Why Im Joining BuzzStream

I’m joining BuzzStream – a great marketing SaaS startup in Austin, Texas – as their first full-time marketer. I will be moving to Austin to join the team there. I am very excited – it’s a tremendous opportunity and I feel honored that their team has let someone like me manage their marketing.

BuzzStream enables marketers to manage their link development (for SEO) and PR influencer engagement in a highly systematic, measurable, and scalable way. It’s sort of like Salesforce.com for SEO PR, but it has a lot more functionality for marketers to be even more efficient and effective in their outreach.

(If this sounds like something you can use, please go over to BuzzStream.com right now and sign up for the free trial. If there’s anything you really like or think we can do better, please don’t hesisitate to drop me an email at matt at matt gratt dot com – customer feedback is incredibly important to us.)

Because BuzzStream helps marketers manage their SEO PR, it would be inappropriate for me to compete with our customers by providing SEO consulting services or building SEO-focused affiliate sites. Accordingly, I am exiting the SEO consulting market and will no longer be involved in Subscription Media Network, my affiliate site holding company. I will no longer be providing these services, but I am happy to refer you to a qualified consultant (who, as almost all top-shelf search marketers do, uses BuzzStream).

So, Why BuzzStream?

In my last post, I detailed how to evaluate a marketing opportunity at a startup.Let me explain how BuzzStream matches up to these criteria.

The Market: Every Company Will Need a BuzzStream Instance

There are a few interesting trends going on in the world of marketing and PR:
– PR social marketing are becoming more important marketing channels as buyers grow to distrust advertising and increasingly rely on peers, reviews, and recommendations.
– Publications audiences are becoming more and more fragmented, and the number of influencers in almost all markets is constantly increasing.
– It’s becoming harder and harder to get coverage and links as markets become more competitive.

For example, in his Supermac war stories, Steve Blank identified his PR goal as producing “5 positive product reviews per quarter.”

Now Steve Blank is (in my humble opinion) one of the best technology marketers of all time. But 5 product reviews per quarter? For a prosumer/consumer tech product?

If you identified this as a goal today, you’d be laughed out of the building. Hundreds (if not thousands) of publications now cover Mac accessories, not to mention the publications that cover graphic design applications, hardware, and the other market segments you’d need to reach today.

This is just one example of the explosion of media and fragmentation of attention. This same big bang like explosion has happened in almost all sectors – from enterprise software to health and fitness – and marketers need dramatically better tools to manage it all.

This is a great market, and will only become a better one as time goes on. And in my (very biased) opinion, BuzzStream will become one of the core set of cloud apps – along with CRM, marketing automation, and web analytics tools that all companies use to manage their marketing.

The Team

BuzzStream’s team is excellent – from their chairman and advisory board to the executive management, to the staff, BuzzStream’s team are some of the smartest, most driven people I’ve met in a long time.

They’re also fine people and great to hang out with. And most importantly, they’re relentlessly focused on their customers’ success.

The Customers

BuzzStream customers include some of the most sophisticated marketers in the world. (And I’m not just saying that because I was a customer.) From enterprise-level search marketers like HomeAway to top web marketing agencies like Distilled and SEOGadget to great startups like RunKeeper and Apptopia, BuzzStream helps great companies grow.

Working with sophisticated marketers like the teams at these companies is both a joy and an honor, and I look forward to it.…

How to Evaluate a Startup Marketing Role

When you join a startup as a marketer, you have to be careful. Really careful.

Some non-marketing founders view marketing as a magical potion that can heal a lack of a great product, a great market, and a great team. They think getting some digital ink in TechCrunch/search engine rankings/email marketing/etc will cause the world to beat a path to their door. (Fortunately the popularity of Lean Startupand Customer Development has made excellent progress in killing this belief, but it’s still present.)

This is simply not true – press doesn’t help a startup that’s not ready for prime time. And all the demand generation/demand harvesting/branding/thought leadership/channel optimization/etc. in the world can’t help a startup that hasn’t achieved product-market fit. Additionally, startups with limited markets or markets facing impending obsolescence all spell a limited, yelling-filled tenure for their marketers.

When you look at startup marketing roles, you should ask yourself some questions:

Is this a great market? Will trends in the market drive increased adoption of the product?

As Marc Andreesen says:

In honor of Andy Rachleff, formerly of Benchmark Capital, who crystallized this formulation for me, let me present Rachleffs Law of Startup Success:
The #1 company-killer is lack of market.
Andy puts it this way:
• When a great team meets a lousy market, market wins.
• When a lousy team meets a great market, market wins.
• When a great team meets a great market, something special happens.
You can obviously screw up a great market and that has been done, and not infrequently but assuming the team is baseline competent and the product is fundamentally acceptable, a great market will tend to equal success and a poor market will tend to equal failure. Market matters most.

Sequoias Don Valentine offers a similar sentiment:

I like opportunities that are addressing markets so big that even the management team cant get in its way.

The market always wins. At some level, the market is like the ocean it was there before you, it will be there after you, and it will grind anything in its way into dust. But, like the ocean, if you find a great wave and work with it, rather than against it, you can have a great ride.

Does the company have a great market? How big is it? Will trends drive an increased need for the product in the future? Or will other options emerge that circumvent the companys offering entirely?

Is the team great – both for the market, and for you? Do you think they can conquer the market? Do you want to spend an afternoon with them?

Conventional wisdom suggests that the team is the most important factor. I continue to think the team is really, really important, but simply can’t overcome a bad market. (And after all, some of the largest startups ever like Google, Microsoft, and Facebook were started by college students in huge markets major players ignored.)

With market as the first criteria, evaluate the team. Can they succeed in the market? Do they have significant blind spots, or are they focused on customers? Do they have the skills to pay the bills? Remember, startups are hard. As Paul Graham says, you want people who youd describe as animals.

Additionally, you’ll be spending a great deal of time with your team, so it works best if you like the other folks on the team, at both a personal and a professional level.

Is the product great (yet)? Do customers like it? Does the product roadmap make sense?

People really don’t like it when you reposition their companies without their permission. And if the company hasn’t achieved product-market fit, they need customer development, not marketing. If you’re joining a company in a marketing role, absolutely make sure there are customers, they pay consistently, they’re using the product, and they like it.

Perhaps more importantly, see what the customers have to say about it. Do some Twitter searches (Topsy is great for this) and some Google searches, especially for things like “[product name] problems” and “[product name] sucks”. If you find too many negative results, that may speak to deeper problems.

Do you like the customers? Do you like the market?

You cant be a great marketer serving customers you hate. If you dont like technically unsophisticated people, dont sell software to school teachers. If you think IT people are weird, dont market systems management software.

The more you like the product and like the customers, the better youll do. If you could happily drop down into a customers shoes for a week or two, youll be a much better marketer.

Is the startup in a place you want to live? Is the work-life balance appealing?

Work/life balance pick a place where you can walk or bike or bus to work and relax, get work done, and destress. Do not sign up for a freeway commute or you will spend your life tired and pissed off and sleepwalking through your day.
You are a person live and work in a place you like, especially if your friends, family, and hobbies are nearby.

– Michael Wolfe, Founder, KANA, Vontu, I/PRO, Pipewise
Marketing, for all its appearance of sitting at a whiteboard, spreadsheet, or Word doc, is hard mental work that requires a mix of creative, persuasive, and analytic skills. It’s hard to deliver this if you sleep under your desk and work 100+ hours a week consistently.
And after all, you are a person, and you deserve to be happy.

Will You Learn Something New?

If you arent learning a new channel, a new skill, or get to serve in a different role than you have before, its not a great opportunity. The world of marketing is changing too fast to specialize in only one channel.
As they say, one trick ponies rapidly become glue.…

9 Growth Hackers You Should Follow on Twitter

The Growth Hacker meme has finally taken off.

After a couple years of describing myself as a growth hacker and being met with blank stares, things are changing. Im happy that people may now understand that a growth hacker is a person who can drive customer/user/MRR growth through a sophisticated combination of marketing, technical, and analytical skills. Basically, a growth hacker is a rain maker for the modern web company.

But where can a journeyman growth hacker like me look for advice? Fortunately, there are many prominent growth hackers that tweet, blog, answer questions on Quora, and otherwise share their wisdom. Here are some of my favorite growth hackers to follow on Twitter. (A number of them are CEOs and CTOs that gives you some idea about how valuable this skillset is to the modern web enterprise.)

Sean Ellis CEO CatchFree

Sean is perhaps the original growth hacker he coined the term. He also was the original VP marketing at some companies you might be familiar with LogMeIn and Uproar and helped accelerate growth at WordPress.com, Xobni, DropBox, and Eventbrite. (I suspect theres some Im missing.)
Now hes the CEO of CatchFree an amazing resource for finding free apps. He also writes the (aptly named) Startup Marketing blog.
Must-Read Posts:
Optimization Mistakes that Kill Startups
My Favorite Online Marketing Tactic Doesnt Work
To Pay Or Not To Pay To Acquire Users?

Noah Kagan Chief Sumo (CEO) AppSumo

Noah Kagan was the growth hacker behind Mint.coms initial growth. He was also an early product manager at Facebook, pushing out many of the features that everyone was incredibly upset about and soon recognized as better, like the newsfeed. (As a Facebook user since Fall 2004, I remember the incredible acrimony around the newsfeed, before it was recognized as superior.) He is now the CEO and Chief Sumo of AppSumo, a company that helps developers get distribution and entrepreneurs up their game. (And like me, Noah went to UC Berkeley.)
Must Read Posts:
Speech at UC Berkeley
How Mint Beat Wesabe
Quant-Based Marketing for Startups

Justin Briggs Inbound Marketing Leader Big Fish Games

Justin Briggs is the inbound marketing leader at Big Fish Games. Hes a gifted growth hacker, and has done everything from develop new techniques for visualizing link graphs site traffic to get coverage in publications like Wired and MSN. Before Big Fish, he was a prominent consultant at Distilled.
Key Posts:
Business Metrics for Link Reporting
Building the Implicit Social Graph
How to Build Links and Drive Traffic with Infographics

Dan Martell CEO Clarity

Dan Martell founded Flowtown (acquired by DemandForce), Spheric Technologies, and now Clarity. Hes also an angel investor and a 500 Startupsmentor.
Key Posts:
Hustlin for Conversions
Content Marketing for Startups
Why Building Great Admin Dashboards Can Lead to Amazing Products

Andy Johns Product Manager, User Growth Quora

Andy Johns is the Product Manager for User Growth at Quora. From Quoras third-party traffic data, it seems like hes doing a good job:

Before Quora, he worked on user growth at Facebook and Twitter. The scoreboard suggests he did a decent job.
Key Posts:
How Does Quora Manage to Get Such Good Google Search Placement for Its Questions?
What Are Some Top Strategies for Conversion Optimization?
Does Quora Research Its Users Behavior?
How Does Andy Johns Bring Traffic to Websites?

Dharmesh Shah CTO/Co-founder HubSpot

Dharmesh Shah is the founder and CTO of Hubspot, a large inbound marketing software company. He also wrote the Get Found Using Inbound Marketing book, and the author of OnStartups.com.
Key Posts:
Building a Startup Marketing Plan Tips in 3 Words
Startup Lessons from 17 Hard-Hitting Quotes in Moneyball
Insider Tips from HubSpots Launch of Marketing Grader

Mat Clayton CTO Mixcloud

Mat Clayton is one of the worlds experts on driving user growth through open graph actions. His startup, Mixcloud, has seen 20% user growth month over month from clever Facebook Twitter integrations.
Key Presentations:
The Next Level of Social Integration
Social Design

Danielle Morrill Director of Marketing Twilio

Danielle is behind Twilios massive adoption and near universal marketing presence. She also mentors for 500 Startups, and shares wisdom about many growth topics, especially business development and successful event marketing. (There is a pervasive myth that PR BD arent growth hacking. Growth hackers dont exclude any tool from their arsenal.)

Key Posts:
Startup Marketing 2nd Class Citizen, 2nd Rate Results
How to Hustle SXSW for Fun Profit
Close the Loop on Your SXSW Campaign Leads in 5 Steps

Neil Patel VP Marketing KISSMetrics

Neil Patel is currently the VP Marketing and cofounder of KISSMetrics, the leading customer analytics provider. (Customer analytics differs from web analytics because it integrates cohort data, CLTV, and other business metrics, rather than reporting on pageviews.) Neil also co-founded CrazyEgg ACS (a high-performance SEO digital marketing consultancy). He is also an angel investor, and frequently speaks at conferences.
Key Posts:
10 Lessons Seth Godin Can Teach You About Blogging
7 Business Mistakes That Nearly Broke Me Literally
Design is Marketing
Are You a Hustler?

The Growth Hacker Twitter List

Ive thrown all of these Twitter accounts into a Twitter list you can follow it here. Ill continue to maintain this list, and hopefully it will become one of the best sources of information on up-to-the-minute growth hacking strategy.

Follow the Growth Hacker Twitter List here.

Im sure Ive left some awesome people out there are a number of great growth hackers at startups like Zynga, BigDoor, Cheezburger Networks, and many others. Who are your favorite growth hackers on Twitter? (Please leave a comment and I will add them to the Twitter list.)