprint

  • Do it. Takes 3 hours
  • The 6 brand sprint exercises
    • Your company’s motivation
      • 20-year roadmap
      • What, How, Why
    • Your unique details
      • Top 3 values
      • Top 3 audiences
    • Your brand relative to others
      • Personality sliders
      • Competitive landscape
  • Before you sprint, prepare – it makes the actual sprint faster
    • Make sure there are no phones

Step 1: The 20 years roadmap (15 Minutes)

  • Write down your predictions for your company for 5, 10, 15, and 20 years
  • Share with your team members and discuss
    • What do you do after you get acquired (if that is the plan)? 
  • It was great for Benedikt, Jane, and I to learn about each other’s visions
  • If you’re doing it in a group, have a decision maker. At the end of the 15 minutes discussion he/she highlights the most important vision in 5,10,15,20 years
  • Do we want to raise money or not? 
  • Are we going to be part-timers on Userlist forever? 
  • Are we going to grow it to 100+ employees?

Step 2: What, How, Why (30 Minutes)

  • What we do
  • How we do it better than anyone else
  • Why we do it

Step 3: Top Three Values (30 Minutes)

  • Write a list of 5-10 company values, these should help make why (above) more specific
  • Start with a long list, narrow down in first round, then select the Final Top 3
  • e.g. “honesty” will be a great guiding light in dark times

Step 4: Top 3 Audiences  (30 Minutes)

  • Same process as Step 3

Step 5: Personality Sliders (30 Minutes)

  • Pick your stand point on each of these scales
    • Casual – Formal
    • Young – Experienced
    • Modern – Classic
    • Simple – Complex
    • Friend – Authority
    • Quiet – Loud
    • Feminine – Masculine
  • With Benedikt, Jane & I there was a lot of discussion about “Quiet – Loud”

Step 6: Competitive Landscape (30 Minutes) 

  • place competitors on two-dimensional matrix relative to their brand personality:
    • Classic – Modern
    • Expressive – Reserved

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