cancelled

I had no idea how often meetings in the “Real World” would get cancelled or moved. In college you expect meetings to be in stone, mainly because classes and office hours are always on.

Being, 10 years into my professional career I’ve come to terms with meetings getting cancelled and I wanted to share a few of my tips with you.

3 Things to Do When Your Meeting gets Cancelled

  1. People have more important things to do than your meeting. Accept it.
  2. NEVER get mad, this is a way of life! Especially if you asked for the meeting.
  3. Use this email script: “No problem, at all. I totally know how these things can happen. What day/time works for you next week?”. This way you get them to find a time that works for them, the key is to use the word “next week” far enough away for them, and pretty near term for you :)

How to Avoid Cancelled Meetings

  1. Send a calendar invite and ask them to confirm.
  2. Make it a phone call or GoToMeeting unless it has to be in person. If it has to be in-person, you go to their office. People hate traveling for meetings. If it is in-person bring cookies and mention that in the email so people can look forward to something.
  3. Get to the point quickly. Reserve the first 3 minutes to “shoot the shit” and ask how their weekend is but after that get to the point. This will help you get a 2nd meeting.
  4. Make your meetings short. I like sending 15 minute meeting requests, that usually gets more “yes’es” than a full hour.
  5. Don’t assume your meeting is going to get cancelled. If you start doing this, you will get sloppy. Always assume IT’S ON!

What are your meeting tips? I’d love to learn yours!

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squatty potty logo

How to sell a ton of Squatty Potty’s:

Step 1: Educate people about something they are doing wrong

Step 2: Provide medical facts

Step 3: Show a low priced product on how you can solve what they are doing wrong. (The word “wrong” is of course a matter of opinion but when you add medical studies and historical evidence the pitch becomes extremely persuasive.)

Check out their convincing educational video and tell me you aren’t convinced:

This reminds me of how the tooth paste become a common household item. They put up billboards saying “lick your teeth” if you feel some grime then you probably need to clean them with some toothpaste.

Phillips, 1942 Commercial:

toothpaste_1942phillips

The next step for SquattyPotty would be to mention that you will smell less making women more attracted to you.

Update (this is awesome, the folks over at SquattyPotty said this):

 

What are some other good examples of Educational Marketing?

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The Rise of Hand Drawn Art

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by Rishi Shah on February 12, 2014

Basecamp homepage-1

Basecamp.com is one of the most copied SaaS landing pages, so when I see a new design on their site, I know it is time to get ready to see more of it. My prediction is we will see a lot more hand drawn art on business websites in the next 6 months. This is a big contrast to the current web design trend on the internet: massive pictures of people smiling and holding a tablet devices in a coffee shop.

People are going to embrace drawn art because it is original, different, and creative. It is also cheaper to create and can convey a simple message in a fun format.

What do you think of using hand drawn art on your landing pages? 

Other Examples of Hand Drawn Art of Landing Pages:

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Joe Avella is a long time comedy film maker from Chicago. He asked me if he could write a post on his marketing strategy and I agreed YES right away! I’m a huge fan of Joe and LOL’ed a ton when I saw his new 20 minute webisode of Delivery Dudes. This is a guest blog post by Joe Avella – the writer, director, and creator of Delivery Dudes.

Deliver Dudes Pilot

Leverage My Existing Network

My strategy was to market my new comedy show ‘Delivery Dudes’ only to people connected to the pilot and the show’s existing fans. The production includes 50+ people and had an existing email list of 100 fans. So, I targeted their existing social networks, making the marketing much more focused. Once I’d get those connections, I’d then target the new fan’s networks, and so on and so on.

Playing on friendly connections was a key way to cut through the noise, get a lot of people to connect with the pilot, triple my email list, and get written up on Mashable.com!

What do I want?

I needed a goal before implementing the strategy. I had to decide on one thing I wanted my marketing to do. I’ve found that having multiple goals results in far less impressive results. For me, I wanted email addresses! I feel this is the most important aspect to building a long term fan base.

Building a fanbase on a Facebook page is risky because Facebook can change how pages operate. Twitter is short and fast, so you risk a large percentage of your audience missing your message. With email you can send a message whenever you want and get it the most attention.

First things first

I set up a landing page. My site is hosted by Squarespace, so making a page with the video and an email sign up was super easy. First it had the trailer; later the pilot when it was available. I always included an email sign up form embedded under the video, the form was powered by MailChimp. The goal is to get people to this page with as few clicks as possible and make it easy to give me their email address.

Strategy 1: Facebook Ads

People involved in the production of Delivery Dudes were going to share it, at least I hope they would. Which is great, but to really get the word out I made Facebook Ads, and a few promoted posts. Delivery Dudes starred several actors known among the Chicago improv/comedy scene. A majority of them perform regularly at places like i.O. and Second City. So I targeted the ads to Facebook users who associate with those places.

 Example ads:

I created a few different ads featuring various performers only marketed to people who at least knew of the performer, and in some instances, were already friends.

Ad targeting:

note: picking just the 4 theaters still gave me a target of 340,000 people!

These institutions have several students and performers, and are very tight knit. Users associated with these theaters would recognize the performer in the ad, which greatly increased the click-through rates. The clicks would take them to the landing page which featured the pilot and a chance to join the email list.

Strategy 2: Email Promo Contests

I already had a list going into the release from years of other projects. If you don’t, that’s fine, you can try this once you build yours. I run exclusive content on the email list only and occasionally have giveaways. Leading up to the release I had two separate social media-related giveaways to help get the word out.

#1: Twitter

For one week any member who retweeted this tweet was entered in, with the chance to win a prize from Revolution Brewery.

#2: Instagram

For another week, I asked to share any one of these images on Instagram with the hashtag #DeliveryDudes and you could win a prize from seamless.com. (The giveaways gave fans a higher incentive to share Delivery Dudes with their fan base. A lot of those tweets got retweeted, and several images were liked and ‘regrammed’. (Note: I made the contest as easy as possible. Only one thing to do, and it was easy to do.)

Joe Avella marketing quote-v4

Why do any of this?

In short, it was up to me to get the ball rolling and the word out about the pilot. Sure, some would share it, but after all the work, and the fact that I really believe in this pilot, I wasn’t going to let it get sucked into the eternal nothingness that is the internet.

Running the strategies above forced me to think about how to get people’s attention, target an audience, and obtain something more than a passing glance: the permission for future connection.

Mashable.com coverage

But the biggest impact came from a Mashable writer who saw the pilot on a mutual friend’s FB page. From hustling to get friends of friends to share, one did who was connected to the writer.

Delivery Dudes on Mashable

If I had no game plan, and just threw it out there and ‘hoped for the best’, the incentive to share among those connected, and their potential connections, would be low. It’s safe to assume the pilot would not have gotten very far.

The details of these two strategies can be changed around depending on the project or your goal, but I highly recommend trying something like it. It’s cheap and you never know who’s 1-2 degrees away. Also, please check out my web series delivery dudes and sign up for my mailing list :)

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Best Freebie Apps of 2013

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by Rishi Shah on December 16, 2013

George is Cheap

All tools on this list are 100% free! I use all of them daily. I highly recommend them to you too. (Some have paid options for more features, but everything on this list has an amazing free plan)

Genius Scan

Genius Scan

Take a pic on your phone, turn it into a PDF. Boom, done! Perfect for stuff you have to sign. Check it out or tweet it.

Trello

Trello To Do List Screen Shot

You can do a million things with it, but I use it as a collaborative To-Do list with my team. Super easy to use on the web and their iPhone app is super slick! Check it out or tweet it.

Refresh.io

refresh app screen

Sweet iPhone app that syncs with your LinkedIn, Facebook, and Google Calendar. It sends you a little reminder of your next meeting with information about the person like where they worked, their life milestones, and who you have in common. It helps me “Small Talk”. Check it out or tweet it.

Skitch

Yes, Skitch made the list again! It is awesome. However, don’t download the newest version. Get the older version. Evernote recently purchased Skitch and made it worse. Check it out or tweet it.

Buffer

Buffer Screenshot

Schedules your tweets automatically. It helps you not be “That Guy” that takes over your followers newsfeed. Also, an easy way to post updates on multiple social networks at once. I use it to auto-post to my LinkedIn Group and personal Twitter account. Check it out or tweet it.

Newsblur

NewsBlur Screen Shot

Awesome Google Reader replacement. I subscribe to over 300 feeds and their iPhone app rocks too! What is crazy is that I think it is all built by one dude. Check it out or tweet it.

Signals

Signals by HubSpot Screen Shot

Email stalking tool. Lets you know if your recipient has opened your email. Works with Gmail and their chrome app rocks da house. This helps me out because I always wonder if they actually read my email. Check it out or tweet it.

Lastpass

LastPass

After Adobe got broken into, I decided to get on top of my password security. LastPass remembers your passwords for you. This way I can use 11 digit passwords that contain uppers, lowers, numbers, and special characters. Check it out or tweet it.

GAget

GAget screen shot

Google Analytics on your iPhone. All I really want to know on a daily basis is how many visitors I got, this little app does it automatically for you with one swipe. Their mac widget is free, but their iPhone app is $2.99. Check it out or tweet it.

Dwolla

Dwolla feature

I’ve been using Dwolla for payroll (perfect for small teams), because it is free (actually $0.25 per transaction) and you can do direct bank deposits. Way cheaper than most payroll solutions which charge monthly fees. Check it out or tweet it.

Hipchat

Team Chat

Awesome private instant messaging tool for my team. Their desktop client works really well. Saves links and images automatically. We use to use Google Chat, but that only allows 1-to-1, hipchat is from team chats. Check it out or tweet it.

Paper Karma

paper karma screen shot

Love this app! It is an “Unsubscribe button” for physical mail. Take a pic of some credit card offer that you get and these guys automatically make sure you never get it again. Check it out or tweet it.

Flightcar

flightcar

  • Round trip to SFO airport via cab is $120
  • Round trip to SFO airport BART is $18
  • … or I can drive to SFO and park with Flightcar for $FREE! No brainer move here. You can’t beat free airport parking.

Check it out or tweet it.

Alexa chrome plugin

Alexa Internet - Chrome Extension Download

I like to know if the website I’m looking at is a popular one. Alexa’s Chrome plugin does that for me with 1-click. People complain about Alexa’s data being a little off, but it is still a good measure of website popularity. Check it out or tweet it.

What free apps are missing from this list? Let me know in the comments and I will add to this list if it is awesome.

———————

More Free Tool Suggestions from the comments!

Dharmesh’s Suggestions:

  • Flowdock – What Google Wave should have been, chat + Inbox for teams

Nitin’s Suggestions:

  • Asana – Project Management Tool
  • awesome screenshots - Chrome plugin for taking screen shots
  • Pandora – Awesome app for music radio, suggests new music based on your listening habits
  • Mint – AMAZING personal finance app, put in all your bank and credit card accounts and it automatically categorizes your finances, I love the budgeting feature because it lets you know when you are spending more in a certain area.
  • Apple Podcasts – podcast app 

Anand’s Suggestions:

  • RescueTime – shows you how you spend time your time on the web.

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How GoToMeeting Reduces Churn

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by Rishi Shah on December 10, 2013

gotomeeting-logo

One of the most important metrics I look at it in my SaaS business is Churn (the number of months a customer stays until they cancel). For example if you get 50 new customers but also 50 customers cancel, you don’t grow. This is something all SaaS companies deal with. The first 6 months they think they are growing like crazy, but then the customers that signed up in month #1 start to cancel. So, on Month #7 your growth starts to decline.

Top 5 reasons people cancel on a SaaS product:

1. Product  doesn’t work

Not Save-able You can’t save customers on your cancellation flow if you product doesn’t work for them.

2. Customer goes out of business

Not Save-able Unfortunately you can’t control this.

3. Switching to competitor

Maybe Save-able If they are already on your cancellation screen, this means they are already signed up with your competitor. You can’t really save them at this point. Try to be more competitive earlier on in the customer life cycle.

4. One Time Use

Save-able! Sometimes the customer just needs your product for a one-off project.

5. Price is High

Save-able! Offer the customer a low priced option.

This blog post is about how to save the customers that are canceling for reason #4 and #5.

Citrix is a leader in SaaS and they have figured how to keep their Churn low.

How GoToMeeting addresses the “One Time Use” cancellation
Turn Of Renewal - GoToMeeting Cancelation Screen

To start off with you can’t really “Cancel” your GoToMeeting account. But, you can “Turn Off Renewal”, this allows you to easily jump back and start paying again even after you have cancelled. This is pretty smart, because some months their customer might not need their software and this gives them the option to easily turn on their service again at a later time.

How GoToMeeting addresses the “Price is High” cancellation

They wanted to make sure if you were canceling because of price you don’t leave, after you click “Turn Off Renewal” in the screen shot above, you are taken to a confirmation screen where you see the ability to bump your package down to a low price option:

Citrix GoToMeeting Cancel screenI was paying $49.00/mo which I thought was a little high and was intrigued by the lower price option. I decided to “Turn Off Renewal” anyway and I was then greeted to this screen:

Cancellation Confirmation

They try to sell me again on the lower price option. This time with more force in case I missed it the first time. They added some testimonials and logos you trust. They also use the word “discounted” under the Yes! button, making it seem like you are getting a deal.

Closing Remarks

Churn will kill your business. Citrix brilliantly executes their cancellation flow. I also believe their $19/mo plan is specifically designed to make sure people are not switching over to their competitor join.me which is also priced at $19/mo (thus they are trying to also address the “Switching to Competitor” reason).

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Subway ticket machine in Moscow accepts 30 squats as its payment

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by Rishi Shah on November 13, 2013

This is how Russia is promoting the 2014 Sochi Olympics!

Squats-Moscow

Discovered on Reddit and just had to post this awesomeness!

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Good Brand and have a free plan? Use less Sales Copy

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by Rishi Shah on November 12, 2013

If you have a good brand, a free plan, and a clear reason on why people should sign up. Less sales copy is the way to go. Sales copy and going over all your features on your landing page just creates more distraction.

1. Good Brand – people already know you exist, their co-worker, a friend, or another bigger company talks about you. The person on your website knows you exist they just haven’t gotten around to signing up.

2. Free Plan – no credit card is required, you just need their email address so they can start using your product. If you have a free plan people aren’t interested in reading a bunch of jargon, they just want to kick the tires and see what they can do with it.

3. BIG Clear Reason – yes we know you have tens of thousands of features but really people just sign up for one main reason. As long as you state that main reason in a big bold manner they will give you their email address.

Sales copy gets people lost on your homepage. People usually have 10 tabs open at a time and just don’t want to put the effort in reading every single detail. Remember this rule especially only applies if you have a free plan. If you don’t have a free plan, you need sales copy and lots of it.

Here are some examples of companies that fit the bill.

Evernote Homepage Nov 2013

 

Evernote has a great brand, free plan, and 1 BIG reason to sign up “Remember Everything”. They have lots of features but they hide everything below the fold and in their “Product” tab. Distraction free signing up!

Stripe Homepage

Stripe has a 3-slides (but they do not automatically rotate) and they focus on getting people to sign up. They tuck away their features on its own page.

Box WebsiteDropbox-1

Dropbox and Box both focus on getting people to sign up. Dropbox is way more minimalistic than Box. But notice how they both have clear prominent “Sign Up” buttons and not lot of sales copy.

Facebook Homepage

Social networks do this especially well. Check out Facebook’s sign up page. What is interesting is they don’t offer any images just 3 icons and a form to fill out.

Tumblr Homepage

This is Tumblr’s sign up page. Just a big cool image and 3 form fields. What is cool, is if you clicked on the “Tumblr” link on someone else’s blog the background image is actually from the blog you were just on.

So, what is my point here? If you have an online business and you have a free plan. Make your landing page 3 bullet points and a sign up form.

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my favorite ios7 update isn’t what you think

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by Rishi Shah on October 17, 2013

ios-7-logoiOS7 is pretty sweet, I like it’s speed and flat design. However, my favorite iOS7 update is the new training guide in Siri. Before this training guide I had no idea what to use Siri for (besides ask embarrassing questions and see what she would say).

This may have been obvious to most people but I had no idea you could set an alarm or a calendar invite or enable Wi-Fi.

Siri Training Guide

This got me thinking about my own web products. People only use 10% of the full potential just because they don’t know what the full power actually is. Simple training guides like this one go a long way for tools like Siri that have infinite potential.

You find the Siri Training guide by clicking the gray question mark bubble when you launch Siri.

photo-siri-training guide

What is your favorite thing to do with Siri?

 

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Tesla selling cars out of Parking Garages

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by Rishi Shah on October 2, 2013

Tesla Dealership in Parking Garage

Last weekend I went to the Santa Row shopping center and parked in their free garage. As we walked out we saw a few Teslas parked next to each other and started checking them out. We then realized we inadvertently walked through a Tesla dealership.

I thought this was a great tactic. Traditional car dealers make you go into the store… even though all you want to do is drive the car! This allows the customer to get the full Tesla experience faster.

Tesla Side Shot

Tesla-pic2

What do you think of this showroom tactic, do you think it will get you to test drive a Tesla?

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