[April 2018 Growth Report] Revenue, Lessons Learned, & All The Juicy Details…

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  • In this month’s AutoGrowth report, I discuss how we were able to increase revenue by 11% this month, as well as have our biggest sales day of the year.
  • Also in this video are lessons learned on hiring team members and brand bullying.

Mariana: Hi, everybody. We’re here interviewing Matt Ackerson, founder of AutoGrow, for his monthly company report for April 2018. Matt, what can you tell us about April? What were your top wins this month?

Matt: Well, I’m 31, so I just had my birthday. And I think that was a pretty big win! You threw me a very nice party, that was great. And just so the audience knows too, you’re currently visiting family in Venezuela, that’s why we’re in separate locations right now.

I think April was a really good month. Let me get to the stats, because I know that’s what people want to hear, and then I’ll give the backstory on those. I know that you have questions for me on that.

So briefly, revenue is up about 11% for the month of April. We almost cracked $4,000 for the month. Keep in mind that it’s basically a four-month-old business. We started off as a productized service agency. Then we stopped doing that and began selling products on January 1st. So, in essence, we are completely a new company, and growth has slowed this month. I can talk more about why I think that’s happening and what we’re going do to accelerate it.

Traffic is even at just under 32,000 visits per month, and email list growth is also about even at 46 new email subscribers per day or about 1350 new subscribers added for the month of April.

Mariana: Cool. Any lessons learned or any mistakes in this past month?

Matt: Oh, yeah. There are definitely a ton. I think that I’ll start with the most recent one, because I feel like this lesson is one that I’ve been learning on an ongoing basis and I was just kind of reminded of. It deals with actually hiring people and maintaining a great team that has a high standard and performs really well. And also a team that cares about the work and cares about the company.

Unfortunately, we had to let a team member go recently, right at the end of April. It was someone that I had worked with for a year and a half, and it was really kind of abrupt and unprofessional the way that things ended. I’ve been reflecting on why that might have been the case. I think it’s because, honestly, we just kind of kept raising our standards. I was asking for more, and the company was paying for more as we asked for more. It was just a plateau that this person was at that they couldn’t get over, unfortunately.

I had known for a while because other team members had expressed concerns that she might not be a fit. I knew that we should probably just remove her from the team and hire someone better. I was just kind of waiting on doing that because hiring someone new when they’ve been in a certain role on a small team for a while can be uncomfortable.

There is one kind of persuasion lesson that I’ve learned recently in terms of marketing and sales. When faced with uncertainty, you have two options: one is uncertain and the other is more certain. Even if the choice that is more certain is less ideal, you usually just kind of stick with that choice. In this case, I didn’t want to risk hiring someone new because maybe they wouldn’t be as good. I think that was a really important lesson learned at the end of April.

Mariana: What’s your next step with the company with all these changes in regard to moving your business from a service to a product? And with all the changes in your team with people coming in and people coming out, how are you handling all of that and what’s next?

Matt: I think it’s just growing pains, honestly. I’m learning and getting better as an entrepreneur. The company is learning as well. I’m listening to this book by an economist, a very smart guy named Nicholas Taleb. One thing that he said in that book so far that’s really stuck with me is that “System is learned from subtraction.”

As people on the team come in and out, we really learn. I learned personally, and I think that the systems that we were building kind of learn from those mistakes as well. In some cases, we were doing things and have now realized that we don’t have to do those things as much because something else counts so much more by comparison.

For example, looking ahead I think that content marketing-wise I have found that our audience and most of the people signing up for our email list are interested in sales funnels. They are interested in getting better at selling their products and services online. So, blog posts about traffic and growing traffic, for example, are relevant to an extent because you need traffic at the top of your funnel to have an effective sales process online.

What’s more interesting to a lot of people is how you actually nurture those relationships and come out with content related to that. I think that’s an example of learning by subtraction. We’re experimenting with doing less of those blog posts about traffic, and more on sales funnels, conversion, and landing page design. These are all things I believe might resonate more with our audience, so we’ll see how that goes.

Mariana: Can you tell us a little more about the re-launching of the 6-Figure Sales Funnel?

Matt: Yes, and that reminds me of another win that I wanted to mention. We had our best sales day to date as a product business in terms of the number of sales in a single day right at the end of April. We launched our sales funnel diagram pack, and kind of put it out there early by including it in our initial front end upsell funnel.

This was the first time that we formally let our entire email list know that this is a new product we just came out with and it’s valuable for these reasons. We included bonus strategy videos as well. Even I was surprised actually at the level of sales we’ve seen and the interest we’ve seen in it. We generated over $1,100 in gross sales for the single day when it initially launched. And that was a really nice win.

You asked about re-launching the 6-Figure Sales Funnel. So that’s coming up this month in the month of May. As you know we’ve already kind of started rolling out the basics of this new funnel. We completely redid our sales funnel checklist and it looks beautiful. We’re getting a lot of compliments on it, and the free three-part videos that go with the sales funnel checklist are additional training so people know how to set up some key components to their funnel.

We’re progressively rolling out the launch sequence for our 6-Figure Sales Funnel training. That’s coming out this month, so we’re just polishing everything up right now.

That kind of reminds me of another lesson learned from launching the sales funnel diagrams. If you’re doing a launch for anything or you’re making an offer to anyone for anything, you need to get five items on the checklist. These are things that you need to do when making an offer. Number one might be to give people the reason to make a buying decision now. The decision will be yes much more often if you just give people a reason to buy now.

The reason that we gave was that we were going to raise the price, but you can get it at the regular price right now, along with the bonus videos. And that works really, really well. So, I think that was kind of another important lesson learned from doing that.

But for the month of May, we’re just rolling out this new launch for the 6-Figure Sales Funnel. It’s going be a whole new training by the time that we’re done with it because we’re actually converting it into bite-sized videos as well.

Mariana: Are you looking forward to something else for the next month?

Matt: What am I looking forward to next month? A lot of things. Just last night I started planning out a software product. With the success of the sales funnel diagrams and the positive feedback that we’re getting on the diagram, I think that we want to build a software product around this idea that includes some sort of coaching with it. You can also make your own diagrams and track your results. So that’s kind of percolating right now and it’s really exciting to start working on.

In line with the idea of developing a software product to go with the training is I think that this will really make our students that much happier and it will really differentiate our offer. If we can say that we’ve got this great training and a tool to help you actually realize results and track results from it, I think it will make it even more and more compelling as we start to build that out.

In terms of fun, we saw Avengers at the end of April and that was amazing.

Mariana: I was going to ask you that. If you were doing something for fun there in Medellin, alone?

Matt: Well, right now I’m just sleeping, working, and I’ve started meditating more. We’ve been going to the gym five times a week, which is great. But I just want to move around more in general outside of the gym because I’m realizing that as someone who has to sit in place for long periods of time, that’s really not healthy. I just want to get better at moving around more. And without you here cooking me delicious food, I have to get up and make myself food, so in a way that’s helpful. But other than that, I might see Avengers for the third time and that’s it.

Mariana: Cool.

Matt: Yeah.

Mariana: Well, thank you very much for the interview. Is there something else that you would like to tell us?

Matt: I think there are a couple more lessons I just thought of while we were talking. I spoke about hiring team members before, so what I feel like an additional takeaway from that is that when you’re hiring someone, testing people for dependability and diligence is just so incredibly valuable and it’s something that I realize that I really value in team members. I feel that I have with all of our current team members, without a doubt. I feel like I can really just depend on them if they say that something is going to be delivered at a certain day and a certain time. Without a doubt, I know that is going happen and it’s going be done better than if I did it myself.

Another lesson is this quick story I wanted to tell the audience. So last month, actually I think it was technically in end of March, we published a Matt Hack where I did a review of two checkout tools, ThriveCart and SamCart. In the first 30 seconds of the video, I said that I’m a happy customer of SamCart and this is going to be a biased review, so take it with a grain of salt. My review of these two products was based on what I’m able to see as the features. I didn’t feel the need to sign up for ThriveCart and explained why I didn’t, and I kind of thought I could use this as a teaching lesson for the audience. Part of the reason why I didn’t sign up was that I didn’t trust their sales funnel. It came off as a little bit scammy and I didn’t really trust it.

So I put out this Matt Hack and what I found was that our traffic started to spike within a day of putting it out. Then we started getting flooded with all of these comments from affiliates of ThriveCart. Most were personally attacking me and what I found that had happened was the founder had posted a link to our review on their Facebook page. He had basically kind of sent out all of his affiliates, and I guess they were customers too, technically, but every single one I checked was an affiliate. And in many cases, they were just like attacking me and not even addressing the facts for the rational reasons why I said what I did.

I even said in some ways that ThriveCart is better over here and SamCart is better over here, but overall I recommend SamCart. It was all just strange and I think it’s just a lesson I feel like they’re what I would call the weird bully brand of checkout apps. The founder also left a very long, detailed comment that probably took him ten minutes to write. He offered to get on a call to give me a tour or something like that. I replied to him and said ok and to just shoot me an email. He did, but then he just dropped off the map and I never heard from them.

It was just a weird experience. So, I started asking around. I actually asked some of ThriveCart’s competitors what is the deal was. Because it was like a weird experience. Their competitors said that this is actually something that they do regularly. They see other reviews posted comparing their products to ThriveCart in the past and send out their affiliates to personally attack the reviewer if ThriveCart wasn’t their recommendation. I think it’s a lesson in public relations and branding because it was weird and it was certainly a bullying experience.

I don’t recommend ThriveCart even more now because of this reason. I was open to being persuaded, but this was just ridiculous. It’s a good lesson for the audience. Don’t put up with bullies, and stand up to them because I reply to every single comment. And I did reach out, I did reply to the founder quite respectfully when he messaged me.

So, don’t be like that. If you get a bad review, and it wasn’t even a bad review, but if you get any review, you have to really look. Especially in the days of digital marketing that we’re in now where everything is transparent. People can see all of those comments on the blog and on Facebook, and it makes them look really bad. The fact that I’m, telling the story now is even worse for them. So, don’t be like ThriveCart. Take a lesson for that.

Mariana: Thank you, Matt, for your time. And I hope that the next interview, we’ll be together in Medellin.

Matt: Absolutely. Okay. And for everyone in the audience, keep hustling, stay focused. I’ll talk to you soon.

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