Amazon.com Associates Central

How to achieve explosive startup growth!

Here is the summary of the book Traction: How any startup can achieve explosive growth.
I hope that you find it useful!

Traction is a sign that your startup is taking off. If you charge, it means customers are buying. If your product is free, it means your user base is growing.
If you have traction, all your technical, market, and team risks become easier to handle. It becomes easier to fund-raise, hire, do press, partnerships, and acquisitions.
Traction trumps everything.

How to think about Traction?

Almost every failed startup has a product. What failed startups don’t have is enough customers.
You should spend your time in parallel, both constructing your product and testing traction channels.
This is what we call the 50 percent rule: spend 50 percent of your time on product and 50% on traction. This rule seems simple but it’s hard to follow because the pull to spend all your attention on the product is strong. You’re probably making a startup because you want to build a particular product. You have a vision, but a lot of traction activities are unknown and outside your vision and comfort zone. So you try to avoid them. Don’t.
Doing product and traction in parallel has these benefits:
Before trying to get traction, you’ll need to define what traction means for your company. You need to set a traction goal. Maybe your current startup goal is to raise funding or become profitable. How many customers do you need and at what rate? You should then focus on marketing activities that result in a significant impact on your traction goal. It should move the needle.
Your startup has 3 phases:

Phase I: Make something people want

In phase 1, your product has the most leaks, it really doesn’t hold water. You shouldn’t scale up your efforts now, but it’s important to send a small amount of water through the bucket so you can see where the holes are and plug them. \ Your goal in phase 1 is to get your first customers and prove your product can get traction. You focus on building your initial product and getting traction in ways that don’t scale: giving talks, writing guest posts, emailing people you know, attending conferences, and doing whatever you can to get in front of customers.

Some founders believe that startups either take off or don’t. Actually startups take off because the founders make them take off!
– Paul Graham

Phase II: Market something people want

Once you hone your product, you have product-market fit and customers are sticking around. Now is the time to scale up your traction efforts. You fine-tune your positioning and marketing messages.

Phase III: Scale your business

As your company grows, smaller traction strategies stop moving the needle, so you’ll start to scale.
In phase 3 you have an established business model and significant position in the market, and you’re focused on scaling to further dominate the market and to profit.

Traction for funding

When pursuing funding, first contact individuals who understand what you’re working on. The better your investors understand what you’re doing, the less traction they’ll need to see before they invest. Also, try friends and family who may not need to see any traction before investing as they’re investing in you personally.

To pivot or not to pivot

Many startups give up way too early. The first thing to look for is evidence of real product engagement, even if it’s only a few dedicated customers. If you have such an engagement, you might be giving up too soon. Look for the bright spots in your customer base and see if you can expand from that base.

How to get traction? The Bullseye framework

The Bullseye framework helps you find the channel that will get you traction. Most businesses actually get zero distribution channels to work. If you can get even a single distribution channel to work, you have a great business. If you try for several but don’t nail one, you’re finished.
You’re aiming for bullseye: the one channel at the center of the target that will unlock your next growth stage. Here are the 3 Bullseye framework steps:

Find what’s possible: The outer-ring

The first step in Bullseye is brainstorming every single traction channel. It’s important not to dismiss any channel in this step. Think of at least one idea for each channel. For example, social ads is a traction channel. Running ads on Facebook or Twitter is a channel strategy within social ads. You could research what marketing strategies worked in your industry as well as the history of companies in your space.

Find what’s probable: The middle-ring

Go around your outer-ring and promote your best and most exciting ideas to your middle-ring. For each traction channel in your middle ring, now construct a cheap traction test you can run to find if the idea is good or not. These tests need to answer the following questions:
  1. What’s the cost of acquiring customers?
  2. How many customers are available?
  3. Are they the right type of customers for you now?
You want to design small scale tests that don’t require much up-front cost or effort. For example, run 4 Facebook ads instead of 40.

Find what’s working: The inner-ring

The final step in Bullseye is to only focus on one channel that will move the needle for your startup: your core channel. At any stage of your startup, you should have one traction channel that you’re focusing on and optimizing.
Most founders mess this up by keeping around distracting marketing efforts in other channels.
If search engine marketing is significantly better for you than other channels, you should focus all your efforts on this core channel and uncover additional strategies and tactics within it.
If no channel seems promising after testing, the whole process should be repeated. If you tried several times with no success, then your product may require more tweaking and your bucket might be still leaky.

How to test traction?

Middle-ring tests: You should be running several cheap tests that give you an indication of how successful a given channel strategy could be.
Inner ring tests:
You’re doing two things:
  1. Optimize your chosen channel strategy to make it the best it can be.
  2. Discover better channel strategies within this traction channel.
There is always a set of things you can tweak. For targeting blogs, you can tweak which blogs to target, type of content, call to action, etc. For search engine marketing, you can tweak keywords, ad-copy, demographics, and landing pages.
A common approach is to use A/B testing, where A is the control group and B is the experimental group. The purpose of it is to measure the effectiveness of change in a button color, an ad image, or a different message on a web page. If the experimental group performs significantly better, you can apply the change, get the benefits, and run another test.
You can use tools such as Optimizely, Visual Website Optimizer, and Unbounce.
Over time, all marketing channels become saturated. To combat this, you should always be trying to discover new strategies and tactics within your channel and conduct small experiments. Also, experiment with new marketing platforms while they’re still in their infancy.

Tools

To track your tests you could start with a simple spreadsheet or use an analytics tool with cohort analysis. You’ll need to answer these questions:
  1. How many people landed on the website?
  2. What are the demographics of my best and worst customers?
  3. Are customers who interact with my support team more likely to stay?
A basic analytics tool like Clicky, Mixpanel, or Chartbeat can help you with these questions. You can use a spreadsheet as the tool to rank and prioritize traction channel strategies. You should include columns like how many customers are available, conversion rate, the cost to acquire a customer, lifetime value of a customer for every given strategy.

How to focus on the right traction goals? The critical path framework

Define your traction goal

You should always have an explicit traction goal you’re working towards. This could be 1,000 paying customers or 100 new daily customers, or 10% of your market. You want a goal where hitting the mark would change things significantly for your company’s outcome.
Once that is defined, you can work backward and set clear time-based subgoals. Such as reaching 1,000 customers by next quarter.
The key is to follow the critical path towards that goal and exclude all features and marketing activities that don’t help you reach your goal. Everything you decide to do should be assessed against your critical path.

Avoid traction biases

Your competitive advantage may be acquiring customers in ways your competition isn’t. That’s why it’s critical to avoid have traction biases. Stop your urge to refuse channels like speaking engagements, sales or affiliate marketing, business development, or trade shows just because you hate talking on the phone or you find the channel annoying or time-consuming.

Targetting blogs

Targeting blogs that your prospective customers read is one of the best ways to get your first wave customers.
Mint’s initial series of tests revealed that targeting blogs should be its core channel. They asked users to embed an “I want mint” badge on their personal blogs and rewarded them with a VIP access before other invitations were sent out. They also directly sponsored blogs. They sent bloggers a message with “Can I send you $500” as the subject and told them a bit about the product.
To find smaller blogs in your niche:
You can also target link-sharing communities like Reddit, Product Hunt, and Hacker News.
Dropbox, Codecademy, Quora, and Gumroad all got their first customers by sharing their products on HackerNews because their products were a good fit for users on that site.

Publicity

Starting out, an article in TechCrunch or The Huffington Post can boost your startup in the eyes of potential customers, investors, or partners. If you have a fascinating story with broad appeal, media outlets will want to hear from you.
It’s easier to start smaller when targeting big media outlets. Sites like TechCrunch and Lifehacker often pick up stories from smaller forums like Hacker News and subreddits. Instead of approaching TechCrunch, try blogs that TechCrunch reads and get story ideas from. It’s easier to get a smaller blog’s attention. Then you might get featured on TechCrunch and then The New York Times which reads TechCrunch!
What gets a reporter’s attention?
A good press angle makes people react emotionally. If it’s not interesting enough to elicit emotion, you don’t have a story worth pitching.
A good first step is using a service like Help A Reporter Out (HARO), where reporters request sources for articles they’re working on. It could get you a mention in the piece and help establish your credibility. Also, you could offer reporters commentary on stories related to your industries.
You can use Twitter to reach reporters online; almost all of them have Twitter accounts and you’d be surprised how few followers many of them have, but they can be highly influential with their content.
Once you have a solid story, you want to draw as much attention to it as you can:
Once your story has been established as a popular news item, try to drag it out as long as you can. Offer interviews that add to the story. Start “How We Did This” follow-up interviews.
As your startup grows you may consider hiring a PR firm or consultant.

Unconventional PR

Nearly every company attempts traditional publicity, but only a few focus on stunts and other unconventional ways to get buzz.

The publicity stunt

Customer Appreciation

Be awesome to your customers. Shortly after Alexis Ohanian launched Hipmunk, he sent out luggage tags and a handwritten note to the first several hundred people who mentioned the site on Twitter.
Holding a contest is also a great repeatable way to generate publicity and get word of mouth. Shopify has an annual Build a Business competition.
Great customer support is so rare that, if you make your customers happy, they’re likely to spread the news of your awesome product. Zappos is one of the best-known examples of a company with incredible customer service and they classify support as a marketing investment.

Search Engine Marketing (SEM)

SEM is placing ads on search engines like Google. It’s sometimes called “pay-per-click” because you only pay when a user clicks on an ad.
SEM works well for companies looking to sell directly to their target customer. You’re capturing people who are actively searching for solutions.
Click-Through Rate (CTR) The percentage of ad impressions that result in clicks to your site.
Cost per Click (CPC) The amount it costs to buy a click on an ad.
Cost per Acquisition (CPA) How much it costs you to acquire a customer, not just a click. If you buy clicks at $1 and 10% of people who hit your site make a purchase. This makes your CPA at $10.
CPA = CPC / conversion percentage

SEM to get early customer data

You can use SEM as a way to get early customer data in a controlled and predictable way. Even if you don’t expect to be profitable, you can decide to spend a certain amount of money to get an early base of customers and users to inform you about important metrics such as landing page conversion rates, average cost per customer, and lifetime value.
Archives.com used AdWords to drive traffic to their landing pages, even before they built a product, to test interest in a specific product approach. By measuring the CTR for each ad and conversions, they determined which product aspects were the most compelling to potential customers and what those people would actually pay for. When they finally built their product, they built something they knew the market would want.

SEM strategy

Find high-potential keywords, group them into ad groups, and test different ad copy and landing pages within each ad group. As data flows in, remove underperforming ads and landing pages and make tweaks to keep improving results.
Use tools like Optimizely and Visual Website Optimizer to run A/B tests on your landing pages.

Keyword research

Use Google’s keyword planner to discover top keywords your target customers use to find products like yours. You could also use tools such as KeywordSpy, SEMrush, and SpyFu to discover keywords your competition is using.
You can refine your keyword list by adding more terms to the end of each base term to create long-tail keywords. They’re less competitive and have lower search volumes which makes them ideal for testing on smaller groups of customers.
SEM is more expensive for more competitive keywords, so you’ll need to limit yourself to keywords with profitable conversion rates.
You shouldn’t expect your campaigns to be profitable right away, but if you can run a campaign that breaks even after a short period of time, then SEM could be an excellent channel for you to focus on.

Writing ads

Write ads with titles that are catchy, memorable, and relevant to the keywords you’ve paired with it. Include the keyword at least once in the body of your ad and conclude with a prominent call to action like “Check out discounted Nike sneakers!”
Each of your ads and ad groups will have a quality score associated with it. A high-quality score will get you better ad placements and better ad pricing. Click-through rate has the biggest influence on quality score, so you should tailor your ads to the keywords. Google assigns a low-quality score to ads with CTRs below 1.5%

Tactics

Social and Display Ads

Display ads are banner ads you see on websites. Social ads are ads you see on social sites like Facebook and Twitter.
Large display campaigns are often used for branding and awareness, much like offline ads. They can also elicit a direct response such as signing up for an email newsletter or buying a product.
Social ads perform exceptionally well is when they’re used to build an audience and engage with them over time, and eventually convert them to customers.

Display ads

The largest display ad networks are Google Display Network, BuySellAds, Advertising.com, Tribal Fusion, Conversant, and Adblade. Niche ad networks focus on smaller sites that fit certain audience demographics, such as dog lovers or Apple fanatics.
To get started in display advertising, you could start to find out types of ads that work in your industry. You could use tools like MixRank and Adbeat to show you ads your competitors are running and where they place them. Alexa and Quantcast can help you determine who visits the sites that feature your competitors’ ads.

Social ads

Social ads work well for creating interest among potential new customers. The goal is often awareness oriented, not conversion oriented. A purchase takes place further down the line. People visit social media sites for entertainment and interaction, not to see ads.
An effective social ad strategy takes advantage of this reality. Use ads to start conversations about your products by creating compelling content. Instead of directing people to a conversion page, direct them to a piece of content that explains why you developed your product or has other purposes than immediately completing a sale. If you have a piece of content that has high organic reach, when you put paid ads behind that piece, magic happens. Paid is only as good as the content you put behind it. You should employ social ads when you know that a fire is starting around your message and you want to put more oil on it.
Major social sites you may consider are LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, StumbleUpon, Foursquare, Tumblr, Reddit, YouTube, and many others.

Offline Ads

Even today, advertisers spend more on offline ads than they do online. When buying offline ads, You should try to advertise to demographics that match up with your target audience. Ask for an audience prospectus or ad kit.
Not sure if magazine ads are a good channel for you? Buy a small ad in a niche publication and give it a test. Want to see if newspapers would be good? Buy a few ads in a local paper. You can also try radio ads and billboards.

Magazine ads

A compelling magazine or newspaper ad will have an attention-grabbing header, an eye-catching graphic, and a description of the product’s benefits. Also, you should have a strong call to action, like an offer to get a free book.

Direct mail

You could also try direct mail by searching for “direct mail lists” and find companies selling such information. (Beware that it can be perceived as spammy)

Local print

You could also try local print ads like local fliers, directories, calendars, church bulletins, community newsletters, coupon booklets, or yellow pages. These work really well for cheap if you want to get early traction for your company in a specific area.

Outdoor advertising

If you want to buy space on a billboard, you could contact companies like Lamar, Clear Channel, or Outfront Media. Billboards aren’t effective for people to take immediate action, but it’s extremely effective for raising awareness around events, like concerts and conferences.
DuckDuckGo bought a billboard in Google’s backyard and it got big attention and press coverage.
Transit ads can be effective as a direct response tool. You can contact Blue Line Media to help you with Transit ads.

Radio and TV

Radio ads are priced on a cost per point (CPP) basis, where each point represents what it will cost to reach 1% of the station’s listeners. It also depends on your market, when the commercial runs and how many ads you’ve bought.
TV ads are often used as branding mechanisms. Quality is critical for it and production costs can run to tens of thousands. Higher-end ones can cost $200K to make. You’ll also need an average of $350,000 for actual airtime. For smaller startups, you could try local TV spots which is much cheaper.
Infomercials work really well for products in categories like Workout equipment, household products, health products, and work-from-home businesses. They can cost between $50,000 and $500,000, and they’re always direct-response.

Search Engine Optimization (SEO)

SEO is improving your ranking in search engines in order to get more people to your site.
The most important thing to know about SEO is that the more high-quality links you have to a given site or page, the higher it will rank. You should also make sure you’re using the keywords you want to target appropriately on your pages, like in your page titles and headings.
There are 2 strategies to choose from: fat-head and long-tail.
Fat-head: These are one and two-word searches like “Dishwashers,” and “Facebook.” They are searched a lot and make about 30% of searches and are called.
Long-tail: These are longer searches that don’t get searched as much but add up to the majority of searches made. They make up 70% of searches.
When determining which strategy to use, you should keep in mind that the percentage of clicks drops off dramatically as you rank lower. Only 10% of clicks occur beyond the first page.

Fat-head strategy

To find out if fat-head is worthwhile, research what terms people use to find products in your industry, and then see if search volumes are large enough to move the needle. You can use the keyword planner tool for that. You want to find terms that have enough volume such that if you captured 10% for a given term, it would be meaningful.
The next step is determining the difficulty of ranking high for each term. Use tools like Open Site Explorer. If a competitor has thousands of links for a term, it will likely take a lot of focus on building links and optimizing to rank above them.
Next, narrow your list of targeted keywords to just a handful. Go to Google Trends to see how your keywords have been doing. Are they searched more or less often in the last year? You can further test keywords by buying SEM ads against them. If they convert well, then you have an indication that these keywords could get you strong growth.
Next, orient your site around the terms you’ve chosen. Include phrases you are targeting in your page titles and homepage. Get other sites to link to your site. Links with exact phrase matching from high-quality sites will give you a significant boost.

Long-Tail strategy

Because it’s difficult to rank high for competitive fat-head terms, a popular SEO strategy for early-stage startups is to focus on long-tail. If you bundle a lot of long-term keywords together you can reach a meaningful number of customers.
Find out what are search volumes for a bunch of long-tail keywords in your industry? Do they add up to meaningful amounts? Also, take a look at the analytics software you use on your site or google search console to find some of the search terms people are already using to get to your site. If you’re naturally getting a significant amount of traffic from long-tail keywords, then the strategy might be a good fit. Also, check if competitors use this strategy. If they have a lot of landing pages (search for site:domain.com in google), then it’s a sign that this strategy works for your market. Also, check Alexa search rankings and look at the percentage of visitors your competitors are receiving from search.
If you proceed with a long-tail SEO strategy, you’ll need to produce significant amounts of quality content. If you can’t invest time in that, you can pay a freelancer from Upwork to write an article for every search phrase you want to target.
Another way is to use content that naturally flows from your business. Ask yourself: what data do we naturally collect or generate that other people may find useful. Large businesses like Yelp, TripAdvisor, and Wikipedia all gained most of their traffic by producing automated long-tail content. Sometimes the data is hidden behind a login screen and all you need to do is expose it to search engines, or aggregate it in a useful manner.

How to get links?

Don’t buy links, you’ll be penalized by search engines for it. Instead, you can do:

Content Marketing

Companies like Moz and Unbounce have well-known company blogs that are their biggest source of customer acquisition.
Unbounce started a blog and an email list from day one. They used social media to drive readers to your blog. They pinged twitter influencers to ask for feedback, gave away free infographics, and e-books. These actions don’t scale but they push them to a point where their content will spread on its own.
OkCupid is a free online dating site. They intentionally wrote controversial posts like “How your race affects the messages you get” to generate traffic and conversation.

Tactics

Email Marketing

Email marketing is a personal channel. Messages from your company sit next to emails from friends and family. That’s why email marketing works best when personalized. It can be used to build familiarity with prospects, acquire customers, and retain customers you already have.

Email marketing to Find customers

Email marketing to Engage customers

If a customer never gets the value of your product, how can you expect them to pay for it or recommend it to others?

Email marketing to Retain customers

Email marketing can be the most effective channel to bring people back to your site. Twitter sends you an email with a weekly digest of popular tweets and your new notifications.
More business-oriented products usually focus on reminders, reports, and information about how you’re getting value from the product. Mint sends a weekly financial summary to show your expenses and income over the previous week.
You can also use it to surprise and delight your customers. Planscope sends a weekly email to customers telling them how much they made that week. Photo apps will send you pictures you took a year ago.

Email marketing to Drive revenue

You can send a series of emails aimed at upselling customers.
WP Engine sends prospects an email course about Wordpress, and near the end of the email, they make a pitch to signup for its premium Wordpress hosting service.
If one of your customers abandoned a shopping cart, send her a targeted email a day or two later with a special offer for whatever item is left in the cart.
You can use email to explain a premium feature a customer is missing out on and how it can help them in a big way.

Email marketing to get referrals

Groupon generates referrals by incentivizing people to tell their friends about discounts.

Tactics

Viral Marketing

Viral marketing is getting your existing customers to refer others to your product. It was the driving force behind the explosive growth of Facebook, Twitter, WhatsApp, Dropbox, Instagram, Snapchat, and Pinterest.
It’s so powerful that even if you can’t achieve exponential growth with it, you can still get meaningful growth. If your customer refers a new customer within the first week, you’ll go from ten customers to twenty and double every week without any additional marketing.
The oldest form of virality occurs when your product is so remarkable that people naturally tell others about it — pure word of mouth.
Inherent virality occurs when you can get value from a product only by inviting other customers, like Skype, Snapchat, and WhatsApp.
Others grow by encouraging collaboration like Google Docs.
Some embed virality like adding “Get a free email account with Hotmail” or “Sent from iPhone” to default signatures. Mailchimp and other email marketing products add branding to free customers’ emails.
Some incentivize customers to move through a viral loop, like Dropbox giving you more space if you invite friends to sign up. Airbnb, Uber, and PayPal give you account credits for referring friends.
Some add embedded buttons and widgets to grow virally, like Reddit and YouTube.
Some broadcast users activities on their social networks, like Spotify posting on Facebook when you play a song, or Pinterest when you pin content.
The viral coefficient K is the number of additional customers you can get for each customer you bring in. It depends on i, the number of invites sent per user, and conversion percentage (who will actually sign up after receiving an invite)
K = i * conversion percentage
Any viral coefficient above 1 will result in exponential growth. Any viral coefficient over 0.5 helps your efforts to grow considerably.
You can increase the number of invites per user i by including features that encourage sharing, such as posting to social networks. You can increase the conversion percentage by testing different signup flows. Try cutting out pages or signup fields.
Viral cycle time is how long it takes a user to go through your viral loop. Shortening your cycle time drastically increases the rate at which you go viral. You can do it by creating urgency or incentivizing customers to move through the loops.

Tactics

Engineering as Marketing

You can build tools like calculators, widgets, and educational microsites to get your company in front of potential customers.
HubSpot has Marketing Grade, a free marketing review tool. It’s free, gives you valuable information, and provides HubSpot with the information they use to qualify you as a potential prospect.
Moz has two free SEO tools, Followerwong and Open Site Explorer. They’ve driven tens of thousands of leads for Moz.
WP Engine has a speed testing tool that asks only for an email address in exchange for a detailed report on your site’s speed.

Business Development

With business development, you’re partnering to reach customers in a way that benefits both parties.
Google got most of its initial traction from a partnership with Netscape to be the default search engine and an agreement with Yahoo to power its online searches.
Business development can take the form of:
You should have already defined your traction goal and milestones, and you shouldn’t accept any partnership that doesn’t align with it. Many startups waste resources because it’s tempting to make deals with bigger companies.

Sales

Sales is the process of generating leads, qualifying them, and converting them into paying customers. It’s particularly useful for expensive and enterprise products.

Structuring the sales conversation

Situation questions. Ask one or two questions per conversation. The more you ask situation questions, the less likely they’re going to close.
Problem questions. Use sparingly.
Implication questions. Meant to make a prospect aware of the large implications that stem from the problem.
Need-payoff questions. Focus attention on your solution and get buyers to think about the benefits of solving the problem.

Cold calls

Be judicious about the people you contact. You want someone who is one-two levels up in the organization. They have enough perspective on the problem and some authority for decision making. Avoid starting at the top unless you’re calling a very small business.
Try to get answers about:

Tactics

It’s better to gain traction through a marketing channel first, then use sales as a conversion tool to close leads. The next stage is lead qualification: determine how ready a prospect is to buy. Once you’ve qualified the leads, you should lay out exactly what are you going to do for the customer. Set up a timetable for it and get them to commit with a yes or no whether they’re going to buy. Closing leads can be done by a sales team who does a webinar or product demo and has an ongoing email sequence that ends with a purchase request. In other cases, you may need a field sales team that actually visits prospective customers for some part of the process.
A checklist that can help you with sales:
I removed the last sections because of the post character limit. Here are two:
submitted by alollou to startups [link] [comments]

Free marketing guide for startups: How to achieve explosive growth!

Here is the summary of the book Traction: How any startup can achieve explosive growth.
I hope that you find it useful!

Traction is a sign that your startup is taking off. If you charge, it means customers are buying. If your product is free, it means your user base is growing.
If you have traction, all your technical, market, and team risks become easier to handle. It becomes easier to fund-raise, hire, do press, partnerships, and acquisitions.
Traction trumps everything.

How to think about Traction?

Almost every failed startup has a product. What failed startups don’t have is enough customers.
You should spend your time in parallel, both constructing your product and testing traction channels.
This is what we call the 50 percent rule: spend 50 percent of your time on product and 50% on traction. This rule seems simple but it’s hard to follow because the pull to spend all your attention on the product is strong. You’re probably making a startup because you want to build a particular product. You have a vision, but a lot of traction activities are unknown and outside your vision and comfort zone. So you try to avoid them. Don’t.
Doing product and traction in parallel has these benefits:
Before trying to get traction, you’ll need to define what traction means for your company. You need to set a traction goal. Maybe your current startup goal is to raise funding or become profitable. How many customers do you need and at what rate? You should then focus on marketing activities that result in a significant impact on your traction goal. It should move the needle.
Your startup has 3 phases:

Phase I: Make something people want

In phase 1, your product has the most leaks, it really doesn’t hold water. You shouldn’t scale up your efforts now, but it’s important to send a small amount of water through the bucket so you can see where the holes are and plug them. \ Your goal in phase 1 is to get your first customers and prove your product can get traction. You focus on building your initial product and getting traction in ways that don’t scale: giving talks, writing guest posts, emailing people you know, attending conferences, and doing whatever you can to get in front of customers.

Some founders believe that startups either take off or don’t. Actually startups take off because the founders make them take off!
– Paul Graham

Phase II: Market something people want

Once you hone your product, you have product-market fit and customers are sticking around. Now is the time to scale up your traction efforts. You fine-tune your positioning and marketing messages.

Phase III: Scale your business

As your company grows, smaller traction strategies stop moving the needle, so you’ll start to scale.
In phase 3 you have an established business model and significant position in the market, and you’re focused on scaling to further dominate the market and to profit.

Traction for funding

When pursuing funding, first contact individuals who understand what you’re working on. The better your investors understand what you’re doing, the less traction they’ll need to see before they invest. Also, try friends and family who may not need to see any traction before investing as they’re investing in you personally.

To pivot or not to pivot

Many startups give up way too early. The first thing to look for is evidence of real product engagement, even if it’s only a few dedicated customers. If you have such an engagement, you might be giving up too soon. Look for the bright spots in your customer base and see if you can expand from that base.

How to get traction? The Bullseye framework

The Bullseye framework helps you find the channel that will get you traction. Most businesses actually get zero distribution channels to work. If you can get even a single distribution channel to work, you have a great business. If you try for several but don’t nail one, you’re finished.
You’re aiming for bullseye: the one channel at the center of the target that will unlock your next growth stage. Here are the 3 Bullseye framework steps:

Find what’s possible: The outer-ring

The first step in Bullseye is brainstorming every single traction channel. It’s important not to dismiss any channel in this step. Think of at least one idea for each channel. For example, social ads is a traction channel. Running ads on Facebook or Twitter is a channel strategy within social ads. You could research what marketing strategies worked in your industry as well as the history of companies in your space.

Find what’s probable: The middle-ring

Go around your outer-ring and promote your best and most exciting ideas to your middle-ring. For each traction channel in your middle ring, now construct a cheap traction test you can run to find if the idea is good or not. These tests need to answer the following questions:
  1. What’s the cost of acquiring customers?
  2. How many customers are available?
  3. Are they the right type of customers for you now?
You want to design small scale tests that don’t require much up-front cost or effort. For example, run 4 Facebook ads instead of 40.

Find what’s working: The inner-ring

The final step in Bullseye is to only focus on one channel that will move the needle for your startup: your core channel. At any stage of your startup, you should have one traction channel that you’re focusing on and optimizing.
Most founders mess this up by keeping around distracting marketing efforts in other channels.
If search engine marketing is significantly better for you than other channels, you should focus all your efforts on this core channel and uncover additional strategies and tactics within it.
If no channel seems promising after testing, the whole process should be repeated. If you tried several times with no success, then your product may require more tweaking and your bucket might be still leaky.

How to test traction?

Middle-ring tests: You should be running several cheap tests that give you an indication of how successful a given channel strategy could be.
Inner ring tests:
You’re doing two things:
  1. Optimize your chosen channel strategy to make it the best it can be.
  2. Discover better channel strategies within this traction channel.
There is always a set of things you can tweak. For targeting blogs, you can tweak which blogs to target, type of content, call to action, etc. For search engine marketing, you can tweak keywords, ad-copy, demographics, and landing pages.
A common approach is to use A/B testing, where A is the control group and B is the experimental group. The purpose of it is to measure the effectiveness of change in a button color, an ad image, or a different message on a web page. If the experimental group performs significantly better, you can apply the change, get the benefits, and run another test.
You can use tools such as Optimizely, Visual Website Optimizer, and Unbounce.
Over time, all marketing channels become saturated. To combat this, you should always be trying to discover new strategies and tactics within your channel and conduct small experiments. Also, experiment with new marketing platforms while they’re still in their infancy.

Tools

To track your tests you could start with a simple spreadsheet or use an analytics tool with cohort analysis. You’ll need to answer these questions:
  1. How many people landed on the website?
  2. What are the demographics of my best and worst customers?
  3. Are customers who interact with my support team more likely to stay?
A basic analytics tool like Clicky, Mixpanel, or Chartbeat can help you with these questions. You can use a spreadsheet as the tool to rank and prioritize traction channel strategies. You should include columns like how many customers are available, conversion rate, the cost to acquire a customer, lifetime value of a customer for every given strategy.

How to focus on the right traction goals? The critical path framework

Define your traction goal

You should always have an explicit traction goal you’re working towards. This could be 1,000 paying customers or 100 new daily customers, or 10% of your market. You want a goal where hitting the mark would change things significantly for your company’s outcome.
Once that is defined, you can work backward and set clear time-based subgoals. Such as reaching 1,000 customers by next quarter.
The key is to follow the critical path towards that goal and exclude all features and marketing activities that don’t help you reach your goal. Everything you decide to do should be assessed against your critical path.

Avoid traction biases

Your competitive advantage may be acquiring customers in ways your competition isn’t. That’s why it’s critical to avoid have traction biases. Stop your urge to refuse channels like speaking engagements, sales or affiliate marketing, business development, or trade shows just because you hate talking on the phone or you find the channel annoying or time-consuming.

Targetting blogs

Targeting blogs that your prospective customers read is one of the best ways to get your first wave customers.
Mint’s initial series of tests revealed that targeting blogs should be its core channel. They asked users to embed an “I want mint” badge on their personal blogs and rewarded them with a VIP access before other invitations were sent out. They also directly sponsored blogs. They sent bloggers a message with “Can I send you $500” as the subject and told them a bit about the product.
To find smaller blogs in your niche:
You can also target link-sharing communities like Reddit, Product Hunt, and Hacker News.
Dropbox, Codecademy, Quora, and Gumroad all got their first customers by sharing their products on HackerNews because their products were a good fit for users on that site.

Publicity

Starting out, an article in TechCrunch or The Huffington Post can boost your startup in the eyes of potential customers, investors, or partners. If you have a fascinating story with broad appeal, media outlets will want to hear from you.
It’s easier to start smaller when targeting big media outlets. Sites like TechCrunch and Lifehacker often pick up stories from smaller forums like Hacker News and subreddits. Instead of approaching TechCrunch, try blogs that TechCrunch reads and get story ideas from. It’s easier to get a smaller blog’s attention. Then you might get featured on TechCrunch and then The New York Times which reads TechCrunch!
What gets a reporter’s attention?
A good press angle makes people react emotionally. If it’s not interesting enough to elicit emotion, you don’t have a story worth pitching.
A good first step is using a service like Help A Reporter Out (HARO), where reporters request sources for articles they’re working on. It could get you a mention in the piece and help establish your credibility. Also, you could offer reporters commentary on stories related to your industries.
You can use Twitter to reach reporters online; almost all of them have Twitter accounts and you’d be surprised how few followers many of them have, but they can be highly influential with their content.
Once you have a solid story, you want to draw as much attention to it as you can:
Once your story has been established as a popular news item, try to drag it out as long as you can. Offer interviews that add to the story. Start “How We Did This” follow-up interviews.
As your startup grows you may consider hiring a PR firm or consultant.

Unconventional PR

Nearly every company attempts traditional publicity, but only a few focus on stunts and other unconventional ways to get buzz.

The publicity stunt

Customer Appreciation

Be awesome to your customers. Shortly after Alexis Ohanian launched Hipmunk, he sent out luggage tags and a handwritten note to the first several hundred people who mentioned the site on Twitter.
Holding a contest is also a great repeatable way to generate publicity and get word of mouth. Shopify has an annual Build a Business competition.
Great customer support is so rare that, if you make your customers happy, they’re likely to spread the news of your awesome product. Zappos is one of the best-known examples of a company with incredible customer service and they classify support as a marketing investment.

Search Engine Marketing (SEM)

SEM is placing ads on search engines like Google. It’s sometimes called “pay-per-click” because you only pay when a user clicks on an ad.
SEM works well for companies looking to sell directly to their target customer. You’re capturing people who are actively searching for solutions.
Click-Through Rate (CTR) The percentage of ad impressions that result in clicks to your site.
Cost per Click (CPC) The amount it costs to buy a click on an ad.
Cost per Acquisition (CPA) How much it costs you to acquire a customer, not just a click. If you buy clicks at $1 and 10% of people who hit your site make a purchase. This makes your CPA at $10.
CPA = CPC / conversion percentage

SEM to get early customer data

You can use SEM as a way to get early customer data in a controlled and predictable way. Even if you don’t expect to be profitable, you can decide to spend a certain amount of money to get an early base of customers and users to inform you about important metrics such as landing page conversion rates, average cost per customer, and lifetime value.
Archives.com used AdWords to drive traffic to their landing pages, even before they built a product, to test interest in a specific product approach. By measuring the CTR for each ad and conversions, they determined which product aspects were the most compelling to potential customers and what those people would actually pay for. When they finally built their product, they built something they knew the market would want.

SEM strategy

Find high-potential keywords, group them into ad groups, and test different ad copy and landing pages within each ad group. As data flows in, remove underperforming ads and landing pages and make tweaks to keep improving results.
Use tools like Optimizely and Visual Website Optimizer to run A/B tests on your landing pages.

Keyword research

Use Google’s keyword planner to discover top keywords your target customers use to find products like yours. You could also use tools such as KeywordSpy, SEMrush, and SpyFu to discover keywords your competition is using.
You can refine your keyword list by adding more terms to the end of each base term to create long-tail keywords. They’re less competitive and have lower search volumes which makes them ideal for testing on smaller groups of customers.
SEM is more expensive for more competitive keywords, so you’ll need to limit yourself to keywords with profitable conversion rates.
You shouldn’t expect your campaigns to be profitable right away, but if you can run a campaign that breaks even after a short period of time, then SEM could be an excellent channel for you to focus on.

Writing ads

Write ads with titles that are catchy, memorable, and relevant to the keywords you’ve paired with it. Include the keyword at least once in the body of your ad and conclude with a prominent call to action like “Check out discounted Nike sneakers!”
Each of your ads and ad groups will have a quality score associated with it. A high-quality score will get you better ad placements and better ad pricing. Click-through rate has the biggest influence on quality score, so you should tailor your ads to the keywords. Google assigns a low-quality score to ads with CTRs below 1.5%

Tactics

Social and Display Ads

Display ads are banner ads you see on websites. Social ads are ads you see on social sites like Facebook and Twitter.
Large display campaigns are often used for branding and awareness, much like offline ads. They can also elicit a direct response such as signing up for an email newsletter or buying a product.
Social ads perform exceptionally well is when they’re used to build an audience and engage with them over time, and eventually convert them to customers.

Display ads

The largest display ad networks are Google Display Network, BuySellAds, Advertising.com, Tribal Fusion, Conversant, and Adblade. Niche ad networks focus on smaller sites that fit certain audience demographics, such as dog lovers or Apple fanatics.
To get started in display advertising, you could start to find out types of ads that work in your industry. You could use tools like MixRank and Adbeat to show you ads your competitors are running and where they place them. Alexa and Quantcast can help you determine who visits the sites that feature your competitors’ ads.

Social ads

Social ads work well for creating interest among potential new customers. The goal is often awareness oriented, not conversion oriented. A purchase takes place further down the line. People visit social media sites for entertainment and interaction, not to see ads.
An effective social ad strategy takes advantage of this reality. Use ads to start conversations about your products by creating compelling content. Instead of directing people to a conversion page, direct them to a piece of content that explains why you developed your product or has other purposes than immediately completing a sale. If you have a piece of content that has high organic reach, when you put paid ads behind that piece, magic happens. Paid is only as good as the content you put behind it. You should employ social ads when you know that a fire is starting around your message and you want to put more oil on it.
Major social sites you may consider are LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, StumbleUpon, Foursquare, Tumblr, Reddit, YouTube, and many others.

Offline Ads

Even today, advertisers spend more on offline ads than they do online. When buying offline ads, You should try to advertise to demographics that match up with your target audience. Ask for an audience prospectus or ad kit.
Not sure if magazine ads are a good channel for you? Buy a small ad in a niche publication and give it a test. Want to see if newspapers would be good? Buy a few ads in a local paper. You can also try radio ads and billboards.

Magazine ads

A compelling magazine or newspaper ad will have an attention-grabbing header, an eye-catching graphic, and a description of the product’s benefits. Also, you should have a strong call to action, like an offer to get a free book.

Direct mail

You could also try direct mail by searching for “direct mail lists” and find companies selling such information. (Beware that it can be perceived as spammy)

Local print

You could also try local print ads like local fliers, directories, calendars, church bulletins, community newsletters, coupon booklets, or yellow pages. These work really well for cheap if you want to get early traction for your company in a specific area.

Outdoor advertising

If you want to buy space on a billboard, you could contact companies like Lamar, Clear Channel, or Outfront Media. Billboards aren’t effective for people to take immediate action, but it’s extremely effective for raising awareness around events, like concerts and conferences.
DuckDuckGo bought a billboard in Google’s backyard and it got big attention and press coverage.
Transit ads can be effective as a direct response tool. You can contact Blue Line Media to help you with Transit ads.

Radio and TV

Radio ads are priced on a cost per point (CPP) basis, where each point represents what it will cost to reach 1% of the station’s listeners. It also depends on your market, when the commercial runs and how many ads you’ve bought.
TV ads are often used as branding mechanisms. Quality is critical for it and production costs can run to tens of thousands. Higher-end ones can cost $200K to make. You’ll also need an average of $350,000 for actual airtime. For smaller startups, you could try local TV spots which is much cheaper.
Infomercials work really well for products in categories like Workout equipment, household products, health products, and work-from-home businesses. They can cost between $50,000 and $500,000, and they’re always direct-response.

Search Engine Optimization (SEO)

SEO is improving your ranking in search engines in order to get more people to your site.
The most important thing to know about SEO is that the more high-quality links you have to a given site or page, the higher it will rank. You should also make sure you’re using the keywords you want to target appropriately on your pages, like in your page titles and headings.
There are 2 strategies to choose from: fat-head and long-tail.
Fat-head: These are one and two-word searches like “Dishwashers,” and “Facebook.” They are searched a lot and make about 30% of searches and are called.
Long-tail: These are longer searches that don’t get searched as much but add up to the majority of searches made. They make up 70% of searches.
When determining which strategy to use, you should keep in mind that the percentage of clicks drops off dramatically as you rank lower. Only 10% of clicks occur beyond the first page.

Fat-head strategy

To find out if fat-head is worthwhile, research what terms people use to find products in your industry, and then see if search volumes are large enough to move the needle. You can use the keyword planner tool for that. You want to find terms that have enough volume such that if you captured 10% for a given term, it would be meaningful.
The next step is determining the difficulty of ranking high for each term. Use tools like Open Site Explorer. If a competitor has thousands of links for a term, it will likely take a lot of focus on building links and optimizing to rank above them.
Next, narrow your list of targeted keywords to just a handful. Go to Google Trends to see how your keywords have been doing. Are they searched more or less often in the last year? You can further test keywords by buying SEM ads against them. If they convert well, then you have an indication that these keywords could get you strong growth.
Next, orient your site around the terms you’ve chosen. Include phrases you are targeting in your page titles and homepage. Get other sites to link to your site. Links with exact phrase matching from high-quality sites will give you a significant boost.

Long-Tail strategy

Because it’s difficult to rank high for competitive fat-head terms, a popular SEO strategy for early-stage startups is to focus on long-tail. If you bundle a lot of long-term keywords together you can reach a meaningful number of customers.
Find out what are search volumes for a bunch of long-tail keywords in your industry? Do they add up to meaningful amounts? Also, take a look at the analytics software you use on your site or google search console to find some of the search terms people are already using to get to your site. If you’re naturally getting a significant amount of traffic from long-tail keywords, then the strategy might be a good fit. Also, check if competitors use this strategy. If they have a lot of landing pages (search for site:domain.com in google), then it’s a sign that this strategy works for your market. Also, check Alexa search rankings and look at the percentage of visitors your competitors are receiving from search.
If you proceed with a long-tail SEO strategy, you’ll need to produce significant amounts of quality content. If you can’t invest time in that, you can pay a freelancer from Upwork to write an article for every search phrase you want to target.
Another way is to use content that naturally flows from your business. Ask yourself: what data do we naturally collect or generate that other people may find useful. Large businesses like Yelp, TripAdvisor, and Wikipedia all gained most of their traffic by producing automated long-tail content. Sometimes the data is hidden behind a login screen and all you need to do is expose it to search engines, or aggregate it in a useful manner.

How to get links?

Don’t buy links, you’ll be penalized by search engines for it. Instead, you can do:

Content Marketing

Companies like Moz and Unbounce have well-known company blogs that are their biggest source of customer acquisition.
Unbounce started a blog and an email list from day one. They used social media to drive readers to your blog. They pinged twitter influencers to ask for feedback, gave away free infographics, and e-books. These actions don’t scale but they push them to a point where their content will spread on its own.
OkCupid is a free online dating site. They intentionally wrote controversial posts like “How your race affects the messages you get” to generate traffic and conversation.

Tactics

Email Marketing

Email marketing is a personal channel. Messages from your company sit next to emails from friends and family. That’s why email marketing works best when personalized. It can be used to build familiarity with prospects, acquire customers, and retain customers you already have.

Email marketing to Find customers

Email marketing to Engage customers

If a customer never gets the value of your product, how can you expect them to pay for it or recommend it to others?

Email marketing to Retain customers

Email marketing can be the most effective channel to bring people back to your site. Twitter sends you an email with a weekly digest of popular tweets and your new notifications.
More business-oriented products usually focus on reminders, reports, and information about how you’re getting value from the product. Mint sends a weekly financial summary to show your expenses and income over the previous week.
You can also use it to surprise and delight your customers. Planscope sends a weekly email to customers telling them how much they made that week. Photo apps will send you pictures you took a year ago.

Email marketing to Drive revenue

You can send a series of emails aimed at upselling customers.
WP Engine sends prospects an email course about Wordpress, and near the end of the email, they make a pitch to signup for its premium Wordpress hosting service.
If one of your customers abandoned a shopping cart, send her a targeted email a day or two later with a special offer for whatever item is left in the cart.
You can use email to explain a premium feature a customer is missing out on and how it can help them in a big way.

Email marketing to get referrals

Groupon generates referrals by incentivizing people to tell their friends about discounts.

Tactics

Viral Marketing

Viral marketing is getting your existing customers to refer others to your product. It was the driving force behind the explosive growth of Facebook, Twitter, WhatsApp, Dropbox, Instagram, Snapchat, and Pinterest.
It’s so powerful that even if you can’t achieve exponential growth with it, you can still get meaningful growth. If your customer refers a new customer within the first week, you’ll go from ten customers to twenty and double every week without any additional marketing.
The oldest form of virality occurs when your product is so remarkable that people naturally tell others about it — pure word of mouth.
Inherent virality occurs when you can get value from a product only by inviting other customers, like Skype, Snapchat, and WhatsApp.
Others grow by encouraging collaboration like Google Docs.
Some embed virality like adding “Get a free email account with Hotmail” or “Sent from iPhone” to default signatures. Mailchimp and other email marketing products add branding to free customers’ emails.
Some incentivize customers to move through a viral loop, like Dropbox giving you more space if you invite friends to sign up. Airbnb, Uber, and PayPal give you account credits for referring friends.
Some add embedded buttons and widgets to grow virally, like Reddit and YouTube.
Some broadcast users activities on their social networks, like Spotify posting on Facebook when you play a song, or Pinterest when you pin content.
The viral coefficient K is the number of additional customers you can get for each customer you bring in. It depends on i, the number of invites sent per user, and conversion percentage (who will actually sign up after receiving an invite)
K = i * conversion percentage
Any viral coefficient above 1 will result in exponential growth. Any viral coefficient over 0.5 helps your efforts to grow considerably.
You can increase the number of invites per user i by including features that encourage sharing, such as posting to social networks. You can increase the conversion percentage by testing different signup flows. Try cutting out pages or signup fields.
Viral cycle time is how long it takes a user to go through your viral loop. Shortening your cycle time drastically increases the rate at which you go viral. You can do it by creating urgency or incentivizing customers to move through the loops.

Tactics

Engineering as Marketing

You can build tools like calculators, widgets, and educational microsites to get your company in front of potential customers.
HubSpot has Marketing Grade, a free marketing review tool. It’s free, gives you valuable information, and provides HubSpot with the information they use to qualify you as a potential prospect.
Moz has two free SEO tools, Followerwong and Open Site Explorer. They’ve driven tens of thousands of leads for Moz.
WP Engine has a speed testing tool that asks only for an email address in exchange for a detailed report on your site’s speed.

Business Development

With business development, you’re partnering to reach customers in a way that benefits both parties.
Google got most of its initial traction from a partnership with Netscape to be the default search engine and an agreement with Yahoo to power its online searches.
Business development can take the form of:
You should have already defined your traction goal and milestones, and you shouldn’t accept any partnership that doesn’t align with it. Many startups waste resources because it’s tempting to make deals with bigger companies.

Sales

Sales is the process of generating leads, qualifying them, and converting them into paying customers. It’s particularly useful for expensive and enterprise products.

Structuring the sales conversation

Situation questions. Ask one or two questions per conversation. The more you ask situation questions, the less likely they’re going to close.
Problem questions. Use sparingly.
Implication questions. Meant to make a prospect aware of the large implications that stem from the problem.
Need-payoff questions. Focus attention on your solution and get buyers to think about the benefits of solving the problem.

Cold calls

Be judicious about the people you contact. You want someone who is one-two levels up in the organization. They have enough perspective on the problem and some authority for decision making. Avoid starting at the top unless you’re calling a very small business.
Try to get answers about:

Tactics

It’s better to gain traction through a marketing channel first, then use sales as a conversion tool to close leads. The next stage is lead qualification: determine how ready a prospect is to buy. Once you’ve qualified the leads, you should lay out exactly what are you going to do for the customer. Set up a timetable for it and get them to commit with a yes or no whether they’re going to buy. Closing leads can be done by a sales team who does a webinar or product demo and has an ongoing email sequence that ends with a purchase request. In other cases, you may need a field sales team that actually visits prospective customers for some part of the process.
A checklist that can help you with sales:
submitted by alollou to Entrepreneur [link] [comments]

Webinar Wednesday Master List 1 Ep 1-40

Webinar Wednesday - Week 40 - Brilliant Directories Webinars (05/16/2018) - https://www.reddit.com/brilliantdirectories/comments/ftakh1/webinar_wednesday_week_40_brilliant_directories/
This webinar covers topics including:
Webinar Wednesday - Week 39 - Brilliant Directories Webinars (05/02/2018) - https://www.reddit.com/brilliantdirectories/comments/ftakcs/webinar_wednesday_week_39_brilliant_directories/
This webinar covers topics including:
Webinar Wednesday - Week 38 - Brilliant Directories Webinars (04/18/2018) - https://www.reddit.com/brilliantdirectories/comments/ftak89/webinar_wednesday_week_38_brilliant_directories/
This webinar covers topics including:
  • 4:50 - UPDATE: Posted By Snapshot Widget
  • 8:01 - UPDATE: Exporting members with custom fields
  • 9:02 - UPDATE: Hiding “Specialties” tab on a member’s profile page
  • 11:13 - UPDATE: Recent events expiration date issues resolved
  • 12:48 - Tip of the Week: How to Create Irresistibly Compelling Offers
  • 36:56 - Can you make features/plugins/widgets for Brilliant Directories?
  • 42:12 - Editing the homepage search module
  • 46:06 - How to import data into your Brilliant Directories website
  • 48:16 - Adjust how the mobile view of your website looks
  • 54:01 - How to create a VIP membership area on your website (Members Only Content add-on: https://www.brilliantdirectories.com/...)
  • 1:06:37 - Show company name below title of job listing
  • 1:11:29 - How to drive traffic to landing pages
  • 1:21:41 - How to create/sell educational courses
Webinar Wednesday - Week 37 - Brilliant Directories Webinars (04/04/2018) - https://www.reddit.com/brilliantdirectories/comments/ftak4n/webinar_wednesday_week_37_brilliant_directories/
This webinar covers topics including:
  • 7:20 - Weekly Website Showcase: https://www.MeetYourMarkets.com
  • 52:40 - Multi-Category Checkbox Filter: category search filtering in sidebar (https://www.thecustomizationexperts.c...)
  • 55:45 - How to quickly grow your member community
  • 1:00:00 - Where to add valuable keywords on your website (continued at 1:15:03)
  • 1:01:40 - How to cater your site to your end-user
  • 1:08:43 - What makes a good pricing page?
  • 1:11:57 - Importance of collecting data to improve SEO
  • 1:13:34 - Google Trends: keyword popularity research tool
  • 1:20:54 - Utilizing the “Upload CV/Brochure” member feature
  • 1:27:01 - Add a border to website modules
Webinar Wednesday - Week 36 - Brilliant Directories Webinars (03/21/2018) - https://www.reddit.com/brilliantdirectories/comments/ftak0u/webinar_wednesday_week_36_brilliant_directories/
This webinar covers topics including:
Webinar Wednesday - Week 35 - Brilliant Directories Webinars (03/07/2018) - https://www.reddit.com/brilliantdirectories/comments/ftajwg/webinar_wednesday_week_35_brilliant_directories/
This webinar covers topics including:
  • 6:51 - Member Cover Photo Workaround
  • 24:00 - Set image upload limit for members
  • 28:21 - Display custom banner ads only in the members' dashboard
Webinar Wednesday - Week 34 - Brilliant Directories Webinars (02/21/2018) - https://www.reddit.com/brilliantdirectories/comments/ftajpc/webinar_wednesday_week_34_brilliant_directories/
This webinar covers topics including:
  • 2:30 - Contest of the Week
  • 4:17 - Free Gift (EXPIRED): Lead Price by Category add-on: www.brilliantdirectories.com/lead-price-by-category
  • 7:22 - How to feature members on your homepage
  • 21:33 - Moderate which member posts get published on your website
  • 27:50 - Using affiliate solutions with your website
  • 33:48 - How to offer free membership accounts to students
  • 41:38 - Accessing your Brilliant Directories billing account
  • 42:57 - Block the IP address of certain members
  • 45:48 - Future updates to "Manage Posts" admin area
  • 46:57 - Displaying Google AdSense ads on your website
  • 51:58 - Effectively upscale your local directory site to cover a greater area
  • 1:00:47 - Remove "Posted on" date from articles and lengthen article preview text
Webinar Wednesday - Week 33 - Brilliant Directories Webinars (02/07/2018) - https://www.reddit.com/brilliantdirectories/comments/ftajib/webinar_wednesday_week_33_brilliant_directories/
This webinar covers topics including:
  • 2:09 - When and why to pay for customizations
  • 15:04 - Brilliant Directories customization developers
  • 17:01 - Free Analytics Pro plugin: http://analytics.thecustomizationexpe...
  • 30:18 - NEW ADD-ON: Lead Price by Category: www.brilliantdirectories.com/lead-price-by-category
  • 37:22 - Customizing SEO templates
  • 45:09 - "List in All Locations" member setting
  • 48:15 - Embed a scheduling tool on members' profile pages
  • 58:16 - Adding featured members to the homepage
  • 1:03:09 - Market your local website by creating consumer-facing content
  • 1:05:16 - Adjust homepage elements' section order
  • 1:06:53 - Featured Blog Article Slider add-on: www.brilliantdirectories.com/featured-blog-article-slider-add-on
  • 1:08:00 - Customize classifieds lead form
  • 1:14:00 - Stream SoundCloud audio files on homepage
Webinar Wednesday - Week 32 - Brilliant Directories Webinars (01/24/2018) - https://www.reddit.com/brilliantdirectories/comments/ftajan/webinar_wednesday_week_32_brilliant_directories/
This webinar covers topics including:
Webinar Wednesday - Week 31 - Brilliant Directories Webinars (01/10/2018) - https://www.reddit.com/brilliantdirectories/comments/ftaj49/webinar_wednesday_week_31_brilliant_directories/
This webinar covers topics including:
  • 5:10 - Tip of the Week
  • 17:48 - Sort members by login date
  • 23:38 - Improving user engagement
  • 28:41 - Marketing campaign ideas
  • 30:56 - Attracting your first members
  • 41:21 - Using claim listings with third-party email services
  • 46:53 - Include blog post meta description when sharing on social media
  • 57:25 - How updates affect website customizations
  • 59:14 - View weekly Brilliant Directories updates
  • 1:02:03 - Identifying duplicate widgets
  • 1:06:02 - Choose features categories on your homepage
  • 1:11:13 - Optimize member profile photos for Instagram
Webinar Wednesday - Week 30 - Brilliant Directories Webinars (12/13/2017) - https://www.reddit.com/brilliantdirectories/comments/ft9udk/webinar_wednesday_week_30_brilliant_directories/
This webinar covers topics including:
  • 4:12 - Tip of the Week
  • 28:10 - Review of Desi Connect (desi-connect.com)
  • 42:19 - Review of E.P.I.C. Tribe (epictribe.org)
  • 57:10 - Review of YouMeMine (youmemine.com/home)
  • 1:08:33 - Editing pre-defined text with customizable text labels
  • 1:16:29 - Click to Call add-on: https://www.brilliantdirectories.com/...
  • 1:16:42 - Member Profile Analytics add-on: https://www.brilliantdirectories.com/...
  • 1:17:14 - Add a live chat console to your website
  • 1:21:57 - Locating and editing SEO templates
  • 1:25:52 - Create custom SEO templates for specific pages
  • 1:31:10 - Add alt tags to homepage category images
Webinar Wednesday - Week 29 - Brilliant Directories Webinars (11/29/2017) - https://www.reddit.com/brilliantdirectories/comments/ft9u9j/webinar_wednesday_week_29_brilliant_directories/
This webinar covers topics including:
  • 2:03 - Tip of the Week
  • 3:54 - Change layout of the member login form
  • 17:24 - Review of Rolleston Directory (rollestondirectory.co.nz)
  • 23:58 - Add custom content to your homepage
  • 29:36 - Change size of homepage hero image
  • 31:40 - Picking the right theme for your website
  • 44:15 - Custom Bootstrap homepage
  • 47:48 - Hide website elements in mobile view
  • 1:00:33 - Benefits of allowing free member signups
  • 1:01:14 - Claim listings with social media accounts
  • 1:02:11 - Change claim listing signup page
  • 1:06:37 - General marketing tips and ideas
  • 1:10:50 - Best ways to let people know they can claim their listings
Webinar Wednesday - Week 28 - Brilliant Directories Webinars (11/15/2017) - https://www.reddit.com/brilliantdirectories/comments/ft9u3f/webinar_wednesday_week_28_brilliant_directories/
This webinar covers topics including:
  • 3:35 - Deal of the Week
  • 4:57 - Tip of the Week
  • 22:39 - Review of Afya Directory (afyadirectory.com)
  • 28:48 - Review of LocalCatholicBusiness.com
  • 43:25 - UPDATE: Homepage Section Order
  • 45:43 - UPDATE: Show “Add Content” in Member Dashboard
  • 48:16 - Sell a product/service without including a membership
  • 52:49 - Shopping cart integration
  • 55:29 - Facebook and Google Social Login add-on
  • 58:34 - Redirect customers to a specific link after signing up
  • 1:09:55 - Sidebar “buy” button for member-added products
  • 1:13:45 - Smart keyword tags for content and listings
  • 1:16:03 - Add button category links above search results
Webinar Wednesday - Week 27 - Brilliant Directories Webinars (11/01/2017) - https://www.reddit.com/brilliantdirectories/comments/ft9tyo/webinar_wednesday_week_27_brilliant_directories/
This webinar covers topics including:
  • 3:09 - Contest of the Week
  • 4:29 - Recommended Reading: Business Model Generation by Alexander Osterwalder and Yves Pigneur
  • 6:21 - Tip of the Week
  • 22:12 - Professional networking & membership website (canadagirlsnightout.ca)
  • 31:57 - Events directory (retreatguide.com)
  • 46:50 - Processing ticket purchases for events
  • 48:42 - Overview of types of publishable content
  • 51:55 - Repurposing features to create new features
  • 54:33 - How to make a specific feature members-only
  • 1:02:24 - Making an FAQ page
  • 1:12:45 - Google Sitemap Generator add-on: https://www.brilliantdirectories.com/...
  • 1:17:34 - Enticing professionals to join your website
  • 1:33:49 - Fostering an interactive online community
Webinar Wednesday - Week 26 - Brilliant Directories Webinars (10/18/2017) - https://www.reddit.com/brilliantdirectories/comments/ft9ttd/webinar_wednesday_week_26_brilliant_directories/
This webinar covers topics including:
  • 2:11 - Contest of the Week
  • 6:27 - Tip of the Week
  • 24:27 - Pet Care Professionals Directory (amazingtailspetcarelocator.com)
  • 25:34 - Creating a public video library
  • 37:25 - Editing sidebar content
  • 40:40 - Local Business Directory (tropicalshops.com)
  • 52.25 - UPDATE: Member Dashboard
  • 55:19 - 'Recommended articles' / 'read more articles' feature
Webinar Wednesday - Week 25 - Brilliant Directories Webinars (10/04/2017) - https://www.reddit.com/brilliantdirectories/comments/ft9tof/webinar_wednesday_week_25_brilliant_directories/
This webinar covers topics including:
  • 2:04 - Contest of the Week
  • 7:44 - Best Practices for Building Successful Landing Pages
  • 28:56 - Premium Add-Ons overview and info
  • 32:06 - Do Brilliant Directories websites support intentional members?
  • 33:11 - Removing main search module from homepage
  • 39:11 - Integrating Google AdSense with a website's blog
  • 46:29 - Banner Ad Manager overview
  • 47:52 - Creating a catch-all member category
  • 54:34 - Google Trends keyword research tool
  • 57:27 - Place feature forms/CTA's within the member dashboard
Webinar Wednesday - Week 24 - Brilliant Directories Webinars (09/20/2017) - https://www.reddit.com/brilliantdirectories/comments/ft9tg3/webinar_wednesday_week_24_brilliant_directories/
This webinar covers topics including:
  • 3:00 - UPDATE: Improved mobile menus
  • 5:02 - UPDATE: Add-Ons Status Checker
  • 6:31 - UPDATE: Insta-Load Search Results add-on: https://www.brilliantdirectories.com/...
  • 12:05 - UPDATE: Click-to-Call Members add-on: https://www.brilliantdirectories.com/...
  • 12:57 - Contest of the Week
  • 15:44 - Display member reviews within posted classified ads [continued at 52:29]
  • 18:57 - How to add/embed forms on static webpages
  • 22:10 - Change confirmation email sent after contact form submissions
  • 26:28 - Hide specific member info from the public
  • 34:54 - How the BD system automatically matches members & leads
  • 37:10 - Change webpage info displayed in Google search results (editing SEO templates)
  • 45:55 - 3 Secret Hacks to Turn Your Website Into a Content Publishing Powerhouse: https://blog.brilliantdirectories.com...
  • 52:29 - [question from 15:44 continued]
  • 1:02:13 - Email automation and best practices
Webinar Wednesday - Week 23 - Brilliant Directories Webinars (08/23/2017) - https://www.reddit.com/brilliantdirectories/comments/ft9tal/webinar_wednesday_week_23_brilliant_directories/
This webinar covers topics including:
  • 3:20 - UPDATE: New Billing Manager
  • 6:50 - UPDATE: Auto-Recurring Events add-on: https://www.brilliantdirectories.com/...
  • 11:02 - UPDATE: Dynamic Design Settings beta
  • 12:05 - UPDATE: Facebook Login add-on: https://www.brilliantdirectories.com/...
  • 13:20 - Recommended Reading: Delivering Happiness by Tony Hsieh
  • 15:00 - Important News: Google SSL security update
  • 16:48 - Deal of the Week
  • 18:45 - Change header search module to search for videos
  • 20:54 - Enable header banner ad module
  • 23:06 - How to create two pricing pages
  • 29:09 - Change where website contact form messages get emailed to
  • 31:10 - Create email accounts for your domain
  • 32:00 - Set up email forwarders
  • 34:45 - Pricing page formatting
  • 43:28 - Website Setup Plans: https://www.brilliantdirectories.com/...
  • 45:31 - Website Audit Review: https://www.brilliantdirectories.com/...
  • 47:12 - 404 error when going to a member's profile page
Webinar Wednesday - Week 22 - Brilliant Directories Webinars (08/09/2017) - https://www.reddit.com/brilliantdirectories/comments/ft9szn/webinar_wednesday_week_22_brilliant_directories/
This webinar covers topics including:
  • 4:26 - UPDATE: Deep Keyword Search
  • 7:28 - UPDATE: Linkable - Website Address Field
  • 9:37 - UPDATE: Transactions History Manager
  • 14:19 - UPDATE: Import Member Profile Photos
  • 14:54 - Recommended Reading: Good to Great by Jim Collins
  • 16:36 - Deal of the Week
  • 19:20 - Transactions History Manager question and clarification
  • 20:58 - Website homepage review
  • 31:15 - Website homepage review
  • 45:07 - Organizing your website & establishing member categories
  • 1:03:16 - Geo-target banner ads
  • 1:10:55 - Lead form formatting and messaging
Webinar Wednesday - Week 21 - Brilliant Directories Webinars (07/26/2017) - https://www.reddit.com/brilliantdirectories/comments/ft9stl/webinar_wednesday_week_21_brilliant_directories/
This webinar covers topics including:
  • 6:39 - Custom member SEO settings
  • 14:26 - Custom form formatting & website messaging
  • 18:57 - Making your website's messaging resonate with visitors
  • 23:25 - Turn member profiles into their own websites
  • 27:13 - Website activity email updates
  • 28:58 - How to set up email addresses: http://bootstrap.brilliantdirectories...
  • 30:48 - Pricing page setup
  • 34:41 - 50% off Website Audit Review: https://www.brilliantdirectories.com/...
  • 36:16 - Structuring lead-gen forms & pages
  • 39:22 - New Theme: Lead-Gen Theme: https://www.brilliantdirectories.com/...
  • 42:56 - Multi-Listing Manager vs. Multi-Location Listings
  • 52:15 - Can Brilliant Directories be used as a CRM?
  • 55:09 - Is there an email sending limit with Brilliant Directories websites?
  • 56:53 - How to learn about Brilliant Directories
  • 57:58 - Send emails to a specific group of members
  • 1:00:42 - Claim listing email template
Webinar Wednesday - Week 20 - Brilliant Directories Webinars (07/19/2017) - https://www.reddit.com/brilliantdirectories/comments/ft9lwz/webinar_wednesday_week_20_brilliant_directories/
This webinar covers topics including:
  • 8:24 - Use the same email address for multiple member accounts/claim listings
  • 12:45 - Multi-Listing Manager add-on: https://www.brilliantdirectories.com/...
  • 18:05 - Submit a feature suggestion
  • 19:06 - Members’ uploaded brochures/resumes
  • 21:44 - Alternative Bootstrap calendar
  • 27:53 - Change search results order
  • 29:55 - Edit the lead/get matched form
  • 37:34 - Offering a free trial period to your members
  • 39:37 - Coming Soon Add-On: Lazy Load Search Results
  • 41:45 - Coming Soon Add-On: Facebook Login
  • 42:45 - New Feature: Social links in header
  • 44:15 - New Theme: Easy Association Theme: https://www.brilliantdirectories.com/...
  • 46:21 - Preventing spam listings/sign ups
  • 50:55 - How are member listings indexed for searches?
  • 58:48 - Homepage customizations
  • 1:04:55 - Clone a customized website with the Clone My Website Service: https://www.brilliantdirectories.com/...
  • 1:08:28 - Edit search results design
  • 1:13:53 - Add new links/buttons to member profile pages
Webinar Wednesday - Week 19 - Brilliant Directories Webinars (06/21/2017) - https://www.reddit.com/brilliantdirectories/comments/ft9lrv/webinar_wednesday_week_19_brilliant_directories/
This webinar covers topics including:
  • 9:34 - Are keywords enough for good SEO?
  • 13:38 - Add "View Profile" button to mobile search results
  • 20:38 - Google AdWords vs. keywords to increase website traffic
  • 24:33 - Landing pages and calls-to-action
  • 31:11 - Premium Masterclass Workshops: https://www.brilliantdirectories.com/...
  • 32:07 - How claimable listings work: https://www.brilliantdirectories.com/...
  • 34:07 - Allow multiple member sign-ups with the same email address
  • 38:26 - Center dropdown menu item text
  • 40:11 - Keywords are not everything
  • 44:01 - Live business operating hours on member profile page
  • 45:20 - Where to find Bootstrap scripts
  • 46:51 - Update: Duplicate widget identifier
Webinar Wednesday - Week 18 - Brilliant Directories Webinars (06/06/2017) - https://www.reddit.com/brilliantdirectories/comments/ft9ln5/webinar_wednesday_week_18_brilliant_directories/
This webinar covers topics including:
  • Strategies to drive consumer traffic to your website
  • Facebook ads
  • Custom listing details form
  • Custom member search form
  • Overview about leads
  • Override a sold out lead
  • Replace member logo with profile picture
  • Remove map from member profile page
  • Edit/remove member profile page sidebar
  • Create social media banners with Canva: https://www.canva.com/
  • Create a general user membership level
  • Automated signup confirmation emails
  • Add sidebar to homepage
  • Add recent reviews to sidebar
Webinar Wednesday - Week 17 - Brilliant Directories Webinars (05/31/2017) - https://www.reddit.com/brilliantdirectories/comments/ft9l8webinar_wednesday_week_17_brilliant_directories/
This webinar covers topics including:
  • Select which sidebars to display on your blog
  • How to get your first website visitors
  • Blog categories
  • Blog search engine optimization (SEO)
  • Developer Marketplace: http://marketplace.brilliantdirectori...
Webinar Wednesday - Week 16 - Brilliant Directories Webinars (05/24/2017) - https://www.reddit.com/brilliantdirectories/comments/ft9l3e/webinar_wednesday_week_16_brilliant_directories/
This webinar covers topics including:
  • How to check for bad website links/URLs with Google Webmaster Tools: https://www.google.com/webmasters
  • Change number of search results per page
  • Add-on Coming Soon: Lazy Load Search Results
  • Add schema markup to display reviews in Google search results
  • Add-on: Featured Blog Article Slider: https://www.brilliantdirectories.com/...
  • Managing member reviews
  • Member search visibility settings
  • Member & website variables
  • Add-on: Daily Website Backups: https://www.brilliantdirectories.com/...
  • Sidebar on checkout pages
  • Editing checkout page
  • Editing website footer menu
Webinar Wednesday - Week 15 - Brilliant Directories Webinars (05/10/2017) - https://www.reddit.com/brilliantdirectories/comments/ft9kxt/webinar_wednesday_week_15_brilliant_directories/
This webinar covers topics including:
  • Importing members as free listings and enticing them to upgrade to premium accounts
  • How to create coupon codes: https://www.brilliantdirectories.com/...
  • Editing the "Get Matched" lead form
  • Adjust Featured Members on homepage
  • How to put Newest Members on homepage
  • Show author's info on blog articles
  • Comments section on blog posts
  • Set max limit for how many members receive a single lead
  • Leads Module video tutorials: https://youtu.be/MtpfjUqYiYY
  • Set default search radius for location-based searches
Webinar Wednesday - Week 14 - Brilliant Directories Webinars (04/19/2017) - https://www.reddit.com/brilliantdirectories/comments/ft9krn/webinar_wednesday_week_14_brilliant_directories/
This webinar covers topics including:
  • Clickable Australia search map alternative
  • Benefits of using Google Analytics: https://www.google.com/analytics/
  • Track website visitor activity with Hotjar: https://www.hotjar.com/
  • Customize "CV" download text label
  • Website blog articles vs. member articles
  • Editing content-specific sidebars
  • Automatically translate webpages based on a visitor's IP address/geo-location
  • Using variables to edit page SEO templates
Webinar Wednesday - Week 13 - Brilliant Directories Webinars (04/12/2017) - https://www.reddit.com/brilliantdirectories/comments/ft9kmz/webinar_wednesday_week_13_brilliant_directories/
This webinar covers topics including:
  • Monetizing your website with banner ads
  • Determining your recurring monthly prices
  • Using the right verbiage to convert visitors into members: https://www.brilliantdirectories.com/...
  • Setting membership levels as "claim listing" vs "paid"
  • Sidebars on checkout pages
  • How to change/remove search variable options
  • Editing the property search module
Webinar Wednesday - Week 12 - Brilliant Directories Webinars (04/05/2017) - https://www.reddit.com/brilliantdirectories/comments/ft9khv/webinar_wednesday_week_12_brilliant_directories/
This webinar covers topics including:
  • Use Easy Coupon Code add-on to offer free trials
  • How to get your first members signed up
  • How to build & advertise a "visual directory"
  • Facebook ads & blogging to market your website
  • Website Setup Plans: http://www.brilliantdirectories.com/w...
  • Promoting online courses
  • Repurpose an existing member feature to better fit your industry
  • Rearrange tab order on member profile pages
  • Filter your directory's members based on a visitor's location: http://bootstrap.brilliantdirectories...
  • Edit text/content on your homepage
  • Turning your website into a mobile app
  • Improve SEO for local directory websites
  • Attract more leads with a quote/lead form on your homepage
  • Improve SEO for local pages in a national business directory
Webinar Wednesday - Week 11 - Brilliant Directories Webinars (03/29/2017) - https://www.reddit.com/brilliantdirectories/comments/ft9kbh/webinar_wednesday_week_11_brilliant_directories/
This webinar covers topics including:
  • New Add-On: Easy Coupon Codes: http://www.brilliantdirectories.com/e...
  • New Add-On: Essential Business Categories: http://www.brilliantdirectories.com/e...
  • Eliminate duplicate website content & manage canonical URL's to improve SEO
  • Test changes to your website without them going live
  • How to get your members to add content to your website
  • Leveraging your homepage to generate leads
  • Editing custom form save actions
  • Embedding videos into emails
  • How to add multiple CTA buttons on your homepage
  • Setting up a city website/local business search website
Webinar Wednesday - Week 10 - Brilliant Directories Webinars (03/22/2017) - https://www.reddit.com/brilliantdirectories/comments/ft96ve/webinar_wednesday_10_brilliant_directories/
This webinar covers topics including:
  • Integrate Infusionsoft with Brilliant Directories-powered websites
  • Claimable Business Listings add-on walkthrough: http://www.brilliantdirectories.com/c...
  • View all recent updates to the Brilliant Directories platform
  • How to connect Google Analytics to your website
  • How to edit your website's robots.txt file
  • How to add Google AdSense ads to your website
  • Set maximum lead inquiries per user per day limit to reduce spam
  • Disable unique email validation when joining
  • Change listing search results button text and links
  • Brilliant Directories link sharing
  • Approve/decline member reviews
  • Reply to Member Reviews add-on: http://www.brilliantdirectories.com/r...
  • Entice new members to add profile details
  • Open homepage divider links in a new tab
  • Send confirmation email to new newsletter signups
  • How to sell products/services on Brilliant Directories websites
Webinar Wednesday - Week 9 - Brilliant Directories Webinars (03/15/2017) - reddit.com/brilliantdirectories/comments/ft96mg/webinar_wednesday_9_brilliant_directories/
This webinar covers topics including:
  • Display venue in events search results
  • How to RSVP to events
  • Add custom SEO meta details to member articles
  • Add Google Translate to your website
  • Hide elements of your website
  • Best ways to market directory website: https://blog.brilliantdirectories.com...
  • Add custom searchable fields for your members
  • Geocoding's importance for SEO
  • SEO & verifying member sign-ups for local directories
  • Turn member profile pages into landing pages
  • How to duplicate your website's home page
Webinar Wednesday - Week 8 - Brilliant Directories Webinars (03/08/2017) - https://www.reddit.com/brilliantdirectories/comments/ft96g8/webinar_wednesday_8_brilliant_directories/
This webinar covers topics including:
  • Brilliant Directories' affiliate program: http://www.brilliantdirectories.com/d...
  • Customizing email signatures
  • Allow one email address to be used with multiple accounts
  • Improve SEO on member profile pages
  • Generating a sitemap
  • Add a sidebar to checkout pages
  • Control which emails are automatically sent after a form has been submitted
  • Best practices to market events & other content on Brilliant Directories websites
  • Edit search result page titles
  • Change layout of search results (list, grid, map)
  • Edit member details displayed on member profile pages
Webinar Wednesday - Week 7 - Brilliant Directories Webinars (03/01/2017) - https://www.reddit.com/brilliantdirectories/comments/ft96aj/webinar_wednesday_7_brilliant_directories/
This webinar covers topics including:
  • New Add-On: Easy Coupon Codes: http://www.brilliantdirectories.com/e...
  • New Update: Place the lead capture form on your homepage
  • New Update: Homepage divider button links
  • New Update: Option to show/hide QR code & member badge in member dashboard
  • Manually inputting membership payments
  • Change categories for various publishing tools/posts
  • Collecting payments for banner ads
  • How to export members
  • How to populate your website with members
  • Featuring members on your homepage
Webinar Wednesday - Week 6 - Brilliant Directories Webinars (02/22/2017) - https://www.reddit.com/brilliantdirectories/comments/ft95pp/webinar_wednesday_6_brilliant_directories/
This webinar covers topics including:
  • 7-day free trial of Brilliant Directories: http://www.brilliantdirectories.com/f...
  • Free Brilliant Directories Support Resources: http://www.brilliantdirectories.com/w...
  • Member verification options
  • Remove country from member profile URL
  • Can you sell your Brilliant Directories website?
  • Future Update: Free trial periods for your members
  • Future Update: Coupon codes add-on
  • Brilliant Directories' community forum: http://bootstrap.brilliantdirectories...
  • Create members-only web pages
  • Benefits of having landing pages on your website
  • How do lead/contact form submissions work?
  • Reorder tabs on member profile pages
Webinar Wednesday - Week 5 - Brilliant Directories Webinars (02/15/2017) - https://www.reddit.com/brilliantdirectories/comments/ft95gn/webinar_wednesday_5_brilliant_directories/
This webinar covers topics including:
  • New Add-On: Reply to Member Reviews - http://www.brilliantdirectories.com/r...
  • New Feature coming soon: Admin Account Restrictions
  • Update: Admin member search console & export search results
  • Update: Option to display members' addresses on their public profiles
  • Editing display options for form fields
  • Editing members' listings
  • Adding a sidebar to search results page
  • When is the right time to start advertising to customers?
  • Stored email addresses of website visitors
  • Breadcrumbs and their SEO value
  • Built-in Brilliant Directories SEO & keyword inputs
  • Multi-Listing Manager add-on overview - http://www.brilliantdirectories.com/m...
  • Brilliant Directories vs. eDirectory - Why is Brilliant Directories better than eDirectory?
  • Improving SEO on location pages
  • Custom homepage sections & Website Edits training sessions - http://www.brilliantdirectories.com/o...
  • Member logo vs. profile photo
Webinar Wednesday - Week 4 - Brilliant Directories Webinars (02/08/2017) - https://www.reddit.com/brilliantdirectories/comments/ft9346/webinar_wednesday_4_brilliant_directories/
This webinar covers topics including:
  • New add-on: Google Search Assist - http://www.brilliantdirectories.com/g...
  • New Feature: Sidebars on signup pages
  • New Feature: Clone menus & menu links
  • New Feature: Sub-sub categories drop-down list on categories page
  • Coupon/discount codes
  • Sell and manage ad space on website using AdButler
  • Change the size of featured/newest listings on homepage
  • Default lead matching overview, Automatic Lead Matching add-on (http://www.brilliantdirectories.com/a...), & - - - Get Matched pages overview
  • Disabling customized widgets
  • Advice on buying & importing a database of members
  • How to edit the leads form on the Get Matched page
  • Restrict category selection at signup for specific membership levels
  • Benefits of HTTPS security SSL certificates & how to obtain them for your website
Webinar Wednesday - Week 3 - Brilliant Directories Webinars (02/01/2017) - https://www.reddit.com/brilliantdirectories/comments/ft92w2/webinar_wednesday_3_brilliant_directories/
This webinar covers topics including:
  • Hide specific elements from member profile pages
  • Customizing home page search form
  • Enabling related keywords for member categories
  • Hide specific elements from member dashboards
  • Member Statistics add-on overview
  • Set custom publish date for blog articles
  • Edit/add blog categories
  • Walk-through of Real Estate theme features
  • Customize member profile logo link
  • 301 Redirects
  • Automatic Lead Matching add-on overview
  • Altering the aesthetic of the grid view search results page(s)
Webinar Wednesday - Week 2 - Brilliant Directories Webinars (01/30/2017) - https://www.reddit.com/brilliantdirectories/comments/ft92la/webinar_wednesday_2_brilliant_directories/
This webinar covers topics including:
  • Editing SEO templates & variables
  • Customizing text labels
  • Creating static web pages
  • Website blog vs. member articles
  • H1 & H2 tags importance for SEO
  • How to integrate a third-party chat feature
  • How to entice members to upgrade
Webinar Wednesday - Week 1 - Brilliant Directories Webinars (01/18/2017) - https://www.reddit.com/brilliantdirectories/comments/ft902p/webinar_wednesday_1_brilliant_directories/
This webinar covers topics including:
  • Adjusting membership level settings for claim listings
  • Adding Google ads to custom locations on a website
  • Duplicate content and its effects on search rankings
  • How to add pop-up notification/offer boxes to a website
  • Neil Patel webinars
  • How to turn a website into a mobile app
submitted by ketojammin to brilliantdirectories [link] [comments]

$4,200/mo cuddling with people.

Hey - Pat from StarterStory.com here with another interview.
Today's interview is with Samantha Varnerin of Snuggle with Sam, a brand that sells professional therapeutic cuddling.
Some stats:

Hello! Who are you and what business did you start?

Hi there! My name is Sam Varnerin and I created Snuggle with Sam, my independent professional cuddling practice, while I was still working full-time as a construction engineer.
Professional cuddling is a one-to-one service, much like massage therapy is, that is rooted in two basic human needs: touch and connection. And touch is-- well, touchy-- in the wake of the #MeToo movement and the backlash of people trying to figure out if they crossed a touch boundary, so my service is useful because I offer my service so that there is room for people to feel emotions like love and arousal if they come up in sessions without feeling body parts to express those emotions, like the lips or the crotch. In short, I provide a place for people to come and be emotionally accepted and physically held while keeping a therapeutic cuddle instead of a sexual one.
There are many reasons that someone might not get their touch or connection needs met other than anything related to sexual assault. These include but are not limited to: dealing with a divorce or death in the family, being a single man with few (if any) deep friendships, having anxiety or depression and needing a different kind of connection than what your therapist is able to offer (I’m seeing therapists and cuddlers working together a lot more now!), and high-performing executives that are praised by their peers but also put at arm’s length physically and emotionally.
I’ve been in the business for three years and have learned and seen a lot of things change and develop in the industry including the education available for cuddlers, but we still have a long way to go. This has inspired me to connect with the cuddle community at large by helping others start and grow their professional cuddle practices responsibly as a professional cuddling teacher.
On my personal practice side, my flagship product is a 90-minute cuddle session. I usually recommend first time cuddlers do a 90-minute session so we’re not rushing through the session for a 60-minute one (the minimum amount of time I cuddle), and oftentimes people that do a 60-minute cuddle wish we had more time. 90 minutes seems to be a good amount of time to settle in and not be waiting for the clock to go off.
On the teaching side, my flagship course is “Sam’s Snuggle School,” a comprehensive course I open for enrollment for one week in June and September that gives a beginner the basics of getting started as a professional cuddler, even if just part time, with the focus on efficiency and finding the best way for you personally to get started and feel comfortable doing this work and to grow their practice. Since this is still a very new industry, most cuddlers are entrepreneurs-- I know of one practice in the US that has cuddlers on a W-2 form, so this is all still very new for most cuddlers.
2018 in particular was a big year for me between going on a Cuddle Tour across the country to six major cities (blog on that TBD), being invited to consult and contribute for the Code of Ethics for Professional Cuddling, completing a 25-hour cuddle session with a client, co-speaking a highly successful talk at CuddleXpo in Chicago called “Connecting While Cuddling: Bringing Your Authentic Self to Your Clients”, and having my highest earning month ever-- over $7k!
Here’s all of the contributors on the panel at CuddleXpo in Chicago presenting how we came up with the Code of Ethics for Professional Cuddling. Back left to right: Maryelen Reid, Madelon Guinazzo, Samantha Varnerin (me!), Samantha Hess, Jean Franzbleau, Fei Wyatt, Janet Trevino. Front left to right: Keely Shoup, Lisa Meece. Photo credit Rellian Chen Merrin

What's your backstory and how did you come up with the idea?

I stumbled upon professional cuddling by sheer accident while looking at a newsletter from Jason Zook (during my work hours in my freezing office at my day job) where he mentioned it in passing but made a point to say professional cuddlers was a real job that people get paid for.
I remember thinking, “No it’s not. I’m gonna Google this right now and it’s not going to exist because if it does I’d be so good at it.” I was living paycheck to paycheck and getting burried in student loan debt, and since I found an agency that would have me charge $80/hour, I signed up with the first agency I saw on Google and applied, asking if I can do this around my full-time job (note: I do not recommend you do what I did).
That company did a lot of things that made it a good learning experience at first, but they also didn’t do much teaching. I didn’t have a system to qualify clients, a process for checking in with a text-security service they had, a schedule to book clients, or a way to track sessions so I knew what I owed the company. I didn’t have a clue what I was doing for sessions, and since professional cuddling was only in the U.S for a couple years at this point and little regulation in the industry (there still is), I got a lot of requests from people that were looking for a session thinking this was a front for prostitution!
This was when my engineering background came in handy. After my first bad experience with a client, I started creating my own systems to make myself safe that the agency didn’t give me. I made my own email questionnaire, things to look for that might indicate if a client might be an issue, confirmation process to make sure clients knew when and where to be, and other things I felt could be automated and make my life easier for before I see a client. This got tested as the agency gave me more leads and I saw how they responded to my qualification processes, and I started tweaking how I wanted the sessions to look. As I heard the same questions over and over again, I began to come up with canned responses.
The following summer, I went to Chris Guillebeau’s World Domination Summit and I talked about what I do on the side with someone. Word started to spread about me and my side gig, and one woman that approached me asked if she could interview me for a blog. I assumed it was her personal blog and said yes. A few days after the conference, she emailed me from her work account… the blog she was talking about was the Penny Hoarder.
When it came time to get interviewed, they asked me how I’d recommend someone get started as a professional cuddler… and I didn’t have an answer. I could not recommend someone to the agency I was working under because they didn’t train me and I felt it would be irresponsible to send people there.
I quickly put together a website for them to backlink to using Squarespace with two landing pages: one to apply to be a cuddler (I decided I would have people work under me in a company, which I no longer do), and the other one was to put in a request to work with me.
About 300 people filled out the application form within a week of the article going live, and that was the starting point of what is now Snuggle with Sam, which about four months after the article went live I began to pursue full-time.

Take us through the process of designing, prototyping, and manufacturing your first product.

If my previous answers didn’t hint to it before, I like the idea of taking action quickly rather than spending too much time testing out ideas. There are definitely areas that need more calculated and planned action to be effective and profitable, but more often than not if I’m working on something new I’ll create Minimum Viable Products (MVP’s), or the cheapest, quickest way to make a product for the public.
Before Sam’s Snuggle School, I had Snuggle Safety: Personal Protocols, a $79 course that consisted of one 45-minute video with my voiceover (which is no longer for sale but is now a bonus module in Sam’s Snuggle School). I dragged my feet over making it for nearly a year.
I originally made a manual that ended up being 35 pages of very dense content that I planned to sell. I could easily have sold it for 30-40 dollars to my email list and made bank, but I highly doubted anyone would read the whole thing (I barely wanted to read it once I finished it!). I decided to convert it into an online course to make it more digestible so I’d feel better about what I was producing instead of going with an inferior product.
I used Teachery for hosting my course and OfCourseBooks to make workbooks to check for comprehension in my course, so all I needed to do was use Powerpoint to record my voice on each slide and save the powerpoint file with my voice as an mp4. From there, I uploaded the video to YouTube as an Unlisted video (which back then you could embed without making it sharable), and then it was just writing the sales copy and making a payment page for people to buy the course. Teachey automates login info and emails for students in a course when they buy, so I didn’t have to worry about that.
Me and my entrepreneurial friend were launching something for our businesses around the same time in December 2017, and she had access to a 24-hour coworking space with showers. Both of us were inspired by Nathan Barry’s 24-hour launches he used to do when he was a freelancer and digital marketer, so we finished our projects by doing our own 24-hour work period together-- 9am Friday to 9am Saturday. It was a good way to light a fire under my butt when I was procrastinating on finishing a product that I already changed a lot since I thought of the idea.
This course didn’t make me a whole lot of money; it made me a few hundred dollars max. I’m glad I made this though because having this first course was what helped position me as a thought leader in my industry and got me invited to contribute to the Standard Code of Ethics for Professional Cuddlers and get more exposure in the cuddling community.

Describe the process of launching the business.

I got very, very lucky at first when I broke out on my own for three reasons:
But there were also some key things that were not to my advantage in this process:
It wasn’t until a year after I went full-time with my business that I was getting back in the black for my efforts and not until May 2018 that I began consistently making a livable wage from cuddling, and I believe that I would have been much further along had I done a better job managing my income, presented myself as a cuddler better, and went where my clients were hanging out online from the getgo.

Since launch, what has worked to attract and retain customers?

I have my hands in many pots all at once, but these five are where I’m seeing the most results:
Following up with leads until they say no.
In 2018, most of my clients were from my lead list from 2017 and before that never replied to me or scheduled a session for some reason.
I try not to go overboard with follow up, but I try to follow up until I’m told no because sometimes people are just really forgetful and want to book a session but need to be reminded.
Especially in professional cuddling, I notice that many potential clients are really self-conscious if I don’t take the initiative to schedule a session or make contact with them; they think I just don’t like them!
Google Adwords.
My friend Ronnie Deaver helped me set up my first simple Google Adwords campaigns last year-- apparently no one was buying Google ads for “Professional Cuddler Boston,” so that was a really quick way to get seen.
Our ad was short and to the point since we assumed someone googling that was looking for a cuddler and already familiar with what to expect, so the ad was simple (and emphasized free parking, a hot commodity in Boston) and linked to my request form.
It cost me a lot of money though and I saw some leads turns into clients but not that many, so I ended the campaign.
Unintentional SEO.
Shortly after ending the Google Ad campaign, I started getting a curious number of leads the next few months that said I was the fifth website on the first page of Google when they searched “Professional Cuddler Boston”.
Upon talking to Ronnie, he told me that when ads perform well for certain search words, Google rewards you with higher search results. I’m sure this would improve more if I put more efforts in this direction. I also got a popular article written about me on Student Loan Herothat got picked up and linked back to me on several other websites, so that was also a factor that I didn’t plan on helping me do well in Google ranking.
If nothing else, get backlinks to your website as often as possible!
Coffee Talks.
I was getting a lot of leads submitting a form and many had told me they wanted to do this but felt weird cuddling with a stranger.
So I thought “Well, let’s not be a stranger then!” And that’s how Coffee Talks were born. Potential clients could sign up for a half hour time slot to meet me for coffee at the local Starbucks and talk about their cuddling needs. I posted the signup link on local Facebook groups to let them know I was doing that, which sparked some interest from locals and strangers.
This is a very time-consuming method and not scalable. However, the quality of the clients I got from this method were the highest of any of the methods I’ve used.
Prepaid packages for clients.
My hourly rate is $100/hour (typical for the industry is $60-$80/hour), so I like to incentivize returning clients by giving them lower rates for paying in advance.
This helps me by giving me money and cuddle hours scheduled in advance, it helps them by saving them money. Everybody wins.
I have one package that incentivizes sessions to be less than $70/hour if they pay in advance (I do allow for payment plans upon request).
As far as my cuddling teaching side of my business goes, when the GDPR law took place, I did the unthinkable: I threw away my list of 300+ subscribers for my professional cuddling business. Instead, I started it from scratch to create better reasons for people to join my email list so I had higher quality email subscribers.
So I created things like a What it Takes to be a Great Professional Snuggler Guide for the beginning cuddler, webinar signup lists (there will be more webinars in the future!), the waitlist for Sam’s Snuggle School, and One Week to More Cuddles Guide for the experienced cuddler. I write to this list every other week if not every week. This list was helpful for when I initially launched Sam’s Snuggle School this past November. Over 25% of my new list bought my course!

How are you doing today and what does the future look like?

The past few months have been me planning out big grand plans for my cuddling community now that I’ve had a bigger stage, figuratively and literally, in 2018 than I ever have before. This January I started a three-month experienced cuddler course with my friend Peter Benjamin called “Cuddle with Your Whole Self” which is surrounded around bringing deeper connection not only into your client sessions but into your entire life. We get on Zoom calls and teach and do connection exercises live together to teach our students. As of writing this we’re three classes in and I’m really happy with how the course is coming along so far. I’m already seeing a huge difference in our cuddlers’ mindsets.
Unfortunately after a wildly successful finish to my year in December and planning out how to move forward with gaining and retaining clients, I got a wrench thrown into my cuddling plans by tearing my meniscus! I currently can’t walk or cuddle like this unfortunately, but it does mean I get to work on more projects for cuddlers like I’ve wanted to. I’m really thankful I started building that email list the right way back in May now so I can continue making income even without having to cuddle right now.
For the most part I don’t track too many parts of my business even though I have the data and Google Analytics set up for it to look into heavy technical things such as keywords, average time on site, and converstion rates. That’s mostly because I want to model something doable for other cuddlers. Other cuddlers in their practice don’t want to spend a lot of time on analyzing data or building a website or learning SEO; they want to get clients and cuddle! So most of what I do is centered around what a cuddler growing their practice would want to do. I want the actions I take to be duplicatable, especially since my main start on my own was from getting a massive website to backlink to my brand new website isn’t necessarily duplicatable.
As of right now I get an average of 1-3 new subscribers a day for my Cuddlers-in-Training email list and I have 450+ total cuddle requests from individuals (I have yet to pull in data from a few new platforms so the exact number is slightly off). This past year the average cost per client was just shy of $24 per client, but when clients were coming in for a session that cost between $63-90 an hour and half of them returning for more than one session, that cost per client is well worth it for me. My next step once I’m not injured anymore will be digging into the data to see what I can do to make my conversions better moving forward-- I want to get more people in the door for a first session in coming months.
I mostly live off of the money I make from cuddling and the money I make from my courses and coaching make it so I can take bigger risks with trying new lead sources, optimizing parts of my business like getting some lifetime software through AppSumo, paying for my business coach, and funding other growth dreams I have for my business.
My big projects this year are the following: advertising and enrolling aspiring cuddlers into Sam’s Snuggle School), moving into more focused work in helping experienced cuddlers grow their practice including coaching and advanced coursework, and tying it all together with my baby by July with a dream of mine I conceived while on Tour this past year, Connection Community

Through starting the business, have you learned anything particularly helpful or advantageous?

I keep learning how much my health and wellbeing directly affects my business. The first year I was a professional cuddler was one of the roughest years of my life personally, which was the motivation to buying the URL mylifeisneverboring.com as my personal social skills blog.
The first two weeks after I quit my full-time job I slept for 14 hours a day because I was recovering from some unhealthy habits around sleep, work and coffee I had developed from working at my job. I still look at pictures the months before I left my job and am appalled at how unhealthy I looked in those pictures even. Once I was back on a healthy sleep schedule and started eating more regularly I noticed the first of many dramatic shifts in my creativity, productivity, and client base.
I always had an idea that I’d be able to make it work as an entrepreneur somehow even if I didn’t know how the numbers would look on paper. I just knew that if I ever started failing I would find a way to make it through it and thrive. Between having clients last minute decide not to renew a big package the day before rent was due and trying to figure out how to make up for that loss, shifting gears halfway through my Snuggle Tour and trying to avoid a significant loss, finding out my hotel in NYC wasn’t booked online properly when I have a client coming by in less than a half hour, releasing a course in 24 hours when I’m not entirely sure how I’m going to record it without a working microphone…
I proved myself by getting out of all those situations. My strongest affirmation was forged through these trials and tribulations: “I’ll figure it out. I always do.”

What platform/tools do you use for your business?

Some of these links are affiliate links.
Waveapps. Once I got a separate bank account for my business, I hooked up the bank account to this free accounting software. As a one-woman band that files a Schedule C, this software is easy to categorize and see my income and expenses at a glance. I like logging in and seeing that I’m making more money than I’m spending really quickly.
SquareUp. This is how I accept credit card payments via card swipe or online invoice. You can also set up recurring invoices, use their free scheduling software,
Squarespace. For the tech-challenged, this is a really easy way to set up a pretty website quickly-- or in my case since I had no design skills, an ugly website
Mailchimp. Automation is on the free plan, something I rarely see, and that’s really useful for sending my questionnaire to potential clients as soon as they fill out my form on my website. You can send email lists, make landing pages, and track opens with your list to see who’s reading your emails and who’s staying silent.
Ecwid. It’s really useful for using SquareUp on your Squarespace website and making items in your store way prettier than Squarespaces default sales pages. I use the free version because I don’t need too many items, but the paid versions allow for more than 10 different items on your store and it’s a very powerful tool to sell on social media in the paid version.
[eachery. This is a really simple course creation platform where I host my courses. They also have a sales page builder for your course with Rick Astley placeholders that are perfect.

What have been the most influential books, podcasts, or other resources?

Mornings with Mike Podcast. My friend Mike Goncalves makes a five minute daily podcast, and I’ve set up my Google Assistant so that when I turn my alarm off in the morning the latest episode of his podcast plays. He has some interesting thoughts on success, motivation, health, and a happy life. It’s a really good way for me to wake up in the morning.
Life’s Golden Ticket by Brendon Burchard. This book is his only fiction book he wrote, but it’s an amazing book about letting go and making the most of the life you have. Unlike The One Thing, I couldn’t put this book down. It reminded me to keep sight of pursuing the things that matter to me in my life.
My business coach, Stephanie Marino. I’ve worked with her on and off over the course of two years and she’s been one of the most empowering coaches I’ve ever met. She’s helped me move some big rocks like stabilizing my income for my business, shifting gears for my Tour when my first plan wasn’t working, and not being afraid to run my business differently than other people.

Advice for other entrepreneurs who want to get started or are just starting out?

Start with going on a platform or agency and give it three to six months.
I’ve met new cuddlers that want to go straight to a therapist’s office to do referrals and I’ve met cuddlers three months in that think they need to make their own website. Those are great things to do, but they’ll be more effective you’ll command more authority once you’ve gained some experience from a place where people looking for cuddling are gathering.
Take the pressure off of you to market yourself right away and let the platforms that are pouring thousands of dollars into marketing do that work for you, and pay attention to the clients that are coming in and attracted to you because that will help you understand what it is that you offer people that has them choose you as their cuddler. Then you can use that to go to other people for referrals and build a website around that idea.
Use pictures for your profile photos that reflect how you’ll show up to your sessions.
I see some women and men post really suggestive or misleading photos of themselves: women in bikinis, men shirtless, clubbing photos, using Snapchat or Instagram pictures, etc.
Those are all nice photos, but they don’t send a good message for who you want to attract to your professional cuddling practice. Take a photo of yourself while you’re wearing your cuddle attire so people can see upfront how you’ll show up for your sessions.
Don’t be afraid to talk about professional cuddling in public.
When I was on Tour and met strangers I would tell them I was a professional cuddler. More than a few times I got replies like “I’ve heard of that but I’ve never met someone that does that.” There’s way more media coverage on professional cuddling than when I first started, but people need to see that it’s in their communities as well in order to start normalizing the profession. Start talking about it like it’s a real profession because it is.
Educate yourself.
I don’t care if you’re a massage therapist, a psychologist, or a high school dropout. If you’re going to do professional cuddling, you need to be continually learning to get better and show up for your clients better. That doesn’t have to be professional cuddling specific training, but it definitely helps to see how other people are doing it.
Don’t reinvent the wheel if you don’t have to like I did, but don’t be afraid to pull skillsets from other areas if they’ll add to your practice. For example, I use Authentic Relating Games and Circling to help understand my clients better and guide the way I communicate clearly with them.

Are you looking to hire for certain positions right now?

Looking for part-time VA for 5 hours a week to start.
Mostly big projects such as converting spreadsheets of leads to a CRM program, putting social media-friendly photos from phone into an album, batch editing blog posts and newsletter emails, and able to do academic-level research for scientific sources.
Native or fluent English speakers are welcome to reach out at [email protected] and I’ll have a test task for you to see if we’re a fit.

Where can we go to learn more?

If you have any questions or comments, drop a comment below!
Liked this text interview? Check out the full interview with photos, tools, books, and other data.
Interested in sharing your own story? Send me a PM
submitted by youngrichntasteless to EntrepreneurRideAlong [link] [comments]

Nonetheless, in the case of post-click landing page testing, experiments are my new favorite AdWords feature. I no longer have to settle for testing a single variation of ad copy to run a split post-click landing page test, nor suffer through multi-variable testing with imperfect ad rotation and impression data. A bridge page is a page that is solely designed to send the visitor to another page, on another domain. Basically, that page alone isn’t the target of the advertising, but that affiliate link on it is. In Google’s eyes, that’s misleading and isn’t allowed (even though it isn’t). Affiliate Marketing is as cost effective as it gets. Pay-per-click (PPC) advertising – like Google Adwords and Facebook – are getting more expensive all the time. While we invest heavily in Google Adwords ourselves here at LeadDyno, and click costs are constantly creeping up. Join the Amazon.com Associates Program and start earning money today. The Amazon Associates Program is one of the largest and most successful online affiliate programs, with over 900,000 members joining worldwide. If you are a Web site owner, an Amazon seller, or a Web developer, you can start earning money today. Advertise your business on Google. No matter what your budget, display your ads on Google and our advertising network. Pay only if people click your ads.

[index] [9634] [3118] [2157] [6142] [4565] [5349] [7121] [4183] [14275] [2871]