The Personal Journey Of a SaaS founder With Nathan Barry from ConvertKit

The Personal Journey Of a SaaS founder With Nathan Barry from ConvertKit

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About twenty months into the company that we realized oh we can't just late like, describe our company based on features or problems, that we're solving we have to narrow, down and say we're. Email marketing. First. It was for authors yeah, and that ended up not being a good market or now not being a good way to describe the market we were going after, yeah but then we changed it to email marketing for professional, bloggers. Nathan. Berry how's it going man it's, going well dude I'm so excited for this conversation. A, look. At this is, this fun is everybody everybody see this you see this you how did how long ago did you know you're gonna be on the cover of SAS mag, like. A month ago I think gee this is so cool such a stud now the big question did they send. A photographer to. Your. Spot. Or did they ask you to send in some stock photos no. Oh, my gosh what happened to the world of journalism it's so bad I I distinctly, remember. Actually. Jarrod. I met Jarrod because he was hired as a photographer. For magazine, to, do the shot and, so they were this was in this. Was 2008. I believe and so, they were still investing, in those budgets, so this is you paid for this photo, they, didn't send somebody that. Photo is a bit old I was really trying to give them a photo, like. Post beard yes I acquired. The beard to try to look older I think, it looks good yeah but you know okay but this is old so you weren't happy with this cuz well I gave them other photos and they said oh no they chose those photos oh they did so that's a bit of a commentary, yeah editorial, account I think Emily is the editor of the magazine anyways. 15. Millionaire our SAS convertkit, founder. Creator. Speaker. Good. Dude honorary, Canadian my, words so I've given you that title. So. I want to chat about a, lot of things you know we've talked many times over the the past few years about growth and scale some, of the things you've done what, if you had to look at like step functions, of growth convertkit, in regards to growth kind of the million. To to trying, to get to ten what. What was the what's the first thing that comes to mind and in regards to things that you guys did well yeah. The first thing we did well with sales. Unpacked. That yeah. So ideally. We would have done sales well from the beginning we, really had first, 18. 18. To 24 months of not running, the business well. So. That's. Not the growth curve that you want right of we, basically launched and then got to 2,000, m RR and then slowly bounced, around there and.

Everything Kind of changed when, we. Sort of dive into direct. Sales and selling, you. Know by reaching out having a conversation rather. Than I come from the blogging world where let's, sell through content look right let's inbound. Yeah inbound you know we should make a sales, pitch there a well-written blog post or sales page should make the sale, it. Doesn't like, that may work at. A lot bigger scale but, when you're at 2,000 and mr no one's heard of you there's no brand there's there's, no bound did, it feel icky, like is that why you didn't want to do it or just, didn't know you didn't know how to do it yeah and so I, kind, of I. Guess. Two things I didn't know how to do it and I didn't know how to reach out to people so in. A way that didn't feel like. Intrusive, intrusive. Or even who to reach out to okay, right because there's everyone on the internet who do you serve mmm-hmm and so the first move was to really become, specific, about are we building email marketing for. Everyone. Email marketing for people like me how do you label that and. It. Was about about. 20, months into the company that we realized oh we can't just late like, describe our company based on features or problems, that were solving we have to narrow, down and say we're. Email marketing. First. It was for authors yeah, and that ended up not being a good market or now not being a good way to describe the market we were going after yeah, but then we changed it to email marketing for professional, bloggers pro bloggers not just bloggers yeah cuz I wanted something aspirational, in there right because blogger is already a term that people say oh you're a blogger that's cute yeah yeah he's like oh professional there's a point when entrepreneur was like that yeah yeah yeah I believe it yeah. So. With with the professional bloggers it's it's aspirational someone who doesn't get is like there are professional, bloggers. You know and so there's more curiosity, there and. It, feels less hobbyist. Was. That tough to go niche cuz like a lot of companies struggle where they when they have a product like yours it can serve so many different markets they don't wanna you. Know your to km are are you don't want to like to turn people away so. I would say that going. After specific niche is the it's. The easiest advice to give and it's, great advice I'd given it to people many times myself I've heard you give it to people yeah and it's the hardest advice to take cuz you're like okay Dan you should focus on listening you should this is all back up for my business no I different I wouldn't want to turn away, it's. Totally different and so, it, took me a long time to actually take take, the advice. But. It, ended up working out because then I could go after okay these this is specifically, who I'm trying to serve and I can actually list these people out I can, make great a nameless, segment. By. Industry. Pro bloggers, you can kind of Google top ten blogs for a specific yeah. You've heard a really specific yeah so, like I would do things like email. Marketing for professional. Men's fashion, bloggers hmm, in New York City right because, there's. Probably only 30 of them 50 of them and was there also like this, understanding. That they had, a need that might have been underserved, because nobody. Like, cuz I'm when I think of bloggers many, I mean Tim Ferriss and have email marketing on his blog for a long time I think we're meet said to you was like Tim, you got us yeah you got to let people subscribe, right like there's almost like some of the bloggers didn't, do email mark is that something. That was part of that decision, or you. Know a bunch, of them did it. Maybe. Wasn't as popular but but people like for me and others were, popularizing. It yeah I'm like hey you got to do this yeah, Pat.

Flynn Was doing the same things, like that. But. It was really about trying. To get to specific people that we could list out and we didn't pick these industries because of like crazy research, and we decided okay. Professional. Paleo recipe bloggers who are women are the perfect market really. Instead what we did is, we looked at okay who's using the platform already because. We had a hundred customers yeah so then you can create, some case studies and reference yeah and so if you look at okay who are the five most, full companies. Using us then. What happens is instead of a little circle drawn just run them what happens if we broadened. It a little bit what if we went. Out so it included 50 people like them or 30 people so essentially their peers yeah and what's, interesting about that is if you don't have any big. Names to drop right, like now I who. Uses convertkit we, have Tim Ferriss we have Arnold, Schwarzenegger we have Tim McGraw yeah I did not know that man Congrats there's a huge, but. Early on you don't have those names to drop yeah which is a very useful thing because people, will. Sit back night well who uses you yeah throw out a name they're like oh okay well if it's good enough for Tim its yeah I call those lighthouse counts, they essentially draw people in just, by their credibility yeah. And so when. You don't have that if you. Draw. That circle really really small then. What you can do is people, will say. You. Didn't drop a famous, name but they'll be like oh I, know her yeah I saw, her at the conference three weeks ago she uses you and no. One outside of the industry would would, think about that but you're, like no we're just going with paleo recipe blogs and they all know each other mmm and so, what happened is we. Got up, to about 5,000, so this is interesting so this is you don't need to have the name brand people you just need to be. Known. By their peers, in that space, so Palin knows Amy Porterfield and. You can get that connection there it doesn't happen well I mean both of them are very you know well-known in their own industry but right yeah so if you went someone smaller by like a factor of 10 yeah then then, it works would be the. Same idea where it works because what you're doing is. You're. Creating this tiny little echo chamber yeah so for example in the. Not. In the fitness space because I'm massive huge in a very small corner of the fitness world yeah talking, to some functional fitness, yes they. Were all doing high-intensity interval training. And. I was talking to someone and she's like everyone. On the entire Internet is switching it can work it that's what it feels like I'm like okay. So I'm over here universe, over here I know that we have 5,000 and mor so, that is objectively, not true yeah yeah but in their world because they were saying I switched, this other person's to it perception, is reality which.

And Then I was talking to this person at the conference they said they talked to you they're thinking about it but what was your a CV at that point because I mean to do outbound, at scale, it sounded like we were doing things that maybe wouldn't. Scale yeah, exactly so like how did you what. Was the process were you doing the outbound yeah I was doing all of it okay so Nathan, sending the emails a. CV. Was floating around what fifty, bucks a month yeah, yeah. So annually, you, know 700. 800 bucks, so, really if you had a sales person doing this and compensates, terribly yeah it's not gonna work but this. Helps build the base of MOR helps. You focus, get, the customers. And. What, like what was the email copy, and, what tools did you use, yeah. So. First. Thing was building lists and I do it two different ways one. We use built with and. Nerdy data yeah super cool great the web, what. Were you looking for I who's. Using Aweber he's email perfect, you, knew the competitive, set these other tools I knew which ones are easier to sell against yeah I knew at the time we didn't have the feature set to go against Infusionsoft, so I wasn't gonna do that yet. And I was like great well we'll save that for six months from now and. Then, the other side that I would do is would go the industry direction and so. Google. Searches top, paleo blogs, you. Know the other thing is you go start following people on Twitter and it. Will give you like recommended, if, you follow this person then oh you're, right yeah. Sometimes. I feel like Twitter lists used to be really. Good more often yeah kind. Of died but you go make your own manual, lists and actually making the manual lists work better than scraping, the web hmm, I would just I found I got a higher conversion rate I think because you're. In that narrow, little echo chamber more, if you scrape the web then it's just people, who use Aweber, and. That's not that's. Not as targeted yeah you, want the industry yeah. And then the email the, trick is to send a really short email the, longer the email the, more I know you copied, and pasted it mm-hmm, and it's not personal, so I would say like hey Melissa. Just. Reaching out the. Reason everybody knows I saw you using Aweber and I wanted to know if. There's anything and particularly frustrating, you about a weber so you went straight for, yeah, uncover discovery, the reason I ask I run, an email marketing company straight, up us on, professional. Bloggers and I'm, trying, to learn how best to improve the product oh you. Went for the advice angle, yeah oh yeah that's. Fine sighs get a customer, yeah that's super smart and that's the whole email yeah it's. Three. Sentences yeah we have two four sentence and then they at least reply and say well I hate this part of the product yeah and so like when, MailChimp. Was the most common on basics they're the biggest when. I would email people, from outside they would come back and, then list out oh I can't take my customers, it's. Really hard to do like a content upgrade or a lead magnet hmm, and from. There it'd be easy to say well, that's. Exactly, why I started converting cuz I used MailChimp, and I had those exact, problems, because, everyone had the exact same problems as. Far as customer research sometimes. I would learn new things but, really it was the same five things over, and over again and so then I'd go try to go from there to a call you. Know hey let's talk through it all happy. To show you some workarounds, for how to pull off some of that in MailChimp if you want yeah but also I'd love to show you what I'm building because.

It's Designed for this exact need and what. You ran like a product demo or it was just like an ad-hoc call, did you have a structure to it or it. Was a product demo yeah and. Then asking them more, of their process and workflow. And. How long did it take you to get to a point where somebody else could do that for, you, the. Outbound or, was it always Nathan, it was, me for a long time okay and when you hired somebody did you still do the initial outreaches Nathan or did they do it they did it as himself okay though. As we, started to hire people like sales is one of the last roles that I hired for. We. Had a lot more inbound coming. Later. On this isn't something that we necessarily did in a scalable. Way as, like. As someone pretending to be me or anything like that mmm. You. Know but one, thing on the demo I think. People spend too much time talking themselves, and if, you could record. A demo and then, even just make, note of how much time did they spend talking versus, you spent talking that's it that one data point I think it's so important, because you just. If it's, like 80% you talking then. Your message is not being received like, I think one of the most effective things is for, you to ask a question and then, them, talk. For a while and talk themselves into using your product, because. That's usually where it comes to in the frustration inside and, so, you did that for a while so is that something you guys still do today or that's kind of we don't really do as much outbound, in. That way most of the outbound that we do is to try to get these. Massive top, to your accounts yeah that's a lot of work on base marketing, go hop on go. Hop on a plane hosted, dinner in LA in vitamins, er yeah yes, it's still part of the strategy so that got you from like the 2k to you. Know 20 I'm assuming 25 km, are and, onward yep so what there's, two, important things there. One. Is that that, was actually the demo process, was actually terribly ineffective, mmm-hmm because we'd get on this call talk. Through it they'd be oh this makes sense and then. There'd be this moment where they'd pausing, tell her thinking about something and they're like. Yeah. Actually a switching, cost love what you're doing but I'm not gonna switch yeah it's too difficult mm-hmm, and, you. Know, in. Sales. And in life like if you asked me to do something I. Hey, will you buy this product will you whatever else I. Have. To give you an answer I'm socially obligated to, give you an answer if, you're trying to sell to me through a website or a video or whatever, else I just hit the back button yeah, but I can't do the in-person equivalent, of it of like backing, away slowly and like getting. Up and leaving back I have to answer yeah and. If I answer you. Know I can't just say no Dan I'm not gonna do that yeah I have, to give a reason yeah, and so people would pick the reason of switching costs and, I like to imagine someone, like. Like. If their that's the reason that you, know and that's the door and they're leaning up against it and like out so you can't go through and so, if you'd like all the possible, objections they pick that and there so it's stacking up against and so, if you take that away they like kind of just fall through the door and, they're like they don't have a choice but to. But. To sign up and so what I do is well. First I try to say oh it's not that much work, not. Compelling, at all yeah. Telling is saying I'll do it for you for free, Wow, and so here, you have a, $50. A month account, and I'm. Like okay I'll take off like give me your WordPress login giving, your MailChimp login, let me export all your subscribers let me recreate all your forms to match the, look on your site did you analyze your account before you offered that to make sure no just, no because. Okay. Let's go back for a second to the idea of word-of-mouth, if, you ask I don't. Know making, something up 50 80 % of founders how did you get a word-of-mouth great, word-of-mouth and as. A founder you're like oh that makes sense like oh great I'll just go through grow, through word-of-mouth you. Know wait that. Is the most frustrating advice, to ever hear cuz what do you do with that yeah what is word-of-mouth you don't even have any customers, who can. Talk about you hmm who, can share like. To tell other people and so, when you're doing $1,000. A month that is the most obnoxious advice, to hear, but. What. You realize is that's where you have to put, this level of sales and hustle and basically do anything possible to get the right customer, because. Then you'll start to get that momentum mmm. And so it was almost an offering, that you created, something that they went like wow that's amazing that he would do that right and, they talked about it cuz it's just like it's it's like 50 it's almost like ridiculous, that they're like man.

For 50 bucks a month you really like I wouldn't, do that because that's what I'm thinking myself and you're like I'll just switch you and it will take care of it I'm like you. Can't be making money right, and that's the thing is that you don't have to make money right because we're working towards mrr mrr, compounds. We're working towards word-of-mouth and word-of-mouth compounds, so, you have both those factors, and this. Is horribly, unprofitable, yeah until. 10,000. M RR 20000, M are somewhere in there but, there's. Unless, you have a big audience coming, in or some, other partnership. You're not gonna get to 20,000, m RR without. Something like this like, got it, you. Know your 10%, monthly growth on 500, bucks of Mr art like it counts, do you think you guys got. Because, of that strategy the outbound at. Least 300, 400, so 300, and then I know we've talked a lot about you. Know affiliates, partners. The long-tailed distribution, of that, how. Did you ramp that up meaningfully. And yeah and unpack that strategy yeah so that was the next phase yeah. So. We got to about. 20,000. In m RR, so. Say in in December 2014. We were at two thousand a month. Six. Months later we're at maybe seven thousand a month by, that September so nine ten, months later we're, at, twenty. Twenty two thousand a month, and. That's where like, we're actually starting to notice that. Word of mouth is coming in every sale that we're making that. We make is making, the next sale easier and, it might just be it might be one percent easier but you noticed, that like oh you, feel that that wasn't as hard as it used to be, the, other thing is being in the blogger, space, the. Nice thing about it is if. Like. If we go to the Chamber of Commerce or something like that we're, at you know and I, saw, a couple people on being. Customers, and they're really happy that might tell two or three of their friends you know, in the general small business space in blogging. If Pat, Flynn is happy he's gonna tell ten thousand of his closest friends right. And there's momentum they're like oh that's, interesting. And, so. A few big blogs signed up back again that wasn't strategic thinking. At the beginning it. Was fascinating, cuz it's like sometimes, I feel like in hindsight it's easy for us to be like oh I did it because of these reasons success, theater. But. In reality it was literally, sometimes it's just luck. Yeah we didn't we didn't pick that yeah even like okay here's the fifteen you shoes will pick this one because they have an audience and have a propensity for sharing, right you, know but turned, out to be an awesome thing yeah it really. Well so, we had these two accounts that signed up when. We were about ten, twelve thousand em are are so it's Pat Flynn and he, was he wasn't gonna talk about it but he's trying it out and seeing, how, this works and. Then the other one I was a blog, called wellness mama which, when I first met them, we're. At a conference and, one. Of those oh what's your blog on that and you're. Like oh that's cute they. Said wellness mom I was like oh let me type it in type, it into Google and I typed wellness. And it auto-completed to, wellness mama and. I the, last company I worked for was in like the health health, insurance, and hospitals wellness all that and I knew how much they cared about the term wellness and I was like, okay.

This Must be a big blog for. Google to do the autosuggest. When. I turn wellness, yeah you've never been to anything similar yes like, so. We got them and we got Pat actually. On the same day so that was very nice we went from 10,000, demo out of 15,000, and mor in a, single day because them. And another account sign up the same time but. Then by like September October they. Were on boarded, things were going well and they started to talk about it and that's. When all of this kicked off and like. We. You. Know we're at 20,000. And we jump I think, we really did you guys that. Conversation, with them is that how great inertia per program. Start, that's right when we started launch the affiliate program so, those first accounts, Pat, started you'd. Go live on periscope, at. Like weird. Times like you don't want it 1:00 in the morning I think the first time that he did it you know and we. Got like six people that signed up just from that and from him doing a short live periscope at 1:00 in the morning and all these people were like wait what are you using what's this new tool. And. And. Then we're like okay let's make an official affiliate, program and kind. Of go from there and then then people started. Just. Started sharing a lot and so, what, was the original conversation, with a Pat or wellness, mama blog to become, an affiliate, like, obviously. They got to use the product they're gonna love it but like what was the was, there different rev share with them was there an understanding, of a marketing. Calendar kind, of like what was the early days versus what does it look like today yeah the early days. Was very informal, um it's. Always been the same rev share I've. Always taken the approach and because, I'm transparent, with every, number in business that yeah people didn't. Know this you put all your financial numbers publicly, on the internet bare metrics, convertkit search it you can see everything it's pretty crazy yeah. And and I never wanted to make a deal where. I. Give. Me somebody for a account there's.

You. Know any of these other things like, you, have a 20, in commission but you get 30% okay so your idea is that if somebody saw what everybody paid publicly, and, feel good about it yes it didn't, show any yeah because. Yeah. It doesn't show favoritism yeah, and and quite honestly bloggers, used to gain stuff for free yeah you know hey I'll do, this I'll talk about yeah yeah my, whole market is bloggers, then I I, can't, really do that yeah you, don't want to have the conversation well, you're actually not famous enough well yeah nobody, knows you. Yeah. They don't like that at all. So. As few as we kicked out this affiliate program we did a 30%, recurring, Commission. Actually. The reason we picked that number, was. Because that's what a whoever did yeah and so it's just like great let's do that anyway. But it's kind of odd to think about it now hey whatever was the biggest competition, the biggest like, mashups way bigger but, the most, direct competition yeah the one that the bloggers were using yeah cuz it was for the most part where they free in the early days I don't. Think Aweber everybody never were free eh yeah, we're definitely cheaper yeah. And they would come across people who. Had, a grandfathering account from totally, I was like. Yeah. You, could stay with Aweber we'll never yeah, but, then sometimes people would come back like six months later more. Of my friends switched and and, make enough money from email that I'm gonna give up my grandfather, price with Aweber and and come over that's, awesome, but we closed out that year. On. The principles of direct sales and then going, into affiliates we closed out that year at ninety eight thousand and among, us went from two thousand crack the millionaire level yeah yeah so. You went from two thousand, to ninety thousand in one year yea jesus, some great growth yeah, what, were you you, were Inc 500 this year what, number were you. 70. 72. I'm like one of the top in software yeah. We were number eight in all of software, that's great number one in Idaho which, I love that you would think that that's. Not a competitive, market yeah it's absurdly competitive, because clickfunnels is, yeah. And they, they grew their high revenue yeah, we, had a lower starting point so that's always where you start yeah percent growth it's like how low can I start and how fast can i yeah. Let's sandbag, a little bit upfront just ready to let the floodgates go you. Need to make the list but. Affiliates. For you that, that began it but really I feel like you know I think one time you said it was a third of your as your your marketing channel and probably since today and, one of the things that I loved a you're, an incredible operator and thoughtful, about team and structure more than just like I think a lot of people get in software and they want to raise a bunch of money and it's almost like they want to play entrepreneur more than actually want to build a great product or build, a great team yeah and that's. You, know one thing that I saw and I remember meeting the, gal you had hired to essentially backfill, the partner program meaning that you you assigned, a person, to own it to run it to fly. Out and that was one thing that I always thought was really. Smart was that. You invest, and her, going to meeting, face to face right, I don't know twice a year once a year with your top partners, to, have conversations. And, you were telling me like most of their other affiliates, net they've never met anybody at the company that mode, so, how like how. Did how does it look like today in regards to like how you've operationalized. That how, you look at it as a channel, yes. We hired someone our team her name is Alexis. She. Came on pretty. Young and, relatively. Inexperienced but. It was one of those things where the way I met. Her at a conference and the way she connected with people all, that was like okay there's, something here she, didn't have a reputation and things like that so she emailed, somebody cold they would you know may not have taken it but, that's what I realized like oh I can invest in her brand and build. That up and. I've done that as well with, ISA. Who we have to teach our webinars of the, same sort of thing we're very, deliberately. You. Don't want anyone to feel like I was, gonna have Nathan teach the webinar or Nathan, was going to be the one to fly out but then I got dumped off on somebody else yeah so I'm actually very deliberate, about building, the brands of the people on my team yeah so, like it's not an accident that. When. ISA teaches a webinar with Pat Flynn there's. Photos on Instagram of them hanging out and that kind of thing so then when the, next person, is also that's interesting, so you actually the the flying people out there is to actually build the relationship, with that person and the influence and the brand of the, person is that I want some taking, the meeting from Alexis and man like oh you I saw an Instagram Patras, post I saw you, guys were hanging out last week Melissa, Griffin I saw it you know she posted, about how.

Alexis. Came out and spent a day just like helping, her redesign all of her funnels and, like. Planner content calendar and stuff like that that's the level of investment and. I think people I. Guess. It's a way of investing, in an, employees. Well, it gives you leverage yeah. Yeah because. If I can walk in and someone thinks. Of them as on my, level I actually think clay Collins did. A great, job with Tim where. He would actually say and the line that that he would use is oh you don't actually want me to teach the webinar because Tim's webinars convert better than mine oh geez as. Soon as you say that it's like well I want the lower converting, one, with you it's, like thank you for yeah, that's. Brilliant so you have to do that right because if you build a brand based on a personality then. That's. Going to stop working like. It won't scale yeah, and so, just, have a system, for I. Guess, this would be lower rotors term have a system for creating Fame for. Your team members and so, you get one strategy that was well. I mean it sounds like the same part of the same thing is you know you had people that are affiliates that are essentially just promoting you but then you also did the webinar how. Like. Is it, was that part of being, a certain level of partner where there was an agreement that there was a webinar that they promoted to their list you'd, I believe did the same, webinar. For each partner because you knew that it added a ton of value and, that obviously converted. Well how, did you promote that so. You. Know obviously affiliates. Link on their website blah, blah blah that's cool but doing, the webinar it's a bigger ass they're gonna promote it to their list how, did you kind of build up that program did you do a bunch of the first webinars, and then transition, it over yeah, so the first problem that you have running an affiliate program there's kind of two one, if you just open it up then whoever shows up yeah like a Clickbank I just that to me is affiliate the other one when somebody's that's. Partner, that's like hey we're gonna agreed to. Coexist. And promote each other like there's a right. Cuz the the first people you get in the door there. They're useless yeah I remember Chris Gila Bo told. Me once he was like do you know the 80/20 rule I was like yeah he's a affiliates, it's a 98 to rule and, you. Would think it's like oh no can't be that much, he's like 98 percent comes, from 2% and it. You. Know 2%, of people I was like that he hasn't that now the, 98 to rule with affiliates is the only 2% of your affiliates will, ever make a single sale anything. Like because. All these people sign up. And. It never works so you actually have to apply direct sales, like. The first lesson we learned in the business to, affiliates, and. We got it because, then if you're really proactive then. You go get those dream partners, and. Put in that level of work and. Now, you're immediately going to run into the next problem which. Is, in. SAS if people can buy at any time they'll. Put it off basically forever yeah why would they do it on the webinar there's no urgency yeah, and so webinars, are interesting, because they they create an event yeah right, where now there's a reason for Pat or Melissa. Or whoever to. Promote. Convertkit, now, instead, of just a link on a resources page and, email their list and bring, people to it it also gives us the opportunity to put urgency on the back end of. You. Know sign up live on the webinar or sign up within 48. Hours yeah add some extra add-ons. Or you know get this freaking.

And. What, worthy, what was what's your offer today that works really well yes. Or offer today is a free trial, so. Right now you go direct, you don't get a free trial what's that you do you, get a 14-day, free trial, now you get a 30 didn't get it 30 so, on the webinar you got a 30-day free trial and additional. Bonuses so what are those yeah we, have two courses and then what, are the courses a facebook course ur y. Know when is the book that I wrote called Authority yeah until. You got into this whole thing right yeah super, yeah and to that one that. One's done really well and a lot of people have built brands, on that one so it has a good reputation, yeah and. It's, sold for like a hundred bucks and so don't reel that in yeah and, then. You. Do it so what's interesting now I'm trying to think about what the offers are and. Like this is a little bit of a commentary for me on the business I don't actually know but, I mean like the, yeah no, no and I mean that's that's I think it's a compliment to you as a leader I mean I think sometimes people think you're supposed to know everything and like for. Me you. Know I have incredible, people to support me and I think if anybody got, to see behind the scenes they go like man Dan is either dumb or lazy because, yeah, because I mean that's just but, I think that's that's. What leaders are supposed to do is really just empower, people to make decisions and guide them so like the fact that you don't know the offer doesn't matter I'm sure you know that they're converting yep which, is the primary metric, yeah, number, of trials yeah I'm gonna measure the outcome not necessarily, the tactic because that's independent. Of them. Achieving, goals and and for the business but I'm. Just curious cuz I think a lot of SAS, founders want to do a webinar they. Don't know how to sell from a stage a digital, signage or physical stage and I.

Think You, know what you've done and I reference, you guys all the time for webinars you and clay and a few others is you, know you ask yourself well what does the client need to be who burr successful, they're, gonna buy our product they're gonna use our software if we, had to move up a level and say like what what. Tool what information, right what and even other tools like I loved I think it I think it was on leadpages or others they offered, like an I don't know it was Lewis house it was like in 90 days web, backs because he was teaching webinars, so it's like if you don't have a webinar tool I'll, get you 90 days for free so it's even just thinking about like how do i, package. Things. That are gonna help my customer be more successful. Templates. That kind of stuff maybe you know this before when you were doing the converting, people that would have been incredible, thing to add to the offer because, people. Would would definitely, want this he's never gonna make any money with this but let's do it now so, that's cool so the webinars with certain partners and, use a direct sales process, essentially reach out yet build relationship. Invest. In having somebody fly over connect, with them add value which is cool and airy and thought of that because they're connecting. With all the different other partners so they're seeing patterns right so they can actually provide. A consultative, sale and a value add, when. The other thing is they. Approach it from a like, a year-long perspective how, should we work together in 2019. In 2020. What's your content calendar you don't have a Content, calendar what, okay all right forget convertkit for a second what have we sat down and made a Content calendar for your business right now and like you know you can ask questions and all of that and then, help the affiliates shape that because they've been thinking about it from you, know all the big people have thought through this but, that mid-tier who have 50,000. People on their email list a lot. Of great fans there's, still a little bit on the treadmill two, down yeah yeah they're not proactive, yearly scheduling, they're just yeah yeah, so then if you like.

This Is what Alexis does so well is she comes. In and says okay let's. Look at it from a year-long perspective, what's this well what's the problem here when you want to launch your course when you want to do so thing and. She's. Very upfront about great, and let's promote convertkit, here, there. So essentially your gaps, this, is a great time after you do your course let's do a convertkit let's do another one for you another one for a partner yep, yeah and so then she works. That in and they walk away and go well, my, business is set up I have, these the, the, spots where additional revenue from convertkit is going to come in as an affiliate and and you do you sell the partners on an EPC or some kind of estimated, you, know earnings, per click or some kind of rep now really they don't care is it I. Think, it's one of those things so what's interesting is they, really tend to like the recurring revenue mm-hmm, in the blogger space it's easy to sell. You. Know an e-book things like that you get your $50,000. Spike from a launch but, like. Even $1,000. Or $2,000. A month of recurring. That's pretty interesting and they think of it as okay. Well with, this first little promo let's, just get I just want to cancel out my car payment now, I want to cancel out house. Pay my house payment, you get to that point and I want to buy a new car right and and, that's the kind of thing where. It's. Actually really compelling so the the, numbers tend to be small or. They're. Not they're. Not big enough that you would like. Brag about that yeah yeah, cuz when. They're when they're affiliate, for somebody selling a two thousand dollar product, and they're making fifty percent you know the numbers might be bigger for the same level of effort yep. But for you it's like it's, the reoccurring so it may not be up front but, it's saying hey you, know the, way I say is you can be in sass without having to build sass yeah it's. Kind of pretty compelling is if anybody's tried to build a tool or software, they understand this there's obviously a lot of friction there, so. That brings you so we start with the direct outbound sales and the partner stuff what what do you guys do today that you feel is you know kind of, moving. The needle for you guys at. Scale at fifteen million air or yeah. You know what are you doing to get to 15. Continuing. Continuing. An outbound we're actually kind of revisiting, outbound it in a different way hmm. We're. Doing it much more of I. Guess. With Nike as our model in that sense right, we have all these aspirational. People. Right. And so Nikes, going out and getting these athletes, athletes. Are inspiring. That the. The. Individuals, that we can warrior type and. Then, those are taking, it all the way through to the the general population so they build brand, in that way is, that where the conference comes in craft, and commerce the conference, is part of that yeah right because if you want to meet people if you just fly them out to speak it's not for me you got a platform that's one of the things we were like you know I'd love to get to know Seth Godin better oh we'll just have them come out and speak and like all of, a sudden you can talk. To him or these other people you know Marc Manson Casey nice tat mmm, you. Know we have them out to speak at the conference I'm. Sorry to say we do the outbound on a much higher level who's the who. Are the names that set the the boundaries of what we mean by a creator because we've moved from email, marketing for bloggers to, email marketing for creators so, that's why we're pulling in Tim. McGraw and we have these other people you know because that's the the whole audience that we're going after all creators, and so we're looking for those people that. Will really set the brand rather. Than the specific revenue, from it in the same way that Nike would be like oh this, is the athlete that, we want to get. Because. That sets the direction they don't care about the revenue from the athlete in fact they're like here's 50 million dollars you, know here's 20 million dollars, and. We. Don't luckily. We don't I have, to pay them at that point. But it would be interesting to think about yeah. Julie. Who. Are those people because that's where we want to go what what what like, the way you do inbound, or content. What do you measure how do you think about it is it you know do you have a CAC attributed. To that regardless investing, in content, yeah. We. Measure things based on leads and then the conversion. Rate for those leads, yeah.

So Inbound is pretty big for us we've. We've done a big content play and now, the search results, are starting to pay off for, that do. You have somebody dedicated. To just a mountain. Yeah. So we have someone doing inbound, sales so the demo, demo. Request okay and that kind of thing. And then we have someone else dedicated, to the search. Rankings and and and, then our, marketing team is kind of multifunctional, we've got a copywriter. Webinar, producer. General. All-around growth, marketer, a designer. A developer. And. So. We try to give them all their own resources yeah like a growth team yeah they have an idea they could execute on it start to finish but you don't have like do you have certain keywords that you want to rank for and yeah they happen all right so they're they're doing kind of like a performance, SEO I think a lot of people produce content, but it's actually not that it's not measurable right John. Merrow who's brilliant, content marketer he talks about kind of like a lot of sass company should focus on kind of middle and bottom funnel, content, because that's really if, you've got the traffic that's the kind of content is gonna help them make a decision better. So economically. It makes sense versus just top of a funnel awareness. But. I have you, know some clients, that are very, deliberate, you know kind of year three year five you, know where they're like hey I'm gonna double, down on content, but I'm gonna go after these keywords, because I know what I'm paying you but an ad spend so if I can write you, know swap that out and have it organic, just takes a while is. There a certain content, format that you're liking that you're thinking about yeah, yeah how do you how do you I mean when. Inbound, is table. Stakes par for the court how do you stand out yeah. So we. Thought about that a lot we had a blog there's nothing interesting about the blog we. Didn't have a unique angle. The. Content marketing that we did well was the the stuff that I was putting out on my blog. The story of growing convertkit because we were so transparent, because wait. You're a distributed, team you know there, were these things that didn't make sense and, so. You know we get attention and brand for. That. Type of content yeah, and that was good for recruiting, yeah. And, it definitely helped with customers, but it's, not like. The startup space isn't really, our audience yeah. But. Then everything on our blog just wasn't that effective and so, we said okay what if we did something totally different, that. We don't see other people doing and so we came out with an online magazine we. Called trade craft and so. We said we're gonna be one issue a month and we're, actually just going to we're gonna do 24 issues so this is a two-year commitment that we're making yeah because, we can't the quality dial then. You. Know cover every topic that a blog, radiator, needs in in order to. Be. Effective at this so we have like designed, for non-designers is an entire issue of our, magazine mm-hmm. And. So we produced 24 24, of those over. You know one a month they, drop on on the same day so it's like tradecraft is out today netbook, style yeah. And, we. Were able to do a launch every month for, our content rather than be like here's a new weekly blog post yeah and. It, worked really well and now that that's concluded, we're. Realizing are, you the primary advertiser. The magazine. Just like. Oh. Got, it yeah yeah yeah so there's there's no advertising, in it or anything like that yeah it. Does say convertkit somewhere, oh yeah yeah yeah, it's it's branded, okay there's no okay. But, as. We go back now. We. Don't need to keep creating more content we have plenty of content on the site so, now we're going back and systematically, rewriting. And improving, tradecraft saying oh this article did well okay, so your real purpose was that was my question you repurpose the content from the magazine but you don't write. The blog post then grab the blog post put it in the magazine you've. Created this what's the same yeah like if you went to it. You. You can find one of these individual. Articles, as a blog, post on the site and, but it only comes out after the issues. Published, yeah, okay and do you guys I mean I guess since you published it digitally it's available the whole article, on it's all just published digital yeah but see so get the SEO benefit, yep, but so now we look back okay which ones are starting to rank and we, go and rework them flush them out put some magnets, yep, build, them out more because so, much of SEO now is, saying. Okay that, was an okay article, now let's go make it the best article, for this on the topic and so that's where we're like we don't need you, know another 100 articles published.

You. Know instead we need to go make these twenty you, know just. As. We wrap up anything is gonna be sensitive, of your time, one. Question I'd love to ask founders, is who did you need to become to, still. Be the CEO of this growing. SAS company, oh that's. A good question. The. Last couple years has been, maybe. Two different journeys that I've been on one is like the company journey certainly. The other is, like, the personal, emotional. Journey. Of like understanding, Who I am and who I want to be. Probably. The I think the best thing that founders, could do, and. It's. Very inexpensive for, the return it's, good at counseling like. Going, to a counselor. And talking, through the, things in your life that what's. Going on your relationships, having, that time say, once, a month or every two weeks we're, like wait for an hour I'm actually just going to think about these things that it's. Always noise in the background and you're actually when cleared out and say we're just gonna focus on this so. Actually. Went to this leadership. Event. It. Was billed. As a leadership training event it's called reboot it's. Put on by former. Famous venture capitalist called named Jerry Kelowna yeah dude dude is amazing, yeah it's so good, he's, got a super power of making people cry yes, he does he's so good he's done it to me yeah so, I showed up for this weekend event you, know it's a leadership. Training event for CEOs and they. Kick it off of me there's 15 people in the room I thought. I was kind of a hot shot as people did introductions, it was like oh oh, he's okay, he does run a billion dollar company interesting, yeah. You. Know but there, was that in it they said okay we. Told you they like, we sold it to you that you came here because it wasn't cheap to be there that, we're gonna teach you how to be a better leader ah, sorry. We lied we're not gonna spend a minute on that and that was like a gotcha, what okay, and like we're. Going to spend the entire weekend, on helping. You better understand, yourself and then. Who. Knows where that will go from there it might have an impact in your relationships, in your leadership ability, and your team but. We'll see and. It. It. Was transformational, of like spending that time understanding. Like, why you do what you do when. Someone is spending. Too much money in the business right they don't care about the budget still I need more money to do this why do I always have such a strong visceral, reaction to it you, know turns. Out usually goes back to childhood. Crazy fries everything, and. So digging into those things and over, the last year my not. Just my leadership team of the whole company is like you're a different person. Oh based, on this journey they've been on over the last 18 months and. It's been it's been so powerful Nathan. I want to tell you how much I appreciate you bro thanks for coming on the show yeah forward to watching the, the. Journey continue, to grow and congrats. Again for, being on the cover we'll talk soon bro thanks, thanks, for watching this episode of, the scape velocity, be sure to LIKE and subscribe and, leave a comment with your biggest insight, from our conversation. Be sure to check out the next episode.

2019-08-19 00:10

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This episode was FANTASTIC! So much great info!

Great content Dan! I follow all your videos and growth hack tools such as the Rocket Demo Builder have brought clarity to business at an intricate level and how to compete like the best players! Keep up making the business world a more exciting place to be!

Escape Velocity - Episode 8 - Nathan Barry, Founder at ConvertKit discusses the initial stages of his business' growth and relying on word of mouth in the early days.

Love this episode. Goes down on a deeper personal level, and also has great actionable tactics. Well done

Who is the saas content marketer mentioned at 38:58? Can't find them on google, probably misspelling the name John Merrow?

Fix your fucking sound levels!!

Maybe Jon Morrow?

Brilliant episode - Raj

Sorry for the expletives, I was upset when it suddenly yelled in my headphones.

I'll let my video guy know.

Thanks Johannes... that's my goal with this format / interview style. Glad you liked it. DM

Thx Dan / mean a lot. DM

So great to hear George / thanks for the kind words. Will do! DM

This was a great interview and I'm glad to have found it. The entire affiliate / webinar piece was fascinating.

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