Last year, I committed to joining Team Nash Stache to raise awareness and money for men’s health, in particular prostate cancer (and new this year – testicular cancer). The program is called Movember.
Fast forward to the present, and Mary (my wife) and I are expecting our third child any day!
Since I won’t back out of my commitment to Team Nash Stache to help raise money, our baby is in danger of having her/his baby photos forever remembered with her father’s inability to grow a proper manly moustache. This also puts my good standing (loosely used) with my wife as she is 100% appalled by the pencil marks on my face.
What does this mean to you? How can you help? I made a deal with Mary that if I can raise my goal of $300, I would shave the moustache prior to Baby Moore #3’s delivery.
If you could help in any small way, you will forever be in good graces with my wife, Baby Moore #3, and men around the world – please donate here.
And for the sadistic bunch, if you are that committed to having this moustache remain – any single donation of $100 towards this cause will guarantee at least one picture shared with all of Baby Moore #3 and me still sporting the MO!
Inspired by Peter Cohen’s blog post about How Much Marketing Spend is Enough, the calculator below will help you determine what your client acquisition cost is compared to their lifetime value.
For business owners, this tiny piece of data is one of the most critical bits of information that you should track on a consistent basis. If you don’t know this number already, check your performance below.
If you are in early stages of starting a business, this is definitely worth the time. It is also imperative that you are brutally honest about your numbers. This is not the time to present the hopes & dreams numbers that you used with your potential investors.
If you have not started your business yet, use the calculator below with honest projections. This will help you get a feel for where your price needs to be to survive IF you are able to deliver the number of clients that you hope.
Tips for using the calculator:
-Type numbers in the BLUE fields only
-If this is your first year, the first two sets of numbers (New, ALL) will be the same
-If you are not a recurring revenue model, the Avg. lifetime of clients will be 1
-Include salaries, commissions, and marketing spend in the Sales/Mktg Costs
-This is not an end-all to all costs. You must also have solid budgets for R&D, Operations, and other important aspects of your business worked out.
After using this calculator on bigWebApps’ 2008 numbers, I was very pleased to see a 2.40 score. Due to a few big deals early in 2009, our number is an unsustainable 6.78 which should correct over the course of the year.
What’s your score? Have any feedback?
You have probably already guessed that the answer, in my estimation, is no.
You may be able to garner some attention from friends, a few dollars from friends and family, and a decent amount of attention from local media outlets. But your idea is worth zero without execution.
Below is, in my order of importance, the list of the key ingredients to you achieving success (you define what that is) with a SaaS company.
1. Sales – This is intentionally separated from marketing in this context. Until you receive money via your product you are still only in possession of an idea. Selling can be defined in many different ways, though, so it does not have to be a direct sale to a client.
Seth recently wrote about finding 10 people who want/need your product enough to take you up on your offer. Once you have ten, find ten more. If you’re lucky, the first ten will be finding ten more at the same time because your product delivers as promised (or more).
Some of you may feel that this is marketing. But that’s one of the main problems with a non-sales culture. People are extremely comfortable when they feel they are “marketing” but icky when it’s called “sales”. If you have a product that is going to positively impact your potential clients, then you are doing them (and yourself) a grave disservice by not getting it into as many people’s hands who need it. If you get uncomfortable about telling someone you know about your product, then your sub-conscious may be telling you that you are over-promising.
2. Relationships/Support – the misconstrued dream that many people entering the SaaS world have is that once you build the application and it works well, all your clients will understand it, adopt it easily, hand over their credit card, and never cancel. Okay, maybe when it’s put like that you deny that you feel that way. But you’re only lying to yourself.
If anything this group could have been lumped in with sales because as a SaaS model company, your relationships with your current clients is your on-going sales model. This does not have to be a time-intensive process if you implement the proper tools and controls, but it does take effort.
37signals are masters at this. They have a recent post on exactly how important their customer’s experience is to them.
We had a recent post here about how the relationship goes well beyond your customer service rep. It is also the responsibility of your billing people, marketing people, collections staff, everyone!
3. Operations, a.k.a. Bootstrapping – if you are going to survive, you better have the purse strings drawn tight on unnecessary expenditures. No matter how good your sales and relationship teams are, the person in charge of your outgoing expenses can cut the jugular at any second. Once it’s cut; lights out.
NOTE: I am aware that there are a few companies out there like Facebook and Twitter that can bleed money for what appears to be forever. Go buy a lottery ticket instead.
4. Technology/Your Idea – this section does not include all technology involved throughout your company. It’s impossible to separate any one department from the general term “technology.” The idea here is that your idea, although the basis of the business being started, is not the most important piece to your future success. Obviously, you need a viable concept and the development chops to build it (whether on your own or hired), but without the key pieces in place your application is just another piece of unused software… but delivered over the web.
Photo Credit: Kyle May
Outside of the standard requirements for any business to succeed such as revenue model, marketing and acquisition costs, and so on; you also have three key areas where the relationship between your potential clients and your application must work together seamlessly.
As has been pointed out countless times on SaaS model success, the real key is scalability. The following three attributes of your application will have huge impact on whether scalability is something you will be able to achieve.
1. Self Setup – Self Setup is the most important “feature” that your application will need to scale your business. Once you have targeted beta clients, immediately start working with them to design how they will be able to get running on your application without you. The self setup should start immediately after someone clicks the “Free Trial” or “30 Day Demo” button on your website.
One of the major differences between SaaS and traditional software is that setup process begins prior to your sales process does.
2. Self Signup – As you are getting launched, sales/signups are not as critical to be automated as setup is. If you are manually having conversations with people through the sales process in the beginning, you will learn what the roadblocks are to purchasing your product. The knowledge that you gain throughout this process will be invaluable to writing effective copy and to designing your site’s sales flow to best suit your potential customer’s needs.
This is closely related to self setup because your potential customer’s experience during that trial period will be the first impression that he remembers when making the decision whether to type in their credit card number.
Self signup is the actual transition between trial and paid. If you plan on launching with a freemium model, this transition period will be laced into your application when your customers hit feature/size roadblocks. Offering them compelling reasons to upgrade, and more importantly, an easy way to act upon that decision could decide your success. Once again, automation on this is not a requirement to get started if you are looking for the specific reasons why people are not buying. But implementing this should be early in your timeline.
3. Self Help – Prior to launching your product to beta and then full production, it is critical to have dead-nuts simple avenues for your customers to reach you. But you do not need to be in self-help mode just yet. This is primarily due to the fact that you won’t know what problems/questions your varied customers are going to have until they have them.
It is absolutely critical to have the record button pushed at all times. When it comes time to start writing the self-help material for your application, you will be able to quickly reference your real world feedback ensuring the help material is focused on problems that real people have instead of on problems that you “think” they might have.
photo credit: purplepigswithfigs
The raw video footage of PodCamp 2009 sessions are now available.
Before you visit the page, though, there are a few notes (some good, some not).
–All recorded sessions are here.
–If the session is not in the right hand scroll bar, then unfortunately it was not recorded for various reasons.
–The sessions that were on the main stage have completely blown out audio because people were controlling the speaker volume through the audio board instead of the volume controls on the speakers. (This pretty much sucks) They are watchable, but you have to have some patience with them… and turn your speakers DOWN.
–If you want the raw footage, comment here or DM me, and we will discuss the details of you can have access.
Thanks for everyone’s patience on this, and I hope there is some value in these being made available.
How it works: StudioNow allows for crowdsourcing of video editing and distribution. This means that we will be uploading all of the raw footage from PCN09 to the cloud making it available for you to cut, edit, and transform it into anything your magical little hands can muster. Then share it!
Bottom line: WE NEED YOUR HELP! If you enjoyed PodCamp Nashville 2009 and took away more value than you paid (reminder that it was free), this is a great opportunity to contribute to the Nashville technology community.
If you are interested in helping out, please leave a comment here or send me an email with your contact information by clicking the this Contact Info link.
Contrary to how it looks, Seth and I did NOT meet in a photo booth at the county fair.
Seth Godin was in Nashville yesterday for the Country Radio Seminar to speak on how the radio industry has an opportunity to adopt the new world of marketing and thrive (not just survive) despite recent hardships. As many of you know I am not in the radio business, but I was not going to let Seth come to Nashville without me in attendance!
Justin Davis (@jwd2a) and I show up at 7:30 am to get in line for tickets going on sale at 8. Much to our surprise, we were still the only people in line by the time 8 o’clock rolled around. What!! This is Seth Godin, people!
Needless to say, it was an absolutely GREAT morning filled with surprises (lanyap – Pat) and unadulterated inspiration.
Justin and I took our seats around 8:30 for the 10:00 start to make sure we had good seats. Reference the line mentioned earlier, and you know this wasn’t a problem. Right at 9 o’clock is when the pleasant surprises started. It starts with a one-song concert by an up-and-coming female artist from Texas completely rocking it out! Who needs coffee?
Next up were presentations approximately 10 feet from us by John Rich (of Big & Rich, Musik Mafia) and Randy Owen (Alabama). For those of you who know nothing of country music, I don’t think it’s too far of an over-statement to say that Randy Owen is similar to country music fans what Bono is to everyone else. Next up was a short two-song concert by Phil Vasser.
Let me remind you again that we went into this room expecting to wait an hour and a half just to see Seth speak. So let’s get to some brief notes on Seth. I will preface this with saying that it is extremely difficult to boil down Seth’s message and keep any meaning. He is masterful at spreading a message in a brief and direct manner. If you haven’t read his books you really should no matter what position or field you are in. His messages stretch your brain.
The two tidbits that stuck out the most from his presentation were:
- One way to grow your business in the new world of marketing is to follow this cycle:
- Be remarkable –> Tell a story to your customers –> They spread the word –> Get permission (then repeat)
- The key to this method is that you actually have to be remarkable before telling the story and getting word to spread. Far too often, people/companies want to tell the story of what they intend to do not what they have done or are doing. Your story won’t spread without substance.
- If you are in an industry that is struggling with the paradigm shift, you have a choice between the following two. What do you think is best for you?
- “Yesterday lasting a little longer; Tomorrow coming a little sooner”
- “Yesterday” is what your industry was built on and is probably what they/you are hanging onto today. “Tomorrow” is everything that your trade organization is fighting.
Is it risky to be the outlier and reach for “tomorrow” in your organization or industry? Probably. But if you are no longer employed by your current employer if five years do you want the reason to be that you walked lock-step like you were “supposed to” then were laid off when the looming downturn came? Or do you want your story to be that you did what you knew needed to be done; got fired; then continued your personal transformation and changed how you perform your old job with another company (maybe your own)?
In closing, I would like to thank the CRB for bringing Seth to Nashville. His message is vital to the livelihood of your industry and it’s refreshing to see that someone there is embracing it.
Are you interested in the idea of podcasting for your business or personal endeavors? Me, too!!
So you’ve never recorded your own podcast and have no idea where to start? Come with me to the following sessions that sound like they’re just right for us! Some of these are about social media and not specifically podcasting.
From Prep to Post, The Podcasting Process by Justin Davis
A Slice of Cake: The Secret to Podcast Listener Loyalty by Dave Delaney
Your Site Sucks! by Kate O’Neil (not much about podcasting, but how can you pass this one up????)
How to Use A Chainsaw Without Cutting Off Your Leg by Bill Seaver
Podcasting and WordPress – Like Digital PB&J! by Mitch Canter (aka studionashvegas)
Outside of the sessions, PodCamp will be a great event to meet other people in your community. And outside of networking and learning, there are plenty of opportunities to get involved!!! Volunteers are needed for various levels of time and skill sets. If you are interested in attending, presenting, or volunteering go sign up now!!
The line between people who “can’t” do something and the people who “don’t” do things is becoming increasingly blurred.
You know the people:
I can’t lose weight.
I can’t get my finances in order.
I can’t get the respect of my peers at work.
I can’t spare money/time for charities or others in need.
I can’t find the time to read to my children.
Another translation of “can’t” in this manner is “I don’t have time to…”
How many of the total number of contestants who enter the show, The Biggest Loser, have repeatedly said that they CAN’T lose weight. But after several weeks of pushing their body, mind, and spirit beyond where they had tried before, the contestants drop amazing amounts of weight and become different people on the inside and out.
The trainers and constant supervision are certainly tools that each person did not have prior to being on the show. But the fact remains is that it was NEVER something that each them of them couldn’t do. It was something they didn’t do.
The first step to accomplishing something that you never thought possible is to move it from the “can’t” section of your brain to the “don’t” section. Once you have it there, you can figure out whether or not you want to move forward. If not, simply choose not to do it but don’t say that you can’t.
What couldn’t you do yesterday that you are going to accomplish today?
People say “thanks” when they’re not actually thankful for the other party’s action. At this point, it’s almost a substitute for “goodbye.” And due to this, it is greatly cheapened. I agree with the other party in that regard.
But it’s been taken a step further in that saying “thanks” puts you in a “position of weakness.” I whole-heartedly disagree.
Here is a post by Seth Godin that happens to be quite timely to our conversation. I’m posting the entire post since it’s so short (as Seth does so well).
Do you deserve the luck you’ve been handed? The place you were born, the education you were given, the job you’ve got? Do you deserve your tribe, your customer base, your brand?
Not at all. “Deserve” is such a loaded word. Most of us don’t deserve the great opportunities we have, or the lucky breaks that got us here.
The question shouldn’t be, “do you deserve it.” I think it should be, “what are you going to do with it now that you’ve got it?”
When someone takes time out of their day to share with us a bug in one of our applications or watch a webinar where we are spouting off about something we created, I am deeply thankful for that person doing so. What motivated that person to spend their time from a busy day to share with us? And more importantly, how/what can we do to deliver something to them that makes our next event with them go on their “can’t miss” list?
If that puts me in a position of weakness, then I will gladly serve that role.
In closing, I would like to say that you taking your time to read this trivial email is appreciated by me. If it was worth your time, I look forward to the next opportunity you give me to chat with you.
Photo Credit: http://flickr.com/photos/psd/