Marketing for Developers: How to Build Software People Want

Ah marketing for developers…

This week I’m talking to Justin Jackson, Canadian entrepreneur, speaker, Saas growth and marketing advisor, and author of Marketing for Developers and Jolt!. This episode is a great listen for developers who aren’t marketers themselves but want to launch a product or service. Justin will share his methodology for customer research, picking the right marketing, and ultimately creating a great product and tons of sales.

Listen to this Episode:

Topics Discussed in this Episode:

  • Product development as marketing
  • Justin’s career background in a non-profit and late entry into the tech industry
  • The need for better writing in marketing and on the internet
  • Observing customers in their habitat
  • Step-by-step advice for product development and iteration
  • Identifying viable markets
  • Tactical marketing tips and resources

Resources:

Full Transcript:

Louis: Justin, thank you so much for being on the podcast. You’re known for a book that you’ve published almost two years ago called Marketing for Developers. You’re helping marketers, people who are not marketers like developers, product people, artists, to actually get customer and revenue.

But the first question to you would be why do you think it’s so difficult for them to get customers and revenue in the first place?

Justin: I think it’s hard for everybody but I think people that like to make things just for the joy of making them, people get excited about a particular piece of technology, or get really excited about coding practices, or the technology stack, or trying out something new, sometimes they just want to make because they like to make things. They may have also heard that you can make money or make a business out of building apps and things like that. I think sometimes they think, “I’m good at making things, if I just make it, it’ll sell itself.”

            What people wanted was tactics and there’s lots of tactics in there but what I really started with is how to build a product that people want because I think 99% of marketing is actually just building a product that people want. I got a little bit of flack from that, about that, like why does this book start talking about how to build a product? The whole reason is that once you have something that people want, it’s a lot easier to market it.

Louis: Absolutely. I believe the exact same thing, I would go even deeper than that. If you have a shitty product or if you have a company selling a product that is not good or that really have to force people to buy it, this is when bad marketing happens, this is when you have to use shady much creative marketing tactics.

Justin: Yeah, exactly. I think there’s also this idea, especially in technology, that if you create something that’s really unique and cool, something that’s special, that people automatically flock to it. I think people only use products for one reason and that’s to make their lives better. When you think about it that way, it’s not so much about us, the people who’s making the app, it’s not so much about us and how clean our code is, it’s all about making other people’s lives better.

For me, as a shitty programmer, I could cobble something together that could help make more progress in a user’s life so I could help. If I’m helping them achieve their dream better than someone with clean code, I’m still going to win because that’s all the people want, all they want is progress. That’s not to say the technology stuff is not important, if your application has really serious performance problems, that becomes a marketing issue too but it’s very basic. Product and product marketing is just about showing people that this thing is going to make their life better.

Louis: You’re making a very good point at the start of your course for Marketing for Developers. You go through the example of flappy bird on the phenomenal success he had, the creator had. A lot of people tend to think that because of their survivor via stats, it could happen to them as well while it’s almost impossible for anybody to have the same success. Marketing is needed. There’s this book that Intercom released a few weeks ago now for startups. They explained the top 10 reason for failure for startups, most of them are coming from poor marketing foundations.

Justin: Hopefully, that’s good for people us because I think marketing is just starting to get more respected. For a long time, especially in technology, people felt like marketers were just swarmy, not nice people. Now, I think people are saying, “No, these people have a lot of domain knowledge and it’s actually a really important part of building your product is having a way of communicating the value that product provides to the user.”

To me, marketing is everything from building the product, figuring out what you’re going to build, all the way through to customer support. It’s like you’re marketing at every step of that funnel. I think now, it’s just starting to get it to do like this is not just something that sleazy people do. There’s actually a lot of value a marketer can bring to the table.

Louis: Yeah, I absolutely agree with you. Before we drill down into more details on how to do that and how to apply marketing in your business, I just want to expand a few things. I was looking for a new guest on my podcast and I asked on a Facebook group, “Give me the names of no nonsense marketers you know that you would recommend.” Your name kept coming up. I was like, “It feels familiar.” I realized that I actually read one of your essay, one of the best piece of content I have ever read, actually, called This is a Web Page that you wrote a few years ago.

            For the listeners out there, just Google This is a Web Page and read what Justin has wrote. It’s actually really good. I knew you from before and I always feel when I interview people that I know them and they don’t know me and that’s always a great, great, great fun because I’m like I know a lot of stuff about them and they don’t know anything about me, which is good.

            You launched Marketing for Developers around two years ago then you launched a course about it, you also have a community called Product People Club, you have a podcast like MegaMaker, you’ve done a lot of things. Before that, you’re a product guy from Middleton. There’s one thing, when I looked at your background that really flashed, like really told me I need to ask this question. You studied management marketing and you graduated in 2001. You started those product stuff in 2008, what happened in those seven years?

Justin: I was working in a non profit world with teenagers. I was basically a social worker for those eight years. In retrospect, it seems odd because I was so into computers and entrepreneurship up till that point. I had my own business in college but there is this organization that had this mission and I thought I should join up with them and I stayed longer than I thought I would. When I finally started working for a software company, it wasn’t until I was 28 years old.

By that point, I felt like I was ancient, already one of the oldest people in the room and I had to start at ground level there because I’ve been away from technology for so long. I always used technology even when I was working for the nonprofit but once I came back, I had to start answering phones and customer support and I worked my way up. I eventually became product manager there but I’m a late bloomer when it comes to the tech industry.

Louis: There’s nothing to be ashamed of. The brightest people don’t necessarily have a linear type of growth where they start in the first job, the second job, and they create their business. It never really works like this. It’s actually quite nice to hear that since you have experienced outside of product or tech because empathy is something that you probably developed quite a lot in the nonprofit.

Justin: When you’re working with teenagers, it’s all about going to their world and hanging out with them wherever they’re hanging out. There’s two schools of thought with them, with youth work and one is that you get kids to come to you, to your center or your special drop-in place or whatever.

The second school of thought is no, you need social workers that actually go to where kids hang out. If you think about that, that actually matches up with the lean marketing methodology. Some people, they just want to stay in the building and just want people to come to them and then there are people that want to actually get out of the building and go hangout with real human beings.

            Here’s an example of this. Inside of Tiny Marketing Wins, you can ask me questions, that’s one of the features. It’s kind of a Reddit style threaded, kind of AMA feature. One guy said, “How do I attract customers in the jewelry industry?” I’m thinking like, “Man, you’re in the jewelry industry, why don’t you just go and hangout with some customers, go find some customers.” I just realized, most people aren’t wired this way and so I took my camera, this is on YouTube, and I went down and I snuck my phone in, videotaping. I snuck into a jewelry store and watched people buy jewelry.

            I learned more about how people buy jewelry just observing those folks in 10 minutes than I would’ve ever just sitting on my computer trying to research how do people buy jewelry on the internet. I could actually watch people, what they do and form a hypothesis based on those observations.

In this case, my observation was 90% of the products in a jewelry store are for women, but, at least when I was there, 100% of the customers, people buying are men. They were all awkward. All of them were uncomfortable. They didn’t want to be there. They didn’t know what to choose. I think we can identify with that. If you’re buying something for your significant other and you don’t know anything about jewelry, it’s a stressful situation.

            Being able to observe that, I felt like I would be able to better market to those people because now I can say, “I see the obstacle in your life, it’s that buying jewelry makes you feel uncomfortable. Here’s the solution, I’ll make the jewelry buying easier or I will paint the picture of a better life that you’re seeking.” In this case, what do they want? They want their significant other to think they’re the best, they want to feel like the romantic partner.

            I think working with teenagers taught me that, that you can’t just stay in the building. If you really want to connect with people, if you really want to observe people, if you really want to understand them, you have to go where they’re at. That could be physically but it could also be online as well, just hanging out with people in forums, on Quora, on Twitter, in Facebook groups, actually spending time in those groups, not just going in and spamming them but actually seeking to understand people will go a long way in product and marketing.

Louis: See, I knew you would find a link between your previous experience and [00:12:51]. Let’s dig into the bad marketing type of thing. You started to discuss that a little bit, why do you think marketers have a bad reputation, and specifically, amongst non-marketers?

Justin: There is a lot of bad marketers that are doing things that aren’t great. I think the other thing is that no matter what, marketing is just trying to get your message through the noise. The message for good marketing is, here’s where you are, here’s where you want to go, here’s the obstacle in your way, we help you overcome that obstacle.

But by its very nature, because it’s trying to communicate through the noise, marketing creates more noise. Gary V has this slogan where he says, “Marketers ruin everything.” I think that’s true, I think at the end of the day, even good marketers eventually ruin everything, they ruin channels because that’s the way to get your message out.

            I can understand some of it like between the bad actors and the fact that if all you want is peace and quiet in your life then you probably won’t like marketers because we’re always trying to be loud, we’re trying to breakthrough the noise, we’re trying to get seen. I think that’s part of it. But I think there’s also this idea that marketing a product is somehow undesirable or something, just because it’s dirty or something.

Maybe some people in the tech industry don’t understand this right now because there’s a huge demand for their services and not as much supply. But in a normal supply and demand equilibrium, you need to promote what you’ve made, you can’t just let it sit. Most of the people who came to me and were asking me questions, this is why I wrote Marketing for Developers because they said, “I just finished my app, I’ve been working on it for three years. How do I get customers?” I’m like, “You should’ve been marketing all along, you should’ve spent 50% of your time marketing and 50% of your time building your product.”

They’re like, “Marketing is so gross, yucky.” I’m like, “There’s no way people are going to buy your product unless they know about it. In fact, it’s probably going to take 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12 touch points before they even know who you are, much less want to buy this thing you’ve made.

There’s no simple answer, there are some bad marketers, there’s some bad marketing and marketing by its very definition creates more noise. But if you are going to create something and you want people to use it, it’s the only way to get their attention, it’s the only tool you have so far for getting their attention. In that sense, I think it’s a good thing.

Louis: What type of bad marketing do you hate the most that you see online?

Justin: It’s so funny because my theme for this year for myself is get over yourself. I can formalize opinions and I do have a lot of opinions. I wrote this one blog post called The coupon code is a slap in the face. The whole idea was, when I get to a checkout, I don’t want to see a coupon code form field because it just makes me feel like I’m missing on a deal. But marketers use this all the time and I use them all the time too. They’re an effective way to drive purchases, they’re an effective way to get people to buy. But on the receiving end, I’m like, “Man, I hate it when I see one of those coupon code fields and I don’t have a coupon code.” It just makes me feel like I’m a lesser customer or I’m missing out on something.

            I don’t really like welcome mats, I don’t really like pop ups even though I know that they can work for getting more email subscribers. I don’t really like these big, long click funnel, landing pages where everyone is selling funnels and stuff like that. But at the end of the day, it really doesn’t matter what I think. There’s some people that think I’m a yucky marketer. I can say I’m sanitized and I’m a non-sleazy marketer but it all depends on where you’re sitting. Usually, it depends on where you’re sitting and how you make your money.

            Like Airbnb, everyone is like, “Oh Airbnb, they’re so classy and dignified.” But they had the worst marketing practices ever, they would spam Craigslist ads. They’re just doing all sorts of things that I think most folks would be like, “That’s a little bit sleazy.” But that’s what they had to do in the beginning to get traction. Eventually, that channel didn’t work for them and they moved on to other stuff. If a certain marketing tactic is working for you and you’re not taking advantage of people, maybe that’s the thing. A lot of bad marketers take advantage of people.

Louis: To answer your question, I think there are some principles behind it that are true regardless of the point of view you have. Exactly as you said, if you take advantage of people, or if you lie to them, or if you make them believe something that is not true, I think all of that is bad marketing. Yeah, everybody would do it once in their lifetime. It’s not about blaming them for doing it, it’s more about trying to find I’ve done it, used to be doing it.

            Just to go back to one thing you said, you said that you didn’t really like popups or welcome mats, just to expand to the listeners who don’t necessarily know what a welcome mat is, it will be like a sort of a big sign up form appearing in front of you before the website would appear. It’s forcing you to subscribe to make it disappear almost, that’s the one you’re referring to.

            But I would like to encourage people, the listeners, to go your website and see the way you’ve done it. Because to me, this website is your signature, it’s the summary of what you believe in. It’s justinjackson.ca. If you’re listening and you don’t know, if you’ve never been to his website, go on it and you’ll see what I mean.

How do you think marketers can make the web a better place? Is there anything we can all do to make the experience a bit more enjoyable for people?

Justin: That’s a really great question. Again, I think marketing really is just communicating. I think the web needs better writing. I think one way we contribute is through good writing. Just being thoughtful through everything. Just because a technique is working, doesn’t necessarily mean we should use all those techniques. I wrestle with this all time, which is, man, this thing is really working but I just don’t feel right about it, it doesn’t feel good at the end of the day.

            Popups is one. On my personal site, I don’t use popups. I think I have it on Marketing for Developers, there’s an exit intent popup. That’s like when someone’s read the site and they go to close the tab, it pops up saying, “Hey before you go, can you subscribe?” I find those less insidious than a welcome mat because a welcome mat blocks you from seeing the content in the first place but an exit intent popup says, “Hey you’re leaving, why don’t you just subscribe and then you can hear from me again in the future.” But I think it’s a good idea to constantly be evaluating the techniques we’re using and evaluating whether they’re worth it.

            I’ve done work for clients in the past, product marketing stuff that I just wasn’t proud of, cold emailing people, cold emailing lists than haven’t opted in, I just hated that stuff. I think if we don’t like doing that stuff, we should just not do it.

In my case, I said to the client, “I can’t keep doing this, I don’t feel good about it.” Ultimately, we have to deliver on our promise. If we’re selling something, we have to have product market fit, we have to be able to provide something that actually doesn’t just promise a real change in someone’s life, but actually delivers on that promise.

            I think that’s the trickiest part, is that a lot of marketers, once they have the lead, that’s it, they’re done. Full stack marketers will carry it right through the conversion but after they convert to a customer, it’s like hands off. We never get to see sometimes whether what we promised actually ended up happening.

I think that’s important if we want to build trust, we actually have to be on the product side also saying, “Okay, I just promised Janet from Idaho that this would make her life better.” We got to deliver on that promise. We can’t just hand that off to other people.

Louis: Because at the end of the day, it’s about creating good customers that will stick around for the long term. As a marketer, if you’re able to create that type of customer, then your job is much easier because they’ll refer you to others, they’ll be much happier, they won’t be consuming the customer service hours and teams as much as others, it’s a win-win really. You’ve touched on exactly what I wanted to talk to you about in more detail.

You’ve said the hardest part is actually to create something that people want in the first place. Knowing your course and your book about Marketing for Developers, I know that this is the first step. Obviously, it deserves more than the length of this episode but I thought that perhaps we can go through the main steps together and explain that in all detail.

Step one, what do you say to somebody coming to you and saying, “Okay, I haven’t created something yet, I have this idea. How do I it?

Justin: Before you even have an idea, I think you need to start with people. I’ve talked about this a lot so far, I think if you are branding to building products, you should build a product for someone, or an industry, or peers, or a workplace that is already paying you for your time and expertise. If you’re a software developer working in the banking industry, I think you should either build something for other software developers or you should build something for the banking industry.

            The reason is once you know who you’re trying to help, then you can figure out, okay, how can we actually make progress in their lives? What do they actually want? As opposed to us getting drunk and then waking up at 1:00AM with a great idea that we write in the notepad. The ideas we have at 1:00AM are disconnected from any human reality. You need to get with the people, you need to go where the people are at. It’s just a lot easier if you start with a group that you’re already connected to.

            The second step is to research these people. In the same way that I went to the jewelry store and observed real customers buying jewelry, you need to go wherever your audience, wherever your target market hangs out, wherever they are. This is why it’s a lot easier if you’re already serving those people. If you’re a consultant or a freelancer, that’s even better because then, you might have maybe build woo commerce stores for retail folks. Now, you can observe the patterns, what do they want from you over and over and over again.

            My buddy Paul is a good example, he was building courses on WordPress using Restrict Content Pro but he wanted a way of a student marking particular lesson as complete in WordPress. Him and his buddy Zac just built the super simple plugin called WP Complete that allows a student to complete on that lesson and then track their progress through a course built in WordPress. It’s doing really well for them because they were already in that world and they could observe not just the pain that they had but the pain that the people around them had.

            Do your research, observe people in their habitat and figure out what they’re struggling with and listen to how they want their life to be better. No one is just going to show up and say, “Hi, my name is Justin. Right now, I’m living in Edmonton, Alberta where it’s -30. I want to move to where I’m in now, the Okanagan, so I can ski more. What stands in my way, my job won’t let me move, I need to find a remote job, all this stuff.” That’s true, that’s what I wanted but most people don’t talk like that, you have to sit and observe and really get a sense of where are people now, what’s their dream of a better life and what stands in their way.

            Good marketing is just articulating that research back to people. If you had sent me an email saying, “Looking to make the jump from Edmonton to the Okanagan?” I’d be like, “Yeah, how do I do that?” If you’d sent me an email saying, “Feel stuck in your desk job and you want a remote job?” I would’ve been like, “Yeah, I do feel that way.” It’s almost like you read my mind but really you just were observing and researching. That’s the second step, it’s research.

The third step is to form a hypothesis. My hypothesis after visiting the jewelry store was help remove the anxiety of buying jewelry so that I can be the impressive, romantic boyfriend. That was my hypothesis. I saw all these boyfriends in the jewelry store, they’re nervous as hell, they don’t know shit about romance, they’re just hoping that they don’t fuck up. That’s their ultimate fear, they just don’t want to fuck up. It’s like, “Oh, I bought her the wrong thing and now it’s fucked up.” That was my hypothesis.

The next step is, this is step four now, is to test your hypothesis. Go out and try to disprove the hypothesis. That’s one mistake people make, is that they form this idea. I think this is the way people are thinking but then they just go out and look for validation. They want to validate that hypothesis, you want to invalidate the hypothesis, do everything you can to invalidate it. If it still comes out true on the other side, if it’s like, no, people really, really want this, they really want to reduce the anxiety they feel when buying jewelry then you know you’re onto something.

The fifth step is to build something small that basically helps you to test that idea. That could be a landing page where you ask people to sign up for a waiting list. You want some sort of conversion. It’s either email addresses, dollars, phone numbers, or something. You want people to give you something in exchange for something. If it’s a landing page, it’s like here’s my email address in exchange for being on your launch list.

But maybe if you eventually want to build accounting software for startups, maybe you could start by building something tiny like an Excel sheet that they could download for $19. If all of a sudden, you put that out into the world and 1,000 people download your Excel spreadsheet, you’ve proven that people want what you have to sell, that they’re willing to pay money for it. Now, you can start iterating on your idea.

                    That’s the last step, is if everything works up to that point, then you keep iterating on it. To me, iteration is starting with the tiniest, most simple thing possible and then taking the next step, taking the next step, taking the next step, building on it, until eventually, you could go from selling a downloadable Excel sheet to selling software as a service or something like that.

Louis: It’s incredibly tough for people to do that. Every single time I’m launching something new, I’m forcing myself to put it out there as fast as I can. One tip actually I can share is to talk about it as fast as you can to people around you so it kind of forces you to be accountable for the fact that I truly have started it and you have to release it now because you’ve talked about it. If you keep for yourself too much, then you tend to just dwell on it for too long.

Justin: Yeah. Having a landing page is usually the first step. My friend [Patty 00:32:12] says it’s like putting your flag down on the internet like this landing page exists. This thing now has a space on the internet. That’s how I proved that people wanted marketing for developers. You just put up a page that literally just said marketing for developers and then sign up and get a sample chapter. That’s all it said. There was enough there, people were hungry enough for that thing that they were willing to sign up for that even though it was very minimal.

                    Once I knew that I had 500, 1,000, 2,000 people waiting for that book, that’s what actually pushed me to get it out. It’s the smallest thing possible. For marketing, for developers, I wrote one chapter. I said, “Here’s the sample chapter.” I wrote one chapter that people could download. That part took me a weekend. Here’s the idea. Here’s the landing page. Here’s the sample chapter. And then you push it out into the world then you go, “Okay, what do people think?”

You learn so much during so much during that stage like how hard is it to get signups, what worked for getting people to visit and sign up, what didn’t work, how responsive were people to the sample. All of these questions that you’re going to need to ask about your product, it’s like a good testing ground for everything that’s going to come after. Because if you launch something small and you’re having a hard time marketing it when it’s small, you’re going to have a hard time marketing it when it’s big. Those problems don’t go away.

But there are certain things that you can launch and you’ll notice especially if you launched a lot of things, wow, some things just gained traction way faster than others. Some things have better channels than others. Some things have better markets. This is something that a lot of people don’t talk about. Some markets are just better than other markets.

My buddy Adam Wathan just released a PHP course called Test Driven Laravel. This is the second thing he’s ever launched in his life and he’s killing everybody else. A part of it is he’s a super smart guy but part of it is his market. It’s perfect. All these PHP developers, the whipping boys of the programming world, and now, all of a sudden, you’re giving them the opportunity to learn clean code and all this other stuff. They’re hungry for it. He’s done really well with that market.

Louis: Just to try to extract a little bit of what you said, saying that it’s the perfect market, would you agree to say that what you mean is really to have a niche. What we mean by niche is an amount of people who share, who hang out in the same places, who know each other somehow, so if you get one, they are more likely to refer to each other.

                    The second thing is that it’s tiny enough to be able to really talk to this audience really well. As you said, PHP developers, not only PHP developers but PHP developers that probably have been doing that for a few years, have been pissed off from hearing that PHP is dead or that kind of stuff. Would you agree with this definition?

Justin: Yeah. I think that is part of it but I think certain niches are better than others. Here’s a good example. My market is, first of all, let’s just say they’re software developers. Software developers is a pretty big market but even that is a niche within itself. But software developers is a pretty good market because they are very curious, they want to improve themselves, they buy tools, and courses, and other stuff to make their lives better.

                    That’s a pretty good market overall but my market is within all of those software developers, how many of them are working on their own product. Okay, now we’ve narrowed it down quite a bit. My buddy, Josh, has a book that helps software developers looking to negotiate their salary. That is a way bigger market, the number of developers looking to negotiate their salary is way bigger than those building a product to sell.

                    Within those building a product to sell, how many of them actually want to learn marketing? It’s an even smaller group in my case. I was lucky enough that the remaining slice of that pie was big enough to have a good launch. There’s definitely other ways that I could’ve gotten a bigger piece of the pie, so to speak.

And so, if I was going to narrow it down even more, software developers who are building their own product, who want to know how to market their products but live in Germany, well now I really narrowed my audience too much. That’s part of what I’m saying.

I’m also saying there are some markets like lawyers for example are a notoriously hard group to market to. Partly because they’re older, they’re not online, they don’t congregate online as much, and they bill for their time. There are these things that are more difficult about some markets than others. Maybe lawyers isn’t a good example but college students is another one that people often try to go after.

Small business, everyone wants to go after the small business niche, but small business, some of those people have no money. They’re just hustling on the side or whatever. I don’t know if I’m being clear but there’s definitely some markets that are better than others and that’s something you have to consider when you’re building a product. Some markets are just more eager to buy, have more money, have more available channels to them. When you see it, you’re like, “Ah, that makes sense.”

I’ll give you one more example. My buddy Nathan Barry with ConvertKit focused just on professional bloggers. That turned out to be an amazing market. Here’s why. Professional bloggers are solopreneurs. There’s only one person you need to convince to take out their credit card. They all talk to each other. They’re professional bloggers so they will talk on their blog about your product. There are tons of influencers in that space that are eager for affiliate revenue.

And so, going after that group, and he fell into it by accident, but that group ended up being a huge boost to his business because he called it where we have the best business models for one of the best markets in the world. It’s just so much easier to capture their attention than for example trying to sell project management software to software development teams because now, you got to convince 10 people on the team. It’s just a lot harder to reach those people.

That’s what I mean. I know I rambled there but it’s something I’ve been thinking about a lot. We don’t consider the market enough when we’re marketing. It’s just like we just think that marketing is this magic sauce that works no matter who you’re targeting. The truth is that the product has a lot to do with it and the market you’ve chosen has a lot to do with it. Maybe a lot of brilliant marketing is just recognizing when you have both of those.

We have the right product for the right market. That’s product market fit. This market is like gang busters. There’s so much money there. They’re so eager to buy. Those are the markets you want to go after. Markets that are eager to buy as opposed to–we often make it harder for ourselves.

Louis: They have money. They are willing to change their life or to make progress in their life to improve their life or professional life. They know each other. It’s small enough so that you can really leverage the niche effect. I think that’s a good definition of it. It’s probably something we can drill down even more together after this episode, to find a good definition for it.

                    Briefly, you have another project that you mentioned called Tiny Marketing Wins where every week, you share a tactic that marketers can use in their business. There’s one thing that amazed me on the home page. Can you guess what it is? I’m putting you on the spot there. I’m really sorry.

Justin: I’m not sure.

Louis: I’ve done a search trying to find the word hack on the homepage and it wasn’t there. I was like, “That’s progress.” You didn’t use the word growth hacks anywhere. You used it once somewhere but it wasn’t on the homepage so fair play for not using hacks as a way to explain marketing tactics.

                    I’m not really too much into actual tactics because as you know, it’s not what’s going to build your business in the long term but I think listeners like to have ideas or at least to have some sort of seeds to be planted that they can explore themselves. If you have to choose three wins that companies or solopreneurs can use that would almost work for anybody, what would they be?

Justin: The first is to cross post your blog post to Medium. Cross posting to Medium doesn’t hurt your SEO. It doesn’t hurt anything. All you’re doing is getting more exposure to a bigger audience. At the top of the show, you mentioned that you recognized me because of something I’ve written ages ago. The only reason you know about that is because there’s a platform called Hacker News that I submitted it to and it was number one on Hacker News all day. It got tons to traction. It got shared everywhere.

If you’re doing writing especially, you need to connect your writing with bigger audiences, bigger platforms, and Medium right now is just a great one. It’s where people are going to read. I like to ask people what they read at night, how they read. Right now, I hear a lot of people saying, “Oh, I read Medium on my phone. I read Nuzzel on my phone. I read Pocket on my phone.” You want to be figuring out how to get on all of those.

Cross post to Medium. You go into Medium. Go to stories and there’s a hidden import button and you can import your blog posts that way. That’s one.

The second one, I talked about this. I wrote a book called Jolt which is just filled with surprising marketing tactics, unusual marketing tactics. I think one that’s been working for me anyway is to send people physical mail. You always want to look for where the white space is. Right now, everybody is doing email marketing and they should, email marketing is amazing. Everyone is doing Facebook ads and they should, Facebook ads are probably the best place to advertise right now. But where’s the white space? People don’t get real mail anymore.

If you send them something in the mail, almost every time I’ve done this, the first thing people do, I usually send stickers in the letter, is they’ll take a picture of it and post it on Twitter. It’s so unusual, not only does it market to the person you’re sending it to, they end up sharing it with other people because it’s just out of the ordinary.

I would say people need to experiment with sending physical mail. There’s going to be 52 this year and I think we’ve done 20. This is a little bit more boring, it’s a little bit more plumbing but every new project I set up, I set up segments first. You can use Google tag manager for this too, it does the same thing. But basically, it’s one JavaScript snippet that you put on your website and then it allows you to easily add integration.

If you want to add Google Analytics, if you want to add the Facebook retargeting pixel, if you want to integrate with Mixpanel, it allows you to do that just by flipping a switch. If you’re a software developer or you have a software developer in your team, it means they only need to write all of the tracking events once. You write your tracking events using segments API and then segment pipes that to everything, pipes it to Google Analytics, pipes it to Mixpanel, pipes it everywhere. It’s a life changer. Once you start using it, it’s just like, man, I can just flip the switch and automatically get all this information.

It’s especially helpful with the new changes Facebook made to their pixel. Facebook used to have separate pixels for tracking and conversion, now it’s just one pixel and now you can pipe all of your segment events automatically, just flip the switch into Facebook, it integrates directly with Facebook’s pixel.

Louis: segment.com, I would argue is even more, I think robust and advanced than Google tech manager. I think it enables you to really track each person individually, Google tech manager doesn’t allow you to track people individually. Usually, they don’t really connect the dots between this hit and this person.

Justin: There’s an identify call in segment that is amazing. If someone signs up, for example, for your email list, it’s going to grab that email, it’s going to see if there’s a Gravatar associated with it. It’s going to start forming a profile on that person.

            Here’s the fourth tip, if you use Mixpanel, go to the explorer section and then click on people. Especially at the beginning, this is amazing, qualitative information. You go into that and you can see their journey as they go through your funnel. It might be Anna in New Mexico, she visits my site three years ago because she read This is a web page. But then I can see she came back when she saw this essay then I can see she signed up for my newsletter. She looked at my pricing page but didn’t do anything about it.

            What I’ll do is I’ll take that customer journey. But then, I’ll go and see what else is going on in their life at the same time. I’ll look through Twitter, I’ll look through LinkedIn, I’ll get more information on these folks and I’ll try to basically figure out what was going on in their life that brought them to my site. Often, you’ll find them tweeting like, “Oh man, I’m really struggling with this.” And then all of a sudden, they’ll land on your website because they’re struggling with that and like, “Ah, okay. Here’s all this contextual information.”

I’ll put those into PDF called Customer Journeys where I just go through their whole journey from anonymous visitor to customer. It’s been really helpful in figuring out how I can find more people like that.

Louis: That’s amazing, that’s really, really good tips. I think we should do a second episode with just tips.

Justin: People can just signup for Tiny Marketing Wins and then they get them week by week.

Louis: There you go, there you go. Last question, Justin. You’ve been awesome, what are the top three resources you would recommend to digital marketers out there? Books, podcast, whatever it is.

Justin: The funny thing is I just keep going back to the same books over and over again. If you haven’t read Influence, I think you should, by Robert Cialdini, I think that’s a great one. I think REWORK is still one of my all-time favorite business books by the folks at Basecamp, Jason Fried, David Heinemeier Hansson. I also think Derek Sivers has a really short book called Anything You Want.

I think Derek understands people better than most business people and there’s just so much in there of how you could actually connect your product with real people. If you haven’t read it yet, it’s really good, it’s basically the lessons he learned when he was running CD Baby. Those are really good. I think, also, people need to go to more conferences, especially marketers.

The funny thing is I’ve been to a few marketing conferences, those are fucking crazy. Marketing conferences are completely different than for example, product conferences, or more technical conferences, or programing conferences.

I think marketers need to step outside of traditional marketing conferences and go to more programming conferences, go to more product oriented conferences, go to customer service conferences, go to different ones because I think it will make them better marketers. Just being able to talk to those people and observe their world. Marketing, like I said, is everything from the beginning to the end, not even the end, it just continues. How are you going to continue offering progress to people? Going and mixing with the other people is a good way to learn that.

Louis: Marketing conferences are really, really crazy because everybody is trying to sell to each other. That’s as simple as it is.

Justin: I like them too but there’s definitely a big difference between them. I’m always surprised by how much I learn when I’m hanging out with people that aren’t like me. For me, I don’t hang out with very many marketers. Going to those conferences is always a little bit eye opening like, “Man, I don’t know what you guys are talking about.” I think it’s healthy even though there might be some people there that are using tactics I don’t like or are from the dark side.

Once I actually get to know those people, sometimes I realize that they’re doing some interesting things or doing some interesting work. Go to conferences, hangout with people who aren’t like you.

Louis: Thank you so much, Justin, once again for your time. Talk to you soon.

Justin: This actually has been really fun. Thanks, man.

Louis: No problem. Thank you.

How to stand out: 9 bullshit-free lessons from world-class tech marketers

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Insights from Seth Godin, Rand Fishkin, David Darmanin and 6 other world-class tech marketers.

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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.

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