Getting passionate customers without spending heavily on marketing is a theme that comes up a lot in my interviews. I asked Joe, Mixergy’s new editor, to pull these 2 clips from my interview with Jason Fried about how his company, 37signals, does it. (Transcripts below.)
Eventually, we found out that having an audience is a huge benefit to a company.
You know, companies have fans, have customers, but having an audience is like the real secret, I think, to making it, especially today, without having to spend a lot of money on advertising. So it just kind of happened that way.
We realized when we launched BaseCamp, in 2004, we had a few thousand people reading our blog, and it was a great place to launch it. And so in fact, we launched BaseCamp on our web blog. That’s where we posted the first message about it. That’s where we got the word out about it.
From that point on, we realized that that was a great place to announce new things. And we figured out that the more people that were reading it, of course, the better it was going to be for us because we can now reach 100,000 people a day, instead of having to go out and pay to find these people.
These people are coming to us everyday because we have interesting things to say, hopefully often enough for them to keep coming back. So it’s worked out quite well.
Andrew: A lot of people are going to hear that and say ‘great. I know the value of an audience. 100,000 would be ideal. I can’t even get to 1,000 or 5,000 or 10,000.’ Jason, what advice do you have for them? How can they practically get this audience?
Interviewee: Well, first of all, it’s going to take time. So, you can’t get it overnight, and we’ve been doing it for a decade. So, you’ve got to be in it for the long haul. And most important of all, you have to have something to say. Because you can talk, and not have anything to say.
Talking is easy, anyone can talk. Just move your lips and have air come out of your mouth, and you can talk. But you have to have a point of view, and something to say that’s interesting to people. And there’s a lot of things that are interesting, but you just have to have a point of view. I think, that’s one of the most important things.
I think it’s the thing that’s missing in most companies today, which is, a true point of view. And this is the chapter in ‘Rework’ about drawing a line in the sand. What do you stand for? What do you believe? What are you going to stand up for if you’re going to argue something? What is it?
I think you have to have that in order to actually build a healthy audience. Because if you’re just saying stuff that no one really cares about, that’s very generic, and it’s always couch for thumb maybe, and it depends.
That’s not going to build, I think, a really good audience. I think you want to have a really strong point of view. And most writers have a really strong point of view, most successful writers I would say, have a strong point of view. And that’s where I’d go for it.