How does a start-up with no funding hunt for customers? And if you’re trying to get new customers or if you’re trying to win back some of the customers that you’ve lost in the past, I want this interview to be the one that’s aimed exactly at you.
To help us do it, we’ve got Max Teitelbaum. You’ve seen him here before. He had one of the most controversial but also one of the most watched interviews here on Mixergy where we’ve talked about how to generate a lot of revenue as an affiliate.
Max is the cofounder of WhatRunsWhere, which helps companies spy on their competitor’s ads so they can buy display media more intelligently and profitably for their campaigns.
Max Teitelbaum, WhatRunsWhere
Max Teitelbaum is the cofounder of WhatRunsWhere, which helps customers buy display media more intelligently and profitably for their campaigns.
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Hey there freedom fighters. My name is Andrew Warner. I’m the founder of Mixergy.com, home of the ambitious upstart. And you know I say freedom fighters because every time I do interviews with entrepreneurs and ask them was it worth it? What did you get out of it, out of building your successful business? The big thing that they say is freedom. The freedom to do whatever they want so, we’re freedom fighters. Freedom for ourselves, freedom for our audience to be able to do whatever, our customers to be able to do whatever we want.
All right. In this interview, to help us get there, I want to answer this question: How does a start-up with no funding hunt for customers? And if you’re trying to get new customers or if you’re trying to win back some of the customers that you’ve lost in the past, I want this interview to be the one that’s aimed exactly at you. To help us do it, we’ve got Max Teitelbaum. He is the founder of WhatRunsWhere, which helps companies spy on their competitor’s ads so they can buy display media more intelligently and profitably for their campaigns.
You’ve seen him here before. He had one of the most controversial but also one of the most watched interviews here on Mixergy where we’ve talked about how as an affiliate you generate a lot of revenue. And then he said well he built up a business called WhatRunsWhere to give other people the kind of power that he had to buy advertising. Max, welcome back.
Max: Thank you. I want to make one quick thing: co-founder. My partner is much better looking and much smarter than I am so.
Andrew: Co-founder of WhatRunsWhere.
Andrew: Alright and the face of WhatRunsWhere as far as Mixergy’s concerned apparently.
Max: Yeah exactly.
Andrew: You know what? Let’s give people a taste of what’s to come by talking about when it comes to customers we all talk about how to get new customers. But you on Skype sent me a message yesterday about how you guys bring back customers. Can you tell people how you do it?
Max: Absolutely. I mean with WhatRunsWhere, we’re halfway through our first year we released a trial which was great because it lets people try out the service for seven days for a dollar. At the same time you have a lot of people that comment and cancel and you have people that may not have the exact thing that they were looking for in the system at that time.
So what we actually do is we do something called “win back” where we put together initiatives which if you want me to talk about now I can talk now or later, we put together initiatives where we actually follow-up with those customers and find ways to retain them and bring them back into the service so that they become great customers for us that bring profitable business but we also provide them with great service to them as well.
Andrew: So customer tries you out 30 days, maybe even longer, and they actually pay you for a long time subscription, they cancel. Most people would say I’ve got to learn from that but I need to go hunt down new customers. You say I want these guys back. Why do you spend time? And we’ll talk about the specific tactics you use to win back those customers. Why do you spend time winning them back instead of saying, hey the world has got tons of other potential customers. I’ll go fish in that bigger pool instead of looking at the few people who didn’t like me.
Max: A couple of reasons. The first is those people already know about our product. They already have an intimate understanding about what we do and what we’ve done. They’ve had a chance to play around with the product. I don’t need to reeducated that customer about us. I need to convince them that we’re exactly what they’re looking for or what we’ve changed to help that they’ve asked for them to come back. It’s extraordinarily important to us to recover those customers because they’re pretty much free leads. They’re sitting there. You don’t need to go to business about them, you don’t need to go find new leads, you have a full stream of leads that somebody can work on and recover them. We’re actually pretty successful at doing that. Why spend time hunting you down saying, ‘Andrew, you’ve never heard of White Runs Wear [??] come use us.’ We’d have to send you over a press kit, or we’d have to send you over a demo and we’d have to go through a sales process, which might take a little while. Versus, we call someone up and we say, ‘Hey, we know you’ve used it. Here’s what we’ve improved on, we’d love for you to come back and give us a try,’ and give them a bit of an incentive to do that.
Andrew: I see, and that answers the next question that I was going to ask you which is, these customers have clearly canceled because they’re not in love with the product. Some of them don’t even like it or are upset. Why would they come back? You’re saying they would come back is because you say we’ve improved it since you were last here and we’re going to give yo an incentive to come back.
Max: Yeah, I don’t think upset is the right word, Steve.
Max: We’ve found a couple of key reasons why customers leave us. The first one is a functionality reason. There’s something that they’re looking for that we don’t have or they can’t do something that they wish they could do. The next one is cost, and then the last one is that they signed up for a trial year. They didn’t know what they were getting into and they just churned through because we’re not the right fit for them. Those customers are hard to win back but those customers you can send over and educate because they’ve already tried it. They’re more receptive to hearing from you. If you can call somebody up and they recognize your company versus saying, ‘I’m from this company, come try us out,’ you have a much higher chance of winning them back. On the features side what we really do is we listen to our customers. What I do, that shocks a lot of people, is as our C.O.O. [??] I do all our support e-mail. I dedicate an hour or two a day to sitting down and doing our support e-mail from our customers who send feedback. As soon as you cancel we ask why you cancel and I get that feedback. It is extraordinarily important. Some people might say that it’s a waste of time, I could spend that doing other things in the business that might be more valuable. I sort of disagree because it gives me a really good bird’s eye view of what people are looking for and where we’re really falling short. Then we can categorize those customers and put them into lists and say, ‘This person wants this feature, this person wants a new user interface, this person wants this functionality that we don’t have.’ Then we go out and build that for them because we have that base of ex-customers that want this. Then we can go contact them again and say, ‘We’ve built exactly what you want, please come and try us out again.’
Andrew: I see. I want to come back and ask more questions about the customer service and how answering questions like that leads to more sales. Most of us think of that as an expense and it’s a needed expense but it’s still an expense. You’re saying, ‘No, Andrew. There’s a lot of revenue to be had from doing customer service.’ Let’s stick to now with the way you win people back. One of my queries, if I were going to do this tomorrow, what would I want to know? I would want to know what is the method that you use. Do you call people up and say, ‘Hey, I want to win you back.;’ do you send them a letter, an e-mail?
Max: Well we’ve done a couple of different things. When we first started, and it was just my partner and myself, we had this brilliant idea that we’d call everybody that canceled and try and win them back. That actually ate a fair amount of my day and just couldn’t be done. When you’re trying to bring in sales, and when there are two people managing a business, and you’re working like no other. You’re working eighteen, twenty hours that day just to get everything done, you don’t have time to call back customers. That didn’t do so well because honestly some work fell to the wayside.
Andrew: There was one other issue with that. You and I met for drinks here in DC one time and I said, ‘Max, I’ve got customers who are leaving me and I want to call them up and find out what I did left.’ And you said, ‘Andrew, watch out. They’re different time zones. You call somebody up in your afternoon and you could be waking them up in the middle of the night. Pay attention to that.’ What other issues came up?
Max: That’s true, actually. We called somebody two days ago with a US number and then forwarded to China. They guy picked up in China and was not very happy, it was four in the morning.
Andrew: What other issues, if we were to call up, before you move on to how it evolved for you, I’m curious about what other issues came up as you were calling up your potential customers.
Max: Some of them were bothered when you call, so it’s a sales call. You’re calling to sell somebody. So, at the beginning we were saying, “Call and sign back up right now. And so, where we sort of changed and what we’ve sort of done is we’d call and say, “We really want your feedback. We’re really interested in what you say” which is 100% true. And then, we say, “Let us tell you about a couple of new things that we’ve done.
Andrew: And you say you want them to call you?
Max: No. We call them and we say, “Tell us your feedback”. That’s the first thing we ask.
Andrew: Give us your feedback first and then let me tell you about what we’ve done since then that might impact the things that you told us.
Max: Exactly. Yeah. Here’s some updates we’ve had. Here’s what we’ve been working on. Here’s a couple of things that we’re working on in the future. We just want to keep you in the loop, and we have a special offer. We’ll work on a way for you to get back into the system and try what we’ve done at a reduced rate to get you to try it.
Andrew: OK. So, the reduced rate, listen to their feedback, tell them about the new features.
Max: Everybody wants a deal.
Andrew: Everyone wants a deal is right. Let me see; what else do I want to know about? You said that it sucked up a lot of your time. That’s true. How do you deal with that?
Max: So, that was sort of our next iteration. What we did then is as (?) is a software company. So, our first couple key hires were developers. It was just me on the sales side and the business development side because we were building a product, and as a development company you need more developers and sales people. What we did is we started taking these cancels and putting them into a follow-up sequence where you would cancel and then two days later you would get an email from us saying, “You canceled. How can we get you back? What can we really do?”
We’d send them an email immediately that said, “Why did you cancel? But then we’d say… We tried that. It didn’t really work because people were in different stages. What we did instead is when we had a new feature, we add everybody that had canceled to a special list and we sent them new features. So, current users could see new features when they logged in. They would pop up and we’d let them know we added something, but canceled users had no way. So, we were sort of keeping them in the loop and keeping them there with new features and then sometimes sending them deals.
So, when we had a deal on AppSumo with our good friend, Noah Kagan, we would send that deal out to those users as, “Here’s your chance to try us again” and that would get us back a lot of value because those users, again, it comes back to the cost thing. If you have a user that isn’t using just simply because they can’t afford you at this point and we say we have a deal where you get 50% off for the next like, three days, four days. We can give you 50% off through this deal with AppSumo, some of them flocked to that and that retains value on that side for us and allows us to hit that lower price point without lowing our price because we feel like we have a solid service, and we feel like we were actually under charging before, but we do realize that we have users that need to be down there.
Max: It also allows you to interact with the users in a different way where you’re proactively reaching out to them with an email that then, regardless of times, (?) anything you can see.
Andrew: Let me see if I understand this. You no longer make phone calls, or you still make phone calls?
Max: No. That was our second iteration.
Andrew: Oh, OK. So, first iteration was Max makes a phone call and his co-founder makes a phone call. The second iteration was you’re going to put them on a list. If they cancel, they’re going on a special mailing list. We’re going to have a drip campaign which means that on a certain schedule they’re going to get certain emails. And if anything new happens, like we have an offer, a deal…
Max: We got rid of the “drip” because that was just bothering people, we found.
Andrew: So, no drip.
Max: No. It’s just…
Andrew: As we have new features or new updates, we email them.
Max: Here’s an update. Here’s a big blast out to you with this new update, or here’s a sporadic plan blast of a discount that we have done in coordination with a partner.
Andrew: OK. And then, you, of course, let them opt out if they ever want to stop.
Max: Yeah, of course. We have to be (?) complaint.
Andrew: Right. OK. So, that’s iteration number two. How effective was that?
Max: It was awesome. It was great. So . . . go, MailChimp.
Andrew: So, you’re saying MailChimp gave it to you for free.
Max: Well, yeah. MailChimp is free for your first . . . I don’t know what it is…a couple thousand subscribers.
Max: As you know, in the service business where you’re doing something, where you’re always saying to people, “Sign back up”, it’s a bit different. You don’t need a list of about 400-500,000 people.
Andrew: Right. Let me anticipate, too, one of the concerns that people are going to have about this interview is that it seems like we’re talking on top of each other. Specifically, like I’m talking on top of you as you’re talking. The reason I’m doing it and there’s only one reason that it’s in the audience’s best interest and I believe, also, in both of ours, we have a list here of different specific tactics that you and I said we were going to talk to the audience about. It’s such a long list that we either have to keep this moving along, or we’re going to have to sit here for the next 24 hours.
So, audience, be aware that I’m stepping and pushing because we have an agreed list that we want to talk about, and we have to get to through. So that was iteration number 2. What is iteration number 3 on your approach to talking to customers.
Max: So I’ll start blazing through. So iteration number 3 was now that we have a sales team and we have other people in the office here that focus on sales is that we can now do both. So we send out an e-mail and we immediately start calling those customers and say hey I want to reach out and connect with you, hear your feedback and here’s sort of what we’ve done. We’ve sent an e-mail but if you didn’t see it and I’d love to get you back on board. Here’s my personal contact, how can I help you do that? And that’s been hugely successful. We’re looking to, our goal is, and we’re going to hit it. We’re looking at between a 15 and 25% link back rate. Probably closer to the 20 – 25% mark. At that point if you can retain, especially through a trial, one out of every 5 or one out of every 4 users, you can bring them back to try the service again, you’re doing something right. Obviously you need a great product. You need a great product and I’m extraordinarily humble about our product as you can tell. But more importantly you’re creating value over something that a lot of people only take it as a write off. Oh, we had 5 users journey through today. And then what we say, oh we had 5 users journey through today, why don’t, if we can get one of those users back on board that creates an extra couple of hundred dollars a month in value for it.
Andrew: Okay, alright. This has worked so well for you that you’ve hired sales people to call up customers who’ve canceled and do everything that you’ve told us that you did before, that you did before.
Max: That’s part of our sales teams duty. So there…
Andrew: So it’s not exclusively that, they do other things.
Max: No, it’s a full thing. We do outbound, we do inbound. But I would say there’s certain points where if we have a major release, where, for example we had a major release. We released a brand new user interface. They spent the entire week doing nothing but calling all customers and updating them because this was a big sticking point with the customers that we list.
Andrew: All right. Before I get to the next tactic I have a big question. But first I should say to the audience, whatrunswhere, what it does. It’s kind of a, it’s cool and at the same time it feels like unbelieved, it feels a little bit like spying, but that’s what’s cool about it. If you have a competitor who’s buying a lot of interesting ads and you say, hey you know what this guys doing all the marketing experiments. I shouldn’t go and experiment on my own. What I’ll do is I will go to whatrunswhere.com. I will type in my competitor’s name, I’ll see where my competitor’s buying ads, what kind of ads my competitor is buying and I’ll learn from his successes and mistakes and that’s how I’ll buy it. It’s kind of like the way that Burger King in the early days did well. They would say, back when they were really hustling. They would say, we don’t have the real estate department of McDonalds. We’ll see where McDonalds buys. They’re going to do all the research on what cities have enough money and enough interest in buying these kinds of burgers, and we’ll just piggyback off of them. Wherever they buy we’ll go buy our own location too. We’ll set up our own location. You’re helping marketers do that online. See where their competitors are advertising.
Max: We help them take what other people spent money, split testing, we help them you know get a better idea of the competitive landscape. And then limit risk and increase return in interest. Return on interest, return on investment. As with each business obviously there are certain people that don’t fit into our demographic. The best example I can give is we had a small prep school sign up for a trial. And this is a prep school in a town of like 5,000 people. They obviously don’t buy display ads online. Like it just doesn’t happen. And my next challenge is how do we get a customer like that to stick with.
Andrew: What’s the value? Before I go to the, one last question then I promise I’ve got to get to the next item on the list. What’s the value of a customer to you, to give us an understanding of why it’s worth making these kinds of phone calls.
Max: Well, okay so it’s a bit different then if we had a business where we charge somebody $10 bucks a month. We charge a customer $229 a month. So it’s not exactly a small sale. We realize that you know, we think we’re undercharging for what we offer, and a lot of people agree. We have users that come to us and say, you know, why aren’t you charging $5,000 a month for this because you know they do extraordinarily well with it. And you know it makes them money so they don’t want other people getting their hands on it. But we do understand that’s a fair amount. But at the same time that price point allows us to devote people to it and that saving money.
Andrew: Okay, so that worked for you? Let’s see what else worked for you.
Max: I would just use e-mail, I wouldn’t.
Andrew: If you were smaller you would do the same thing but focus exclusively on e-mail which is cheaper and more scalable. Alright let’s go on.
Max: Pay somebody a salary to go sit there and call people.
Andrew: Alright, let’s go onto the next idea on my list. We talked about winbacks. Another thing that’s worked for you is webinars.
Andrew: How do you get people in the webinar? What are the webinars about, and how do you close those sales?
Max: I’ll throw out a term which I love to use and which was told to me by a friend of mine which is thought leadership. And the way I define thought leadership is providing great content, sort of like what you do with Mixergy, and then people come to you and they look at you as a resource, as a place, you know. So when we launched we had no marketing, we had no mainstream press, we didn’t have the kind of money that we wanted to spend on that kind of thing. So what we did was we went and partnered up with places where our key demographic would be. We partnered up with Ford, we partnered up with websites and offered them something valuable, our time. So we said we’ll sit with you for two or three hours and we’ll teach your members about how to buy media, about how to use the system, about how to make more money by media with tips and tricks. And we’ll, and we’re not, the key was we’re not going to shove this down your throat. We’re not going to say, go buy whatrunswhere now, go buy whatrunswhere right now. We’re just going to say, here’s what we do, here’s a lot of great information then you should check us out. And then when people tried it and it worked for them and they started making money or they started you know being able to do something at work where they got very happy because they used their (?) spend increased their efficiency, something like that. They came back and they remembered you told them that. And that was hugely successful for us at the very beginning because we didn’t have to spend money acquiring customers that way.
Andrew: What’s in it for the forum owners, for inviting you on to teach their audience?
Max: We paid a referral back to those owners so they did get paid when the people, if somebody from their forum came through and signed up, we did pay them. We continue to pay a bunch of them. And the other big thing is it creates value. It’s something unique to their forum. It’s not something that’s replicated. It’s not something that you can go and look up online quickly and see. And that’s really what’s valuable to them. And they usually remember this is where I got this content. So by doing this, one of our most successful things we did, which wasn’t quite what (?), the same thing, we wrote a guide on how to start media buying. We put that up on a couple of blogs, we distributed that around. And people really, really loved that. It’s how to start media buying with you know $500. And people you know were like, oh this is extraordinarly helpful. I should check out what (?) were made and try them out.
Andrew: Right. Tell me more about that. We’ll come back to webinars in a moment. But posting articles about media buys has done really well for you.
Andrew: How long does it take you to create one of these guides that you posted?
Max: Well we only created a couple. After you create a couple (?) marketing, you’re free material. And how you get it out there and how you get it to different places, where you can put it in the right places for people to read it. It’s like having a whole different product, but one that you don’t get paid for in any shape, way or form.
Andrew: So you’re selling the product that then sells the real product.
Max: You’re not selling, you’re giving away a product.
Andrew: You’re promoting the product, but then. Let’s come back to it. If it doesn’t have an easy answer and a quick one then I want to spend a little more….
Max: Well, no it’s….
Andrew: No, no, I want to spend a little more time on webinars and give the article marketing as much attention as it deserves. So stick with webinars. You told me about the content of it. You told me where you got the audience for it. Tell me about how you close people. Nathan Latka of Lajour showed me how he’s got this like really slick sales pitch at the end of his webinars. What’s yours? I learn a lot from watching people close.
Max: That was the point, that was the whole thing in what (?). Do you have a sales pitch? We said, you know, we have this product, you know, you should really check it out and (?) if you used it. But we’re really here to help you.
Andrew: It was no, hey guys thank you for watching this and if you really want a super, if you want a, not super power, but if you want to speed up everything that we just told you about go to whatrunswhere.com and I’ll tell you what. If you go to whatrunswhere.com/thisforumname I will give you a 50% discount because you’re signing up right now, but you’ve got to do it in the next 2 hours. None of that stuff?
Max: No, that feels very pushy and guruish. What we did though, and you know the forum owner did that for us. In the webinar we’re sort of laid back, we don’t care either way. But you have a forum owner going, you know, that’s really great you should go sign up here, we have this link. You know (?) posting in the forums, and they push it out there for us. For us it was like, you should sign up if you want.
Andrew: Sign up if you want, don’t sign up if you don’t want. And the forum owner has an incentive because he’s earning money by selling it, so, but he doesn’t seem to have an incentive because people think that he’s just a moderator. And so he’s, I love this guy Max, whatrunswhere is a great program, you guys should all go sign up, I’m signed up. You know, they do the whole thing.
Max: So, what you missed, so as you mentioned we had coffee in DC, so we were at a conference together in DC. And I don’t know, you were there for some reason, but I had to give, we were slotted into a six minute product pitch on the last day where we were supposed to pitch WhatRunsWhere and we were in the middle of about 8 or 9 different pitches. I got up on stage and instead of pitching the product I said, “Here’s [??], here’s what we do. Screw that that’s boring. Let’s talk about media buying.” I talked for six minutes about how to correctly buy media. We had the most people coming out of that show coming to our table outside and coming to talk to us about our product after that.
Because instead of doing the same monotonous pitch, what you have to understand is that webinars, there’s a blueprint almost about how people pitch products through webinars, there’s courses about it and all that kind of stuff. By breaking that mold and giving them something unconventional they will remember you better and they gotta come and check you out.
Max: But that show did not, there was a big ‘But’ there, that show did not do extremely well for us revenue wise and that was a mistake that we made.
Andrew: And what was that mistake?
Max: It was around audience forums. It was a lot of people that had barely heard of media buying.
Andrew: I see. These aren’t people who are doing media buying on a regular basis. They are doing what I heard a lot at that conference which is JV partnerships. Right?
Andrew: Joint venture partnerships which essentially is like an affiliate program. Alright so I get it. It wasn’t necessarily the right audience. It was a great conference. I didn’t go to the actual conference because I’d been obsessed with getting more people here at Mixergy to help me not have to spend every waking minute on the site or else I’m going to burn out. So that week I think I was hiring someone new or I was training them but I’m obsessed with getting this stuff done so that I can focus on other things.
What I did though is I did go to the drinks at Yanik Silver’s underground. I did go to the costume party which was there. I went to the first dinner and I got to have a lot of interesting conversations with some past Mixergy guests and you and I got to step outside of the conference, have some coffee and talk. I said we had drinks, but you’re right. I had the drink; you just had a diet soda or a coffee?
Max: Yeah, something like that.
Andrew: So, webinars you don’t close it, you let the person whose partnering up with you close it, but that’s an effective place for you. You started talking a little bit about writing articles and guides to media buying and that’s been effective for you. So you write this guide. How do you get people to promote it for you so that it leads eventually to sales?
Max: There we had a good friend that had a dormant blog that still got a lot of traffic but he didn’t do anything with. So we said we’ll give you some fresh content for it. I sat down and spent a ton of time writing out this five and half, six page in-depth guide about how to start media buying. We gave to him and he posted it there. And then we went to those same forums where we turned up these webinars and said, “Here’s some free content. Put it on your forums. You’re not going to get anything back for it but your members are going to go “wow, you can get this on your forum” “. So we go it out there, and people started reposting and reblogging and it sort of got around then.
Even today we still get a ton of traffic from that because it’s real content. It’s not saying, there’s a small call to action at the end, but the whole way through it’s not saying “WhatRunsWhere, WhatRunsWhere. Buy now, buy now, buy now. Special deal. You know. Where can you buy it? Go buy now.” It’s more saying, here’s some great content. I think that’s the whole thing behind thought leadership. It’s about saying instead of trying to shove something down your throat, “How do I establish myself as an expert in the industry? How do I establish myself as an Andrew Warner so that when I want to know about startups I go to Mixergy and I can learn things about how to start up my business properly?” How do we position ourselves in that same way throughout the industry?
Andrew: So I’m Googling for this thing. I want to understand how you got it. I see a guest post on a site called “Blue Hat SEO”. That’s you?
Max: That’s the one. And it went through a whole bunch of private forums and then it got reposted.
Andrew: So Blue Hat SEO is your friends’ site that was just sitting there.
Andrew: And you said, “I can’t blog on a brand new blog because it’ll look lame for me to come up with just one blog.”
Max: Blue Hat SEO is one of my business partner’s friends. He had a ton of traffic going there still and he hadn’t posted something for us in a long time. So we contacted him and said, “Can we write this article for you?” Because if we post it on our new site there’s no-one going to it. Here he already has a base of people that are semi-related that are interested in it. And that article on Blue Hat SEO has a fair number of comments on it. I’m not sure how many of them are spam but it has-?
Andrew: 152 comments on it and here’s the thing, it’s exactly as you’re saying.
Max: No, it has 640. No that’s the other one.
Andrew: This blog post went up June 2011, since then there has been no blog post and before then the last blog post was July 2010, so it was sitting there dormant for about a year? You pop in, you get some of the traffic that it was still getting and you get the ability to use it to promote that article on other sites.
Max: Absolutely and there are 947 comments on it.
Andrew: Oh, is that right? I guess I misread that.
Max: So almost 1,000 comments on that article.
Andrew: Oh, I see what I did, I scrolled down to far and then I looked at the comments on the next article on that page.
Max: Because people started tweeting it out, people started posting it, and saying, you know, here’s a great article, we push it out there a bit. You know put it on StubmleUpon, Digg, put it out there put it onto [??] And say here’s something that’s really [??] Here’s something cool that can help. We don’t want anything back, We’re just trying to help and people responded to that.
Andrew: OK. So, you posted it up on here. You said Hacker News, Y Combinator, so what you probably did is and you don’t have to tell me if you don’t feel comfortable. But, what you probably did is you said to five of your friends who are already on Hacker News, hey I’m putting this up at 10 a.m. tomorrow. Let’s all vote it.
Max: Oh, Absolutely. OK. We do for social media. It’s all about, you know.
Andrew: Who you know and who’s willing to upload for you or tweet for you.
Andrew: So when I go onto StumbleUpon, you say other people, upload this on StumbleUpon, when it goes on Facebook you say can you share this, can you share this, can you like this. So it gets started and it starts getting spread out. For one thing that we’ve also done in the past, is blogs with Facebook comments enabled. We’ve made it so we’re the top liked comment on that specific post with very key so we’re the first one that shows up when someone goes and looks at a comment.
Max: I see. And you get a handful of people who will all upload it.
Andrew: Yeah, exactly.
Max: I mean, not upload it, but like your comments so that it shows up at the top.
Max: One other thing about this.
Andrew: A lot of people don’t say do you mind, it would help us a lot.
Max: How do you get a forum, I guess on a forum you can put a copy of this whole article or you can excerpt it and put it on a forum. But, it’s pretty much going to sit there. It’s not going to get more than 100 or 1,000 even hits. Right? What do you do to spread it beyond?
Andrew: Well we put it up there and then, we get people ways to share it so we would go to key people that we know have large audiences and we say do you mind tweeting this? or something to that. And now on the forum once it’s posted, once it’s up there, you find other key people in the forum who post and you say I posted this, do you mind, you know, how would I get other people involved. One of the key things that we’ve found is really useful and I forget who told me this exactly. But it’s been extraordinarily useful in terms of anything. When you want something from somebody, and you know there why would they help you? One of the key things to do is ask for advice. Because usually if you have something great and you ask for advice, their going to do it for you as well. They aren’t going to let you fail. They’ll help you. So you would go, you know, I want to put this article somewhere, you know, can you give me some advice on how to best do that? And they would say, Oh, this is a super great article and they would post that for a while.
Andrew: I see. By the way, the link on this blog post on blue hat SCO is broken. It goes to what runs where dot com slash signup slash index two dot p h p question mark.
Max: That blog post is very old and we don’t have that up there anymore.
Max: Because we now have it, that was before we launched our trial, we now have a trial for 7 days for [??]
Andrew: Oh right, so you don’t need to give people 45 dollars off the first month and now they get the first month or so free.
Max: The first things we did, you know, from a marketing perspective where what runs where. As we’ve done it, almost a year old now.
Andrew: All right. Let me ask you, about the next item on the list: Trade shows. You said that you wanted to talk about some of the mistakes that you’ve made at trade shows so that other people don’t suffer the way that you did. What’s the biggest mistake you made at trade shows?
Max: The biggest mistake we made, I would say the biggest mistake we made, we haven’t made a lot of mistakes because my partner and I have both been to a ton of trade shows, we’ve been going for a long time. But we figured the first trade show we went to as a company, we figured. Let’s go by these, you know, tablets, to be able to demo what runs where on the tablets. and then we’ll sign people up on that spot. We’ll get them to put in their information and then we’ll be done. I signed up one person the entire trade show with those tablets. It wasn’t because people were interested in, people wanted to sign up, but they got to the page wi fi wasn’t good in spots so they couldn’t load it, or they got to the page and they went to type and when you go to type in a full field with credit card information, your name, your address, your username, your information or to retype something. It ends up being it’s something that would take like two minutes on the computer, it ends up taking 15 minutes on a tablet. People don’t want to do that. They’re in the middle of a trade show, they’re trying to network, they’re trying to see other people. So, I had a tablet sitting somewhere at home that I haven’t used since that show just because It was such a big bust. So what we started to do at shows afterward is actually carry around a laptop. I carry a laptop on me which I can then quickly open and get them to sign up on the laptop if I really need to, or we put them in as an aggressive follow-up sequence coming out of the trade show.
Andrew: So you pull out your laptop and you get them to pay up right there, pull out their credit cards and the whole thing?
Max: It depends on the show. It depends on how good the Wi-Fi is and it depends on how busy we are, but we do have a laptop on us at all times.
Andrew: All right. Before we go to one more mistake, how about the best, most effective thing that you did at trade shows to get customers?
Max: The first thing that we did at trade shows the best was (?). We made t-shirts. We got these white shirts that said ‘I know where your odds are running’ and put our logo across the back. I’m a big guy. I’m 6’4″, so people could see that. I’m like a walking billboard. I’m very visible. The other thing that we did is at the most recent tradeshow we actually got a booth.
Andrew: Got a what? A booth. OK.
Max: We got a booth at Innovation Alley. That was amazing for us because I had never fully realized – I ‘d been going to trade shows since I was 15 – I’d never fully realized the type of people you meet having a booth versus the type of people you meet walking around the floor. When you’re walking around the floor, you’re only meeting people you know or your friends. You can’t talk with people. In the same way, when you have a booth, you have somebody come up and go, ‘Hey, I’m from Microsoft’, ‘I’m with Google. I’d love to work with you. How can we figure out how to do this?’ That may not turn into anything, but the level of contacts and the type of contacts we get are at a whole different tier than we would get otherwise.
Andrew: Wow. So the number one hustler, the guy who likes to walk around a conference with a tablet instead of paying for the biggest booth at the conference, he wants to walk and talk to as many people as possible and sign them up, you went the other way. You bought a booth.
Max: Yes. We bought a small booth. We didn’t buy a big booth. We bought a small booth. It wasn’t super expensive but people came and checked it out. For our first three or four trade shows as a company, we walked around. We just hustled. We walked around, and it was really interesting to see the change from no one knowing who we were to people coming up and saying: ‘Hey, I use your product, I love it’; ‘You’re from (?), great.’ At a certain point, you feel like you’re seeing the same people again and again and again at shows. You may meet some new people, but it’s very different than being able to have a place where people can bring friends to show you to them. There are people who go to conferences and as an attendee, I realized, I would go to the conference and I would go to every booth there. So there are other people who I would never get to meet — they’re just outside my social network at conferences – who would make it a ROI positive conference for us.
Andrew: All right. How about one last mistake at trade shows?
Max: Last mistake at trade shows. Again, we talked briefly about the UGA thing. As an audience, you have to understand that people say a lot of stuff at trade shows. So coming back to that conference in DC, I had given that speech and we got a rave response. People came and said, ‘We’re going to buy it, we’re going to buy it, we’re going to buy it. Here’s a card, here’s a card, here’s a card.’ And then you go back and you sort of get caught up in the moment when you’re at trade shows. You hear it and you may just want to stop talking to that person and you say, ‘Yeah, I loved you, let’s talk after.’ A lot of those people don’t hand out, they don’t want to pick up their phones, they’re not actually interested. It’s not the right time. There are certain things that people say. I found there are a lot of trade shows. If I wanted to be on the road everyday at a trade show, I could be. There are so many of them. So picking the right ones to go to for your business that hit the key audience that you want to reach is important. We took a bit of a step outside of our comfort zone with this other show. We weren’t sure if the audience was going to work out, but it wasn’t super expensive so we took a bit of a risk. It just didn’t work out for us in any way, shape or form.
Andrew: OK. Let’s see. What else do we go to? What about all these conferences you go to? You went to Ad-Tech, right?
Andrew: How effective is that when you’re just an attendee, before we go to one of the other items on the list?
Max: Oh, it’s great. Ad-Tech is free to walk the exhibit hall, so you’re paying for flights and a hotel.
Andrew: Did you get any customers out of it? You’re not flying for no reason.
Max: Absolutely. That’s what we did before we exhibited at this Ad-Tech. We used to just go and walk around. Besides that one in DC, we’ve never had a negative RoI trade show. Without funding – we’re an ROI-focused company – if we don’t make our money back, it doesn’t really make sense for us. We’re not a company that can go spend a ton of money on branding, so we’d go and we’d walk around and we’d go and meet people and we’d go stalk people and…
Andrew: What size revenue do you guys have now?
Max: I can’t tell you. I can’t tell you that.
Andrew: You can’t tell me that?
Max: No. That’s confidential.
Andrew: Are you guys profitable now?
Andrew: Are you taking a salary?
Max: Yes, of course.
Andrew: OK. Did you, in fact, before make $20,000 a day as an affiliate?
Andrew: That number was right, what you told us before in the last interview.
Andrew: Are you in fact doing some affiliate stuff on the side?
Max: No. And that’s a big thing versus you know a lot of people. We don’t allow any of our staff to do anything like that, or do anything (?) and we don’t and never will as a company.
Andrew: Why not?
Max: And people will come to us and says that’s stupid, why? You could be making this kind of money again. It’s just not worth it. If you as a customer, if you think I’m looking at your data and taking what you’re doing and running it myself it takes away an incentive for me to help you. If I’m making ten grand a day and you ask me about a similar campaign why would I tell you the answer by getting into my (?). This way I can tell you straight honest truth of what I think and not have to worry about that in any shape, way or form. As a company I can tell you we are profitable. We’ve been profitable since we launched. Everybody in the company takes a full salary. And we’re presently growing and we’re always hiring.
Andrew: Are you? We’ll get back to these specific tactics but I’ve got to find out a little more about your story. Because you were doing $20,000 a day. And I know it was fluctuating. We got deep into your past revenue. But you were doing it by signing up for affiliate programs, taking the ads from those affiliate programs, buying ads and running them. Doing ad placements for them.
Max: Yeah, arbitraging them.
Andrew: Yeah, arbitraging, right? Are there people now who are your customers, don’t tell me the names I know you’re not going to and that’s fine. Are there people now who are your customers who are essentially doing the same things through whatrunswhere? Arbitraging (sp) ads?
Max: Oh, absolutely. Since we came from that space our first base of customers all did that, that’s all they did.
Andrew: They all did that? These are people who found the latest acai berry thing and they ran ads for it online.
Max: If you’re arbitraging traffic and you can have a system that you can then go and say, I’m spending a thousand bucks a day, I’m making 1,200 a day, I can find something that helps me write better ad or find better placement, all of a sudden I’m making 14, 1500 a day from that same campaign. It’s a really, really simple value proposition. I spent $200 and I made an extra $200 a day. All of a sudden I’m making 30 times my investment a month. That’s a great IRI investment. Over time that’s one of our key segments. But we branched out to a ton of other segments (?) general brands. We work with some huge companies who I can’t disclose.
Andrew: Would you be willing to introduce. I know you told me before the interview and it sucks that I can’t say the names of these companies. Frankly between you and me I think you should just call them up and say, well it’s too late now, but I should have pushed you before the interview to call them up and say, I’m about to do this interview on Mixergy. I just need to use you as a case study, is it okay? I think these customers….no, you’re smiling because of the kind of business you…
Max: They’d be fine with it but at the time, you know, we are as a company we’re extraordinarily laid back which might be (?) and I’m like, we might talk in six months and I might say you know I made this mistake. We don’t send, we don’t promote other people’s products. We don’t send our users e-mail really about other products.
Andrew: But you have customers logos on your website.
Max: Yeah we do.
Andrew: I just wanted the bigger names that you signed up recently. But it doesn’t matter. We’re sticking with this hustler story. We’re going to find out how you hustle for customers. Because this is I think in the audience’s best interest because hopefully they could pull out at least one idea from how you hustled to get customers when you had no money. And you still are very scrappy. And they could use it in their own businesses.
So we talked about webinars, we talked about media, media buying articles and guides that you put together. How about, let’s go back to support. You’ve got your clients by answering support e-mails. How did you do that?
Max: Want to take a step back really quickly before.
Andrew: Go for it, okay.
Max: Because we’re talking about before, there’s a big difference between, you know, as a company, as a new company and you see a lot of people do it. It doesn’t matter what you’ve done in a past company. In a new company especially if you purposely don’t take funding, is very profit focused. So as a company when you have no revenue coming in you have to work that much harder to go and you sit there with your customers and you know what you need. And I still say this to our customers, I’m still (?) with you. I give out my personal phone number. I say call me anytime. The only time I won’t pick up is if I’m in the washroom of if I’m dead in a ditch. And maybe if I’m sleeping. I may be a bit grumpy. But I’m happy to pick up and talk to you. That really helps. That ties into the support thing because as I said, I do all the support and that’s really valuable. And that also helps us to retain customers on that support side. Because they feel like somebody actually cares. They go, wow, one of the co-founders and the COO and even though you know they’re bigger and well recognized. How many at this point are still willing to sit down and help me with my issues, help me with my support?
Andrew: Give an example of a customer who e-mailed you support, maybe was a little bit angry and you could have lost him if someone else handled him, and you won him over.
Max: Yeah, absolutely. When we first started I think we had about 30 customers at this time. And so when you lose a customer that’s like 3% of your user base right there. That’s, you know, it hurts. You feel it deep inside of you, you’re like oh my god. So we had one of our biggest customers at that point e-mail us and say I’m leaving. And there was an issue, I think it was the operating system they were using. And I e-mailed them back, I said let me look into it and fix it. And because I responded properly and we had it fixed within about 20 minutes, they signed back up and they’ve been a customer for the past year with us. Which you know, with that 20 minutes of working and just by being on top of support and really taking care of it and interacting with the customers, we retained an extra $2,000 of value from that customer.
Andrew: Alright, support. Last item on my list. Actually before we get to the last, I’ll save this for the final question. The final question I think is a good one. Let me write a note here to find out, how much money, I think you might tell us this one. I’ll come back to that. I’ve got a note here to ask you about pipe drive. I don’t get it. As we were talking I kept calling it hyper drive and hype drive. I kept getting the whole thing wrong because I don’t see how signing up for something could either do great for your sales or it could reduce your sales. So what is pipe drive and what did it do to you?
Max: Pipe drive is the most important thing for inbound sales that we’ve done.
Andrew: Oh really? Okay.
Andrew: What is it?
Max: It is a startup that is a CRM sales model. So a customer relationship management tool for your sales model. What it allows you to do is drag and drop people through your sales process and keep track. Schedule calls, put contact information in there, and it’s the most important thing we’ve done, let me put asterisks there, once we got a sales team in place. So once I had other sales people that I had to manage and work with, because now it takes an extra three or four minutes for a customer to update and do but once you’ve started that customer. Let’s say now you get sick and you’re in the hospital for a month, I can seamlessly pick that up what you’re doing with all of your notes and what you’ve done and your scheduled call look backs. See a history of what you’ve done, all the notes, where they are, and pick it up and continue that sales process. It’s easier then sort of keeping it on note pad and saying where are those notes, I’m going to use it. It keeps it in an easily accessible way. Where I can also drag and drop sales statistics. I can see how many did we sell this week, how many did we sell this month, and what’s the big difference?
Andrew: Is this run by a friend of yours?
Andrew: You don’t know them.
Max: I saw them, actually I saw them on Apps sumo, that’s how I found them. We had a deal on App sumo that we signed up for and I’m a brand advocate now just because we use them and we love them.
Andrew: I think I see how it works. So I get an, if I’m new I find a prospect, I enter them in the system. If I talk to the prospect and he’s moving down the channel I add more data to him. And it looks like what I do is I drag him from the prospect column of this pipeline to the whatever your next column is.
Max: You can name it whatever you want. But you literally just drag and drop customers over.
Andrew: So everyone knows where these customers are in the pipeline.
Max: Exactly where they are and what we need to do. We can schedule follow ups, we can schedule calls and get reminders about them. And then also you know where everybody else is with their prospect. So we can say, we can identify okay, here’s what we’ve done this week. We had a ton of new prospects come in, but we didn’t close many of them. Or here we had a ton of prospects, this week we had a ton of prospects that we already showed (?) and we closed them. So what can we improve? Why did it take, why did we close that many customers this week versus last week? What sort of change did we put out and how can we replicate that?
Andrew: Alright, pipedrive.com. Neither one of apparently has any connection to them. And if anyone’s curious, there’s no affiliate program on my part. I’m not making any money off of doing this interview with Max.
Max: I just, when I say a company like mailjam or pipedrive or you know somebody like that that we use, it’s because they’re a good, like I’ll never use an affiliates because they’re a great company. And we use them and we use them successfully. When we say something like, and we want people to use them because.
Andrew: And you know what though? I do see some people especially in the online marketing crowd who do podcasts and do blogs and do all kinds of stuff where, they tell you about stuff and they get excited about it and you know that they’re making money some money on them. And that’s why they’re hyping you up. And I feel like I love watching infomercials but only if they’re carefully, you know if they’re labeled. I’m not sitting here and being another sucker in your audience so you can get me all excited about some product that you’re going to make some money off of if. I just want to know what really works for you.
Andrew: It’s not, I don’t have anything against people making money off of it, but I just don’t want this background affiliate stuff. Speaking of customer service that is my assistedly page. It’s somewhere in the background. I must have been answering assistedly e-mails. I keep calling it, there it is. Inactive warning. I wish I could just turn that sound off. Keep me active in the system. I’m always on customer support, just like Max. But you’re on it much more than I am. I have other people to help me.
Max: Yeah, one other thing that we do which I didn’t mention at all, you know, it’s been really successful for us, is we use proactive chat on our website. All of us are, all of us, the whole sales office is hooked into chat. So if you come to our website you’re on the website for more than, I think it’s 30 seconds now, we’ll pop up a window says, it will either be myself or it will be one of our other guys saying, hey this is so and so from whatrunswhere, do you have any questions how can I help you? And I’ll just interact with the customer before they, answer questions they may have, you know get them to that point of you should use us. And here’s why you should use us.
Andrew: Were you able to close sales that way?
Andrew: You can.
Max: Oh, absolutely.
Andrew: I can too, you know what? But I had to take it down because it took up too much of my time.
Max: That’s why. As one person I ended up turning it off. Now that we have multiple people in our sales team and we have, I have my director in business development. I have account executives as well that can go in and out put that. It’s not just me. And I still, I enjoy talking to our customers. I’m a giant nerd. I get really excited about a couple of things. Star Wars, media buying and yeah, no that’s pretty much it. I get (?) period, ad tech period, I love. I hear about a new startup or I hear about some new technology and I get really excited. A big grin comes on my face and I jump in and I want to find out about that.
Andrew: Alright. Let me do a quick plug. Here you see how I say it’s a plug. And the plug for Mixergy premium. If you enjoyed this interview and you want a little bit more with Max, we did a course together where he basically said, even if you don’t ever want to sign up for whatrunswhere, this is how to spy on what your competitors are doing with their ad buys. And he showed specifically how to find out where your customers are, who else has your customers, where they’re buying advertising to reach their customers, what kind of ads they’re doing. And he also showed how to have somebody create ads that use the best part of your competitors ads. I mean, if they, and this won’t make sense unless you watch the actual course. If they have eyes in their ads you can start to see a pattern that eyes staring at the users from the banner ads worked for these guys. If it works for them you take that and you send that out to a designer and you have them create a similar ad. If they place ads, and you’ll see exactly where your competitors place ads, if they’re buying ads on these sites you can either do the same things. Buy on the exact same sites or buy on similar sites, and Max shows you how to do it. It’s a primer to buying ads and it’s part of Mixergypremium.com. If you’re already a member it’s there. I’m not selling you on anything. If you’re not a member sign up and get that course. And right now it looks like 61 other courses too. Sorry Max you were going to say something.
Max: I’m going to be a bit. I don’t want to sound like lame or something. I love Mixergy premium. We use that and we use a couple of other courses in Mixergy premium in our training packages for our new employees.
Andrew: Thank you.
Max: So we’ve actually added into our training of how you know, you comes to whatruns where, here’s how you get started. Here’s how you learn about the industry if you know nothing about it. And there’s a lot of Mixergy content in there.
Andrew: There you go. Great testimonial. Mixergypremium.com. If you haven’t signed up I hope you go to MIxergypremium.com and sign up. Alright. You did an interview here, you did that course. Was it profitable for you? Did you get customers from it? And you can be honest with me if you didn’t.
Max: Profitable for us?
Andrew: I guess there’s no cost, so.
Max: Profitable is a bad term.
Andrew: Right, did you get customers from it?
Max: What’s interesting. So the interview is very, very controversial. And you know, I have never heard anything bad about it in real life. Maybe it’s because I’m a big guy and they don’t walk up to me and say it’s a bad so and so. But we have a lot of people coming up to me in conferences saying, hey I saw you on Mixergy. I got e-mails, I’ve had people add me to IM’s. I’ve had people come and say I’d like to come and fund your company, invest in your company because you were on Mixergy. So there’s a definite power to the people that do in the audience, you guys who are watching this. And then, for me I get a big ego in my head. My head gets a bit big. I got to a hotel and I say, can I get three beds. One for me, one for somebody else, one for my ego. Because it’s a real bad space. In reality it’s been extraordinarily helpful the business in terms of brand and name recognition. It’s been extraordinarily to me in terms of, you know, again that’s all we were (?)coming out and saying I know something about something. And share that.
Andrew: Did you get customers from it?
Andrew: Okay. You know what, I was going to ask you how, but I don’t want to say it. Other guests have actually e-mailed me with specific numbers. How they have it, I don’t know.
Max: The only way I’d be able to do that is to give you an affiliate. How can they say they know the exact amount?
Andrew: I’ll tell you why. What they’ve done is, they’ve done either a different kind of offer, or all they’ve tracked is the people who came specifically from the site, or people who mention Mixergy when they sign up. The thing is, though, I was going to do a blog post about it and say, “Guys, here’s how great it is to do interviews.” Thinking it would get me more guests, and then I realized, if I do that, I’m going to get the wrong kind of guests. I want the guests who don’t need the extra sales. Who are doing well. If I get the people who are desperate, I need customers. I’m going to get [??], I’m going to get people who don’t have real companies there. I’d much rather do it the way we’ve been doing now, where we look for the guests. Basically, getting them through there friends or doing research online.
Max: Absolutely, one example, there are a lot of people that watch the interviews and do things. I can give you an example, I said something about Sitescale.com [sp] in my last interview. Mentioned it briefly, and someone watched that interview, and went and applied for a job at Sitescale. That, to me, is sort of mind blowing.
Andrew: Did they get the job?
Max: Not sure exactly, what ended up happening there. I just wanted to say that story as an example.
Andrew: Sitescout, introduce me to them for an interview. I’d like to have those guys on. Actually, is there anything else that we missed in this interview?
Andrew: Good, because it sounded like we were about to go into a private conversation. I do want to have a private conversation with you after this interview is over. So, after we end it, I will send it to Joe. Then I want to talk to you about interviewing some of your friends and about some follow up to our last interview. Whatrunswhere.com, that’s the website that we have been talking about. I keep saying to people, “Connect with the guests.” And the reason is, I saw this guy at one conference, we were talking, he was a fan of Mixergy. He saw someone who was a guest on Mixergy. He said, “Andrew, I know that guy from the interviews.” And I said, “Why don’t you go over there and say hello?” He said, “I don’t know I just don’t feel right.” Don’t feel right? Look at all the people who are going up to Max and how happy he is to have conversations with them. If you see them at a conference, go up the them and say that Andrew said hello. If you don’t see them, great, send them an e-mail, tweet. Find a way to connect with them. It’s going to lead to good things. I do all the vetting here to get the best guests on. You might as well piggy back off of that and connect with them. I’ve had people in the audience say that they use Mixergy interviews to see who they should be doing business with, and then follow up. Don’t just sit back, engage in these interviews.
Max: My personal e-mail is Max@whatroomswhere.com. Our Twitter is @whatroomswhere, either, or. Send me an e-mail. I will try and get back to you as soon as possible. Sometimes, we are extraordinarily busy, and if so, I try and get back to everybody.
Andrew: Here’s what I suggest that they do. Usually, I say Max, that they. . .
Max: Especially Subway sandwiches.
Andrew: Oh, you take them out for Subway, you’re saying?
Max: No, no, I’ll talk to them about Subway.
Andrew: Alright, if you don’t know what to e-mail Max about, here is my suggestion. I’ve got an e-mail here that I didn’t get the chance to talk about. This is the e-mail that he sends people who cancel, complete with the phone number, e-mail address and you see the process that he takes. E-mail him, ask him for a copy of that, don’t ask on a chat board. Ask him for the e-mail, so you get to see how he wins back customers. Thank you all for watching. Max, thanks for doing this interview. See you in the comments guys.
Walker Corporate Law – Scott Edward Walker is the lawyer entrepreneurs turn to when they want to raise money or sell their companies, but if you’re just getting started, his firm will help you launch properly. Watch this video to learn about him.
Grasshopper – Don’t make the mistake of comparing Grasshopper with other phone services. Check out their features and you’ll see why Grasshopper isn’t just a phone number, it’s the virtual phone system that entrepreneurs (like me) love.
Shopify – Remember the interview I did about how the founder of DODOCase sold about $1 mil worth of iPad cases in a few months? He used Shopify. It’s dead simple and very effective. To get a longer free trial, use this code: Mixergy