Hiten Shah – Killer (Content) Marketing – MicroConf 2013

The MicroConf Hub Page with links to all the notes for all the talks can be found here.

Speaker: Hiten Shah (@hnsah)

Watch the video (sorry, but I’m not allowed to embed it here)




  • Learn things by doing them
  • Two strategies:
    • Hire as few people and try to make as much money per employee as possible (CrazyEgg)
    • Try to grow as much as possible (KISSmetrics)

Story of a Product from Idea to Acquisition (KISSinsights)

  • Do customer development
  • Find the core problem (of your customer)
  • Learn how to ask the right questions
  • Always begin with a hypothesis
    • Problem hypothesis: Our hypothesis is that [certain type of person] have a problem doing [certain type of task]
    • As specific as possible (e.g. localize the people to people in your city)
    • Example: Our hypothesis that product managers have a problem doing effective customer research
  • ​How we learned
    • 20 phone interviews
    • 3 paper user tests
    • 2 landing pages
    • 1 hacky MVP
  • What we learned
    • People are NOT doing customer research
    • They want private feedback and targeting
    • It requries developer involvement
    • It is a constant pain
  • “How you get to the customer is as important, if not more, than what you get to the customer” – Patrick Vlaskovits
  • Channels get crowded fast.
  • Dropbox used Adwords –> Cost Per Acquisition: $233 – $388. For a $99 product –> FAIL
  • Solution: Make your own channel (double incentivized referral program)
  • Customer Development
    • Who are your customers? (product managers)
    • Where do they hang out? (other people’s websites)
    • How should you engage them?
  • Your marketing has to align with your customers

Create Your Audience

  • Build, Grow, Convert
  • The more I help you, the more you will trust me” – Nathan Barry
    • Build: Free Content
    • Grow: Paid Content
    • Convert: SaaS Subscription
  • Write with the intention of appealing to a specific audience.” – Brennan Dunn
    • Build: Email newsletter
    • Grow: Paid Content
    • Convert: SaaS Subscription
  • Who has time to learn every new piece of software they run into? Not me. I’m pretty sure you don’t either” – Ruben Gamez
    • Build: Free Guide and Newsletter
    • Grow: Sample Proposal (mini-demo of his SaaS product)
    • Convert: SaaS Subscription
  • Teach people how to solve their problems
  • Learn from your audience and customers
  • Questions you can ask your customers:
    • How did you first find about us?
    • What persuaded you to purchase from us?
    • How would you describe [PRODUCT] to your friends?
    • What prompted you to start looking for this type of service?
    • If you could change one thing about this website, what would it be?
    • What other products or services should we offer?
    • Which other options did you consider before choosing our products?
    • Why did you decide to use [PRODUCT]?
    • Why do you use [PRODUCT] instead of an alternative?
    • What would persuade you to use [PRODUCT] more often?
    • How would you persuade people like you to use [PRODUCT] ?

Strategies for B2B distribution

  • Use Platforms with distribution potential
  • How to optimize integrations
    • Integrations make YOUR product better
    • Measure your conversions and revenue
    • Discover valuable integrations
    • Ask customers about integrations
    • Make your partner pages awesome
  • How to optimize “Work Emails”
    • Optimize on-boarding
    • Show people who they should follow
    • Utilize invitations during on-boarding
    • Measure # of people in every company
    • Discover the engaging interactions
  • How to optimize embeds (like Youtube, Slideshare)
    • Why should people embed?
    • Make it as easy as possible to embed
    • Track how well your embeds convert
    • Test relevant call to actions
    • Optimize for search, but don’t obsess
  • How to optimize “Powered By”
    • What are you Powering?
    • Test the copy of your call to action
    • Test and optimize your landing pages
    • Track views, clicks, conversions and LTV
    • Measure individual effectiveness
  • How to optimize “Free Stuff”
    • Build a free tool that helps your customers
    • Map to customer decision making
    • Think about what you can repurpose
    • Educate your prospects
    • Test your ideas minimally (ghetto)
    • Measure and optimize revenue

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About Christoph

Christoph lives in Munich, Germany and is bootstrapping his own SaaS application as a part-time entrepreneur.

He likes to write on this blog about anything of relevance to single-founder bootstrapped software startups.


  1. […] Hiten Shah: "Killer Content Marketing" […]

  2. […] Questions you can ask: (More in the notes for Hiten Shah’s MicroConf Talk) […]

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