Leave a comment
Get the GH Bookmarklet

AMAs

Hey Growth Hackers, I’m Dave Shanley, Founder/CEO of Content Camel, a sales enablement and marketing content management tool that helps mid-size companies sell better by leveraging their content more. 

But really, I’m a technical founder that’s navigated his way to understanding growth levers through a series of startups that I founded and exited. I’ve seen seriously rapid growth by starting off as just a guy on his couch to ending up as a public-company exec. 

My passion is for the earliest stage companies finding product market fit. At that stage you’re trying out marketing and sales strategies and channels to see what sticks. I’m happy to answer questions, too, about the growth stages $1MM - 10MM, $10MM - 25MM, and growth $25-50MM. Each phase is different and has its own challenges.

Feel free to ask anything, but just some ideas that we can cover:

- Building strategic marketing and sales plans

- Finding your ideal customer profile / persona

- Building a lasting culture and scaling culture

- Bootstrapping VS raising capital 

- Planning for and completing acquisitions

At GrowthHackers Univeristy, my Growth Content Marketing Course will help you to discover how to unlock the potential of your content marketing from content marketing strategy to content production. Click here to learn more. 

Check out this video: https://share.vidyard.com/watch/Joq1ecTTXQs6LN1jjVLqNX?

I’m really looking forward to talking and sharing what’s worked (and what hasn’t!). Definitely connect with me on LinkedIn.

  • TD

    Tim Donovan Jr

    29 days ago #

    Hi Dave,

    I'm Tim, a recent Columbia MBA and Founder of an outdoor fitness company, ShayrdAir (www.shayrdair.com).

    I'm in the early innings of developing a following for my company and I was wondering if you could recommend a growth marketing reading list?

    Would really appreciate you pointing me in the right direction.

    Best regards,
    Tim

  • AS

    Alexandru Stoica

    28 days ago #

    Hello, Dave. Great to have you here.

    Can you share 2-3 cases without mentioning the name of the companies that you worked for that impressed regarding growth trajectory? (how do they scale quickly/unusual ROI for a specific channel/low CPA)

    Thabks

    • DS

      Dave Shanley

      19 days ago #

      At each company I’ve experienced really different stages of growth from starting with no customers to rolling out entirely new product lines with already tens of millions in revenue.

      A couple of things that did impress me along the way:

      • It’s not about adding entirely new channels once you're rolling -- double, triple down on what’s working until you’ve really mastered it. Our great growth ($2-25M) came from refining what was already working, but doing it a hell of a lot better and at a larger scale.
      • Work directly with the sales team (if you have one) to directly incorporate their insights and spend time with them on their process to make sure converting / closing is maximized. Closing (and retaining) are the final words in sustainable growth.
      • Related to the last point about sales: charge more. You're probably not maximizing the amount of revenue you can generate and changing pricing is your largest lever. It's still so wild to me that so many teams spend so little time on this.
      • Spend more time listening to customers and activating them to generate referrals. Word of mouth is a channel that has the potential to reach everyone.

      Also, we started a strong community at one of my companies, and if you are at the stage where you can put in the effort, then real community building can be a flywheel for audience growth. This is a good guide to keep in mind: http://www.communitybuildingguide.com/

      2 Share
  • AB

    Aaron Baluczynski

    21 days ago #

    Hi Dave, thanks for sharing your knowledge.

    I'm a technical founder at a bootstrapped company trying to grow past our initial few customers, and I'm trying to determine which marketing and/or sales strategies to pursue. Do you have any pointers for selecting the right approach? How long should I commit to a particular strategy (e.g. content marketing) before deciding if it is working or not?

    Thanks

    • DS

      Dave Shanley

      19 days ago #

      First, you’re thinking about it the right way.

      Have you read the Traction book (https://www.amazon.com/Traction-Startup-Achieve-Explosive-Customer/dp/1591848369/)? It’s a good way to frame channel selection. I’d make sure you are testing for conversion first (work backwards from your outcome) to validate a channel. Once you’ve validated that, start investing some money and pay attention to the Cost Per Conversion (eg Customer Acquisition Costs regarding that channel). I cover this in my content course (https://growthuniversity.teachable.com/p/content-marketing-course) as well.

      As an example, rather than writing up the huge ebook or content offer first, then trying to push it to you audience - think about it backwards starting from the conversion event (landing page -> Paid / Display Ad -> audience targeting) and see if you can drive enough conversions to a “coming soon” (for lack of a better word) on the asset. If very few convert, then you have the wrong asset or aren’t effectively targeting the audience you want.

      Testing and validating first will give you the opportunity to dig in to what's wrong with that funnel without wasting a bunch of time and money. The timeframe is going to depend on the strategy (paid = days/weeks, content = weeks/months). As you evaluate strategies, you'll score them and only focus on those that are going to match your needed timeline (ASAP) and your ideal audience.

      Also, you'll probably find that it's not a black and white answer on whether a strategy is working -- you'll get mixed results. Keep in mind the acquisition costs and whether you have a path to getting more efficient to make the numbers work out.

      Make sense?

      1 Share
  • SM

    Suneeta Munjuluri

    20 days ago #

    Hi Dave, when sharing the same blog in different channels, is it required to rephrase it even if the channel accepts content written and published before? And what's the best tool to rephrase content?

    • DS

      Dave Shanley

      19 days ago #

      A lot of folks want to reuse content across channels, and I would not recommend just reposting the same content. I (or someone on my team) usually does a quick re-edit making sure it’s on-point for potentially a different audience (or maybe a different context) and redistribute. Your LinkedIn feed / audience is probably different, than, say a newsletter where you’re paying to insert your content and promoting.

      1 Share
  • DS

    Dave Shanley

    19 days ago #

    Thanks everyone for the thoughtful questions and sharing a bit about what you're working on!

    Don't be a stranger! Feel free to connect with me on LinkedIn https://www.linkedin.com/in/dshanley/.

    Also, if you're looking to get started with content marketing and you're looking for the best content marketing course (at least a really really good one ;) ), I've just put that together for all of you here: https://growthuniversity.teachable.com/p/content-marketing-course. We cover some of the topic mentioned here and everything from persona development, content strategy, content planning and production, to distribution and measurement. If you're scaling your efforts, I think this course will be super valuable as you onboard new team members and review the unoptimized parts of your content process.

    At Content Camel, we're ramping up our own content efforts right now and have some solid templates and posts describing them over at our blog, so check that out: https://contentcamel.io/blog/.

    Best of luck with all of your growth efforts!!

  • TB

    Tuba Bano

    21 days ago #

    Hello, Dave. Hope you are having a great day.

    I'm into writing informative content for my company and I was wondering if you could recommend a few guidelines to follow for posting articles on GrowthHackers.

    Would really appreciate you helping me in the right direction.

    Thanks

    Regards,
    Tuba Bano

    1 Share
    • DS

      Dave Shanley

      19 days ago #

      Hi Tuba!

      Sounds like you’re on the right start -- create compelling, unique content. Make sure it’s a fit for the audience.

      Then, it’s about the hustle of reaching out to the marketers where you want to distribute and hit them up on LinkedIn, social, etc. A lot of teams are always looking for great content - just keep showing up.

      Like any other relationship (with your prospects, buyers, partners), dig in and understand what their needs are and express your offer / pitch in terms of what's in it for them.

      1 Share
  • BH

    Billy Hopkins

    20 days ago #

    Are there any safe facebook extractors for email and phone from FB pages, groups, private groups?

  • SM

    Suneeta Munjuluri

    20 days ago #

    What should be the real important metrics to track for a B2B content strategy?

    • DS

      Dave Shanley

      19 days ago #

      Hi Suneeta - you’re definitely thinking about it the right way. A lot of teams dive in first without focusing on the outcomes and what to measure. When you’re coming up with the metrics, make sure they are balanced -- you don’t want to overindex on one metric or some metrics that aren’t directly supporting your goals/outcomes.

      The classic case of this is driving traffic, but not getting conversions (to offer, trial, etc). Figure out the goals for your funnel and measure everything along that funnel with a focus on the outcome.

      I cover this in my content course https://growthuniversity.teachable.com/p/content-marketing-course.

      Here’s a slide:

      Where both costs (content production + promotion) and outcome (leads, trials, customers) are considered.

      2 Share
  • SJ

    Sunil Joshi

    20 days ago #

    Hello Dave, Is it possible to upload same articles on different platforms like medium, dev.to with canonical tags?

  • ID

    Inez Ding

    20 days ago #

    Hi, Dave. I am co-founder/CEO of Horse-X. Just launched our in IOS store. Can you please tell when is the right time to start a marketing campaign? What strategies to use in the beginning stage of the product release? Thanks

    • DS

      Dave Shanley

      19 days ago #

      Hi Inez.

      The right time to start is right now. Well, it's probably 6-12 months ago, but right now is the best next next option ;)

      You don't have to think strictly in terms of _campaign_. I like to think about building audiences -- who are you going to launch to? They aren't just waiting around to hear from you. Before the product launches or before the next push, can you:
      • brainstorm who your ideal audience is -- those people that will resonate with your product / service and actually convert to paid
      • attract that audience

      You're on the right path if you can find your ideal audience out there in the world and simply just start to get them to convert to something (eg newsletter). Build a list or a following somehow, so with each launch you're able to send that out to a really focused and primed group.

      The way to do this is to offer value. You're going to need to do this anyway and it's probably a reality that your product isn't the (only) way to offer value to you audience. It's never too soon to crack the code on that.

      1 Share
  • JB

    Jen Bayford

    20 days ago #

    What are the best methods to prove hypothetical customer personas?

    • DS

      Dave Shanley

      19 days ago #

      Hi Jen - I love this question, and I cover this in my content course that we just launched.

      I like to focus personas (ideal customer profile) on emotions and triggers that are going to convert vs fluffy extra details. For me, it's about brainstorming frustrations and fears and their wants and aspirations. Then, like customer development in product management, I take those points and interview who I think my ideal audience is. I then go back and re-write the frustration/wants, fears/aspirations in their own language. It's also an opportunity to toss out personas that won't convert because they don't have enough frustrations of fears around what we're tackling.

      I was on a fantastic panel at HeavyBit last year where we talked about this: https://www.heavybit.com/library/blog/building-high-fidelity-personas-and-segmenting-users/

      1 Share
  • GN

    Gustavo Nunes

    20 days ago #

    hey, dave. thank you for being here with us today =)

    1. What metrics do you use to understand why a campaign failed? Especially with we're talking about a content marketing campaign.
    1.1 How do you use those findings to inform your next campaign?
    2. How do you set up your team KPIs? Different teams should have different KPIs? Do you work with some framework, e.g. OKR?
    3. A company that has different products for different audiences, how to develop their ideal buyer persona, and develop a marketing and sales plan that impacts all of them?

    • DS

      Dave Shanley

      19 days ago #

      Happy to be here :)

      Campaigns fail for a variety of reasons. Maybe you had the overall wrong strategy. Maybe it was just execution. An example of the wrong strategy would be going after an audience that isn't going to convert (eg maybe the wrong offer to the right audience or the "right" offer to the wrong audience).

      1. Start with your goals for the campaign -- are we trying to get prospects to convert to trial or are we just building awareness and our list -- and examine the funnel backwards from the conversion event to find the flaws. Recently, I tested paid acquisition to trial using Adwords, but we're competing with a lot of deep-pocketed established enterprise solutions. It "worked" in terms of succeeding at conversions (we got trials), but balancing out our metrics with cost (cost per conversion) -- it didn't make sense. So we revisited strategy to find another acquisition approach to lower costs.
      For content specifically, make sure you're factoring in the time (opportunity cost) + hard costs (outsourced writers, creative, etc) + promotion costs to evaluate the effectiveness against goal.

      1.1 It's all about having an effective plan to pause and review what's working and what's not. This part is all about "slowing down to speed up". If your team is just rushing on to the next campaign or efforts, then you have to stop and ask whether you're really learning what you need to along the way. My teams have had a weekly or bi-weekly Marketing Party to collectively review what's working (with data) and what comes next based on those outcomes.

      2. I've used everything from ad-hoc goal setting (early days) to OKRs (now). The problems of *not* having a framework are that people struggle to come up with and set their own department goals. The problems *with* having a framework is that people can get stuck on the framework itself and lose sight of the overall purpose.

      I'd recommend using the OKR approach, but make sure to be specific with the key results. Have different teams expand and develop their own OKRs aligned with the top level key results. Revisit them often and it's OK to get consensus to change / adjust them if circumstances have changed.

      3. Different products for different audiences is a bit tricky actually, because it can really stress your marketing team. You'll find that you don't get a lot of leverage ("synergy" if you have to go there) from anything you do. So, you'll be repeating yourself with different content, different campaigns on different channels and all of that.

      First, do you really have the resources to do that? I find that companies tend to expand too quickly rather than diving deep into what's already working to drive growth that earns them the right to expand into other products and services. It will feel "right" because you'll have the resources -- money, team -- to expand vs simply being spread too thin. I've learned this the hard way, of course :)

      Segmenting existing products and services to different audiences is a bit easier, but still a lot of work. You'll have to decide how to segment everything and how to structure your sales team to support it (eg specialists or generalists). We covered some of that in the panel I did with Figma, Stripe at HeavyBit https://www.heavybit.com/library/blog/building-high-fidelity-personas-and-segmenting-users/.

      Hope that helps!

      2 Share
  • RL

    Richard Lavin

    19 days ago #

    Hi Dave,

    I'm Rick and founder of a social media, blogging and community platform. Walk My Town which began as a blogging site about 7 years has expanded from individual freelance bloggers to community bloggers And organizations that express issues within each community. Walkmytown.com .. we want to expand our network and invite more bloggers and organizations to post their essays, studies, or community concerns from the pandemic to local news beat about the environment.

    This past year we have redeveloped the platform and have redesigned all functions . I was wondering if you could recommend growth marketing references or sources for lead generation.?

    I would appreciate your insight and experience.

    Thanks
    Rick, CEO

    • DS

      Dave Shanley

      19 days ago #

      Hi Rick -

      It sounds like you've put some solid time into doing this already, and I bet you have a great idea on who you'd like to attract. So for those bloggers and organization that you want to add, I'd spend time on refining the message around what's in it for them and hitting on what they might be frustrated about right now (eg lack of local access, existing platforms aren't the right fit for them). Then, I'd spend time thinking about where these folks are hanging out that you can reach (reddit? nextdoor? existing local news writers?) and reach out there. Once you have figured out the mechanics of outreach to a given community, then you can move on to scaling that to attract more in different regions.

      Best of luck!

SHARE
51
51