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How Customers Hold the Secret to your Success


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A revised version of this talk given at Peers Conf, Philadelphia 2015.

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How Customers Hold the Secret to your Success

  1. 1. How customers hold the secret to your success Rachel Andrew, Peers 2015
  2. 2. @rachelandrew Rachel Andrew
  3. 3.
  4. 4. PHP framework for larger sites • CMS framework that we licensed along with our development services to implement • license cost $4,800 • average cost of a site build around $10,000
  5. 5.
  6. 6. Perch business model • Downloadable self-hosted software • Customers buy a license per site • Recurring revenue because customers are typically agencies and build lots of sites • License includes support and free first party add-ons • At launch $55 per site, now $79 per site
  7. 7. Perch came from … • a need to have a tool that would make small jobs profitable • a drop-in CMS for tiny sites • started life as an internal tool but we quickly started thinking of it as a standalone product
  8. 8. We had no idea what we were doing.
  9. 9. We had no mentors
  10. 10. The Flyjar Story
  11. 11. Perch version 1 • built over 4 weekends • launch infrastructure took another 4 weekends • entirely a side project • costs limited to lawyers fees, domain, a bit of stock illustration and UI design (we’re developers)
  12. 12. “Profitable” in 24 hours
  13. 13. Keeping the needs of our customers front and centre.
  14. 14. Lesson 1. The “missing features” at launch don’t matter to anyone but you.
  15. 15. Solve a complete problem in as small a way as possible.
  16. 16. Sell your solution to that problem
  17. 17. Existing customers enjoy getting new features after they have paid - it feels like free stuff!
  18. 18. Launch as soon as you have a product that solves a real pain. Work with your customers to add features.
  19. 19. Lesson 2. Scratch your own itch but be aware that you are not your ideal customer.
  20. 20. Version one was the product that we wanted and needed.
  21. 21. Our first customers were our friends and peers - “people like us”. The second wave had different requirements.
  22. 22. Version two was the product that our real customers needed.
  23. 23. Lesson 3. The happy majority are often silent.
  24. 24. There are many terrible ways to configure PHP web hosting. We know about all of them.
  25. 25. The more people can do with your product, the more they want to do.
  26. 26. June 2014 to April 2015 • 39% of people who bought a license during this time also raised a thread in the forum • of that number 35% have contacted us only once • not all of this is “support” some is people posting sites they have built/tutorials etc. • we have heard from 7.5% of our entire customer base since June
  27. 27. Your best customers may never speak to you.
  28. 28. Find out who they are and get in touch with them. Ask for feedback.
  29. 29. A survey can prompt customers to give you their feedback
  30. 30.
  31. 31.
  32. 32. When it feels as if “everyone” is asking for something. Is it really everyone, or a few noisy people?
  33. 33. Make sure that a noisy minority don’t cause you to make changes that will upset the happy majority.
  34. 34. Lesson 4. Your customers can show you how to sell your product.
  35. 35. We love … • Storing structured data • Templates defining a schema • Speed and efficiency of the template engine
  36. 36. Our customers love … • not having to know PHP • that the CMS doesn’t mess with their markup • that the end client doesn’t need handholding to edit the site • that they can use any Bootstrap template or jQuery plugin
  37. 37. Great code is not a selling point
  38. 38. The things your customers tell you they love should be your headlines.
  39. 39.
  40. 40. Lesson 5. We’re not looking for features, we’re solving their problems.
  41. 41. “Can you add a setting for this?”
  42. 42. What problem are you trying to solve?
  43. 43. As the product owner you need to get from the specific to the general use case.
  44. 44. • “I want a select list of already uploaded images” • “I want to browse the images already uploaded” • “I want to find out if an image is used anywhere on the site and delete unused ones”
  45. 45. Collect use cases from support, from feature requests, from the way you see people use the product.
  46. 46. Lesson 6. Features never move the needle on sales.
  47. 47. New features keep your existing customers happy and sticking with you as their needs are met.
  48. 48. Expecting new features to mean more sales is a mistake.
  49. 49. Lesson 7. You can learn a lot from the “misuse” of your features.
  50. 50. That’s not a blog.
  51. 51. Why are they doing that?
  52. 52.
  53. 53. Pave the cowpaths • See what users are already doing • Don’t penalize them for making that choice • Find ways to help them do the thing they want to do in a better way
  54. 54. Lesson 8. Great support can be your best feature and your most effective marketing.
  55. 55. Seth Godin Most of your competition spend their days looking forward to those rare moments when everything goes right. Imagine how much leverage you have if you spend your time maximizing those common moments when it doesn’t.
  56. 56. Help people to do things they couldn’t do before they started using your product.
  57. 57. Support is a feature you don’t spend time up front developing. You just have to commit to being great.
  58. 58. Sam Hernandez “you will not become a better communicator without becoming a better human”
  59. 59. Jim Rohn One customer well taken care of could be more valuable than $10,000 worth of advertising.
  60. 60. With self-hosted software support is your first run experience
  61. 61. Lesson 9. The influencers are fickle.
  62. 62. The ideal Perch customer • is a freelancer or agency building lots of sites for clients • understands that time is money • prefers running a solid business over constantly learning new things • often does fixed price website builds
  63. 63. The “influencers” • are well-known in the web industry • can charge a premium for their work • can treat each project as a “special snowflake” • have time in higher budgets to try new things • have a need to learn new things in order to be able to talk about them in their influencer role
  64. 64. We don’t chase the influencers
  65. 65. Treat attention from influencers as a bonus when it comes, don’t worry too much when they move on.
  66. 66. Lesson 10. You are never done.
  67. 67. We are so lucky.
  68. 68. We are so tired.
  69. 69. We swapped 10 or so clients per year, for 1000s of customers.
  70. 70. We are supporting our customers every day of every year and have been doing for almost 6 years.
  71. 71. With no exit plan, we are never done. So we need to learn how to make this work well.
  72. 72.
  73. 73. Jeff Bezos We innovate by starting with the customer and working backwards. That becomes the touchstone for how we invent.
  74. 74.
  75. 75. Thank you