[CLZ News] No summer slowness here!

Even though it’s been summer vacation time for several CLZ team members, we’ve been able to push out several huge releases, the most popular of which (by far) was the new Alphabet Bar. But don’t forget the huge book cloud update and CLZ Barry 2.0!

These are the topics of today’s newsletter, discussing all July releases and what’s cooking at the CLZ HQ at this very moment:

  • CLZ Cloud 2.1 for Books: Sync your *own* data for 8 extra book fields
  • CLZ Barry 2.0 for iOS and Android
  • New “Alphabet Bar” in all 15.3 versions for PC & Mac
  • Sharper Cover Thumbnails in all v15.3 versions for Windows
  • Further improvements to Connect and the CLZ Cloud viewers
  • What’s Cooking?

CLZ Cloud 2.1 for Books: Sync your *own* data for 8 extra book fields

Early this month, all our book-related tools (Windows, Mac, iOS, Android and Connect) have been updated to support 8 extra book fields for the Cloud Syncing.
At the same time, all these 8 fields are now editable in the CLZ Books mobile apps and Book Connect:

Plot, Country, Language, Dewey Number, LoC Control Number (LCCN), LoC Classification, Width and Height.

To synchronize these 8 new fields between desktop and mobile, you need the latest versions on both sides:

  • Book Collector 15.2 for Windows or Mac (or higher)
  • CLZ Books 3.1 for iOS or Android (or higher)

CLZ Barry 2.0: fresh new look and more stable connections

CLZ Barry is our wireless barcode scanner app for iOS and Android, launched in 2011. It scans barcodes using your device’s built-in camera, then instantly sends them to your Collectorz.com desktop software. (more info here)

Version 2.0 has a more modern look and layout and a more stable connection to our desktop programs. To enjoy the stable connections, you do need the latest v15 version of the Windows or Mac software on the desktop side!

Don’t own the CLZ Barry app yet? It is available for US $9.99 in the iOS App Store and Android Play Store. Just search for “CLZ BARRY”.

New “Alphabet Bar” in all 15.3 versions for PC & Mac

Spend less time scrolling around your collection: use the Alphabet Bar!
Now available in version 15.3 for Windows and Mac.

The Alphabet Bar is an “A to Z” letter bar that lives at the top of your main screen. Clicking a letter immediately filters down your list to show only the items starting with that letter. It’s a new and super-fast way to find stuff in your database, with a minimum amount of scrolling.

Here’s how to get the Alphabet Bar:

  1. Start the currently installed version of your Collector program.
  2. Choose Check for Update from the menu.
  3. In this screen, check the status of your Update Plan:
    • If you have a valid, non-expired, Update Plan, proceed to Step 6!
    • If the screen says “Your Update Plan has expired!”, then follow Step 4 to renew.
  4. Renew your Update Plan at my.clz.com (for as little as US $6.95!)
  5. After your purchase has completed, close and re-open the Check for Update screen.
  6. Click Update Now to install the new version.

Sharper Cover Thumbnails in all v15.3 versions for Windows

In this week’s builds of all Windows editions, our image resizing routines have been improved to create sharper thumbnail images for covers. Just use Tools / Maintenance / Re-Generate Thumbnails to see the effect.

Here’s a Before and After screen shot:

Further improvements to Connect and the CLZ Cloud viewers

Our web development guys keep working on Connect and the CLZ Cloud viewers, adding features and improving existing stuff. Here’s an overview of this month’s additions, with links to the corresponding entries on the Connect What’s New blog:

What’s cooking?

Here’s what the CLZ Team is working on at this very moment:

  • CLZ Cloud 2.1 for movies, now storing multiple Formats, Seen It info for Episodes, Plot descriptions, Packaging, Series, Edition, Country and Language.
    New builds for all movie related Windows, Mac, iOS and Android versions coming up!

  • Big updates for all Mac editions, with a re-imagining of the main screen behaviour. Sorry for the delays on this one, implementing this for Mac has turned out to be more work than expected. But we’ve moved into the testing phase now…

A Reader-Centered Focus Will Change Your Website

A Reader-Centered Focus Will Change Your Website

It’s gripping to peek into the thoughts of an indie entrepreneur at the moment they find focus. I’m buzzing in my seat as I read Dave’s article.

The added bonus is that I was able to play a part in what led up to this moment for Dave.

Let me back up. Below we’re publishing an article that Fizzler Dave Stuart wrote in the Fizzle Forums. Dave built his blog, Teaching the Core and a speaking career to help teachers kick ass.

I’ll be back at the end of the article to add some thoughts. Enjoy!


Dave’s post

My blog hit it’s 3 year birthday this past May, and currently has 10K subs and 35K unique visitors per month. If you had asked me what changes I wanted to make to the site last January, I would have said that I was willing to drop $10K (about 15% of my annual revenue) on a professional designer who could finally rid my site of its homemade-ishness.

However, that mindset has changed largely thanks to the mastermind group that I spent Q1 and Q2 of this year with. I realized that design had to follow the purpose of my site, and so I did things like interview audience members and read through comments to figure out what it was that I do here on the internet.

This is how I came to discover that my business archetype is that of the thought leader, not because I consider myself some sage but because I tend to publish rough draft thinking and slowly develop that thinking into easily understood ways of thinking about the work that is K-12 education.

Additionally, five years out I see myself with several traditionally published books that I can proudly recommend, with a preponderance of my revenue coming from speaking engagements priced toward the top of my market and healthy additional revenue streams from royalties, pay What You Want online products, and select sponsorship and affiliate streams.

All of this has led me to landing on a hypothesis for about how to design your website if your goal is to be a thought-leader: reader first and foremost, always. The only 2 questions I need to ask as I tweak my site are:

1. What would I want as a reader?

2. How can I best deliver that to my readers.

These questions, importantly, help with both visual and workflow design.

Visually, this design orientation allows me to make easier decisions: readable font, minimal distractions (pop-ups, sidebars, etc).

In terms of workflow, my chief design consideration is how do I spend as little time as possible doing things that are not writing for my audience.

I will be testing this hypothesis starting on August 1st, and I’ll measure it’s success in terms of standard metrics like subscribers, speaking engagement leads, and revenue.

Here is why I think the results will be positive (and again, this is just a hypothesis at this point – I’m just sharing for whatever it’s worth):

1. Where I used to feel like I had to follow All The People to keep up with the latest and greatest internet marketing tactics, now I can stop that. Why? Because my design orientation tells me to trust that my reader is not an idiot and that she can easily figure out how to subscribe to my newsletter if she wants.

There will be a link to joining the newsletter at the end of posts, through the primary navigation menu, and on my home landing page (in development). Dave From January would have worried that my site won’t optimally convert if I don’t do more than that; Reader-Centered Dave realizes that the kinds of readers I want don’t need to be cajoled or manipulated or nagged to subscribe; they’ll subscribe when and if they feel a need to stay apprised of my work. The better and more consistently that I write, the more likely it is that they will feel that need…

2. …and reader-centered design will force me to become a better writer because I won’t be wasting energy following All The People and fretting over design decisions and plugins. I’ll be trying to write + listen to readers + write + listen to readers x infinity because that is what I would want as a reader – a writer who is publishing work on a consistent basis and whose work is getting better all the time.

3. I think that while reader-centered design will lack the panache or slickishness of professionally designed sites, it will actually yield greater authority and opportunity. Thought leaders aren’t thought leaders because they have a sweet-looking websites, nor do they sell a lot of books because of sweet-looking websites.

They are thought leaders because they do such a great volume of thinking that they inevitably produce a few great ideas (those few being the lottery tickets), and they do the work of developing those ideas to the point of making them readily communicable. Much of that idea development process is done in front of their readers because they consistently publishing and listening and etc.

4. Reader-centered design bleeds over into other decisions, like how to format my newsletter and what to do with social media. An RSS-driven newsletter makes most sense because it allows me to spend less (nearly no) time writing newsletter copy and it allows my readers the option of clicking through to my site or just reading from their inbox.

True story: I was stuck on a plane recently, and I read dozens of posts by the only two newsletters I subscribe to that use RSS; these people developed a dedicated fan that day.

Like I said, I’ll be testing this hypothesis over the coming school year; my hope is that it allows me to spend a greater percentage of time doing the real work rather than the feels-like-work work that thought leaders do.

I’d like to thank Barrett Brooks and James Clear for essentially living out this hypothesis publicly on their blogs. Barrett’s blog rants are some of my favorite emails lately – read “42 Minutes” to get started. Also, two years ago Chase’s Web Design course (join Fizzle to check this one out for free) here in Fizzle completely changed how I, as a totally non-design guy, think about design.

If you’re curious, I ended up not hiring a designer at all. Instead, I signed up with WPCurve (about $60/month), and I’ve been outsourcing any tweaks I don’t know how to make to them; they’ve been great, and it really is possible to do a fair amount of design work with them if you have a vision for what you’d like your site to look like.


Concluding thoughts from Chase

Here’s three of the most important bits from Dave’s post:

1. Design follows purpose

I realized that design had to follow the purpose of my site, and so I did things like interview audience members and read through comments to figure out what it was that I do here on the internet.

So many people approach me to design their website. Very few of them have a coherent idea about the real purpose of their site besides “more email subscribers and traffic.” You have to go deeper.

Your insight has to include a sense of the mission your audience is on. (I get into this in the design course in depth. #Yoda.) Dave realized his audience isn’t full of idiots. He can treat them with respect. In fact, he has fundamental, built-in respect for them because of the heaviness of the work they do (teachers).

What is the purpose of your site? What mission do you help your visitors with? If you need help on this, for G-d’s sake, get your free month of Fizzle and take the design course.

2. Hypothesis & measurement

I’ll measure it’s success in terms of standard metrics like subscribers, speaking engagement leads, and revenue. […] I’ll be testing this hypothesis over the coming school year…

You get ideas. You get excited about them. You don’t naturally treat them like a hypothesis, building a test or two to see if it’s an idea your target audience could get behind. Instead, you go all in, you try to “CRUSH IT!,” and you end up actually killing it… like, it’s dead.

Every idea you have is a hypothesis. Come up with a way to test if there’s a market for it or not.

Do you know what your hypothesis is? Do you know how you’ll measure the results? Do you know what your expectations are?

3. Models

I’d like to thank Barrett Brooks and James Clear for essentially living out this hypothesis publicly on their blogs.

Being exposed to models, to examples of the kind of things you’re looking to create, is a game changer. It’s not just imagining what you could do, it’s seeing it, in the flesh.

For myself, I immediately catch a new vision, it feels better, more true, and I can see in what ways I’ll want to change it for my audience (based on #1 above).

So, who are the models you will pay attention to? Who’s doing it the way you want to do it? If you don’t have any right now, go and do the work to find some. Invest as much time as necessary because a great model or two will fill in so many gaps you don’t yet know you have.

Changes

What sticks with you about Dave’s “reader-centered” focus for his site? Does it make you long for the same focus on your project?

Each question in this article can lead to simple changes on your site. Doesn’t have to be a massive redesign… it could simply lead to some updates here and there.

So, what changes will you make?

Tackle Marketing Automation to Drive Conversions

According to Aberdeen Group’s research study, “companies using marketing automation receive 53 percent higher conversion rates than non-users and an annualized revenue growth rate 3.1 percent higher than non-users.” Businesses notice the value of this technology and are taking advantage of its benefits to deploy successful campaigns.

Marketing automation helps companies increase workplace productivity by effectively eliminating repetitive manual processes with an automated solution-oriented substitution. Then, human error becomes less of an issue with these routine tasks.

Moreover, Gartner Research “predicts by 2020, customers will manage 85 percent of their relationships directly with companies without human interaction.” Thus, requiring efficiency in how we interact with our prospective clients online.

Marketing automation strengthens customer relationships, scales marketing campaigns, and gives businesses a competitive advantage. It makes it easy to integrate lead generation efforts to create a manageable sales cycle.

Save your company time and resources by automating lead nurturing programs and creating convenient drip marketing campaigns. Marketing automation does the habitual tasks, while your marketing and sales team can focus on more complicated projects.

Let’s explore the benefits of marketing automation, the strategies you can implement, and the results achieved from forward-thinking companies.

The Benefits

Based on the study “Marketing Automation Strategies for Sustaining Success,” 91% of successful users believe that marketing automation is “very important” to the general success of their marketing.

Companies perceive more relevant communication to be one of the main benefits of marketing automation, followed by increased customer engagement and more timely communication.

econsultancy-marketing-automation-benefits

Source

Marketing automation is similar to a nerve center, “combining the management of marketing efforts and sales across all channels from lead to close.”

Back in the day, a customer representative’s job duties included following up with all leads that entered the sales system. Now, marketing automation software can identify leads that are qualified and ready to be approached by the sales team.

This technology eliminates the time spent on unqualified leads. It brings valuable insight to help your team members understand the needs and wants of the customer. How did they learn about your services? How did they land on your website? Which email newsletters have they subscribed to?

Here are the results of a March 2014 study by Regalix, reporting a staggering percentage of B2B marketers experiencing improved lead management and nurturing from marketing automation:

Benefits-of-MA-emarketer

Source

Ever desired to align your sales and marketing goals? Well, here’s your opportunity. Marketing automation makes it easier for your teams to collaborate and focus on the customer life cycle.

As a result, you can create targeted buyer personas, content, and programs, leading to a more effective process for closing sales. If your desire is to maximize conversions through cross-selling and upselling opportunities, marketing automation reports offer analysis of customer data.

When customers are more informed–receiving the right information at the right times–they are more likely to spend more. Businesses mastering this process “generate 50% more sales-ready leads…[and] at a 33% lower cost per lead.” Therefore, companies receive higher revenues, while cutting marketing overhead costs.

Just because customers don’t purchase today, doesn’t mean they won’t ever buy your product or service tomorrow. Let marketing automation revitalize previous leads that have gone inactive. Through retargeting email campaigns, automation can periodically send informative content to leads that previously went cold.

The Strategy

Marketing automation streamlines your marketing activities, in order to turn visitors into loyal buyers. From lead generation to sales-ready leads, marketing automation equips you to grow your business. Here’s an infographic that cleverly explains the process:

marketing-automation-infographic-explained

Source

LinkedIn highlighted a list of the hottest skills in 2014, where statistical analysis led the pack and business intelligence held the sixth spot. Marketing campaigns rely on these talents to gain insight on user persona. Without market research and real-time prospect tracking, we wouldn’t gain accurate information to customize the customer’s buying journey.

Learn what your customers are clicking on. Improve your engagement rates by building upon what’s already working in your marketing strategy. Custom redirects let your employees see which links are receiving the most love and which ones are being ignored. Use this data to develop content and campaigns that will resonate with your prospective buyers.

One of the most effective marketing strategies is to create and deliver personalized experiences to customers. Personalization involves really getting to know your customer behaviors to execute content that is relevant and meets your client’s preferred timing and mode of communication.

To create effective, personalized follow-up sequences, understand the specific interests of your customer and the customer’s stage in the buying process.

sequences-active-campaign

Source

Drip campaigns let you set up a series of timely emails to your audience. Case studies reveal a 98% conversion rate from these types of campaigns. These targeted communications educate your clients about product benefits and features, welcome incoming customers, and warm up new leads.

Plus, drip campaigns can assist with long sales lead-times. You can stay in regular contact with prospective clients. Here’s an example email I received in my personal inbox from a SaaS business:

Shayla-Email-drip-campaign

When setting up your drip campaign, remember to measure engagement and know the best time to engage directly. Lead scoring can help you automate the perfect time to do so.

Investing in analytics is the best marketing automation strategy to execute. When you implement marketing plans, “knowledge and information ensure your adoption of the right approach, right channel, and better results.”

Marketing automation software serves specific business purposes. Research companies to see how they can meet your company’s needs. Here are a few suggestions:

  • Hubspot
  • Marketo
  • Pardot
  • Act-On

The Results

When executing your marketing automation strategy, remember that success takes time. Don’t expect a huge jump in productivity in one week. Technology doesn’t automatically mean success. How your team effectively uses the software will produce the results.

Cincom Systems

Cincom Systems is an enterprise software solutions company. It’s challenge was identifying newsletter subscribers in the sales process.

With the help of Eloqua, Cincom launched a five-phase, behavior-based content campaign.

Phase 1: When a newsletter subscriber clicked through to an article, Eloqua would grab their information and begin to track them.

Phase 2: Tag each article by subject matter. Then, use these tags as signals that subscribers may – or may not be – interested in Cincom.

Phase 3: Conduct content audits that analyzed Cincom’s newsletters, website, blogs, ebooks and podcasts to look at what content worked best for their readers.

Phase 4: Gain a better picture of their readers through progressive profiling.

Phase 5: Pursue those leads based on the information that had been gathered.

Look at the results:

  • 256% improvement in the campaign open rate.
  • 1941% increase in the click-to-open rate.
  • 1513 potential opportunities identified.
  • An average of 18 new sales leads every week.

Paper Style

Paper Style offers personalized invitations and announcements for special occasions. The company’s open and click-through rates suffered because they were sending the same message to visitors, despite their demographic or specific interests.

SilverPop helped walk Paper Style through segmentation of the wedding planning process. First, they created a typical timeline of a bride’s buying behavior. For example, assuming brides would more likely buy wedding invitations before thank you cards.

Once a bride entered their sales funnel, a series of messages were sent to identify whether the person was a bride or a friend of the bride. This simple question determined which sequence of emails the individual would receive.

wedding-flow-chart-funnel

Source

Changing from a generic newsletter to personalized marketing automation produced amazing results for Paper Style. Their open rates increased by 244%, email click rates by 161%, and their revenue per mailing increased by 330%.

Strengthen Your Customer Relationships

Marketing automation works to automate your communication programs. It integrates key elements of marketing into one system. Making it easier to create timely, structured campaigns with all of your prospects.

Now, your marketing and sales teams can automate and optimize your programs from initial contact through the entire sales process.

Prioritize your outreach. Streamline the process. Boost conversions with marketing automation.

About the Author: Shayla Price lives at the intersection of digital marketing, the law and social responsibility. She inspires a new breed of innovative attorneys at Hearsay Marketing. Connect with her on Twitter: @shaylaprice

Startups should make money

Call me old-fashioned but I’ve always believed that the purpose of starting a business is to earn a profit. An entrepreneur risks their time, money and energy with the hopes of a payoff at the end.

That seems clear to me.

And yet, in the startup culture, not everyone agrees.

Traditionally, entrepreneurs try to earn a profit by creating value for their customers. But startup “entrepreneurs” can go a different route.

Acquisitions.

Startup acquisitions create a whole new kind of payoff for people starting companies.

When you’re gunning for an acquisition, your whole aim is to make yourself look attractive to a much larger fish. This means growth. But not growth the way we used to think about it (“Johnson! Is revenue growing?”) but user growth. How many people are using your service? There’s this thinking in Silicon Valley that you can lose money as long as you’re gaining users quickly.

There’s always been mergers and acquisitions, but not on this scale. Now, founders are looking for their Instagram moment. Instagram grew to 30 million users, and despite having no revenue, was acquired by Facebook for $1 billion in 2012.

The idea of building this kind of unicorn is the new dream.

The devaluation of sales

The downside to a culture obsessed with user growth, is we’re raising a whole generation of “entrepreneurs” who have never sold a thing in their life.

“Making money takes practice.”
– Jason Fried, Signal vs Noise

I started at a young age: a shy kid, going door-to-door selling trinkets out of a catalog. In high school I sold homemade t-shirts and concert tickets. By college I’d graduated to selling web development services. In my professional life I’ve had 15 years of selling software, digital goods, and recurring monthly plans.

Even with all that experience, I still feel like I need more practice with sales.

I think anyone can learn sales. But if a founder’s whole objective is to get acquired by Google, Apple, Amazon, or Yahoo, they’ll never learn.

Where to start

Ultimately, I’d like to see more profitable businesses. But I realize that reaching profitably can take time. At MicroConf, Ted Pitts had a great talk about how it took his company 12 years to reach true profitability.

“Profit is what’s leftover once you’re paying yourself a market salary.”– Ted Pitts, MicroConf 2015

So let’s start by encouraging new companies to earn revenue, with an eye on becoming real, profitable businesses in the future. This means encouraging young entrepreneurs to get out and sell something.

My first day in the software business, my boss handed me a phone and told me to follow-up on inbound leads. These are the kind of practices we need in our industry.

I’m encouraged by programs like Gumroad’s Small Product Lab that help people make something small, put a price on it, and put it out in the world.

How to evaluate success

An acquisition is like a wealthy collector purchasing a race car before it’s won a single race. In the startup culture, the car is hailed as a champion, despite the fact that it’s never won a trophy.

Instead of basing startup valuations on hazy metrics like eyeballs, signups, and traffic, let’s base them on this simple formula:

revenue – expenses = profit

Let’s start acknowledging the teams that build a car to race, get it on the track, and win some races.

Cheers,
Justin Jackson
@mijustin

PS: is your startup looking for a way to earn more revenue? I’m writing a book about that.

“Get In Early” (GIE) #001: RainforestQA

Ok it’s time to run an experiment here on SaaStr.  We tried last year to build SaaStrJobs, but the 0.1 wasn’t really good enough.  We’re still thinking about how to do that right, but for now, let’s try each week or two spotlighting One Great Up-and-Coming SaaS Company, and what jobs they are looking for.

Every week or so, we’ll give you the inside scoop on one SaaS hot start-up you’ve almost heard of, but maybe not quite yet, not totally.  To “Get In Early” once they have product-market fit — but before your employee number is in the triple digits. We’ll tell you where they are stage-wise and progress-wise, how they sell today, what hires they are looking for in sales and customer success and marketing … and we’ll add a video pitch from the team.  Plus:

  • Each Get In Early will have a founder / CEO I personally know, at least for now — and would work for and trust.
  • Each Get In Early company must be between $1m and $10m ARR and growing faster than 10% month-over-month.  So with a shot of going from $1m to $10m ARR in 5-6 quarters or less.  Hypergrowth or pre-hypergrowth potential.  And we’ll verify that.

Let’s see if this is helpful, but let me start with RainforestQA that we profiled a little earlier here.

How does RainforestQA stack up?

  • Screen Shot 2015-07-27 at 4.06.46 PMSize:  Crossed into low-seven figures ARR.
  • Growth: 20% MoM for past 4 months, on track for this month as well.
  • What It Does:  Uber-for-QA.  “Human testing at the speed of automation.”  Functional testing for your website or mobile product auto-deployed in one click, in infinite capacity, at any time.  YCombinator S’12.
  • Money:  Just Raised $4m.
  • Deal size:  $30k+ ACV and up now (gone and going upmarket).
  • Logos: Zenefits, Plangrid, Betterworks, Tilt, Popsugar, etc.
  • Location: SF.
  • Out / in-bound:  to date, all in-bound.  Scaling up SDRs and outbound.
  • Profile buyer:  VP or Director of Engineering or Product, and soon, CIOs.
  • Hiring for in Sales, Sales Engineering & Ops:  Senior and Junior AEs, SDRs, Sales Eng.  Director, Sales Ops.
  • Hiring for in Customer Success: Managers with at least 1-2 years experience, and a Dir/VP as well.
  • Special Notes:  You should be comfortable selling to a reasonably technical buyer. You don’t need to be an engineer (of course).

Ok with that here’s the pitch from the head of sales (and behind the camera, the CEO and co-founder).

>> Learn More / Apply here. << and watch below.  I think this first video is excellent.  You’ll also learn a lot about start-ups at this stage no matter what by watching.  How CEOs and sales leads think about this stage, what they’re looking for, how they see product-market fit, etc.

If this works, we’ll make Get In Early a series.

Screen Shot 2015-07-24 at 4.10.47 PM

All of Business of Software USA’s 2014 Lightning Talks in One Place

Lightning Talks are always one of the highlights of Business of Software. They’re fast, often funny, but more importantly – approach subjects that matter with laser guided precision. Less blah, blah, blah.

This years application process closes on July 30th 2015 – that’s not much time to get your proposal in. More info here.

2014 was another good year for lightning talks. Lucky for you, we’ve recorded them and made them available for free. Expect a wide range of verbal and visual inspiration in these seven and a half minute videos.

To make it easy, they’re being released all at once, all in one place. See the videos below, be inspired, then get your applications in.

Again, you only have until July 30th 2015 to get your applications to us.

Robert Moore – When To Turn in Your Keyboard

Claire Lew – How To Get Honest Feedback from Your Employees

Mark Abramson – Defining Your Customer, Articulating Their Problem

Brydon Gillis – The Future of Mobile Tech: Maybe Less is More? 

Jared Chung – I Want to Know What It’s Like to Be You

Join the Business of Software Community.

Get the latest updates from Business of Software free to you. You will receive conference news, blogs from some of the world's best leaders, and access BoS video content as soon as it goes live by signing up here.

The post All of Business of Software USA’s 2014 Lightning Talks in One Place appeared first on Business of Software USA.

The Art and Process of The Hustle | Steli Efti Pre-BoS Conf USA 2015 Google Hangout | 9:30 AM PST; 5:30 PM BST

Steli Efti is the co-founder and CEO of Close.io. He’s also Silicon Valley’s most prominent sales hustler, a YC alumni, advisor to several startups and entrepreneurs and the author of The Ultimate Startup Guide To Outbound Sales.

Click here to register or attend the hangout with Steli, 09:30 PST; 17:30 BST.

It’s fashionable to think that sales are the result of Inbound marketing in some circles – perhaps every sale you make comes to you magically through the Internet with no human touch. Does that mean you can’t do better?

This year, Steli will be speaking at Business of Software Conference USA 2015 on the topic of “The Art of Selling Software – Hacks to Help You Hustle in Your Business”. Expect your illusions of a purely inbound business to be shattered, and to be energised by Steli’s story and willingness to get ‘out there’.

Before the conference, we will be holding a Business of Software hangout with Steli – a free event where you get the chance to pitch your questions to the Master of Hustle. He’ll be fielding questions on the process of sales from the perspective of someone who has started from the bottom, and has been there and done it in his own start up.

The Hangout Starts at 09:30 PST; 17:30 GMT on Thursday 30th July. Join here on the day, or register you interest by clicking attend on the event.

Click below to add the event to your calendar to not miss out.

The post The Art and Process of The Hustle | Steli Efti Pre-BoS Conf USA 2015 Google Hangout | 9:30 AM PST; 5:30 PM BST appeared first on Business of Software USA.

Avoiding False Positives in the Pursuit of Product-Market Fit

Tom Leung, co-founder of Poachable, talked with us about how Poachable got started out of a pivot from a previous company. He opened up about false positives that led them to fail a little too slow with the previous company, and how they were hours away from an acquisition before closing a new round to pursue Poachable.

Show Notes:

  • Tom Leung
  • Poachable
  • 5 Startup Lessons I learned for $300,000 each
  • Intro Song by Alex Koch of Digital Dust Studios
  • Outro Song "Tomorrow Will be Kinder" - The Secret Sisters
  • What’s best time of day to create great content?

    Each day when Mark Zuckerberg wakes up, he gets dressed in the exact same outfit: a grey, crew neck t-shirt and a pair of blue jeans.

    7-22-2015 6-31-32 AM.png

    Related: Content is not enough: How to use Facebook ads to get the most from your posts

    He’s not alone. Barack Obama does the same thing by limiting his choice of suit colors to 2: blue or gray.

    This would be overkill for many of us, but you’ve got to respect their motive.

    Mark and Barack, 2 of the most powerful men on the planet make this choice for 1 simple reason — to save their mental energy for important decisions.

    We can (and should) use this exact approach with our own work in content marketing.

    The #1 hack for writing everyday

    It was a few months ago when I experienced a breakthrough in my content marketing.

    As a full-time employee and part-time entrepreneur, I struggled to find the time to write great content. Every day I’d get home telling myself I should write, but was exhausted — mentally and physically — from the hellacious Houston commute, back-to-back meetings and deadlines with my day job.

    It was only once in a great while that I’d have a burst of motivation and write a thousand or so words in the evening.

    This is the method I used for years, until 1 day I made a simple switch: I committed to writing in the early morning, i.e.,before work.

    Related: 14 surprising morning routines of entrepreneurs and creatives

    By making this slight tweak in my day, I’ve been able to write every day, for weeks on end, adding up to tens of thousands of words.

    The best part? Not only do I write more, but I write better too.

    In this post, I’ll explain why content marketing is best done in the morning and how to train your body and mind to start writing at 5:30 AM.

    You take advantage of peak cognitive thinking

    In a normal day, we make hundreds of decisions:

    • What’s the best strategy to increase our subscriber count?
    • Should I eat my 2-day old lunch or go out?
    • Is there a better way to drive home with the accident on I-10?

    These are overly-simple examples of the thoughts that float through our mind every second of every day.

    The CEO of coach.me, Tony Stubblebine, suggests that these small decisions impact our cognitive stamina:

    “People have a daily cognitive stamina that represents their ability to do any intellectual work.

    Every decision, big or small, every moment of mental focus, and every act of comprehension is part of your day’s cognitive stamina. Let’s call that your cognitive budget.

    When your stamina is drained, you revert to your lazy self, choosing actions which are habitual, familiar and routine. Your stamina recharges completely overnight (and gets a partial refill after every meal).”

    There are 2 ways to combat your limited cognitive stamina:

    1. Make fewer decisions (like Zuckerberg and Obama)
    2. Allocate our most important work in the morning

    We’re going to focus on the latter.

    We’ll never fully control what happens in our day-to-day lives, so it’s best to do our most important task, writing,  in the morning. This allows us to work when our cognitive stamina is at it’s highest.

    Finding your inner monk

    Greg McKeown, author of Essentialism: The Driven Pursuit of Less defines monk mode as “shutting out the world for a time.”

    By waking up at 5 AM, you’ll have the ability to work in solitude (something you probably haven’t done in years).

    Research shows this quiet time promotes productivity and creativity:

    “…[T]he “a-ha!” moment (otherwise known as achieving your flow) tends to come after long, dedicated hours. It’s a process known to mathematicians, designers, writers, and painters: you need to stare down the complexity of the problem or the emptiness of the canvas for a long while for the solutions to emerge. If we’re going to be able to create things, we need to be able to focus — at length.”

    In other words, monk mode enables you put forth your best writing.

    Personally, it takes me about 10-15 minutes of quiet, uninterrupted time before I hit my flow. But once that happens, the words almost write themselves.

    You have no reason NOT to write (plus a daily deadline)

    It’s 5 A.M. You just woke up and you’ve got zero obligations.

    Is there any other point in the day when you can say that?

    Early mornings are the only time that you can focus on you while your boss/family/wife/husband sleeps.

    Compare this to your typical evening.

    When you get home from work there is an endless list of items that you can do:

    • Attend happy hour
    • Make dinner
    • Spend time with family / friends
    • Watch your favorite TV program
    • Run quick errands – dry cleaning, grocery shopping, etc

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    If you try to cram writing into the evening, it’ll always be competing with other activities. And if you’re anything like me, you’ll find excuses to not write and do other things that you enjoy. Enjoy an Old Fashioned at happy hour after work? Yes please.

    Additionally, when you write in the morning, you’ll have a time limit in order to make it to your day job. This deadline forces you to stay focused and stick to your writing.

    This deadline goes hand-in-hand with Parkinson’s Law, a concept taken from the 4-Hour Workweek (paraphrased below):

    “Parkinson’s Law dictates that a task will swell in (perceived) importance and complexity in relation to the time allotted for it’s completion. It is the magic of the imminent deadline. If I give you 24 hours to complete a project, the time pressure forces you to focused on execution, and you have no choice but to do only the bare essentials. If I give you a week to complete the same task, it’s 6 days of making a mountain out of a molehill. If I give you 2 months, God forbid, it becomes a mental monster. The end product of the shorter deadline is almost inevitably of equal or higher quality due to greater focus.”

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    Many of us have experienced Parkinson’s Law through professors, managers, etc. Why not take it upon ourselves to have it be part of our daily routine and increase the efficiency with our writing?

    You’ll be done with writing by 7 AM

    My commitment with writing is simple – 750 words a day (inspired by 750words.com).

    Sometimes I write more, in fact way more. And other times I end right at 750.

    Regardless, hitting 750 is a psychological feel good for me. I know that I just accomplished my most important and creative work of the day — and it’s not even 7 AM.

    I know 750 words doesn’t sound like much, but let’s run some quick math. At this rate I’ll accomplish:

    • 750 words daily
    • 5,250 words weekly
    • 22,500 words monthly
    • 273,250 words annually

    Those numbers are incredible to think about.

    By focusing on the process of writing 750 words a day, I’m able to keep it simple while accumulating hundreds of thousands of words. Compare this process-thinking to most people who have vague goals of “writing a book this year”.

    Plan your evening for morning success

    When I tell people I get up early to write, the automatic question I receive is, “What time do you get up?”

    I get up early, about 4:45 AM. But while on the surface this appears to be important, the question they should be asking is “What time do you go to bed”?

    The answer to that is much less sexy. I go to bed between 9:30 and 10:00 PM.

    I made this fundamental shift in my day years ago. The original intent was to avoid the morning commuters in Houston. Nowadays, I maintain this habit to get to work early, except it’s to work on my own business.

    In this section, I’ll give you the step-by-step method I use to be awake, energized and creative for your morning writing session.

    Step No. 1 – Finish writing mid-sentence

    I battled with writer’s block for years. Few things are worse than staring at a blank, white screen while you wait for inspiration to hit.

    This changed when I made 1 small tweak — finishing my previous writing session in mid-sentence.

    This seems counterintuitive, but when you’re in the middle of your flow and you’ve hit your word quota, stop mid-sentence. This gives your mind something to think about and develop until your next writing session.

    Nadia Ballas-Ruta came up with this idea from Ernest Hemingway’s short passage on writing:

    “The best way is always to stop when you are going good and when you know what will happen next. If you do that every day … you will never be stuck … That way your subconscious will work on it all the time. But if you think about it consciously or worry about it, you will kill it and your brain will be tired before you start.”

    This simple idea helps me get started right when I sit down at the computer — not 15 minutes later.

    Step No. 2 – The evening alarm

    During an interview with Gretchen Rubin, author of The Happiness Project, she provided what has turned out to be my favorite lifehack — an evening alarm.

    Nearly all of us have an alarm in the morning to wake up, but how many of us have an evening alarm to remind us to wind down and go to bed?

    Getting enough sleep is a force multiplier — everything will improve from your health, energy, mood and of course, your creative thinking needed for content marketing. Having an evening and morning alarm helps us get the amount of sleep we need by controlling the times we go to sleep and wake up.

    To set your evening alarm, you’ll need to work backwards and make sleep a priority.

    Here’s how it works:

    Step 1: Decide what time you want to wake up (e.g. 5  AM) and how much sleep you want (e.g. 7 hours)

    Step 2: Work backwards to find out what time you need to go to sleep (e.g. 5 AM – 7 hours = 10 PM)

    Step 3: Subtract an additional hour to allow for wind-down time (10 PM – 1 hour = 9 PM)

    Every night, I am reminded at 9 PM to stop whatever I’m doing and get ready for the next day. In no particular order, I’ll do the following:

    • Define my 3 to-do items for tomorrow
    • Set out my work clothes and workout clothes
    • Prepare my breakfast

    When I’m finished with that, I’ll read and hang out with my fiancée till I fall asleep.

    To wake up early in the morning requires a shift in mindset (not necessarily more sleep). I try to think of my day starting at 9 PM the night before, so I can virtually guarantee I’ll wake up early to do my writing.

    Step No. 3 – Waking up with a purpose

    You’ve either got the gumption for this step, or you don’t.

    For all of us, there’s a moment in the morning when we can hit the snooze button and delay our day.

    It’s this moment when I think to the Stoic quote by Marcus Aurelius (thanks Ryan Holiday):

    “At dawn, when you have trouble getting out of bed, tell yourself: ‘I have to go to work–as a human being. What do I have to complain of, if I’m going to do what I was born for–the things which I was brought into the world to do? Or is this what I was created for? To huddle under the blankets and stay warm?’

    –But it’s nicer here…

    So you were born to feel “nice?” Instead of doing things and experiencing them? Why aren’t you running to do what your nature demands?

    –But we have to sleep sometime…

    Agreed. But nature set a limit on that–as it did on eating and drinking. And you’re over the limit. But not of working. There you’re still below your quota. You don’t love yourself enough. Or you’d love your nature too and what it demands of you. People who love what they do wear themselves down doing it, they even forget to wash and eat.”

    – Marcus Aurelius

    For me, I know the only guaranteed time I have to write is in the morning before work. If I sleep in, I’m not just losing out on an hour of writing in the morning, I’m losing out for the entire day.

    But it’s deeper than that.

    I know that I have more time now than I’ll likely ever have again. At 31 years old and engaged, I may have a family and a mortgage to support in 2 to 3 years. I’m able to balance a full-time career, side business, CrossFit coaching, and spending time with family, friends and my fiancée now – but some of those things will be replaced (or reduced) when I have a family.

    Whatever your situation, it’s important to fully understand the short and long-term implications of sleeping in.

    In the short-term, you’ll miss a day of writing and building momentum on working the process.

    In the long-term, you’re delaying the goals you have with writing. And if you continue to delay, you may end up psyching yourself out from ever finishing that goal.

    Results from writing every day

    Before finding 750words and writing every morning, I would only write “when the motivation was there.”

    Motivation to write almost never happens.

    Writing is the core of my side business, yet I was almost never doing it.

    To be specific, I write close to 6,000 words a week. This helps me develop autoresponders, web copy, guest posts (like this one), and case studies. I’m writing all the time. It’s the product of my business.

    To recap, here are the action steps so you can work on your content marketing in the morning:

    1. Finish writing mid-sentence
    2. Set an evening alarm
    3. Wake up with a purpose

    That’s it!

    If you’ve got questions on anything related to sleep — falling asleep quickly, waking up early, sleep hacks, etc. — let me know in the comments.

    The post What’s best time of day to create great content? appeared first on WP Curve.