Every Friday, we’re answering your questions about business, startups, customer success and more.
In our Groove Friday Q & A segment, we’re answering any questions that you have about, well, anything.
A huge thank you to David, Ka kei Ho and Pedro Alonso for this week’s questions.
Check out this week’s answers below, and jump in with your own thoughts in the comments!
I need someone to sell my product. What do I do?
You have two options:
- Become a great marketer
- Find and hire a great marketer
Becoming a great marketer has truly never been easier. The number of resources out there that can help you get better is huge for just about any industry you can think of.
For great book marketing tips, I’d start here:
- How to Write a Bestselling Book This Year — The Definitive Resource List and How-To Guide
- 12 Lessons Learned While Marketing “The 4-Hour Body”
- Behind The Book Campaign: How to Sell 30,000 Copies in Six Weeks
- Everything Tim Grahl has written on his book marketing resources page
As for hiring a marketer—Tim Grahl, who I mentioned above, actually runs a book marketing agency—I’ve shared a few tips in the past that I think could help:
- Post a job listing on a site that’s relevant to your industry. I haven’t had great success with the signal-to-noise ratio on the broader job listing sites, but the ones more targeted to us—in our case, WeWorkRemotely is a great fit—have resulted in some really strong hires.
- Tell the world what you’re looking for. Send personal emails to everyone that you know who might have a relationship with the kind of person you’re looking for, post to social media, pick up the phone… finding great people often requires a lot of hustle, because everyone else is looking for them, too. So put in the work.
- Reach out to marketers that you respect. If you already read some marketing blogs, reach out to the people writing them. If you don’t already read any, then find the ones that people respect (here are some of my favorites). At the highest tier, the blogger might not be for hire, but they’ll typically have very strong networks that they can refer you to. And there are a lot of great lesser-known blogs with highly valuable content written by marketers that you can hire.
No matter how much product you can produce, ultimately, someone has to sell it.
Whether that’s you or someone else is going to depend on your bandwidth, expertise and how you’d like to spend your time.
But the good thing is that you have two options that, if done well, can both be very successful.
How do you manage your time?
I procrastinate from time to time (and get mad at myself for it) just like everyone else, but I have found a few strategies that help me accomplish what needs to get done.
Here are the three strategies where my biggest wins come from:
- Power-blocking “repetitive” tasks: answering emails and support tickets, calling customers, anything else where I can batch things, I do. Answering emails one-by-one when they come in is a massive distraction, so I do my best to avoid it.
- Realizing that not everything will get done, and prioritizing accordingly. If I did everything that I was supposed to do, I’d be working 30 hours per day. I realize that I won’t get to everything; the trick is to prioritize your tasks so that the absolutely critical things get done first. We all get bogged down in “easy” work (because it’s easy) that isn’t all that mission-critical. Instead, let that stuff fall by the wayside (or delegate it), and do the things that are most important. (Treat leisure time that you value the same way. For me, surfing and spending time with my family are really important, so I prioritize them at the expense of other things.)
- Having a “hard stop” at the end of each day. Pick a time—say, 6:30pm—after which (barring exceptional circumstances), you’re not answering emails, looking at your phone, or doing anything that feels like work. You’re not just avoiding it; you’re not allowed to touch it. Knowing that that hard stop is coming gives you a sense of urgency during the day to work more efficiently, and also helps with work/life separation if you’re often working from home, as I am.
Time management is something that even productivity “gurus” I know struggle with, and I suspect that for many of us, it might always be a struggle.
Still, applying a few key strategies has helped me immensely, and I hope they help you, too.
Should a business scratch your own itch, or find a hole in the market?
I like this question because it calls out two conflicting pieces of business advice that get repeated often.
If you want to succeed, scratch your own itch.
If you want to succeed, find a need in the market and fill it.
Not everyone might agree with this, but I firmly believe that you need to do both.
The need for a hole in the market is reasonably obvious. If you’re going to sell a product, you need people who will find value in it. And even very crowded markets (like customer service software) have holes that haven’t been filled.
But the need to scratch your own itch is a bit less obvious. A lot of people take a more “straight opportunistic” view and prefer to find holes in any market, even if they don’t know much about it, and then try to fill them.
That would never work for me.
Entrepreneurship, especially in the first several years, is a LOT of deep valleys of very difficult trudgery studded with rare and fleeting peaks.
If I didn’t care about solving this very specific problem, and if I didn’t have a passion for empowering businesses to be better at customer service, I’d give up. There’s no question in my mind.
There are a few who have a deep burning passion simply for building businesses, whether they’re passionate about the business itself or not. And for those people, my advice probably doesn’t matter.
But if you’re like me, you need to scratch your own itch and find a need in the market.