Justin Jackson

Entrepreneur, author, podcaster, public speaker, and YouTuber.

THIS CHAT HAPPENED ON October 10, 2017

Discussion

Justin Jackson@mijustin · Internet stuntman ⚡️ transistor.fm
Hi - I'm Justin Jackson, founder of MegaMaker and author of Marketing for Developers. Since 2008 I've been working with SaaS companies in product management and marketing. These days, I'm focused on helping founders get more profitable. I'm also really into JTBD. Ask me anything!
Ryan Hoover@rrhoover · Founder, Product Hunt
Justin! You've worked on several projects over the years. What's the craziest idea you've considered but didn't launch (at least yet)?
Joshua Voydik@joshvoydik · Founder, Mindful Makers
@rrhoover This is a great question.
Justin Jackson@mijustin · Internet stuntman ⚡️ transistor.fm
@rrhoover in 2016, I committed myself to making 100 things in a year. Here's what I learned: • Discomfort (trying new things) is essential to creativity and growth • It's good to make things outside of tech. My favorite thing I made was a burrito for a local restaurant's menuSome experimentation is good, but eventually you need to double down on what's working. So.... I've cut way down on projects this year. 😉 The craziest ideas I considered, but didn't launch (yet), are all nostalgic: • Launch an ANSI BBS (and run it on telnet) • Create a multimedia CD-ROM (when I was a kid, I'd make interactive CD-ROMs for my brother and sisters using Macromedia Authorware) • Build my own MUD. (In the 90s I used to play these all the time) • Make a demo for the demoscene. Again, as a geek in the 90s, PC demos were my cocaine. I idolized groups like Future Crew (their demo, Second Reality is a masterpiece).
Drew Reynolds@nydrewreynolds · Software Developer at Gramercy Tech
So your followers are aware they should make a landing page, possbily multiple, to validate their ideas before they begin building. Once you make the page, how do you drive traffic to it? Would you recommend using contests, referral marketing, or simply paying for Google/FB ads?
Justin Jackson@mijustin · Internet stuntman ⚡️ transistor.fm
@nydrewreynolds First, your idea needs to meet these three criteria: 1. An audience worth pursuing If the group you're targeting doesn't buy goods or services, you'll probably want to choose a different market. The same goes for an audience that's known to be cheap, lazy, or difficult. Find a target market that's worth chasing. Then, make sure your landing page addresses that group! 2. Have something people want On landingpageteardown.com I've reviewed hundreds of landing pages. The one thing that's often missing is an answer to the question: "Why does the audience care?" You're not going to get traffic and conversion if you're not offering something compelling. 3. Good, available channels This was your initial question, wasn't it? 😉 Choosing a target market is the most important decision you'll make. Your market will determine the quantity and quality of your traffic! Choose a group that's easy and affordable to reach. Now, to answer your question. 1. Initially, test your landing page with free/low-cost channels I recently gave @FredRivett this advice: "Fred, you've been building up a reputation in the startup space for years (blogging, podcasting, engaging on sites like PH). Now it's time to leverage those relationships you've built!" If you've built up trust in a given community, that's going to be your best channel initially. Write individual emails, and ask your network if they'll help you spread the word. Here are some free channels you can use: • SEO: getting backlinks to your landing page from other sites, and ranking for specific keywords • Content marketing: blogging, infographics, viral videos • Platform marketing: engaging in Facebook Groups, on forums, in comments threads 2. Once you get traction, pour gasoline on the fire For me, 500 - 1000 signups on a mailing list proves there's a reasonable amount of traction. (@jason seems to have a similar metric) Once you have that kind of interest, you can start to leverage paid channels: • Ads: Facebook Ads, Adwords, LinkedIn ads, etc. • Paid partnerships: finding influencers that have a similar audience to you, and paying them for placement • Direct mail: sending your prospects stickers, postcards, or letters by post • Events: attending tradeshows, conferences, and meetups and handing out business cards (or other swag) with your website address Hope this helps! (BTW - I've just started a playlist on YouTube devoted to this topic)
Abadesi@abadesi · 👩🏽‍💻 Product Hunt | Hustle Crew | NTT
Hey Justin, you're a prolific public speaker. Were you always comfortable in front of an audience? I'd love to hear tips on improving public speaking skills 😊
Justin Jackson@mijustin · Internet stuntman ⚡️ transistor.fm
@abadesi I was actually extremely shy when I was a kid. I remember going to summer camp, and my younger sister (who was always outgoing) went out and found friends for me. 😂 I'm not religious anymore, but one thing that really helped was growing up going to church. In evangelical churches, young people get opportunities to speak in front of people all the time. Here are my tips:Speak about things you know really well. You should be talking about your topic on your blog, podcast, YouTube channel for a long time before you get in-front of an audience. • Work out your material like a comedian. Chris Rock doesn't just write some material, and then perform it at Madison Square Garden. He works on his material by going to small clubs. One trick I have is doing impromptu YouTube Live events. I'll have an outline and try to keep people engaged. I note when I start losing people. Twitter is also a good place to work out material: which tweets get the biggest reaction? (Use Twitter analytics to discover this) • Start with a story. There's no better way to hook an audience than to start with a story. Recently I've been using Alexandra Franzen’s approach to storytelling: This is what happened, This is what I learned, This is what I urge you to do. (BTW - if you're interested in seeing more of my talks, I've started listing them here.)
Mario Rodriguez@mariordev · Software Developer
How do you find/make time to work on so many products? What's your strategy? Thanks! :)
Justin Jackson@mijustin · Internet stuntman ⚡️ transistor.fm
@mariordev when I stopped consulting and went independent in 2016 my whole objective was just to replace my consulting income. That meant launching a lot of different projects: a SaaS, a WordPress theme and plugin, and training products built for startups. Here's what I learned: the best approach is to kill what doesn't have traction, and double down on what does. My audience is software founders, developers, and product people. What do they want fro me? Training, advice, and marketing services. So in 2017 I've been re-focusing my efforts on just a few products and building Tiny Marketing Wins. As @sivers says: "If it's not a hit, switch."
Mario Rodriguez@mariordev · Software Developer
@sivers @mijustin Thank you! 👍
Fred Carlsen@sjelfull · Web developer at Bakken & Bæck
If I remember correctly, you mentioned recently that, unless you can drive 500 or more people to your landing site, your new project is usually doomed. At the same time, successful entrepreneurs often talk about having to spend years and years, slowly building an audience and experimenting with ideas, building and failing, before finally succeeding. How do you combine these two in a good way? Doesn't the former exclude the latter? I personally feel it takes small wins along the way to keep forging on towards future success, but it's hard to find those when your mailing list has 7 subscribers.
Fred Carlsen@sjelfull · Web developer at Bakken & Bæck
Related to this, what if the total market is say, 50 or 200 people? But those people are maybe willing to pay you $5000 for the product?
Justin Jackson@mijustin · Internet stuntman ⚡️ transistor.fm
@sjelfull Years ago, I was watching an episode of The Dragons' Den on Canadian television. It's similar to Shark Tank: aspiring entrepreneurs pitch their products to wealthy investors. At one point, a married couple (John and Peggy) came on stage. They were pitching a series of sports trivia booklets, the kind you might see in the checkout aisle of your grocery store. The investors asked John and Peggy a series of questions. In the midst of this questioning an ugly truth emerged: they had been working on this idea for 11 years and hadn't yet earned a profit. Even worse, they had invested their entire life savings into the project. The brutal truth was that their idea was never going to work. Here's what I learned There's a risk for creators like us to fall in love with our ideas. It's dangerous to invest too much time, energy, and money into a bad idea. Here's what I urge people to do: If your goal is to achieve product traction, you have to be brutally rational about your idea. You can't sprinkle "good marketing" on a bad product idea and expect good results. In my experience (having launched dozens of projects) the initial traction of the waiting list almost always predicts the ultimate market response to the product when it launches. If you can get to 500 people on a waiting list, you've proven: • You know how to reach your target market. • You know how to clearly articulate your idea to them. • Folks are interested enough that they're willing to trust you with their email address. If you were able to convert 10% of that list to paying customers, you'd have 50 users. (@rrhoover has advocated a similar approach with "Email-first startups")
Justin Jackson@mijustin · Internet stuntman ⚡️ transistor.fm
@sjelfull if your total market size is 50 to 200 people it's too small. Let's assume you could get the contact information for the whole market: • A reasonable "lead to paid" conversion rate for sales calls is 7%. • 7% of 50 is 4 leads. 4 x $5,000 is $20,000 total revenue. • 7% of 200 is 14 leads. 14 x $5,000 is $70,000 total revenue. You'd also need to ask yourself: • Is this $5,000 product a "one-time" purchase? • How expensive is it to get these leads to convert to paid? • How long is the sales cycle? How does that affect cash flow?
Helen Ryles@helenryles · Applications Support
Hey Justin! How did you get your first public speaking gig? What things over the years helped you to become a better public speaker?
Justin Jackson@mijustin · Internet stuntman ⚡️ transistor.fm
@helenryles my first speaking gig in tech was at local meetups. My first real conference talk came courtesy of @robwalling and @singlefounder at MicroConf. They allow attendees to submit talk ideas, which get voted on. My topic, Amplification – content marketing that works was the #1 voted talk that year. After that, I was invited to be a main speaker at MicroConf Europe. Since then I've spoken at SumoCon (thanks @noahkagan!), Laracon (thanks @taylorotwell!), and MicroConf Starter.
Miguel Piedrafita@m1guelpf · 16-year-old maker.
What are the most common mistakes you see people making?
Justin Jackson@mijustin · Internet stuntman ⚡️ transistor.fm
@m1guelpf here are the big mistakes I've seen over and over again: 1. Your product idea shouldn't be prescriptive, it should be descriptive. Too often, we think "we know what's best" for people. For example: Dating Ring had research that proved that blind dates were better than being able to see someone's profile photo first. But... that's not what people wanted. I describe this more fully here. 2. Don't start coding until you have a waiting list. I once worked with a startup where the founder had come up with an idea for a new product. So he decided to hire a designer and a developer and start building the product. This little team went heads down and began to design and code the app. Six months later they were ready to launch their initial version. They had the designer build a landing page. They put it out into the world, and... crickets. Then they came to me and asked: "How do we get traffic for this landing page?" Build your landing page first before you do anything else. This video talks about why this important. 3. Choosing your target market is the most important decision you'll make. Some customer groups are bigger, easier to reach, and more profitable than others. In my book, I recommend looking for a target market that has: 1. Purchasing power 2. Purchasing desire 3. Market mass (I go in-depth on this in this case study on @nathanbarry)
Eric Hoekendorf@erichoekendorf · I design products for people @Foyyay
How would you recommend segmenting your attention when building your audience on social? Is it best to lean into one or is it always best to be everywhere even if you have minimal or lower quality engagement?
Justin Jackson@mijustin · Internet stuntman ⚡️ transistor.fm
@erichoekendorf you want to hang out where your audience spends most of their time. For me (and my audience), that's still Twitter. For other markets, it might be Facebook Groups, Reddit, or LinkedIn. Keep an eye on the outcomes too! @noahkagan recently looked at how much real traffic he was getting from Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, etc... He was surprised by the results.
Ryan McCarthy@mryanmccarthy
I'm fed up with the status quo of heading to a dead end job every day, and want to make my first $50/month online. What is your advice for SaaS entrepreneurs on how to make their first dollars online?
Justin Jackson@mijustin · Internet stuntman ⚡️ transistor.fm
@mryanmccarthy love it! 1. Choose an audience you care about, who spend money online 2. Embed yourself in that group. Ask yourself: "where are they struggling?" 3. Form a hypothesis: "[this group] wants help with X so that they can achieve Y." 4. Create a landing page that tests your hypothesis. Example: "Never write another loop again. Learn how to craft simple, elegant code that's a pleasure to write and a joy to maintain." (That's from @adamwathan's excellent landing page) 5. Offer a free solution that's simple and small: workshop, webinar, email course, video series. 6. If the feedback is: "GIVE ME MORE!!!" create a small product: ebook, paid workshop, online course (I highly recommend @spencerfry's product, Coach for selling digital downloads and courses) More resources:@adamwathan and I just chatted about this here. • My talk at MicroConf this past year was on this topic.
Ryan McCarthy@mryanmccarthy
@mijustin killing it as usual sir. Thanks for the great advice!
Darian Rosebrook@d_evyn · http://darianrosebrook.com - owner
What are your favorite unconventional marketing tips? I've learned a lot from all you've put out there, but I'm sure there are some other secrets up your sleeve. :P
Justin Jackson@mijustin · Internet stuntman ⚡️ transistor.fm
@d_evyn three of my favorite recent ones: 1. Nostalgia! by @link_cable 2. Offline web page by @bolinchris 3. Story scroll by @jevon and his team
Darian Rosebrook@d_evyn · http://darianrosebrook.com - owner
@link_cable @bolinchris @jevon @mijustin Now I remember how I followed Chris Bolin
Fred Carlsen@sjelfull · Web developer at Bakken & Bæck
What is a good primer if someone wanted to try out JBTD (Jobs-To-Be-Done) today?
Justin Jackson@mijustin · Internet stuntman ⚡️ transistor.fm
@sjelfull Jobs to be Done (JTBD) is a theory for understanding what motivates customers to buy your product. Good JTBD resources:I've written a succinct primer here. • I really like @alanklement's book: When Coffee and Kale Compete. • Clayton Christensen's take on JTBD is more mainstream, but still worth exploring. His book: Competing Against Luck.
Simon Bennett@mrsimonbennett · Creator of SnapShooter.io
After we talked about SnapShooter been a nice to have product instead of must have product. I have been trying to come up with a plan of attack, keep going or leave it as a side earner and come up with something new. So my question really, do you have tips for finding product ideas/solutions to productise? I keep finding myself thinking of dev tools (as a developer) which just seems a bad route.
Justin Jackson@mijustin · Internet stuntman ⚡️ transistor.fm
@mrsimonbennett are are few ideas: 1. Productize something you're already being paid to do. My friend Francois was building Shopify websites as a consultant. He kept getting the same feature: folks wanted to replicate their Instagram photos as a gallery inside of their stores. After seeing the demand, and building it manually a few times, he decided to turn it into a SaaS. It's been profitable since day 1. If you're a freelancer or consultant, you have great insight into problems that people are willing to pay to solve. Take note! 2. Look at platforms where people are already spending money. Sticking with the Shopify theme: I recently interviewed @FORSBERGtwo for my "profitable founders" series. He started by browsing the Shopify App Store and user forums, looking for opportunities. He say that a lot of people wanted a way to print single shipping labels. He built the first version of his app, OrderlyPrint, on the side in 2011 (he was working full-time as a Business Analyst at the time). It launched in early 2012, and cost him $2000 to build (he hired a developer). Now, in 2017, his suite of Shopify apps is making him a really good income. @tylertringas used a similar tactic to launch Storemapper (which he recently sold).
Darian Rosebrook@d_evyn · http://darianrosebrook.com - owner
You've done lots of speaking engagements. Are they helpful to getting people aware of you and what you're doing? How does one start acquiring speaking engagements?
Justin Jackson@mijustin · Internet stuntman ⚡️ transistor.fm
@d_evyn For me, speaking has a bunch of benefits: 1. It puts me in front of audiences that might not know about my work. 2. When they're recorded, they give me an incredible asset that I can use to further promote my work. 3. I get to interact with people face-to-face. 4. They enhance my credibility for future endeavours. 5. They allow me to travel to visit new places, which always inspires me to come up with new ideas. I'm relational and charismatic – these are strengths of mine that lend themselves well to public speaking. I've answered your second question here and here.
Jianyu Chen@jianyu_chen · CEO, AnyHelper
What’s the most important rule for an entrepreneur?
Justin Jackson@mijustin · Internet stuntman ⚡️ transistor.fm
@jianyu_chen let me give you four rules, from four of my favorite entrepreneurs: "If your product is remarkable, getting noticed is a lot easier." – @peldi "Starting small puts 100% of your energy into solving real problems for real people." – @sivers "People think being an entrepreneur means doing what you want. It's more like doing what you need to do even if you don't want to." – @hnshah "The only 2 people who can give you real feedback about your product are those who just purchased and those who just canceled" – @jasonfried
Miguel Piedrafita@m1guelpf · 16-year-old maker.
How can I get more traffic to my landing page?
Justin Jackson@mijustin · Internet stuntman ⚡️ transistor.fm
@m1guelpf a few quick tricks. 1. Use ahrefs.com to look up your top competitors. Where are they getting their backlinks from? See if you can get links from those sites as well! 2. Look for bloggers who regularly write about your space, and send them your product for free. 3. Quora. Look for threads where they're talking about your space. Answer the question, and update the Answer WIKI at the top. 4. Write a post on LinkedIn. In certain niches, LinkedIn traffic is outperforming everything else. (It used to be Medium, but that channel hasn't been as useful since they changed their homepage). Watch this video for more:
Emily Hodgins@ems_hodge · Community and Marketing, Product Hunt
Hi Justin, thanks for joining us. What is one of your biggest pieces of advice for developers when first setting our their marketing strategies?
Justin Jackson@mijustin · Internet stuntman ⚡️ transistor.fm
@ems_hodge observe real people in context and discover where they're struggling! Here's a clip from my talk at Laracon 2017 in NYC:
Joshua Voydik@joshvoydik · Founder, Mindful Makers
Hi Justin – What factors have attributed to your success in creating and holding an audience for your products? (Email list, product, engagement, etc.)?
Justin Jackson@mijustin · Internet stuntman ⚡️ transistor.fm
@joshvoydik first, there's definitely people that are better at it than I am 😉 (for example, my friend @pjrvs is killer at this) Where I have succeeded, it's been about leveraging my strengths and not trying to be someone else. I'm an extroverted jack-ass, a geek who can't code, and someone who's really curious about human beings (and what motivates their behavior). I've also tried to get better at listening. @sivers recently wrote this note on his blog: "Knowing others’ minds requires asking and listening, not just reading and guessing."
Joshua Voydik@joshvoydik · Founder, Mindful Makers
@pjrvs @sivers @mijustin Muchas gracias mi amigo. I appreciate your response! See you on the twitters and da instagrams and emailz.
Brian Jagger@briansjagger · Partner @ Casting Calls Amer. & VidGage
For MegaMaker and Product people, do you do the interviews via phone, skype or in-person? If phone or Skype, how do you get them so clear?
Justin Jackson@mijustin · Internet stuntman ⚡️ transistor.fm
@briansjagger almost always over Skype. I use Ecamm Call Recorder. It really helps if you and your guest are both using good mics. I recommend the ATR2100 USB. I've written an entire podcasting guide here.
Marcelo Risoli@mgrisoli · Web app developer
I am very interested in dev marketing. What topics of dev marketing should have more content? Done by developers to developers.
Justin Jackson@mijustin · Internet stuntman ⚡️ transistor.fm
@mgrisoli a few ideas: 1. "Engineering as marketing." Creating simple apps and online tools for lead gen. 2. "Creating a personal brand as a dev." Some devs really don't like this idea, but others are starting to embrace it. 3. "Open source as marketing." Open source projects can be awesome promotion tools, if done correctly.
Marcelo Risoli@mgrisoli · Web app developer
@mijustin Thanks for taking the time to answer this, and it aligns a lot with what I had in mind