To be trusted, you must first give value for free.

This concept can be applied to any type of products to services: to be trusted you must first give value for free. This requires patience.

Source: How Seth Godin Would Launch a Business With a $1,000 Budget – Louis Grenier – Indie Hackers

Always. Be. Helping.

New to a community? Volunteer. Offer to help. Share your expertise. Don’t have the expertise? Lend your time instead.

Listen and ask and raise your hand. Build your rapport. Build your karma. Build your credibility over time.

Then, and only then, have you earned the right to ask for something in return.

You need to build the trust before you can cash in on it.

(Aside: When you’re given an opportunity to step up, don’t squander it by overstepping.)

The second coming of email.

I know the startup world is ahead of the curve, but we’re all trending away from email reliance now. The inbox is braced for a second coming— a quiet place to read, discover and learn. And it’s going to be awesome.

The more people rely on Slack and other tools for communication, the easier it will be to stand out in the inbox. The window of opportunity for great newsletters is opening and I’m doubling down.

I’m betting that people will appreciate tightly curated information more in the future than they will today. The feedback overall has been great. People actually want email.

Source: It’s the Perfect Time to Launch a Newsletter – Jimmy Daly – Medium

I used to lead email marketing workshops for Camp Tech. They run beginner-friendly tech training sessions in cities across Canada.

One of the first things I’d tell the students — before we got into any conversation about tactics or tools — is that email is the most single most important communication channel we have.

It’s a universal, open standard. It works across all devices. It’s what other communication tools rely on as a fallback. And it’s what our most sensitive correspondence relies on – think banks and governments.

And until we find a new universal standard that can address all of the above (and more), I don’t believe that email will die.

So yes, I agree with Jimmy Daly here. This is the perfect time to launch a newsletter.

Second thing in this article I want to draw your attention to:

“I’m betting that people will appreciate tightly curated information more in the future than they will today.”

Abso-freakin’-lutely. Our appetite for information is large. Our patience for consuming information is not. Longform written articles are falling out of favour. News and media companies are going all-in on video content instead.

But a short video still takes time to consume. It’s fed to you frame by frame. A short paragraph can be skimmed. It’s faster. And in this game, speed is the winner.

Getting into civic tech + Code for Canada’s Toronto open house

What positive impact can technology make on small communities across Canada?

That’s been on my mind a lot lately. I’ve been thinking about how local Canadian communities like the Kawarthas can use technology to stay economically strong and culturally vibrant.

I brought this up with my buddy Lucas Cherkewsi at WordCamp Montreal in August. He told me about the civic tech movement, and how it’s focused on these kinds of questions.

How can technology improve the public good?

After chatting with Lucas, I made a mental note to check out the Civic Tech Toronto group, then I attended my first Civic Tech Toronto meetup last week.

It was great. There were lots of people and lots of projects going on.

And those groups weren’t just sitting around pontificating. They were getting stuff done. (And this isn’t a once-a-month thing, either. This group gets together every Tuesday evening.)

As a new attendee, I had to sit in on the Civic Tech 101 orientation. That’s where I heard about Code for Canada.

Coincidentally, Code for Canada was doing an open house just a couple of days later. I went, and this is what I learned.

Keep reading…Getting into civic tech + Code for Canada’s Toronto open house

Tips for online advertising (Growth Hacking Toronto)

Search & Gather, a small digital marketing agency in Toronto, led yesterday’s Growth Hacking Toronto session about running paid search and social campaigns. These are my notes from their presentation.

Platforms

Choosing the right platform means understanding the product (or service) you’re promoting and the audience you’re promoting it to.

You may have some assumptions about the audience — who they are, what they want, where they hang out, and what platforms would be the most effective — but those are only assumptions.

What does the data say? We’ll come back to this in a moment.

The type of CTA you use — the call to action, e.g. “sign up” or “buy now” or “learn more” — will also affect your platform choice. Some CTAs are better suited to certain platforms.

Ditto for when the conversions — the action of clicking on the CTA — actually happen.

Targeting an evening behaviour (e.g. finding a place to grab a drink with friends) may be better served on a different platform than targeting a daytime behaviour (e.g. scheduling a business meeting).

You’ll have assumptions about the target audience. You’ll have assumptions about the CTAs. You’ll have assumptions about timing.

Test your assumptions. Run trial campaigns and see what the data tells you.

Start with a small budget and iterate your tests across 3-4 platforms. As you get comfortable and grow your confidence, gradually increase your spend.

If you have a tight budget, use fewer platforms so you’re pulling in statistically significant data. (Search & Gather recommended a minimum of $1k per campaign.)

So, which platforms should you use?

LinkedIn is good for targeting industries and professions. Unfortunately it has a bad algorithm.

Bing is like “AdWords little brother”. It has lower CPC and higher ROAS. (I think they mentioned 2x to 3x return.)

WeChat is a great way to reach the Asian market.

Custom Audiences, Lookalike Audiences, and Remarketing are all underutilized on Facebook.

An additional point on Lookalike Audiences: Base your audiences on different levels of your marketing + sales funnel. Start with 1% lookalike and “work out from there”. To reduce the budget, layer on geographic and demographic filters.

Call Campaigns (advertising a phone number – mobile only), negative keywords, and key positioning with better creative (e.g. targeting 2nd or 3rd placement but having a better offer) are underutilized on Google.

Sticking with Google: Dynamic search ads can get bring in traffic from longtail keywords, and perform well with a lower CPA. Google Display Network offers advanced targeting. Start with responsive ads.

Twitter is high maintenance. (Yes, that’s the only note I have about it – conversation was mostly focused on FB and Google.)

Audience fatigue is real

Audience fatigue/frequency fatigue happens when the same audience is exposed to the same advertisements and messaging over and over and over.

To get around it, rotate your audiences. Segment your “big audience” into smaller groups. Alternate your spend on-and-off to target the different segments at different times.

You can also test new audiences and add them to your rotation.

Bottom line? Don’t waste your budget on a tired audience.

Let’s talk ad creative

There’s still a ripe opportunity for good, interesting creative in online advertising. Channel your inner Don Draper.

If you’re not sure which direction to go in with your creative, start simple. “Keep it vanilla.”

From there, experiment and iterate with your creative, the same way you iterate with your targeting.

Run multivariate tests. Try different messaging and images. “It’s not set it and forget it.”

via GIPHY

Continuity & relevance between ads and landing pages

So a prospective customer clicks your ad. What now? What do they see on the landing page?

Should the creative be the exact same as the ad? Should it be different? Does it matter?

“It’s situational.” Sometimes the creative doesn’t need to match 100%. But the tone and messaging should be consistent.

What about video?

“Video is hard and expensive.”

Traditional brands are doing it well because they have the cash to spend on production.

Small businesses and startups don’t have that kind of money. So they go static. It’s easier to test and iterate and “fail fast” on images and text.


…and that’s it! Thanks to Search & Gather for sharing their knowledge with the group and putting up with the inconveniently-timed fire alarm tests.

Sitting in on my first #GrowthHackingTO meetu–OH HEY FIRE ALARM TEST 🚨🚨🚨

A post shared by Andy McIlwain (@hello.andymci) on

Spontaneity leads to opportunity.

Spontaneity will open you up to more potential opportunities and adventures. Falling into the same drab fixed routine is going to yield less unexpected opportunities and fewer possible big gains.

Source: How to Make Your Own Luck | Mark Manson

A few weeks ago I was unexpectedly invited to spend an afternoon on a sailboat.

A few things went through my mind: Is this a good idea? What about the my planned activities for the afternoon? I wasn’t dressed for hitting the water – would that be a problem?

So on and so on.

I hesitated for a moment but ultimately decided to join in. It was great! It was my first time on a sailboat, and I even managed to get some work done while on board.

Never would’ve happened if I didn’t say yes.

(Note: Featured image for illustrative purposes. We only sailed around Toronto Harbour. 😉 )

Takeaways from 1% Better Every Day (James Clear)

Success comes from incremental growth. Incremental growth happens with intentional habits.

You can build your intentional habits by creating an environment that triggers and supports the habits – for example, a visual cue to go and do something.

Make time for these habits by putting them in your calendar and protecting that time. More habits, more repetitions, more incremental growth, more success.

Every milestone or achievement is just another notch on the continuum of progress. Your habits and repetitions keep you going. The repetitions matter.

Put your energy into starting. Don’t focus on the finish line or the outcome or where you want to get to. Focus on where you’ll start. Make it easy to start.

Reward your repetitions. “Change long-term behaviour with short-term feedback.” (Hat tip to Seth Godin on this one.) One tactic: Don’t break the chain. Repeat the same exercise every single day. Don’t break the streak twice. If you fall off once, not a problem. Just don’t fall off two days in a row. Never miss twice.

(I’m sure I missed something, but there you go. Watch the talk just to be safe.)