For this episode of Art of the Kickstart, we spoke with Vin Clancy, experienced entrepreneur, growth hacker, speaker and successful crowdfunding creator. Tune in to learn more about how to make Facebook work for you, different strategies for growing your audience and much more!

Key Takeaways

  • How Facebook groups can help you reach more people
  • What growth hacking is and how it can help build an audience
  • How a Facebook group can be better than a blog
  • How to decide if building a community through a Facebook group is the right choice for your business
  • When cold emailing is the best way to build an audience
  • How to use viral campaigns to build an audience

Links

Connect with Vin

A Special Offer from Vin

If you enjoyed this interview with Vin Clancy, you can get “The ONE secret to getting your posts seen on Facebook (+ 26 secret hacks of the Facebook algorithm)” ebook for free here: Http://growthclub.us/Facebooksecrets

It contains the secret that will double your Facebook engagement overnight, as well as 26 other hacks legendary marketer Vin Clancy used to build a six-figure business via Facebook posts – with zero PR.

You’ll find out why posting times are very over-rated as a metric, as well as the lazy thing you do about 50% of the time which kills your reach.

Note: Everything is correct at the time of writing this (last week) – the Facebook algorithm changes often, so use these tactics while they’re still fresh.

In addition, anyone who signs up to receive the ebook will get Vin’s “How To Do a Successful Kickstarter” webinar (normally $99) for free if they email cris@vinclancy.com with the subject line “Kickstarter plz” and the email they used to sign up for the Facebook secrets eBook.

Sponsors

FIN 2000X2000Art of the Kickstart is honored to be sponsored by The Gadget Flow, a product discovery platform that helps you discover, save, and buy awesome products. The Gadget Flow is the ultimate buyer’s guide for cool luxury gadgets and creative gifts. Click here to learn more and list your product – use coupon code ATOKK16 for 25% off!

backerkitArt of the Kickstart is honored to be sponsored by BackerKit. BackerKit makes software that crowdfunding project creators use to survey backers, organize data, raise additional funds with add-ons and manage orders for fulfillment, saving creators hundreds of hours. To learn more and get started, click here.

Transcript

View this episode's transcript

Roy Morejon:

Welcome to Art of the Kickstart, your source for crowdfunding campaign success. I’m your host Roy Morejon, president of Enventys Partners, the top full-service turn key product development and crowdfunding marketing agency in the world. We have helped startups raise over 100 million dollars for our clients since 2010.

Each week I’ll interview a crowdfunding success story, an inspirational entrepreneur, or a business expert in order to help you take your startup to the next level with crowdfunding.

Art of the Kickstart is honored to be sponsored by BackerKit and The Gadget Flow. BackerKit makes software that crowdfunding project creators use to survey backers, organize data, and manage orders for fulfillment by automating your operations and helping you print and ship faster. The Gadget Flow is a product discovery platform that helps you discover, save and buy awesome products. It is the ultimate buyers guide for luxury gadgets and creative gifts. Now lets get on with the show.

Welcome to another edition of Art of the Kickstart, today I’m joined by Vin Clancy. Vin, thank you so much for joining us.

Vin Clancy:

It is my pleasure in the deepest recesses of my heart to be here.

Roy Morejon:

Well, I know our audience is certainly going to enjoy this one. Let’s talk about where your marketing background started from.

Vin Clancy:

Sure. So, my marketing background started out of the desperation to change my life. I barely knew what the word meant. I was on welfare four years ago, living off the government, they gave me a hundred dollars a week to live on, and I felt like I had to do something. So, I had an idea to start an online magazine. I had business experience. I was not an ongoing entrepreneur. I was living in a tiny room in East London. So, I thought, “How could this work?” One person who was in the magazine industry, I said to her, “What should I do?” She said, “Just focus on traffic. If you get traffic, you will get investors, you will get brands who wanna be on this site.” I accidentally learned what KPI was that day.

I called up every university in the country that English or Journalism, and I said, “Hey, you should write for us, we’re going to be the coolest magazine in the country. Can’t pay you, but you’re gonna get a cool platform to write on. We’re gonna make you better writers.” Within 14 days, we got 25,000 visitors in a week on the site, ’cause we had an article go viral. Within six months, we had 300,000 visitors a month. So, I lived on welfare, building this from my bedroom on Rackspace free servers. It was a mental mission, and then we raised quarter million dollars and I got to come off welfare.

What does that mean? I learned that single source is everything. If you can turn a traffic tap on, then everything can change. So, I scaled up [inaudible 00:03:09] to a million visitors a month, I built a second site, Screen Robot, was also a written content site, but this was about film and gaming. Got that to a million visitors a month. I got into the Techstars accelerator. I headed 1500 other teams. We then launched a growth hacking agency, a site to use all the special skills I’d learned for other companies. I won best speaker at South by Southwest [inaudible 00:03:34].

So, I was consultant for a lot of companies, and I had a lot of these who couldn’t afford to pay me, and I was just like, “That’s the way it is.” I didn’t know what to do with that, until my friend, Austin [Orrez 00:03:47] said, “Why don’t we write a book on growth hacking [inaudible 00:03:48] get resources out there.” I was like, “That is a good point.”

So we wrote that and we raised $100,000 in pre-orders before the book was even finished with zero PR, zero paid ads, zero influences. To a certain extent, it’s ’cause we’re good marketers, but to another it was just a bit information out there. It’s slightly better now, especially the proliferation of a few good Facebook groups, but it’s just so little good information out for marketers. I end up telling people I’m working with, “It isn’t your fault your company isn’t doing well, ’cause your marketing isn’t doing well.” 50 percent of the people, they just don’t know what they’re talking about. They’re just reading a lot of blogs. The other 50 percent never give you the secret sauce, ’cause they want you to hire them for huge amounts of money to work at your company. So, there’s a conspiracy on why the marketers don’t give out the good information, so just by doing [inaudible 00:04:45] we’ve dominated growth hacking space.

In addition to the book, I just did a hundred-day world tour speaking about growth hacking. I’ve truly become a growth hacking evangelist. Again, kind of completely by accident, because I came across this stuff by accident. I studied it in my bedroom and then luckily said, “Do you want to give a talk in public?” I’d never really done it, but it was powerful. [inaudible 00:05:13] hired me as [inaudible 00:05:15]. Oh, I see, this is how I can get leads for my agency.

That’s kind of where I begun, and then most recently, I’ve launched the fastest growing growth hacking group on Facebook. It’s called Traffic and Copy, and every day I do posts about traffic, my co-founder Charlie Price does posts about copy writing, and that’s really been my main focus, creating the best resource for growth hacking and copy writing on the internet. Every single day, we get messages from people going, “Thank you so much for the posts you do.” We’ve had inspirational posts from people who’ve been in prison, people who’ve been homeless. It’s not just a case of we make money from this, it’s genuinely touching people.

A lot of the other marketers in the space, they can only get any sort of visibility by hitting you with ads all day long. They don’t have fans. People like me and my mentor, Dan [Meredith 00:06:10], you can really tell that we’re touching people on multiple levels. I really believe that you have to create a connection, and that means people need to know about you, not just the latest techniques. I write about sexual frustration or loneliness or the strangeness of being on tour half the year and then staying with parents the other half, as I have been recently.

I really believe that in the modern age, none of us are really doing anything that unique. If they don’t buy from me, there’s 10 other people they can buy from, and that goes for basically any company. People really have to like you as a person, it’s why I’m a big advocate of everyone becoming a personality brand. The old content marketing system was broken. You would try and email lots of blogs and try and get on. You’d try and get PR, and if you didn’t have the luck or you didn’t word things in the right way, they just said no to you or ignored you. Now, with the growth of Facebook groups, you can own that community and your message can get pushed to people via the Facebook algorithm every day. That to me was the difference that really turned me on to content marketing, and it’s something I really recommend.

Roy Morejon:

Absolutely. So, just so our audience is on the same page, give us your definition of what growth hacking is.

Vin Clancy:

Sure. Growth hacking is getting a lot done with very few resources. Some would say, “Well, that just sounds like guerrilla marketing.” It is, to a certain extent. It’s finding a better advantage, finding a way of getting to people that other people can’t think of, using a distribution channel in an effective way. So, why is it growth hacking and not innovative marketing? In the Web 3.0 age, we’re all addicted to our screens, so a message can go viral, so to speak, usually I don’t like that word, but a message can get passed on all of our screens very, very, very quickly using growth hacking techniques.

Growth hacking could just be innovative referrals, like the Uber invite a friend to Uber you both get $20, which is a famous growth hack. Growth hacking could be anything that gets your message out there without you doing the work. In most good growth hacks, the user does the work. There’s some growth hacks you can carry out yourself, such as cold emailing, but for the most part, you want to create a viral effect, where people are inviting their friends to use your product, or people are talking about your product so the word gets out there.

Roy Morejon:

Talk to me about this group that you’ve built on Facebook, Traffic and Copy. How did it start and how has it grown?

Vin Clancy:

There was a kid, who apparently met me at one of my talks, but a lot of people say that. I say hello to a lot of people. This is why I stopped shaking hands, ’cause I was starting to feel like Bernie Sanders. I do a lot of fist bumps instead. Anyway, this kid was like, I met you at my talk, we should build a Facebook group. I didn’t know what he was talking about. I was like, “I don’t know.” He kept calling me. I was like, “Look, I don’t know if I want to do this.” He’s like, “It’s a good idea,” and I was like, “Fine. I’m meeting my fashion designer in Great [Plain 00:09:12], and then I have a meeting in Old Street.” It’s a 15 minute walk between both.

I said, “I commit you to meet me while I walk from one meeting to the other.” If I had realized how important this guy was, I would have given him more respect. I was just like, “Fine. It’s just this 20-year-old kid emailing me.” In that walk, I ended up meeting him late, I said, “All right, tell me about the group.” By the end of it, I was like, “Fine, sounds interesting. Let’s set it up and do it.” Oh my God, I’m glad I did.

With my Facebook group, I finally had a place to be a writer. Now, I’d been a writer, I’d been a music journalist, I did some writing on my magazines, I’d written copy for brands, but I’d never been a writer consistently, because I had written and placed at Huffington Post, nothing really happens. You write on there, you feel good, you get 100 new Twitter followers, and that’s it. When you write into a Facebook group, you get immediate feedback, immediate likes, shares, and comments. It really encourages you to write more. What this means is you’re getting in front of your target prospect every single day, not just once a week with your email newsletter or once a month if they come and see you talk. Every single day, you are front and center of your customer’s mind. If you have the main expertise, you can become an expert authority without ever having to be in Forbes, in Entrepreneur, and all that really difficult stuff that involves other humans.

For a Facebook group, you just have to show up and write content. That is an amazingly different way of creating a connection with your customer, because you are now in control of the game. If you’re doing PR or content marketing, there’s other people involved, so if you can create a Facebook page or group and get the word out, you’re in a great position. Now, if you’re say, “Well, what about blog? What’s the difference between that and a blog?” The difference with a blog is you’ve gotta drag people off Twitter, Facebook, and Google and get them onto your site. It’s hard to do. Very few people can do it. It has a very steep learning curve, but guess what. We’re all stuck on Facebook all day every day anyway. No one escapes it, so you don’t have to have all that architecture. All you need to do is to be producing content that gets a few likes, shares, and comments and you’re going to be getting into people’s feeds.

Traffic and Copy, we built and it scaled to 20,000 members within six months, has been a runaway success. I hire all my staff out of this group. I end up getting a lot of clients out of this group. I’ve made friends out of this group. So much has happened. It’s been, to a certain extent, not much effort. I’ve made money, but I can’t say it was effortless to make money. Going out meetings and all that sort of stuff. This was just, you know, you show up, you write something. You show up, you reply to a few people. It’s like the way we all like do up on our own Facebook, but the more you do it here, the bigger your brand gets, the more opportunities come your way. I think it’s an amazing [inaudible 00:12:16] market to take advantage of.

Roy Morejon:

Would you recommend for any new startups that are looking to potentially launch their product or piece of technology to begin investing into their community, to start building out a Facebook page or a community like this?

Vin Clancy:

If you’re a free app that needs millions of users, a Facebook group is not gonna save you. You’re going to need something like influencers or major app store optimization in order to get the viral effect, in order to get the hundreds of thousands of downloads needed. A lot of famous startups who have a lot of [low-price 00:12:54] people, such as software and service, is your group shouldn’t be your primary aspect of getting customers. It’s an amazing community to host all the people who are interested in what you’re doing. If you’re trying to have communities on Facebook, it’s just too hard. You can’t drag them off. So, whatever your product is, building a community around it on Facebook where you have customer service. People can ask questions in the group, maybe some bright [inaudible 00:13:19] in the group answer the questions, saving your staff time. You can do QA. You can give away things. You can build email lists out of the group. You can ask the group what they think you should develop next. You’re going to have this amazing connection. That’s where I see it fitting in for startups.

If the startup’s generally looking for users, I think cold email is going to be one of the best ways of doing that. Something that I recommend is finding that lead, it just works amazingly, is websites like LinkedIn, in order to find business contacts to start relationships with. I think finding that lead is one of the best pieces of growth hacking software if you’ve just started on.

Roy Morejon:

Solid nugget of advice there, Vin. Let’s talk about your Indiegogo campaign in the secret sauce book. What happened there? What’s the background on the book?

Vin Clancy:

Sure. The key to that campaign was a pre-launch viral queue, which I recommend all startups do when they’re launching. That is, rather than when people come to our landing page, we’ll say, “Great, thanks for the email. We’ll let you know when we launch.” They’re really excited about the product and you’ve just given them a dead end. When people came to our landing page and said they were interested in the book, we put them in a viral queue. “You’re in 500 of place. To move further up the queue, like our Facebook page, share this on Facebook, invite your friends to like this by email, join this viral queue, follow us on Twitter.”

Every time they’ve done, they’ve won a few points. Why do they want to win points? At the top, there was free consulting time with me, there were free webinars, there were free books, so we had people fighting it out in order to get to the top of that queue. For everyone that shared it, we’re just getting free users. We’re growth hackers, so we didn’t pay for traffic, but if we had been paying for traffic we would have drastically lowered our cost for acquisition. Having a viral queue is amazing. I would use QueueAt. Queueat.com. The best viral queue software in the world. I recommend that for anyone launching. That’s what we use. We had thousands of people waiting on day one. Fill it up because of this queue. Then we launched and we made something $20,000 in the first day. I forget the exact amount. It was just amazing. Bear in mind, we’d never launched anything before, me or Austin. We’d never done internet marketing before. We [inaudible 00:15:48] started email lists before. Anyone I’d ever emailed [inaudible 00:15:50]. In fact, we’re pushing toward $150,000 now. An absolutely amazing launch. That viral queue was key.

No big influencer outright shouted us out. We had a lot of small places like co-working spaces. They would give us an email shout out. Nothing major. No major press. Just all hustle, social media, and email lists. A lot can happen if you just hustle a very small community and get them excited about what you’re doing.

Roy Morejon:

Absolutely. We’re solid proponents of the queue technology software. We’re big fans of Joe and his team out there. We used it for all of our prelaunch. Killer tech right there. Again, another solid nugget for the community. Let’s talk about the Indiegogo campaign itself. What do you think made your decision of launching on Indiegogo other than launching it in Kickstarter for instance?

Vin Clancy:

We actually did both. We started on Kickstarter, and then when the Kickstarter ended, we moved it to Indiegogo InDemand. It was an ongoing campaign. We wanted to get the best of both worlds.

Roy Morejon:

What made you decide Kickstarter over Indiegogo to launch?

Vin Clancy:

Kickstarter has bigger network effects than Indiegogo. It has more users, plus it has more people who could see it on the explore page. I think we made the top 20 in the technology section. It’s a very niche product. It’s not like a fidget spinner or a fidget cube, or any fidget product. [crosstalk 00:17:18]

Roy Morejon:

There’s too many of those out there already, right?

Vin Clancy:

Pardon?

Roy Morejon:

I think there’s too many fidget spinners out there already on crowdfunding, no?

Vin Clancy:

Yeah, but they’re definitely novelty items who make the top of the front page on the explore section. We more than made debit card costs back plus a big chunk of change on top from Kickstarter. Doing it on Kickstarter should, if you have a product any way decent, they’re going to get a chunk of change from them. In fact, for most normal-ish products that have mass appeal, between 30 percent and 50 percent extra you’ll get from Kickstarter’s internal community. That is phenomenal. That really is they key why you’d want to do it on Kickstarter versus anywhere else. I think Indiegogo would be similar, especially if you’re doing hardware.

Kickstarter also legitimizes a launch, I find. People see it, and they’re like, “Oh, I trust it. I’ll put my credit card in. I’ve bought things on Kickstarter before.” That adds a really great sheen of believability, why people should work with you over others. I really recommend it. There’s strong rumors I’m doing another one soon, too.

Roy Morejon:

That brings up and interesting point I’ll ask you, Vin. Do you think there is a trust and safety concern with crowdfunding products out there now?

Vin Clancy:

Isn’t that what [inaudible 00:18:44] fail to deliver? Sadly, people don’t even expect them to be on time any more, I was reading recently. People just expect they’re going to be months late. They’ll still buy. It is what it is. You get a lot of people who it’s their first business, so they are going to make mistakes. You get people saying they shouldn’t be doing it, they know it’s a disgrace. Everyone is going to make mistakes in their first entrepreneurial venture, so I’m not going to hate on them for doing that. They do their best. It’s always the people moaning at the back who never do anything.

Roy Morejon:

Absolutely.

Vin Clancy:

It is what it is. I like anyone doing an entrepreneurial venture, trying to do big things.

Roy Morejon:

What was the biggest takeaway that you learned through the whole process of launching your crowdfunding campaign?

Vin Clancy:

That’s a really good question. I love to give specific hacks, but the first thing came into my head when you said that, which is always going to be the first thing I say, is the possibility the internet gives you to change your life and do big things and believe in what is possible. Up to that point, I was … I like to say I was running a growth hacking consultancy, and I was, but I was a consultant. I wasn’t a personal brand then. I wasn’t … I’d only just started traveling the world then, and that was like, “I can make money outside of just consulting.” I’d had Screen Robot and I’d had my fingers burnt by the startup thing. After that, I started to build a community. I started to write a lot more. Now, life is so fun. I’ve just been on a 100-day speaking world tour in 39 cities around the world. Just the possibility of the internet really came through with that Kickstarter.

Specific growth hacks for what works: the viral queue is gonna be the main one. Very top customer service, where you reply to everyone who signed up, if you give them a free gift. We had an intern constantly monitoring, and we knew that some cards would fail on the deadline day, so we emailed everyone immediately, saying, “Hey, this card fails. Try another card,” to try and get that as low as possible. I did a webinar on it. If anyone emails me, vin@vinclancy.com, I’ll send you a webinar on a lot of it.

Roy Morejon:

We’ll make sure to include a link to it as well, vinle-

Vin Clancy:

[crosstalk 00:21:24].

Roy Morejon:

All right, this gets us into our launch round. I’m going to rapid-fire a few questions at you. You good to go?

Vin Clancy:

Yeah.

Roy Morejon:

So, what inspired you to become a growth hacker?

Vin Clancy:

Just desperation of being broke. I didn’t know what being a growth hacker was, but I was just desperate and it really changed my life.

Roy Morejon:

If you could have a beer with any entrepreneur throughout history, who would it be?

Vin Clancy:

What a great question. I guess I’m gonna … I don’t really lionize or think about entrepreneurs too much, so I’m just going to go ahead and say Steve Jobs, captain obvious. LOL.

Roy Morejon:

All right, what would have been your first question for Steve?

Vin Clancy:

First question would be real generic. You talk about bozos, winners, and losers, can you elaborate on how to build a team and what to look out for. I’m kind of lame. He’s probably answered that elsewhere. I just think spending time with him and absorbing his knowledge would be amazing. How you tell the difference between winners and losers. Advice you’d give to someone growing a company.

Roy Morejon:

What book would you recommend to our audience to read?

Vin Clancy:

The 48 Laws of Power. The best book ever written on human psychology. That was the one book I read on welfare that I would go to meetings, and I would be like, “Ah, he’s trying to do this to me. I’m going to do this in return, to counter it.” If you’re trying to raise money, or you want to go work at a big company, they are going to play power games with you, so this teaches you how to be aware of them, how to counter them, and how to have the upper hand in power struggles.

Roy Morejon:

Where do you see yourself in five years?

Vin Clancy:

Los Angeles. I believe I’ll be running a company which is disrupting Hollywood or any entertainment space, but what I do changes every six to 12 months, but I’ll be in Los Angeles.

Roy Morejon:

Last question, Vin. What does the future of crowdfunding look like?

Vin Clancy:

Wow. There’s an interesting question. I would hope that equity crowdfunding actually increases. They’ve removed that law last year, but so far there’s not been that much equity crowdfunding. I don’t know what the missing step is, and the old joke is if you need money from equity crowdfunding, that means no one real will actually invest in you. I’d like to see it go mainstream. People of all ages, older people in their 50s, single moms, veterans, in that anyone can use crowdfunding and create amazing things to change people’s lives. I would hope that that would go mainstream.

Roy Morejon:

As do I. Well, Vin, this has been awesome. This is your time to give our audience your pitch. Tell them what you’re all about, where people should go, and how they can learn more about you.

Vin Clancy:

Sure. I teach people how to stand out in crowded marketplaces. It doesn’t matter how good you are. As ever, there’s probably 10 people doing the same thing as you. So, I teach you how to stand out, and then I teach you specific growth hack strategies and methods in order to get that message out to as many people as possible. My website is vinclancy.com. Vinclancy.com. Right now, I have the one secret to owning the Facebook algorithm and 26 other hacks to instantly increase your Facebook reach. That’s on my website right now. Check out my Facebook group Traffic and Copy. Traffic and Copy, for daily growth hacks. I hope to talk to you all about growth hacking. You can look me up on Google, Vin Clancy. You can see a lot of my stuff, and I think you’ll find it really helpful.

Roy Morejon:

Well, Vin, I know our audience is going to find this really helpful, so thanks again. Audience, thank you, of course, for tuning in. Make sure to visit ArtoftheKickstart.com for all the show notes, the full transcript, links to everything we talked about today. Of course, thank you to our crowdfunding podcast sponsors, The Gadget Flow and BackerKit. Vin, thank you so much for being on the show today.

Vin Clancy:

Sure. Bye bye.

Roy Morejon:

Thanks for tuning in to another episode of Art of the Kickstart, the show about building a business, world, and life with crowdfunding. If you’ve enjoyed today’s episode, awesome. Make sure to visit ArtoftheKickstart.com and tell us all about it. There you’ll find additional information about past episodes, our Kickstarter guide to crushing it, and of course, if you loved this episode a lot, leave us a review at ArtoftheKickstart.com/itunes. It helps more inventors, entrepreneurs, and startups find this show and helps us get better guests to help you build a better business. If you need more hands-on crowdfunding strategy advice, please feel free to request a quote on EnventysPartners.com. Thanks again for tuning in, and we’ll see you again next week.