How We Increased Our Marketing Channels For Potential Growth

Published: June 4th, 2020
Mitch Colleran
Founder, Join It
Join It
from Seattle, Washington, USA
started January 2017
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Hello again! Remind us who you are and what business you started.

Hi there! My name is Mitch Colleran, and I’m the founder of Join It -- SaaS that helps organizations sell and manage memberships.

Join It is used by fitness trainers, local libraries and even a few groups of beekeepers! If you sell memberships, you’ll find Join It useful.

Originally, I started to Join It as a project so that I could have a shot at the ‘digital nomad’ dream. In the 3.5 years since it’s evolved into a company that earns $40,000/month and has 3 full-time employees.


Tell us about what you’ve been up to! Has the business been growing?

Since we last spoke, the business has more than doubled! And we hired a new Head of Marketing in March 2020, so I’m looking forward to further acceleration.

Building a business is never as monolithic as it appears. A business is built by millions of small tasks that accumulate into a successful venture.

In 2019, we learned that some of our best channels, like organic search/content marketing and Partner Marketing, were consistent but there’s very little that we can do to increase these channels in the short term. Growing these channels requires a long-term time horizon and a lot of effort.

When it comes to our organic search/content marketing, a lot of folks immediately think of a blog. In our experience, this is too narrow. An active blog is only one possible content strategy and until recently, the traffic to our blog rounded down to zero!

So, when I mention our organic search/content marketing success, it was all generated by our marketing information architecture. For example, having individual pages for each of the categories that we want to target, like Sports Club Management Software. These category pages performed better than our first 25 blog posts combined (and were far less effort)!

Now that we have a few successful marketing channels with organic search/content marketing and partner marketing, we’re spending the rest of 2020 on testing new channels for potential growth.

What have been your biggest lessons learned in the last year?

The biggest lesson (and one that I need to constantly remind myself) is to elevate tasks that will be a high impact. Having the judgment to predict what tasks will have a high impact and the ability to get them done is the difference between progress and status quo.

There are infinite things that an entrepreneur could potentially do, so it’s natural to gravitate towards tasks that are comfortable and familiar. When you complete familiar tasks, you still feel like you’re making progress -- but it’s a false sense of accomplishment and you’re not actually having an impact on your business.

In the middle of last year, even though I was still working every day and shipping updates to Join It, I wasn’t making a material impact on the business.

So, I made two important changes:

  • At the end of each day, I prioritized a high impact task to accomplish the following day.
  • I created a “Will Not Do” list of tasks that I would intentionally be sidelining. This way I could remove the cognitive load of these tasks because they were no longer outstanding.

These simple adjustments allowed me to focus my effort on tasks that would have a high impact, and the impact showed up in our metrics.

What’s in the plans for the upcoming year, and the next 5 years?

Most entrepreneurs spend too much time on long term product planning and strategy.

Especially when you’re a small team -- every hour spent planning is an hour not spent building. And I have a heavy bias towards building over planning.

So when it comes to our product roadmap, there’s no 5-year plan. And honestly, there’s no plan beyond the feature that we’re working on right now.

However, I have a much better idea of the type of company that I want to build over the next 5 years. I’m personally motivated by the idea of building a company that serves its employees by providing a strong work/life balance, quality benefits, and support to do their best work.

Join It already works remotely, we default to asynchronous communication (e.g. we don’t use Chat/Slack), and we give a lot of individual trusts that everyone will do their best work.

And in the next five years, we’ll experiment with shorter work weeks, ‘workstation’ meet-ups, and profit-sharing.

Have you read any good books in the last year?

Honestly, nope!

There’s a lot of pressure to be one of those entrepreneurs that read 5 books per month, but I’m just not that person. I read maybe 1 book per quarter and my current book is an instructional textbook on software testing, but it’s not worth recommending.

With the time that I’m not working on Join It, instead of reading, I’m typically spending time with my partner, trying to stay physically fit, or relaxing.

Advice for other entrepreneurs who might be struggling to grow their business?

Without exaggeration, I wouldn’t have made it this far without this article on SaaStr by Jason Lemkin - If You Have 10 {Unaffiliated} Customers in SaaS — You Have Something

So first, read that article!

Now, if you’re still struggling and you don’t have your first customer -- then figure out what you can be doing every day to make incremental progress.

Building a business is never as monolithic as it appears. A business is built by millions of small tasks that accumulate into a successful venture.

So figure out what’s one task that you can accomplish to make incremental progress.

When I was in the pre-customer phase, the most helpful tasks were scheduling phone calls with potential customers who chatted with us (via our Intercom chat widget). This was a classic “do things that don’t scale” task, but it eventually generated enough conversations (and improvements to the MVP) to where we closed our first few customers.

Are you looking to hire for certain positions right now?

We’re not currently hiring, but if you can sign up to receive updates on future Job Listings from Join It.

Where can we go to learn more?

If you have any questions or comments, drop a comment below!