It’s always interesting to us here at FullContact how people grow and maintain relationships. Relationships are at the core of everything that we do. This week, we’re talking with Andrew Warner of Mixergy. He describes what it’s like building a business based around communication, and the things that he wishes that he had available to him.
The full interview is in the video, and there’s a transcript for you below that.
Video Transcript: Andrew Warner of Mixergy on Relationship Management and CRMs
FullContact: Second time now that I’ve gotten to turn the tables on you. Kind of an interesting and fun story behind what you do. For those that are unfamiliar, introduce yourself and what do you do?
Andrew Warner: I’m Andrew Warner; I run a site where entrepreneurs teach how they built their businesses. They do it via interviews, which I help lead and courses, which I help lead as well.
FC: Fantastic, and I’ve noticed over the past couple of years I guess you’ve done some pretty interesting changes on the site, just kind of in the dynamics of what you do. Over time obviously you’ve gathered loads and loads of people that you’ve done interviews with and now you’ve got classes going on as well, how has that changed what are you dong now that’s different than say 18months to 2 years ago?
AW: The finished product is more, the finished product on the outside is essentially the same but because we crank out so many interviews and courses and now get to deal with high level interviewees and course levels, the back end and the parts that people don’t see is just out of control. Tough. Because we want to take a stranger who often never heard of us before and explain to them what our site is, what Mixergy is, and then walk them through process, of understanding who our audience is and how to speak to them as well and that’s the part that people never see and it’s tougher and tougher.
FC: So what’s been the big challenge there? One of the things I talked to you the other day was how do you keep up with all these people? I mean so as far as, you said you were actually still looking for something on the CRM end would work for you so what are you looking for and what’s missing?
AW: So there are 2 different needs that I have for CRM, maybe even 3. The one for managing the people who we take from strangers to a specific end goal, which is being on our site. We have a process for taken them through and CRM that helps us because it’s clearly designed set of steps. We meet you, we have to decide if we want you on Mixergy, we have to get your email address next then we have to get you invited to do a preinterview then after the preinterview to book the interview, then after that blah blah blah then you are on the site.
AW: That is a tough process because there are a lot of people involved with that. But the software is ok for that, good actually. Where I struggle with that is my customer, my audience. I don’t have an end goal with them If you come as an audience member, I don’t necessarily want you to buy I don’t necessarily want to take you through a clear path. I do want to remember your name I do want to remember that you told me you were interested in the interview that I did with a guy who never raised money but who was able to get his first thousand customers within a week because of a blog post.
AW: Because that tells me something about yourself and then if I have something to sell you I want to know that if I don’t that’s fine too. If you call me later on I want to be aware of that. If you bought from me that is the end I don’t want to have another sales process with you if you bought from me, not necessarily. I do want to have a system where I can keep up with who you are and what you’re doing. I do sometimes travel and I think of someone who bought from me and I’d like to send them a card a post card, I was thinking of you here’s what I was thinking, thanks for being in my life and this idea can help you I want to send out a post card but Brad I have to go into so many places to get your address. I mean I have to go into my email, because it’s a pain to move contacts, addresses from my email into my address book, I never do it. If it’s not there then I have to go into one of our shopping cards, I say one because there are two different shopping carts if its not there then I have a 3rd another place, which is I have to go into on of the forms one our site where you might have told me your addresses because you needed me to send something out to you. If it’s not in those places then I do a whois search on your site or contact search.
FC: So what are you hoping to accomplish with that?
AW: I want to take all these diverse sources of contact information and funnel them into one CRM, I don’t necessarily need the CRM to care that I use gravity forms on my site to collect feedback. I don’t necessarily need the CRM to know that I have a shopping card that has another way of doing things? Or about any other software. I just need the CRM to work with Zapier, is it pronounced “Zapier”?
FC: I think it’s probably Zapier cause it zaps right?
AW: It’s cause it zaps right? So its either, I need to know its going to work with zapier then all those other services that work with zapier cause then its zapiers headache to figure out how do I get Andrews data out of gravity forms and into something else. How do I get Andrews data into a shopping care? It does a fairly good job there.
FC: So other than, it’s funny that you mentioned the hassle with the address books and so many different places because that’s actually, very specifically that’s the problem that we are solving so that’s cool, its always great that we hear the people out there that need the program that you are making. But other than that frustration, if you are scrolling through the list as I did a couple minutes ago you’ve got a few hundred of your past interviewers that are publically available and they don’t require the premium membership to Mixergy and what have you, uhh how do you, you talk about relationship management with people who have come and visited your site or people you’ve just met, how do you maintain the relationships with those people, those past guests?
AW: Ya know I don’t. I would love to. I think about the people who have come on to Mixergy, the bond that we have had the conversation that sometimes gets really open and meaningful and I think what a shame that I’ve gotten to meet them and ill never get to talk to them again what a shame that I’ve bonded with them on an hour long in-depth conversation and ill never get to talk to them again and at the same time I don’t know what to do with them. I think have them in a CRM would be helpful but if all I do is ping them every once in awhile and say I’ve been thinking of you, just checking in or saw this article that made me think of you. I don’t think it’s enough. One of my past interviewees said she told me that a lot of students that read her case study started to ping her and message her and she said that’s the worst way to network with someone, no one wants another pen pal, I have tons of emails. So I know the people who I admire, the people I do interviews with who I want to stay in touch with, they don’t want me to ping them every once in awhile and say “here’s a thing, an email, here’s a letter” I don’t know what to do but id love, id love it. It’s a precious precious relationship and I’m losing it.
FC: Kind of one of those unfortunate I guess side effects of growing and being successful, ya know that’s actually something that we hear a lot is you get these people who, there’s so many people who have been on Mixergy in the past who are in our beta right now so that’s really cool. There story’s about they started out and they didn’t know anybody and they didn’t know what to do and over the years they’ve grown and grown and grown and as you grow personally and professional so to does that kind of circle of importance these are the people that I have to stay in contact with not just a dollar in my wallet right. So it’s interesting to hear it from your side as well. Its always been something stuck in my head as I have tried to do a number of interviews over the years when I was blogging professional and now I’m doing work with full contact how do you maintain that relationship? And I don’t know the answer to that question yet either.
AW: I was hoping you did. I don’t either.
FC: If I figure it out I’ll let you know.
AW: I even thought of something as random as having them all in a CRM and having someone email them on a monthly basis and say “Do you have any news I will publish it on the site because my audience has seen your interviews and I want to publish, check in with you for them.” I thought that would be a good way to connect with them but it maybe its still jut not enough. So it’s a pain.
FC: So it’s interesting, one of the things we use here as a feedback tool is 15five if you’re familiar with that. So with 15five you can setup to be very specific and I want these 4 or 5 questions answered or what have you but one of the things we found out an actually that our CEO changed here recently and he left it very open ended. So the only thing that’s asked is “What’s going on?” it’s very much rift if you want to but just let me know what’s going on? And kind of lets talk about the things that are happening in your world whether its at work or at home. So I think there might actually be some be some credence that you are talking about there with kind of that long term just let me know what’s up with you? I don’t have any other way to keep up so I think that’s a potentially cool thing.
AW: So then I interviewed you and I would still have to say “hey Brad what’s going on with you?” and then I’d have to read and publish it on the site and find a way to make it interesting for the audience. Maybe somebody listening to us has some way to do it. I would love to find a way to keep in touch with all these people I’e interviewed. I haven’t come up with something great. But maybe I also need to take a step back and say why? Am I only trying to stay in touch with them because they are such interesting people that I want to talk to them. Maybe that’s just not enough. Just because there interested and I’m interested maybe that’s not what a relationship is based on. Maybe it has to be more pragmatic than that.
FC: Maybe there has to be a few more qualifiers. But Andrew I don’t want to take a lot more of your but I really appreciate the insight. So what do you guys have going on? What’s’ nee and coming from you that you are excited about, like what gets you tingly spined in the morning?
AW: Meditation, specifically on focusing on what I want instead of letting my mind get carried with useless thoughts about what I don’t want and or just random thoughts that are just not helpful. So on my way into talk to you I want to think about how I’m here to help you and not about how I have this big calendar coming up about how I should eat a little bit more because I’m starving. I want to just say I’m here and I’m focused. I need to be concentrated on this conversation and be more helpful. I found that meditation helps that.
FC: Very cool, and you got the beads too?
AW: Right there.
FC: Very very nice. There’s actually a story behind that. Do you want to share that as kind of the parting shot?
AW: Ha-ha, I don’t know how you discovered that we couldn’t find them anywhere.
FC: It’s actually on your blog. I stalk all the people I talk to, it’s what I do best. Ha-ha.
AW: So when I first started charging for Mixergy I had a hard time doing it because I thought you can’t charge because no one pays for content. You can’t charge because your stuff isn’t going to sell as much as Rand Fishkin stuff is because he’s brilliant because everyone wants to buy a subscription to Mods. And I caught myself with all these thoughts that aren’t helpful. So what is helpful I don’t really mean to compete with mods where diff industries, I’m not trying to make that kind of a business anyway so what do I need? What I need is 200 members, I don’t care most of the world doesn’t buy content but I can get 200 members. So I got a set of beads and instead of walking into work thinking no ones ever going to buy this when you start selling interviews, I walked in and said “200 members, 200 members, 200 members” and I just held the beads to hold me accountable to keep thinking that thought that was useful. That little bit of focus helped a lot. And then when I came to the US I wanted to send a bunch to my audience to say “Hey does this work for you?” and man it was hard to get. I tried to get it on Alibaba, I tried to get it on Amazon. If you want 5 you can get it easily if you want 50 you can get it easily, if you want hundreds it became a problem. So we hired someone to come into the office to string beads up and ship out to the audience.
AW: Quick and dirty but it worked.
FC: Fantastic, I’m all for quick and dirty if it gets the job done.
FC: Well Andrew thank you so much for your time I really do appreciate it.
AW: Thanks for having me on.
FC: and good luck with Mixergy.com, go check out Andrew and I’m actually on there.
Image: JD Lasica via Flickr