FEATURED DOWNLOAD: Read and download the full transcription of Episode 26 with Justin Hartzman. He shares some of his best kept secrets in running his successful business Needls.com
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Born entrepreneur, motivated, hard working, ambitious and high level thinker are a few words to describe Justin and his passion for business. There is no obstacle that will stand in his way. On his feet thinking, problem solving, and incredible sales skills allow Justin to be a leader in his space.
With an eye for creativity and branding, Justin plays an active leadership role in every one of his businesses. He asks the smart questions and has a genuine desire to understand the ‘how’ and ‘why’ in all facets of his company. The fundamental need to understand every detail and constantly strategizing with those around him keeps Justin’s team thinking and striving to do their best job.
Justin is a graduate from one of Canada’s premier business and economic program at the University of Western Ontario. Coming from a long line of entrepreneurs and investors, from an early age Justin worked retail in his family’s businesses, rising to managerial and buying positions.
Understanding sales, forecasting, team management, and learning from others are what continue to drive him. Justin is an avid traveler, investor, knowledge seeker and a family man. He is also a Scotch enthusiast.
Justin with his team owns and manages a large portfolio of websites and businesses. These fall into the B2B, B2C, and consumer content spaces.
With his extreme knowledge of everything internet and past experience in start-ups to exits, Justin’s current focus as his mature business flourish is taking the leap back into start up culture with Needls.com.
TOPICS OF CONVERSATION:
[01:39] The Start
[05:44] Gathering Information
[08:02] The Reason B
[11:23] The Model Used
[24:30] The Progress
[28:50] The Next Step
[30:19] Pricing and Lead Generating
[35:03] Any Competitors
[38:28] Data to Writing
[42:14] Customer Acquisition
[46:06] In Conclusion
REACH OUT TO JUSTIN HARTZMAN
[00:14] Stephen: Hey guys Stephen Esketzis here from Marketing on the Move and I’ve got Justin, the founder of Needls, with me today. How are you doing Justin?
Justin: I’m doing very well, thank you.
Stephen: Yeah it’s great to have you on. I know we tried to get the podcast, the interviews sorted with a bit of a time difference so hopefully we would be able to get you on board and have a chat about Needls.
Stephen: Yes, so tell us a bit about what it is because I know our audience loves new softwares, service products and how they can really get the most out of their business. Tell us about what Needls is and I guess how you began, how you guys thought of the idea.
Justin: Yeah and feel free to cut me off anytime, I love discussing this. It’s a lot of fun for me. So, Needls is a lead identification service for small and medium-sized businesses.
So what we do is we watch social media, Facebook and Twitter and when the conversation comes up or a need comes up, we find that, identify it and deliver it to that small business. So a perfect example of when I use it all the time is when someone says,”Can you recommend me a local plumber?” we find that for the plumber who our customer is.
But harder than that, what our services are really good at is finding the stuff that’s harder and less intent-driven and something like “My pipes are frozen, what do I do?” So those kind of things that we deliver in real time to them and allow them to do what they’re best at which is sell their service. We just identify more leads for their pipeline.
[01:39] Stephen: Right. That’s really interesting. And how did you guys think of this? Is this something that you had wanted to get out for a while, or something that, sort of, just hit you?
Justin: Yeah, it’s a long story and I’ll try to make it short. The bottom line is I have to give a lot of credit to my wife, actually, who kept noticing that people were asking for things on social media and our background comes from small-medium business-selling, you know, websites, website development and that sort of stuff to them so we know that market very well.
We were looking to buy a business in that space and we set up a budget for ourselves and after looking for a long time, nothing checked all of our boxes. And when my wife mentioned this to me and I went to that person who said “I’m looking for an iOS app to be developed”, and there was that connection there through social media and closed them right away.
It was kind of like that ‘aha’ moment where we went “This can really work.” It ticks the box on social media, it ticks the small businesses, it ticks the SaaS model, and this is everything we were looking for.
Maybe we need to build it?”
And what we did is a simple script with one of my developers who is in-house and they just watched my Facebook, that’s it. That’s all I did. We had basic words; it was just word identification, keyword identification, nothing to do with intent, which is really the important part.
But in the first day that we ran it, we had someone else come up who said “I’m looking for a game produced for iPhone.” That was the exact post. I contacted him and that turned into a very significant project for our company and the light bulbs really went off then, this works. 3 days later, there was another big deal that closed and over a 3-month period we were playing with this and testing it, our business really went skyrocketing and our bottom line went way up and we said “Uh-oh.
We can’t find one to buy; we might as well build it because we really, really think this has some legs.” So it took us quite some time to find the right people and get the right model and understands and in about 8 months to 9 months later, we launched with our first product, which is November of last year and things have been just absolutely amazing since then.
Stephen: That’s awesome; I love that story because you really found the need and the market. It’s sort of scratching your own itch, per se. So I think it’s coming out really well.
Justin: That’s exactly what we’ve done historically and if people read up about me, or read some articles online, we’ve been kind of into the space, always online for the last 15 years of finding that gap, that need, and filling it with the proper product. And we feel that we’re doing that now because there are a lot of social media tools out there to help you post content at a certain time, to find the right content to disseminate to the people out there and curate that content to do repetition management.
There are all these things to help when you already have a customer, to keep them or to retain them. But there’s not a really good tool, whether it’s enterprise or small business, which we’re focused on, to get the people at the beginning of that sales funnel, to have people into actually do things with down the roads.
So it’s a really big gap. And anyone you ask “What’s their biggest problem?” it’s finding new customers so we found out that this is really hitting the market harder and people really love what we’re offering them.
Stephen: Yeah, I love it. So I had a look at your website and I stumbled on it, just through Google I think, and then the way I really liked it is that it integrates directly with your Facebook and Twitter, is that right?
So they’re the 2 social media platforms that you’ve started with?
Justin: Yes, they’re the first 2. There’ll be more coming down the road. And just something of note is that you don’t have to have a Facebook account, you don’t have to have a Twitter account, and they add more value.
But what we do and what sets us apart is we have access to data that they can’t get and we’re providing that public data to them. So they wouldn’t have known about it, wouldn’t have seen it, but we provide it.
So it’s not just based on your network, because a lot of people ask that question. “I only have 50 people or 200 people on my list, how am I ever going to get leads?” Well you don’t have to worry about that, we’re searching the larger public and everything that’s in the public domain.
[05:44] Stephen: Yeah. And I’m guessing something like that requires huge server power, huge resources as well.
If you’re looking for everything in the public domain, how do you guys handle that?
Is that like, just pure server service that you’re running, just really scraping off all these information together?
Justin: Well I just want to step back, there’s no scraping, and we don’t do any of that. We purchase the data directly from the networks.
Justin: So we had to get the permission, we pay for that and that’s a very, very heavy cost to us and every twit that comes down is something that costs money and that’s why we provide these services to the people. They wouldn’t have the access to it regularly. So yes, there is a lot of server power.
Not only is it because of the amount of data, but what we’re doing with that data when it comes across is very intensive so we have to load that to a bunch of different cloud services and dedicated servers and split it up to different places in the world to make sure we’re delivering our stuff and as quick. We call it real time because as soon as we get it we turn it around as fast as the machines can turn it back around to our customer and that’s really important.
That’s a big piece that has to be thought about. The faster we can identify a lead and deliver it to our customer, or our user, then they can then the quicker they can get on that lead.
And the sooner you’re on the lead, the more first to mind it is and the better chance of closing it. It’s such a really important piece of our puzzle.
Stephen: Yeah, of course. And I love that because obviously, you’ve got to pebble these pieces in place because obviously, you’re getting thousands and probably millions of different pieces of data out there and it’s going to get past through all of your filters to really get to the end user.
Stephen: Obviously you want to provide the highest quality leads and if you could get on them within the hour that someone posts a Facebook update or a Twitter update or whatever it is, then that’ll be straight and the closing rate will be a lot higher as well.
Justin: Absolutely. So we have some tools and stuff to help them, reminders to make sure we get to them and we find that that’s really important.
So the fact that it’s on social networks and people can see your profile, your business page and relate to that and see if you have shared likes. The fact that you’re on it very quickly and you see it, is all these things that help close a lead at a much greater rate.
So that’s also an important piece of what we’re doing, it’s allowing them to just establish that relationship selling and that human selling element which makes it that much more powerful.
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[08:02] Stephen: Yeah, of course. So I’ve got a question because obviously you’ve got these leads that are coming in. You’ve been able to filter them. What made you choose the software as a service model as opposed to directly selling to companies because I guess you’ve also got that opportunity too, if you’ve got all these different where you’re attracting leads, you can probably go out to big companies in all those industries and sell the leads automatically.
So you don’t have to worry about people signing up on a month-to-month plan and marketing networks. You could go straight to the big companies that are spending hundreds of thousands of dollars a month to buy leads.
Was there a reason why you guys didn’t go down that road?
Justin: We have an enterprise-level solution that’s for down the road but our focus right now is on the small-medium business. It was a market that we felt was underserved and that market is so huge out there.
So there’re so many people. I’ll speak in North America alone. There are over 25 million small business pages on Facebook alone, that doesn’t include Twitter.
There’s a huge market for us and one that we know is not oversaturated. Also, the lead identification is more of a personal thing and when you get to these larger companies, they don’t have the manpower, or it doesn’t move the needle enough, no pun intended there, to actually have someone sitting and mainly doing this.
We don’t automate it because that’s not a good way of selling. So we actually do things specifically to give them the ultimate chance at success and that’s why we’ve planned that model that way.
[09:29] Stephen: Yeah I love it. I think social media these days, and I’m sure you guys have known that, is it’s getting more and more towards that one to one communication where you get that legitimate response and have a real conversation with someone on the other side of the social media platform.
Justin: Yeah I just came back from Social Media World Expo and you know, the biggest thing that came were they’re winning clients, winning customers and partners and the biggest thing that was a takeaway, there were a lot of takeaways, it was a great show, but the biggest takeaway is be human. And whatever you’re doing, whether you’re selling, whether you’re doing customer service, whether you are doing any part of your business; be that human aspect.
They want to feel that and when you feel it, it’s a much better chance of having them for a longer time as a customer, their lifetime value goes up, they respect more, they know, word of mouth gets out there and they help your business. So being human, whether it’s on the SaaS size or the small business size is going to the consumers, you got to do it. It has to be done.
Stephen: 100%. I couldn’t agree more. I mean people these days; I think they value that transparency as well. So I think that’s also part of being human. You see blogs out there that start to publish income reports and you see blogs out there that is starting just to talk about more personal experiences so it might be related to business but then there was also things that happened to their everyday life because people realize now that it’s not just a black and white “Oh, we’ve got this many Facebook followers, we’ve got this many Twitter followers”, it’s about really how you really interact with them.
So I think with everything, whether it be with email marketing, rather than looking at the clicks you’re getting or open rates, it’s more about the reply rate, the engagement and seeing how people actually relate with the customers.
Justin: Absolutely, and at the end of the day, for these small-medium sized businesses, it’s the bottom line, right?
How do you increase that?
You’re trying to support your families, you’re trying to grow, and you try to give back. All of those things are involved, being better to your customers, finding more customers, and allowing them to be successful in that way.
[11:23] Stephen: Yeah, of course. So when you’re filtering all of these prospects and all of these leads that come through, how do you set up a crossing world around that?
Because it can be hard, obviously, depending on which industry people want leads for. There’re different values on each lead.
How did you guys come to a conclusion on the processing model that worked for you?
Justin: Well there’s a lot of testing that went into that and a lot of thought. It wasn’t just “Hey, let’s go practice. “
And the fact to the matter is different than other SaaS’ is, our business is not an on or off or black or white scenario.
If you’re an email service provider out there, are you sending an email?
Okay, you’re doing a good job. Or are you a CRM?
Are you taking information, are you holding a phone number, are you searchable?
Those are all things that, either they do work, you can search it or you can send me email, or they don’t do that?
That’s not the same with us. We have to rely on content being created or people asking or wanting or needing all these social networks. So we can’t, you know the model we’re looking at, she will sell it per lead, well whether we’re determining a lead versus what someone else’s department determining what a lead is.
At the end of the day, we are pretty good at it. We spend a lot of time understanding. What if someone doesn’t know how to deal with it, the same way that we would know how to deal?
We train them to deal with it, but it doesn’t have the same value and someone who is in a city or a location that has less of a population, or has less key word, is going to get less leads. So it’s a situation where someone might get one lead a month, then another person might get a hundred thousand.
So we found this model that just worked best to give it as a flat fee and you get them unlimited leads and we get people to optimize to make sure they are getting the most out of what they’re trying to do.
Stephen: Yeah, perfect. And I love that it really depends on the optimization of your campaign, I guess. Because when I joined it, I’ve actually made an account and I joined it, I sort of went through the process very quickly.
But you work sort of with key words as well so obviously there’ll be certain phrases and key words people use within social media? And that’s one of the main targeting factors of capturing leads.
Justin: Yes. So what we do is we often give suggestions and as more people come on and more industries come on and we look at what’s working well for everyone we suggested across the board. But they’re just the overall suggestions.
You know your business very well; you know that if you are a contractor that these words work really well for what you’re looking for. So what we do is we take those but then our systems, that’s where magic happens, we do semantic searching, natural language processing, machine learning, to find all the stuff around similar to that have intent, that don’t have intent, to adhere as many leads as possible to that by taking their basic set of key words.
So it’s all a learning process. And as of the computers, we get more leads in and people say they replied to them or they marked them as closed or attempted, we learn from every interaction to make sure we’re always getting better at our job, which is to identify the best lead for you, the way that you like them.
Stephen: Yeah, perfect. And that’s really a nice, customized solution as well.
Justin: And the whole point is, it’s like a setting and you forget it as one says at an infomercial, the whole point is we’re not giving you a new technology that you have to learn. We’re not giving you new technology that makes you communicate through this way or that way or sending email like this or like that, we’re just filling your pipeline.
We’re sending email in real time, you click on it, and you deal with it how you want to deal with it. We don’t make technology a barrier in this.
So you come in, you set up your account once, you don’t ever have to touch your account, managers or look at it; they’ll offer you suggestions, if you want to change it up, you can. But it really takes no technical aspect and even though we have all these great little tools when you log in to our platform for basic CRM stuff so you can go in and record their phone number, the calls that you’ve had with them, set meetings, times, and calendar events and take notes on them.
That’s because that’s important to have and it gets more robust for them and they can use it instead of paying another CRM system. But again, I always bring it down to the one point, “We’re that Lead delivery system, let us just fill your funnel and do what you’re good at. Don’t let us take your time and take away from what you’re doing best.”
Stephen: Yeah, of course. I really like that. But just say I’m a plumber in Melbourne, Australia and then next door there’s another plumber in Melbourne, Australia and we’re both using the platform, how do you determine?
Do we both get the same Leads or is it, like, if he’s got a different key word and I’ve got a different key word, will he get more and I get less?
How does that work?
Justin: Absolutely, there may be some overlap when there are multiple people in a single location looking for the exact same things, but we also look at relationships, we look at how many people have commented on, we look at so many factors that it’s really rare that you would share a similar Lead. But at the end of the day, we have to look at it.
It’s a flat fee, it’s inexpensive as anyone who knows or buys Leads or has any other way of using CPC. Leads, in any business right now, really start at a minimum of $10 and could go up to a $1,000. You’re a doctor, or whatever it may be, a lawyer–
Stephen: Yeah, high order values.
Justin: Exactly, high order values. The long to short of it is, it does happen but not very likely because we learn different things from the way that you like to get those Leads so it doesn’t happen that often.
Stephen: Yeah, fantastic. I think that’s right. Because from what I know is we’ll all end up in the Lead generation business, and I’m sure you’ve already included things like the Google key words that are already in this and keywords and all that, I mean, people just speak differently on social media and people talk differently when they’re searching through Google key words as well.
So it’s going to be a very different sort of game when you’re looking in social media as opposed to looking for an immediate solution through Google, I imagine.
Justin: Well exactly, because here’s a good example. A lot of people in the car industry are customers. I don’t know why we had an article in a car blog or newsletter, I can’t remember what it was for car sales fuel but they really kill it with their system because anyone says “Going out for a test drive today”, that’s when they can get to them when people says “I’m thinking about the Mazda vs. the Toyota” that someone can jump in and see it and you would never think about those key words like you’re saying on Google or buying ads under them but that’s what people are saying. But then it goes even further than that.
That Lead is not only good for that car salesperson, that Lead is also good for the car insurance person. So we think about all those things along the line.
They’re buying a new car they need a new insurance. Maybe it’s an opportunity to get out to them.
So these things have cross value and when you look at that a lot and if it works, one because it’s an industry where we can cross an industry and bring more of these to someone who may have not thought about it.
Stephen: Yeah, of course. And I think that’s a really good way to put it as well. I mean then the sort of ways where you can’t run out or all those things to people that talk in this sort of language as well on social media.
It just makes it a lot more natural as well with the communicating within that space of social media. It’s a lot less direct and sales-y too.
[18:39] Stephen: So you come along more authentic, I think. And I think that’s what I really love about the platform and I think a lot of others would really love about the platform too. So I see you’ve also got 2 different processing models so you’ve got, I think, a harvester and a cultivator.
Can you explain the difference between these 2?
Justin: Yup, it’s not a lot of difference. It really comes down to the service area and what you can do your business as someone who, for example, a mortgage broker, their license per state, so if you want to get to the main cities and the 3 states that they deal with, they’re going to want a cultivator account. If you’re a local plumber, well really, when we search we’re not looking at just your city, we’re looking at a radius around it whether in the states miles, in Canada, or in kilometers, we look at the distance and all the popular cities around it.
So it just depends on the locations that you want and the amount of key words. That’s really the differentiator in this situation.
And at the end of the day, we’re not pushing someone to a higher paid account, because it’s higher paid, there’s a need for those people to be in that account, and there’s more data that we have to do for those account. So that’s the model. It’s not really like you’re getting one feature over another because everyone gets the same feature set.
Stephen: Yeah, of course. And I think that’s really good. I mean you’ve got opportunities there for franchises; it could be across the country. There’re heaps and heaps of opportunities.
I mean if you land a client, for example, like McDonald’s, which obviously is a million dollar company, and then people are just “I wish I had some backers right now” or “I wish I had McDonald’s” or “starving” or whatever, then instantly, they could jump into conversation with you.
Justin: That’s exactly it.
Stephen: So yeah, huge opportunities. I love that.
Justin: There’s another piece to it and I bet some of you’re listeners are a part of this. This is not just for local business, your real estate agents, your plumbers, your event planners, your photographers, and your videographers.
It’s also for people who have eCommerce sites and it’s also for people who do two, three string campaigns or do affiliate marketing. People who do really well with us are people who do affiliate marketing in the diet space.
“I would really like to lose 10 pounds this week” or “My wedding’s coming up.” These are all factors in which those people could use those products.
You know, one of our clients came in to us and they’re like “Will it work for me?
I sell a product at Amazon.” Well it sure does. What the product was is a band for your iPhone that goes on your arm while you go running. It’s very basic, hard to differentiate.
But the fact is, our product is helping him grow his business because every time someone says, “Just came back for a run.” or just went on a 5-km run, or uses the Nike plus app or any fitness app for that sake, we can identify that person for them and we can send them.
Say, “Here’s a $5 coupon for my product. Next time you go running.” So it works across the board for situations like that.
Stephen: Yeah. I love that. I think you just touched a really good point. Once you create that connection. The first thing you need to do is provide value.
So rather than say “Here’s the website link”, you can say “Well here’s an offer or a coupon.” He is given an incentive to really take you up on that offer.
Justin: We also teach people to do things and say things like “I can help you. Here’s my email”, “Oh, I see that you need that service.
I’m local to you; I’ve actually done a few people in your area. Check out my work on my Facebook page and here’s my phone number.
If you want to call me, I’m always available to give you a free quote.” So more than just that hard cell, is establish a relationship.
That’s a really big part of social selling and something that becomes very apparent for quicker closes and better closes, and part of our system, we have a thing called Needls U. We teach you about all those stuff.
We’re not just putting out there and say “figure it out yourself.” We have articles on it on how to sell, how do you social sell in the best light, and more importantly, it’s going to become once a week.
Right now it’s once or twice a month, we do live webinars to show examples of how to do this and teach people really how to engage in this space. So we’re all about like the mantra at our company is simple.
It’s to help your business grow. And by helping you to grow your business, it only comes back and grows ours at the same time so we’re all about growing your business and that’s a hash tag of ours.
Stephen: I love that. And I think it’s really good that you’ve got the education side and the actual software side as well.
So it really works hand in hand. And I see a lot of, sort of, companies building on that. There’s companies like Lead Pages and with people that do all the landing pages on it, and a whole lot of different ones like whether there will be things like Infusion Soft or whatever, they all started to provide a little more education as well.
And that’s what gets people in the door too. I mean once people realize how powerful people software are, they start getting on board and getting involved.
Justin: Well that’s a really big part of it because it’s needed. And a little bit less in our business because a lot that’s learning the software and how to use it properly, but also how to then go out and bring that to other people. But ours is so simple that we’re really just teaching how to sell better in one space and not like get too far away from what your core focus is but it’s super important to all these different companies because it’s tough and you have to remember at the end of the day, these are dealt by very smart people who’ve seen gaps in the market like we have.
I know a lot of the CEOs, and we’re friends and we know the companies well and they know their business really well and they know that this will really work for people. But until people know that and learn it, it doesn’t mean as much to them.
So that education is a really big part of this market and something we’re going to see a lot more in every single thing that’s available out there.
FEATURED DOWNLOAD: Read and download the full transcription of Episode 26 with Justin Hartzman. He shares some of his best kept secrets in running his successful business Needls.com
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[24:30] Stephen: Yeah, no doubt. I 100% agree with that. And so, like you said, when you started, you got the development, you started with your own Facebook account, and you started testing from there and then you built it up.
When you, obviously, aggregating all this stuff you mentioned that you’ve got to pay for it and you pay from these social networks so it’s all above board. no scraping and things involved. Obviously that would be a massive cost.
How did you offset that cost at the beginning?
Because you wouldn’t have had all these big clients, all of the big user-base that I’m sure you’ve got now.
How were you really able to afford that while growing?
Do you purchase, sort of, slices of data or do you supply it all at once?
Because obviously I would think that would stunt your growth if you’ve got to put out this massive financial output straight to the data.
Justin: Well you are correct. But we’ve been fortunate enough to sell part of the company until we launched which was a really super thing.
We took some of our past excesses and brought them into this and we used some of our resources on our other companies and kind of spread it across here. So we were self-funded and that’s different than other people.
We boot-strapped until we could have launched and then we launched on November 21st and at that point, we weren’t expecting it but we opened it up for 48 hours and over the 48-hour period, we brought on just over 280 agencies and you could imagine going through 280 agencies. These are bigger clients, they’re not just individuals.
Stephen: Yeah, of course.
Justin: We went “Uh-oh.” We actually had to shut down on that. Not to our customers, but bringing more customers in because we went from a team of 2 developers and 3 founders in a 90-day period to over 15 team members because we had to get support staff, managers, and office staff. We moved in to a new office to grow.
So it’s been a really exciting path and a lot has happened and since that time, we’ve actually been able to use the profits of the company to continue paying, to continue to grow, and continue to invest in ourselves and self-fund it and bootstrap it all the way along so there’s isn’t a need for money down the road and it’s something that will reach out for at a certain time when we’re ready and we feel we’re on a trajectory for hyper-growth and then we’ll talk to the right people and make sure we make a decision. But right now, we’re happy with how our corporate structure is and who’s involved and it’s a very fine and interesting time, that’s for sure.
Stephen: I love it. And I think that sort of reminds me of base camp as well, obviously.
I’m sure you read the book, Rework and things like that. With bootstrapping, obviously, they had investors as well; breathing down your back, the company’s going down that direction that you guys wanted to go down and all for the company. You’re building up an actual company rather than looking to turn profit every corner.
Justin: Yeah that’s absolutely the case. But there’s also from us, you know. Just being in this industry a long time and then having another successful business, we have a lot of that pressure ourselves.
So whether it’s from an investor or ourselves, we feel that every day and we feel that so that we can provide the best environment for the people and our staff and for the best experience for our users and all of the above. So it’s definitely pressure that comes from different ways but not having someone breathing down your back and why to know happens order for dollars is certainly a great thing but something that we expect to change over a not-so-medium term.
Stephen: Yeah. I love that and I think it gives you plenty of opportunities and plenty of freedoms to choose the path you want to go down as well. It’s a great starting point.
Justin: Yeah. With that being said, we love that. But we also have to always be in, you know, if there’s other people out there who are thinking of starting their own SaaS or any sort of online business or business of sorts, you always have to be accepting change, understanding what your clients are asking for, and making those changes for them because they know best and pivoting. Just because you think it’s the best possible thing out there and there’s nothing better, well if you learn that there’s a better path, you need to investigate and go down.
That’s something that I’ve just learned to over the last little while by talking to the right people and listening to my clients and knowing that they are right.
[28:50] Stephen: Yeah. Did you say this was something that you were going to be doing for the next 10 years or is this something that you guys have thought about building up and then selling?
Where do you want to take Needls?
Justin: You know that’s a question that’s hard to answer. Always, the wish is to find the right person to buy or partner with and grow it into something absolutely huge.
We see their market being great, and we’ll see what happens down the road. But historically, we’ve come from the side of building businesses and selling it to people and a little bit more about me will get it to much today but we own a business or have a business called wesellyoursite.com and we are the number 1 business-brokers for medium boutique deals across the internet.
So anything from a $1 million to $15 million in inventory, so we understand the sales process, we understand how the broker idea, we understand that. At the world we’ve come from, before we got into this. So that is the goal, but we’ll see what happens.
Look we’re really enjoying what we do, we have a passion for it, and if the right opportunity comes about, we’ll definitely look at everything that’s available on the table but right now we’re just focused on delivering Leads to the small-medium sized businesses and helping them grow because we know what it will do for us in the long run.
[30:19] Stephen: Yeah, of course, I think that’s fantastic. And so, we’ll wrap it up pretty soon but if I was to jump on, if one of our listeners were to jump on, sign up, and start putting their key words in, how many Leads do they expect per month?
Is there some sort of average that people get or does it really depend on where they are, what they do because obviously, just say, I think it was $70, one of the plans there.
How many Leads are they looking to get and how do you really make sure that they qualified and really give people an understanding that they’re going to get what they paid for?
Because there’s a bit of a system, and a bit of a process in place that you need to make sure that people are actually making money after they try contacting people and all of that?
Justin: Yeah. And the answer is I don’t have an answer. It’s something that we’re only learning as we go along. We’re 100 days or so into the company right now and we do have a lot of accounts but that’s not a cross.
You know, there’re tons of industries, we’ve 802 different industries on our system. So we don’t have those stats and it all depends on your location and the words that you’re doing.
So we would love to give that because they want to ask that question. But we’ve set up a lot of test accounts and I would say on average, I see Leads coming in every single day.
So I can’t tell you if that’s 5 or 10 per day but you’re getting leads every day. And that’s why we offer the free trial, right? It might not work for you and the location that you’re looking for because it’s just too small or not enough people are looking for it.
But what you have to remember outside of that is, let’s say you’re a real estate agent, right?
You might look at a Lead for 4 months and then you get a Lead and you close it and you get a listing and you sell that listing, well your commission on that, let’s say here on Toronto where we’re from, an agent is making minimum of $25,000 per sale. So if they get 1 Lead that converts into anything over a year, you’d pay multiple years of our service and then some and then some and then some. So it all depends on what you actually need out of it.
And that’s why we priced it at this price point that if you’re growing your business, we believe that it’s affordable enough over that period. You’re going to get a lot of it.
And most of our clients, you know I can’t talk for all of them, are closing like we can see stats of how many are attempted and how many are closed. Most account are closing Leads over that 14- day trial and if not definitely in the first 30 days of having the account.
There’s no contract, there’s no obligations, so you don’t have to sign up for a year. You can cancel at any time. If it works for you, great, we want you to get business and if not, have a nice day and we’re glad that you checked it out.
Stephen: Yeah. I think that’s something like you said during the first 100 days of the business. So there’s a lot of testing still going on and it’s very hard to make a definitive statement.
I think it’s just going to get better and I think also that once you’ve sort of perfected this strategy, because with any SaaS company, wherever the software or the company is built with, there’s going to be a process which you’re going to continue to optimize and obviously reduce refunds and things like that, reduce cancellations as people start to get used to the system and close more in. You educate better and you put people through a better on-boarding process.
Justin: And those numbers are great for us right now, they can only get better. But we have one focus and one focus alone.
Well actually there’re 2; to listen to our customers and to make the changes that they need. But the second is we’re building at our data science team.
That’s our huge piece of our business because every single day we have to be learning what a better Lead is by understanding what our customers are doing with them. So it’s an ongoing process, it’s something that takes a lot of time, a lot of resources; it’s called data science.
It’s not called data coding because it is a science and there’s not a black and white answer so it’s all testing and learning and trying something and if something gets better than this, what does it mean bad for someone else. We’re definitely spending a lot of money, a lot of time, a lot of effort in that space.
We’ve brought on some really bright minds to help us with this because it’s a problem that has not been solved on this scale. If you go to a brand watch, a system mostly, a company like that, they’re looking for sentiments.
And sentiments are a problem that’s been solved a long time ago, we understand words that are happy, we understand the words that are bad. We don’t understand the ideas that people have in their head that leads to sales decisions when it comes to a coding and automated system.
So that’s where we’re spending a lot of time, that’s what sets us apart.
Stephen: Yes, so that’s what sets you apart?
Justin: Absolutely. That being purchase intent-based is the most important thing that we’re doing that sets us apart from anybody else out there.
[35:03] Stephen: Yeah. And are those, let’s say, one of my next questions was do you have competitors in the market, obviously you don’t have to mention them, but have you come across anyone trying to do something similar?
Justin: There’s nobody who’s doing what we’re doing in purchase intent for the small-medium sized business and you know, I assume that we’ll only change over time. And you know what, the same thing I tell to anybody that,
“Are you scared about that?”
Well no. I’m assuming that with someone coming to the market, they might steal all of my market share at the beginning, but they’re also going to help to teach the market that is out there and having something to compare and find a product on, if one’s better or the other really gives us an advantage to have more customers coming in to our space.
So it’s something that we do expect, something that we don’t want, but we’re ready for it and we’re building in things and have plans an we have a long, long list of plans and ideas and stuff that we’re just to implement to help build that mode around us and make sure that we stand out as the leader in this space, you know?
Stephen: If you’re one of the first people to market, that’s one thing as well. So you’re definitely going to be the innovators of that market, of that social Lead acquisition market and people are obviously going to recognize that and say “Well these guys” obviously you’ve got this much time now until another competitor that’s similar to you guys, jumps in and it’s giving you guys a lot of time to plan out and work your things and educate people and all of that.
Justin: That’s absolutely the case and that purchase intent technology that we have and that we’re working on constantly, that is not something someone can do overnight. Whether you are the biggest company out there, whether you are a team of heavy developers, it’s just something that’s harder to do and it takes time, and it takes energy, and it takes a lot of resources.
So that gives us the advantage plus, you know, knowing the market and getting out there is, like you say, a first-mover advantage helps out a lot but our technology is going to build that over the long run.
Stephen: Yeah, I love that. And have any agencies approached you and looked to license something like this outside, they’ve got exclusivities?
So for example, maybe a PayPal or something like that will come across and just say “Look, we’d love to take the whole nature of financial or I don’t know say the word Paypal or something.” Comes up in the conversation on Facebook or Twitter.
They want to make sure that they’re the only people who can capture those key words?
Does that even come across?
Justin: There would be clients or person that does that per se because PayPal can just search for those words and generic matters, if they’re just looking into PayPal. Maybe. But just a little bit of a case but yeah, the answer to the question is yes, we’ve been approached by a couple of different major players in different industries who have all said “how do we get these technology and step ahead of our competitors?”
Were in talks with them and, you know, our motto is to help the small guys so we don’t know where that fits in or how that fits in yet. But we will make sure that we service everyone the best we can while keeping our core focus of helping the SMB’s grow.
Stephen: Yeah, of course. Keeping an open mind about that will help you because you really don’t want to be turning down that sort of revenue as well if it’s going to be an exclusivity deal but at the same time, like you said, you want to keep going for the general population.
Justin: Right. We won’t get to that now, but hopefully down the road, there’ll be more to discuss, we’re going to discuss it together but there’s other things that we have with that data that we can provide that other people can’t and that’s a lot of the reasons why they’re coming to us. So I know that’s a little vague and out there, but you’ll hear more about that in some press release that’s coming up in the near future.
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[38:28] Stephen: Now that sounds interesting, I’m curious now. You’ve got me thinking what we could do with the data. And I know like with data, I think everything is going towards big data.
And for you guys to capture that big data and then turning it into something interesting and readable and legible and turn it into a legit writing rather than just plain data, that’s where the value is and I think you’ve got that captured really well.
Justin: Yeah more than that, there’s 2 parts that’ll answer that. I won’t go into too much detail. Our data is much different than everyone else so I’m giving you an example of that in a minute and what we’re not trying to do is we’re not trying to compete with other big data providers who give you that analytics and sentiment analysis.
We’re trying to give them a way to use the data that’s actionable and that’s the main difference. What can you do with that data that’s going to help you grow, build your business, find more customers and let’s help you do that versus the latter of, “here’s information, now that you know about it, figure out a solution to go and act on it.”
So we’re bridging that gap, but the difference in our data versus someone else’s is a lot more granular because we’re looking at much of that closer level. So an example is, we know or we can find any location like example last night in Toronto, we just this up for locksmiths, we know that women aged 19-21 in the time of 19 per average per night are locked out of their cars or homes in the downtown Toronto area between 3 and 5 in the morning.
Well that’s pretty significant information. And now we know how to get to the right people to the right vendors at the right time.
Justin: Between 3 and 5 in the morning, well that’s pretty significant information.
Justin: And now we know how do we get the right people to the right vendors at the right time.
Stephen: Yeah, and I think that’s fantastic, I mean, sure obviously you guys are familiar with Facebook advertising opportunities as well now and they’ve done a pretty good job. Through the audience’s insights and you can really nail that down and tie it to a strip, like you were saying.
Super specifics, and obviously you guys are taking it another step further and I think that until you get to that stage to where you can really break down that your target audience to the point of what they are doing, where are they, how long are they there for and how can I get my message in front of them and start engaging with them and then you added another level of actionable data. So, actually purposing intent.
And that’s where the real goals come from.
Justin: You are exactly right, you have to raise that one piece, in that, “Okay, we know that Facebook, Google, all these companies know really well who your customer should be but more than that taking that information and then turning it into; well, we know who they should be but how do we get to them when they really need us?
Because they will make a decision then and we’re going to make them a customer then and we’re going to help that person who is in need at that very moment. So that’s where it becomes a lot different than what everyone else is doing.
Stephen: Yeah, yeah and I love it. To be honest, when you’re at that position like you said a lot to me at the moment.
19 year old girl who could be locked out of her house late at night and let’s just say a message comes up or something from a locksmith you can charge a premium price as well because you’re at that moment where no one else is there available to help you and if no one’s there–
Justin: That’s right, it’s like surge pricing on Uber.
Stephen: Exactly right, and I think I was about to use that example and you took it out of my head. That was a perfect example of how Google works and it’s really, the sky is the limit.
I think it’s just going to get more and more technical, more data, turn that into more actionable insights and just keep growing on that and you guys are going in the perfect direction on having that data Science. Which you said is a Science and just keep building on it because that data and that science is going to be the new artee, which is going to stand out from the rest of your competitors and when you’re a step ahead, no one can catch up.
Justin: You got it, that’s the plan, and hopefully we execute, you know. It’s all about execution.
[42:14] Stephen: Yeah, so last question, how is your customer acquisition going now?
Are you guys really looking to market this to the mass using paid advertising and all of that or are you looking to really get the agencies on board first and see if you can get folks on that top build revenue?
What is your plan for the next 3 to 6 months and how are you going to execute it?
Justin: Yeah, well we have a pretty extensive plan and that comes from the historic doing of these things but we are, we have to fold this right now is the small, medium sized agencies so you know, that’s not the giant ones of the world but the others who have a lot of clients underneath them we’re building a sales team around that and they’re coming to us right now. So we need a way to service them and teach them about it and see if it’s a good fit for them but our main focus is certainly the consumer, the B to C size which are your plumbers, your real estate agents we’ve talked about that before and how we’re doing that is through many different channels including, paid methods.
We’re getting a lot of PR right now we are a lot of word of mouth. Once someone uses them and get a leave from it.
They wanted to tell their friends and you know the first thing they say to us is, “We told our friends about it. No one in their business but everyone who does something in the house.
No one wants to give away the trick in their business.
Justin: But they want to tell their friends. You know, that is working well for them.
And the whole point is, I’ll say this with a great sought, we feel that we priced it so it’s attainable to pretty much anybody who is looking to grow their business and I know there are some people in every different walks of life in every different situations but there’s really no way for the amount that we’re doing it to do it much less and we’ve really made sure that we kept it attainable.
Stephen: Yeah and I think you definitely have I mean, you’re spending, well obviously you have a price nest, 70 to 90 dollars for the two packages, that’s very affordable especially if it inquires one or two millions in that month and I think 99% chance you’re going to be able to come ahead and that’s what you want. You want to get that 80 or 20 old layers where 80% of the people are closing leads and getting back out of it.
Justin: Well absolutely at the end of the day, whether it’s one or two months or one every three months you’re a web developer the average price is fifteen hundred dollars and well it pays for itself. In a year, again, a lot of these people; like, you’re a doctor, you’re getting 3 to 5 to 6 clients a month it’s paying for itself and that quarter of a client so it just depends on what your price point is, and what you’re selling and how many leads are we getting at and it’s all part of give it a try, it doesn’t cost you anything, we just want to see if we can make it work for you and do a really good job.
Stephen: Love it and do you have an affiliate platform within the software yet or are that something you’re looking into pretty soon because I think it would be pretty perfect for it.
Justin: Yeah, we don’t have an affiliate program right now and we’ve come from the affiliate space so we’d like it a lot but what we do have is a white-labeled version of our systems so for agencies and that’s really what they do. So if you’re someone who knows that they can have it better and put a bunch of clients under them we can then get you connected with the white label and brand it and all that sort of stuff and make it really work for you as an individual as a little business or as an agency who has clients underneath of them.
Stephen: Yeah and are you able to relieve the costs of something like that if we’ve got listeners looking to get something like that or have a lot of connections which are able to resell it or is that something that needs to be gone straight between you and them?
Justin: Yeah it’s a wide range, it depends on the size of them and what they have planned to do with it and what they want to offer within it so. I’ll tell you this, it’s very affordable, it’s not front and loaded, it’s very pay as you grow situation because again it’s our motto, pay as you grow.
So that’s what it is.
[46:06] Stephen: Yeah and how can people reach you that are looking to go ahead or have some questions about Needls or looking to become like you say what to label it or anything like that.
What’s the best place we can reach you?
Justin: The best place to reach me personally is sending an email through Contact at Needls.com and say I want to speak to Justin and then you’ll get to me or just email me directly at firstname.lastname@example.org, it’s pretty simple. I’m a person who likes to communicate and I give time to anyone who has a question for sure.
Stephen: Fantastic, well it’s been a pleasure having you on Justin. I really can’t wait to see where the company goes, I know I’ll definitely be recommending you to a lot people and looking to start using it myself I want to sort of try it too.
I’m curious now because I jumped on to it initially and now that you’ve mentioned the little tips and tricks that you can use it would be really good to jump on and have a play around with it.
Justin: Absolutely and there’s more to it that we didn’t even get to today but we’ll talk about that another time.
Stephen: Oh we’ll have to.
Justin: You have me, it’s been wonderful and I hope that I added some value to. Please, if anyone has questions, get a hold of me.
Stephen: Yeah, love it. I think we’ll definitely have to do a pod 2 in a month or two and see where you’re at because I think it will be an exciting few months for you especially since you’ve just cracked the first hundred days and now it’s going to be a bit of a roller coaster ride for sure.
Justin: Absolutely, well thanks again, I appreciate your time tonight.
Stephen: Thanks Justin and I’ll talk to you soon.
Justin: Alright, bye-bye now.
FEATURED DOWNLOAD: Read and download the full transcription of Episode 26 with Justin Hartzman. He shares some of his best kept secrets in running his successful business Needls.com
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