What advice can some of the biggest and fastest-growing names in tech offer Xero’s growing ecosystem community? To find out, almost a hundred people convened at Facebook’s Sydney headquarters this week for the Scaling for Growth 2.0 workshop. They represented both established app makers and those that are up-and-coming. Some travelled from as far as New Zealand, and others came from just across the water in Sydney. But they all shared a dedication to building apps that simplify small business tasks such as forecasting, timesheets and rostering, and compliance.
The event, led by Xero and Think & Grow, partnered with Stripe to offer practical advice on staying focused on one’s goals in a hyperconnected, digital world. This included tips on reaching the right customers, converting them to advocates, and creating a workplace culture that can endure rapid growth. Attendees also collaborated with each other and discussed how to handle challenges on the road to success.
Here is a recap of some of the best bits from presenters at the half-day workshop.
“The lines between personal and professional have blurred,” said Rowan Spinks, client partner at Facebook.
While Facebook initially made its name connecting friends and families, research today shows that business decision-makers spend 75 percent more time on Facebook than the average person. This same audience is 50 percent likelier to consume product demos on Facebook than other social media platforms Twitter and LinkedIn, based on a survey from Ipsos.
Much of this business audience visits on mobile devices. And the most effective way to engage them, or as Rowan put it, to “stop the thumb from scrolling?” Video. For example, a recent ad campaign from tech company Canvas found that Facebook video ads produced triple the number of leads that photo ads produced, with half the per-lead cost.
“We’ve had to adjust our thinking about Facebook,” said attendee David New, chief sales officer at Spotlight Reporting. “It’s not just for keeping up with friends. We’ve been getting a fair bit of business through Facebook and have started using video too.”
Think & Grow
One of the most challenging aspects of being a fast-growing tech startup is maintaining the workplace culture that led to success, said Jonathan Jefferies, founder of tech consulting and executive search firm Think & Grow.
“If you are able to clearly articulate your values, it creates the foundations of what will make your business great,” said Jonathan. “Having clear values allows much clearer accountability, and that allows you to hire at the right time for the right reason.”
Values should reflect the problem you are trying to solve for your customers. Staying close to that purpose lays the cornerstone for a foundation that will endure even as a company scales up, said Jonathan.
Scott Simpson, general manager at cloud integrator TradiePad, said Think & Grow’s advice rang true.
“Our purpose is pretty clear: to give our customers their time back,” said Simpson. I’ll have tradies who come to us in crisis, who are frustrated with their life and their business. They work all day on the job, then spend another 4 hours each night doing paperwork.
“When they come back and tell me what we have done for them has given them back their life, that they can find the time for a vacation or pick up their kids from school, I know the work we’re doing is worthwhile.”
Creating grateful customers has far-reaching effects, said Kartike Day, program and partnerships manager for Hubspot. It’s easier than ever to broadcast opinions via social media, review sites or even text messages to friends.
“Your customers are your best marketing channel,” said Kartike. Hubspot’s own research found that 55% of businesses consider “word of mouth” the single most reliable source of information when making a purchase decision on software.
This finding has convinced the Boston-based maker of software for inbound marketing and sales to reconsider its own marketing approach. Instead of the traditional marketing funnel, it has adopted a “flywheel model” that aims to constantly attract, engage and delight customers. You can read more about the flywheel model here.
Online payment service Stripe has set a bold purpose: to grow the GDP of the Internet.
“Less than 3 percent of all commerce is done online today,” said Kevin Keohane, account executive at Stripe. “There is massive scale for growth.”
Like Hubspot, Stripe believes in making its customers its advocates. And Stripe users may have reason to recommend it. Xero data shows that U.S. small businesses who enable Stripe payments on Xero invoices are already paid on average up to 15 days faster than those without any payment services attached.
“We believe payments are a problem rooted in code, not finance,” says Kevin. Stripe’s goal is to eliminate complexity and extraneous details, allowing developers to get websites up and running with Stripe in just a few minutes.
How can app partners get the best return on marketing events? Cara Weers, Xero’s head of events who organises the yearly Xerocon conference, offered some practical tips. She’s observed hundreds of exhibitors over the past six years at Xero.
“Always be the first to say hi,” says Cara. “We see it all the time: People running the stands are standing around and talking to just each other. Even if it’s been a massive day, it’s important to stay ‘on.’”
When is a lead a lead?
“Every single conversation is a lead. You’re already building a relationship, whether you know it or not. The biggest thing is to listen to them and understand their problem and how you can tailor your product to them.
“I tell Xero salespeople to take notes when they’re speaking to visitors. People won’t be annoyed that you’re writing down notes if they think they’re going to get tailored experience in the end.”
And remember: It’s not just about the leads.
“Often exhibitors will send just their sales team, and that’s not who the audience wants to speak to,” says Cara. “It’s likely you’ll have a lot of current customers who want to talk to your support or marketing teams. Consider who you have coming.”
It’s important to have any issues that they had followed up immediately.
“There’s nothing worse than having a discussion about problem X, and getting a marketing email afterwards that covers the entire alphabet.”