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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 🙂


Best Freebie Apps of 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 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 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.


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 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 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 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.



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 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 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.


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.



  • 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.

How GoToMeeting Reduces Churn


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).


This is how Russia is promoting the 2014 Sochi Olympics!


Discovered on Reddit and just had to post this awesomeness!


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

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

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?



Tesla selling cars out of Parking Garages

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


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


The Mini-Guide to Marketing with Images

This is a guest post by John Boudreau, COO and Co-Founder of Astonish, a digital marketing company for Insurance companies.

Pinterest-screen shot-1

“Trouble Keeping up with Social”

Let’s be honest: Many small businesses have enough trouble keeping up with the fierce foursome (Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Google+) but Pinterest and Instagram? At times, it may be a struggle to keep up with the social media world! However, it is critical to have a presence on the major platform. Instead of shying away from the up and coming image sharing platforms, it is time to learn about useful strategies that can be incorporated into your business. Here are a few effective marketing tactics that you can implement.

An Image Speaks Volumes

Memes, infographics, e-cards… they all make their rounds around the web! One of the many reasons why they are so popular is the simple fact that they are based on images. In fact, articles with images receive 94% more total views than those without. Jumping on the image-marketing bandwagon may not only allow your business to appeal to a whole new market, but may inspire you to create and share your own personal images.

Now that you are onboard with image marketing, let’s take a look at the two most popular social platforms: Instagram and Pinterest.

Instagram-ing Your Way to Marketing Success

“You MUST post that picture on Instagram!” Have you heard this phrase often? It is no secret that Instagram has climbed up the social sharing pyramid quite quickly. In fact, Instagram has over 100 million monthly active users, 40 million photos posted per day, and 1,000 comments per second. As you can see, there is a lot going on! It’s time to join in on and action.

One of the best features of Instagram is the ability to link the app to your Facebook AND Twitter accounts. This makes it easy to share your posts across all three platforms. You can use #hashtags to organize your posts and you may even receive a new follower who has found you through the use of hashtags. What else can you do the make the Instagram experience effective for your clients? Here are three tips:

#1: Share “sneak peaks”. This is a great way to capture company culture. Take photos of employees, new goods and services, office celebrations, big wins, and everything in between. Take your fans inside of your business and show them what makes your company unique. If there is a new product launching, why not make it fun for your fans by taking pictures of “clues” and counting down? There are a number of ways that you can keep clients on their toes while humanizing your business. This is also great for recruiting top talent.

#2: Connect with clients easily. Always answer your followers’ questions/concerns. If you have posted a photo of a new product and there are comments about it, do not hold back! This is the most opportune time to interact and engage with your market. Brand your business as an expert, and a friend.

#3: Reward your followers. Post about company sales, promotions, and even discounts. This is a great way to keep your customers in the know, and possibly allow you to win over a few more.

Changing Your Marketing Strategy, One Pin at a Time

On the other side of the spectrum is Pinterest. Pinterest is a social network that utilizes photo sharing tools. It enables engagement with various audiences through likes, shares, and re-pins. This social platform is on the rise and is one of the fastest growing social media platforms out there. Whether your business decides to post original company photos (for instance, pictures from Instagram) or simply re-pin others, pinning is a great way to connect with clients.

Here are three tips that may help business owners when it comes to building a Pinterest strategy:

#1: Create an infographic. What is important to your clients in your industry? Whether it is saving money or simply hearing tips and tricks, leverage these important points. Create an infographic which is both visually appealing and informative. If you give your clients the answers and information that they want, they are sure to “like” it or possibly “re-pin” to their fans and followers.

#2: Drive traffic back to your website. Have you been taking original photos on Instagram? Perhaps you took our advice in the first point and created an original infographic. Whatever image you choose to post, always include a link back to your website. This is a sure way to receive traffic and you may start to notice the change right away.

#3: Promotion. Create a board specifically meant for saving money. You could name is “Deals and Steals!” and be sure to upload any videos, images or flyers that are promoting upcoming sales and events. This is a quick and easy way for followers to find exactly what they are looking for. This “perk” may also draw clients to follow your brand in the first place.

Start Sharing Images, Today


As you can see, there are a number of tactics that can be implemented to both strengthen and improve your marketing strategy. Being active on the fierce foursome is a start, but it adding both Instagram and Pinterest will take your presence a step further.

John Boudreau, COO and Co-Founder of Astonish, has been in the insurance marketing and technology business for nearly 10 years. He works closely with local insurance agencies across the country to understand what works and what doesn’t in an attempt to increase their share of the digital landscape through online marketing tactics and a robust customer relationship marketing tool. To find customer reviews of Astonish a, visit Astonish’s list of business profile sites. Before Astonish, Boudreau honed his problem-solving abilities while working as an environmental analytical chemist. He also founded Ion Marketing Group, a digital marketing company focused on the real estate industry. An avid musician, John plays the drums, the bass and the guitar.

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LastPass is my favorite browser extension

LastPass Logo

I spend about 92% of my waking day on the web and as I use more services, I tend to create a lot of accounts. The other 8% is when I’m on a plane, but hopefully that will change soon.

My good friend Robert recommended LastPass to me about a year ago. I tried it out and didn’t think it was for me, mainly because I used the same password for everything and just saw LastPass as something I would have to spend time setting up.

Twitter Account Got Hacked

Then, about 2 months ago my Twitter account got hacked and stolen. Luckily, the good guys at Twitter support, worked with me and got my account back. This is when I decided that I needed one of those super cyrpto passwords, one with 9 spots, not found in urban dictionary, and looks like a swear word (!@#$*). I also needed to change my passwords for other web services that had a similar password. This is when I started using LastPass.

Free Version Rocks

I signed up for the free version and it was great. I didn’t have to remember any passwords and best of all each password is unique to the service. I currently have 115 saved accounts in it! Can you imagine, trying to remember 115 account passwords?

Share Passwords without Revealing Your Passwords

Recently, I actually signed up for the paid version ($12/year – pretty cheap). I work on a small team and we all share accounts for certain websites. The coolest feature of all is having the ability to share you login and password with other people and not having to actually share the actual password. This also gives you the ability to easily reject access later down the line.

What do you use manage your passwords? I wonder if Google Chrome/FireFox should bake LastPass into their service by default – what do you think of that idea?



Whenever I get a new Ikea catalog, I flip through it and always think “sure it looks amazing in these pictures, but how will it look in my dull house?”


Well, the marketing masters at Ikea have finally figured out how to get around my doubts. You can scan an item from the the Ikea catalog, let’s say a green couch and then hold up your phone where you would want the green couch to go, let’s say next to your yellow wall. Then look through your phone and you will see the green couch virtually up against the yellow wall. You will now have realized that it probably isn’t a good idea to buy the green couch.

This was a pretty sweet use of direct mail marketing combined with augmented reality technology! The next step would be to allow you to instantly buy it in the app and then use a 3D printer to deliver the furniture item right into your home.

Checkout the Ikea trailer for this on youtube. What do you think of this strategy, will it work on you to buy more stuff from Ikea? Let me know in the comments.

Special thanks to Eric Lovett for telling me about this!

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