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August 10, 2016

How to set a marketing budget for start ups and consultants

A few customers have been asking the same question “How do I work out how much to budget for marketing?” I wanted to cover this briefly here so that I can direct them (and you) to my thoughts on this.

Let’s start with the question “what am I currently paying to acquire new customers?” or what is your Customer Acquisition Cost (CAC). Even if all you’re putting into the business is time. Remember that your time is worth something. You could be working a salary, so whats your opportunity cost by not doing that?

Lets say your time is worth $100 per hour, then how many hours did you put in to acquire your first customer/s? Maybe you made 20 cold calls, sent 100 emails and attended 10 sales meetings. Add in the hours of research and maybe you arrived at figure of around 80 hours: 80 x $100 = $8,000. But, having done the ground work you think on average it now only takes you 30 hours to acquire new customers. 30 x $100 = $3,000. It’s a rough figure, but its a starting point.

Now that you know roughly what it costs to acquire a new customer, you can ask yourself two questions.

1. Is it sustainable and efficient to keep acquiring customers at $3,000 each? Clearly, net revenue on that sale needs to be more than $3,000 to be anywhere near profitable. You should also consider CLV or Customer Lifetime Value – which we will cover in a later post.

2. How can I reduce the acquisition cost and scale the sales process?

This is where digital acquisitions strategies such as PPC (Pay Per Click) come into their own. They help you bring down CAC costs, fill your pipeline and scale the sales process.

Now you need to start making some assumptions. Firstly, it’s important that you know what your original sales forecast was. Secondly, you need to get a rough idea of how much it should cost you to acquire a new customer online. Talk to an agency or do some research. Talking to someone that serves your niche will mean the answer is likely to be more accurate for your product or service.

Let’s say the feedback is that you should be able to achieve the same sale faster and at one third of the cost. Perfect. Next, work out how much you can afford to spend on marketing based on your current trajectory. That number is probably a percentage of net revenue, lets say 15%. Then run more assumptions – what happens if I spend 20%, 30%, 40% whats does that mean for your bottom line? Note, we don’t need to spend all of our cash here, we just need enough to start testing your assumptions. Keep in mind, that if you’re hiring an expert to run the campaigns for you, then you’ll need to work that into your budget.

The next step is to start running campaigns. Only then can you start to paint an accurate picture and over time update your assumptions with actual data. As more data comes in you’ll be able to start predicting your revenue with some level of accuracy. The key here is to keep optimising. It never stops, but with experience and real data you will drive down your CAC costs and grow your business.

I hope this helps. Please email me direct on [email protected] with any questions.

April 12, 2016

How To Get More Snapchat Followers with Ghostcodes


Snapchat Ghostcodes

The Wild West that was Snapchat, teen sexting etc, is now giving way to a more grown up experience that is beginning to appeal to a broader (ie older) audience. With ‘Snap stories’ Snapchat is essentially reality TV at scale. The app may have been around for a few years but 2016 is shaping up to the year Snapchat finally goes mainstream.

One of Snapchats main problems (depending on your point of view) has always been discovery. There’s no “who to follow” feature, finding people worth following can be tricky and usually involves a bit of googling around for recommendations. Adding people in Snapchat is different to most apps, you can add from your contacts like most apps, but adding someone is more commonly done via their ‘Snapcode’, which is Snapchats equivalent of QR codes – take a pic of someone’s Snapcode, the app recognises their unique code and adds them to your list of friends. You can also add people via their unique URL: add me snapchat.com/add/akadanjones.

Still, who the ‘f&*k’ do I follow is a question commonly asked by new users. A few services have popped up over the last 18 months to help answer this question. The guys at Snapvice.co do a great job of curating and interviewing a selection of top users, their focus is mainly around business and entrepreneurship, they also do a great job of explaining how to use various features – like filters, lenses etc. A couple of other services that help here are http://www.the11thsecond.com/ and http://www.snapchat.codes/, essentially websites that curate the top people from various categories – Storyteller, Celebrity etc.

Perhaps the most successful attempt to solve the discovery problem to date is GhostCodes, from the team behind http://www.snapchat.codes/. GhostCodes is currently an invite only iPhone app that appeared on the app store only a couple of weeks ago. You download the app from the app store but you need a secret access code to access the interface (try ‘Pinky’ or ‘Casper’ ). Once you’re in, setup your profile, add your Snapcode and away you go. The aim here is to receive ‘upvotes’, the more you receive the higher you climb in rankings and the more visibility you receive. I.e: the more new followers you get. However, as with all these systems, they are easy to game. Offering to swap a like for a like is a simple tactic that will help you climb to the top of the rankings. The number of people that have reached out to me asking for reciprocal ‘likes’ is astounding…but it works.

And there lies the rub. Another of Snapchat’s problems is noise. Those of you old enough to remember TV before HBO and pay TV, will remember when there were only three or four channels available to everyone (depending on where you were the world), then suddenly there were hundreds overnight. Following a large number of people can leave your head spinning with the amount of Snap stories to consume. The ability to hide someone’s Snap stories is a feature I would kill for right now (hello, anyone from Snapchat??)

As Snapchat continues to grow its user base, how they tackle the noise issue will be a huge problem to solve. That said, Evan Spiegel and team have shown they are not at all afraid of innovating and trying new features. Perhaps they learnt from Twitter’s mistake, standing still in an age of rapid innovation could yet be Twitters undoing. That’s not a mistake I see Snapchat making any time soon.

October 2, 2015

How to find a cool name for your start up…from a certified brand name-aholic.

Screen Shot 2015-10-20 at 9.06.02 PM

When I need a name I spend countless hours looking for inspiration and ideas everywhere. I flick through magazines or blogs, hour after hour, looking for that word that might spark something that leads to the name.

Then, eureka! lightning strikes and the brand name is born.

Next step? Get a realy good designer. Working with a designer is fun for me, I like to come to the discussion with concrete ideas. Surprisingly, I settle on the perfect creative quickly. It’s as if the brand name and its creative cues arrive bundled in my head as one complete solution.

Then, when the brand and creative is done….the work is done for me. If you’re running a start up this is pure stupidity. If you are serious about your start up, do not do this. Leave it to someone else to come up with the name and get busy solving your customers problems. Hey, call me

One thing is clear, I live for this stuff. It’s fun for me, and I’m pretty sure I’ve fulfilled my 10,000 hours quota on the process of creating brand names. So, here are a few quick tips I’ve picked up over the years:

  1. Understand clearly who your customer is and what problem you solve for them. This is obvious, but key.
  2. Decide what kind of a company you want to be. Do you want to be irreverent, classy or strictly corporate (not recommended)? What emotions or vibe do you want to convey to your audience?
  3. Find a company you look up to, with a name you absolutely love. Now stay the hell away from names that are just like your fav brand. IF you love Apple, don’t call yourself Mandarin Inc (although, I’ve heard much worse come to think of it..). Go for something completely at the opposite end of the spectrum. Go for, Zettle or something equally stupid. Actually, also not that bad..
  4. The argument for long vs short names: Go short. No argument.
  5. Use a thesaurus: If you want to convey ‘speed’, get the thesaurus out and look for ‘like’ words. I looked up ‘Speed’ and got the following words: Celerity, Clip, Headway, Pace and Velocity. All of which could be OK brand names. Then, pick one of those names and do a thesaurus search on those also.
  6. Pick up an industry specific magazine, or trawl websites related to your industry. Look for words that jump out at you and make you go “Hey, cool word.” This approach worked for me when I found the nameBEAMS for a video app project I was working on.
  7. Make a list and throw any word that comes into your mind onto your list. Keep this list, don’t delete anything from the list. You never know when you need more name ideas. You also might find the name you hated originally, starts to grow on you over time.
  8. Use namecheck.com to check your names availability. Namecheck.com will tell you if the domain name is taken. It also tells you if the social handles for this name are available.
  9. Combine words or phrases. An example: A few years back I co-founded an app company called Pocketry. I had two phrases that I liked 1. Pocket science 2. Artistry. I felt that our company had to sit somewhere in the middle of those two. One day after staring at those two phrases for an hour, the word Pocketry (get it? Pocket Science & Artistry = Pocket — ry, which becomes Pocketry) jumped into my brain and the rest is history.
  10. Song names or album names are a good place to start as well. Bands or songwriters are always looking for cool names to name their songs, what better place to steal a cool name? Would you call your company Nirvana? Probably not. But you might call it LoveBuzz (OK, not one of my best…) or something along those lines.
  11. Try as hard as you can to be original. But also consider Google search results. If people are searching for your brand name, but no one has that URL…take it to the bank.

Finding a cool name for your start up doesn’t need to be a chore. But it also shouldn’t detract from your real job of solving problems.

Don’t get too caught up in the process, if you’re funded, get someone to do this for you. If you’re bootstrapping, use these simple tips to build a list of 10 names, then share those names with your friends, colleagues etc. Note: always watch peoples reactions face-to-face, you can see it in their eyes when they know you’ve found a good name.

But, most importantly, go change the world. Leave a legacy that matters. The name is important but not so important that it should delay you from achieving your dreams. Momentum is king, don’t lose it over a name.

March 27, 2015

How to Get More Twitter Followers, Fast.

5 Proven Steps To Get More Twitter Followers.

The question we get asked the most in regards to Twitter is “How do I get more Twitter followers?” If you are a celebrity, then you most likely have a platform or an audience that you can reach out to and ask for the follow, you’re also more likely to be searched for or discovered on Twitter. But what about the rest of us?

How do we take our follower numbers into the 5, 6 or 7 figures? How do we grow an audience so that we can promote our business on Twitter? The answer is easier than you think, you just need to start thinking strategically, you need to start acting like you are the head of your own media company.

Pull up a virtual bar stool, let’s begin…

But, before we do, let’s all agree on one thing, nothing trumps great content. Content that adds value to your audience or solves a problem for them is always the best place to start. If you’re not creating or sharing content that adds value to your community, you’re going to struggle. But, that does not mean you shouldn’t employ these tactics to help grow your audience fast. You should, but creating or curating (we’ll get to this soon) great content, consistently.

Oh, one more thing: engage. Talk to people, share their content, makes friends. It’s not called “social” media for nothing. Right?


OK, here are the top 5 proven and simple steps that will get you lots of  Twitter followers, fast. Note: These have all worked extremely well for our own accounts and client accounts:

1. Make a list of targeted Twitter accounts.

Marketing is all about finding your tribe, like minded people who share your vision, passion, industry, customer base or goals. In marketing, you win when you add value or solve a problem for your tribe. Right now though, the focus is simply on finding your people. People that are most likely to be interested in following you. Don’t waste your time playing the small fish, big ocean game. You need to get specific, find the people you want to break bread with, have a beer with, or take long walks on the beach with. Go niche baby.

To start with, we’re going to identify one leader in our tribe. This tribe member must have a large-ish following, lets say no fewer than 30,000 followers. As an example of who you should pick, if you’re a musician, you want to pick an artist or band that sounds a lot like you and is likely to have people in their fanbase that want to consume music that sounds like yours. These will be people that dress like you and probably have friends just like you. If you’re a social media marketer, then you want to pick someone respected in that space, like Gary Vaynerchuk (@garyvee). Got it? Great, now pick two more tribe leaders.

It’s important to remember, that you need to pimp out your profile pic, bio and header, you want to be someone that others want to follow if you want to get more Twitter followers. If you’re unsure what works or makes you attractive to other tweeters, copy one of your tribe leaders and then tweak over time so that it feels more authentic to you.

OK? We good? I can wait, go find them now. OK? Great, lets move on.

2. Follow your targeted tribe members.

Now that we have our targeted trio of tribe leaders, we’re going to start following as many of their followers as Twitter will allow. Twitter allows you to follow up to 1,000 people a day as long as you stay within a 2:1 ratio of following-to-followers. So, when you’re just starting out you won’t be able to follow a thousand people, probably more like 50-100 a day, but as your followers increase, so will your ability to follow more people. We do this with the knowledge that a percentage will follow us back. Probably, somewhere around 20 – 30%.

A lot of people take issue with this approach, because they think if they are seen to be following too many people, it’ll look bad. However, the trick is to then unfollow the ones that don’t follow us back. Lets call this “Taking out the trash.”

There are a few tools we can use to make this process a little easier and a little less painful. Lets take a look at those in the next step.

3. Gather your tools.

Like any good prospector, you need a toolkit. This early in the game you only need a couple of tools to help you optimise your twitter usage.

The first tool is Social Bro (go ahead and sign up now for a free account). Social Bro will analyse your twitter account and give you valuable information such as: optimal time to tweet and who is not following you back. Once a week you should flush out (or “take out the trash”) those that are not following you back. Click on ‘Not following back’ and unfollow those fools that weren’t smart enough to follow you.

The second tool is Tweetdeck. Tweetdeck is free and is useful to create lists based on key words. Lets say your keyword is Biggie Smalls, if you’re a rapper that sounds like Biggie (R.I.P.) then you can see tweets from people that mention and are probably interested in Biggie. You can then follow or engage with them right there in Tweetdeck.

Note: It’s possible to use the Twitter API to automate the follow / unfollow process, but keep in mind Twitters own rules around this are clear. See here:

“You may not use or develop any service that allows for the following or unfollowing of user accounts in a bulk or automated manner. Accounts and applications that engage in this practice will be suspended. Please review our Follow Rules and Best Practicesfor a detailed discussion of following recommendations.”

4. Put your Twitter handle EVERYWHERE and ASK for the follow.

This ones a little obvious, but you’d be surprised at the number of people that don’t do it. ANY communication you send or post online (where possible) should include your Twitter handle. (Btw: you can follow me @akaDanJones).

Some examples:

  • Email signature, dont just add it, ask for the follow
  • At the end of EVERY blog post, not just on the ‘About Me’ or ‘Contact’ page
  • Ask for the follow from another social account “Hey follow me on Twitter [email protected]
  • In the URL field of any other social network, its good to cross promote – putyour twitter handle on Instagram and your Instagram on your Twitter bio
  • Your messenger profile E.g: WeChat, LINE, Kik etc
  • Your business card
  • Any traditional offline media as well – posters, packaging etc
  • On your t-shirt at a conference.

5. Curate great content.

Finally, like they say content is king and we already mentioned how important it is to add value to your tribe. “But I don’t have time to write to write content!” I hear your cry. Well, take a lesson from @GuyKawasaki. Admittedly, as the original Apple evangelist and esteemed author, Guy does already have a platform. However, on Twitter, Guy has become synonymous for curating really great content that his tribe / audience love to share. The more people share your content, the more retweets you get, the more retweets you get, the more attention you get, the more attention you get, the more follows you get. Its the circle of [Tweet-]life.

Before we sign off, heres a couple tools to help you excel at content curation:

1. buzzsumo.com is an amazing tool that helps you discover the most shared content on social media. Simply enter a topic in the search bar and then you will find the most shared posts or articles for that topic. For example, my topic of ‘Social Media’ returned the top result which has been shared over two million times. Now you know what content people are sharing, you can find and share the content most relevant to your audience.

2. You now need a tool that will allow you to share that content at the most optimal time. Buffer is that tool. Buffer also allows you to schedule posts so that you can find the content in a batch, then publish to Buffer safe in the knowledge that Buffer will stagger the release of your content to Twitter. Its a brilliant tool, it also helps you discover content.

OK! It’s time to get out there and put this plan into action. You’ll soon see that in no time at all you’ll have mastered the basics of growing your audience on Twitter. If you’re interested in a more complete ‘Twitter Mastery’ course, please email me at [email protected].

I’d love to hear from you if you have any feedback, both positive or negative. Please feel free to poke holes in my grammar, I know its not perfect. Thanks for taking the time to read through to the end of this document, have fun with it.

Go Forth, Much Love.


Email: [email protected]

January 17, 2015

What is an Audience Whisperer?


‘Audience Whisperer’s’ are the people building highly engaged audiences on social media to achieve awesome and inspiring outcomes.

From the teenagers behind the EarthPix Twitter account filling our feed with beautiful images, and making millions of dollars in the process, to the struggling filmmaker that built an audience online and made such an impact that the studios could no longer ignore him. That film is now the brilliant (and Sundance winning) Dear White People.

Coming soon, we’ll talk to the Audience Whisperer’s, we’ll ask them to share their secrets in building an audience, their motivations, their fears and triumphs. We’ll also talk to them about how you can partner with them to drives sales for your Shopify store.

If you have any questions, or suggestions for people to interview, drop me a line at [email protected] Follow me on social at Twitter & Instagram.