Unconventional Things We’ve Done To Grow Drift

Think outside the box. We’re going to give out tactical secrets on this episode on all the unconventional ways we have grown Drift.

It’s hand to hand combat: scaling by one person, one community member, one fan at a time. It’s branding, positioning, and core values we instituted at the beginning that has propelled Drift forward.

Unconventional Things We’ve Done To Grow Drift | Seeking Wisdom Podcast from Drift on Vimeo.

Listen in to hear our most successful approaches and how you can adopt them in your business:

Time Stamped Show Notes:

00:10 – Today’s episode is about the unconventional ways we have grown Drift

01:09 – David starts with ways such as this podcast, video, their conference, but #1 was killing forms on their website and setting the content free.

01:30 – Dave says to focus on the brand, which for Drift included podcasting, video, content and throwing a 1000 person conference in the first year.

01:48 – The most unconventional thing they’ve done is engaging in hand to hand combat: scaling by one person, one community member, one fan at a time. Now they have thousands of businesses using Drift.

02:20 – How hand to hand combat got 1000 people to buy tickets and come to their first conference.

03:07 – Not being able to fake the emotional mote

03:30 – What is the emotional mote?

04:39 – Why Drift positioned their product they way they did, as free versus paid.

05:14 – Removing the first barrier to content by removing forms

05:21 – Removing the second barrier by removing price to get people using the product, and aligning pricing with the value delivered.

05:41 – Over-delivering on price and value. Recently, a publically traded company revealed they generated over $600,000 in a first month of using Drift.  

06:41 – Betting on the freemium approach and obtaining virality as their #1 marketing channel

08:05 – Not choking the sales funnel and nurturing leads by talking to people

09:15 – Drift has every single person in the company doing customer support as a core value

11:02 – Starting to market before starting to sell and building a community

15:15 – September 25th @ Hypergrowth, Promo code: Seeking Wisdom

3 Key Points:

  1. Build out your brand with valuable content and remove barriers for customers to engage.
  2. Create a community before you create sales and let the community feedback guide your growth.
  3. Keep a constant eye on the customer experience and never lose touch with their needs.

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Follow David (twitter.com/dcancel) and Dave (twitter.com/davegerhardt) on Twitter.

Come hang out with us at seekingwisdom.io and on Twitter @seekingwisdomio.

Learn more about Drift at Drift.com.

Episode Transcript

Dave: Today on Seeking Wisdom, we’re going to talk about some of the unconventional things, unconventional things.David: What are you talking about?

Dave: The unconventional things.

David: There it is.

Dave: That we have done to grow Drift.

David: Secrets?

Dave: Secrets. Damn, we’re going to give out some secrets.

David: I told this guy no more secrets.

Dave: I have a list. Then I got Elias’ now who’s been on the podcast once and he thinks, you know, whatever. He’s tweeting out secrets left and right. He’s a new man. He’s on social media ever since he’s been on this podcast.

David: He’s a guru now. He’s a guru.

Dave: I know. I love it.

David: He discovered Twitter after this podcast.

Dave: Incredible. He got like six Instagram followers from this show and he thinks that he blew up a little bit. I have a list of things that I want to go through but I want to see if you can beat me to the punch. Do you have something off the top of your head? Steal my thunder and my preparedness.

David: I have no idea…

Dave: What’s one of the unconventional things that you think that we’ve done to grow so far?

David: I think one is this podcast. Betting on this podcast, betting on video, betting on our conference, betting on a whole bunch of stuff like that is unconventional. Number one though is that we killed our forms. That was from the very beginning and set our content free. I hope it’s on the list.

Dave: It’s on the list. It’s on list. I actually bucketed that. There’s a couple different ways I bucketed that but I think the number one thing is the focus on—there’s two things, number one is brand, it’s the focus on brand. That is the podcast, that is content, that is video, that is throwing a conference with a thousand people in the first year, it’s all of those things.

David: Okay. Now I have one.

Dave: Okay, what?

David: I have a better one.

Dave: What?

David: I think the most unconventional thing we’ve done to grow this is to have this approach from day one that we’re going to scale this one person at a time, one community member at a time, one fan at a time.

Dave: What do we call that?

David: Hand to hand combat.

Dave: It never fails. I think weekly, you have to remind me of this.

David: It works.

Dave: I think it works every time. It’s worked to get thousands of businesses using Drift. She knows. She’s sending hand to hand combat. The number one thing, and I can’t wait to write this story after Hypergrowth. Talk about how we got a thousand people to our first conference, it’s all going to be about hand to hand combat. The highest leverage thing that we’ve done is actually do research, see who might be interested in going, reach out individually whether it was from Daniel, whether it’s from me, whether it’s from you, and move tickets that way. There hasn’t been one magic email that we sent that sold hundreds of tickets. Nobody’s just waking up, comes to the website and buys. It’s been a hand to hand combat.

David: By the way, DHT’s conversion rate, crushing.

Dave: 36%, skyrocket.

David: I don’t want to disclose mine. It’s not at that level.

Dave: Check your outbound game and rethink it.

David: 36%, DHT.

Dave: Hand to hand combat is one, brand is another. This is something that I’ve been telling more people about now, the emotional mote thing.

David: Damn, man.

Dave: I think when you tell them that—we can give that one away because this one’s too damn hard.

David: Okay.

Dave: You can’t fake it.

David: Got it.

Dave: If you suck at video, if you turn the camera on and you’re not good at it, if you’re not good at this podcast, people aren’t going to listen.

David: Amen.

Dave: So it’s hard.

David: So what’s the emotional mote?

Dave: The emotional mote is this. The emotional mote is there’s so much competition. My favorite example is because we’re in software, sales and marketing software spaces, there’s the iChart from Scott Brinker from MarTech with thousands of vendors. What’s up Scott? Should have me speak but we’ll talk about it next year. We need that chip on the shoulder.

David: We need that fuel.

Dave: iChart with thousands and thousands and thousands of vendors on it. On the surface, how the hell are we going to compete in that world? If we came out with a future checklist, I’d say we can do x, y, z.

David: Forget about it.

Dave: The problem is, even if we are right. Even if we do really do that, people are so skeptical today because we live in the world of Get Rich Quick, 4-Hour WorkWeek—

David: Five-minute abs. I’m still working on the five-minute abs.

Dave: Me too.

David: It’s not coming.

Dave: If I tell you that we’re better at x area, nobody believes it. The only way is to reverse engineer and say, “Let’s get you into this podcast. Let’s get you into a video. Let’s get you into our blog. Let’s get you in the conference and say, “You know what? When I am ready to buy, these are the people I’m going to go buy from.””

David: Because they got my back.

Dave: They got my back. A couple of other things, let’s talk about why we position our product the way we did as far as free versus paid.

David: Interesting. We came out initially in April 2016, it’s when we went to market. We came out with a premium product and we want to do a couple of things. One, we wanted to take price off the table, we wanted to spread and we wanted to see if people have found value in what we were doing so we put it out there. Then, we took down that first barrier between the person was getting our content, getting information, and learning what we’re doing because we took away forms. Then, we took away the second barrier which is price and we got people using the product. Then what we wanted to do was instead of charging people up front, what we wanted to do was let’s show people that it’s useful and that they’re successful with it, only then, price for the value that we’re bringing to them. That’s how we try to align our price right now with the value that we’re delivering, over delivering, by the way.

Dave: Way over delivering.

David: Way over delivering. People are looking at these numbers and they’re like, “This is too cheap.”

Dave: I was at a company this morning, one of our customers.

David: Is it a small company?

Dave: Public company.

David: Okay.

Dave: They asked me to speak at their marketing kick-off, they’re marketing off site.

David: You?

Dave: Yeah, I don’t know why.

David: Do they know you?

Dave: I don’t know. They must have listened to the podcast.

David: Oh, okay.

Dave: Shout out to Wisser. They have generated in a month, a month of using Drift, $600,000 in pipeline.

David: US dollars? US currency?

Dave: I couldn’t even help myself so when they told me that, I said, “Hold on, hold on. I’m not going to tell everybody what you guys pay for Drift right now. A couple of you in this room know. I can tell you it’s damn near not close to $600,000 a month.”

David: That’s in one month. Come on, now. That’s the kind of value to bring in.

Dave: There’s a value. There’s a value but way too cheap. #toocheap. Right now, outside of brand, premium, the virality that we get from Drift as our number one marketing channel, did you think that was going to happen? Was that a bet?

David: That was just a bet we had. We were just trying to see if it was possible if we have this premium approach, with that drive, usage, and referrals. It turns out that it did, directly and indirectly. That is a big lever for us.

Dave: I don’t think we thought this at the time but the combination of a strong brand plus free, we thought of them separately but now I think we see the power of them together because what happens is people might read the blog, watch a video, go listen to a podcast, then they happen to be browsing on the internet and see powered by Drift, and they’re like, “Oh yeah, that’s them.” That’s the thing that’s really hard on the attribution model perspective.

David: We felt that pretty early on when we went to market with the premium approach. We had people coming in who wanted to go straight to buying Drift and when you would ask them why, they’d say, “Oh, Drift is everywhere.” It’s like what? It is? Is it everywhere? It just happened to be in the apps that they use everyday and so it kind of reinforced everyday that Drift was everywhere surrounding them so they wanted that capability on their own site.

Dave: I love it.

David: I think they want a virtual assistant for their website so they came to Drift.

Dave: Somebody said it’s like rocket fuel for your sales funnel. That’s pretty good

David: That’s pretty good, a rocket fuel.

Dave: Another thing that we did more tactically is we didn’t choke the funnel. You talk to so many companies, founders, start-ups, entrepreneurs, one of the big mistakes that they make is that before they even have a single lead, or a single customer, they’re worrying about attribution or optimizing this, or the workflow for that. And we made the conscious decision to open up the top of the funnel as wide as possible. I remember an exchange with you, I was like, “Now we got all these leads, should we be nurturing them? How do you want to build out these workflows?” And you’re like—you don’t remember what you said don’t you?

David: No.

Dave: Can you guess what your answer was?

David: Who cares.

Dave: “Who cares?” You said the best nurture is pick up the damn phone and talk to them.

David: That’s some DC bomb right there.

Dave: That’s some DC bomb.

David: That I said for sure.

Dave: You definitely said that for sure. I said, “Okay. Cross it off my list. We’re not going to do it.”

David: He’s like, “How do I model this?”

Dave: We talked to everybody.

David: Did they buy?

Dave: Yes.

David: It’s modeled now.

Dave: Now we know. We talked to everybody and talking to everybody was super influential in getting us here. Along the same lines of talking to everybody, we had every single person in the company do customer support.

David: Yep.

Dave: We still do.

David: We still do.

Dave: That’s something in your DNA. That’s a core belief.

David: Never get rid of that.

Dave: Ever.

David: No.

Dave: Always.

David: We have to be closer to the customer. We have to feel what it’s like on the other end and to deal with our customers and prospects and leads, so that’s a core tenant. We’re starting at the customer and we’re building outward. That’s how we approach building our software and that’s our way, that’s our religion, so that will never go away.

Dave: I think we need to talk about talking to customers. That a very buzz-worthy thing and people are like, “I have to block off four hours on Tuesday to go drive out to go talk to some customer.” I think the way that we hack that is we just had everybody on Drift. We said, “Great. DG, your shift is from 9:00 to 11:00 on Tuesdays.” And you deal with it. They started to feel the pain. Oh my god, we’ve got to fix this. You don’t know that blog post doesn’t make sense because you rode in from Drift on that. I think that was something that was in our DNA now and every new hire.

David: Yeah. It’s that feedback loop. It teaches everyone the importance of the real time feedback loop with the customer and taking that, doing something with it and seeing the response when we did fix something or when we did clarify a blogpost. You see it immediately.

Dave: You feel it first hand. You sit next to the engineer who’s like, “I know every Tuesday I’m on this support shift and every Tuesday, people ask the same three questions.” I’m going to be the one at the next meeting like, “Hey, are we going to fix this damn thing or what?”

David: Exactly.

Dave: Same thing, they come back to my way. They say, “DG, nobody knows that we have a sales force integration on the website.”

David: I’ve never heard that before.

Dave: Never heard it? Last one, this is something that I’m passionate about.

David: What’s that?

Dave: You and Elias, when you started Drift, you made a conscious decision to start marketing before you started selling. That’s a pet peeve of mine because you talk to a lot of people in the early stage and they’re like, “Oh, we’re not doing marketing yet. We’re in stealth mode. We don’t have a website up yet.”

David: Seasoning, put in on top.

Dave: That’s a fundamental belief that I think you have.

David: Yeah, because you’ve got to start by building the community. One, you’ve got to test the message and see if anyone cares, build a community and then once you have the community, the community can help you back to the customer driven way, the community can help you shape and define what the product is and the problems are.

Dave: Do you remember what we did?

David: How we started it?

Dave: Yeah.

David: No. I don’t remember. How we started everything?

Dave: Do you remember what the tactic was that we used, how we built community first?

David: Oh, we started by blogging.

Dave: It was the first wedge, the first wedge that we thought was product marketing back in the day.

David: So we started blogging, we created a Slack group, we created this community. We brought in a bunch of people from that community and started to learn from them.

Dave: If you Google the term product marketing, we have the number one spot for that from this deck that we made, What Is Product Marketing. There was no product. You can buy from us for sure but you could go to the website, click sign up, we hadn’t built that stuff out yet.

David: Nope.

Dave: But we started to build this community of marketing people who are like, “I’m not really sure what the product is yet but I like the blog, I’m on their email list.” We had this audience primed from when we were ready when we did go to market in April that year.

David: We had this community. We did that, product marketing, because we thought the best entry point to a company was either through marketing and sales or through product/engineering and product marketing was this hybrid approach and so that’s how we started. It led us more towards traditional marketing and sales then product marketing but that’s still part of our community.

Dave: Yeah, and it’s morphed. But I think the lesson from it is you just go. Just go and start creating something and creating an audience because you’re never going to wait for that perfect opportunity.

David: That audience helped shape where we are today. There’s a direct line from starting there to where we are today so there was no mistake. It was a part of the path. They helped us refine our pitch, refine our product, and refine the problems that we fixed.

Dave: The most valuable thing that we did in the early days is like—I remember I sent the emails out. I literally replied to every single person who replied to me.

David: Remember those days?

Dave: I can’t do it anymore.

David: You used to tell me, “I’ll never reply to everyone.”

Dave: “Hey everybody, here’s my email.” I can’t do it. I’m out.

David: You’re finally out?

Dave: I’m out. But that was super important because people are so willing to talk to you so it wouldn’t just be, “Hey, thanks for this. By the way, how did you find out about us?”

Dave: Reply to this email.

David: “What company are you at? What role are you in? What’s your biggest pain?” It all comes back to conversations with people which has now gotten us to where we are in sales and marketing.

David: What’s that? The leading conversational marketing and sales platform in the world?

Dave: Drift.com

David: Oh, okay. Yeah, yeah. That’s right.

Dave: This podcast is actually sponsored.

David: By the leading conversational sales and marketing platform in the world, Drift.

Dave: That has a nice ring to it. We should get out there and do some more speaking and PR.

David: Let’s do it. Let’s get out there. Don’t forget to leave that six-star rating. We’re going to break Apple, we’re breaking the man, we’re breaking them down.

Dave: Maybe now that you give them, they’re doing Call Them Apple podcast, they’ll be nicer to us and feature us, a, and b, unlock the sixth star.

David: Only for our podcast.

Dave: At some point in time, they’ve got to be like, “This five is getting boring, let’s give them the sixth.”

David: This is like going to volume 11. Not just ten, we’re going to 11. Six stars, leave some feedback for DG. Look at his Instagram stories.

Dave: Shattered.

David: He’s shattered and he weighs about one pound, two ounces, crushing this.

Dave: Look at me.

David: Break this man, leave some sympathy for him, probably advice. Ask [00:15:07] and DHC what’s up.

Dave: Some wise words.

David: Ask them where you should hang out and go to dinner when you come to Boston, September 25th for Hypergrowth. Promo code: Seeking Wisdom.

Dave: You’ve become really a poet with the outros. It’s all connect the dots.

David: Let’s do it. My specialty now is outros.

Dave: I love it.

David: Peace.

Dave: See ya.

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