Last week, you met Michael from Yuzool. He told us all about what Yuzool does and how he got started. This week, we spoke with Michael again and learned all about how he grew Yuzool into the successful company it is today. Through real life meetups to online contests, Michael has taken a methodical approach to growing his business.
Can you tell us how you have grown Yuzool?
Elbow grease, blood, sweat and tears. Literally! It’s been really hard but I think taking a methodical daily approach is the best way. Small daily steps or routines to give yourself small increments everyday that compound everytime. I see marketing and growth now like a muscle and going to the gym. You have to keep working at it to see the benefits. I’m currently studying a great course that gives small tips every week to keep you focused ad going forward called “tiny marketing wins” by Justin Jackson (tinymarketingwins.com). But I think at the beginning one of the keys was attaching to a community. I belonged to a small niche community of RapidWeaver users (web design software for Mac) and knew the landscape well. I knew the pitfalls, what addons were missing, what users expected in terms of product quality and customer support and I knew the community was there and how to reach them. So when I made my first product it could cross all the boxes from a quality perspective but also I could get sales early on as I could reach the market. In later years I launched many failed apps, as I launched them to crickets and not to a community that I could identify and reach it made me understand how important it really is. This is something to bear in mind. If you don’t already belong to a community or have an audience, it’s ok, but could be an idea to join one and find a way to service them better.
How do real life meet ups make an impact on your business?
Real life meet ups are amazing. We sell software (an app to help you edit a website – Pulsecms.com) and one of the best ways to get more users and people talking about it is offline meet ups. Pulse is aimed at designers for using with their clients but you could do a meetup to give advice on an area you know well and have your product as a good industry example – without needing to be salesy. It’s a really good opportunity for building trust in your product and authenticity, it’s doesn’t cost much (vs paid ads online – don’t do it!) and you get instant feedback from them and can see any difficulties they are having with your product and put that back into product development. Plus, you get to hang out and have lots of fun and meet new people so it’s completely a win win. People who join have a great time and then also spread the word to their colleagues and also through social media #tagging. Even if they don’t buy your thing they start to become evangelists or referrers of your business. And in our case, it made us think are we selling just software or are we actually helping people get from where they are now to where they want to go?
How do online competitions play a role in your growth? How do they work?
I was introduced to online competitions by a friend who runs a subscription box business. They are a great way to get attention to your site, links, traffic and in the end some sales. I signed up to an app called Gleam (gleam.io) which is “the business growth platform”. You firstly create a competition page using Gleam with a prize giveaway, for example we had 1st prize as 5 licenses of Pulse, second prize as 3 license and so on. Then you share the page through your network and newsletter. Users see the competition page and it tells them that to enter into the prize draw they have to complete an action. The more actions they complete, the more likely they are to win (the user with the most actions has more entries and more likely to be drawn at random at the end). Entries include sharing your product on Twitter, Facebook, following you, submitting an email address, watching your product YouTube video and so on. It’s really a great way to grow quite quickly and across social networks for very little cost (just some free prizes). My friend also grew quickly this way and runs almost monthly giveaways. This approach combined with discount coupons from Selz can be a very powerful combination.
What’s your current social media focus?
Currently we focus on Instagram and Facebook. We need to get a bit more creative in this area and have found that funnily enough photos of food or meetups in pubs get more likes than product updates and releases.. so happy to spend more time posting about going out! We are based in Japan so we need to use that to our advantage and that could be a hook for our social media focus. Unlike Google PayPerClick ads which can be like throwing money away, Facebook “boost” posts are a cost effective way to get more traffic and likes to your posts and get more visibility. We’ve found this works well and we had a Facebook Messenger widget on our site for a while that was good for doing real-time chat support with customers without needing to add a full-blown chat service to our site!
What do you have planned for growth in 2017?
I’m going to keep doing my tiny marketing wins course and work on that weekly to slowly improve our marketing channels and we are planning more workshops. At the moment we are now doing them monthly and use an app called “Connpass” (connpass.com) to manage those. We’ve done them in two cities so far with a third planned for this month. Hopefully after that there are some users in other countries who will start to do their own localised versions and we can grow in different web communities through local meet ups. I’m also attending a conference next month called Microconf (microconf.com) to get more ideas around growth and networking with others who run bootstrapped online business to share strategies and tips. And we are looking at implementing more software integrations. So making sure our app integrates with other platforms is a good way to get more users and also cross-promotional marketing. Zapier (zapier.com) is one we are hoping to add as it will add more possibilities and reasons to user our app so hopefully increase the user base.
What advice do you have for someone just starting and wanting to grow quickly?
There’s probably no silver bullet and unless the idea is electric it will be tough to grow fast. But with a lot of hard work and a planned consistent approach it’s possible to keep steady growth over time (such as with coupons as above). Marketing though starts before you’ve even written the first line of code or stocked the warehouse. So I would suggest starting a blog or social media channel today and start to build a reputation online. Join in with a community by being helpful and growing your network then when you come to sell something you’ll know what they really need and have an audience listening who are ready to buy. If you launch to not many contacts or a small email list it’s like launching to crickets. Build it and they won’t come. Unfortunately Kevin Costner was wrong about this one.
If you haven’t already, make sure to check out Michael’s store. You can also comment below with any questions for Michael (we’re pretty sure he’ll get back to you!) or for us.