A fresh perspective on the stages of building a SaaS business

July 14, 2021

EP21: Ramli John on why he wrote the book on product onboarding and the secrets to launching it

We had a great conversion with Ramli John author of Product Led Onboarding. We pick his brain on why he wrote the book, how he’s killed it with his book launch, and fun throwback conversations on freemium.
Searching For SaaS
Searching For SaaS
EP21: Ramli John on why he wrote the book on product onboarding and the secrets to launching it


Ramli’s book – Onboardingbook.com



[00:00] Hey listeners, today we’re excited to have our guests Ramli John. Ramli is the author of a recently published book product led on. A book about how to turn users into lifelong customers. Ramli has been a full stack developer and a data-driven growth marketer as an employee and as a consultant to all kinds of self-funded and VC backed startups.
I met Ramli about a year or so ago. We’ve been Twitter friends for quite some time. And even I even ended up on his awesome podcast growth marketing today. Ramli is one of my favorite people I know on the internet. And as my wife will make fun of my Twitter friends that I’ve never really met in person, but hopefully that will change in the future.
He’s just always so generous and a pretty much, I, I, I view him as a magnet for just bringing all kinds of interesting people together. Not be like as past has brought him pretty much into the perfect position to launch a book and to hit the product led movement running. So Ramli, welcome to the show.
Is there anything you’d like to add?
Ramli: [00:00:58] No, that was the first time I’ve been called a magnet. So thank you Josh, for your time. No worries. Same to you. Life is like, why are you always on Twitter around me? It just, I met you. I met you through, through Twitter. So, I mean, this is super cool that it really is a place to make friends and hopefully meet up someday and actually know each other before you see each other face to face.
Definitely. I think
Josh: [00:01:22] we’ve even talked about. Where was it either you or I was going to Virginia Beach like a couple years ago. And you were like, Hey, that’s where that’s like, me and my wife’s spot or something like that. And we kind of got chatting about that
Ramli: [00:01:35] too. So yeah, for sure. Nate
Josh: [00:01:38] and I’m not sure, you know, but Ramli is a fellow Canadian.
You know, as I view Canada, you’re probably right next door to each other.
Yeah. But I hope you don’t go off and start using Canadian secret Canadian words that I don’t know about. Wait, whatever
Ramli: [00:01:56] what’s up,
Josh: [00:01:58] but I’ll do a GSI today. We’ll be getting into all kinds of questions from Dave and I covering why Ramli wrote the book. And, and how about how he’s done a FinTech.
Fantastic job launching it. I just have so many questions and, and obviously I’m a, bystandard seeing it going on, but I have so many insider questions on his launch, but we’re going to let Nate get the first crack at Ramli. So Nate.
Nate: [00:02:23] Thanks, man. It’s good to see you are Emily. And I look forward to our chat today.
So you’ve got this whole book on product led and I think that’s a really big topic in our space. What, what kind of got you into writing about that?
Ramli: [00:02:38] Yeah. For, in terms of writing about product led onboarding actually. Josh already mentioned a little bit that I used to be a developer whole, whole story, and how I got into marketing, which we can talk about later.
But the transition from marketing to, to focusing on product growth was I was a consultant for this big VC backed company, a SAS company, and I was mandate leading the team. Getting more signups and I’m sure people have heard of this. If you were marketing, just get us more signups around me and it’s VC back.
That’s the VCs. They care about top line growth. So just get more signups. And I was getting signups bunch of signups. And I started wondering to myself out of curiosity are just people who are signing up actually using the product and checking it out, sticking around and paying. And becoming lifelong customers.
So knowing a little bit ask you, I’ll ask if I get access to, they didn’t have any analytics on the backend at that point for event tracking. So I was like, Hey, can I get access to your database? And so I can poke around to see if the users I’m getting signed or I’m getting to sign up exactly sticking around.
And unfortunately, what was happening was the standard that Intercom found. True there and true for a lot of SAS companies that 40 to 60% of people who sign up once they only do it once and they never come back again. And the problem with that is there, there’s a lack of the first impression really matters and often is forgotten.
And Docker me on a deep end, the rabbit hole. You know, when I was kid I used to put my finger into holes and one of them was a. Plug a wall outlet just out of curiosity. And it was the same thing here where I was like, oh my goodness. Like, how do I, what is, how do I get more people to stick around? Not just to sign up, but actually to use an experience the product to its fullest value.
And that really got me into product growth. And I connected with Wes Bush, who wrote the book on product led growth. We both went to the same university university of Waterloo different years for sure. And he was a marketing consultant and he wrote the book. When he, when he wrote the book on product like growth, he reached out to me and we started chatting about.
Doing some training and education. I was doing a little bit of training then, and I really got us working with companies like Mixpanel Microsoft, OutSystems and other companies to implement product led growth. And for some of them help improve their onboarding. And that’s where the book is all about.
Is this system and framework that we’ve been using to help companies improve their user onboarding experience.
Josh: [00:05:06] That’s really cool. D would you say, you know, I guess a lot of marketers, ours are always looking at, it’s kind of like the page view thing or the vanity metrics with that. So would you say like a lot of product vanity metrics when you’re talking to VCs or talking to CEOs, people that are looking to raise around, they’re like, I’m just plugging how many signups and has that been growing?
And then it’s kind of like that same. Difference between, well, are they actually sticking around? Are they converting for a marketer? And then four on the product side, it’s like, they’re signing up, but are they actually activating? Are they actually doing something? Is that, would that summarize kind of how, how you’re, you’re kind of hitting that, that point inside the product.
Ramli: [00:05:46] For sure. And it’s exciting. It’s exciting to see the first time you get as, as an indie hacker in the doc, the other inherit because of the new, the first time you get a sign up, it was like, oh my God, this, someone has actually signed up for my app. And then you’re, now you’re not you’re hyper-focused on this one thing.
Just get sign-offs. But it is do your point. You used the word bandit. It is definitely a vanity metric because. It, it, it doesn’t show strong signal that your people are, are actually going to use your product, which is at the core of them becoming a paying customer. So, and even for some VCs, right, they’re talking, this is eight, 10 years ago before the whole retention is the number one thing important in growth where that type like the number of users is something that they look.
Especially with the Asia with Facebook, just get, just get signups, right? Just get a signups. Then we’ll figure out how to monetize that later. I feel like there’s this whole movement recently. People just realizing, well, that’s not sustainable with a lot of startups not working out where you just getting signups is, is not.
Yeah. It’s a risky proposition guess delaying the riskiest part of a business, which is monetizing it, it could be a risky proposition unless you you’re you’re you totally have a ton of cash in the back and you can weather the, the dip, the negative. Yeah. Before you, you, you start seeing some kind of revenue come in.
So for sure, it is definitely a vanity metric. That is scary.
Josh: [00:07:15] Yeah.
Nate: [00:07:16] That’s that’s really interesting that you’re talking about being at a venture capital place and that’s, that’s where you were diving into some of this onboarding stuff. So did you kind of start your transition towards product lead work there, or did, did you kind of branch out from that company and afterwards sort of follow up on that?
Ramli: [00:07:35] What’s your, I mean, when, when I connected w wait last after that is when I started doing more more consulting on, on, around onboarding and part of growth. And that, that got me into the deep end of just learning more about it. But that’s why, at some point I started teaching about it when we do S where we’re doing workshop in Toronto he in Brazil, Portugal, and other places just around this topic.
So that, that’s what. That that’s the, the path that I, that got me there to, to actually digging into more about product onboard. Yeah.
Nate: [00:08:07] And so I guess obviously everybody needs to hear about this, but who who would you say is the, the best the best people to be taking this advice? Who, who really needs to hear this today?
Ramli: [00:08:19] Yeah, I would say, I mean, first of all founders people who are. Anybody who cares about people sticking around in their app needs to hear though? I like it. I like it. The importance of onboarding to a party, like things are starting to open up here in Canada. And we imagine Nate and Josh, where you’re both invited to a party.
And the host who invited you just ignore us. You. And it doesn’t even say, hi it doesn’t tell you where the food is. Doesn’t show you where the toilet is. Cause that’s super important. It doesn’t show it. Doesn’t give you a tour and just ignores you and you’re just walking around and you just feel disconnected.
And that’s exactly what happens is when that, that occurs. I don’t know about you, but I’m not. I’m probably not going to come back. I am not going to come back. I’m not gonna tell my friends. But imagine if that experience is great, where they welcome you in Neyland, Josh, how’s it going? What do you want to do?
Do you want to sing karaoke? Do you want to go to the hot tub? What is volume or fun for you then they connect you to the value quickly, or that’s fun. They show you where the toilet is. They show you where the food is at and they just, they just get you excited and pumped and having fun. The chances are, if I invited that person invited you again, you’re probably, Hey, Hey, can I invite a few more friends?
That’s that’s really what happens and what am, what this implies. Now I’m going to use marketing terms. That first impression in the onboarding really leads to, to retention. It leads down to two without red tensions. There’s no recurring revenue and it leads to referral. So really it it’s kicks off this whole growth cycle or this loop or what this funnel that th that is super, super important.
And if people care about. In their app and, and referring them in. And I would say you really need to care about user onboarding at some point for your product.
Josh: [00:10:17] That’s, that’s an interesting concept. I like, I definitely like the party. Metaphor. It makes me think about, you know, you’re there, the reason to have a party is probably just, I guess, two people can have different reasons.
One, if I was the host and I did care about a vanity metric, if I had this massive party, but on the flip side, did people, well actually enjoy being there, like all of the, all of the users coming in. Yeah. And like you said, would I come back? It’s like you came there to have fun, maybe meet other people, build relationships, like have an interesting experience.
And if the host isn’t helping you direct that, and you’re just left there to your own devices, you know, it’s, it’s a crap shoot, whether you’re actually gonna achieve any of that. And some people are going to be all kinds of different personalities. Some people are gonna walk in being very tentative, not knowing anyone.
Some people might go off into cluster. I’ve been here before. I know where to go. This looks familiar. But all kinds of different personalities and you’re missing out on, on really making a connection and making sure as a good host that, you know, everyone, everyone had a good time.
Ramli: [00:11:21] I, I, yeah, and I, I love what you, you mentioned there are going back to the vanity metric is people showing up at the party is great, but the I’ve talked to other people who, who does physical meetups to them success.
Is how many people came back to the second event. And I think that’s, that’s true for parties as well is if I was a professional party tour, which I’m not, but my metric of success is not, Hey, it did people show up that’s right. But if it’s a consistent party, which w which is what happens for SAS or recurring revenue, then the real metric is did people show up to the second party and the third party and the fourth party, because that, that is a more, a greater indicator.
That’s somebody had fun and that you are a great host. And now I’m using the hosts as this host. Exactly the whole experience, stall hold an onboarding expense.
Nate: [00:12:16] So like related to that party analogy do you feel like you’ve talked quite a bit about onboarding? Do you feel like there is sort of a, is product led a continuum or are there kind of certain places where product led sort of fits into right.
Ramli: [00:12:34] Oh, you, you got it nailed. You nailed you nail it, right? Like you call it a continuum. I’ve talked to other people like from OpenView partners with, with Kyle , who talks all about usage based pricing. And I haven’t gotten charged with Dr. Eric Keating, VP of marketing attributes, who is one of the early pioneers for product.
They use the same word that you use, where product led is more of a continuum where it’s not, it’s not a product led versus sales side, which gets me really going at it. When, when people say, well, if you’re product led, you can’t have salespeople is add that sales at the same time, all your, your, you have your sales lab, you can’t ever be product led actually the best SAS companies.
If you look at HubSpot or, or slack, you look, if they could do that slack like their S one filing for 2000, 19 60% of their sales. Came from the sales team. If you think about it, like slack is the traditional, this is a product like company, but wait a second. And they, if you look at their, their actual financial public records, 60% of their off their revenue came from sales.
And the point is that dare the hybrid approach where you take the best world from having a high touch sales team with. A product led approach because now you’re serving a continuum of users because there are some people not me who love talking to sales, right. I’m not sure where you guys were like, Hey, I’m a S I’m a CMO.
I don’t have time to sign up for your app. I just want to have a 30 minute conversation with, with a founder or somebody from your team. There, you have that users, you have those people who are like that, but you have the other people. More like me where I, I don’t like, I don’t like talking to people who are going to try to sell me anything and I’d rather just try it out and poke around.
So now with this continuum, you can serve both, both the more, a wider array of people, rather than just pigeonholing themselves to just serving one way.
Josh: [00:14:38] Cool. Yeah, I th I, it was interesting. You mentioned was it , I’ve been following his stuff from open view for a long time, and I think they even helped kick off a lot of the, I mean, a lot of the stuff with Wes initially didn’t they were either cohosting like the first product led go summit or something like that.
Hey, on, on the, on the, is it. Hey summit or something platform like three or four years ago. I think that might’ve been around the time where I started seeing west pop-up and star. And I was reading all this stuff from open view. I mean, open view has been around forever, but at the same time, they’re just, they’re just again, like, like you just hit it.
And heading into this product led movement, if anything, a big, a big part of just continuing to beat the drum on it. And that’s been really interesting to see this, this boom, and just, just identify itself and give it a, a category or give it a label versus what, you know, the slacks, the, all these other the Atlassian is all these ones.
Doing it for years, just no one knew what to call it. It was like, oh, that’s cool. Without salespeople or a, what do they call it? Like developer or like developer first or bottoms up, like all these other terms. And not until I think once people started calling it product led, did it really start to like gel and, and, and make, make a business use case versus like, well, I’m not selling to developers, so it’s not gonna work.
I mean, it’s like, yeah, it’s not about that. So, Hmm.
Ramli: [00:16:02] A hundred percent. I just, I had over the weekend I had, I don’t know, a Twitter argument with a famous product match. I rich, I forgot his last name. Moore. He is like a product led growth is not new. It’s been around for years. And I said, yeah, I agree.
It’s your point, Josh? Yeah, it is. It’s just a repackaging. I was trying to mention while it’s, you’re looking at a HubSpot, they just recently it’s been two to three years only. And then somebody pointed out, well, MailChimp’s have been doing it. I didn’t even know MailChimp for 20 years, 20 years or so ago.
And I too rich that guy on Twitter was like, well, in the eighties, right. Ramli. And I was like, sorry, I wasn’t born. I wasn’t born yet. I was born in 85. He was in around me in the eighties. When internet, we just get a good cough. You, you can sign up for free and try it out. And I was like, okay. So I guess it’s obviously, even before I was born this concept of trying to do bottoms up and to your point, Josh, it did legitimize it a little bit.
Yeah. Bottom up or. Free free first, or try, try before you buy, like all this terms. And now let’s just assume that Blake Bartlett who coined the term now, now it kind of gave it a term and process and kind of connecting all the toolbox tools related to this, to help companies grow in, in a different way.
Josh: [00:17:24] to say,
Nate: [00:17:25] Yeah. And I think, I think just because it’s old doesn’t mean it doesn’t need to be heard. Right. Like I think there’s, there’s probably a reason why everyone is resonating so well with this product led discussion because I think it’s been missing. Like we’ve all been to those apps where the marketing page looks beautiful.
You click log in or sign up and then you just get taken to this like desert of an app. And you’re just like, what is this?
Ramli: [00:17:50] It’s totally true. I mean the other side to it, and I was starting to make a point in that Twitter discussion was around the, I guess it’s more of a pendulum because maybe it’s Salesforce with the predictive rep.
I book where every B2B SaaS at some point were requested demo, right? Almost every B2B SAS. And it just, it became a playbook because it’s it’s for that book by Aaron Ross, predictable revenue. Like if you have the numbers just. Outbound calls, get them on the phone, get a request, a demo. And now it’s a numbers game.
The more calls you make, the more people you close, but it just, the whole pendulum is swinging back and people see what what’s happening in the B2C world with, with Spotify and Netflix and Duolingo, where it can imagine at that price, their price point, having sales team. And now it’s the. Could consumerization of B2B SAS, essentially, where they’re adopting more of a B2C playbook on, in a B2B world.
So that’s to your point, add Stoli. What I, what I’m seeing is a SWOT is that there’s this kind of a shift, and maybe we’ll shift back to sales that wherever we do think product lens is the worst. We need to hire more sales team. But to my boy earlier, like I, I would, I, I would highly encourage people not to think about is our product line versus sales said, Maura, Of like it’s, it’s take, take a hybrid approach.
They take what works and see, see what w you know, especially look at it with the customers here. Right. It, do they want to talk to sales dude? Is it a bottom up approach? Is the buyer versus the the purchaser, the buyer versus the user different. So that’s just some, just a few things that I, that I would highly suggest people think about before.
Yeah. Going all in, on a product ladder, going all in on sales led. Yeah, I definitely
Josh: [00:19:46] liked the pendulum swing thing because as we’ve talked about all these things have gone in cycles under, this is really new. It’s just, would you say repackaged? For, for current times, I mean, at the end of the day, You know, you mentioned it brought consumers and the consumerization and the expectations that people have with dealing with their own apps, Spotify, iPhones, you know Amazon, all these different things.
And then of course, transitioning that big transition back into the business world. And then they’re like, oh, now I have to use this old installed windows software. And I think this, this. The two things that are coming into play are both the consumerization plus the plus, you know, SAS just being so prevalent just makes with the, with the recurring model, recurring revenue model.
It’s just the perfect kind of crescendo or those, those points are meeting. I did want to add a quick thing that might date me as a, as from an age perspective. But if I thought about like the oldest thing that was doing anything, kind of subscription-based, even if it’s in the eighties and computer was like all the, all the early I used to get software in the mail and it would be the free or download it from a BBS.
Right. Or you’d have, like, we talk about freemium. I mean, that’s. Apogee doing like duke. Newcomen like how you get one level and then you have to go call in to get them to send you the other disc. I mean, it didn’t get transmitted over the internet. It came in the mail, but that was still the same thing.
I’m sure like, Hey, this first level has to be on point. This first level. It has to make you want more. We got to show you the cool weapons we got to show, but then here’s the paywall. Here’s all these other things. But again, you have to get hooked. If I went in and played the first level. And, and it was boring or it just seemed like a remix of some other game then.
I mean, that, that’s kind of a dead end for that, that company. And they wasted postage. Right. They were sending all these things out for free. So.
Ramli: [00:21:44] I guess just a good example. I didn’t realize I played duke Newcomen doom. I’m not sure. And I get it’s the same model and I’m also recalling bark. Like how dial up.
Before they would give us the desk and it was free for
Josh: [00:22:00] five minutes. The AOL, the AOL discs that they would send around rising tide, tide the internet
Ramli: [00:22:07] for like 10 minutes, go check your creative mail and just, and then they hook you up into a recurring, recurring payments or to continue to get access to, to the internet.
So I do recall those days.
Josh: [00:22:22] Yeah, I have one more lame example that came up in a conversation with my wife and me the other day. Cause she was, she brought up this obscure band. I had no idea what they were and I won’t even name it on here cause I I’m going to butcher it. But, but she’s like, you don’t know about this.
And she was like, oh yeah, maybe, maybe I didn’t. Maybe it wasn’t from like pop radio. I heard it. Maybe it was, I was in one of those CD clubs. If you remember those CD clubs that would send you like first, you’d be like pick. 10 CDs you want for $5. And then after that they would send you one every month. So the hook was the subscription.
So it was like, that was the, the onboarding was like, Hey, get all these things for cheap. And then every month they’re like, we’re gonna, we’re going to send you a CD that we hope you like, and then, but you have to send it back if you don’t want to buy it. Yeah. A little, a little on the scammy or side, but again, recurring like subscription, I’m sure there’s all kinds of like the people doing the copywriting, the people doing like all of that designing that user experience is probably, you know, again, I’m sure there’s things there that we are real rediscovering now in product led and an onboarding and thinking and thinking, whoa, has anyone thought about this?
They’re like, well, if you look back at some of these older, not even software model, Some people were thinking about this stuff and I’m sure even years dated past my age term, I’m sure my parents could probably make up some other examples, but it’s, it’s, it’s interesting how this stuff swings and pendulum and, and just becomes a focus, but just with a different light and spin.
Ramli: [00:23:57] Yeah, I totally, I’m totally with you. I mean, I’m thinking of another, I mean, music wise it’s chance to rapper when like he, he released all of his music for free. Obviously everybody can download, which when people, when he did that 10, 15 years ago, we were like, what are you doing? How are you gonna make money?
How he made money through Merck. So he gave, he gave his music away for free and made sure the music was great and created this community. And I mean, there’s just so many ways to, to approach it that way. The whole whole point of this is how do you, how do you. De-risk the riskiest part of the buying process.
And it’s often it’s when it’s, will I find this useful? I can imagine you’re going to Costco. And th one of the reasons why they give away free samples is that’s a risk. If you buy a new, new type of sausage, will you like that type of sausage is exactly in, I mean, the studies show that that giving away free samples and seeing that they like it.
Increased Costco’s sales for free samples by up to 120%. So it, it works in the consumer side and now it is getting more the spotlight in the B2B side. Where is there a way to show and get people to experience that value first before, before they actually purchase it and not addition, it just doesn’t derisk that thing for founders.
It also. We’re open view found that it actually increases retention rates because now that they’ve, they know that it’s providing value, they’re more likely to stick around versus somebody who’s who’s been signed up for a year contract. And then you’re S you haven’t you’re you’ve signed a contract. You paid, you paid already.
You haven’t even tried the product yet. And you know how you’re stuck for a year? Like how, how am I I’ve been in companies where the CEO to CTO or whoever a C-level they bought the software for everybody in the company and we hated it. Right, right.
Josh: [00:25:56] We were like, this
Ramli: [00:25:57] software sucks. Right. I can’t imagine using this.
They just, they just wasted a year worth. And after that year ended. We didn’t win you just because of that. So, I mean, that’s, it really does this risk it for both sides for both the business. And I
Josh: [00:26:13] think I keep it everyone honest, like on all sides. I think that the model is just is, yeah, it’s just perfect for that.
And the more you can set up. That those expectations and them to get that value upfront or really see what they’re getting. It just did that, the retention aspect, and also even just the time wasted aspect, like we’re going through this with referral rock here and, you know, from a, from a product standpoint and looking at like how much time like our CS people might be wasting with a person that was not necessarily the right fit they might’ve bought.
They might’ve gotten even. Attracted by the type of value that it can give. But at the end of the day, it’s like that also has an internal effect of like burning out your, your, your CS people or people that are in support that are asking questions and having to answer and feel questions because the value proposition isn’t clear and they’re just wasting their time.
They’re getting frustrated. And they’re like, if half my day is spent answering questions, Feel like I’m actually delivering value or helping people. You know, that could be a big detractor internally as well. So. Cool. Well, I know we could probably chat about this all day. But I did want to get in to a bit about your book launch.
So, I mean, I’ve been just again, watching kind of as a, as a bystandard seeing, seeing your launch happen. And just you’ve been doing some really cool things on social media. I mean, I’d love to know kind of how you thought about the launch and, and kind of even described some of, some of your, your process on, on this launch.
Ramli: [00:27:52] I D so to put this in the cortex Doing most of the things by instinct. Oh, the booklets is fine. I ended up working. I think just looking back, some of the things that worked out is, I mean, one thing I was that I did looking back was like, oh, that was smart. It was for four months before it went live.
I announced it and got people to, I already had the first chapter. So going, talking about product lead, people can read the first job or get excited about it and hype. I also had a big beta reading session period where I’ve well, Josh, you were also one of the beta readers and thank you for doing that for people listening.
It was Josh who made me cut a whole chapter from the book. I gave him a huge shout out. It’s like gravity, this is redundant. Cut it out. And I was like, damn it. You’re right. Right. So I mean that the first one beta readers, I gave them the book for free and that kind of seeded people taking pictures online.
I mean, what are the editing style? Looking back that really worked out was something that west suggested to me is like, you should do a contest for the book cover. So I did a contest on Twitter and there was I did, I went to 99 designs and people created 16. Or it’s 69 or something like that design I picked the best for, I shared it on Twitter and LinkedIn a second on, on our product line, slack ask which one they liked the best.
And it wasn’t just the good thing about social media is you’ll pick a or B or, or one of them. And I would ask why, why would you pick that? And for a lot of them, the one that ended up winning is because if I saw this on the bookshelf or on the bookstore, it would catch my eye and I would pick it up.
What’s their response. So I was like, interesting. Okay. So I ended up going to the one that actually wasn’t my first choice at all. It’s the one that was, the people were responding. And I feel like that even to this day, it’s been almost six weeks. Now that the book five weeks of the book has launched.
Just this morning, somebody posted up a picture of the cover on LinkedIn. And they’re just saying, I’m reading this book. So it’s, it’s when you have people judge a book by its cover, for sure. Right? Whatever you can list teachers Tata told us about that is, is it’s not a hundred percent true. So I mean, having the book cover that, that based on.
User research is, is shareable. Is people are still talking photos and sharing it online to the point where I had a friend like I haven’t talked to for a year. So one of my classmates from, from college was like, roundly. I keep seeing your book on LinkedIn. And also, man, I’m so sorry. I’m sorry.
Getting bought it. It was not my plan. It really is people just sharing it. And I’m, I’m, I’m common thing back on it. And people are talking about. So, I mean, those are some of the things that the beta reading helped me create a list. Having a book cover that that really share really is shareable.
And the third thing that I would say was when I announced it every week for 12 weeks, I was actively releasing a chapter on on our blog and on YouTube. And that created Three to 5,000 people on, on a waiting list that was ready to, to get it within, within within a few, few days. So that, that was the other piece was.
If people read all the blog posts, they didn’t need to buy the book if they all connected the dots. And it’s just a little bit of that content piece that, that worked out because the great thing about having a book is that you can repurpose it in so many ways. Like I just took some of the chapters. It’s a bit it’s YouTube script.
Right? I think some of the chapters I created a Twitter tread. I took a portion of the book I posted up on LinkedIn. We w another piece of the book, and then I. They use it as a blog post and co Cole, Cole blog, and other places like product like.org or dot com. So, so that, that was my, my, I guess if I had to pick three things, it was getting beta readers who are ready to launch it and take pictures from the get-go to see the initial sharing, having a cover that is shareable.
And the third thing is content, like just sharing it and just being so generous with, with the information that I’m sharing. Giving, even giving away free books leading up to the week for people to share, to share it. So, I mean, yeah, those are just some things that, that ended up working in looking back, like, dang, that was, that was that worked
Josh: [00:32:14] out.
Yeah. That’s, what’s really interesting is just hearing. Pieces that I almost just like wrap up in how I describe you, which is like the generous aspect, the, the thoughtful, and not like ego-driven aspect. And it’s funny as you’re just like a little bit embarrassed about your, like, tell the little story about your, you’re telling your friend, you’re sorry that it’s ending up and the speed.
And but that’s, that’s what I think just, just makes it makes it so interesting. And it’s like, you. You are a subject matter expert in it at the same time. This isn’t about you even from picking the book cover. It’s not about like, Hey, I’m, I’m here to be Ramli. John. I wrote the book on onboarding, you know, Mike drop type of thing.
That’s not you. And that’s what I think makes, makes it shareable, makes it relatable and makes it Hey. I’m not the expert all the time, but I’m here to curate that and put it into a concise manual for people. And, you know, by doing the beta reader stuff, you’re getting a lot of feedback. And, and again, anytime, even with me giving feedback as a beta reader, you’re always tentative on my, do they really want my feedback or do they you know, it’s like, you’re kind of tiptoeing around as you’re describing as like, right.
Do they really want it? Or do they want me to just say. Pat on the head. Good job. So I think I knew you well enough that I’m like, I could just be like, nah, I don’t think this works, but Hey, it’s your opinion, but I think, and, and, and you definitely took that in stride. I mean, you even have. I don’t even remember, but this hasn’t come up yet.
But you had a different title for the book before as well? I did. Okay. Right. So it was called Eureka before. And I think you did ask people on Twitter about that a bit. And, and this was probably again, one of this building in public aspects that and, and you changed it for, for Marketing reason I would assume.
And, and also just like I say, my idea of the book cover reasoning, like, would someone pick this up, but you want to talk a little bit more about the retitling.
Ramli: [00:34:08] Yeah, for sure. I mean, in terms of the Tyler, you mentioned is Eureka, and I’ve gotten some feedback from, from folks where you eco sounds like it’s a science book. And I was like, oh, dang it. That’s not what I want. That it’s not about getting out of the bath bellman, like something about our committees
Josh: [00:34:25] or whatever.
Maybe someone thought it was crypto or as a crypto thing who knows like a theory. And it’s like Eureka gold. Like, are they easily trying to do something else?
Ramli: [00:34:34] It’s it’s really and I was, I was like, man, this tux, I don’t want this to happen. So I, before I polled the, the peop the people, the the list, the battery, I also reach out in the MFE folks, including you, Josh, thank you for sharing your thoughts around that.
But I also reach out to authors. Like I, I talked to Rob Fitzpatrick who wrote the mom test. And they asked him, what did people think about this? Cause when I asked my wife, Joanne, I was like, what is the mom? If I said the mom test, what is that about? And she said, well, it’s about becoming a better mom. And I was like, no.
And they asked
Josh: [00:35:08] April Dunford,
Ramli: [00:35:09] April a VM there it’s like, Hey, I’m having challenges with the book. What were you worried that if people said obviously awesome. Because I asked my wife again, if I said a book, obviously. Awesome. What is it about. And she said, it’s about picking up girls. I’m like, okay.
Josh: [00:35:23] And she’s like, why are you reading all these books for him?
What’s up with that?
Ramli: [00:35:27] Yeah. And like, even I reached out to near y’all. I was like, Hey, you’re hooked. And I was like, okay, asthma. I forget if I said hooks. Peter pan. I was like, I get it. So they all suggested, well, if it’s it’s all in the subtitle, but I April made a good point. Like if. There, there was, she would have called it product positioning because it’s the best positioning of a bug.
It’s very clear. She said, unfortunately, there’s another book already called product positioning and a would be confusing. And she’s like, well, I mean, I was about to call it, positioning for startups. And she said, thank God I didn’t do it. I, because now she’s working with enterprise companies to do positioning.
And that’s the reason why she used the term, obviously. Awesome. Because he was already doing workshops with that. And it was very clear to her people that do her audience, that, that, that was connected to product positioning. So I mean, that, that got me to now. Okay. Ah, man, I really don’t like the term product onboarding because it sounds like, it sounds like I’m jumping on to a term, right?
Until buzzword product like onboarding what the heck is now, like adding the word product, like to everything, product like content, product, marketing product, like customer success, product, everything. Product led SEO. So I really didn’t want to jump into that, but I’m looking to two west Bush. We, we are probably going to release other books around product led blank and it made business sense as well.
And SWAT as owning that term, it was something that Amanda not Natividad on, on Twitter suggested also yourself, Josh, where you owning that term can help because there is no other book. Term, right. Even though in my opinion, I feel like I’m jumping on the battle and Eureka sounds better. So I had to suck.
I had to suck up what I, to your point again earlier it was not, it was a really. It was building a public. So it was our book. It was more like the book for people. And if it was clear to them, what the book is going to be about. If I call it product line onboarding for his Eureka out, then I just sucked up my pride.
This one just went with one that people resonated with the best. No, that’s
Josh: [00:37:48] interesting. I don’t want this to sound like any of this was about me, even though you mentioned me a bunch of times on my feedback, but one of the things I did want to focus the spotlight more on you, one of the things not as much book launch related, but kind of started all happening in this is you, you started creating these What are they like?
Just little animated gifs of just yourself in different expressions as like different emojis. I don’t know if Nate, if you’ve caught any of these online, but he has this hilarious. I don’t even know how many there are, but how, how did that even get started? And it’s, it’s kind of like a unique, I just chuckle every time I see what it is and it just exudes your personality, which I think is awesome.
Ramli: [00:38:27] Yeah, it w this week we actually gifts were like, well, why, why create? First of all, I w it started with Blake emo on Twitter, where he, every time he creates a tray, he ends with a, we’d won a gift for his it’s pointing up to get people to share it. And then Amanda was like, she did one for four. Or another reaction.
I was like, how do you do this? And she told me she just use zoom. It’s like, oh, interesting. So I took me 15 minutes to record. About 30, 35. I just cut it up with quick time. Then I uploaded it to MP4 to Jeff Gray. And then now I have for like 30, 30, I lost count 37 different just where like, it’s me like waving it’s me.
Like I’m like shaking my head, like why? And it’s, it’s worked out actually it’s added personality to a bunch of things. Like to your point, you mentioned you chuckled sometimes. I started sharing it to our, to our team, our product lead. And they, they now use it for other things now, like an emoji, if
Josh: [00:39:34] you’ve turned yourself into a meme, a series of names.
No, exactly.
Ramli: [00:39:38] We’ve used it for newsletters. Like I was just using it to get people to smile a little bit. Now they’re using it for. For business setup, fraud stuff for newsletters, for reaction stuff on with, within the company. And I replied to a few folks and it’s good. Some people do reply to it.
That, that I wouldn’t have thought, for example, like all your gardener, he, he’s a founder co-founder of Unbounce. And like, I replied to one of his things with Jeff and it’s like, dude, you, you, you are next level. And it’ll follow me after this guy. I was like, what? 25, 30,000 followers. And he ended up replying following me.
Nate: [00:40:18] I D I just found one of yours on Twitter. I’ve never seen this before. This is so cool.
Josh: [00:40:25] That’s funny, but cool. Well I did want to wrap up a little bit. I think we’re getting. But talking quite a bit and I’m not sure our listeners are still going to stick with us, but I hope they are because I think this was just an awesome and really fun conversation. But I think Nate had a few questions wrapping up around just aspiring authors, you know, starting to write books and, and had a couple of questions around that if we wanted to wrap with that.
Nate: [00:40:50] Yeah. So like what if you’re talking to people who are thinking of writing a book, what any things that you might do differently next time?
Ramli: [00:40:58] Yeah, for sure. I would probably write it in public more. There’s raw, raw Fitzpatrick who wrote the, the mom test. He has a new book. I plead, I ended up joining called right better write useful books.
And what he did was he got a pre-order for the book for people to sign up. But as well as he created a community around it, a paid community where people can just talk about this particular problem. And if, if I had to rewrite, this would be. I wonder if there’s a better way that I could have tapped into building a community around this problem of people interested in putting the onboarding.
And then just the dose will become vid the beta readers, where I’m releasing a chapter to them at a time, rather than a floor up for me. I already had a highly polished version of the product, the product of the book before I got beta readers and for pro product folks, that’s usually a big red flag. You want to release a crappy first version and get early feedback from alpha or beta readers.
And that’s, you know, you, you treat for per product people listening. Three, three, the booklet, a product, do user research get, get, get consistent, consistently get research feedback on each few future chapter that you have and see what’s sticking. I think that that’s what I would have done differently.
But one thing that I did do really well and It didn’t, I didn’t do it on purpose. Once again, once I taught the materials person wasn’t I was already teaching it a little bit. And it’s something that I consistently heard a SWOT, like for example, with April Dunford, with her book, she was teaching the material.
That’s obviously awesome. Before she wrote the book, same, same with Rob Fitzpatrick with the mom test, because the great thing about teaching especially if it’s it’s, whether it was over zoom or whether it’s in person, but at least it’s live is that you getting instantaneous feedback. On the stories, the data points, the analogies that you have the metaphors, and you’re hopefully seeing their facial reaction.
Where, where are you losing people? Which stories are getting their eyes through light up. And those, those feedback is very, very valuable. Are there questions that keep popping up in the workshops or the course that you sh that, that, that should become a chapter on its own or it’s something that you should have.
So, I mean, that’s one thing that for people were thinking about writing a book is I would suggest teaching at first in some way. And if it’s a problem that resonate with folks, then they would, they would sign up for the course or they would check it out and then that’s out the materials. That’s how your data.
Your analogies before you write the book and the great thing about that is the structure you have for the workshop, or the course becomes the structure for the book, right? It’s like it’s, it’s codex right away. Like how, how you would structure, how you teach. Would it be how you would write it? Cause that’s, that’s how people read it.
Naturally. Yeah. How did I love
Josh: [00:43:59] that advice? That’s just a, it’s like an MVP or whatever, or, I mean, some, a lot of people are already doing this anyway. So if they’re a teacher teaching these things, we’re doing these courses and it’s like, they also run into the problem. Like, man, I just want to replicate myself.
Let me just put it into a more concise way. But at that point it’s, it’s hardened a bit. It’s it’s gotten. User, like you said, a lot of feedback, what resonates, what doesn’t does this structure work? Actually, I can change it for the next course. Maybe you can do even like a, for the people that maybe not have the audience to go get customers for it.
It could be even just a lightweight, you identity course that they’re putting out or a very lightweight email course or things like that. And actually re hopefully reach out and get feedback. But it’s a good idea, but that just sounds like a great way to. Get it out there before fully committing to essentially locking all those things into print because not like a product you can keep making iterative changes or, or other, or a blog post you can keep updating and making better.
I would assume once the book is out there and printed, it’s sort of going to be there at least until you get around to me. Updating in addition a year or maybe two years later.
Ramli: [00:45:12] So true. I like that idea with the email course, cause his even it’s even earlier version of faculty teaching a live course or yeah, so that I get into writing or some kind of course format and you’re, you’re seeing open rates.
Now those are title. Those are your age. Right. And then hopefully if you’re seeing, if there’s a button or a link in the bottom, you’re seeing how many people read to the very bottom and actually click on something. So you’re getting like analytical quantitative data in terms of like how, how sticky is, is the content itself.
Josh: [00:45:47] Cool. Awesome. Nate. You had something to chime in or did I steal your thunder with the MVP comment?
Nate: [00:45:54] No, it’s all good. It’s all good.
Josh: [00:45:57] Cool. Yeah, I think, I think that pretty much wraps it up. I, I think we covered a lot. I mean, again, we could probably talk the rest of the day. It’s it’s I think it’s morning here for all of us.
We’re all on the east coast. You guys could probably even do this alive next time or whatever. You’re probably. What, how, how far are you guys apart in Canada? I mean, I know you’re at least. Kind of Toronto ish area.
Nate: [00:46:19] Yeah. It’s like a, I think it’s probably 45 minutes to get down to
Josh: [00:46:23] Brentford
Ramli: [00:46:25] right. For it.
I am in Ottawa.
Nate: [00:46:28] So other side of Toronto.
Ramli: [00:46:31] Oh yeah. So we’re
Josh: [00:46:31] probably further yeah.
Nate: [00:46:33] That the traffic in Toronto is something else. Right.
Josh: [00:46:37] Well, definitely. Thanks. Thanks a lot for coming on the show Ramli and hopefully we’ll have you back another time. And this was really. You so much