Good product & great sales success doesn't make your business grow! Product usage does!

Your customer using your product to the best of its ability will make your business grow. 📈

A good product won't make your business grow.

A good sales success won't make your business grow.

Your business may grow a bit, but your business will struggle....

What will grow your business? Your customer using your product to the best of its ability will make your business grow. 👈

Product Usage

Product usage will help you reach Product-Market Fit and refine better.

Product Usage => Market Fit ⇒ Product Usage => Market Fit ......{continue} 👍

You establish the product experience from the user feedback and analysis.

While most teams may celebrate sales success and how their product is good but ultimately, "usage" & "experience" should be your "prime" thing to celebrate across the organization.


Coincidentally, I read a few things last week and found these 2 paragraphs from the book 'The 1-Page Marketing Plan' fascinating to share with you.

If I've owned a treadmill for a long time but I haven't lost any weight, does this prove that treadmills don't work? This is obviously a ridiculous conclusion. For my treadmill to "work" I've got to turn it on, run on it for a while, sweat and repeat the process on a regular basis. Buying it is just the first step. Putting it to its intended use is another. While this may seem obvious, a big part of the battle you'll fight is getting people to do what they need to do to achieve results with your product or service.

Some business owners feel like following through to implementation is not their responsibility, that their customers should be responsible for getting results with the product or service they've bought. However, this is shortsighted. We live in a world that's fast-paced, with a lot of things competing for the time and attention of our customers. Our goal is for our customers to achieve results. A customer who buys a product or service and doesn't use it or implement it correctly is highly likely to write it off as something that doesn't work and that's the last thing we want. At best, it ends up being a one-off sale, and at worst, it ends up being labeled a scam. As ridiculous as is someone calling a treadmill a scam because they failed to actually use it, a consumer can do the same with your product or service.

So, your job is to find a way to sell what your prospects want but also to give them what they need. To get them to take action and do what they need to do to get results may mean that you have to package things in a certain way. You may need to cut the process up into manageable, bite-sized pieces so that it doesn't seem so daunting.


You need a wide range of tools and process to measure and facilitate usage.

👉 🛑 Product Usage data ≠ Product Analytics

How do you measure usage?

The answer:

  • Is your user able to use the product easily?

  • What benefits your product offers?

  • How do you ensure benefits are measurable?

  • How do you track benefits?

  • How do you record customer interactions across organizational functions?

Usage data = Product use interactions + Sales acquisition interactions + Marketing engagement interactions + Customer success interactions

Product use interactions

For digital products, you can find a wealth of information around usage using product analytics tools (Mixpanel, Heap, Pendo, Amplitude and more).

Product usage analytics can help you figure out: (Source: Mixpanel)

  • Which features are the most popular

  • Overall product performance

  • How engaged users are

  • The type of users that use the product most heavily/often

  • Whether users find value in a product/service/plan

  • What friction points or issues users are running into

  • The stickiness of the product

  • Effectiveness of engagement strategies and campaigns

  • What a user workflow looks like

  • How adoption or retention vary across user segments

  • When and how you need to communicate with your users

  • The results of A/B testing on user behavior

✋ Note: Usage analytics is not documenting or just data collection, but to iterate product-market fit and find adjacent needs/pains.

However, product analytics is useless; read this brilliant piece on whyhttps://heap.io/blog/analysis/product-analytics-is-useless

Sales acquisition interactions

Your sales team has tons of data while interacting with your customer to acquire. These data from CRM systems will offer you excellent insights.

Similarly, your inbound acquisition via website/app has tons of data, which is captured via your marketing analytics.

Marketing engagement interactions

Your user is interacting with your campaigns and contents in various channels. How are you making use of the same?

Customer success interactions

Customer success is interacting with your customer during pre and post-sales/acquisition on an ongoing basis. How are you collecting these data from various software and plugging back into your overall usage analytics?

//

There are more interactions such as your own software data, third-party software, outsourced support systems, automation and more. You can build your own solution to integrate all data or use Segment, Tray, Fivetran, etc. and use BI solutions to derive insights further. Measuring usage is an evolving challenge!

//

How do you grow usage?

  • Simplified onboarding /offer assisted setup for enterprise solutions

  • Great user guide

  • Community user/member support

  • Ongoing product training

  • Engage customer in your product development iterations (voting /most painful need, etc.)

  • Refining your solution(product) to remove unwanted features & complexities

and more such activities that are applicable to your product/business.

I will leave you with a thought for your startup:

The purpose of growth is to scale the usage of a product that has a product-market fit. You do this by building a playbook on how to scale the usage of a product.

Casey Winters, Chief Product Officer at Eventbrite

Webinar Playbook

You can copy this playbook for free. I have used this playbook for my work and continues to refine it.

Playbook to plan, host and manage webinars.

1. Plan webinars

Hosting a successful webinar involves many activities and preparation to establish an authority in your space.

Audience & Customer survey

Always survey your customers and audience to gather the right insights for your webinar and the kind of content that will be useful.

  • {List your survey inputs}

Analyze competitors & industry

Helps to ideate the right topics and Do’s and Dont’s

  • {List your key findings}

Research topics

Your webinars need to offer tremendous knowledge and know-how, hence gather customers' inputs, research, and insights from industry/competitors to arrive on the right topics.

  • {List your topics}

Webinar positioning

Our positioning strategy is to position the webinar as a unique one for our customers and the industry.

  • {Fill your positioning strategy statement}

Webinar content

With topics & positioning established, prepare 6 to 8 webinar contents that have to go through your marketing function to finalize. During content preparation, identify possible speakers /co-hosts.

Bring your team members for the content creation and collaboration. 👇

👉Webinar Content Planner

Inform & Invite speakers/co-host

We inform and invite speakers to ensure

  • they like to join your webinars

  • they align with the content outline for the specific webinar

  • they can block a few hours in their calendar for the webinar

Create a speaker database for all your webinars. This will help you to bring them again for future webinars too. 👇

👉 Speakers Database

Webinar Email Templates

Write all your email copy and manage it in one place for team members to access the same and use a similar tone.

👉 Webinar Email Copy

Webinar Software

Here are the list of webinar software we have identified based on our need.

Note: You can use G2 and many other review sites to compare platforms: https://www.g2.com/categories/virtual-event-platforms

Now you are ready to launch your webinars.

2. Launch Webinars

Launch your website to list webinars.

Webinar Website

Launch the website to list webinars and allow visitors to register. Note: You have to regularly manage webinar content listing to add new listing and move the older ones accordingly. If you are already using a CMS for your website, extend the same to launch your webinar resources page or use your blog CMS to create a 'webinar' category to make it easy to manage content.

Add Upcoming Webinar Page

Create a landing page in your webinar website, add appropriate content and CTA button(s), which links to your webinar registration page URL/widget to open.

Webinar Registration

Every webinar software offers a registration landing page that you can save as a template and use the templates to create one or more upcoming webinar registrations. Keep

Schedule upcoming webinar registration.

Publish 2 upcoming webinar registration to go live. Don't publish all upcoming ones; your immediate webinars should get maximum registrations.

Promote - Upcoming Webinar

You need to promote your upcoming webinar to have a sizeable attendee registrations.

Webinar Promotion Channels

Pre-Webinar Day Checklist

There are many other smaller activities to track; here is the checklist. 👇

👉 Pre-Webinar Day Checklist

3. Webinar Day

Get ready for the webinar day. Avoid any last-minute changes to your schedule. Here is a checklist to follow.

👉 Webinar Day Checklist

4. Post-Webinar

After your webinar is completed, here are the TODO tasks.

Publish Webinar

Here is a checklist to publish your webinar.

👉 Publish Webinar Checklist

Update Webinar Page

After the webinar is completed and you have a recording ready, you need to update the webinar page to remove the 'register' button and embed the webinar video. Move the Webinar page from 'upcoming webinars' to 'past webinars'.

Webinar Distribution

Distribute your webinar contents in all channels such as Video, Slide, Blog, Medium Post, Tweet, Email, Messaging and various social media channels.

👉 Post-Webinar Distribution


You can get the playbook and all templates from my website.

References & Credits

You can use this playbook for free. I have used this playbook for my work and continues to refine it. You can find bookmark my website Knowledgebase section to find reference to this template.

Share

I am active on Twitter, you can 😀 shoutout whether you loved 💚the playbook/ just an appreciation/ suggestions 🤔 for me to incorporate. Also, do share the playbook with your friends and colleagues.

Document your journey in your startup

Startup is a roller coaster journey and every founding team needs to focus more on the immediate pressure/need, and most seem to miss out on documenting their 'early' journey. I saw this happening in my own startup and saw this in dozens of fellow founders too.

I will be correcting it in my next startup and recommend the same to all the new/current founders.

Documenting your journey helps:

-Shaping your culture

-Recording your experiments

-Avoiding assumptions and/or bias

-Building transparency across the organization

-Remembering serendipities

-Recording key inputs and data from market, customer and industry over the years 

and more

Document all meetings

Have a functional level or org level meeting log which records the discussion, and (dis)agreed thoughts/inputs from the key sessions.

You can use a pure text-based documentation /markup documentation to build better context (using Notion /Roam Research) or video record it. I prefer Notion and Loom for the above.

You will be surprised by the depth of thinking and analysis when you revisit five years from now. Your team decision making and thought process will be super. There are no rooms for confusion, and you will have a ready set of data to course-correct too.

Document OKR /Goal/ Metrics

If you are using OKR /any other model, document everything and make it visible for all employees. Let all the team members (& stakeholders) know what was agreed and align all work keeping OKR in mind.

Document All-Hands

During your monthly/quarterly/yearly all-hands meeting, document everything your team presented/ discussed. 

Document 1–1 meeting with team members

1-1 meeting/lunch among management to team members, investors to management teams, key leadership team members, and all such 1-1 lunch meetings are informal and very personal at times.

However, keeping personal things private during this 1-1 meeting, you need to encourage your team members to share their minds. Gather critical insights or parallel inputs their views about the business. Document these anonymously/with consent.

Document Customer Feedback & Testimonials

Ask any startup to share their feedback log or testimonial log; you will be surprised how this very haphazardly managed.

Your team must thoroughly document all customer inputs without removing certain parts based on your assumptions/bias or pattern-matching.

Document Key Milestones

Document your key milestones, whether you reached $1k ARR or $500k ARR. 

Document Team Member Profile

This is a major missing among many startups, including in my previous startup. While we celebrate new team members joining with a party, we must document their profiles in their own words. Keep celebrating their participation in your journey. You should keep this updated when a team member moves on too.

Document The Journey Book

Start jotting down key happenings in your company. Share this journey book with your team, while hiring (&onboarding) and stakeholders. Your journey book is your culture, passion, failures, success, and ambitions.

Resources

I have been compiling and keeping various templates & resources in my website. Have a look 👉 https://santoshpanda.com/9869ee16acc34abfb63557bab0e0c88d

I will be adding more such resources on https://santoshpanda.com/knowledgebase

Do share your thoughts and also awesome templates/resources you might be using.

PS: I had written this post in my medium, but this post is the latest and updated one!

Letting go

As an entrepreneur, always renew!

Letting go is a powerful thing in business. It gives you an opportunity for course correction, builds new momentums, and new avenues.

Let go People - Those who can’t wait longer or don’t align the vision of impactful journey (of course with a struggle) or you don’t make sense for them. Respect their choice. Not all want to struggle/need to struggle as their lifestyle.

Let go Customers - Those who don’t see your value offerings and not willing to make it better by contributing what they need. Respect their choice. Some graduate to understand better and come back. Respect.

Let go Market segments - Your product won’t suit all segments, let some go, focus on where you thrive, and customers enjoy your offerings. Be a leader in a few market segments.

Let go Features - Give up fancy features for the sake of it. Measure what is used and what is just there. Improve if some features are useful but not scoped out fully.

Let go Products - Too many products without adding any value to your core propositions? How about mapping what customer needs, and repackaging? How about putting some in open-source mode, and use as a magnet to lead generation or write-off a few products? Those making sense (revenue or ideal customer acquisition /lead gen) will stay, rest will go.

Let go Cultures - It is so easy to get stuck in the glorious past. But, time waits for none and change demands review. Let go of some cultures and adopt new ones.

Make sure you respect emotions, choices, and drive decisions based on data.

Welcome

Welcome to Founder Learning - Santosh Panda’s Newsletter

About Santosh Panda

Santosh Panda is an entrepreneur with over two decades of experience. With a shoestring budget, I built a successful business & brand Explara, serving thousands of customers worldwide. 

Explara was my 3rd Startup that went through years of perseverance to withstand numerous failure and shutdown modes to become profitable. I started 2 business in London during 2005 & 06, both failed. 

Before starting up Explara, I was a software product engineer in eBay UK, BBC iPlayer, William Hill Betting platform and TouchNote. Before that, I was part of several startups during the dotcom era of the 2000s in the USA.

You can find more about my work on my personal Website, on LinkedIn and my musings on Twitter.

Why subscribe to the “Founder Learning” newsletter?

Through my “Founder Learning” newsletter, you will learn how to startup, raise fund (customer/VC), run business efficiently and profitably. 

Why am I so sure you will have practical learning from my newsletter?

  1. Having started up during 2005, 2006 and 2007 while I had a day job in eBay UK, I know how hard it is to Bootstrap! I will share practical tips and 1-1 ideas to help you.

  2. Started a company in India while living in London and grew the business from 0 to $1m gross revenue. I was the "CEO", operating remotely during 2008-2011. I will share how to build remote teams.

  3. Raised fund from the marquee angel investors and VCs and could retain their trust and faith for years. I will share ideas how/when to raise funds and if your execution is super, I won't mind an intro to angels.

  4. I struggled for years with loss-making due to the commodity-market and stiff competitions. I will share how to choose a market and what not to do!

  5. I expanded my business to South East Asia and could transform my business from a commodity software to an enterprise high-value product. I will share how you should explore markets and re-align your products.

  6. I never had issues in hiring while growing my startup to 40+ team members. I can easily share a word about you with my huge network. I am generally passionate about connecting quality people.

  7. I am sharing my learnings while I re-learn and fine-tune my approach for my upcoming startup. 🤔 You will learn practical and useful topics.

  8. I am appreciated as a resourceful and high-networked entrepreneur. We will expand the network together.

Thanks!
Santosh

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