February 11, 2012

3 Concentric Circles

The Launch

Three weeks ago (Nov. 1st) we put Ecquire in the Chrome Store.  It could have went up two weeks earlier as a minimum viable product but it did not.  It could have went up three weeks later and been a much better experience but it did not. The result was 21 immediate installs and 21 uninstalls within a day or two.  I had also used Ecquire for two weeks myself and was loving the new found productivity so it felt right to release it.  So what was the problem? Absolutely nothing.  We expected this response and so we kept the group of first testers tight.  We released this to the teams at Growlab and no one else.

The foundation of the marketing plan devised was to work in three concentric circles and not move from the 1st to the 2nd without having achieved the goals of the previous circle. The ultimate goal of why I devised the plan this way was to position ourselves to get the most amount of positive referrals at a strategic time in the future.


Marketing Plan Begins

This 1st concentric circle represented a group that would try this, tell us their real feedback, and if they hated it, not go blog about it.  They also represent a group that will try it again when a new version comes out.  This group made us realize that we missed some glaring mistakes with the experience and interface even though the product worked fine.  Special thanks to @mtippettfor extra work with us that was truly invaluable.  The version of this product at release was .10.  Everyone in this group is someone we owe thanks to and happily wanted to be involved in testing the new versions.  Do everything you can to create a group like this.  Bonus points if they represent your target customer demographic.

The 2nd Concentric circle is now in the process of getting the new version of Ecquire three weeks later.  The current version of the product is at .43.  Yes, that is 33 updates to the product from the first group of 21 people.  

This 2nd concentric circle is a group that represents people that I know or that I can get introduced to that would try the product and tell their friends to try the product if they saw it worth while.  They’d also tell us what they hate about it but not blog about it.  This group is also meant to represent a group that could feasibly pay for this service because they could use it, so it needed to represent our hypothesized target customer.  The goal with this group is also to get 10 testimonials before we can move to the next circle.  This will represent all LinkedIn contacts and any warm intros I can get to start-up companies that could use our service.  This is roughly 550 people.  

The most significant improvement here and what is vital with this circle is the ability to be a complete analytics nerd.  People will tell you things that simply aren’t true for a variety of reasons.  LOOK. AT. THE. DATA.  Dan Martell has become one of my favorite people to read and he said it best when he came into the office to meet with us:  ”People Lie.  It’s weird but they just do.  Look at the data.  If someone says they would love to use your service, ask them for $10 bucks to get on the list”.  We installed mixpanel that allows us to see usage patterns in real time while keeping our customer’s identities completely anonymous (Yes, this was a decision not to collect emails that could ultimately seem like a mistake but we feel strongly about the brand and image we want to create being involved in the Data space). Understand the actions and patterns that lead to conversions and optimize the bejesus out of it before the next circle.

NOTE:  You cannot move from this circle to the next if no one is referring your service to their friends and colleagues.  Why?  Because the next circle will certainly not start to do it if people you know didn’t… they will in fact do the opposite.  I like the 3 out of 10 are using this and 1 out of 20 are referring this ratio before you move to the next group.  Find a way to track referrals.

The 3rd concentric circle should be seeing your “A” game, or the best “A” game you can have right now.  This DOES NOT MEAN feature creep.  It means solve a problem beautifully and simply and better than anyone else.  

In our case, this circle will receive an awesomely creative series of marketing campaigns from us thanks to @nevmed (take his Kopywrighting Kourse – Yes he likes to spell it incorrectly), a creative press kit released to selected bloggers and niche writers, Adwords campaigns, cold calls, creative mailers, infographics, stunts and a million other things to get traction.  

@yegg is one of our favorite advisors, and persons for that matter and has great stuff ontraction tactics. This group is going to represent the fact that you understand your product, brand and image is on the line and that you don’t care because you’re confident people will love your product.  People will still talk shit about you in forums and posts and that’s never fun to read but it’s all worth it when you have those core evangelists that tell their friends.


The motivation behind this strategy is maybe influenced in some way having worked at an NPS/feedback company, but I saw some very powerful and compelling correlations with people that rated your product a certain way and how you could predict what they were going to say when they had an opportunity to talk to their friends about you.  The standard you should hold yourself to is referrals to a colleague or friend by one of your customers.  In my opinion, it’s not revenue… although my Dad just asked me how much tuna fish I could buy with data and I didn’t have an answer.  The ultimate compliment and testament to the viability of your product and company is someone who puts their reputation on the line to recommend your product.  Understanding what, as well as the key pivotal events that compelled someone to refer Ecquire is what I’m looking for and what I’m optimizing for with the the 3 concentric circle marketing plan.  I’ll let you know how it goes… hopefully we find it.

– Paul

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