Community marketing for a bootstrapped startup

What advice would I give to a bootstrapped startup?

I haven’t thought about bootstrapped marketing in a while. Then a cold email from a Toronto founder got my gears turning. They asked if I had any tips for a young, bootstrapped tech company.

This post is what came to mind.

Keep reading…

This is how I work

Happy Monday Tuesday! I started writing this post yesterday but ran out of time. It’s a fairly comprehensive look at how I work:

  • Systems and processes
  • Running retros with plus/delta
  • Everything starts with writing
  • Getting things done with Todoist
  • My daily routine

Why did I write this? Because I like seeing how the sausage gets made. I find this sort of behind-the-scenes sharing to be really interesting in general. I’m sure I’m not alone in that.

I was inspired by the exercise of writing a personal user manual. It’s a document that helps colleagues understand how you work.

I thought it’d be worth documenting this now and coming back in a few months or years to see how things have changed.

I sometimes wish I had started doing this years ago so I could go back and compare notes with my past self.

If you have written a post like this — or decide to write one — please get in touch and let me know. I’d love to read it and share it.

BTW: As with last week, I drafted this whole thing in markdown using VS Code before flipping it over to WordPress. Unlike last week, I pulled the intro out of the markdown block so I could drop a “Read More” after it.

Writing in markdown using VS Code

Keep reading…

Midges, my writing process, and getting in the trenches as a community manager

Happy Monday! In last week’s post I mentioned that midges were swarming our yard and keeping me from fixing our fence. Well, it’s gotten worse since then, and our entire neighbourhood is now under siege.

Thankfully the masks we’re wearing for Covid-19 physical distancing work just as well for protecting us from these gnatty waterfront sex swarms.

Seriously. I looked it up.

From what I’ve read, these midge clouds should subside in a couple weeks as the warm weather picks up and things dry out. Here’s hoping.

Keep reading…

Online is the new normal.

Happy (Easter) Monday.

To steal a line from Torchwood: The 21st century is when everything changes.

We’re going to come out of these Covid-19 lockdowns with a redefined sense of what’s normal.

My hope is that we’ll see support for some form of universal basic income; internet access treated as an essential utility; an uptick in domestic industry; and a renewed appreciation for public healthcare.

My expectation is that small businesses will treat their online presence as a must-have asset rather than a nice-to-have luxury, even if they’re only serving local customers. Retailers will scramble to get their eCommerce storefronts up and running, and restaurants will hunt for affordable solutions to handle deliveries.

A number of larger companies will scale back on office leases as their employees continue to work from home. Remote work and distributed teams will be more commonplace – either as the default, or as a supported option for all new hires.

Keep reading…

Virtual meetups & physical distancing

I published a guide for hosting virtual events over on the GoDaddy blog earlier this week. It’s a deep dive based on the notes I started writing to myself late last year.

Here’s an excerpt:

“Virtual events are great. They can be more affordable, accessible and inclusive than in-person events. Attendees aren’t limited by a physical venue, and you can bring participants in from all over.”

How to host virtual community events (GoDaddy)

We’re seeing a bunch of groups either shut down or postpone their events. It’s a shame, because social activities — even virtual ones! — are sorely needed right now.

We need to physically isolate ourselves if we’re going to flatten the curve. That doesn’t mean we need to socially isolate ourselves. Getting together online for meetups, workshops, casual banter, competitive eSports, family game nights… we’re going to need more of that if we’re going to get through this with our sanity intact.

Physical distancing > social distancing.

So TL;DR == Go forth and host a virtual event.

A few thoughts on writing that resonates.

As I read through some articles on Pocket this morning, a question struck me: What’s the difference between the writing that sticks in my head, and the writing that doesn’t?

The writing that sticks has some personality. It’s “me” or “we”. There’s a perspective or an opinion. Compare that to the dreck of marketing content that doesn’t take a position, written with the air of loose authority.

(Cue the disembodied voices of endless marketing articles echoing from the depths of a content mill.)

It’s generic statements rehashed from thirty minutes of Googling because the author has no experience and didn’t have the time, or the motivation, to interview someone who does.

I’m guilty of it. I’ve chased broad topics under tight deadlines and hoped for the best. But there’s no conviction or motivation behind the words. It’s just regurgitated information shifted five degrees — a bad homework assignment that needs to be handed in on time.

I enjoy writing, and I write a lot. I have years worth of journals stacked in my office filled with notes and ideas. Yet most of what I share publicly is just a curation of what others have written.

A colleague pinged me on Slack a couple weeks ago. He follows me on Twitter and wanted to know my thoughts on an article I shared about grocery store influencers.

To his disappointment, I didn’t offer any take of my own. “Just write a few sentences”, he said. My reply? “I don’t have the time.”

Yet I have the time to compose wordy emails, to dive into Slack conversations, to soapbox and pontificate on back-to-back Zoom calls.

What’s the difference?

I’m not chasing keywords when I pour myself into those activities. I’m not concerned about SEO or word count. They’re off the cuff, unfiltered opinions, hot takes on issues, me offering a perspective on something that I care about.

So I’m going to try and do more of that. Here in my little corner of the web, I will try to write more, but only to get ideas out of my head, kinda like a one-way Slack conversation.

Let’s see how it goes.

Help your customers succeed during a crisis.

“How can your customers use your tool to save money or earn revenue? Provide templates, workflows, and inspiration to help them get more from your software/services. Share what your best customers are doing and consider hosting webinars or even 1:1 consulting to help the rest do more with a product they already have.”

Take Charge, Be a Voice of Reason and Keep Publishing (Animalz)

Advice for SaaS companies that applies to every business right now: help your customers do more with what they’ve already bought from you. You’ll do well if they’re doing well. So help them out, and give them a reason to stick around.

Don’t make your online community a walled garden.

Who should support an online community? Everyone in the community that can help share expertise and knowledge. Without the sharing of everyone, we create walled gardens and allow our competition a major opportunity to steal away disenchanted customers.”

Who Should Support an Online Community? (Growing Community)

I see content and community as layers within a business, rather than silos. They’re resources that we can use for marketing, sales, onboarding, support, and retention. It’s a waste of resources to isolate them.

Grocery stores & everyday influencers

“Aldi doesn’t pay Youngpeter for her content about her favorite brands at the store— Girl Scout cookies knockoffs and German chocolates. But she and other grocery store superfans with Facebook and Instagram accounts dedicated to the stores are powerful advocates for the companies.”

These are the grocery store influencers (CNN)

With grocery stores becoming the only open public venue during Covid-19 shutdowns, I can’t help but wonder if we’ll see a rise in this sort of content.