This week’s Misfit Entrepreneur is Andrew Lee Miller. Andrew is a startup expert; in fact, he’s known as @AndrewStartups around the world and has been bootstrapping companies for over 15 years. He is a marketing expert and founder of the award-winning marketing agency, Growth Expertz. He has driven growth for 3 VC backed startup exits to the tune of $450 million and dozens of other funded startups, including raising over $25 million in seed rounds in the last 5 years.
Andrew speaks and trains entrepreneurs throughout the world on paid advertising, growth hacking, public relations, search marketing and more. He is also the author of the best-selling book, The Startup Growth Book.
What I love most about Andrew is that he is scrappy and finds a way to make it happen no matter thecircumstances and I’ve brought him on to share his best with you in this episode.
Andrew was born and raised outside Columbus, Ohio. His whole family were entrepreneurs, but he never grew up wanting to be one. He ended up having his own business at 16 detailing cars and had a problem with authority which made him want to stay independent. He went to college for general business and switched to international business. He started a virtual resume startup in his senior year. He and his partner got investment and the business took off – it actually scared him because he didn’t want to be stuck in this one business through his 20’s, so he decided to travel.
He moved the Mexico when he was 21, then after a few years moved to Dubai. Dubai was much different and didn’t have much of a startup culture. He joined a company that was a sort of Craig’s List type service as head of marketing. He growth hacked the company from 800k page view a month to over 25 million and the company was acquired for a large amount. Andrew realized there was a niche in growth hacking. He had a few more successful projects in Dubai and then went to Silicon Valley and had another successful exit. He then started coaching people and became a digital nomad helping startups and traveling to over 40 countries.
You mentioned a formula for growth hacking that you put into practice and now teach others, take us through it.
- First, when he starts with companies, the product is never ready to be marketed. Are people sharing or referring the product? If not, then a focus is put there to better market it. Product optimization.
- Once you’ve optimized the product, then you are ready to grow. Do not rush to paid advertising.
- It’s never too early to start marketing. Marketing is different than advertising. Advertising is something you do to scale up your marketing. Marketing can happen at any time.
- You can start building a list, basic SEO, organic social media marketing/following, etc.
- You can then launch with a waiting set of customers and some recognition in the marketplace.
What is the difference between advertising and marketing?
- You do not have to do paid advertising to succeed.
- Paid advertising isn’t necessary for every business.
- We are shown ads that you need to run ads to grow your business, and that is just not true.
- Marketing is the actions you take to grow your visibility, your brand, and awareness for who you are.
- Advertising is paid ads and spots to drive traffic to your business.
- Focus on organic channels for the first 12 mos in your business. Talk a little more about organic.
What do you advise? What’s the best place to get traction?
- List building and e-mail marketing is the best thing to do.
- Next is social media and off-channel marketing such as Reddit or Facebook groups.
- Using incentives for first adopters is a great strategy whether it is free services/product or a very low cost, etc.
- For B2C focusing on long-term things such as app store automation for apps, social media, and off page.
- B2C is harder than B2B. There are a lot more moving pieces to create an eye-catching brand.
What are your thoughts on social media? Where should people be to get the most bang for the buck?
- B2B – the place to spend money is Google Search because the intent is so high.
- You also have a higher conversion rate on Google Search if you are using the right key words.
- For B2C – it depends on the product and service. Google’s UAC campaigns are good for things like apps.
- TikTok needs really good video creatives to do well, but there is less competition there.
- In the end, it all about the content on social media and video is the most important.
- YouTube ads are another inexpensive way to drive traffic and revenue.
At the 22 min mark, Andrew talks about using influencers and micro-influencers to help grow your brand and visibility.
Other PR hacks entrepreneurs can use?
- Local PR in your local markets is a great place to get visibility and media.
- Getting on podcasts is a great way to refine your pitch and gain visibility/credibility.
- You should do PR from early stages of your business.
- 3 Things:
- Craft the story – your title is important and having a unique angle
- Building a list of those that might be interested in telling your story (Podcast hosts, reporters/writers, etc. found on Google Alerts)
- Distribute your story and your PR effectively to the sources.
At the 30 min mark, Andrew talks SEO…
- Andrew is big on doing “on-page” SEO correctly.
- Use Link Building.
- You can use Free SEO audit tools online. Google Free SEO Audit.
- You can even do Craig’s List and University Job boards as SEO hacks.
Thoughts on raising money and exiting companies?
- We are sold that we need to raise money and that is wrong. You can bootstrap and do great.
- Fundraising is a second job and will take almost 100% of your time over 6-12 months taking you away from your business.
- You need to really think through and decide if you need to raise money and you need to have the business in the best position to do so.
What is it that you think most entrepreneurs miss that holds them back the most?
- They go too much with their gut and hunch instead of compiling and working from the data.
Any other lessons from your entrepreneur journey that have made a huge difference?
- Let passion drive you – not making money.
Best Quote: It’s never too early to start marketing. Marketing is different than advertising. Advertising is something you do to scale up your marketing. Marketing can happen at any time.
Andrew's Misfit 3:
- Just go. Stop finding reasons not to do things and do them. Don’t be afraid to break stuff.
- Don’t succumb to worry and overthinking.
- If you love what you do, you never work a day in your life.
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