How to Grow a Product-Led SaaS Business from $0 to $1M+ ARR With Corey Haines
Welcome everybody to this live expert Q&A with Corey Haines. He is the founder of Swipe Files community for marketers and founders. And prior to that, he was the head of growth at Baremetrics, which he helped grow to $1.7 million in annual recurring revenue. How's it going,
Corey? How are things would you? I'm doing great. Yeah, I'm super glad to be here and start to chat. Yeah, and for everybody who is tuning in on live YouTube, you can jump and drop questions and comments, and I'll be taking that in the end, but I have some prepared questions for Corey. And one of the first ones that I hear over and over again, Corey is for a lot of companies that have freemium or SaaS, and they're just trying out, one of the problems that they have is this problem called a cold start problem. And I'm curious what you would do. For example, there are some product lead companies that have
come to us like we're just starting out, where do we start? Where would you suggest this companies start in terms of starting to think about growth or marketing? Yeah, starting out is super, super tough. It's like anything else in the cold start problem, you essentially have to bootstrap your way to some sort of momentum. And then you have to get those first early users, early attention, early followers, subscribers, et cetera. So you're not alone. Everyone starts here, so there are playbooks, there are things you can do to kickstart your way to getting some sort of momentum.
There's a couple different frameworks and ideas I like to work through for really early stage products. And actually, this is like the most exciting thing for me personally, like all the companies I consult with, and then I advise, they're all early stage B2B SaaS. So this is like, it's like candy to me. But one of the ones is that actually just picked up fairly recently from April Dunford of obviously I have some who I'll probably be mentioning sometime later, because I just can't stop talking enough about her book is on her podcast with me, she was talking about this sort of multi-step, multi-part, IBM launch playbook. So basically, when she was at IBM, she's leading marketing there. And she talks about how launching isn't just a one time event, or
it's one day and one thing that you do. IBM would split it out to I think she said, like six or seven parts. And actually, the more that I thought about it, and the more companies I studied, I actually sort of built out there's a lot of opportunities. And in fact, if you look at Airbnb, one of Brian Chesky's most famous tweets, if you go back and look, you can probably google it or search twitter through it, is he said that Airbnb launched three times. So basically, you don't have to just do it once. There's also lots of different types of launches,
and lots of different ways you can orchestrate a total launch events that you have all these different kind of layers to your launch. So specifically, as we talk through how there's like this meta announcement launch, where basically it's like, hey, what are you going to launch? What are you working on? What is it? Where can people learn more about it? And basically, it's just like the launch before the launch, where you sort of announced everything. And number two, you have the anticipation launch, where you're telling maybe the story, you're giving people sneak peeks, you're talking about the problems, you're really trying to tell a story about what is it that people are experiencing that you are trying to solve for? And then we have the actual pre-launch strategy, where you want to offer something ahead of the launch, maybe it's like an early access list or a beta, alpha, some sort of trial run or pilot period, like you see, for example, Maven, west cows start up with Goggin and I always feel so bad, I can't remember the other co-founders name, but he's really, really smart guy, and worthy of being known. And they basically, they're building their startup. They just got their name, but they've also been working with a few creators to create core base courses within their product before even launching. So basically, like part of their launch is going to be launching with customers to showcase their product. So that's kind of like a pre-launch strategy, where early access is very
superhuman was in early access for forever, and you're seeing a lot of people do that now today as well. And then you have the actual launch. So you want to make a splash, you want to do the PR run, you want to make a big deal and basically open it up to the world essentially. And this is the one thing that most people do, and that they paid a lot of attention to. So I won't spend a ton of time there, but depending on your audience, you just want to place your product and announce that your product is available in the right places, that could be Prototron, that could be in subreddits, that could be in Facebook groups, could be on Twitter, LinkedIn, I don't know, it doesn't matter. I don't care. Just depends on your customers. And then we have the launch follow up. And so you want to offer something after the launch or something else that you can follow up with after that's still pretty exciting.
There's also the momentum launch. This is one of the ones the April also really talks about was you talk about how well the launch went and what the launch was and you do a recap essentially. But you see this a lot with building in public these days where people will say, "Here's what I learned from my Product Hunt launch," or, "Hey, we open things up, and here's how many customers we have or look at this pretty MRR chart that's going up into the right." But basically do some sort of like another announcement of how well things are going. You can even do a relaunch. So
this is something that I've been thinking more about, but you can strategically place like... I like to kind of isolate launches on certain platforms. So if you launch on Prototron one day, launch on BetaLists the next, and then the next launch on Hacker News. And that way you can really see the effect of each one individually, but you also extend the lifetime, you relaunch over again, and you get to have all the same benefits of reaching a new audience for the first time again. You can also do a big update, at least something exciting after the launch or release a new big feature, talk about something exciting happening.
A lot of startups do this with the fundraising announcements where they'll talk about, "Hey, we're publicly available," and then the next week it's like, "Hey, and we've also decided to raise $50 million from a16z." And then finally, there's a lot of celebration. And this is where you might make a launch party or some sort of, we see this a lot with book authors, where you create a Facebook group or some sort of community. And then when the book goes live, you launch it and everything, but then later, you go back to the same people and say, "Hey, thank you so much, let's hop on a call, let's get to know each other," or you even just celebrate or go through the list of people who helped you with the launch that you earlier did. So that's the IBM launch strategy. But in specific, I really like the pre-launch
guerilla marketing tactics of the early access list and the waitlist personally, because it builds anticipation and loops people in before they're actually in the product. I also really like customer development calls. So as you should be when you're building a new startup, or you're launching a new feature, or building new product within the suite, you need to be talking to people, you need to be talking to customers, you need to be asking, validating what are all the data points we have that would support the need for a product or feature like this? And so within all the customer development calls, you can start telling people, "Hey, so we're going to launch here and if you want to join the list X, Y and Z, or just get to know them, just build personal relationships, and then that will help you later on when you need a retweet, or when you need someone to leave a comment on Prototron or things like that. I also love engineering as marketing. So one of the really smart things, I think, STIR, I think it's USTIR, it's S-T-I-R. I don't even know what they're doing to be honest, I don't even know what they're building exactly, sort of like a collaboration platform for creators to co-market together. But they've been doing these drops, which are like these mini kind of free products. And so I think they had like four or five,
you got to ustir.com I believe. I hope I'm getting their URL right, but they have a whole bunch of free products. And they're going through this whole launch playbook for each one of those, which is then leveling up to their main actual product eventually that they will launch. I can
also talk through a couple specifics. So like with SavvyCal, we thought through a few... SavvyCal is a start up that I consult with, and we launched on Prototron. Prototron was a huge one. I mean, really kick started things. We just knew we wanted to get in front of people and get it into a lot of
people's hands. If you do it right, you can go high in the listing on their front page, and that is seen by the most people, gets the most interest and has the most social proof. So we had thousands of people come by, thousands of new signups. And that was a really, really successful launch event. But right before that, we did the, sorry, we did the user name reservation
campaign where basically we said, "Hey, there's only so many usernames available for SavvyCal, savvycal.com/ whatever you want your URL to be. We're going to launch on Product Hunt next week, there's going to be a huge flood of people. If you want to reserve your username now, go ahead and sign up. And we'll hold it for you for I think 60 days, we said. And that drove
a huge amount of people even before we launched officially to sign up and build some interests. And then right after, again, going back to that post launch, second launch, momentum launch, however you want to call it. We did a Calendly buy up. So a lot of people signing up were saying, "Yeah, I love this, but I'm already locked in for a year with Calendly." So, "Okay, why don't we basically buy them out of their subscription, use a kind of play out of the telephone services playbook, the T-Mobiles and Verizon and AT&Ts of the world and we'll credit your account for the amount that you have left on your Calendly subscription." That also worked
really, really well to, again, create more buzz after the launch with Baremetrics, [inaudible]. We launched a new product called messaging. I don't think it ended up really working out but initially what works really well to drive interest was we knew that email marketing is a huge thing to switch to and explore and a big kind of decision to make. And so, for those first like 25 to 50 users, we offer concierge onboarding where we basically say, "Hey, we'll do all the work for you if you just express some interest, we'll set up the campaigns, we'll replicate everything. That way you can try it out, and you don't have to do any of the work to really see if it's a good fit for you." That also worked really well, after already launching Prototron to engage other people, express some interest but hadn't really taken some action yet.
Even one of the more interesting ones recently is Arrows, arrows.2, they're like an onboarding kind of tool to help you with more manual sales heavy onboarding processes. And they had a lot of early adopters. And they made like these publicly available pages, where they talked up and hyped up and express some things. It was like a thank you letter to those people
on a public page, which then incentivizes those people, share them on to Twitter, or on Facebook, or whatever it is that they're sharing it, which exposes it to new people. And that was after their launch, I believe, after they went through their beta launch. But all that to say, I mean, there's lots of ways you can really kickstart things, I would definitely recommend the multi-step launch approach, do a lot of pre-launch guerrilla marketing, with early access, with customer development calls, engineerings marketing, I think is really smart. And then you need some kind of Kickstarters, some things that are like these stunts, or like one time things that just gets in front, a lot of people builds awareness, but also capitalizes on the interest you already have based on the launch. I really, really love how you went into detail with that. I mean, one of the comments that
we have in the section in YouTube Live is from Anthony says of that it's 10 launches, which is the first time I heard that from April. She's talking about her book, it's like, "What the heck?" That makes total sense. It's about building that momentum, like you're talking about. And I just recall a tweet that you had, I remember you were talking about if you had to redo your courses or swap files or something, you would do something like offer something for free for a while, like six months or something like that before... Can you talk a little bit about there's the piece about building across an audience so that when you launch, you're not screaming to crickets. What are your thoughts about when should people start thinking about building that audience? Should they do it from the get go? And you're talking about offering free courses, but what are some ways to think about more like the pre-launch even before the product is out? Yeah, it goes back to one of Gary V's Jab, Jab, Jab hook principles were really I think that within marketing, especially today when it's so competitive, and there's so many people doing interesting things, it's hard to grab attention. A lot of people are skeptical,
you have to do a lot of giving, you have to have a really give first mentality and myself included, I think it's really tempting, and it's really easy to want to just go straight for the juggler and straight for the sale, straight for the launch, and just get it out there and start seeing the revenue pour in and turn on the faucet and you think it's just going to be... You have these these grand visions of how you grow to X amount of revenue within X amount of time. But the more and more that I go through this experience, and the more that I've seen other people do it, the more I feel like the longer you can wait to launch and the turn on the revenue and to monetize, the more successful you're going to be longer term because, like I said before, I think marketing really comes down to earning trust. Trust is really the crux of marketing, because if someone trusts you, then they believe that you can help them in some way. How do you
earn that trust? We have to give a lot away for free, you have to show your credibility, you have to establish yourself as a domain expert or someone with experience in this. People have to, again, believe that you can help them, so how can you help them? A lot of it's going to be content, a lot of it is just going to be like the marketing rule of seven where you have to get in front of people over and over and over again, in order for people to actually take action and really get to know you and trust you and and know that you're a credible person. And so yeah, where that tweet came from was Swipe Files, I was pretty antsy to just get going and just turn things on and just get members. But I think that especially for creators these days, I think the same applies for content marketing for SaaS businesses, but for creators in particular, the longer you can stave off that revenue, the more successful you're going to be when they actually turn on the revenue, and turn on the monetization. So if I could go back, I think that's why... You even see this with again with superhuman. I'm not sure if it's still, I should have checked right before this, but
they were in that pre-launch early access phase for three years. It was basically that people would come in and then they'd be like, "Oh, if you want to join, you have to be an invite from a current user." And that created all this FOMO and exclusivity and build a lot of curiosity interest. And they melt that and use that for a long time. And then they onboarded every single user. And that works when you can really stave off the public launch, the big hoo ha, all the revenue, and get people in the door.
And then once you've already establish yourself, as you've given a lot of value, that people are going to be happy to hand over their money, especially if it's something interesting, if it's valuable, if it's helping them streamline a part of the business, it was helping them grow. And if they just like you, if they trust you. So yeah, I think that the longer you can stave off the revenue, the better off you're going to be when you actually do turn it on. I really love that. I think you're right, that it's all about building trust, because once you...
You have this thing on your Twitter right now where it's like check bar or like a progress bar to like a thousand true fans said, "I really love that because at the end of the day," once you have this raving fans, they're probably going to eat up whatever, they're going to evangelize, but also that anytime you launch something new, they're going to be the first one in line to buy that from you. I want to move on from that now, so that you've launched the SaaS's launch and you're a big proponent of mental models or any kind of models out there. And you have one particularly for a framework to grow a SaaS. Can you share your framework for let's say, the SaaS is out, the ProductLed SaaS, whatever kind of SaaS it is. It's already out there, its launch now, what are things that they should be thinking in terms of the framework that you put together? Yeah, so when I first started Baremetrics, and especially when I started talking to a lot of our customers, one of the first questions people always ask me is, how do you grow? And how do you think about growing? What's working for other people? You've seen a lot of metrics and businesses and talked to a lot of other founders, what is it that works? How do you think about things? So kind of slowly over time, I just managed to collect and recognize some of the patterns of what I personally felt like were some of the keys and major kind of macro overarching factors to people's success to actually having consistent growth within your SaaS company. And I think a lot of it also comes with the
today, again, things are so competitive, like the days of build it, and they will come are long gone, they're long over. It's kind of like this, I call it the Field of Dreams Fallacy, where you put something out there, you make some noise, and people are going to recommend it. That's just not how it works. So I really wanted to get down to, okay, for the companies that are doing well, for the ones that are growing, what are the commonalities, what are the things that are actually moving the needle? What are the first principles, if you will, of SaaS growth? And I personally distilled it down to five different factors. One is the market. Two is your product, obviously, three is your model. And that's your
activation and your pricing model. And I can get into both of those. Four is your messaging and positioning. So the offer, how you describe yourself, and then five is the channels. And I have it in that order on purpose, because channels is last. Everyone always wants to jump
straight to the channels just like what are the latest growth hacks and channels and strategies and things that are working for you? But if you don't have all the other four working before that, then none of the channels are going to be successful. So you have to be in a good market, you have to have a good product, you have to have a good model, you have to have your messaging and positioning really fine tune and tailored for the channels to work. And also all five of these, they're all interdependent, you can't have one without the other. They all have to be working together in conjunction, and the strength of each one of those five really determines your potential for growth. So if you get like a rating for each one,
let's just say like one out of five, for each one of those five, if your market's a three, your product's a three, your model is a five, your messaging position is a five, your channels are one, you add that up and you're leaving a lot on the table, the growth is not really going to be there. But if you can do all five of those really, really well, you're going to have a lot of growth. There's a lot of potential for growth. So that's the way I think about it. I love it. We can break down each one if we have time. But let's start with the market, how do you determine if a market is good? I'm sure people can do research or do they just google stuff like how big is this market? Or what would be suggested in terms of like, okay, this is actually a good market for us to be in. Yeah, I think that it's hard because really you don't determine the market like your product does. Ideally you should be building a product
for a specific type of market instead of building a product, then finding a for that product, it's a lot easier doing it the first way than the latter way. But your market like you just have to look at it and say what are the dynamics of my market? It's funny because when I first put this out there and started talking about this, people were kind of like, "Wait, what?" And one of the best examples I can give is Gumroad. So when Gumroad first launched, I think it was back in 2011, I want to say, it was very successful, built it over a weekend, raised a bunch of money, got almost through users and customers. But then two or three, I think it was three years later, he had to do a big round of layoffs, the company kind of fell apart a bit, and they just weren't growing fast enough for what they needed in a venture backed scale business. And is because the market wasn't big enough back then. And it was just starting to take off. It was growing, but it wasn't growing quite fast enough. But then the magic is that after he started
the layoffs, there was so much of drama, it took some time away and took a step back. But the company and the product still kept growing month over month. In fact, if you look at their revenue chart, you can't tell at all when that whole thing happened. TechCrunch wrote a slam article. And it's all this bad PR, no difference at all. That's because they were growing with the market. So if you really take that and look at it now, it's a lot easier for me to talk through this because of COVID, to be honest, because now you look at the whole remote work category of software tools, and they're exploding. And you know because that's because overnight after the lockdown, what was it? Like a year ago, the TAM, the total addressable market for remote tools just exploded overnight, like 100X, it was all of a sudden remote became the default instead of one of the options, that weird thing that a lot of startups do.
And so just to anyone who's in that category automatically has a lot more potential, the growth rate is going to be increasing. So you can grow with the market, even if you don't really do that much overall. There's also a lot of excitement in that market. I can't say their name, but working with a startup was basically like Zoom for Hollywood production.
And they were doing just over a million dollars in AAR pre-COVID. Within a few months after COVID, they literally 10Xed overnight, they were doing eight figures in ARR. And that's because again, everyone went to lockdown, all their Hollywood producers said, "Hey, we can't meet in person anymore, we need a tool that will help us collaborate, high def high, low latency, and Zoom just wasn't going to work." And this company happened to be there as a solution for that. And now they're absolutely killing, they're slaying it. Same thing with crater economy. All of a sudden, people are looking to make an extra buck. People are looking for side gigs, they're looking to do more writing, newsletters and communities are hot, so creative economy is just exploding. Any tool in that space is going to go up. It's like a rising tide
lifts all boats. I think it's just a combination of the size of the market, the total addressable market, the TAM, if you will, the growth rate of that market, because even if it's a big market, if it's declining, that actually squeezes all the players in that market, so it becomes more competitive. And you actually, you might see a lot more churn because people are switching and it's a race to the bottom. But if the market is growing,
then you can just grow with the market, there are more people entering the market every year. And so you'll take a percentage of those people. And then of course, there's excitement. It's just like the general sentiment. Is just an exciting categories, is just something that people are talking about, is just something that's top of mind or like an urgent need right now.
And that's why the market is the number one long-term determiner of your growth. I really love that. That comes to mind like something Justin Jackson, he's like the founder of Transistor FM said, "When you're riding a wave, it's a lot easier than in a dead sea." It's like when you had that wave, it really does make a lot of sense. I love that. Thank you for sharing that market. Another one that I want to talk about in your framework is product. If you're a founder of
a product, it's like your baby, you're not going to say your baby's ugly. But you have some kind of determinants to say whether a product is great or not. What are some things that you look at to say, "Hey, this product is great," like outside of the market, what makes a great product? Yeah, yeah, the product is hard, because it's really hard to be objective about looking at your product. Again, it's like looking at your baby, and everyone thinks that their baby is really, really cute, but everyone else might not think so. Like there are a lot of babies out there, sorry. But you have to be objective and try to look at, okay, what are the things that make my product good or bad or the shortcomings? And so you can look at it a few different ways.
I think one of the big ones just overall again, the baseline kind of benchmark, just the immediate first thing you look at with a product is how big are and how important is the problem that this product is solving? Is it a ginormous problem? Is it a really small problem? Is it annoying or is it bleeding neck? And then also, how frequently does that problem occur? Basically, the frequency. And so is it all the time? Is that like an everyday thing? Is it a once a year thing? And so if you plot that on a matrix, the bigger the problem, the more frequently it occurs, like just baseline, like if you have a product in that category, that's going to be a good product, because you're solving a really critical, frequent need. Now, the quality of your product to solve that problem is another factor, we can get into that. But basically, level set. If you're solving big problems frequently, you're in a good space. And then you can slice and dice that any way you want. If it's a big problem that happens once a year, like accounting or tax season, that's good,
but it only happens once a year. And so like, the buying cycle is going to be a lot longer and takes a lot more attention and people put it off and procrastinate, and it's just a slower cycle, but the opposite as well. Maybe it's like a really small problem that happens really, really frequently. Maybe it's like I can't find my Twitter bookmarks. There's no search. It's really small problem. Maybe it's hard to charge 100 bucks a month for. You can charge five bucks a month for it, maybe 10 bucks a month for it, but there's an upper ceiling there. So how great your product is... Basically trying to answer the question, how marketable is my product?
One of the other matrices firmware like to use evaluate is differentiation versus demand. If you have features, you can plot on basically, within this matrix of how in demand are these features? And also, how are our features different than other competitors or other alternatives, even? If you have a lot of features that are highly differentiated, and also highly in demand, those are killer features. People are going to be going over there, and it's going to be like evangelism, people are just going to be going in mobs over to those types of products. But if you don't have any differentiator, but you have really high in demand features, you still have a good case, basically you're just an incumbent, as now you're competing on things like brand, or maybe customer service or price. So again,
if you want things that are really... You want really highly differentiated features, that are also really highly in demand because we don't want to build little features that have no demand, or have very little demand to a specific set of people that are really differentiated, because that also, again, it really reduces the TAM for that feature, and the level of interest across it. So that's one of the other ones. And then there's things like competitive advantages, intellectual property, trademarks, patents. I think design is a really, really big one. Design and UX is huge, because it really communicates quality and the level of thought and experience that people are going to have within the product. There's partnerships and integrations as well. And again, those ace in the hole features that are just really, really hard to replicate. For example, hrefs is one that comes to mind. They have, I think some of the competitors have closed
the gap fairly recently. But a couple of years ago, href is just like dominated with like total backlink data available. It's just like, you couldn't match the level of data available. I was talking to Blake Emal, CMO of copy.ai yesterday, and he was telling me about how he just
started using or he started using this product vid, vid.io, is like a video editor again, just for the really crisp subtitles that they generate. He's like, "For some reason, the subtitles are amazing for my videos that generate," and that's why he uses it over other products like Descript or iMovie or any other alternative. So when I record my podcasts, I use Riverside. And for a long time, the day differentiator for them was the local recordings that they'll generate. Now some other competitors are starting to catch up, but for a while that was like the killer feature. The
one differentiator was like yep, this one thing is going to be enough for me to get on board. So yeah, there's a lot of things that go into that, but it really comes down to how marketable is my product? And you can look at the problem frequency matrix, differentiation versus demand, and of course, competitive advantages wherever you can find them. Yeah, it sounds like you've really thought about this. So I'll link all of that there, but
I think you were touching a little bit upon it around positioning where it's almost like a cat and mouse game were you're talking about, let's say Riverside where they have this local recording, and now the other features are showing up. And one of the ways to stand out is to brand, but also to positioning. What are some models that seems like or frameworks that you have around? How do you not just like determine your positioning now, but also as you're moving forward and your competitors are closing in, how do you reinvent yourself, like what we're seeing with DREF where they've kind of reinvented who they are, because everybody is now in conversational marketing. And now they're doing like, I think revenue acceleration or something like that. So what's your thoughts around positioning? Yeah, I'm pretty much just going to steal from April Dunford and give her talk and talk from her book, obviously awesome, which is great. But she has like this, I don't know, was it like five or six kind of step process and framework where, first you start with the competitive alternatives. So you have to know basically at first, what are customers or potential customers comparing you against? It could be direct competitors.
I really like the jobs to be done framework because it actually levels it down to you have direct competitors, where they do the same job in the same way, then you have indirect competitors that do the same job in a different way. And then you have your secondary competitors, I believe it is, and they do a different job in a different way. So basically, it's like a 24 hour fitness versus a Shake Shack. It's like one is good for you, one's bad for you. They're competing, but they're not gyms, they're not restaurants, they're just competing outcomes, essentially. So you want to get all of your competitive alternatives. Could even be things like spreadsheets are a big one for SaaS, interns and teams, specialists, like data scientists, or people who can do some sort of manual work or have really specialized knowledge. Those
can all be competitive alternatives as well. Once you narrow those down, then given the context of those alternatives, what are your unique attributes? And that can be in the product features, could be with the brands, could be with a customer service, could be the way that you do things, could be an opinion, or maybe some sort of way or a method that you hold on to, for example, YNAB is like a budgeting software for people. And they have like a, I think it's called a $0 budgeting system basically, I'm probably butchering that. But basically, like they
have a specific method for budgeting. And their whole software is around that. So that's like a unique attribute of theirs, not just in the actual technical software, but in the way that they design the software and the outcome that it gives. Given the unique attributes, what is the value that it unlocks for customers? So now you really get into how does this help people? Why should people care? And then the stuff for us, who cares about that stuff? And now we really get into the market and the target audience and the total adjustable market, and getting back to that first principle, which is the market of who is really best fit for? Again, April Dunford, I'm just going to basically speak for her, but I love one of her examples where she basically found that she had this database product, and they were trying to go after a certain market. And then they found actually that they were really, really, really well positioned. The people who cared the most about this or I think financial institutions,
they were like banks, basically. So they position themselves as the database for banks, and then exploded, had really, really great growth, because those are the people that really, really cared. Of course, not every customer is going to be a perfect fit, but for something like messaging and positioning, you have to appeal to the ideal user, to the ideal customer. And then I think that final layer is like a market that you win. And so it's basically like, what category do you put yourself in to where
you look like the best option compared to the other people in that market? And so this is where things start to get a little bit fuzzy. Personally, I don't really think that you... I think it's really, really hard to create new categories. People get confused about what it actually means to create a new category. I think what Drift did with conversational marketing was actually pretty astounding and pretty amazing. The shift to
revenue acceleration, though, I don't know if revenue acceleration is a category, right? Interesting. Conversational marketing, like live chat, even live chat is really, there's kind of rebranding the category here. But everyone went into that category. Really, it became a category because Gartner and Forrester, they all adopted it as a category quite literally. But really, you wanted to describe yourself in a way that it makes sense to people because when you have some sort of category or some sort of phrase or word that you use to describe who you are and what you do, that brings a lot of context, a lot more information to the table so you don't have to do all that, but you don't want to bring the wrong information and the wrong context to the conversation. So if you're describing yourself as a revenue acceleration platform, but really your live chat tool, then it's going to be confusing for customers, that could even be a potential issue for churn. Now I'm kind of pooh poohing on Drift. I don't
mean to. They do a lot more than just live chat now, they're really probably more like marketing automation. I've always thought that that's where they should really go into. But all that to say, for example, what's [Avico] one of the ones that I consult with? We were trying to figure out how do people describe this? And I was like, look, it's a scheduling tool. It's a scheduling link. These are the words that people are using it, like we're not going to come up with it's a magic AI, something rather, that helps you. It's a scheduling link. Let's be honest,
that's what people understand. That's what helps them give context to who you are. But otherwise, I think there are other things that really help you with the messaging. So once you have your positioning down, you understand, you've gone through that process, then how do you actually communicate that with customers? And that's actually the really hard part.
There are a few things I think that help. One is just like copywriting one-on-one kind of stuff. I really like to framework Pain-Dream-Fix. Basically you start with what's the big problem or pain that people are experiencing? What's the dream scenario, like the outcome that people are after? And then fix is the solution, so how do you help them fix their problems and give them a solution to get them to where they want to be? You want to use customer's words. You want to be super as specific as you can be, don't use vague, ambiguous, enterprisey, salesy language, use social proof, let your customers tell other people and use the words that they use, and put it right there on the page. Use testimonials and videos and quotes, address objections upfront about competitors, about features, about how things work about the friction and the time and money that it'll invest. Again, with SavvyCal. Of course, I have a lot of examples from them, because I worked directly with Derek the founder. But when we were going
through this whole positioning exercise of how do we describe this, and how do we really put this in a way that people get it? Because he had launched it in September of 2020. I joined him in November, and there was a little bit of revenue, and he was just like ground level. But it still felt like there was a lot of questions, people really still weren't understanding what it was and how it worked. So we went through the exercise. And as I was doing my customer research, I noticed this one tweet from this guy, Brett Goldstein. And he had this tweet, he says, "Calendly is 100 times faster to set up than a meeting, and going back and forth with times an email. That said sending a Calendly link still feels weird. Anyone know why?" And it just blew up. There was
like thousands of likes and hundreds of comments. And I was just like, "Oh, this is incredible." And then there's even a few more tweets where people said, "Why does sending my schedule and feel weird?" So guess what we plastered on the homepage as the headline for SavvyCal, sending your scheduling link shouldn't feel weird. That's our big flag in the ground. That's the steak. That's the pain that people are experiencing. Now let us tell you about the dream of what things are like when actually your recipients thank you for sending a SavvyCal link actually enjoy it. And it's easy. And here's how it works, right, here's how we're different.
That makes sense to people. The landing page works really, really well. It'll change and evolve over time, but for right now, this seems to work really well, and it's helped to position ourselves in a way that looks like we can take a stab at a big company like Calendly. I really love that. That's such a good thing. I think when you use your customers words in your page, it just resonates a lot better, because you're using them. But
I mean, that's why I really appreciate you. I'm part of the Swipe Files community. And Corey didn't ask me to plug the community in, but I've been a part of it. And he's doing like a whole series on customer research. And I can do a whole hour on just this topic, but
I do have a question from somebody from the audience. It's from John. He's asking you, Corey, what your approach is in prioritizing and running Product-Led Growth experiments. What are your thoughts around that? How do you prioritize and run growth experiments? Yeah, so I have a framework for it. [inaudible]. Of course. But it's called GROWS, very aptly
and very conveniently as well. So the first step is you want to gather all of the experiments, all the data, all the research, just get everything in a single place where you can look through. On the research side of things, I like to say people should build a customer insights bank. So you want to collect all the things that people are telling you, feedback from customers, intercom conversations, tweets. Then you also want to get all of your ideas on paper
just so that you're out of your brand, you can look at them. And then the second part, so G-R, grows, you want to rank them. And there's all sorts of different frameworks and sort of ways you can score them. I still like the tried and true ICE frameworks or impact, confidence and ease, basically, how well do we think this thing is going to work? How confident am I that this thing is going to work? And then what are the resources available that we have in order to make this thing work. And so you might find that for your stage, something might be out
of budget, or it's going to take too long, or maybe just doesn't work with the timing of other features and things planned on the roadmap. And then you go to O, so you want to outline. So basically, you just try to answer the who, what, why, and how questions of what this thing will actually look like. And you can even go as far as wireframing, or if it's on the product, or maybe if it's marketing, you can make a mock up, or just describe what it is that you're trying to do.
And then W, work, get to it, just start executing. And I try to usually work on like one to three max concurrently to really do them well. Of course, if you have like a growth team of 50 people, and you can have like 10 all going at once and work really, really rapidly, but if you're like me and your marketing team of one, you can really only handle like one or two things at a time. And so I work at one or two things, and then S is to study. So you go back and look at the data, how well did this thing work? Can we make any tweaks or iterations that will change things? And I try to keep things as simple as possible. One of the other things that I've realized is that a lot of
people feel really guilty and even ashamed of how little marketing they do or how slow they move. But I'm really at the mindset that you should be precise with your marketing, with your growth experiments. It's better to really work on a couple big things or a couple of small things at a time than to just be all over the place juggling. I'm a yes, man. I have tons of things I'm talking about all the time, so maybe I'm just kind of
projecting my own struggles, but I feel like it's really important to just focus and be precise and only work on a couple things at a time, because also, I think fundamentally if you look from like a experimentation kind of mindset, the more things you do concurrently, the harder it's going to be to isolate the results of each one of those things. So actually the last things you work on at once, the better, because you can isolate and be confident in the results of them. I love it. I mean, you're like the framework master, I was trying to think of something interesting to say. But I think we're hitting our time up. If people want to learn more about you,
where can people find you online, as well as if people want to know about some of your courses or community, like where can people find out about that, Corey? Yeah, absolutely. So I'm mainly on Twitter and on LinkedIn or Facebook or Instagram, anything like that, but @coreyhainesco. Also my personal site with everything I work on and just links about me and stuff is coreyhaines.co. Swipefiles.com if you want to join the newsletter. And I write
occasionally about cutting edge and sometimes crazy marketing ideas and just what I'm learning. But also we have a membership as Ramli mentioned earlier. So swipefiles.com/membership. And also just for the product like community, if you type in the coupon code ProductLed, you can get half off any one of the memberships. So the all access membership also includes my two courses, so mental models for marketing. If you're into all this framework stuff and mental models,
there are 40, I believe in the course. And there's also refactoring growth, which is really centered around this whole five factors of growth market, product, model, messaging positioning, and channels, both are very comprehensive alone, so you can get the membership, you can get access to both of those for half off with ProductLed. Well, Corey, thank you so much for your time. I really do appreciate [crosstalk]. Yeah, thanks for having me. Ton of fun.