You don't need to have an established brand to create an online community around an idea.
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In fact, it can go the other way around, argues Jimmy Rose in our latest podcast episode. The community can build your audience, and if you find out what those people want, you can sell it to them.
"You can get their feedback the whole way along and create a product that they really want and then, of course they're going to pay for it, because they've just told you what they want from you. The biggest thing is building that audience before you go too deep on creating something.."
Rose is also fascinated by the concept of Web3 and the community owning a piece of the business they work for.
"I've seen a lot of products launch with some kind of NFT as a lifetime access token, which you can sell to someone else later on and then the original creator of that would get a commission, which is kind of cool. Then anyone that has those NFTs obviously are invested somewhat in the project because now they stand to financially gain from promoting that thing as well. You end up with like an army of people that are promoting something."
Listen to the entire show now from the link above, or download the mp3 and listen at your convenience. Of course, you can also subscribe to the Marketing Smarts podcast in iTunes or via RSS and never miss an episode.
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Matt Snodgrass: Welcome to the Marketing Smarts Podcast brought to you by MarketingProfs. I am super excited to be joined by Jimmy Rose from the absolute other side of the world in Australia.
Jimmy, how are you?
Jimmy Rose: I am doing good. It's nice and early in the morning for me. Thanks for having me on the podcast.
Matt: I need to go on record by saying we could have done this later if you wanted to, because there is no way anybody would ever get me up for a 7:30 AM podcast, not going to happen. Kudos to you, my friend. Thanks for being here.
Jimmy: It's just become a normal part of my day now. If it's not a podcast at this time, it's a demo for our software product or something. 7:30 has actually become late for me now. Some of these calls have to be at 6:30. So, I've been forced into becoming a morning person. Thank you, Eastern US time zone.
Matt: That's a whole world that I want nothing to do with, but I'm probably going to have to change my ways eventually. Thanks for coming on. We have been trying to orchestrate and plan this for several months, so I'm glad we finally got the chance to talk. I'm excited to dig into some stuff here.
Let's start this off. Tell the audience a little bit about yourself, what you're doing, what you're up to, and give us a quick background on who Jimmy Rose is.
Jimmy: Cool. I guess we've been building software products for more than a decade now. That's just insane to say. It's been like 12 years. We've built three software products over that time and sold two of them. You heard it here first, we literally just sold one of them. We'd been trying to sell it for about two years. The money hit our account today, literally just before this.
Matt: Congratulations. We should have champagne or something. I didn't know coming into this. Congratulations.
Jimmy: I think that is one of the few times when I'd allow myself to drink booze at 7:30 in the morning.
Matt: Wow. Congrats. That's really exciting. I'm happy for you.
Jimmy: Thank you. We also built an agency in the middle, so we did websites and marketing for people for 2014 through about 2017/2018 when we shut that down. That's kind of been my journey. More recently, I've built a course teaching people how to use Zapier. I've got to say though, our focus is our primary software product, which is Content Snare, and people use it to collect information from clients instead of going back and forth over email. That's what we do.
Matt: Excellent. I have to ask, what's next now that this is sold, what's your next venture? Can you share?
Jimmy: Content Snare is our focus now. We sold two of three products, so now we're just going hard focusing on our current software product. I think many listeners will appreciate this and feel the same way, having shiny object syndrome, always trying to do new things and not actually focusing on the one thing that you know you should focus on.
It's probably been a two-year process, honestly, to strip everything else out of our business and just make it focusing on Content Snare. Even my course now, I don't have a crazy big community or anything, so it doesn't require a lot of my time, so I'm not too worried about that distracting. But I have stopped doing automation implementation for people and stopped doing basically everything. Even my podcast is starting to slow down. I'm not doing many recordings there, just so I can focus on our product.
Matt: That hurts my heart a little bit. Let's never talk about podcasts slowing down again. It makes me sad.
Jimmy: I love the medium so much, and I listen to a lot of different podcasts. I like interviewing people. It's just our target audience has changed a little bit, so it no longer really fits the strategy. Before it was part of the focus on our software products because it fit right in, but our target market has changed a little bit. I don't know. I've got to work out what we're going to do there.
Matt: That makes sense. That is a reality as these audiences change and as a product evolves. The things that we came up with two and five and 10 years ago are not viable, they're not as worthwhile. Especially, like you said, when you're trying to strip back all of these extra things you're doing, all the extraneous work, and just focus on one thing, sometimes you have to kill your darlings. I hate that phrase, but it is one of those things that at some point you have to just say no, I love doing it, but it's not adding value to what we're trying to build here.
Jimmy: Or it's even worse, if it's subtracting value from what you're trying to do. I love building workflows and automations for people in Zapier and Integromat, so I was doing a bunch of that work. Like I said, if it took me five hours, that's five hours that I'm not spending on our main product. That opportunity cost was way bigger than what I was charging those people.
Matt: Absolutely. We start each episode with three basic questions to get into things. First question for you is what are you reading right now or what are you listening to, what's on your nightstand?
Jimmy: My Kindle is. I'm not a physical book person at all. Unlike you, I can see many in your background. Color coded, too.
Matt: It makes for good audio, but I do have shelves back behind me, tons and tons. I'll just go on record, if anyone sees this, all of those books are completely unread. What's on your Kindle?
Jimmy: I'm actually on a break from business content at the moment. I used to read business books and listen to business podcasts and whatever, but I'm pretty much all fiction now. I've just finished a three-book series called Nexus, which was super cool. The concept was in the future there's this drug that someone has worked out that basically binds to the neurons in your brain and you can communicate with other brains. It was actually recommended by the guys on the podcast I was about to mention, All-In Podcast. It's very futuristic, but also potential real future type book, the implications of what would happen if something like this came to fruition. It's been a really cool book series.
Matt: Nice. Wasn't there a movie with Bradley Cooper where he took a pill and became like almost superhuman or he could read other people's thoughts? I can't remember what it was called.
Jimmy: Yes. Limitless is what you're thinking of. He just became awesome at everything. Nexus was more about over the wire wireless communication with other brains and stuff, which is insane.
Matt: That's cool. That's a great segue because I did want to ask you also from a nonbusiness perspective, what's your favorite podcast? You said you loved the medium and you listen to them a lot. What's your favorite one?
Jimmy: That's hard. Interestingly, right now I'm really enjoying the All-In Podcast, which is huge, it's not exactly an unknown one. I never thought I'd enjoy listening to four rich dudes talk about politics and topical stuff. It's so strange that I like it, because generally those kind of people I just don't enjoy talking to or listening to. But they're actually quite funny. They talk about everything from COVID and how people are reacting to things, politics, and whatever. It's all US based stuff, which shouldn't interest me at all. Actually, there's worldly stuff, too. I'm enjoying that.
Otherwise, the one I'm loving the most right now is Against the Odds. That is a really high production one about stories of people overcoming adversity and really messed up situations. The first series was about the Thai cave rescue, which people might remember. There's one about a plane crash in the Andes, which they made a movie about years ago as well. All these stories where people are in messed up situations and how they got through it, which is really cool.
Matt: So, All-In and Against the Odds. We'll have links to those in the show notes to check out. Those sound great. I haven't listened to either of them, but I will definitely add them to my ever-growing podcast roster that I never get around to.
If they tell you that digital clutter isn't real, that's completely untrue. It's real. I have so much stuff in my Kindle to read, I have so many podcasts to listen to, I have so many video games downloaded that I have to get to playing. There's just so much content that I have bookmarked to consume, I just never have time to get to it.
Jimmy: You almost have to schedule time to go through and clean it out. Delete the podcasts that you're not interested in anymore. I do it all the time. My to-do list tends to get full of stuff and things get pushed down towards the bottom. Every so often, I go in there and just go, "You know what? I don't even need to do that anymore," and just delete 10 or 20 things.
Matt: It's been on the list so long that it's archaic and I don't need it.
Jimmy: Funnily enough, there's a Trello. I don't use Trello anymore, but one of my favorite things was it had Pirate Mode. All your to-do list items, the cards would age and go brown paper edges, so you could see how old all the different cards were. That was awesome.
Matt: I'd be embarrassed to look at mine, though, because they'd be all that color. So, we're in sort of a celebratory mode here. Let's just say we were having a drink together. What would your drink of choice be?
Jimmy: Oh. I knew you were going to ask about drinking, but I didn't know it was going to be at 7:30 in the morning. I would say craft beer. Normally, I'm a nut for craft beer. In fact, I just invested in a crowd funding round for a brewery here in Australia, so now I'm a part owner in a brewery.
Matt: Look at you. We have a quasi-celebrity with us.
Jimmy: Not at all. I don't even know how many zeros would be after the decimal point before the first number in percentage that I own. It's actually a fellow online entrepreneur who sold his business. I don't know if people remember WP Curve that got sold to GoDaddy by Dan Norris a while ago. Now he started a brewery.
But craft beer is my drink of choice. Otherwise, just a ton of water. I have this giant water bottle next to me that people can't see while they're listening to this, but it's 1.5 liters. I don't know what that is in US measurement. It's almost what you need to drink in a day, so my idea is just to put it down and have it finished by the end of the day.
Matt: Ambitious. Way to go. All right, the last question here for you. What are you thinking about from a business standpoint, what's keeping you at night here?
Jimmy: It almost literally is keeping me up at night because my brain won't shut up about it. Definitely the Web 3 side of things. I think I'd like to build something in that space. I don't know what that is at this point. I have a few ideas. For people that don't know the umbrella term, Web 3 is basically crypto, NFTs, ownership of platforms, that kind of stuff. I've been thinking a lot about it because I really dove back into that world last year.
I don't know. I think there's a lot of cool stuff that could happen there, especially better ways to reward employees. Right now, all of our team are around the world and it's really difficult to give them any level of ownership and skin in the game in our business. We could pay them, sure, but giving them a percentage of the company or something is just near impossible with Australian rules. I don't know if they have to be a citizen or something, but it's just ridiculous, it's too hard.
Crypto and that makes me think if we have some kind of tool or product that had an ecosystem of some kind of crypto, then they could own a portion of that, which is kind of exciting to me. That's just one of the benefits, I guess.
Does that answer the question?
Matt: Yes. It's almost a game changer when you get people to have that skin in the game and they feel invested and they're not just working for a paycheck. We all want to work for an organization that believes in the same things we believe in, that has the same values that we share, but when you are actually a part of that, even if it's like 0.0005% owner of something, you have that sort of commitment and dedication, that drive and that desire to really want to make that thing succeed.
In my experience, you're willing to do more and tackle more of those hurdles to make sure that's succeeding because you are an active participant in that. You're not from the sidelines or just collecting a paycheck, but you're actively invested in the thing.
Jimmy: Yes. That's the other really cool thing about Web 3 is customers can have ownership as well. I've seen a lot of products launch with some kind of NFT as a lifetime access token, which you can sell to someone else later on and then the original creator of that would get a commission, which is kind of cool. Then anyone that has those NFTs obviously are invested somewhat in the project because now they stand to financially gain from promoting that thing as well. You end up with like an army of people that are promoting something. I've watched this play out in other communities.
Anyone who is not very keen on crypto and NFT probably just see it as a Ponzi or very little value selling JPGs or whatever. My interest in this is in building a tool that people find value in and applying Web 3 stuff over the top of that. A lot of people are doing that in lots of different ways. It's just a different model of ownership and reimbursing people and incentives.
Matt: I heard someone along the line describe in very simple terms Web 2 was the idea that your customers can help you be creators, they can contribute to something, and Web 3 is that your customers can be owners. Not only can they help create and help contribute to that, but they can actually help own part of the things that they're working on. It's a much more distributed way of thinking and way of doing things. It really is exciting.
My toes are barely dipped in the water here, I know very little about it. We did an episode a few months ago with Jeremiah Owyang and we talked a little bit about it. We talked about a tool called Rally. I don't know if you're familiar with Rally.io, but they mint creator coins. If you had your own podcast, if you were a content creator and wanted to mint a coin, you could do that, and then there are all the benefits that you have from owning the coins. It's a really cool thing because as your creator coin increases in value, the people that are holding it get rewarded as well. It's this distributed model that's really cool because just by holding it you are gaining value, as long as the coin is performing well.
It's kind of a cool thing to think about. You're helping someone out, but you're gaining value at the same time, and the whole community is winning as long as things keep moving up.
Jimmy: A lot of Web 2 stuff is people being the product. Like if you sit on Facebook all day, you get basically nothing out of it, just some entertainment and they sell your data. Whereas there's a concept, which I haven't fully wrapped my head around yet, but you could essentially see some of that value back if you were one of the people that spends a ton of time on Facebook and you're somewhat contributing to that revenue stream, then you can get rewarded for that.
There's a cryptocurrency called Basic Attention Token, which is trying to create a kind of ad revenue type distribution thing so you can actually get paid for attention, but you can also get paid to get more eyeballs on your content. Obviously, this money has to come from somewhere, which I guess it's advertisers and that kind of thing. To actually reward the people that are providing their attention as well so they're not just the product is an interesting concept.
Matt: There is so much potential there. As I said, I am by no means an expert. I'm just starting to learn about it, but it really is fascinating the different things that people are doing with this and the different ways of thinking around it. I'm excited to see where we are even a year from now, because things look fundamentally different than they did a year ago. I think change is just going to happen so quickly moving forward.
Jimmy: Yes, 100%.
Matt: Then there's the other side of the regulations that are definitely going to come into play at some time. But I don't want to bore everyone talking about that, so we're going to skip that. Let's jump topics a little bit here. One of the things that we were talking about off air was all the things that you have done to lead up to launch, lead up to a software launch, lead up to a product launch. I want to touch base on that a little bit, because I know a lot of our audience is in that stage.
We have a lot of B2B marketers who are getting ready to launch new products or are in the process of building communities around a product or a service, and I want to sort of pick your brain on this. When we're thinking about prelaunch, we have a thing, whether it's software, a physical product, a service, whatever it is, we have something and we're getting ready to open it up to the world. What do you think is the most important component of all your prelaunch events, of all that prelaunch work?
Jimmy: It's just building an audience. It's the whole audience-first approach to building. That was a big difference in what we did with Content Snare, our current product. That flowed into my Zapier course as well, so I had that audience to be able to sell them something. I guess that is the key. If you have an audience, you can find out what they want, and then sell that to them, or create what they need.
I remember speaking to some friends – well, they're friends now, but I remember hearing from them years ago that they had this Instagram account that did lots of food related stuff, I think they did really nice recipes and created cool food, and they didn't have a business at all. I remember they went to all of these business conferences, and they were trying to learn what to do. They just had this huge following, and they were able to turn that into a monetized business so fast because all they had to do was ask the people what they wanted and give it to them. I saw that from the outside. These guys went from making basically no money to decent coin pretty quickly. Yes, they had a massive audience.
It just makes it so much easier when you have the audience and you can ask them things, you can ask them what problems they have and what you need to build in whatever you're doing, whether it's a product or a service. You can get their feedback the whole way along and create a product that they really want and then of course they're going to pay for it because they've just told you what they want from you. That I think is the biggest thing is building that audience before you go too deep on creating something.
Matt: How do you tackle that when you just have an idea or you just have a proof of concept, but you haven't actually built anything yet? How do you find people who are interested to gather around just a concept before it is a real thing?
Jimmy: That's a really good question. It's so varied from audience to audience or business to business. Take us for an example. We had a pretty solid idea of what we wanted to build, and we were likely going to build something for digital agencies. Maybe the idea wasn't perfect, but we knew it was going to be in that space for digital agencies, so we just built a community for digital agencies. That involved sharing a lot of valuable stuff for them. Sometimes that was our own content, sometimes that was other people's content. It was a Facebook Group at the start, so people could come in and ask questions and get questions answered once there was momentum. Really, it was more audience focused, a specific group of people rather than something for a specific product.
I don't go in any Facebook groups for a specific product. I don't care. Right? But I'll go on a Facebook group that has stuff that's relevant to me, like maybe as a content creator or something. If you know you want to build something for content creators, you create a group for content creators. It can also be around something you love, like these guys were just creating food, they loved making nice healthy meals, so that's what they created their audience around and then they went on and had a recipe app or something. Now they're actually in pilates and yoga, because naturally the audience of health nuts sort of fell into that, and it worked.
If someone has an idea for a product, it's kind of hard, you need to start with an audience, but you kind of can reverse engineer that. If you have the idea for the product, you already have a product, if you know the target audience, which you should, you can build an audience around that, a community around that retroactively.
Matt: Building a community is not easy. It takes time. It's one of these things that it sounds wonderful on paper and everyone comes at this with good intentions, but it's something that it takes time to build up, it takes time to build that engagement. I see a lot of companies and a lot of organizations who start the process and have great intentions and put a lot of effort into it, and don't see a huge payout immediately. We're used to the digital marketing world where you can run an ad and you can see the results in real time or sending an email and you know within 24 hours whether that email was a flop or a success.
Community doesn't work that way because you have to put a lot of time and effort, you have to put a lot of elbow grease, I guess, into getting people engaged, into getting people talking and starting that conversation. When you have done this, when you have built your communities up around ideas, when did you realize we have something here that's successful, from a timeline standpoint?
Jimmy: I don't remember the timeframe. It's probably a good several months, probably up towards six months. I remember a friend of mine started a local business Facebook group here in Brisbane years ago, and I always remember what he said. He felt like he was the only man on the dancefloor for like six months before there was any level of decent engagement. He was the one having to start conversations, he was the one sharing stuff. I remembered that throughout our whole process of building this thing.
I go into some communities that are kind of new and there's just crickets, there's nothing even from the founder, as if that's ever going to work. That's the teams' responsibility, the founder or if there is a team behind it, to be getting in there and starting discussions, asking questions.
That was what I was doing for months of sharing our own content, writing native posts in there without links, sharing other people's content. I used to follow lots of blogs with an RSS reader like Feedly. I'd pick out the best stuff and I'd stick that in there and say I thought it was a good post and why this is valuable for that audience to read. Then also asking questions relevant to that audience, or even just general stuff like, "Tell me about a win you had today," or, "Tell me about a crappy client experience you've had," or things like this. People would get involved.
There was nothing there for a while, but fairly quickly, six months is reasonably fast, it was a pretty engaged group and had lots of stuff going on.
Matt: Six months seems like forever when you are that only dude on the dancefloor, because you are constantly posting, and it feels like you're constantly just pushing. Eventually, someone responds. Then two people respond. That's when you sort of see there is something here. It's just a process that we all have to go through. All communities grow at different sizes and different rates, but there is going to be this time period where it just feels like you're shouting into the void.
Matt: A lot of people feel uncomfortable there and a lot of organizations don't want to fight to get past that, but that's the most important thing is if you can stick to that, it will happen. You guys saw it took six months. Another company it might take 18 months. The point is it will happen if you're providing something that's helpful to people and if you're providing useful.
It doesn't have to be perfect, it doesn't have the perfectly created ideally curated content. It might be something, like you said, tell me about something crappy that happened this week. It's things like that that people respond to and it resonates with them. Eventually, they come back to this because they realize this is a good source of information, or these are like-minded people and I've found my tribe.
Jimmy: You can do a lot. If your focus is building a community, everything should be funneled to that as well. I started a newsletter on top of that as well, so I continue to write that newsletter to this day. It's curated. Half of it was the same stuff that I shared in the group, just great articles, so literally just a curation of other people's stuff with my own little commentary on each post. A lot of people really enjoyed that because they knew it was actually good content that I was sharing. I kind of grew that in tandem, so people would find the newsletter through the group and people would find the group through the newsletter.
Every bit of content we're ranking for content in various things SEO-wise, so people go to Google search something that audience searches for, and we have an opt-in there to join the group or join the newsletter. Everything is feeding into that. Then eventually I started a podcast, and that was the same, all the initial listeners for that came from the newsletter and the group. Maybe people would discover the podcast on their own, and of course I'd talk about the group and try to funnel people back into the group.
You don't have to do all of this at once. People might listen to that and think, "I can't do all of that." You only have to do one thing. Then once you have that dialed in, then you can bolt on the next thing, and the next thing. It becomes this flywheel of just building a decent community that are hearing from you in multiple ways. That's the other key. They're seeing you in the group, hearing you on the podcast, and seeing your newsletter as well.
Matt: I love the concept of the flywheel. It's one that a lot more organizations are embracing, so I'm glad that you brought that up. The content flywheel is great. I also like the idea of repurposing content. Like you said, you took a lot of that same stuff that you were already posting, and you just packaged it in a different way. You don't have to create all this brand new content. You just package it in a different way and serve it to a different audience, and now you're amplifying those efforts. It's that flywheel again. You're putting in that same effort, but now you're getting a heck of a lot more reward out of it because you have those efficiencies.
Jimmy: For sure.
Matt: Jimmy, thank you so much for your time today, my friend. I really appreciate having you on. It was great talking with you.
Jimmy: Awesome. Thank you for having me on. This has been a good chat. Hopefully, some people found that helpful.
Matt: Absolutely. If folks want to learn more about you and what you're doing, where can they go?
Jimmy: ContentSnare.com is our software product. If they want, I have a personal blog at JimmyRose.me, which is all about automation and productivity. I teach people how to use Zapier more effectively, that kind of thing, and just get more productive in their day to day. That's kind of my fun site and Content Snare is the main business. Actually, maybe @_JimmyRose as well, connect with me on Twitter. I'm loving the Twitter.
Matt: We'll put all of this information in your bio on the podcast page so people can link and reach out to you at all of those places.
Friends, before we end this podcast, I am going to ask you for one favor. It's the usual favor I ask at the end of each episode. We don't need five-star reviews, we don't need a ton of feedback, although that is great if you want to provide it. What I would love you to do is find one person, one colleague, one coworker, one friend, one neighbor, and let them know you listened to the Marketing Smarts Podcast, let them know there's a lot of great information here. Do me a favor, share this with just one single person. That's all I ask. Until next time, have a great day.
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Published on February 17, 2022
Jimmy Rose, a co-founder of Content Snare—a software platform that helps professionals collect content and files from clients. Once an automation engineer, his new priority is to help business owners regain their lives, be more productive, and get more done in less time.
LinkedIn: James Rose
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