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Why you should master the art of “Forum influencing”, With Andrew Miller

Forum influencing is all about going on the forums related to your product, marketing, industry or city and creating a presence there. For a small business this could be as simple as the subreddit related to your business or city…like www.reddit.com/r/columbus for Columbus Ohio. Go on there, answer questions, be honest and then at the […]


Forum influencing is all about going on the forums related to your product, marketing, industry or city and creating a presence there. For a small business this could be as simple as the subreddit related to your business or city…like www.reddit.com/r/columbus for Columbus Ohio. Go on there, answer questions, be honest and then at the appropriate times get to mention your business in an organic way and get exposure there. You can also comment on youtube videos, intstagram posts, follow #s related to your business, answer questions on TripAdvisor and Quora and more. These are all excellent ways of driving exposure for free to a targeted demo.


I had the pleasure of interviewing Andrew Miller (AKA @AndrewStartups) who’s for over a decade had been head of marketing of various tech companies and taken 3 startups to multi-million dollar exits, one in San Francisco and two in Dubai.

Thank you so much for doing this with us! Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?

My entire family is entrepreneurs so I’ve always knew I would work with small business. I don’t fit the corporate mold, I can’t really be a number or another cog in the wheel so when I founded a startup in college that made video resumes for graduating students, I knew I would never work for anyone else to employ me. What I quickly learned however, was that I really didn’t like being a founder. I wasn’t passionate about fundraising and HR, just the growth. Being a data driven creative hacker that works between dev and product to build the company’s momentum.

So since then I’ve loved startups because good Founders hire people to work WITH them not FOR them.

Over the 10 or so years since then I’ve been a part of some important projects like the first ever startup exit in the Middle East and a travel company that got bought in Silicon Valley. Since 2016, I’ve been a startup marketing consultant working remotely from 10–15 countries per year through my Startup Marketing consultancy, aptly named AndrewStartups. I also focus on lecturing, writing and mentoring startup founders around the world as well. I’ve taught Growth Hacking classes in over 10 countries.

Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you began this career?

So many, recently I’ve just been hired by Match Group, the owners of Tinder, Hinge and more to launch their newest dating app Crown. With a focus only on LA, and no experience in the dating industry I have been applying aggressive startup marketing tactics to the launch and we’re doing really well. We will launch nationwide next year.

A handful of years ago I launched the Yelp of the Middle East with no budget. I studied at night under a world-renown search marketing expert and we were able to get first page rankings for nearly every business in the region within a few months. This means that if you googled any hotel, spa, gym, restaurant etc the 3rd or 4th link you’d find our relatively unknown site. Within the first 6 months we had 600k users and quickly became one of the most famous startups in the region, without spending a dime on marketing. The project grew and grew and then with poor leadership from our first time CEO, we turned down partnership, investment and acquisition offers and I eventually left the project but that was a wild ride.

Can you share a story about the funniest marketing mistake you made when you were first starting?

I once ran ads in Egypt for LivingSocial during the revolution in 2011 for commence. People really had bigger problems to deal with and we felt pretty stupid when many of the bad comments on social media said we should care more about their lives at stake and not about selling a massage on LivingSocial.

Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?

You must work with local partners before launching campaigns in a region you know nothing about and have never been to. This is not only for safeguarding your brand, but also local people know slang, neighborhoods, key insights into the target demo and can help you find hidden wins for advertising.

What do you think makes your company stand out? Can you share a story?

AndrewStartups is myself and at any given time about 3–5 remote contractors that help me with various tasks and our team is unique for 3 reasons:

-We are unique as an agency that we don’t have to chase money, projects come inbound through word of mouth. AndrewStartups mission driven and want to work on projects that help people. I recently turned down a large opportunity to work with Phillip Morris on a project for moral reasons for instance. I’ve turned down a massive offer from a company in Europe because I got a bad feeling about their Dev team and founder. I want to work on projects that will win, not just pay well.

-I have done this before, many times. My experience is the value add. I have worked with over 100 startups. Where others are stressed and freaking out, I am calm, because this ain’t my first rodeo.

-Finally, We do not focus on scaling money, but rather quality of our work so we only work on projects that I believe in and would use myself. We are extremely lean as we have overhead and no full-time staff. I normally live in very inexpensive countries and so that enables me to not have to work with more than 1–2 clients at a time and keep my focus on the quality of work I put out, rather than the amount of money we are making.

Are you working on any exciting new projects now? How do you think that will help people?

I just wrapped a project with a new global borderless banking solution called Denizen.io where I built and launched all of their paid ad campaigns across multiple channels. They are quickly becoming a force to be reckoned with in the Digital Nomad space as their service allows you to get paid in Europe and withdraw the money without fees in the U.S immediately.

I am working with Match Group/Tinder right now on handling the growth for their newest dating app Crown. Crown is exciting because it’s the company’s first ever Anti-binging app…that only allows you to play one quick sweet 16 round and when you get down to your final 4 profiles you can’t spend anymore time in the app that day. Very interesting and the early data shows people love it. We’ve gotten about 30k people on the app in LA already and will launch nationwide in early 2019.

Are you able to identify a “tipping point” in your career when you started to see success? Did you start doing anything different? Is there a takeaway or lessons that others can learn from that?

In 2010 I found the sweet spot when working with two American founders in Dubai who started the Craigslist of the Middle East. Their focus on quality and user experience matched my die hard focus on growth and aggressive marketing tactics and we were able to drive a $17 million exit within one year of me starting at the company. We went from 800k pageviews a month to 3 million in 10 months and quickly exited. Since then I have focused on finding exciting projects but also winning teams where I am the missing piece of the puzzle.

What advice would you give to other marketers to thrive and avoid burnout?
 
 ONLY WORK ON WHAT YOU LOVE. If you do not love the project and the people you work with then you will not be able to put the time in necessary to win.

How do you define “Marketing”? Can you explain what you mean?

Marketing is the act of expanding the awareness of your project. Everything you do is marketing if the focus is to tell people about your brand/product/thing. Advertising on the other hand is selling, and growth on the other hand is growing the bottom line metrics that drive your business.

None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?

My original cofounder in college who trusted me enough to let me go from the project without much argument. The first guy who gave me a job in Digital Marketing was Ricardo Farkas at Vallarta Adventures in Mexico. He had a 1000 person company but had no online marketing department and here I was a 22 year old punk at board meetings with employees that had been there 5–10 years but he saw something in me. He gave me $10,000/month PPC budget and bought me every book on SEO and marketing and I read them all and learned fast how to build growth online. I thank him to this day because it gave me the confidence in my future roles.

Can you share a few examples of marketing tools or marketing technology that you think can dramatically empower small business owners?

I think automation is the best thing to focus on for small businesses. Tools that reduce your time investment like Social Media Automation tools like Buffer and Quuu.co

I love instagram automation tools like FollowAdder and Later.com

I also love email automation tools like PersistIQ and Hubspot that allow you to send emails and touchpoint to prospects while you sleep that do not look in-organic at all. All of these amount to a powerful marketing operation without any staff…which is what I love and need to survive as a business.

What are your “5 Non Intuitive Marketing Strategies For Small Businesses”?

I literally specialize in working with early stage startups to growth hack their marketing using a limited budget so I have a treasure trove of non-intuitive marketing tactics after 12 years and many successes. Here are some I can share publicly, but I share much more on my new online course that’s coming live: www.andrewstartups.carrd.co

1. Forum Influencing

Forum influencing is all about going on the forums related to your product, marketing, industry or city and creating a presence there. For a small business this could be as simple as the subreddit related to your business or city…like www.reddit.com/r/columbus for Columbus Ohio. Go on there, answer questions, be honest and then at the appropriate times get to mention your business in an organic way and get exposure there. You can also comment on youtube videos, intstagram posts, follow #s related to your business, answer questions on TripAdvisor and Quora and more. These are all excellent ways of driving exposure for free to a targeted demo.

2.Email Marketing

Email marketing is still the most efficient and effective lead generation and conversion strategy. Most projects with low budget still drive the most conversions via email and this is why. It’s extremely easy to offer enough value to grab someone’s email address. Discounts, offers, content, a funny joke, all get people to give their email…on the otherhand it’s extremely difficult (benchmark is 1% conversion rate in ecommerce for first visit) to convert a new visit to buying your product or service…what do companies do instead? They focus on email gathering as a conversion and then communicating and convincing users to convert over time. Not only does this increase conversions but it greatly increases LTV over time as well as people are much more likely to return and buy from you again as you stay top of mind with solid email marketing.

3.Influencer Marketing

Getting targeted influencers to share your product or service on social media is a great marketing initiative and can be very inexpensive. There are 3 main approaches to Instagram Influencer Marketing: Direct, wherein you DM or email influencers and send out RFPs, ask for media kits etc directly.

This is super time consuming but very rewarding.

2) Via an agency like God and Beauty, Find Your Influence or many, many others. This is super easy but very expensive as they have high markups (they do all the negotiations) and tend to only work with large-scale influencers.

3) via a platform…like Influence.com and many many others.

The platform is the best solution if you can afford it because it allows you to scalable interact, negotiate, pay and track influencers…. but you need a minimum spend of $10,000 which is expensive.

For companies without a ton of money to spend, honestly direct is the cheapest but very time intensive as you have to negotiate, track and pay each influencer yourself.

4.Instagram Automation

Instagram can be a massive business driver for small businesses. But it takes a ton a Time and so tools that automate instagram can be very effective. I recommend trying tools like PopSocial to automate the likes, and follows and then using a tool like Later.com to automate the daily posting are the best.

You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂

I am absolutely sick of racism. I spent 4 years of my life living in Oakland california, the original home of the black panthers and learned so much about the true history of America that if I could do anything it would be to help educate white America as to the unfair mistreatment of African Americans (believe it or not there are many millions of people that do not empathize and believe what they see on tv). I believe that it takes educated white people to make the difference in educating other white people. If we do not lift up our minorities, we will never be a great nation. Period.

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?

I have so many but I love what my grandma always used to tell me:

“Don’t overdo shit, everything is ok in moderation”.

I also truly love “only boring people get bored”. I can honestly not remember the last time I was bored. I always have something I can be working on and I strive to get as much free time as possible so there’s really no possibility of me being bored.

How can our readers follow you on social media?

I am www.twitter.com/andrewstartups and instagram.com/andrewstartups also anyone can sign up to win my $1500 startup growth course for free here: www.andrewstartups.carrd.co

Thank you so much for joining us. This was very inspirational.

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