Want to go for a Run?
Back when I was a serious distance runner, those words were the invitation my friends and I would offer to each other before a training run.
Building a company from scratch has often been compared to running a marathon. There is the burst of the start (company launch), followed by maintaining focus (same as in business), working through the pain (Inevitable business setbacks), maintaining the running pace regardless of the hills and weather (company growth), and finally crossing the finish line (success).
Walking up to the Starting Line
In June of 2016 our sister company, Brand My Email, started placing graphical icons (such as the one below) at the bottom of their emails which offered viewers financial incentives if they referred their friends.
The response was very promising, and Brand My Email quickly recognized the need to automate the process. An automated referral lead process was designed and developed over the summer. So, whenever a referrer clicked on the icon, both the referrer and their friend’s information were placed in Brand My Email’s CRM (Customer Relationship Management software). Plus, the referrer’s earned referral credit, called “Branding Bucks”, was placed into referrer’s account which could be spent on future purchases for Brand My Email’s products or services.
It was a hit! By October 2016, 80% of Brand My Email’s leads were coming from referrals. Plus, Brand My Email’s customers were starting to ask if they could buy the referral generation capability for their own company! They needed a new source of qualified leads.
What? This opportunity was not expected.
Being entrepreneurs, we wondered “How can we turn this product into a viable Company that meet market demand?” In the business world, there is no certainty. Billions of dollars have been spent by companies on products and services that FAIL the test of the market. The Ford Edsel, NEW Coca-Cola formula, Beta Max, and Peapod are examples of very expensive market failure.
Throughout the freezing cold Wisconsin winter, we conducted over 150 conversations and mock-up demos with potential customers asking what they wanted in a required product feature set and what would they see as a fair monthly price.
The feedback was very positive. The “put on the running shoes” decision was made in February 2017. The incorporation papers creating Referrals2Sales, LLC were filed. The product designers began working with the programmers to create Version 1.0 of the referral generation software solution.
Ready, Set, Go!
By the end of June 2017, the Referrals2Sales referral generation software solution was ready. Product version 1.0 contained what we believed was the MVP (Minimum Viable Product https://tinyurl.com/y7hvmnel) required to meet the needs of our initial customers.
We “soft launched’; meaning we offered the referral products to a select group of prospects knowing they would help us work out the order processing and product setup rough edges….much like a new restaurant invites friends/family for pre-opening dinners to train staff and ensure all food and service is ready for the Grand Opening.
We were confident that we were ready. (I must confess I always worry with any new startup that the starting order volume would be too high, as hilariously shown in this famous UPS commercial. A too high volume of orders would have created numerous problems of exceeding customer expectations. It has never happened yet.)
The official rollout was September 1, 2017. By then, we had 40+ customers with the majority choosing the Annual Payment Plan over the Month to Month Plan as it saved them $60 plus the bonus of a free 13th month.
Running Pace for the First Mile
As of November 1, 2017 we have 80+ customers. Their product feedback and suggestions have been tremendously helpful. We have already released a Product version 1.5 incorporating their wisdom.
Currently, we are working on Product 2.0 which is a major rewrite of the product code to incorporate major changes. We heard loud and clear that customers wanted the ability to highly customize the Referrals2Sales product for each member of their Teams. This means including the ability for each user to offer different referral generation campaigns of different referral incentives and qualifying events. Combined with the addition of reports showing both campaign and users referral generation results. Projected 2.0 Release Date is December 13, 2017. But we are endeavoring to beat that date. Stay tuned!
So What’s Next?
You are invited to join our company building marathon.
Over the next few years, we will share our experiences, setbacks, and successes. Joining our run is totally free, and you don’t have to be a Referrals2Sales customer.
We’ll be releasing a new blog post frequently. To get each post emailed to you as soon as it’s published, sign up for the mailing list below.
Have something you want us to share or learn more about? Let us know in the comments below or on our Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/Referrals2Sales/.