Brad helps marketers use data to get more customers, profitably. Before Perfect Audience he ran the local news site, Windy Citizen and contributed to Slate.com and several other publications as a journalist.
→ His career background as a journalist
→ His background as CEO of a tech company
→ His thoughts on Perfect Audience
→ What kind of company worrying about retargeting
→ His thoughts on retargeting API for Facebook
→ How customer measures the effectiveness of their campaigns
→ His best advice that he can give to anyone who wants to grow their startup
→ And a whole lot more
Bronson: Welcome to another episode of Growth Hacker TV. I’m Bronson Taylor and today I have Brad Flora with us. Brad, thanks for coming on the program.
Brad: Hello. Thanks for having me.
Bronson: Absolutely. So, Brad, let’s learn a little bit about you and then we’ll jump into your company a little bit. So what is your background? How did you wind up being the the CEO of a tech company?
Brad: So I actually started my career as a journalist. Okay. To journalism school at Northwestern University, their Medill School of Journalism. I studied multimedia reporting. I covered murder and crime and all that stuff in the south suburbs of Chicago. Yeah. And as I was doing that, though, I was really in love with the web and with the opportunity to publish and to tell stories and to connect communities together through the Internet. And so while I was reporting for my classes and doing freelance work, I was always building stuff on the side online. And when I finished school, I decided I was going to start the first local social news website for a city. And so I built a website called Per. Excuse me, Wendy Citizen. Mm hmm. Which was kind of like Digg or Reddit. But just for people in Chicago, a place where the Chicago community, people who followed local news could gather, connect, share and vote up their favorite local stories and have kind of a local watercooler. So I worked on that for a few years, had a lot of fun. There was I bootstrapped. It was pretty tough, you know, live in hand-to-mouth for a long time. But we were able to build up to about 20,000 registered users and about 100, 150,000 units a month.
Bronson: Wow. That’s a lot, considering you just focused on one city.
Brad: Yeah. Yeah. So, you know, there’s a lot of interest and this was all you know, there’s a lot of lot going on in Chicago during this time with Obama being elected and him having his house in Hyde Park. And yeah, there was the, you know, the the attempt to get the Olympics in Chicago. So there’s always something interesting happening inside. But the challenge was I could build this great, passionate, focused, local audience, but turning that into money was a real challenge. And so, you know, banner ads didn’t pay very well. The things that I tried and things like AdSense didn’t pay very well. So I started building custom ad units, these kind of big, full sidebar, interactive ad units that would pull in live content, whether blog posts or tweets or other things from advertisers. Okay. Today we call this native advertising. Yeah, it’s a big deal. But, you know, three or four years ago, it was kind of just a weird thing. And working on that, some folks thought there was some promise there. And they gave me a little funding the night Foundation to start our first product Now Spots, which was a dynamic ad maker. And so I kind of put Wendy’s citizen on hold and jumped over to working on that ad product, which later along the way transformed into what we’re doing now. A perfect audience.
Bronson: All right. So tell us what is perfect audience. You’ve kind of told us how you got there. What is perfect audience?
Bronson: Yeah, that sounds great. Let me ask you, how granular can you go with what the logic? Is there any kind of parameters or is it just they’ve been on your site, they’re going to see an ad on Facebook or is there more to it than that? Can you get granular with it?
Bronson: Okay. So give me example of that.
Brad: Which be a much more accurate way sometimes to capture people. Yeah. It’s kind of your thing that we’ve been able to bring to the market. Yeah.
Bronson: I mean, I can imagine so many possibilities off of that one little feature, you know, because yeah, what you said is true. They add some of the cart but didn’t check out. Then all of a sudden you know that. And then when they’re on Facebook, they’re seeing that reminder of that product they didn’t buy. You could even know what product they put in their cart if you put the right action on it. So then you get an ad for that exact product and not just your site as a whole. I mean, so you really can go granular with that API.
Bronson: I think that’s very insightful. And that’s why you even see the migration from something like Google Analytics to Mixpanel and KISSmetrics. People need to know what’s that user doing? What’s that event? Not just, Hey, I got this many page views. So I think you’re exactly right about the trend where everything’s going and you’re building tools to kind of further that trend. That’s awesome.
Brad: Yeah. Yeah, we’re huge fans of both of those companies. And, you know, they led the way in kind of thinking about actions versus page views. And if we can bring that to the retargeting space, then great.
Bronson: Yeah, that sounds like a great play. You actually went into Y Combinator, is that right, with this idea?
Brad: So not quite. We got into Y Combinator with the original idea. So well, the dynamic ad makers, the first now spots product building, these big crazy ads. Yeah, we managed to work with some great partners, some big newspaper companies that were interested in selling this to their customers. And so based on that, the Y Combinator people thought that what we were doing is pretty cool. And we got into the program and it was there that they really encouraged us to have like long, deep discussions with our customers, not only about whether or not they were going to use our product like kind of a sales conversation, but also how and why and for who and really trying to, you know, be empathetic towards our customers. And that’s when we started having some thoughts about maybe we need to look in a different direction and help people place the ads that they want to place better rather than help them make better ads. Yeah. It turned out that the more we talked to these customers of ours, that was a much smaller problem, a much smaller pain than actually placing the ads where they wanted them to go. And so, you know, that Y Combinator experience and that encouragement to really think through the eyes of our user, you know, without that, we might still be doing something completely different.
Bronson: Now, I’m so glad you shared that. I mean, some of the people watching this interview, they’re either marketing something right now or they’re going to try to market something they built in the future. And it’s very difficult to market something if there’s not a market for it. So, yeah, if you don’t do customer development like you’re talking about and really going out there and getting outside the building, like Steve Blank says, you’re going to have so much trouble no matter what good advice you get about marketing. You didn’t build the thing that was marketable. And so, yeah, I’m really glad you were humble enough to share that things had to change and get tweaked there.
Brad: Well and to empathize with, you know, hopefully our viewers, it’s hard. It really it’s kind of painful to kind of step outside yourself and be open to someone telling you that your product or the idea that you’re sharing with them stinks and it hurts. You know, I get a headache and I have to take a little time sometimes before talking to customers in this way to kind of steal myself and and, you know, turn off my own objections. But you have to do it.
Bronson: Me as a CEO, you’re so ingrained in the product, you and the product are almost inseparable. So if the product’s broken, it almost means, you know, Brad’s broken, even though it’s not true, you know? So I totally hear what you’re saying. Let me ask you this. Should every company that does ad buys be using retargeting, retargeting tools, or should only certain companies, a certain kind of company really worry about retargeting? I want to hear from you as somebody who builds these kind of platforms, you know?
Brad: Yeah. So, you know, as we talk to our advertiser partners with our first product, we learned about a lot of problem. That they had and a lot of other pain points that seemed much more pressing and urgent than the one that we were helping them with with their big fancy ad builder.
Brad: And we chose retargeting because of all of the different ways to buy ads programmatically. So using algorithms and across the ad exchanges and we can always talk about that more if you like. Retargeting is really the thing that works. Okay. So there’s a lot of different buying strategies, a lot of things you can try. But retargeting is the only thing that pretty much works for everyone all the time. Okay. And what’s really cool about that is that it’s a way to transform advertising into more of a service rather than a transaction. Yeah. So if you think about how a lot of people buy ads, they think, okay, I’m going to run a campaign for this month and for that month, maybe it’s effective or not. But with retargeting, you set it up and once it’s configured properly, you don’t have to do a whole lot for it to continue delivering results over and over and over again. Yeah, and that’s really appealing as a business.
Bronson: It’s appealing to me right now. I’m just. Please sign me up. Yeah. And, you know, the algorithms, the ad networks, the ad exchanges, the binding strategies, does a company need to understand any of that jargon, or is that what your service actually does for them is figuring that out behind the scenes?
Brad: I think I think marketers need to understand how these pieces fit together because they’re going to become a larger and larger part of paid traffic. Yeah. So, you know, currently it well, let’s say last year in 2012, about $15 billion was spent on display advertising. So Facebook banners in the US. Okay. Of that, about two and a half billion dollars. So, you know, a piece of it, not a large piece. A piece was programmatic. So that means the ads were bought using an algorithm and what they call a real time bidding platform and in real time. So each individual ad impression had an auction happen. And you don’t need to understand necessarily what’s going on or why or how it works. But it’s important to understand that there’s this piece of the advertising world that’s going to grow. Analysts expect it to grow to about 30% of the market in a few years. Here, it’s expected to grow. And and there’s huge opportunities there for marketers because tools like ours and others can help you get access to this and buy ads really effectively.
Bronson: Oh, absolutely. I mean, we’re all looking for the set it and forget it. Like let an algorithm do the bidding for you. Like let’s own math thing, figure it out for you because there’s just not, you know, resources, time, money, energy to sit around and manage campaigns all the time, especially for a startup. I mean, you have to rely on tools that are smart like this. Do you think enough companies really understand what you just said? There’s a 15 billion pie to billions programmatically. It’s going to grow to 30%. I mean, that seems like a really important trend. Understand? Do you find that companies are as clueless or are they kind of other grok? And do they understand what’s going on?
Brad: Well, I think I think the word’s out about retargeting. You know, we see the search volume to our site. We see it growing. You know, people know that that it can work. You know, also, frankly, on Google AdWords has a remarketing feature that’s very popular and it’s very effective and a lot of people are really happy with it. Yeah, and that’s a great kind of like a feeder into businesses like ours because, you know, company will learn about yeah, they learn about retargeting through through through AdWords and then they reach a point where they want to do more. They want one tool to connect them to Facebook retargeting, Google retargeting and all the other platforms. And so, you know, we owe Google a huge debt of gratitude for helping introduce people to this world.
Bronson: Yeah, absolutely. So you mentioned, you know, Google and you know, you guys work exclusively with Facebook, is that correct?
Brad: Well, we also do better retargeting. So we hope we focus on the Facebook stuff, frankly, because it’s new. There’s a lot of people still looking for a solution for their Facebook remarketing. And so there is there’s new business to be had there. Yeah, a banner retargeting is much more of a mature market. There’s people that have been doing that for quite some time. And you know, from a strategy standpoint, we’re going to build we’re building a great Facebook retargeting solution and a very good Web retargeting solution. But the stuff we learned from Facebook were then able to apply to the Web retargeting solution to have a better offering there.
Bronson: Yeah, it makes sense. You know, there’s also a Facebook exchange which from the outside looking in, I’m not is in this industry as you are, it does similar things. How do you guys differentiate yourself from that product?
Brad: Sure. So Facebook Exchange is one way of looking at. It is as a it’s a it’s a new API that Facebook launched last year. So you’ve got the Facebook ads and the Facebook ads API. And that’s the normal Facebook advertising where you’re targeting people based on their profile information and things that they do on Facebook.
Brad: Facebook exchange is another API, and there’s actually no way to interact with it on Facebook. And that’s the API that companies like ours talk to. So that’s like it’s actually a we we buy through the Facebook exchange. Okay. That’s like the retargeting API for Facebook. Yeah. And so while Facebook API is all about profile data and data on Facebook retargeting, Facebook exchanges about cookie data and targeting based on data from off Facebook.
Bronson: Okay. So why would somebody come to you and can can somebody go straight to Facebook exchange or is it not even a consumer product? Let’s not go through a company that taps into that API.
Bronson: I gotcha. So you’re actually bridging the gap between the consumer and this powerful API that Facebook has enabled. Makes a lot of sense. All right. So let’s talk a little bit about the growth of some of the companies that use perfect audience. I’ll give you a chance to brag a little bit, right?
Brad: Yeah, sure. So so go ahead. We got we’ve got well over 2000 customers at this point. Wow. And these are folks that range from big national brands that you’ve heard of to the agencies that serve them. We’ve got a lot of fast growing companies that are hoping to reach those heights in a few years. And then a lot of small businesses as well and the agencies that serve them. So, for example, a few weeks ago we had I think Charlotte garage door guys dot com sign up for perfect audience and sure enough, they fix garage doors in Charlotte. Yeah. And that’s their business. And they’ve got people visiting their website to learn more about their services and offerings, and they want to bring those people back. And so perfect audience gives them an easy way to do it. Yeah. Meanwhile, we’ve got sites like Barkbox, which is a subscription box for pet owners, and you can get every month a new set of things to share with your pet. Mm hmm. And so they’re using us to acquire new customers and new users. Yeah. Now, you know, every customer measures the effectiveness of their campaigns a little differently. Mm hmm. We had a customer just the other week post, an interesting blog post about how they spent about $100 on perfect audience to promote a webinar that they were hosting. And our ads led to 38 people signing up for that webinar. And so from this advertisers point of view, that was really good. Right? Sure. Now, for someone else, you know, it really depends on the offer. Depends on the product. Maybe 38 peoples, not a lot. In this case, they were very happy with 38 new engaged people that they could speak to during their webinar.
Brad: We have folks on the e-commerce side who are usually getting anywhere from 5 to $10 in sales for every dollar that they spend with us.
Bronson: That’s incredible. I mean, that’s yeah.
Brad: They’re pretty happy about it. Absolutely. They are. Yeah. And with a lot of our software as a service products, people that are trying to get users to sign up for offers, we see similar ratios as well.
Bronson: Yeah. That’s great. Thanks for sharing some of that with us. And like you said, it really depends on the company as to whether they’ll find it valuable because their lifetime value of a customer could be, who knows? I mean, it may be $100, it may be $0.50. So it really depends on the metrics of their business as to whether it’s going to fit. But that being said, I mean, it almost seems like you can’t lose doing this. I mean, you’re going to have different kind of, you know, our allies for different companies. I mean, can you imagine any company really not succeeding with retargeting if they’re already doing some kind of ad buy?
Brad: Sure. So, you know, the first thing we do is we offer a free trial. So everyone who signs up for a perfect audience. The first $60 is totally free and that credit is good for two weeks.
Bronson: Now, is that a credit for you guys managing the ads, or is that actually a credit that they can use on Facebook?
Brad: Totally free.
Bronson: So $60 of free ads. You have real ads running in the real world. Yeah. On your dime. Okay. All right.
Brad: Now, the credit expires after two weeks. Yeah. So, you know, you got to spend that money. Yeah. But. But, yes. And the goal there is that is the easiest and most straightforward way for a business owner to find out if this is going to work for them.
Bronson: What do you guys sign in with people running that trial? Because I know you guys are looking at your internal metrics. They’re seeing the people that use the trial and the ones that. Oh, yeah. What are you discovering about that process?
Brad: Oh, sure. It converts. Wonderful. Yeah, yeah. I can’t sure. The actual percentages. But it’s been, it’s been very effective for us. Yeah. And, you know, frankly, it solves a lot of sales problems for us, too. There’s a lot of companies that they expect kind of an enterprise approach to these tools. And so they want to get someone on the phone. They want to do they want a deck, they want a demo. And I can just say, look, you know, sign up the tools, explain themselves. We provide support with live chat by email, phone in extreme cases. And, you know, in in one day, you can have campaigns live on Facebook. On the Web. And you will know right then and there if this is a product for you or not. Yeah. And it’s so much easier for us to support that rather than have to have a big sales team. And also, they you know, instead of getting a bunch of promises and a fancy deck, they actually see if the tool works for them.
Bronson: Yeah, that sounds like a great strategy for you guys, working with all these different companies and seeing the gamut from the garage door guys to the barkbox to fill in the blank, all these other things. Do you see a trend and best practices? The companies that use retargeting the best do X or they do Y. What do you see as trends across the really successful companies doing this?
Brad: Sure. So the first thing that the companies that are that are smart and effective about this do is they they they make use of conversion tracking. You know, we have a great conversion tracking setup. You can pass data from the moment of conversion into our system. So for example, if you have an ecommerce store, you can put the price of all of your products and have that passed into our tags. You can have the order ads passed into our tags. And so as your campaign runs, you can generate reports in our tool that tell you, okay, you had eight sales yesterday. Here’s the stuff that got bought and here’s the ad that led to that purchase. Here’s when the ad was clicked on at this time. So you know that there was a one hour window, a two hour window, a four hour window. And some of the smartest advertisers that set things up in this way, and then they actually use that information to inform new campaigns that they create. So they might see there tends to be, you know, a three day lag between people clicking on the ads and coming back and making a purchase. Yeah, maybe I should make a retargeting list that cookies people for just three days and then put a really high bid on that. And that’s lovely for those guys.
Brad: There’s a lot of nuance to this and we give you the tools and we try to make it simple. And our customers are always finding kind of creative ways to mix and match different strategies.
Bronson: Yeah, I mean, you’re saying exactly what so many people have echoed on this show, which is using data, you know, really using the metrics to inform your decisions. And so, you know, it’s no surprise that it’s also a best practice with retargeting. Look at the data, learn the data, get creative with the data and then make, you know, actual decisions based off of it.
Brad: Yeah, I think stepping back and thinking about why you’re going to do the changes that you’re about to do to any of your marketing campaigns. Yeah, you know, that’s kind of a baseline that you have to do. And so we try with perfect audience to give you a great way to create and deploy your campaigns, but then also to get the information that you need to make the optimization changes that are going to help those campaigns be successful but also remain successful for a long time to come. Right. That’s how we keep you. You know, that’s how we get customers and build our businesses. Is making people happy for a long time.
Bronson: Yeah. Well, on that same note of keeping people happy for a long time. Let me ask you about how the consumer’s kind of view retargeting should ever get. The sense that consumers are frustrated or they feel like it’s Big Brother is. They’re watching what I do online or do they actually like it because it’s so targeted? What’s your take on it?
Brad: Great question. So consumers hate bad retargeting. Okay.
Bronson: What is that? Retargeting. And explain that to me.
Brad: Yeah. So no question about that. You know, it’s easy to kind of, you know, do a song and dance or something, but if if someone makes a purchase from your business or they sign up and then they still see ads for it, you know, the next day or four weeks or four months afterwards. Yeah. That’s not going to reflect well on your brand.
Bronson: Why is that bad? Because they made a purchase. You already got them?
Brad: Yeah, you already got them. You know, let’s let’s say you’ve got you know, let’s say you’ve got a business that’s also a software product subscription model. Once you sign up, you’re in and you know you’re not going to sign up again. Yeah. And seeing ads beyond that sign up point is really annoying to people and really frustrating and it reflects poorly on the advertiser. Yeah. Now, historically, the reason why that’s happened is because a lot of retargeting companies and we do this too. They charge based on impressions served. Mm hmm. And, you know, if you can keep serving impressions for longer on that user, you make more money. Yeah. So, you know, these are small things, but important decisions for a company like ours to make was do we want to make it easy for people to stop retargeting folks after they convert? And we decided, yes, in this case, we want to.
Bronson: Yeah. Which is a hard call to me because you’re hurting your bottom line, but helping the industry and helping your consumers. So it’s it’s the right call, but it’s a hard call, right?
Brad: Well, I think I think making that excuse me, making that decision comes down to having a clear understanding of kind of where your product and your business fits into the market. And things like that might have worked fine a few years ago. But, you know, consumers are prickly and they they want they want to be marketed to in a smart way. Yeah. And if they see dumb market. Then they’re not going to think too highly of your products in your company.
Bronson: Yeah, it makes a lot of sense. So you got to have an interesting company because you are helping other people market themselves. But at the same time, you have a product perfect audience that you have to market, right?
Brad: Yes. So we’re selling growth hacker tools to growth hackers.
Bronson: Exactly right. Same kind of thing. So let’s talk about how perfect audience has grown. Let’s talk about the product, perfect audience and what’s going on there. You mentioned earlier you have about 2000 customers, is that right? Yes. We’re like that. So let’s talk about the number for a minute because, you know, we’re used to hearing about these free consumer facing products that just have hundreds of thousands and millions Instagrams or whatever. And then you come on, you’re like, hey, we got 2000. Right. But people aren’t used to hearing the numbers of SAS products and the numbers of these kinds of things. Do you think that everyone just has a really skewed view of what success looks like and how it’s different from consumer facing free products to perfect audience paying a fee, that kind of stuff?
Brad: Yeah, so I think so. You know, for us it’s one thing to get a sign up. That’s great. But then you have to convert that person from a sign up into the free trial, and then that person then needs to have such a good experience that they become a customer. You know, they activate, become an actual paying customer, and then you want them to have such a good experience that they’re going to tell other people about their experience or write about it or share about it on Twitter or Facebook. Mm hmm. Dave McClure, the investor with 500 startups, he talks about the what he calls the pirate metrics are so businesses are right. And so you’ve got, you know, acquisition activation or retention referral. And then, you know, I think in revenue, yes. So when we started five months ago, acquisition was our foremost concern and we learned some things about that to get us to a good place. But then using tools like Mixpanel, we were able to see like, okay, now activation, you know, we need to get we were the given acquisition that we have, we need to solve activation. So we spent some time over the winter working on that. You know, now we’re turning our eye to some of the other metrics. But, you know, once we kind of go through the whole flow, then we’re going to go back to acquisition and figure out, okay, how do we double what we’re doing now and then? What does what do each of those other metrics look like for this new influx of customers? Yeah, it’s that’s that’s kind of the approach that we’ve taken.
Bronson: No, it’s absolutely. And, you know, it’s people don’t realize that, you know, all funnels are difficult to some degree. You know, you’re losing at every stage in the funnel. You’re losing users, you know, those kind of things. But when any part of your funnel includes pulling out a credit card, that’s really difficult. I mean, that is a hard funnel to work with. And so you just can’t compare, you know, the Instagrams to the perfect audience in terms of the way the funnels look. And I just want to say that just to kind of get on my own soapbox for a second, that SAS is, you know, we’re not SAS, but it’s anything you’re charging for. It’s different. It’s just a different beast, it’s a different animal, and it’s going to take a different mindset to kind of really attack it. Yes. See, I’m glad you shared those things you did. What channels are working best for you guys in terms of growing? You talked about that. You’re focusing on the, you know, the acquisition activation. What channels are you guys using to actually bring in the users?
Brad: Yes. So we’re doing some of the normal stuff. We’re running some AdWords campaigns to bring in customers there. We’re making heavy use of our own tools. Obviously, we’re retargeting. So yeah, you know, and some clever ways I think, you know, we’ve found some kind of like an attention pattern of once someone signs up but they haven’t yet started a free trial, we get we can show them some more urgent language too and kind of encourage them to come back and give it a try. So we’ve seen great success with our own tools, which frankly feels really good, I’m sure. So that’s been great. You know, another thing that we’ve been doing is kind of going back to my journalism background, we’ve got a writer, a professional reporter that we work with and she goes and she will interview a customer or sometimes even not a customer, a business we just admire, you know, about how they are solving some of their marketing problems or usually just one. So it’s like a little mini case study and we’ll post that on our blog and do some content marketing in that way. Yeah. And then once we get one of those, you know, we get it posted up on sites like Hacker News and, you know, Twitter and Facebook. And, you know, our goal is we know we’re a new company and we know we have a new product. It’s really important for us to to show people that we’re not going anywhere and we’re here to create value and add to the conversation and be hopefully a useful player in the marketing world. And so that’s been really helpful too, because the initial rush of traffic to one of the stories might get us a handful of customers, but that adds up over time. The referrals back from the blog posts and people checking it out and we have some of these stories that months later they’re still being discovered through organic search and then. Feed it out because it’s it’s very much evergreen content. So some content marketing, you know, retargeting, some standard ad channels. And we’ve got some other fun things we’re getting ready to test out maybe in a month or two. But so far it’s been pretty vanilla, just, you know, getting them into the free trial, trying to make sure our landing page is optimized fast and you’re seeing results from that.
Bronson: Well, you know, it’s interesting. So much of what I see on this program is plain vanilla. I mean, you have on people, you’re expecting them doing something behind the scenes that’s so complicated. And really, it’s just, hey, it’s a good strategy executed well and that’s that you know that’s that’s a lot of growth adding yeah you said you’re going to try some new channels in the coming months. Obviously you don’t know if they’re going to work yet, but.
Bronson: What are you going to try? What are some of the things on the horizon that you’re you’re interested in looking into?
Brad: Sure. You know, we’d love to get a referral program put together for our customers. We get asked about that a lot, and we’ve kind of held off on that until we had a better understanding of like what incentives would actually drive people to use our app. And so we’ve been working on that. We’re hoping to get something like that out the door here pretty soon. And, you know, any other way that we can help incentivize things, we’re running a test right now where, you know, when a customer signs up for our app, there’s there’s a one day kind of wait while we connect their new account to all the ad networks. Now, you know, that’s a bit of a manual process. There’s some stuff we do behind the scenes with our operations team. But, you know, if someone we just as an experiment this week, we added a little link, you can click it, refer a couple other marketers that you know who might be interested in our service, and we’ll give to the head of the line as we’re doing all right. And we just thought, let’s try it out and see what happens. But people refer and people and send in our invites. And, you know, that’s maybe something that we actually write the software to and get included into the experience.
Bronson: Yeah, no, I’m so glad I asked that question now because that’s a clever little, you know, thing you’re going to try there. And we were.
Brad: We found a pain point. A lot of people were complaining about having to wait to get set up. We understand it’s frustrating.
Bronson: Having your pain points within your own product and providing a solution that markets yourself. That’s how you do it.
Bronson: That’s great. Has there been anything about the marketing of perfect audience that surprised you? Because I’m sure in your mind you knew the kinds of people that would love it, the kinds of ways you would market it, the way they would, you know, come in and use it. Has there been things surprising about that process that you weren’t really expecting, or is it exactly as you thought?
Brad: Oh, it’s nothing. I mean, we try not to think too far ahead. The way we built the product was to try to make it simple and easy to use for smaller advertisers. Yeah. You know, there’s a whole world out there of extremely well-funded companies with big sales teams, with a lot of deep enterprise experience, engaged in very long term enterprise sales conversations with big agencies and companies. I won’t lie. That’s terrifying. You know, that sounds terrifying.
Bronson: This theory.
Brad: That’s a whole world out there. Yeah. It’s so you know, we built our tools for a different kind of marketer for someone, whether it’s a large company that has hired their own kind of technical marketing, their own growth hackers. And those people want to use tools rather than hire services and service providers. So that’s kind of, you know, the kind of marketer that we want to work with or, you know, in smaller businesses, that’s all they have. It’s someone who’s on the in the leadership of the business that’s using the tools themselves. And so we built for those people. And one thing that we didn’t anticipate was that some of the players in the big enterprise like Battle are just so tired of that, that they’re looking at tools like ours as well.
Bronson: They’re looking to scale down.
Brad: Well, in some ways, they are looking either to bring some of this.
Brad: Simplify it. And so, you know, optimize the which is a company we really admire. Their CEO has talked a lot about the consumerization of the enterprise. Yeah. How a lot of the you know, you talked a little bit ago about consumer apps, Instagram and stuff like that. What are the design innovations and the priorities of Let’s make it easy to use, let’s make it beautiful, let’s make it clear, let’s make it responsive, let’s make it fast. Those are not typically the qualities of an enterprise software solution, but taking those into that arena and making tools that are easy enough for a small business to use. It turns out that there’s larger guys out there with bigger spends that frankly, it’s a good fit for them, too. And we didn’t really anticipate that when we launched in October. We had some very large companies talking to us. And, you know, many of them had become customers. And that’s been wonderful.
Bronson: Yeah, that’s a good surprise. That’s not a bad surprise there. Yes. Well, this has been an incredible interview. Let me ask you one last question. Give a chance for you to give back a little bit. What’s the best advice that you can give to anyone that wants to grow their startup? Because you’ve been growing your own startup, you’ve been watching other startups grow using your system. What’s the best? Advice you can give us somebody try and go there. Stop right now.
Brad: So this is really cheesy. But, you know, I was talking about it earlier today with someone on our team. We are getting a lot of referrals right now. People who have wonderful companies who are coming to us. Mm hmm. And the reason why these folks are coming to us is because the refer talk to one of us, and we were really nice to them. Okay. And we, you know, we took the time to answer their questions. We made the time to listen to their problems and try to address them. Yeah. So it’s very exhausting when you have a small team. But we are always talking to our customers. We got a live chat. We use Olark, which is great for that. And you know, we’ll do 50 of those in a day. Wow. People talking to us. And some of it’s like sales conversation, some of it’s actual usage. People have questions and it’s really tiring and it’s a huge time suck sometimes, but we learn a lot and people know that there’s an actual like human intelligence behind this product that they’re using and that that gives them the confidence to make an investment in our tools of their financial capital. So spending money with us and there’s social capital which is telling their friends about us and recommending us as a tool that they should look at. Yeah. So, you know, I don’t know how well it’s going to scale and it’s something that I worry about a lot as we grow. But being able to just touch and have a contact with this, many members of our customer community as possible has been so helpful to us. So it’s very easy to kind of hide behind your software and email addresses and things like that. But talking to your customers as often as you can is is valuable. And to quote Paul Graham, the Y Combinator founder. There’s only two things that matter during Y Combinator is writing code and talking to users. Those are the only two things. If if he talks to you and you give him an update on how your startup’s going and you didn’t talk about the code that you wrote that week or conversations you had with your users. Mm hmm. In his mind, you didn’t really do anything. Okay. So, you know, so from a marketing standpoint, your job is to talk to those users. And the more conversations you can engage in, the more you learn and the better off you’ll be.
Bronson: Yeah. Now, that’s such great advice. This whole interview has been so actionable, so transparent. You’re a nice guy, so it’s understandable why the being nice works for your company. And you know what? I think it’s going to scale just fine for you because it’s all right with you at the helm. You’re going to pass it down. And it’s just it’s going to be your culture is just being nice. So thank you so much for being on the program, Brad.
Brad: All right. Thank you very much.
Get the strategies, motivation, and in-depth interview with all the details every week!