My guest today is marketer Josh Fechter, formerly of Autopilot marketing automation tool, who has recently created his own agency Badass Marketers and Founders. He is also an entrepreneur who has learned many lessons from his previous startup ventures. I found Josh on his agency’s Facebook Group and was blown away by the amount of free information he shared, including google drive folders full of google docs with his tactics, strategies and thoughts. If you are looking for new and innovative marketing ideas to test and grow your business, this episode is for you.
Listen to this Episode:
Topics Discussed in this Episode:
- Growth marketing as founders
- Josh’s first failed business venture
- Adding value to people’s lives and the success gap
- Cold email and how Josh grew his facebook group using LinkedIn
- The ethics of social media automation
- Collaboration and Instagram engagement groups
- Using Quora for visibility and leads
- Writing good copy for Quora and Facebook ads
— Josh Fechter (@joshuafechter) August 21, 2017
- The Kingdom of God is Within You by Leo Tolstoy
- Badass Marketers and Founders
- Badass Marketers and Founders – Facebook Group
Louis: Josh, thank you so much for your time. I’m going to tell a little story to the listeners. A few months ago, I was searching for Facebook groups because I wanted to start to get new ideas for my marketing. I was thinking of launching this podcast and I wanted to get to know whether or not there were other podcasts out there that were speaking about the same stuff.
I started this search about growth marketing, marketing, digital marketing groups and I literally couldn’t find any that seemed good. I joined a few. After a week, I got spammed by articles in my feed about Instagram Automation 101. I just couldn’t take it. I was really getting annoyed. I was like, “Is there no free Facebook group anymore where you can actually connect with people and reach out to them?”
Then I discover your group. You renamed it Badass Marketers and Founders recently but I joined it. I was quite surprised, to tell you the truth, because usually that’s what happens. You join, you receive a lot of articles that are nonsense, a lot of spam and there’s no engagement on the group. But then, I looked at the post and every single post there was unique. I’ve never seen it before and it wasn’t linking to anything external, to any external website. It was just either the post was on Facebook or linked to a Google Doc.
Every single post got 500 likes, 600 likes and many, many comments. I was like, “What the fuck?” Kudos to you. That was really impressive. That’s why I’ve been in touch with you at the site. I wanted to talk to you. The first question to you would be you say that you’re a growth marketer and you would connect with a lot of growth marketers. But do you think growth marketing isn’t just marketing at the end of the day?
Josh: Yeah, I think growth is a framework and it’s also a mindset. It could be applied to anything. If you want to be an actor, you could use growth marketing to become an actor. Because of framework, it’s measured on such variables like cost, time, expected result. It’s really meant for you to just chase the lowest hanging fruit as fast as you can but it’s up to you, if that fails, to iterate again and chase another low hanging fruit. Does that make sense? Any industry.
Louis: I met a lot of marketers in the last few years and I would consider myself a digital marketer. But this is what I think good digital marketers do naturally, right?
Josh: Yes. I would say this is what good digital marketers do naturally. But there aren’t many good digital marketers. That’s the issue. If you look at the realm of marketing, I would say even in Silicon Valley where people are considered there to be some of the best marketers in the world, I still meet very few. There’s a lot of cloud space in the sense where because companies get funding so fast, marketers rise with the company and then they could say, “I am head of growth for this company that got $5 million in funding.”
But it doesn’t mean that they’re profitable. It doesn’t mean that they’re going to succeed. In fact, that may mean that as soon as they reach even $50 million in ARR, they’re going to cut half the team anyways just to recoup a lot of their losses. It’s navigating those types of waters which can be the very treacherous. That’s crazy.
Louis: Before we dive into marketing tactics and strategy and talk about that in more detail, could you define what you mean by a good marketer or a good growth marketer? How could you quickly define this person?
Josh: I would say the best growth marketers today are actually founders. If you know how to market a company and you know how to find product market fit, then you should become a founder. That’s where I see the best growth marketers go. If you want to look at the growth marketers that have made it and the best of the best, they’re all founders now. I think it’s not a coincidence at all.
Louis: That’s an interesting definition.
Josh: If you’re looking for a good growth marketer within the company and maybe someone that’s going to push it to the next level, it’s usually the guy working on side projects that’s really obsessive about them.
For example, I remember I went to my boss and I said, “Hey, can I work on this Instagram automation project?” We had seven Instagram accounts because we’re hyper-local events company. We’re doing events in seven cities. He said no. He says, “I don’t understand what Instagram automation is. It doesn’t make sense to me.” I didn’t understand what it was either but I knew people are getting results. When I did it anyways, in three months, I had seven Instagram profiles automated. It was on track to bring in $200,000 of revenue that year to the company.
It’s entirely automated and I was just thinking to myself, I was like, “Oh my gosh. There’s so many other things out there like this.” But it’s that marketer, right? That’s doing those side projects even when someone says no, because they see what’s possible. All you have to do is reverse engineer. If you reverse engineer it, then you’re fine but that takes a lot of skill in it of itself though.
Louis: Yeah but that’s an interesting way of viewing this because I haven’t heard that before. It’s actually a very good definition. If you’re a founder one day, you created a start-up before but if you were about to start a company again, that’s probably the type of person you would look for to join your team. People who are working on side projects, people who proved that they were able to get something from nothing, absolutely nothing with zero money or almost zero money, no employees, no traction to a project that has traction, that has customers, and all those kind of stuff.
Josh: Yeah, absolutely. That’s very difficult because most people aren’t resourceful enough to do that from scratch and they don’t believe they can. If you don’t have any money for side projects, you’re not going to think you can make any money. It’s simply not true. You have the internet. You have cold email. Cold email alone can make you a lot of money if you know how to use it. That doesn’t cost you anything.
Louis: True, apart from your time, which can be quite costly for some people. Before we dive into more details into marketing, I think you have a lot of stuff you can tell us about. I just want to go back to you a little bit. It’s not something that you necessarily talked about a lot. You do a lot of interviews with a lot of founders but you don’t necessarily talk about yourself a lot.
I learned that you come from kind of a traditional Jewish family. You even have your bar mitzvah in Israel. You had this culture from a young age that was quite different from when you went to high school and then college. But then I heard an interview from you, you’re saying that even from a young age, you were very driven and very ambitious. I’m just curious about was there any particular event or particular story that you have to tell us about why you were so driven and ambitious from a young age?
Josh: I think from a young age, it was hard to say what drove me when I first started college. I think that was purely from playing high school sports. When I played high school sports, my family was pretty strict regarding working out, exercising. My mom owns a yoga studio and I think it’s the second oldest in San Diego, for reference, she’s owned the yoga studio for like 40 years. My dad was ex-kick boxer, was a marine sergeant. Super hard core on, “Hey, have your shit together and go play football.” I became a great football player. I was going to play D1 before I got a pretty bad injury.
When I went to college, I still had that same competitiveness. But it really just toned down a lot after I got injured. From there, I would say it was seeing that my parents were getting older, that was a big one. What many people don’t realize is that, especially young entrepreneurs, that their parents are going to get older and someone is going to have to take care of them, that they want a family, that they have to make enough money to have a family.
That was something I started to realize just far earlier, especially my dad has PTSD and that’s from being in the military, and my mom recently had surgery. Just knowing all that stuff was going to happen at some point. Yeah, it feels good knowing that I’m in a better position to help them than I was awhile ago because I saw this coming but most people don’t and it could really hurt their career. I was just talking to my friend the other day and his mom came down to illness. He quit his job because he couldn’t take it. That’s a shame, you never want to be in that position.
Louis: Thanks for sharing all of that, I really appreciate it. I understand now. It’s funny because it’s kind of the same for me. I have a lot of siblings and I know that one day, I’m going to have to take care of them because I’m the eldest. This is the reason why I’m very driven as well, this is the reason why I wake up early every day, this is the reason why I do all of those side projects, and I want the best for myself because I know the resources I’m putting aside will be useful for them. Thanks for sharing that again. I would say having a dad who is a kick boxer probably was quite a good education as well. He didn’t really do anything bad, did he?
Josh: Man, that was crazy. I think he’s around close to 70 right now and he still has a six pack.
Louis: He’s the kind of guy that you see on Instagram that has a better build than you and he’s like twice your age and you’re like, “Fuck.”
Josh: Very true.
Louis: I don’t want to necessarily advertise the fact that you dropped out of college and stuff because it doesn’t necessarily mean that people who drop out of college are successful but you did drop out of college. You launched a business. You launched a start-up with a few friends. Without getting into a lot of details about it because you talked about it a few times before and then I guess we can share that in the shownotes, because it didn’t make much money, how did you sustain yourself? Did you have your parents helping you financially?
Josh: Oh man, I barely had money saved up. I think I had around $5,000 in total saved up. I was living in the garage of this college house and it cost me around $450 a month to live in a garage. I was just eating oatmeal, peanut butter. That was bad for college period, I mean it wasn’t super bad for your health but eating the same food every day can be pretty miserable. I just lived on that for a while.
I don’t know if I did some other work during that time, I might have but nothing major at all. Nothing I can remember. That was brutal and everybody was just down for the cause. Because I had to convince several other college students to basically join me and say, “Hey, we’re going to work full-time on this with you.” That was the first time I had to step into a leadership position to really get people to believe in something where there was no path to monetization, to making money. We just knew something was happening that was good.
We got a ton of traffic, we got around 24,000 views a day, actually visitors a day but we had no idea how to make money from it which is hilarious now that I think about it because that’s not like the best problem to have. We’re just young college kids. I was teaching myself webdev from scratch, just trying to plug the way and so, so difficult. Even though it did fail, I did learn a ton about digital marketing, how to drive traffic and webdev and that was super helpful in my career.
Louis: Usually, when I hear stories of failed start-ups from people, usually it’s from people who had the means to sustain themselves. Even if they had no money from the start-up, they had money from friends or parents or whatever. It’s good to hear that you actually had your own money saved and you just grind it for a few months or even a year to try to launch this business. That’s quite interesting. Just for the listeners, you launched, it was a publication but it’s kind of an online newspaper.
Josh: Yes. Lifestyle publication and it’s similar to Leap Daily which is just junk content, to be honest. Totally honest about that, it wasn’t the best type of content I was putting out, very click baity, performed super well on Facebook. The cost per click was less than a cent. We’re just really taking advantage of Facebook at that time. It was amazing to be on Facebook, oh my gosh. You can’t do that now. At that time, everything was working so well regarding traffic.
We tried using like Google AdSense, a lot of different affiliate programs but we’re all over the place. We found a cool hack to recruit writers, which is during that time, you can message anyone on Facebook as long as you had a friend in common with them. If you didn’t have a friend in common, you can pay $1 to get to their primary inbox.
We just had some friends join us, we used all our Facebook profiles to message thousands upon thousands of would-be writers and we recruited 150 writers in 3 months. It was pumping out tons of content. We did get some good organic traffic from some of the content but mostly from Facebook. Because we’re just putting out so much content, we just started hitting every niche. We’re like, “Oh, we’re recruiting a ton of writers who like travel, let’s open a travel category. Recruiting ton of writers who like food, let’s open the food category.” All of a sudden, you are spread super, super thin and then you’re trying to monetize and you have no idea what to sell.
Louis: Do you think one of the biggest mistakes you’ve done at this stage was not to specialize in one niche and instead trying to reach everybody?
Josh: Absolutely. I think it was going also for shiny objects. We touted our visitor number a lot. We’re like oh, we’re getting this many visitors and we have never talked about revenue. We were cliché, cliché first time startup founders.
Louis: But I appreciate you mentioning that because it’s true. It sounds cliché but at least you learned from it. You were in the dark side of the force for a few months. Now, you’re in the light side. At least 90% of what you do is the light side. I will talk about the dark side a bit more in the next few minutes. That’s a nice transition to what I wanted to talk to you about next.
As you know from the podcast, as you listened to one episode already, I’m pretty intense I would say, into the fight against bad marketing, what I qualify bad marketing and the fact that I believe that marketers can grow and get more leads and visitors without having to use any shady, manipulative tactics. From your perspective, and you’ve been on the other side of the force, why do you think marketers have a bad reputation in general?
Josh: I would say marketers have a bad reputation because they don’t understand the fundamental principle of giving value without expecting anything in return and to do that over and over again on a consistent basis. It’s hard because you don’t really see the positive outcome like the light at the end of the tunnel until maybe you work two years on giving value.
For example, you started as a writer and you could be a content marketer, but the content you produce when you’re in the first year as a content marketer is trash. You have to produce 1,000 articles before it becomes really good and people are actually willing to read it and maybe even willing to pay you to read it.
You’re going to go through that whole period of your life without providing value but trying. Most people don’t want to go through that, they just want to hit you up right away and say, “Just try this out. Do this.” Because they don’t want to write 1,000 articles, they don’t want to do that. It’s a shame because that’s what it takes. That’s why a few marketers are truly great at what they do. They’re willing to put in the time.
Louis: There’s a lot of talk about that. Adding value is something that everybody’s talking about. A lot of people are talking about it, not a lot of people are actually doing it. Your Facebook group is for marketers, your own marketers. It’s kind of easy to know what value you can bring to those people because I suppose you look in the mirror and you kind of know the issues you struggled with and definitely you know how to help them. But I’m curious to know how would you briefly explain to a marketer in a niche, it’s not necessarily marketing, to add value? How do you actually add value to people’s lives?
Josh: I would say the first step of adding value is to understand what people’s desired result is. They say there’s a success gap whenever you sell a product. You sell a product to sell a pain point but the success gap is maybe they use your product and solve just a little bit of their pain point, doesn’t solve the whole thing. Everything in between is that gap. How can you solve that?
If you really want to dig down to people’s pain point, it comes to just understanding who they are and being very empathetic, it’s no more than that. For example, if you’re walking on someone’s shoes so it’s just like being a founder, being a marketer, it’s very easy to speak to them in that language. I’ve been a founder and I’ve been a marketer and I’ve been in the startup world for over five years now. I can speak to those type of people. It’s not like I have to constantly ask them questions. I do it from time to time just to get better and really try to get in their heads but the most part I’m pretty good at speaking to them.
Even professional content marketers, even the best, it’s very hard for them to write a blog post that has to do with the industry they don’t know about. It’s actually like walking those shoes, very difficult. They try to actually get the person whose role is within the company who also represents their target customer to add in to that blog post, the person with expertise.
For example, whenever we have an article to go out on Autopilot’s blog, I look over it. Because I want to make sure it’s great for the marketer, it’s great for the founder when they read it, they’re stoked about it.
Louis: That’s something we haven’t mentioned yet but you are the growth evangelist for Autopilot. In my own words, without using the official description of it, it’s a way to build customer journeys. It’s a drag and drop interface and you can use different channels, connect to each other and create a personalized experience for your prospect customers, right?
Josh: Correct. That evangelist side is basically a made-up title.
Louis: Right, I’m glad you said it. Just to come back to the value, I know, as I said, marketers talk a lot about that but not a lot of people would actually do it. The reason why I really wanted to talk to you was because you actually do it. I’m a witness of it. Almost everyday, you post something of value on the group and you give access.
You have this giant Google drive folder with most of your articles that you wrote, with most of the tactics that you use, most of the strategies that you use for free access for anybody. They don’t have to give their email address, they don’t have to do any of that, you just share that to members of the group.
When I first saw it I was like, “Wow. That’s the first time I’ve seen that.” Because usually, what happens is that you’re going to create a lead magnet, you’re going to have to enter you email address, you’re going to receive a PDF summary of a blog post that you wrote five years ago that is not relatable at all then you’re going to have to wait another week to receive something else while you did the exact opposite.
That’s why the case in point is right here. I wanted to talk to you because you provided value, I trusted you in return and I respected you in return. This is why we’re talking together today. I think it’s a great example of adding value. Don’t be afraid to teach everything you know and to give that away for free because it’s going to pay off and the example is right here. Thanks for that.
Another thing I wanted to talk to you about regarding bad marketing as I mentioned, of shady marketing or the dark side of the force, whatever you want to call it. There are a few tactics that you mentioned in your folders that I read. One of them is for example you explained how to scrape emails from LinkedIn to contact those people and cold email them about specific things.
You explained how you actually grew the Facebook group which I found quite interesting. You’ve identified LinkedIn discussion groups in different areas around marketing that didn’t have a lot of engagements. You actually then found a way to get the email of those members and email them about your Facebook group that have much more engagement. Is that correct?
Josh: That’s true.
Louis: You’re waiting for the question. For this particular tactic, I believe that you used it in the right way in the sense that you knew that, as exactly as you said before, there was a gap between what those people wanted to get and where they wanted to go. You knew that your Facebook group was more valuable than the LinkedIn group they were a part of. You used that to add value to their lives and there was no strings attached, they could just join for free. Where do you draw the line when using those tactics like scraping emails between good marketing and bad marketing?
Josh: It’s horrifying because I think Gmail would do that for you. If you send too many emails that people don’t like, they’ll just ban your account.
Louis: Fair enough.
Josh: It’s an interesting tactic because there are some people that responded, “Hey, don’t email me again.” But I’d say 90% of the responses I received were positive. That’s when I knew that there was something go on. I was like, “Maybe I have something. This is cool.”
The first email blast I shot out was probably to around 150 people, just testing. I was like, “I wonder if this would work.” And it did. I was like, “Oh my gosh, wow. This is cool.” If you find something like that, you have to double down. In this case, I just 12x it. It’s because it doesn’t always exist forever.
As soon as I started telling people about what I was doing, other people started doing it and I noticed that. But it was much harder for them because I already did it. The funniest thing though is when you email let’s say a LinkedIn group and you say, “Hey, come to this Facebook group.” Sometimes you email the organizer of that LinkedIn group. I got a couple of emails that were like, “Are you serious?” That was so funny. It’s great.
Louis: The other stuff you mentioned such as automation on Instagram and that kind of things. I think just to answer the question myself because it’s an interesting topic and I think there’s a lot of gray area in marketing. I’m not even going to call that a hack or a tactic or anything because to me it’s actually a very clever way to contact people. I started to email people and cold email people before. As long as it’s valuable, I think it’s okay to do it.
But I think as soon as you explain and describe this tactic to people, it becomes so called best practice and this is where, exactly as you mentioned, it’s starting to lose value over time. Because everybody else is doing it, therefore it just leveraged the playing field, right?
Josh: Yeah, absolutely. It happens really fast. Especially if you’re marketing to marketers and founders, then it happens even faster. That’s probably where every tactic is going to be used up super, super quick. There are many tactics out there that you can still use but you just can’t use it for that crowd. You can use it for people who maybe it’s like the RV market. These people are pretty old, they deal with the RVs and that’s a big market. We just have to be careful. Pick and choose wisely.
Louis: I’m just curious about have you ever done anything that you regretted? Where you were like, “That’s not really ethical or that’s not really cool to do that. I wouldn’t like people to do that to me.” Have you ever had that when you were trying new tactics?
Josh: I would say not necessarily when trying new tactics but just when learning how to provide value to people in the beginning and not knowing how to do it, not even knowing that you’re doing something wrong. Many people that reach out to you that merely ask for a favor don’t know that they’re doing anything wrong. They just haven’t really understood the idea of giving value.
It’s almost like you’re at this innocent state but you have to learn how to get out of it. I just remember hitting up one of my connections to get a job out of college. He was co-owner of the Pod Raise which is San Diego’s baseball team as well as he also ran this hedge fund. I think he is working around $500 million. I had big connections with him.
I emailed him asking for like an intro for internship. He said, he’s like, “Hey, you haven’t talked to me for x amount of time. Why would I even do this for you? This is not how you network with people.” Basically gave me this huge lecture and he said it’d help me and it did. Now, whenever I do anything, I always try to give value first. With that said, you did mention Instagram automation. I would say Instagram automation is unethical, to be honest.
Louis: I appreciate that. Tell me why.
Josh: I said it.
Louis: Yeah, you said it. It feels better, doesn’t it?
Josh: It does feel better.
Louis: Tell me why.
Josh: You’re having bots, accounts. You’re basically playing with people’s emotions, people that don’t know that you’re doing it and that’s wrong. For example, let’s say I’m this 19 year old guy and I’m on Instagram. I have 30 pictures uploaded, just got into college and all of a sudden I have all these people commenting on my picture and they think I’m cool.
I also feel really cool and I start checking Instagram more. But these are just bots and they’re pulling all these emotional responses from me that are not doing any good to my life really. They’re validating something that in a way maybe it shouldn’t even be validated.
Louis: Instagram has recently shut down an automation service. I think they’re going to go full force into blocking all of those. To be honest, I think Twitter should do the same. There’s so many bots out there. It’s not as bad as it seems on Instagram even though as soon as you tweet something like growth hacking, you literally get 50 likes on the tweets, almost instantly followers that just follow you and follow you back. I think if I have to choose a tactic that is going to die pretty soon, that would be social media automation. If Twitter and Instagram need to grow revenue, they’re going to understand pretty quickly that automation actually is killing their growth.
Josh: Yeah, I think that was a big problem with many of these platforms. They would rely on automation too much. Like all the fake Twitter accounts that were doing all these automated actions because it made their platform look like it had more activity so they could approach investors, so they could attract more employees and get higher valuation.
All those fake numbers really helped them because nobody really knows how many. That’s the question that nobody really knows the answer to. People have some guess but it’s just this huge interval. I mean half of interactions on Twitter could be fake, that won’t even surprise me.
Louis: I think it’s even more than that to be honest, in Twitter specifically. Do you still do Instagram automation at the minute?
Josh: No, I don’t do Instagram automation anymore. I do engagement groups. What I found out especially after Instagram shut down Instagress and really just starting hammering down automation, that you have to either make a jump or stay in the dying field. That Instagram automation will just feel like this dying field and it’s not going to exist a year from now. What is going to exist is collaboration.
Engagement groups, it’s basically just networking with high level Instagram players. The hard part though is you have to have leverage to get into these groups. You have to have a large account already. You either buy an account or you can work with an agency who runs a bunch of these higher level accounts and will just hook your account up. Let’s say they have 20 fitness accounts, you start a fitness account. They’re just going to tag you in their pictures, like your pictures. It will grow from maybe 500 followers all the way up to 5,000.
Louis: Got you. But there’s an interesting sentence that you just said. I think it’s the answer towards should I do this tactic or should I avoid it. Will this be here in a year? I know that a lot of growth marketers or growth hackers would try to jump in the next thing that they can do right now to grow an extra 5% but I would definitely recommend to avoid that and to focus on the long-term thing.
In five years, will people still connect and collaborate with each other? Absolutely. Will it be on Instagram? I don’t know. Will it be somewhere else? Yes. Build relationships and add value because that’s never going to change, right?
Josh: Yes, that’s never going to change. That’s one of the things that I started realizing around maybe a couple of years ago, was the most important thing in becoming an influencer in the industry is not how skillful you are now but what’s going to give you longevity. What’s going to be useful today and what’s going to be useful in five years?
To me, I was like, “Okay, video skills. Shooting video probably will still be around, writing will still be around.” If you nailed on copywriting and you nailed on video, you’re going to be useful for a very long time. Those are two skills that I feel like are so underrated, to be honest. Everybody’s learning things that are just getting outdated, like left and right you learn Facebook ads and the interface gets outdated a month later. It’s rough.
Louis: It is rough.
Josh: Focus on something that’s relevant and will be relevant for a while.
Louis: I’m glad you said that because I agree completely. I wanted to get into one tactic in particular that you mentioned. Usually, I don’t really like talking about tactics because sometimes exactly as we said, after a year it just doesn’t work anymore or it’s not something that is going to work ever again. But I have a feeling that this particular thing that I want to talk to you about will be there in 5 or 10 years.
I wanted to talk to you about Quora and the way you’ve actually managed to get a lot of people following you in Quora and manage to grow your Facebook group this way. Quora for people who don’t know is a kind of a Q&A website where you can ask a question then people can answer. The best answers get adverted and obviously, the best answers usually get a lot of visibility and the person who wrote it will also get a lot of visibility.
I think it’s a tactic that not a lot of people are aware of or a lot of people will be aware of Quora or any other Q&A website but they don’t really know how to add value and how to grow their profile or their company’s profile this way. I’d like to get into a quick how-to step by step for listeners to understand how to actually leverage this particular network.
If in five years Quora is dead, I’m pretty sure that there will be another Q&A website out there where you can use the exact step by step to grow. The first thing you say is to find the right questions to ask on Quora. Can you tell me a little bit more about this?
Josh: One of the things I found out was with Quora, if you’re a great copywriter and you can strategically answer questions such as finding one’s word that’s most likely to pop off. What I mean by that is they have a ton of followers and there’s not that many answers. In my rule it’s always 7:1. That just helps me set something where I was like okay, I know that this is more likely to pop off and I will just chase enough for those. No specific reason, except that I knew that 7:1 looks like a good ratio and might as well test that out. It worked.
Then I also dove into how do you write really good copy for Quora? They love personal stories. If you have an interesting life or you can make things sound interesting through just good copywriting, then you could write really good answers.
They don’t just want personal stories but they also want personal pictures as well. If you have pictures of your life, pictures of those moments, you could include those too and that’s gold.
I think if you’re looking to really use Quora to further your career or for leads, then you want to focus on niches. It could be very tempting to jump into more lifestyle stuff or personal development because it gets far more interaction but those are very low quality leads. You want to stay in B2B, startups, especially if you’re in that scene and that’s what you’re marketing to. There are tons of different niches but definitely don’t jump into the ones that are just the engagement. Make sure you focus on the quality, makes a huge difference.
Louis: I think listeners don’t necessarily realize that Quora gets lots of attention from people. It’s a very well-known website. Not necessarily because a lot of people would go on it directly but because it ranks really well on Google as well. People would search for something and chances are that it was answered on Quora before. It actually gets a lot of traction.
The reason why you mentioned the 7:1 ratio is quite interesting. You said it has to have at least seven times more followers than answers. When people follow a question on Quora and they see your answer flipping up, they actually get notified when your answer is there, right?
Josh: True. If you follow somebody and they write an answer then I’ll get notified. That’s very, very powerful. They also include you in your Digest as well and that goes out to tons and tons of people. I’ve been put in Digest that have gone out to a million people. It’s basically just like an email newsletter and they include your answer in there which to me is just crazy. I’m like wow.
The amount of traffic that it’s driven, it’s just been insane, to be honest. I just never seen anything like it and it’s open game right now. I don’t think it’ll be that way forever and it’s not stopping anytime soon. I know Quora just raised a new round. I don’t know if there’s like $50 million or something, that’s quite a bit of money so they’re not going away anytime soon.
Louis: What I like about this tactic is really that I think you have to have good skills to be able to leverage the network there. I don’t think it’s for everybody. It’s not as easy access as Instagram automation and I think the principle of it which is finding good answers, creating value, adding a lot of value, that’s something that’s never going to move and change. It’s always going to be there, somehow.
It’s really something that isn’t just easy to talk about. Josh, you were saying to find the right answer and I find that very pretty interesting. Whether it’s on Quora or something else, try to find an interesting question that you can answer that is followed by a lot of people and a lot of answers that are already there pretty mediocre or bad. Then you say to make yourself memorable.
I like that you’re using kind of the Seth Godin, The Purple Cow type of methodology where if everybody is answering a specific way, would go against the grain and answer it in a kind of a controversial manner which is quite cool and then using images, writing well. But I like this tactic and this is the reason why I wanted to talk to you about it because I think that not everybody’s able to do it and do it well. It’s not like Instagram automation where you can literally pay $20,000 a month and they can automate your stuff.
Josh: So true.
Louis: That’s what I wanted to talk to you. Now, let’s talk about the future of marketing briefly. You started to talk about this in the last few minutes but what do you think marketers should learn today that will help them in the next 10 years, 20 years, 30 years?
Josh: I know I talked about copywriting and video editing. I think the most underrated skill is just moving on from failure extremely fast. This sounds sort of strange but you have to be very self-aware. For example, let’s say I’m working at a software company. I don’t like my job. I don’t feel like I’m growing very much. That right there is a test. That’s like my framework of how do you find a good job?
I had a low hanging fruit, I took out this company, now I’ll move onto the next one and see if that company fits you better. I see very few marketers do this. I think part of it is because they’re not willing to fail. They’re not willing to waste several hundred dollars on Facebook ads to see if something performs better. They’d rather just use what exists.
For example, I’ve come into companies and they’re spending like $40,000 on Facebook ads and I’ll slash that to $20,000 and get the same results in a matter of 20 minutes just by changing their copy. Nothing special, just a copy and it’s because their head of marketing, VP of marketing just never wants to take a risk and throw out some copy. They would rather work with an agency that just does it one way over and over again.
To me, that’s insane. But that’s what it is and that’s crazy to me. There are opportunities everywhere for marketers, I feel like very few of them see it. Moving on from failure, I wish more of them did that, in all honesty, but it’s hard. It is hard.
Louis: You said one thing that is quite interesting. Usually, you would see Facebook ads or Instagram ads or whatever and usually the copy will be really bad and you’ll change it. Can you tell us briefly about what you would typically change or the type of thing you would add?
Josh: Yes. One of the biggest things I see on Facebook is copy that goes after pain point, benefit, and solution. The pain point would be do your emails get low deliverability rates? Then use our x software to get deliverability rates that will destroy your competitors. Something like that. People don’t want that on Facebook, they want to be entertained, to be honest. They want to feel like they’re discovering.
That’s sort of been the go-to method forever is this benefit-solution pain point type of copy but you have to go after entertainment. For example, I ran this ad, I got featured in Inc. magazine because it went viral. All I did was play to something funny in San Francisco’s culture. I know tech pros, this phrase is really big here and people talk about it all the time and they think it’s really funny.
I was like, wow, I’ll just throw this into the copy and I’ll make it even funnier by saying that our service is not for tech pros even though tech pros were our main customers. I said like if you’re a tech pro, then this is not for you. It just blew up. It had nothing to do with the pain point, the benefit, the product but it drove down our cost per lead like crazy. This is because it was entertaining. That’s what people want to see.
Louis: The reason why that the cost per lead went down is because the quality went up I suppose and also that more people would click on it because of it, right?
Josh: Exactly. People actually trust companies more that are funny. If someone comments below, “Oh, this is so funny.” Then they’re like, “Wow. These people are smart.” If they think you’re smart, they think you’re more trustworthy.
Louis: That’s a very good tactic as well. The last question I wanted to ask you today would be if you have to pick three resources to help the listeners to get better at their job and to improve their skills, what would they be? They could be books, podcasts, conferences, whatever you want.
Josh: I’m not a big fan of suggesting resources because then I’ll just suggest my Facebook group, right?
Louis: Yup, that’s one.
Josh: That’s one. One of the books that I thought was really cool and it changed the way that I think about community and leading community comes from this writer named Leo Tolstoy. He’s the most famous Russian writer and Gandhi, Martin Luther King were both huge fans of this work and that’s why I got into it. They’re really big fans of this one book called The Kingdom of God is Within You. It has this big name. It’s not a religious book or anything. It’s really just about how you should provide value to people. That was the first book that really just drilled home that I need to be working on providing value.
Louis: Wow. That’s the first time it has ever been mentioned and I have never heard of it before. Thanks for sharing that. Just to go back to your Facebook group, it’s called Badass Marketers and Founders, it’s private now. What’s the crack with that, as we say in Ireland?
Josh: Starting your own Facebook group is almost like being a founder again. Because if you’re trying to monetize it and trying to make money from it so you can keep it going, the management is very difficult just because you’re constantly cross-checking people’s profiles who are requesting. Since I made it private, and this wasn’t that long ago, I had like 400 requests sent for people to join the group.
It’s so funny because I made it private and part of it was to monetize it, just to see if it’ll work. It didn’t work the way I planned out, to be honest. I think that’s the beauty of it, it’s like figuring it out. I had a feeling it wouldn’t work out but I also wanted to test it.
Louis: I guess if I have an advice to give you, I want to tell you that, it’s just my two cents but you know Dan Norris who wrote the 7 Day Startup? He’s an Australian marketer and he basically did pretty much the same thing to this discovery. He had a free public Facebook group and then he created another private Facebook group that he just based on the super profiles like people who are very good contributors and who also had a lot of value to other people.
He basically let the Facebook public group as the way for people to discover what he does and then created a private community with this channel of private Facebook group with only really a selected few. I think I’ve seen this model a few times so maybe that’s where you’re planning to go but I think that’s where the value is. Because if you want to start charging for a group that used to be free, a lot of people would say, “Not cool.”
Josh: Yeah, very true. I’m so used to going against the grain, I saw what they did and I said, “Hey, what if this does work out?” Who knows? I’ve had many of those times that happened to be true because people just don’t ask enough basic questions. What if you sent an email to ask someone to join a Facebook group? Facebook groups and emails have been around for five years, at least.
I’m just thinking about it. I’m sure there’s other ways to monetize but I really want mine to be unique. I don’t want mine to be like everybody else’s. That way, I’ll stand out even more. As Seth Godin says with The Purple Cow, I think it’s already a bit of a purple cow but really just emphasize that one last time.
Louis: I agree. Actually, I did interview Seth Godin for the podcast. The episode is live now, the time we’re recording that. The time this episode is going to be published, the Seth Godin one will be published as well.
Just briefly to wrap up, I think there’s a difference between being remarkable for the sake of it and being remarkable and adding value at the same time. I think that’s what you do pretty well. I would say, if I can give you advice, would be to keep doing both because that’s what you’ve been doing so well, adding value.
But I wouldn’t think about monetizing, I don’t like this variable. I don’t think it makes sense, I think you need to keep adding more value and it’s going to be natural to start charging for some of it. Keeping a member of the group for sure, I’ll keep supporting you anyway. Let me know what I can do for you. Thanks again so much for your time. That’s really been very valuable. A lot of good tactics, a lot of good debate around specific topics. Thank you.
Josh: I appreciate it. Thank you for having me on. It’s been a blast.
Louis: No problem. Talk to you soon.
How to stand out: 9 bullshit-free lessons from world-class tech marketers
Insights from Seth Godin, Rand Fishkin, David Darmanin and 6 other world-class tech marketers.
I’m a no-fluff marketer living in Dublin, Ireland (but yeah, I’m French).
I believe you can treat people the way you’d like to be treated and still generate results without using sleazy, aggressive, hack-y marketing. This is why I’ve started Everyone Hates Marketers – a no-fluff, actionable marketing podcast – as a side project in April 2017.
I’m also the Content Lead at Hotjar – a powerful way to analyse people’s behaviour on your website or app and understand how you can improve their experience.