How do you sell to businesses and grow monthly recurring revenue?
We talk a lot about selling to consumers, but I want to do this interview on selling to businesses. So I invited Chris Savage to teach how he did it at Wistia, which provides video marketing tools for businesses. You might have seen Wistia on Mixergy. I think we use it for every single video we have here on the site.
Chris Savage, Wistia
Chris Savage is the co-founder of Wistia, a video marketing application for easily sharing and tracking your video for businesses.
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Hey everyone, my name is Andrew Warner. I’m the founder of Mixergy.com, home of the ambitious up-start and the place where proven entrepreneurs come to teach you how they did it. The question for this interview is: how do you sell to businesses and grow monthly recurring revenue? Chris Savage is the founder of Wistia, which provides video marketing tools for businesses. You might have seen Wistia on Mixergy. I think we use it for every single video we have here on the site, so I invited Chris to teach how he did it, what he learned as he built Wistia’s customer base of businesses. We talk a lot about selling to consumers, I want to do this interview about how do you sell to businesses and that’s why I invited Chris here. Chris, welcome.
Chris: Thanks. Thanks for having me.
Andrew: Chris, we agreed that we’re not going to give away secret information like how much revenue Wistia has and how many customers Wistia has, even though you and I talked about it privately and I congratulated you privately.
Chris: Thank you.
Andrew: Let’s go back to when you were just starting out. When you had about a dozen customers and you set a goal for yourself. Do you remember what that goal was?
Chris: I remember when the big goal was how will we get to 100 customers. For me it always felt like 100 customers was a big deal. For some reason just hitting the three digits meant a lot and I remember how it was to be at, I remember vividly being at 15 customers being like, oh my god, if we’re not going to get anybody next month then we’re in trouble. Yeah, I remember those days.
Andrew: You hit a goal. The goal was getting 100 people. Do you remember the day when you hit that goal?
Chris: I don’t remember the date. I remember the day vividly. We actually popped a really nice bottle of Champagne that I think our competitor had given us because we had sent them a deal that was not a good fit for Wistia and they sent us this really nice Champagne and we’re like, all right this is the time to do this. Yeah. Then I remember also pretty soon after that we hit another milestone, which is huge for us, I remember waking up and there being three deals that closed in the middle of the night. That was like insane because when we first started trying to sell, we couldn’t take credit cards, every contract was signed and faxed back and forth. People would drop papers on the floor. It was a long way from where we had begun so, that felt really good.
Andrew: There was a time when you didn’t have it all together. Do you remember what you did about an artist’s job board that you guys did? I didn’t even know this before we did the pre-interview.
Chris: Yeah. When we first got started, the first year of Wistia was a lot of things, but the biggest thing that it was, was we were trying to make a portfolio website for artists and for film makers specifically. This was a place where we tried to help film makers get their videos online.
Andrew: This was the original idea? It wasn’t to help businesses create videos themselves?
Chris: The original idea was to help film makers take advantage of online video. We’d seen a big shift happen with you could encode video online and just open the doors to — and open the barriers — to people getting more out of video so we wanted to make something for that. We did a lot of things wrong. One of the things we did was, before we launched it we decided oh, the right way to make money on this is going to be to build a job board that we can sell jobs against. We made a super advanced job board. Super advanced.
You could search in multiple cities, multiple locations, different distances by city, different discipline, designers and all this stuff. Then we realized that we had built a complete piece of shit that nobody wanted. We didn’t even have a launched product. Yes, I remember vividly having nothing.
Andrew: Why was that a bad move? How did you get stuck, I mean, in that bad move? We’ll find out, I know you and Jeremy Dupree interviewer went through a list of specific tactics of what you did right. You’re going to teach people how you did it so if they’re selling to businesses they can follow the successful moves that you’ve made. I want to spend a moment about what was wrong about that? In retrospect how could you have avoided that move?
Chris: I mean, we built things in a silo. We saw a macro-level change, which I still think was the right macro-level change. Online video was different after YouTube. We saw YouTube super early and they kind of changed the game in terms of expectations because they would do all of the encoding for you. We thought that was big and important. We were able to go and do that ourselves.
But we just ran in a lot of different directions. We tried to resolve every problem. We tried to, I remember vividly thinking, having conversations like we can’t just have a drop down menu because we have to do better than a drop down menu. This kind of natural languages that people were used to interacting with on the web we threw out and tried to reinvent every one of them as we were making a portfolio website for (inaudible).
I would say paying attention to conventions was something that we could have used more of. I don’t think we even realized how unique our original vision was. Also, we were in complete control so it felt like we can just screw around. We can do this and this is what a business is, is making up everything. Things have changed a lot since then for us, just in terms of how we build products. How we think about testing things.
The lean movement didn’t exist, or it existed but it wasn’t publicized. We were doing this stuff so we had to figure it out ourselves. Now I would say, I’ve read all the Eric Reese stuff and all the other things there, and it’s like OK, yeah. That’s what we eventually kind of got to but that would have been really helpful to have from the beginning.
Andrew: All right, one more question before we get right into the tactics and that’s this. People already know about YouTube. What they often ask me when they hear about Wistia is why would anyone use Wistia? Can you answer that question while explaining who your customer is and how your customer uses Wistia?
Chris: Yeah. YouTube, first of all, is great. I use YouTube all the time. It’s the second biggest search engine. There’s a lot of good things you can do with YouTube. The customers that we have want to have more control over their experience. We predominantly sell to marketers. What that means is they want the video on their site if someone comes to their website they don’t want them to be able to click away to YouTube and see comments and related videos and ads and all that other stuff.
I can’t remember who said this at one point but if the product is free often it’s the case, I think, that you are the product. Right? You’re part of the product. In YouTube you’re putting up your content so that they can sell ads against it. They can make all the search engine revenue on all the other stuff. There’s a whole group of people who don’t want that. Who just want something that is completely tailored to them with much more customization around the experience of the video?
Another big difference is our analytics are built for an entirely different audience. Instead of trying to look at analytics to figure out what kind of ads to put on your video or how your video is doing in the YouTube search or something like. Our analytics are all about how well you’re telling your story. How well you’re getting people to sign up for your product after they watch your video. Which people in your audience are most interested? How do you integrate video better with email. How do you drive more traffic to your site and not YouTube? All that mix of stuff.
Andrew: Here’s a cool user example. You send out to your email list a video, excuse me, a landing page that has a video on it. You see that one person watched the video on the landing page all the way to the end but didn’t buy. You call him up or email him and you either ask why didn’t you buy or you close the sale on the phone. You can’t do that kind of thing with YouTube because YouTube gives you data in the aggregate. You can do it with Wistia because Wistia’s videos are like your sales people and they bring back information just as they’re sending out information to the world.
Chris: That’s a perfect example.
Andrew: I know that you’ve done that, and I’ve seen other people do it too with Wistia. It’s really impressive to be able to interact with customers that way. The first big tactic you’re saying is, figure out your target audience. We already saw that in action with you, because you went after artists first, then you went after businesses. Tell me a little bit about the importance of that and how you figure out what your target audience is.
Chris: Sure. For us, obviously, we started trying to sell to artists. We had been going for 10 months or so. I talked to a buddy of mine, Cheri[SP], who I had worked with on a previous project. I said, ‘Hey, we’re going to introduce premium portfolios at some point.’ I think we had just launched that site. ‘We’re probably going to charge $10 a month.’ She was like, ‘Whoa. That is super expensive. I can’t believe that $10 a month for a portfolio online?’ It was a complete wake up call. Wait a second. This is not the right target audience for us.
Even if we get all the film makers in the world, we’re still not going to have that big of a business. That was one thing we were concerned with, was trying to have a big business. So, we’d been going to lots of startup meetings during the whole first year of the life of Wistia. All these people kept coming up to us and saying, ‘Hey, you guys are the video guys. Can you help me with my video?’ We were like, ‘No. We’re trying to help artists. That’s our thing.’ At some point, I was like, ‘Oh wow. We should be talking to businesses who don’t use a lot of video.’ We would have a completely different set of problems.
That was the first step for us toward starting to target our audience of businesses versus consumers. Then over time that evolved from businesses to companies that use a lot of visually rich data, and eventually to marketing. People really pulled us there. Finding that target made it possible. It’s kind of the decision maker when we’re writing copy, when we’re deciding what videos to make, all the other stuff.
Andrew: I could see someone in the audience who has a B to B business thinking to themselves, ‘I can make the leap from moving away from people who don’t have money to finding an audience of business, because businesses in the aggregate do have money and are willing to spend it for products to help them make more money.’ To zoom in on that niche which you found, which is marketers, the people who are most eager to buy. You have the money and the clear willingness to spend money. That’s a tougher leap, to find that micro-target. How did you do that without going through years of agony as you look and talk to seemingly everyone?
Chris: That’s a great question. For us, we didn’t go straight there. Our first customer was using us to privately share video, so we thought that training and collaboration around video would be the first place we’d go. Once we picked a target, we could focus on whether or not that target was any good. Pretty quickly, when we started calling into companies that do lots of video training, and they’re asking for these wild things that don’t make sense for us or the sales cycle is really long or whatever, it was clear that that wasn’t what our target was. I would say, find little targets to focus on and make sure that they’re focused enough so you can know whether or not your tactic is working. For us, we tried training. We tried just medical devices. We tried telecom companies. We went and found these different areas to target. The marketing was probably the fifth one that we found. It was clear very quickly. ‘Wow, we focused enough on the same type of customer. This is a good place to be.’
Andrew: Is it a little bit like dating, in a sense, in that early on you want to go on as many dates as possible and talk to as many people as possible until you find that one right one. Is that what you were doing?
Chris: Totally. To take that analogy further, I would say it’s a little bit like dating, but don’t try a really long distance one, someone who’s thirty years older than you, someone who is of a different sex. You probably try to keep it focused, and say, ‘I’m going to date people in my city and see if it works.’
Andrew: I see. You don’t want to try every single business out there to find your niche. You want to be intelligent about it. Here’s another thing too. If I understand your story right, you weren’t just buying Google ads and see which got you the best conversions. It seems to me that you were talking to people one on one. Am I understanding the story right?
Andrew: So, what’s the value of doing that? It’s clearly less efficient. It doesn’t scale.
Chris: I know. It doesn’t scale. People can tell you things in person that you just can’t find out through conversion testing. Conversion testing can help you optimize something but if your entire message on your landing page is wrong, it’s never going to convert. I found that we would learn faster. The other thing is by being upfront and honest to people as we went through trying to figure out how to use, like where the right fit was, people wanted to help.
People would try to point us — we talked to a trainer and they would get really excited because we talked to them in person. Then he would say, “Hey, talk to my five buddies.” We’d go talk to his buddies and none of them would convert and we’re like, oh. Maybe with an intro from this other guy who likes us and it’s not working, maybe this isn’t as good as we thought it was.
Andrew: Right. Even with an intro, if personal trainers are saying no to you then it means it’s probably not the right market. Or it’s less desirable. Do you remember what it was about marketers that made you say, “Oh yeah, Wistia and marketers that’s a nice marriage.”
Chris: Yep. It was our Analytics. Because we had this other focus on trying to figure out essentially the engagement of the video, so how are people watching throughout and where are you losing them and where is your story getting screwed up. That’s what online video is for, for marketers is a way to scale that communication. For them it really resonated quickly. I didn’t expect that because we made the initial Analytics for training because we thought that people, people had told us that they wanted to do compliance training so they could see if specific employees watch things. Then we aggregate it and suddenly we had this thing that was completely different and completely valuable.
Andrew: I see. All right. So, picture a person in the audience wants to sell to businesses, you’ve told them how they can find the right niche to focus on, they’ve done that, now it’s time to find more people in that niche’. How do you do it? You say the next tactic is to find where you’re customers spend their time.
Chris: Yep. So this is actually really good advice, it’s from our first customer. Our first customer was named Ron. Well, there was three people there and one of them now works here at Wistia, but I remember Ron vividly saying, “You have to figure out where you’re customers spend their time and you have to figure out what books they’re reading, what magazines they’re reading, what blogs they’re checking out, what movies they go to. You have to build a profile of your customer because only then can you go to where they are.”
So I said well, these are all the things that we’re thinking about, we’re thinking about writing blog posts. We’re thinking about Hacker News. We’re thinking about — well actually I think it was (?) at the time — like all these things. He’s like, “I’ve never heard of any of those things.” I was like, “What do you read?” He’s like, “I read industry stuff. I read major newspapers. I go on the “T” which is the metro system in Boston.” I was like okay. That for us helped us realize that we were focused completely in the wrong area of where to speak to people like him. As we found different targets, we changed our approach every time of how we were trying to get to those people.
Andrew: I see. So, as I get new customers I should spend time with some of them and say, what are you reading? What websites are you on? What do you subscribe too? Where are you spending your time hanging out in person? What conferences are you going to and figure that out. All right. Do you remember one place that you did find a lot of your customers? One specific place? I know you said, according to notes here, Boston Globe is what he reads not Hacker News for example.
Chris: Yeah. One specific place, that is a good question. There were definitely lots of pockets of people in certain areas. We found that we could go to, eventually to a specific marketing blog and I can’t say all of them but we’d go to specific blogs and build relationships with them and write guest posts for them and that would bring influxes of people to us but it wouldn’t — that wasn’t one place that had all the customers. It was one type of place that was a consistent way for us to move around.
Actually, I think another addendum to this point is probably like be the place where your customers want to spend time. Give them the content, give them in the information that they want to watch or that they want to learn about or they want to read about so that they can spend their time learning with you. I think that’s particularly helpful if you’re dealing with something that’s new and isn’t as well defined. If you’re selling to coaches of college sports teams, it’s pretty easy to find them. There are a limited number of conferences where they go. Walk through and sell everybody. For us it was not like that.
Andrew: I think our friend, Rand from SEOMA is really good at that. His site is where people who care about SEO go to. Of course, if they need the software, he’s got it to sell them.
Chris: It’s an amazing thing.
Andrew: What’s the next tactic? What else do we do now that we’ve found those pockets where our people are?
Chris: I would say really looking at complementary products and looking at your competition. Trying to understand what are the other products that your potential customers are buying? If you think you know the right target, if you think you have an idea where they are, you have to figure out how much value do you drive relative to everything else that they use. An example I can give is I remember really vividly the first time we started to pay for Constant Contact. Constant Contact is a marketing application. We don’t use it anymore, but that was the first thing we used. We had 100 people on our list. I remember thinking that Constant Contact was so expensive. I can’t believe how expensive it is. Why would I ever need to pay to send an email, is what I thought.
Then, at some point, when I became the target customer, I realized, ‘Wow. I want to know what the open rate is of these emails. I want to know who’s clicking through so I can call them up. I want to know who the individuals are and how the aggregate’s doing. This is really valuable to me.’ The epiphany was, ‘Holy shit. Wistia could be like that for video. We could give people the play rates and engagement rates and all this other stuff, so we probably should have Wistia aligned with Constant Contact pricing more than anything else.’ If you have 5,000 people on your Constant Contact list, and that costs $100 a month, I have no idea is because I don’t use it anymore. MailChimp AWeber, Campaign Monitor, any of those things, how big should the audience be with Wistia, because we don’t want our value to be completely out of line with the value that someone’s getting from another product.
A perfect example is that if you’re trying to sell to sales people, you should probably not charge $10,000 a month for a sales person, because the sales force is between $10 and $200 a month. People live in that. Someone’s going to look at your product and think it’s way too expensive. If you charge $1, then it’s way to cheap. You have to position against the complementary product. It’s a lot easier to figure out what your price should be.
Andrew: I remember Noah from Clicky, the analytics company, said that he did the same thing. He found out what those complimentary products were and then he tried to get partnerships with them. Since is Clicky is analytics, he said, ‘Well, who needs analytics? People who have websites. Who has a lot of websites? The guys over at Webs, so he partnered up with them, I think, to create a white label version of Clicky. I think that was the company. Do you guys do any of that? Any ad buys or partnerships with these people who are . . .
Chris: Sometimes, yes. We’ve done partnerships with people. We’ve done ad buys. For us, more than anything, we build relationships. Building relationships with the right companies and knitting the companies’ products together has been very valuable.
Andrew: How do you do that? You’re a guy running an analytics based video publishing platform. You want to get to know the guys at Clicky. You want to get to know the people at Constant Contact. You want to get to know the people at MailChimp. You want to get to know others. Can you just cold call them? Do you reach out to all of them and say, ‘Hey, just we happen to be in the same space, we should get to know each other?’ or do you need to have a specific goal for meeting them? How do you get the connections?
Chris: The first thing I’ll say is that I have not done a ton of these. What I found is that sometimes cold calling works. It’s pretty tough though. You have to really sell a strong vision. The reality is that if you’re a much smaller player, you’re going to have to really get people’s attention. What I found to be better is trying to figure out how can we drive value for their customers. What can we do on our side, that doesn’t even require them to do a thing, that will give their customers more value.
Then, when you reach out and say, ‘Hey, we have this thing that should make your product more valuable.’ Most people are like, ‘Oh my gosh. You think our product’s valuable? That’s great. You’ve done something to make it more valuable and we don’t have to do anything?’ That’s like a gift. In one sense it is. In another sense it’s just better for all the customers involved. I would say pick your battles carefully. Find things where you can actually add more value. If you can do that without having an existing relationship, and it’s something that can stand on its own, then that’s a pretty amazing win [??].
Andrew: I know, for example, that you’ve done that with Mail Chimp, because every time I grab the embed code to play a Wistia video on my site. I see a tab that also lets me integrate with MailChimp and send out, right?
Chris: Yes, and we did that with all the other major ESP’s, so you can grab an embed code for MailChimp, for Campaign Monitor, and for all those guys. That’s been really good. It’s one of those funny things. Not a lot of people asked for it, and then once we did it was used a top[SP]. It’s pretty cool.
Andrew: I see. The guys from Snap On Gauge[SP], Gerome[SP], he told me what they did was, they integrated with as many different partners as possible, just so they could get on those ‘integrate with us’ lists on those sites, and he got a lot of customers that way. So, they integrate with Highrise, that means that Highrise sends them a bunch of customers. That’s one thing that they did well. So, we see that in play at Wistia, we see it at play in other places. What’s next?
Chris: Really, I would say using analytics as much as possible to know when you’re selling – what’s working and what isn’t. So many businesses on line, a big part is marketing, getting people to pay attention, learning about you, and running the ball across the finish line and actually calling people up and sending them emails and all that stuff. An example from us is I remember when we actually launched the analytics. We made a video. I made Screencast to launch it. It was about a minute and a half long to 60 different people in the press. I launched the analytics, but I wanted to give them context so I was like, ‘Well, you can do all this magical stuff with Wistia. And, introducing analytics, they’re the best.’
When we looked at our data, we found that only 20% of people watched the part of the video that included analytics. It was a wake up call, that while we thought we had done this great job of getting this out, people did click play. They opened the email. They clicked the link. They clicked play. But, we lost them because we weren’t punchy enough. We didn’t get to the point. So, I sent individual emails back to the people who I knew had not seen that, explaining it. A bunch of people wrote stuff about us. That was huge at the time because they wrote stuff about us. That drove traffic. That drove trials. People signed up for the product. It was a pretty amazing way to go through and close deals.
Andrew: I should do that more with Wistia. I know I use Wistia for videos that sell to the premium membership on Mixergy. I forget to go back into the analytics and see. In the video explanation of what premium is, what are people stopping to look at, and maybe rewinding? What are they ignoring and fast forwarding through? Where do they drop off completely? Then based on that, I should either explain that feature better or I should just stop explaining because nobody cares about it. Maybe even drop the feature in general.
Chris: I’ve seen many times, people have videos that are two minutes, but they’ve sold everybody by 30 seconds. You’re just giving them a chance not to go to the next page and sign up. So, cut that minute and a half off. Done. I think all that stuff is super valuable.
Andrew: For web pages, as opposed to video, if you want to look at the analytics of a page that you’re sending out to media or that you’re sending out to clients, what’s good software for that? Is it Crazy Egg? Is that the best one to look at to see where people are spending the most time?
Chris: We have a used a lot here. We have used Crazy Egg in the past. We have used Performable, KISSmetrics, Google Analytics, Clicky. I find that there are often very interesting things we learn that are different about all of those things. I would say Google Analytics is a good start. Making custom segments in Google Analytics gets you a really long way. I didn’t appreciate how powerful that was. You can say, I want a segment of only people who touch these certain product pages, and I want to see how they interact. That’s the kind of thing that you probably already have the data, and you have no idea that you’re not pulling it out.
For real time stuff, Clicky is great, because you can see the spy of everybody who’s on your site. You can even tag people. If you see someone who’s on your site and they have 20 views, we’ll bounce on and chat with somebody on Olark or we’ll send them an email if we know who they are. Essentially just grab those super engaged people by looking at who’s on the site on spy. So, I would say all of those things are good. I love analytics.
Andrew: I want to spend a little more time on Analytics then because you are so good at it. So what you will do, one of the things that stinks about B-to-B is that you don’t have high numbers. That you’re not looking at your website everyday and going, wow we now have 30,000 people that are hitting our home page. How do we convert those 30,000 better. It doesn’t often happen. You end up with dozens at first and hundreds later on and that’s a lot of people who are coming to your site.
So what you do is, since you don’t have that many people on the site, you can watch them individually on Clicky and if you see someone hit a certain page and then spend a certain amount of time on your site, where you personally are spotting that this person is really digging in, you’ll pop up a live chat box from OLARC and you’ll say, “Can I help you with something?” You’ll just interact with them?
Chris: Yeah. We’ll do that. I mean we’ll also use (?) animation stuff. So we’ve used HUB Spot and Pardot.
Andrew: Tell me about Olark for a moment and I’m going to write a note here about Hub Spot and find out how you’re using them.
Chris: Yeah. So . . .
Andrew: Are you trying to close the deal with Olark?
Chris: The thing that I found, so with Olark we do a bunch of different things. We have an Olark on the website. We have an Olark in trials and then Olark for customers. So we use it for support. We use it for trial management. We use it for onsite traffic. We’ve broken those into different buckets so that we can monitor the types of questions that come up in each area. Sometimes that means reaching out to someone directly because they’re a particularly hot person, but often it means, actually where we get a lot of value is just understanding what the needs are, at people at each different stage.
There’s all this stuff that people are never going to tell you. They come to your site and like, oh I hate that graphic or I don’t get that you guys do video hosting, which is something we used to hear, which was crazy for us but we did hear that. That’s not the kind of thing that we could ever see through conversion traffic. We’d have to have the idea, oh let’s test something that says, we do video hosting and then, you know what I’m saying?
Chris: Then (?) would ask us in Olark do you guys also host the video? Do you guys also do this stuff? Especially like the biggest questions that don’t have a place for people to go and they often won’t even leave feedback because it’s like, what’s the point? Like, I have a question about this, it’s like if they can’t explain it to me I might as well bounce. That’s actually where we’ve seen an enormous amount of value out of Olark.
Then the same thing by segmenting the different groups you can see what issues are coming up with customers that are consistent issues that we can fix. What issues are coming up with trailers, what’s confusing about the products when you’re trialing it and what’s confusing on the website. I would say those things are really powerful and then of course if we see someone we know is like particularly engaged, we’ll reach out to them directly.
Andrew: How do you know who they are?
Chris: Most of the time you don’t. You can get an idea. With Clicky you can see the IP address and network name and you can also tag people. If you someone and you talk to them you can be like, oh that’s Andrew and then when you’re looking at your sites, it’s like Andrew is on the site. If you got religious about it, which we’re not, I mean we used to be religious about it but we’re not really anymore, but you can have lots of people tagged. You can tag all your trials. You can see what every trial is on the website if you want.
Andrew: So you have your system. When someone tries the software they give you their name. You then tag them with their name so that every time they’re on the site in the future you can say, that’s Andrew, the guy who registered anyways, Andrew interacting with my software he hasn’t bought yet maybe I can chat and find out why?
Andrew: I didn’t know you could do that.
Chris: That’s something we used to do a ton of because we had to. We had to know what wasn’t working and what is. As our volume has gone up, we don’t do that as much and we rely more on other tools, but that’s an incredibly valuable thing to and if you’re numbers are low, it’s easy to do and it’s easy to see when people are on there. It also helps you build intuition about what pages work, which ones don’t, which flows work. All that stuff that’s really hard to see and you definitely can’t get statistical significance with A-B testing because you’re numbers aren’t there.
Andrew: That’s amazing. I’ve used Clicky forever. I’ve interviewed the founder. I’ve heard people including Gary Vaynerchuk rave about the spy feature and I just didn’t understand why would I care about the spy feature and if it’s just a bunch of numbers, IP numbers on your screen there is no reason to care about it, but if you tag them now I get the reason. All right, especially if you’re B-B and you’re trying to close each sale and each sale is much more valuable than it is in the business-to-consumer world when it’s in the business-to-business world. What about Hub Spot? How do you use them?
Chris: So, we don’t really use them. We used to use Performable, which is a company that they bought like a year ago . . .
Andrew: They do landing page conversions at Pro Forma.
Chris: Yeah, landing page and they do Life Cycle Analytics, like how are people performing in Life Cycle.
Chris: So right now we’ve been playing around with a tool called Par Doc which does a very similar thing and essentially lets us build profiles of people on site so we can see ‘oh, you’ve touched this many pages. Fire off an alert to us,’ or essentially the trends that we used to get by looking at the individuals, we’re trying to get that across a larger audience so that we can understand that certain pages are more important than others and certain funnels are better than others, and we’ve actually used KISSmetrics as well for us in the past. They’re all kind of different sizes at the same point and I found value out of all of them and honestly, we tried their products to see how much we could learn from that and [?] around.
Andrew: All right, let’s go on to the next big tactic. What’s the next big idea?
Chris: The next big thing is try to figure out how much time and money you’re saving your customer. For us, this is a very hard task at first because most of our customers have never paid for video distribution before, or ever really thought about paying for it. Most of them had used some of their free products before but sometimes that free product is like a home-brewed thing, and so we struggled for a long time to figure out exactly – people are going to come to [?] and say ‘OK, I have 3 videos. The R.O. [SP] on this video is, I have 4 hours of time that I didn’t spend talking and that means that I can save this much time, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah.’
As much as I would love for people to do that, it didn’t happen, but I do remember very vividly, one story in particular actually was my friend Christopher from Perform Ball [SP], which is now Hostbot, and they were a Wistia customer and they had been a Wistia customer for like 3 months, and we’ve changed our pricing for contacts [?] 35 times since the inception of the business and always trying to figure out how to price it to get the value right for people, and to create as little friction as possible for people signing up, so someone else had bought Wistia already, like Christopher was using it, and he said to me ‘you know, I used to get called to go into these sales demos like every day, 2 or 3 hours a day, and it was destroying me.
I couldn’t work on the product, so I made video walk-throughs of the product and I put them on Wistia and then the sales guys wouldn’t [?] on the video. They would send the videos out before the call,’ and ‘I don’t have to get on the phone now, and those guys are closing stuff and I can see what parts of the demos, like we’re working, which parts work.’ So it’s like he gets to make a superhuman version of himself to automate away all this time and I heard that kind of thing from other people before but when we heard that from him in that way, it was definitely ‘wow, this is about the way that we’re saving people time and money is by automating themselves and giving them the chance to be the best version of themselves, like on their website.’
While there isn’t a very easy mathematical calculation to do for that, it was enough that people now get it. So we can say ‘yeah, video marketing is all about automating and scaling communications.’ I’m like ‘you’re right, it is.’ You’re like ‘oh, well,’ and now you can see how things are performing and what’s working and what isn’t so you can make your message perfect, like on point to exactly what your audience wants.
Andrew: Why is that so important in business? Why is that one of the big ideas here that we’re figuring out how much money we’re saving people?
Chris: It’s a big idea because nobody’s got enough money and nobody’s got enough time. If you can give people time or money, you win.
Andrew: So for businesses, can you save them time, excuse me, can you save them money or make them money, or save them time?
Chris: Most people think about using us, the more people that they tell their story to, the more money they’re going to make because they’re telling their best story to them, and we’re saving them time because they’re not on the phone, they’re not in person, they’re not doing a presentation at a conference, whatever, and doing both of those things.
Andrew: I see, so if I’m selling Mixergy, for example, I should keep thinking ‘how much time is the premium membership saving people? Are they having to hunt down the key ideas, are they having to go figure things out for themselves?
Chris: Exactly. You’ve done the value, doing tons of hard interviews with amazing mentors, with amazing leaders. I put them all in one spot. So you’re saving people time from looking for other things. You’re putting it in a particular order of learning, which is also helpful for them, because they don’t have to figure out which way to look for things. And you’ve sorted it, which is also helpful, and it’s a resource that you can come back to. “If I can learn something from Mixergy that’s going to help my business, it’s crazy not to sign up because there’s so much stuff to learn.”
Andrew: And you’ve got to quantify it. How have you quantified it, or have you been able to quantify it yet for people?
Chris: I think for some people, yes, and for a lot of people we haven’t. The big message that I found was: If you could have two thousand people come through your office today, and you could tell exactly why Mixer G Premium is amazing in two minutes, and you knew it was going to be perfect, would you spend eighty bucks to do that? Of course you would. And so that’s the closest analogy I can give you. You can see that people are accepting your message the real way.
There are other things that people do that are closer to other forms of value that they get. Lots of people use us for video SEO, and they can see the traffic they’re driving with video SEO and they can see how the traffic converts and that turns into deals. Or they can see that they put a video in an email and it improves the click-though, or they can see it improves the conversion on their site. But in general, I still think it’s about knowing that you’re telling an amazing story and knowing that people have seen it. Or figuring out how to tell your amazing story is often much more valuable.
You can have twenty people watch a video, learn the right way to pitch your product, and now run around telling everybody. And if you have the right way to pitch your product, and your company is thriving, how much was that worth? I’m not going to give you a hard number, and you won’t have one either. It’s somewhere above the value that you’d pay for it, hopefully.
Andrew: I wish every business were as easy to do that in as, say Visual Website Optimizer, who’s founder I interviewed recently, where, at the end of an AB test on Visual Website Optimizer, if you’ve tagged your pages right, he’ll tell you how much money he’s made you based on picking the right variant. It’s not always that easy. But we should, though, always strive to show our customers in business how much money we’re making them, how much money we’re saving them, and how much time that we’ve gotten them.
Chris: If you can show them exactly how much money they’re making, show them. That’s great. That is welcome to the rocket ship. But I think that for most people, it’s pretty hard to show the exact ROI of anything. And it’s just about getting the closest analogies, the best way to describe your product or service, that makes it clear to somebody else. “Oh yeah, I guess you’re right. If I watch Mixer G Premium, I get to market a month faster. Or I find one other product that helps me not have to hire a designer.” How much is that worth? It’s worth a ton.
Andrew: It’s so different from business- to consumer-based businesses. Facebook isn’t sitting there saying, “How can we save our users more money?” Maybe now as they’re getting to business customers they’re starting to think of that in the business space. But when they’re marketing to consumers, they don’t have to think about how much money we’re making our users, or how much time are we saving them. In fact, if we waste more of their time, it means we have an even better product in the business to consumer space.
Chris: The funny thing is, of course, if you can get just good at describing the thing, which is not the exact ROI, but the analogy of ROI ,if you will, to somebody, businesses pay for that.
Andrew: “It’s as if you had another salesperson on staff.” That’s what you mean. Create the analogy that puts that money in their mind, the value in their mind.
Chris: That’s what businesses do. They pay to save time, and they pay to make money. So if you can give them and ROI where they’re saving time or making money, you can sell a ton. That’s the amazing part about it. You don’t even have to say I’m going to make you $500 for every day you use my product. You can just say, this is to replace a salesperson or this is to make your salesperson more efficient or you’ll double the efficiency of your salesperson. “Wait, double the efficiency of my salesperson? That’s going to double my sales. Of course I’ll pay $500 a month for that.” But if you just say this is a bland, shitty CRM, that sucks, and it’s harder to sell.
Andrew: We have so many more to get through. Because you and I have been friends for so long, I was especially eager to get as much meat into this interview as possible so the audience doesn’t think, “Andrew’s just chatting with his friend and posting it online. I wanted them to know that Andrew’s going to deliver value. Andrew’s going to make sure that this is the useful business to business how-to seminar possible. This is not like an interview. This is not like Barbara Walters sitting around and asking you how you’re so wonderful. I want to know how my audience can be so wonderful. It’s the exact opposite. What’s the next big idea?
Chris: I would say start selling when the product’s been finished.
Andrew: Even when you’re selling to businesses, you want to sell an unfinished product? Don’t you want to look polished? Don’t you want to look like you can solve all their business needs and never make a mistake?
Chris: Of course, in a perfect world. You want polish. You want a flawless experience. You want all that stuff. The reality is you can sell your product when it’s unfinished to the right customers. Those customers are the people who take bets on early products. They want to get an advantage over their competition or they just believe in the concept of what you’re doing. You can get people to sign up to things. It’s shocking what we had when we had our first . . .
Andrew: What did you have when you started selling? Eric Ries of the Learn Startup movement told me this was true. I think he said, ‘Most businesses think it’s not true.’ They always think it’s not true of themselves. that they’re the special case. Not everyone can be a special case.
Chris: If you had asked me when we were doing this if we should do it this way, I would have said, ‘No’. But, we had to make money. We had people who wanted it, and so we sold it. When we first started we had no sign ups. You couldn’t sign yourself up. You could upload a video into a list of videos. You could not embed it. There was no account administration. There was no logo change. There was no play list. There was no analytics. There was no sharing.
Literally, all you could do was invite someone by email to watch a video, and that was it. How did the interface look when we started? It looked like shit. It looked like crap. At time we were [??], an it was amazing at the time. In hindsight, of course, there were so many rough edges that we wanted to fix. The reality was our first customer really needed this product.
Andrew: What did the first customer need that you said yourself was crappy?
Chris: The first customer was a company called [??], a medical device startup. At the time, I think there were 30 employees. Maybe 80 or 90 employees now. They were doing clinical trials around the world, testing their device. They needed a way to share video of this device in action. The video was really important because they could see how to improve the device, how to improve the procedure, essentially the way they were going to iterate on their product was with video. Also, because it was of surgeries, they couldn’t put this stuff on YouTube. They didn’t want to deal with hosting it themselves. They needed it to work around the world. They needed a private way to share this video around the world.
For them this worked well. Even crazier than that is when we first went in and met with them, we didn’t even have the product. They knew that we were the video guys who had done this portfolio thing for artists, but we didn’t really have a product. We just said, ‘What’s your problem?’ They told us the problem, and they said, ‘I think so.’ And they’re like, ‘Alright, we’ll pay you to build this thing.’ We were like, ‘How about instead of you paying us to build it, you just pay us a fee to use it, month by month?’ They were like, ‘Are you serious? It’s going to take you a while to build this thing.’ We’re lie, ‘Nah. Just pay us a monthly fee.’ So we made up a number because we had nothing. We made up $400 a month. They were like, ‘That sounds fair.’ They went for it, and we built a product in a week and a half. It had to be crappy because it was so fast.
Andrew: What did you learn by publishing before the product was finished instead of waiting until it was perfect?
Chris: We learned what things were important that we didn’t realize. These guys, their expertise was not video, but they had to use a lot of video. For us to help them, they got a lot more value than my film maker buddies who thought $10 was expensive. We learned really quickly, in terms of refining our target market, dear lord, we should be focusing on this market because they have a lot of money and they need us. Too, I think how much value can be delivered with something so simple. We’d spent the first year making all that crazy stuff. We made that job board. We made really bizarre ways to manage media. We made our own scrolling bars. We made everything. Here we were with this really simple thing, and these guys were like, this is . . . $400 a month is a great price for this.
They were so enamored that when we raised our first angel round, the CEO was one of the first people to line up like, I’m putting up this capital.
Chris: So, it was pretty cool.
Andrew: Wow. Smart people can get themselves into a lot of trouble because you’re capable of building so much, You’re building scroll bars and changing the drop down menu system. It’s good to discover that we don’t really need that, the ones that pay don’t need something so elaborate.
Chris: That’s the thing. It’s just like, if you can make the simple thing that is easy to sell or just easy to use or easy to get value from it for the right person, you’re on the right track. We didn’t need credit card payments. We didn’t need overages. We didn’t need any of that stuff which I think if we started today and the market was more mature, we’d look at it and go, man, we could probably nail that stuff. So, I think it depends a little bit on the market, but absolutely your right customers will pay when the product is finished.
Andrew: All right. What’s next?
Chris: So, really gaining credibility by acting your size, I think, is really important. When I say that, I mean like, if you’re small admit that you’re small. So, to go back to the (?) example, they knew exactly how they grew up. There were two of us sitting in a room with three people from that 30 person company. They knew what they were getting into. They knew the risks that they were taking, and they were willing to take them because the problem we were solving was important enough.
Now, we didn’t really listen to that. I didn’t understand this at the time, and when Brendan and I were building our website and then later when we had four people on the website. We’d raised an angel round. It was Brendan and I, and Ben and Adam who did the engineering. Of course, we put on the site a management team, and we put four people as the management team to imply we were a bigger company. And we tried to make our text on the site make us seem like we were just this huge business that dealt with lots of other businesses and we should be trusted.
The thing that we didn’t realize at the time was that people can just see right through that stuff. As much as you think you look big by acting big, you look small by acting big if you’re not big. Actually, just being honest with how big the company is and what people are getting into is really good.
An example now is the company today, we’re still small. We’re 12 full-time employees. Over the last year we’ve gone from five people to 12. That’s great. It’s really, really awesome for us. But you can see on the website when you talk to us, you know that we’re a small company. People will call up, and we strive, for example, to have amazing customer support. We work really, really hard on that.
People will call up and be like, I know you’re a small company. That’s OK. Thanks so much for getting back to me and so forth. When we pretended to be the big company, they’d be like, why haven’t you gotten back to me yet? Oh my God. Just people complaining about all this stuff, and we would be swamped. And it would be like the best time ever for the business, like oh my God, we closed so many deals. But we were getting berated and people were super mad at us because we were pretending to be big. The second we acted our size, we got a ton of respect. So, if I could do it over, I would have stuck with our original unintended strategy which was just being honest with how big we were and that the right people are really adopters and want to take the bet on you. And they know they’re going to get a good deal on the other stuff we do.
Andrew: All right. You also say that in order to get customers, you need to do crazy things, like what?
Chris: Yeah. So, we had three customers, I think. It was a month and a half after we switched to Wistia from the Portfolio website, and we amazingly had gotten an intro to HBO. This talent agent had heard about us and talked on the phone, I’ve got all these ins. You’ve got to come to HBO. I’ve got a huge deal for you. We said OK.
And then, he said, “All right. I’m meeting with HBO tomorrow.” This was on Monday. It’s actually my birthday. It was my birthday in 2007, and he said we’re going to meet with HBO tomorrow. Brendan and I, at this point, were living in a ten person house, living on $15 a week for food per person because we were sharing with ten people, like commune style. And we were the only people home for lunch. We decided that even though it was the next day and even though we had like little money it was too important to pass up going (?) with HBO.
And so we bought flights for that night and we got on flights and we flew to LA, and barged into the meeting with HBO. Because we felt we had to be there. And we got there and the HBO guy is like, ‘Oh, hi, nice to meet you. Have you seen (?). It’s really cool.’ And he had all these type of comments, all this stuff. And we’re like, ‘Yeah, we actually built that.’ He’s like, ‘What.’ And that was an enormous amount of the money that we had saved. It cut our time to live down pretty dramatically.
But it was the kind of thing that made an enormous difference for us. And even in that case, we didn’t end up getting the HBO deal and we ended up kind of backing away from it, because it wasn’t the right fit for a number of reasons. But when other people saw that we had flown to go see HBO, they were willing to take us seriously. Because HBO . . .
Andrew: It seems we lost the connection.
Andrew: Because you said, ‘They saw that we flew to HBO, and even . . . ‘ And then I lost you, because the connection.
Chris: So people knew that we had ongoing relationship that we were trying to build with HBO. But even though we didn’t close the deal, it gave us an enormous amount of credibility that got other customers to sign on.
Andrew: Just saying you were in the room with HBO.
Chris: Yeah. I worked with head of production in HBO, and there’s Donald Lobe [SP] from the (?) walking around, and the frosted glass offices, and all that crap. And this was a month and a half after we switched to (?). Which was insane, and it was a huge amount of the money we had in the bank. But it was crazy. I would do it again in a heartbeat and it was (?).
Andrew: We have two other tactics that you’re going to be teaching people. But I think it’s important at this point to talk about how long this took. Because these tactics all seem so easy, and they are, they make sense, and they’ve helped you. And I can see people in the audience going out and using some of them and not getting results quickly. And saying, ‘Maybe Chris either didn’t tell us the truth or he missed the secret extra tactic that really did it for him’ or something else. But the real secret tactic here, that we’re not going to go into detail on, is patience and time. How long have you been running what a lot of people call a start-up at Wistia? How long have you been running Wistia?
Chris: It’s been over five years.
Andrew: Five years.
Andrew: And, by the way, over five years, many of those days living on $15 of food, many of those days trying to figure out whether the whole thing is going to work out, changes and pivots and doubts. How long from the day you launched to the day you got the hundred customers that you talked about at the top of the interview? Roughly.
Chris: I would say a year and a half, two years.
Andrew: A year and a half, two years, in order to get there.
Chris: I think so. Yeah. Probably a year and a half.
Andrew: OK. You applied for Y Combinator. Can we talk about the results of what happened there?
Chris: Yeah. We did not get in [laughs]. And it was really early. I think it was the year after Reddick [SP]. Because I had met the Reddick guys, I had met Alexis and he was trying to help us get in and stuff. And actually, it was right before we made the transition to Wistia. So we had this video encoding, transcoding idea, we had the portfolio website for artists, and then we had the kind of application level thing that we were doing for a medical device company. And we tried to include all those three things within our occupation. And it’s funny. I think if someone gave me that application today, I would say, don’t let them in. Because we weren’t focused enough and we weren’t ready. And also my co-founder Brendan is really technical and I’m somewhat technical but I’m not a developer. So we were just not the right fit, I don’t think. So it’s been a long road, but it’s been a really, really fun road.
Andrew: Andrea, in her notes to me, said that you were picked by Business Week to be top 25 entrepreneur under 25. Is that right?
Andrew: So that’s a high. Talk about the low, when you were rejected from Y Combinator and they didn’t want to fund you. What’s one of the big lows? There are certainly a lot of highs. You even included here a chart of your traffic, even though you’re not a website that depends on traffic. You want your users to use your software. So you’re showing me how even your traffic has increased over the last year. You and I privately talked about how business has increased at Wistia over the last year with more and more customers. But show a little bit of the vulnerable low, if you don’t mind.
Chris: Sure. So yeah. The (inaudible) but honestly, didn’t understand how big a deal it was back then because there had only been (inaudible). That was OK. One of the biggest [blows], by far, was we raised an angel round almost two years to the day from when we started. A little under that. Brendan and I hustled really hard to get this deal together. We brought the money and we got it in the bank. We brought on two more awesome people and we got an office. We’d made projections with help from investors and other people and our projections had us being cash flow positive in four months.
Andrew: In four months?
Chris: Yes. We actually had just gotten, I would say now, a false positive of [Salt Line] Enterprise businesses that would pay us up front for the year. We had just sold like three of those in a row. It was like wow, we are just going to sell these. This is going to be so easy. We did not close a single sale for like four months, I would say, right after we closed the round. Literally we closed two deals right before the round closed. Closed the round. Nothing.
That was devastating. Yeah. That was devastating. That was just like this is the worst thing that could have possibly happened, essentially. At the time we had enough customers to barely sustain Brendan and I in our meek apartment. Now we had taken on all this risk, we’d raised all this money, and gotten all these new people involved. Now we couldn’t do shit. I was cold calling every day with Adam. He and I would cold call in the morning and then we’d do our California cold calls in the afternoon. Getting nowhere. That was a serious blow.
Andrew: Why did you keep going then?
Chris: I don’t know. I felt a responsibility to everyone around me. I felt a responsibility to myself. I felt like we had done something and it would be crazy to stop. There was a shred of evidence that things could work. I remember vividly, I’ve said vividly probably like six times so far.
Andrew: I didn’t notice.
Chris: Yeah, I remember giving a proposal to a customer in July. It was like what’s the price? We said $50,000. We needed that money bad. They were like OK and then they never spoke to us again. We had been talking to them and up to that point it seemed like Wistia’s the perfect thing for them. Then it’s like OK, this is not going to work.
Actually, what turned things around was we started to do a little bit of advertising on ad boards. Just playing around with things. We still continued to go to these start-up meetings. Essentially just commiserating with other people who were not doing well. This is in the summer of 2008, this is right before the big financial crash when all that stuff was happening. In August, I believe, is when it really got really bad. We were (inaudible) closing our deals and August is getting really bad.
We’re going to these meet-ups and people started to talk to us about being interested in what we were doing but at about a tenth of the price that we were putting out there. At the time we were trying to get people to pay $800 a month. Where we ended up four months later, and what allowed us to start closing deals, was bringing that price down to $80 a month. I remember in October of that year, two months after this, Cirque de Soleil signed up as a customer.
They came to us through an ad board for something that we thought was how we should describe ourselves. They loved it but they were not paying us a ton of money. That’s when we realized that we had to kind of change just the focus of even the pricing and packaging, that kind of thing. We had to focus on that and dug our way out of that low.
Andrew: Because of those conversations with people, who, as you said, you were commiserating with for much of the time, you went from $800 a month to $8 a month?
Chris: No, to $80.
Andrew: OK, to $80 a month. You really did take it down to a tenth because that was the feedback you were getting.
Chris: Yeah, we also at the time were charging for users. Because it was private sharing. It was unlimited viewing for 50 people. We didn’t have bandwidth or anything else in the mix. Now if you went and looked at those people using it, the people who paid $800 I’m sorry. I feel bad because of the deal that we got but it helped sustain us and was the right thing to do. It was just so funny because for us it was like we took this departure going enterprise, hit this horrible low, clawed our way out of it by reducing our price, changing our focus for what we were going after, figuring out how to target users, all that. That’s when I really started to learn all these things, and then everything just grew.
Andrew: All right. Next big idea you say, “Remove all friction from process of using the product.”
Andrew: How do you do that and why?
Chris: So the reason to do it is that, if people can’t figure things out, they often assume that your product sucks or that it doesn’t have the [???]. So that’s why you do this. We were introducing a new version of Wistia , a new version of the user interface. And we were real excited about it. It looked really amazing. I remember, at the time, we still do this, we go around to our friends, and ask them to do certain tasks with the product, so we could watch them and say, “Can you invite someone to this? Can you embed a video?” And I remember once showing my girlfriend, and she had seen Wistia many times and obviously was a fan of Wistia. And I asked, “Hey, can you upload a video?”
And she started a trial, which we had at that point, and she looked in the account and she said, “Well, I don’t see an upload button.” And I said, “Ok. Well, you need to create a project, because all videos go in projects.” And she asked, “Well, how do I create a project?” And I say, “It’s under this menu. Click the side.” So I go and I show her, drop the menu down and she goes in there. And then, again, she says, “I don’t see an upload button.” And, of course, we’d hidden the upload button in the menu. We got lots of similar feedback from people with similar issues like that.
We had to build all of this advanced functionality into Wistia because the project had grown and matured, and we wanted a way to have it grow and mature further. And so we built these drop-down menus as a way to do that. But people were missing that they were drop-down menus. So we did little things like added shadowing, popped them open the first time that you landed to a project, added instructibles saying “upload here” and pointing to that specific area. And the result was, as we went around and showed our friends this product, people went from asking questions to saying, “What’s next?”
And magnified by hundreds of thousands of people trying your product on a monthly basis, that stuff makes an enormous impact, especially in the beginning. I can remember a deal we did not get at the beginning was when we tried to get PBS. We’d given too high of a price, and they thought the product was too hard to use. Now they are our customer, and it just took them three years and it took us three years for us to meet at place where it was easy enough for them to use it, the price was right, and all that other stuff. So I would just say, removing the friction and just a fear of the back button is what drove us, and it has been amazing to really focus on that.
Andrew: You have PBS as a customer?
Andrew: And what do you mean by, “fear of back button?”
Chris: If I try a product, and I don’t think it’s working, or I think it’s crappy, and it’s a waste of my time, I’ll just hit the back button to get out of it.
Andrew: It was Paul Graham here on Mixergy who said your biggest competition is that back button. People are always watching your site with their finger poised on the back button. If it’s not easy enough to understand, if they don’t know what to do next, they’re going to hit the back button and go away.
Andrew: And I remember, actually, the early days of Wistia, where I didn’t understand exactly about projects, and where do I upload. And in time, like you said, I just kept seeing it get easier and easier. The drop-menu was already popped by then. Today if I go on, there’s what looks like hand-drawn instructions that says, “Do this.” And now that I’m a long-term user of Wistia, I understand the purpose of projects. If we do a course and we have multiple videos, I don’t want those all over the place. I want them in one project. If I’m creating a how-to guide for people here internally at Mixergy to do certain things around email or around posting our videos or whatever it is, I want them all contained within a project.
Andrew: So now I get it and I see the product as it evolves. It’s so frustrating though. I don’t even know how to communicate in an interview how frustrating it is to know that it’s all about uploading, and even have your own girlfriend not know how to use the product. There have been times when I’ve gotten feedback like that where I would say, “I hate my life. I hate the world. If I can’t even get this basic thing right, I’m done. Everyone else seems to have it right. And here I am. I can’t even get the basic stuff working.”
Andrew: All right. Final big tactic. What’s that?
Chris: Remove as much risk as possible for your potential customers as they’re trying to figure out whether your product is the right thing. A simple thing as having a free trial versus not. Forcing people to pay, that will remove some risk. But there’s one thing that we did that was amazing for us that was all about [removing rust]. Where we noticed that sometimes people would try Wistia and they would figure out how to upload a video and embed it and then they wouldn’t buy. Or other people would embed one of our sample videos and go put it on their site. See the stats on themselves and then they would buy. We were trying to figure out why can some people do so little in their account and buy an account and other people can do so much and not buy an account?
We found some work flows that at every stage of the process involved another risk that someone is going to have to take. An example is you’re going to sign up for a trial means you’re going to give your email address which means I might spam you. Then you upload your video. Can you delete it? Is it just out onto the public interwebs? Can anyone see this thing? If you embed it am I putting crappy code on your site that’s going to break other things? These are actually pretty big hurdles for lots of people to get over. I like to think of those hurdles as risks.
When we found that there were people who were doing very little but getting a lot of value. We tried to take that work flow and remove as much risk as possible by making a demo on the site. We made a video heat map demo where you can watch a video that directs you to rewind the video, skip ahead, and you actually build your own heat map, video heat map, in real time. A heat map is just an example of how one person watches a video.
The crazy thing was previously you had to start an account, upload a video, embed it, put it on your site, watch it, see the stats of yourself to have this experience. Now you can be a first time visitor to Wistia.com, have never given us an email address, and just instantly do a demo and figure out what it is that we do. The result is that way more people are going to get to that final stage because you removed all the risk.
We recently launched another feature called Super Embeds where you can put videos on a pop over and (inaudible) [actions] and all this other stuff. We did the same thing. We made it a live, interactive demo where you can play around with a Super Embed of one video. The result was huge. Tons of people gravitated to that and customized the video and put it all over the place. If we had made you sign up for an account to do that it never would have happened.
Andrew: All right. I want to do a quick plug here and mention someone in the audience. Then I want to ask you something that I haven’t known how to talk about Wistia because this comes across as sneaky but it’s so powerful that it’s important to tell people.
Let me say a quick thank you to Ryan Arp. He’s taken the Mixergy courses, he’s watched the interviews and he’s internalized them. He actually gave me specifics of what he did with it. For people who wonder what exactly is a Mixergy Premium. You get interviews and courses that do this kind of thing to you.
Ryan Arp watched Eric Reese on Mixergy talk about how to keep things simple and build that product and launch the minimal viable product. He, instead of building a full out product, kind of like the same experience you had, Chris, he just created a simple landing page. He said if I get 100 people to sign up then we’ll build the full out product. Before he listened to Eric Reese it might have seemed weird to do that. But after hearing Eric Reese, and so many other entrepreneurs on Mixergy, say just launch something he was able to do it.
Then he took a course. He took the Lewis House course, I’m looking at his emails here, on how to leverage LinkedIn. He created a LinkedIn group the way that Lewis taught. He got dozens of members in it. Within two days he got 87 leads. Then, I guess, he took the Guest Blogging course and he used that to get a steady guest blogging spot to 30,000 people in this perfect target market.
He sent me an email to say that he was on his way. This is Ryan Arp. You can reach out to him at JRyanArp.com. It’s important for me that everyone knows that these are real people and how to connect with them and ask them questions like is what Andrew saying about you true? You can have that private conversation with Ryan.
More importantly, I want you to see the value of taking Mixergy premium. Of taking those courses. Of actually not just listening to those interviews that are in there, and there’s 100’s of them, but using them. Ryan’s a great example of what happens. He’s getting leads, he’s launching his product, and he’s getting the word out for his product all using what he’s learning from Mixergy Premium. Not from me but from these experts who have done interviews here and done courses and turned on their computer screens and walked him, on their computer screens, step by step through what they need to do. All that’s on Mixergy.com. You’ll see a big premium button. Or go to Mixergy.com/premium.
Chris, here’s the thing. Some of the best features on Wistia feel sneaky to non-customers of Wistia.
Andrew: I don’t even know how to explain them. I wanted to talk about, how do I do this? I’ll use myself. I used Wistia just to get a sense of what it was. Like that, I got a phone call from you. You knew I was on the site. We never talked about this, but you must have known I was on the site. Now that I’ve used Wistia for a while I know how. You saw the video I was looking at. I was living in Argentina. At Regis [SP] in Argentina. You saw Regis in Argentina come through as a viewer and you said now’s the perfect time to talk to Andrew. To me it was like, boy, this guy’s phenomenal. Now I understand it.
How do you explain features like this so that people understand Wistia is not just YouTube in a way that doesn’t come across as sneaky?
Chris: Yeah. Good question. The first thing I would say is that I think it’s really analogous to all of email market. How can you look at what an open rate is of an email? That means you know what percentage of your audience is opening it, loading the images, and who in the audience is loading it. Lots of people will use that as a way to calibrate and figure out how to reach out with, right?
Video is similar, and with us the only way you’re going to really know who somebody is if you have some way of tagging them, which means you have some way to interact with them already and you have existing . . . maybe they’re on your newsletter or they sign up for your trial or whatever it is. But ultimately the thing I love about it is it’s really about helping people make better content and then finding people who are most interested in the content. And better content’s better for everybody.
If I make videos that are more engaging and more informative and more useful on Wistia because I’m learning about what people are interested in, then people are wasting their time less, hopefully, by watching them. And so I think it’s kind of like one of those . . . it’s a little bit analogous to Nielson ratings on TV, but if you can just understand what kinds of episodes work well of a show, or what kind of show is good, and then with us you do that to an extreme level, you can just make better content and you can better engage people.
There are tons of products that do this. It’s just a lot of them are marketing automation tools or website analytics tools that are often a little bit . . . like, marketing automation is all about individuals, right, but just a little bit farther removed. I think the only way you can do that part of [??] individual person is spending the time to do it. If I wasn’t doing that I would be cold calling you or something else, so maybe it’s a little better to get you when you’re interested.
Andrew: It is so freaking powerful. You’re right to say it’s similar to email. I’ve done this big email, I guess I do this on a regular basis, send an email to my full list and if I watched it certain people click a link, what I might do is, I might do one of two things. Here’s something that’s worked really well for me. I’ll email people within hours of them clicking a link to come to my site and say in the headline, you were just on my site. And then I respond. That gets incredible open rates. Incredible interaction. It gets incredible click through rates and buys. And what you’re doing is taking that kind of intelligence and bringing it to online video.
There’s so much that I don’t even know how to talk about it. What you told me about connecting email, and I’m not even sure that I can reveal this because you haven’t launched public, but about using video and email in . . . do you know what I’m talking about?
Andrew: Can you say this? Don’t say anything that you’re going to get in trouble for, right? I can’t edit it out, even though you and I are friends.
Chris: Yeah, no, you can see it on the site, so it’s there. But yeah, you can essentially take a video and generate an embed that’s specific for an email, so for any email service provider. And when you put the embed in there, when people click the link it’s going to pass through who the recipients were that clicked the link and watched the video, so you can see other lists, like who are the people that are watching this interview or another interview or if you want to segment your list into people who care about [??] businesses or consumers or whatever, you could use that as a way to figure that stuff out.
And then on our side, because of the integration we’ll just pull through who they are. You can go to Wistia and see the lists of all the emails that you sent to.
Andrew: It’s so much. I hope people go and check out Wistia.com. I don’t usually do product plugs. I don’t want people to go check out every single product, but there’s so much that we can’t really explain here that I think if you’re a marketer online you’re really going to appreciate and start to see a vision for how to use it.
And also thank you for spending, what was it, an hour or so with Jeremy going through and pulling out tactics that were specific to our audience. I get a lot of requests from people for business-to-business sales and business-to-business interviews because it’s not covered much. Everyone seems to want to be the next Twitter. Nobody seems to talk about wanting to be the next Sales Force, and so I really appreciate this interview.
Beyond that, thank you too for being such a supporter of Mixergy. Back when I was in Argentina, back when I was just trying to figure out where Mixergy was going, you saw it, you talked to me about it. You supported me. You helped Mixergy grow. You sponsored me. You sponsored the event that we did at South by Southwest, and helped us get Gary Vaynerchuk and Frank and get Tim Ferriss to come out in person and to put that event together, and I really appreciate you helping me get that going. So I always say this, thank you so much, Chris.
Chris: Yeah. Thank you, man. I love Mixergy. I think it’s been a really valuable resource for us too, so it made perfect sense to give back.
Andrew: I always say this to everyone in the audience and I see people take me up on this. If you get anything valuable out of an interview, even if it’s not on Mixergy, this isn’t me trying to promote Mixergy to you or try to get you to talk about Mixergy, but when you get anything valuable out of another entrepreneur, drop them a note. Send them an email saying thank you.
Just connect with them at an event and say hey, you know what? I saw you on — you don’t even have to say Mixergy — on that website. Thank me for showing me how to do business sales. Thank you for helping me think through my product. When you do that, when you start a connection with that kind of gratitude, the relationship has so much more meaning.
And then later on, maybe a year or two, five years down the road when you need help, when you need to collaborate. To have that relationship start off with you just saying thank you makes for a much warmer connection. So I always risk drowning my guests in email or drowning my guests in people who come to them at conferences, but it’s important for you, the listener, to do this. Anytime say thank you. If you got anything out of this conversation with Chris, I hope you reach out to him and do what I just did. Say Chris of Wistia, thank you for doing this interview.
Chris: Thank you, man. It was awesome.
Andrew: Thank you all for watching.
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