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How We Unexpectedly Got
60,000 Users in 60 Hours

(And other ways to get users
without spending money)
A talk by Patrick Ambron
 CEO of BrandYourself
A few cool things you’ll learn
• How to find anyone’s email
• How to pitch the press the first time
• How to help articles go “viral”
• Other ways to show lots of people your cool start up
BrandYourself started as a problem, that turned
    into an idea, that turned into a mission
The Problem: Pete Kistler, a co-founder, was a
model student, but couldn‘t get an internship.



                       3.9 GPA
                       Successful entrepreneur
                       Leader on campus
                       Founder of multiple clubs
                       Several relevant internships
He was being mistaken online for
 an ex-con with the same name
He couldn’t change it, because he wasn’t:

     This Guy                          This Guy




                           or


 A tech genius who could        A high net worth individual
       do it himself            who could pay thousands for
                                 a reputation firm to do it
So we made it our mission:
  To help anyone get some control over their search
results with a simple and free do-it-yourself platform.
(check it out at http://brandyourself.com)
Where we started
   • Had the idea in 2010 from a dorm room at SU
   • No marketing budget, no resources, no clue

Where we are Now:
   •   9 full-time employees
   •   Over 150,000 customers
   •   $1.5 million in funding
   •   Named #1 Emerging Business in NYS ($200k prize), top
       app at SXSW
How did we get from A to B?
It started with a lot of building…
And rebuilding
and more rebuilding...
Until finally…
…we were ready for Launch!
Growth was pretty good right out of the gate…
but then…
…we hit a tipping point




   60k users in 60 hours
So what happened?
On May 1 we announced a feature that
(accidentally) went a little viral
First, Mashable picked it up
It brought more traffic than we thought:
         (not all Mashable articles are created equal)


 An article trending on the front page for 2 days gets way
 more traffic than a normal article
Once the story was “hot” other places picked it up
All these new users began sharing BrandYourself,
which compounded growth even more
Signups from direct sources and direct
Google searches sky-rocketed
Finally, all the new users created a
        huge long tail effect


  We signed up over 10,000 people from sources
  that signed up less than 200 people each.
Some sent us users through their
  own BrandYourself profiles
Others wrote personal blog posts
So What Did We Learn
  (that might help you)?
1. Pitch the right publication
Once you choose, it’s time to
2. Pitch one feature at a time
(make sure it’s the one people care about)
Bad Pitch: Here’s a list of ten technical features you
won’t really understand. Will you write about it?


Good Pitch: We have a new feature that helps you do
something amazing that no one else can help you do.
3. Focus the story on specific
Bad Pitch: I just stayed up all night releasing this.
You should write about it

Good Pitch: Millions of people — like my friend
Jim — could never learn to speak Spanish. With
this new product he was fluent in two weeks!
Bonus: How to find a writer’s contact info
 • Look for any connection possible (LinkedIn, alumni network)
 • If you can’t find a connection, here are some tricks…
Find the company’s email schema
             (firstname@company.com lastname@company.com)

•   See if you know anyone else who works at the company
•   Google
     – [name] + email (or) email address
     – [name] + contact (or) contact information (or) contact me
     –   site:companywebsite.com + [name] + email
     –   site:companywebsite.com + [name] + contact
     –   site:companywebsite.com + ken.lyons [at] companyname.com



•   Contact them via LinkedIn first (you can’t contact them on LinkedIn
    unless you have the correct email, so try each schema until it goes
    through)
Great, now you have their
email?

What do you say when you
contact them?
Cold email: first time story
Hi xxx,
 
My name is Patrick, I'm a big fan of your work, and have been for while.  I'm emailing you today about my
company, BrandYourself.com to see if you see any fit for a story on xxx. 


To give you a quick background: We’re the first DIY platform that makes it easy for anyone to take control of
their own search results. We started the company when my co-founder Pete couldn't get an internship
because he was being mistaken for a drug dealer. We wanted to create a free product that put the power in
everybody’s hands. We’ve been able to launch, put together a great team with a great group of investors
(link)




While growth has been great (link to an article), I’ve always wanted to see an article on xxx.
Particularly because I think a two articles you wrote a few years ago did an amazing job summarizing the
industry. As a long time reader myself I think this is something readers would really enjoy.


I know you’re busy so just let me know if you have any interest.
Future emails: (Write the story for them)
Hi xxx,


Hope you had a good weekend! I just wanted to let you know we’re releasing an infographic you might be interested in. I think
it’s right in line with your content.


"How Will Google Remember this year's top Olympic Athletes"
      Basically every year, new stars emerge, and they are surrounded by a lot of chatter. Once the games end and the chatter
      dies, Google becomes their post Olympic legacy, and unfortunately it's not always in their favor. We looked at the 3 most
      talked about athletes to determine what their post Google legacy will be (basically what people will find about them in
      10 years). Michael Phelps "the Icon", Ryan Lochte "the rival" and Gabby Douglas "the newbie"


Some of our conclusions (I think each one could make an interesting headline):


      –Michael Phelps will be forever remembered in Google as a legend, and not as a lazy stoner
      –Lochte will be forever remembered in Google as the frat boy idiot who could never beat Phelps, and not as an
      incredible 11 time olympic medalist
      –Unfortunately, all the petty controversy around Gabby Douglas's hair will forever tarnish the memory of her historic
      victory in Google.


Let me know if you're interested or if you want to jump on a quick call. Infographic is attached. If you have any questions, just
let me know.
4. Focus on your sign up flow
Ideal Home Page
Pretty good home page (thank you)
Really good home page
Obviously really bad homepage
Not as obvious bad homepage
5. Know where your product can be
     viral (even if it isn’t a social network)

  People will always share an interesting experience
People like to brag about
People want to do what
   their friends do
Other companies that work
• DropBox: Invite a friend you both get free space
• Skype: Invite a friend and you both get to talk to
  each other for free
6. Have a great product
“The quickest way to kill a bad product is good advertising”
Ok, but how do I have a
Solve a problem




    VS.
1 billion
 names are Googled every day




75%
of HR departments are required
 to research candidates online
The Problem:
      Most people are not represented by well-
       branded content about themselves:


Nega%ve               Irrelevant          Hey,	
  that’s	
  not	
  me!
Solve a specific problem
We Were:
“Put your best foot forward on the web”:
  • Manage your entire online reputation
  • Own your Google results
  • Track your digital breadcrumbs
  • Create effective social media profiles
  • Get more fans and followers
  • Figure out how to blog
  • Automate your social media outreach
  • Manage your online privacy
Screenshot of our old website
Now, we’re this:



Own Your Google Results
Other things that have worked for us
1. Create content people
 want to read and share
Share it in relevant places
Bonus Hack: How to
          keep an article trending
•Article get’s published
•Promote it on StumbleUpon (cheap, fast way to get it in front
of even more people to get more likes, tweets, etc.)
•The more interaction, the longer it trends
•The longer it trends, the more traffic
2. Biz dev deals
•   Get big companies with complimentary services to send traffic your way
•   Start with a test: “Let’s test it in your newsletter before we try anything”
•   Hit their social media/blogging team: They are always looking for good
    content, free way to get in front of all their customers
3. Customer Service:
   (the most underrated marketing channel


This is how you create passionate users who tell their
                  friends about you
Answer the phone


315 565 1799

   Seriously, call us…
Send Personable Emails
We have an intern send jib jabs to new paying members to let
                   them know “they rock”

   http://www.jibjab.com/view/VoemwvBIAQBdmHFC?utm_campaign=URL
        +Copy&utm_medium=Share&utm_source=JibJab&cmpid=jj_url
Hold weekly Webinars
There’s no better way to scale personal demos
Meet your users in person whenever you can
Do something special every once in a while
I flew out and delivered homemade cookies and a trophy to our 10K user
By Patrick Ambron
CEO & Co-Founder, BrandYourself




     @patrickambron
pambron@brandyourself.com

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How We (Unexpectedly) Got 60K Users in 60 Hours

  • 1. How We Unexpectedly Got 60,000 Users in 60 Hours (And other ways to get users without spending money)
  • 2. A talk by Patrick Ambron CEO of BrandYourself
  • 3. A few cool things you’ll learn • How to find anyone’s email • How to pitch the press the first time • How to help articles go “viral” • Other ways to show lots of people your cool start up
  • 4. BrandYourself started as a problem, that turned into an idea, that turned into a mission
  • 5. The Problem: Pete Kistler, a co-founder, was a model student, but couldn‘t get an internship. 3.9 GPA Successful entrepreneur Leader on campus Founder of multiple clubs Several relevant internships
  • 6. He was being mistaken online for an ex-con with the same name
  • 7. He couldn’t change it, because he wasn’t: This Guy This Guy or A tech genius who could A high net worth individual do it himself who could pay thousands for a reputation firm to do it
  • 8. So we made it our mission: To help anyone get some control over their search results with a simple and free do-it-yourself platform.
  • 9.
  • 10. (check it out at http://brandyourself.com)
  • 11. Where we started • Had the idea in 2010 from a dorm room at SU • No marketing budget, no resources, no clue Where we are Now: • 9 full-time employees • Over 150,000 customers • $1.5 million in funding • Named #1 Emerging Business in NYS ($200k prize), top app at SXSW
  • 12. How did we get from A to B?
  • 13. It started with a lot of building…
  • 17. …we were ready for Launch!
  • 18. Growth was pretty good right out of the gate…
  • 20. …we hit a tipping point 60k users in 60 hours
  • 22. On May 1 we announced a feature that (accidentally) went a little viral
  • 24. It brought more traffic than we thought: (not all Mashable articles are created equal) An article trending on the front page for 2 days gets way more traffic than a normal article
  • 25. Once the story was “hot” other places picked it up
  • 26. All these new users began sharing BrandYourself, which compounded growth even more
  • 27. Signups from direct sources and direct Google searches sky-rocketed
  • 28. Finally, all the new users created a huge long tail effect We signed up over 10,000 people from sources that signed up less than 200 people each.
  • 29. Some sent us users through their own BrandYourself profiles
  • 30. Others wrote personal blog posts
  • 31. So What Did We Learn (that might help you)?
  • 32. 1. Pitch the right publication
  • 33. Once you choose, it’s time to
  • 34. 2. Pitch one feature at a time (make sure it’s the one people care about)
  • 35. Bad Pitch: Here’s a list of ten technical features you won’t really understand. Will you write about it? Good Pitch: We have a new feature that helps you do something amazing that no one else can help you do.
  • 36. 3. Focus the story on specific
  • 37. Bad Pitch: I just stayed up all night releasing this. You should write about it Good Pitch: Millions of people — like my friend Jim — could never learn to speak Spanish. With this new product he was fluent in two weeks!
  • 38. Bonus: How to find a writer’s contact info • Look for any connection possible (LinkedIn, alumni network) • If you can’t find a connection, here are some tricks…
  • 39. Find the company’s email schema (firstname@company.com lastname@company.com) • See if you know anyone else who works at the company • Google – [name] + email (or) email address – [name] + contact (or) contact information (or) contact me – site:companywebsite.com + [name] + email – site:companywebsite.com + [name] + contact – site:companywebsite.com + ken.lyons [at] companyname.com • Contact them via LinkedIn first (you can’t contact them on LinkedIn unless you have the correct email, so try each schema until it goes through)
  • 40. Great, now you have their email? What do you say when you contact them?
  • 41. Cold email: first time story Hi xxx,   My name is Patrick, I'm a big fan of your work, and have been for while.  I'm emailing you today about my company, BrandYourself.com to see if you see any fit for a story on xxx.  To give you a quick background: We’re the first DIY platform that makes it easy for anyone to take control of their own search results. We started the company when my co-founder Pete couldn't get an internship because he was being mistaken for a drug dealer. We wanted to create a free product that put the power in everybody’s hands. We’ve been able to launch, put together a great team with a great group of investors (link) While growth has been great (link to an article), I’ve always wanted to see an article on xxx. Particularly because I think a two articles you wrote a few years ago did an amazing job summarizing the industry. As a long time reader myself I think this is something readers would really enjoy. I know you’re busy so just let me know if you have any interest.
  • 42. Future emails: (Write the story for them) Hi xxx, Hope you had a good weekend! I just wanted to let you know we’re releasing an infographic you might be interested in. I think it’s right in line with your content. "How Will Google Remember this year's top Olympic Athletes" Basically every year, new stars emerge, and they are surrounded by a lot of chatter. Once the games end and the chatter dies, Google becomes their post Olympic legacy, and unfortunately it's not always in their favor. We looked at the 3 most talked about athletes to determine what their post Google legacy will be (basically what people will find about them in 10 years). Michael Phelps "the Icon", Ryan Lochte "the rival" and Gabby Douglas "the newbie" Some of our conclusions (I think each one could make an interesting headline): –Michael Phelps will be forever remembered in Google as a legend, and not as a lazy stoner –Lochte will be forever remembered in Google as the frat boy idiot who could never beat Phelps, and not as an incredible 11 time olympic medalist –Unfortunately, all the petty controversy around Gabby Douglas's hair will forever tarnish the memory of her historic victory in Google. Let me know if you're interested or if you want to jump on a quick call. Infographic is attached. If you have any questions, just let me know.
  • 43. 4. Focus on your sign up flow
  • 45. Pretty good home page (thank you)
  • 48. Not as obvious bad homepage
  • 49. 5. Know where your product can be viral (even if it isn’t a social network) People will always share an interesting experience
  • 50. People like to brag about
  • 51. People want to do what their friends do
  • 52. Other companies that work • DropBox: Invite a friend you both get free space • Skype: Invite a friend and you both get to talk to each other for free
  • 53. 6. Have a great product “The quickest way to kill a bad product is good advertising”
  • 54. Ok, but how do I have a
  • 56. 1 billion names are Googled every day 75% of HR departments are required to research candidates online
  • 57. The Problem: Most people are not represented by well- branded content about themselves: Nega%ve Irrelevant Hey,  that’s  not  me!
  • 58. Solve a specific problem
  • 59. We Were: “Put your best foot forward on the web”: • Manage your entire online reputation • Own your Google results • Track your digital breadcrumbs • Create effective social media profiles • Get more fans and followers • Figure out how to blog • Automate your social media outreach • Manage your online privacy
  • 60. Screenshot of our old website
  • 61. Now, we’re this: Own Your Google Results
  • 62. Other things that have worked for us
  • 63. 1. Create content people want to read and share
  • 64.
  • 65.
  • 66. Share it in relevant places
  • 67. Bonus Hack: How to keep an article trending •Article get’s published •Promote it on StumbleUpon (cheap, fast way to get it in front of even more people to get more likes, tweets, etc.) •The more interaction, the longer it trends •The longer it trends, the more traffic
  • 68. 2. Biz dev deals • Get big companies with complimentary services to send traffic your way • Start with a test: “Let’s test it in your newsletter before we try anything” • Hit their social media/blogging team: They are always looking for good content, free way to get in front of all their customers
  • 69.
  • 70. 3. Customer Service: (the most underrated marketing channel This is how you create passionate users who tell their friends about you
  • 71. Answer the phone 315 565 1799 Seriously, call us…
  • 72. Send Personable Emails We have an intern send jib jabs to new paying members to let them know “they rock” http://www.jibjab.com/view/VoemwvBIAQBdmHFC?utm_campaign=URL +Copy&utm_medium=Share&utm_source=JibJab&cmpid=jj_url
  • 73. Hold weekly Webinars There’s no better way to scale personal demos
  • 74. Meet your users in person whenever you can
  • 75. Do something special every once in a while I flew out and delivered homemade cookies and a trophy to our 10K user
  • 76. By Patrick Ambron CEO & Co-Founder, BrandYourself @patrickambron pambron@brandyourself.com