Episode 2 — July 2019 Growth Report

Source: https://www.autogrow.co/july-2019-growth-report/

As I write this, my team and I are 9 weeks into this new journey we started at the beginning of June.

For those who don’t know, I recently relaunched AutoGrow’s productized Done-For-You service.

The “destination” we’re headed for is getting clearer every day.

Our short-term vision is to build a scalable service to help busy business owners like you, plan, create, and optimize your sales funnels on an ongoing basis.

It has been an amazing journey filled with lots of powerful lessons and painful mistakes, but, how’d we do this last month?… 

Well, so far we’re doing great. 

We staffed up a handful of people these past weeks. The team is only getting stronger and more solid as we get the right people in the right roles (still working on that and you’ll see why).

But I also had to remove several people from the team because of UNACCEPTABLE behaviors… 

I’ll share what I learned from those uncomfortable but necessary situations… 

Revenue-wise, we grew our monthly recurring revenue (MRR) from ~$5,400 to $13,493, which is a 250% increase. I’ll tell you how this was possible… 

I think that is pretty great but I’m not ready to “drink the Kool Aid” just yet (ever? haha). What I mean is, this is a tough business model to start up and scale, and I’ll tell you more below about some of the challenges we’ve faced and how we’re already overcoming them.

In addition, I’ll tell you some really interesting story anecdotes from working with my team and the clients, that I am sure you’ll relate to.

Let’s go! 

Performance

MRR for July is up 250% (we went from 3 clients to 7 client accounts in just one month).

Revenue overall is up from ~$8,900 to $15,636.95 (a 64% increase).

This was all possible because of the extraordinary effort the team and I have put on the company and the extra hours of hard work I have invested in all of our clients.

We now have 7 active clients using our service and we’ve already earned a fistful of testimonials.

One client canceled, but I’m proud to say it had nothing to do with us. In fact, he actually gave us a powerful testimonial.

The Best Company I’ve Ever Worked With” one said, along with a detailed 5-star review, and the well-earned compliment that he’d recommend us to anyone.

But focusing solely on our Done-For-You service has made the revenue for our products go WAY down. Here’s why:

Until the end of last month, we totally neglected to keep up with publishing new content.

I felt sort of bad about this since we’d had a very consistent streak of publishing at least one article weekly since 2014.

Still, it was sort of necessary. 

Hiring, selling, systemizing, QAing deliverables to clients, updating the website—all took up way a ton of time and simply were a higher priority.

Plus, compared to 2017 when we launched an earlier version of the Done-For-You Funnel Service, our traffic is 2X higher now. So, inbound lead generation hasn’t been our top concern. 

Leads came in steadily right from the start.

Now that we’re publishing new and valuable content once weekly again, I expect $1,100 in revenue to rise significantly in August.

So far, it’s definitely up but I want to see us get back to $3,000 at least in the short term.

The focus since the beginning of June has been on providing a high-quality service to each new clients as they sign up, though.

I’ll admit that focusing on the quality of work and quality of the experience was *not* our top priority with the previous version of the service in 2017. We were much more growth-focused! And that was a mistake…

But we’ve 110% corrected for it now, and we are earning weekly testimonials as a result of our triple quality check guarantee.

In a short amount of time, we’ve really invested (developing internal systems) to make quality assurance part of the DNA of our company and the service. 

I think this is what will help us stand out from any copycats long term since we launched the web’s FIRST productized funnel service back in 2015.

I got the idea to make quality assurance a focus because (1) if I were a client of our service, high-quality work is what I’d expect, and (2) we have been re-enforcing our current service from studying the negative reviews of such copycat companies that sprung up after us—and other productized / scalable services in general.  

As I already alluded to, we’ve earned a fistful of testimonials from clients already, so it’s more work but it is definitely paying off.

In the near future, as we grow, I want to tally up the leads / sales we’re generating for clients and use that as a measure of our impact in these Growth Reports as well.

Afterall, it’s cool to share how AutoGrow is doing, but I think it adds to our story and is more interesting to you if I include stories and examples of our work.

For example, here are 5 recent lead generation / sales landing pages we have launched or are about to launch for clients:

Clients are definitely very happy with all the time we’re saving them too. From what they tell me, that’s also a huge value add. 

I’ve learned that the people who don’t recognize how valuable this aspect is (i.e. we plan, create, optimize everything in the funnel—top-to-bottom), the are not our target market.

For instance, here’s what one client said:

“A key piece that people don’t realize is that every little decision you have to make along the way of setting up a funnel is a potential rabbit hole to get stuck in. Especially those of us cursed with perfectionist tendencies. And once you go down a rabbit hole chunks of time magically disappear. You guys are the rabbit hole prevention team.” – Brian Maiolo, Hardnut Advertising

Process

I’ve been doing a lot of financial modeling and projections in a spreadsheet recently. 

The analytical side of my brain loves this because numbers are so “perfect” and “beautiful”…

“What’s that? $4 Billion in revenue in 4 years? Sounds wonderful.”

But then the more realistic and experienced entrepreneurial side of my brain says: shut up Matt and get back to work—because HEY, those numbers? Yeah, those numbers = a ton of hard work.

Our process right now is to set a cap on the number of new clients we can take on each month.

This helps ensure we grow fast enough, but not too fast where “the wheels come off”. It also helps us make sure every client gets high-quality work and a great experience.

Setting a cap like this is also something I teach as a marketing tactic in my most recent ebook (and audiobook) “Productize & RELAX.”

The idea is, that as a service, most people see the inability to take on infinite clients as a disadvantage. But, this is actually an advantage.

By the way, if you want to save yourself a ton of time and “AutoGrow” your leads and sales, we have 2 out of 3 spots left for this month. One of those will be taken soon.

Check out our Done-For-You Funnel Service here.

We started documenting and writing down large portions of our work systems. It’s incremental though. We’ve already locked down much of the process, but we’re also making improvements to it daily.

For that reason, my project manager, Belle and I are working with each team member individually to help them learn the workflow.

Mistakes still pop-up this way, but it allows us to stay flexible and quickly optimize tasks or the workflow in general.

The engineer in me wanted to diagram and document everything on day 1, but I’m glad I held off on that.

This is also me to practice what I preach, as it related to what I teach in “Productize & RELAX.”

People 

This might sound odd to some of you… or you might nod your head and say “I know exactly what you mean”… 

But one of the things I’m most proud of in my personal and professional growth recently in being able to tell people NO.

What I mean by that is:

  • No, this copy or landing page doesn’t meet our standards, we need to make it better.
  • No, disappearing for 2 days when we’re expecting an update form you is not ok.
  • No (to people applying to work with us who don’t have the right experience, attitude, attention to detail, etc.)

In the past, I used to have poor standards for our team. I used to be shy when it came to saying NO to someone.

Maybe I was simply avoiding what I saw as conflict.

MaybeI didn’t set the bar (“This is good work and where we want to be, up here—and this over here is not acceptable) because, I worried that losing someone would “throw the business into chaos”.

But, as it turns out, saying “the bar is up here” actually makes the best people stay, and it works (almost) automatically to remove the people who aren’t performing well.

We are currently hiring (for the Strategist, Content Writer, and Project Manager positions in particular) and place the right people in the right roles because for us, someone who’s just “going thru the motions” is not a fit for AutoGrow. 

On the other hand, people who are excited to learn, grow, do their best work, AND yes, earn $ are a fit.

For instance, we’ve gone through a few copywriters in just the last two months.

And by a few, I mean 4. XD

By the way, I’m not shy to share this info because this is a BIG part of the value we bring to clients. Because if it wasn’t AutoGrow streamlining the hiring process behind the scenes, the client would have to deal with it, and that would be a BIG waste of time for them to go through all the hiring, interviewing, managing, etc.

I won’t mention any names here. But I will tell you all about these challenging situations. Hopefully you can learn from my experience…

  • Our first copywriter simply was not a copywriter. She was a content writer with too many grammar errors.… BYE! That was the fastest I’d ever removed someone from the team, and it was the right call.
  • Our next copywriter was very responsive and wrote quickly… unfortunately, he asked to be paid a ridiculous hourly rate which didn’t work with our model and was not win-win at all. I tried to find a win-win solution since I liked him, but he wouldn’t budge. SEE YA!
  • The next copywriter was always annoyed by the feedback the editor and I would give him to make his copy better and more persuasive. He was a nice guy and actually improved a lot as we pushed him, but he wasn’t willing to meet our standard. We parted ways soon after that became clear.. 
  • Finally, we had a  content writer in training to be a copywriter would disappear for long periods of time, DAYS. She wouldn’t reply to our requests for updates, and didn’t deliver the work on time. So that was the end of that. Some people fire themselves.

One thing all of this has taught me is that a lot of copywriters actually do not know as much as they should about how to write persuasive copy

And that’s the key difference between a content writer and a copywriter. 

A copywriter SELLS. A content writer primarily educates and communicates.

As a result of facing and solving these difficult situations, we’re becoming more and more rigorous with the hiring process, and I’m putting together a detailed training process for new copywriters. I think we’ll probably sell it to our email list too as its own training product in the future.

Long story short, at the beginning of this month, we hired Alex as our new copywriter, and copywriting has been TOTALLY removed as a bottleneck in the process. He’s doing great and is really a pleasure to work with.

Plus, our QA Editor enjoys editing copy again 🙂

Still, we need to keep improving our hiring process to attract more talented, serious people in the future. And we will have to figure out how to do it 100X faster than we do today.

Stay tuned…

This is where product development comes in.

Turning AutoGrow into a Truly Scalable Service for Busy Business Owners

As we grow, we need a better way to keep track of client tasks and tracking results.

So, we’re building a piece of software to help us do it.

You can actually get on the waiting list from our Pricing page to try it.

I’d say that was another minor win for the month of July by the way—hiring a developer and he learned what I coded so far for the AutoGrow App. He began work on a few new features too.

We’re currently using Trello + Gmail to communicate with our clients, but I want to centralize everything and automate tracking of results as well for after we launch our funnels.

It will also give our clients an amazing experience because they can send us tasks (on demand) and see them being worked on in real-time (progress bars).

It’s part of our long-term vision.

Here’s how I’d explain what we’re creating…

Remember how in Aladdin he finds “the lamp” with the blue genie (Robin Williams)?

Well, at AutoGrow, we’re building the magic lamp to give clients an “instant marketing team” who can plan, create, optimize, and maintain every piece of their digital marketing funnel.

It sounds crazy ambitious, I know. But it’s what we’re doing.

We’re on track to start testing the software internally next week.

We’ll see how it goes… Since I am delegating the coding of it, the process has been moving more slowly. I’m hopeful I can work with our current developer to speed up the process because we are SO CLOSE!

I’ll share more on this in our next update

Conclusion

Looking ahead to the next month, my goal is for us to break $20K in revenue for August.

I think we can do it, but we’ll see…

Leads in August have been slower, partly because we haven’t been putting out valuable content as regularly as we would prefer.

We’ll also be launching the ability for people to buy our Funnel Strategy Blueprints directly from our website. 

These are the plans we create and customize for each new client account. It includes a TON of really useful stuff so clients can even go and use it to implement a successful sales funnel themselves if they want to.

For instance, AutoGrow’s Funnel Strategy Blueprint includes:

  • An ads analysis
  • Funnel diagram
  • ALL the steps for the first 90 days broken into 3 phases (launch date within 6-7 weeks)
  • Growth tracker
  • 1-on-1 consultation 
  • And more…

It’s the first stepping stone on the path to having AutoGrow plan, create, and optimize your sales funnel.

Book a call with us if you have questions or if you would like to order your blueprint.

Other priorities for this month include hiring a Project Manager and a Funnel Strategist.

The challenge with the latter will be making sure I delegate effectively and with proper training (working on that now).

I think those are our biggest areas for improvement too because Belle and I are getting a bit overloaded with work as we grow.

Should be an exciting rest of the month as new client accounts begin going live and seeing leads and sales come in.

That’s it for this month’s update.

Leave a comment and let me know what you got from this article that was most beneficial.

Also, what questions or info do you wish I’d included if any? 

Let me know and I’ll reply to you directly.

Keep funnelin’, stay focused,

tomas

LEAN LEADERSHIP CONSULTANT at TOP WEBINARS EVENT
Online enterprenuer.
Lean leadership consultant.

tomas

Online enterprenuer. Lean leadership consultant.

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