Strong Arming Your Growth, Paid Acquisition With Free Content, & Other MicroConf Takeaways

MicroConf (Growth) just finished, and it was excellent. Here are my most important takeaways.

1. Strong Arming Your Growth

Ankur Nagpal of Teachable shared how he grew his company to $10M ARR using non-scalable tactics.
They set a goal to grow 30% each month, and focused on how they could achieve that. For example, when they were at $10K MRR, their goal was to add another $3K in MRR. They did whatever they could to add that $3K, including direct sales, putting on events, affiliate promotion, etc.
They brainstormed new tactics each month, some worked, some didn’t. The point was that they focused on that growth number and did everything in their power to get there.
They grew month over month like this, strong arming their MRR all the way to the high 6 figures. Ankur mentioned that most companies stop doing non-scalable tactics like this too soon, it didn’t stop working for them until about $500k MRR.
Teachable’s strategy echoed what I’ve seen before from others like Nathan Barry, which is “do things that don’t scale.”
As business owners we tend to focus on things like ads that cast a wide net, instead of just adding a few more customers by any means necessary. I love the example set by Teachable, it shows that hustling to get new customers each month can turn into incredible growth.

2. Paid Acquisition with Free Content

Jordan Gal from Carthook shared their strategy for paid acquisition using Facebook retargeting along with free content.
Jordan Gal
They created a series of blog posts with valuable content, starting with an article about general market trends in eCommerce. They promoted that article on Facebook, then released more blog posts over the course of several weeks. Each article was free, valuable content, and they eventually led to their product and it’s value proposition. They also advertised a free trial of their product to the people who read these articles. They were able to add thousands in MRR using this strategy.
This is not a new idea, but Jordan really made it accessible and repeatable. I love this strategy because it creates a funnel and gives your customers time to make a decision. I’ve never had much luck with Facebook ads, so I’m excited to try this.

3. Features Make Your Product Worse

Patrick Collison, CEO of Stripe was interviewed by Rob Walling. He dropped this little gem:

Every feature you build makes your product worse for people who don’t use that feature.

No explanation needed on that one.
A few other random things I picked up:

  • Churn is when your customers stop using your product, not just when they stop paying.
  • Annual recurring revenue can make your company less valuable to an investor vs monthly recurring. This is because annual payments can mask churn problems.
  • Capterra, a software review site I’ve never heard of, was mentioned a couple of times.
  • Be more casual and personal with email onboarding. Drop the corporate stiffness.

I always forget how beneficial conferences are. They are expensive and inconvenient, and I usually dread the travel. I really needed the inspiration and energy I got from being around other entrepreneurs and friends at MicroConf, I’m so glad I went.