Growth Hacking Geniuses - Jordan Benjamin - Visual Summary

Jordan Benjamin

How Did You Start Your Journey in Growth and Digital Marketing?

Well, you know, I initially wanted to be a lawyer and found out that that didn’t really align with what I wanted to do. And so, in school, I changed my major to business and then just kind of got aligned with a few folks that were doing different startups in kind of the early stages.

And so, my junior and senior year in college, I went to work for a friend’s company. I think it was maybe the fifth employee. I was an intern doing sales for them. We really had to kind of just start thinking about how do you bring digital marketing? How do you find your list of prospects?

From there, that kind of got me started on that path of really wanting to work with startup companies – being able to kind of see how does everything work internally. And so, it really kind of just got me started on that path and connected into the startup kind of mindset and group of folks.

There’s a really good community of startups in Boulder, Colorado, where I’m originally from. So, I was out there for about five, six years, working with startups. And then, I actually moved up to Boston to join on HubSpot to kind of watch how a startup moves from startup into public company. I got here and got to watch the IPO and got to watch us kind of move and then got me thinking about how do I start my own projects or business trying to drive growth as well.

What Problems Have You Solved for Customers?

A lot of the time, it’s about how to get new customers. How do you drive growth? How do you drive growth efficiently? How do you stay motivated? How do you prospect? How do you really bring more data to the table?

One of the things that I love about digital marketing is we can really look at analytics and very easily measure – not what just drives a new hit or visitor to my website but what actually turns somebody into a customer? How do they move through that process and how do we leverage data?

As a startup or as a young company or as anybody, really, how do we really use that data to say, “Well, what’s the most efficient? Where should we spend our time? What drives the best ROI?” And so, that’s where most of the companies I’ve been working for it’s how do we drive a more effective cost per lead or how do we actually bring data to understand what drives people through our sales funnel more effectively?

Now, I’m starting to work with companies to think about how do we lead more intentionally, how do we perform at our best as humans? Really kind of start bringing all those pieces together to really bring a kind of whole person/company/organization into the ecosystem.

What Are Your Top 3 Pieces of Advice for Growth Marketing?

I think, when you’re trying to approach growth, you’ve got to be able to put yourself in the shoes of your ideal customer or prospect. The word that we’ve been using a lot lately is empathy. How do you empathize with that prospect?

You go beyond just thinking about what do they want. You think about what do they really care about? What do they struggle with? What can you actually bring to the table that adds value?

When you think about “what does this person want to achieve?” then you can build resources, you can build content, you can build answers to their questions that they might be asking online or other places.

Really, what you do is you build trust, you build value, you build credibility before you ever ask for their dollars. And so, I think that kind of encompasses probably all three. How do you put yourself in the shoes of your prospect? How do you really understand them so you can lead with building trust so you can build credibility so you can really then measure everything that works? And see what works most effectively and then spend your time in those areas?

What Are the Top 3 Mistakes to Avoid When Doing Growth Marketing?

The one that I see continuously, I was working with a small business owner last week on this, he was starting to go and try and prospect and try

and get in front of more potential customers. The email that he started sending says, “I saw this. I want to know about this. I want to hear other things.”

And so, it’s really critical to think about how do you focus on that prospect? How do you talk about what they want and what’s really important to them? Because that’s what grabs attention.

Today, so many people are blasting different business owners, marketing managers, sales leaders, or whoever it is with “here’s what I want, here’s what’s important to me,” and you’ve really got to flip that on your head and kind of go against what you would normally do to think about “What do they want? What’s important to them?” to lead off with.

I think another mistake is there are so many tools, so many people are bombarding you with coming to use them, but really see what you can do to measure everything. If you can use this data and understand digital presence, understand how your website is working well or not working well, from there you can really leverage those tools to measure everything.

I see a lot of businesses that say, “Yeah, we just have an Excel spreadsheet to keep track of that,” or “All of the intellectual property is in my brain.” Most small businesses fail because they don’t have systems or processes that are repeatable. So, then when they actually have a little bit of success and they go hire somebody, it becomes nearly impossible to train someone effectively so you can continually grow.

So, really thinking about how do you measure everything, how do you build systems and processes, and how do you think about what does your prospect care about most as opposed to what you care about or what you want to get done.

Which Tools Do You Use to Grow Your Business or Help Clients Grow Theirs?

A lot of times, Google Docs, I love the Google apps. The Google suite is just so easy. It’s very inexpensive – you know, $5.00 or $10.00 a month to get email, to get Google Docs so you can actually share documents, hold people accountable, have meetings so you’re actually face-to-face. I think it’s great.

One of my favorite free tools as well is using to have webinars with folks or calls using something. HubSpot has a free CRM that’s just absolutely wonderful to use and totally free which is great. I think early stages it’s especially wonderful to have stuff that doesn’t cost very much money but then can scale with you. There’s also some free marketing products that HubSpot has or Google Analytics has some great tools to actually help you understand that interaction with your website.

If I’m trying to sell or prospect, using tools like BuiltWith or Datanyze to help understand, “Okay, do these people use tools that would be a good fit or my services are for me to sell into?” And then, you know, a tool called Zapier that really helps connect different things together. Depending upon the systems you have, it can really help you start getting a more holistic view of everything you’re doing.

I think those are some of the tools.

And then, I use Stitcher to listen to different podcasts, different interviews. Obviously, my Kindle to read as much as I can and learn from a lot of other people – to keep growing.

I’d say those are a handful.

Sammy Najar

1. Would You Mind Introducing Yourself? Who Are You? What’s Your Background?

I’m a Marketing major, then I was trying to find a job in marketing. I thought I would find a crazy fun job in advertising, but you know what marketing is not that easy. I finally ended up in a web agency. I didn’t know anything about web or digital, it was still called web back then, but I learned a lot.

The digital space is really fun place to be. It’s dynamic, it moves a lot, there’s always something new so you’ve got on top of your game if you want to follow. There’s one thing that I found out in this industry – there’s a lot of opportunities and a lot of space for entrepreneurs. Entrepreneurs have always been people that I highly respected and I always wanted to become one, so that’s why I created Commentts.

Commentts allows you to react to the trending and latest news. What we do is we gather the best and trending news from cities all over North America every day and every hour and bring it back into the app. Then you get a normal news feed. Then we put the comments up front. In the app, you select a news, you create a Commentts – it’s an image with a bit of text on top, with a style and filter to enhance the aesthetic value of the comment.

Really what you get is a feed of visual comments on what’s happening around you, instead of a normal boring news feed.

3. Who Is Working on Commentts?

We’re two co-founders. My partner is Jean-Sébastien Lozeau. We have two different backgrounds. I’m more from the marketing digital agency world. He’s a pure a creative, book writer, movie director, he made a documentary. He’s the total opposite of me, and that’s a good thing.

The two of us together can cover 360 degrees. What we’re missing is a CTO, but we’re good at finding the right people to work with us. At this moment we have a few developers, front-end and back-end, and we’re looking to hire a new one for Android because we don’t have an Android version yet.

So we’re really building the team, and obviously behind us there’s a good investor that really believes in our product and our team, and that’s also important. I’m more the spec-down-to-earth guy, and my partner lives in the cloud, so we try to find middle ground and complement each other.

4. How Did You Come Up With the Idea?

I used to work with a media company and so was Jean-Sébastien. We met in a meeting, exchanged different ideas. We liked each other and after a few months we went for a beer, Jean-Sébastien had an idea that evolved into Commentts. The idea was to do a comic strip on the news, which is not simple to execute. We got together and evolved the idea into a social network around the news with people expressing themselves with images, and this is how it came to life.

It was a long journey, it is not something that you do in a week, it took us almost two years before we were ready to leave our jobs and work full time on the product.

The first thing that we did is a marketing search, we created wireframes, we set up a pitch, and we went looking for an investor. We were lucky enough to find someone that believed in us, lent us some money, which allowed us to build a prototype. With that prototype we were able to find more money, and actually develop the app that is available in the market now.

We always took it step-by-step and kept our focus. You have to put in the hours, and always move forward and never stop.

5. What Did You Learn From the Challenges?

People think that you have success over night. Facebook and Twitter guys worked a lot before they got to where they are now. We’re trying to have an operation in our own backyard, in Quebec, instead of spreading across all of North America right away. We released the app, got some promotion and some user acquisition, then we stopped and pulled the plug on acquisition. It’s a crazy thing to stop the momentum on user acquisition, but at the same time we wanted to get a first feedback from our users. We validated every step before, but the ultimate validation is with actual users playing with the app.

We learned, for example, that our target market was wrong. The persona we created was wrong. But that’s a good thing, you gotta start somewhere and put it on the table, then validate it or reject it and create a new one.

Right now we’re validating our persona, and looking at what users are doing within the app. We’re actually talking to them a lot, over the phone and interviews to get insights.

We’re at the stage to fix a few things before going into full growth and user acquisition again.

You gotta test the market and be smart about the way you do it, otherwise your server will explode, or get a lot of downloads without retention. I rather get 10,000 downloads and 5,000 people in the app, as opposed to 1,000,000 downloads and 10,000 users in the app.
Go step by step, don’t try to take big leaps. Baby steps, always in the right direction.