Building and scaling a successful company takes more than just focusing on sales and revenue. In this episode, Austin Distel unpacks the most vital strategies he uses to ensure his company keeps growing and scaling.
Austin Distel is the Senior Marketing Director at Jasper, a company that helps creators produce new content using artificial intelligence. The company has a formidable track record of growth, from 20 employees in 2020 to 125 in 2022. Austin has previously founded and served in various companies, including Proof, Scale.io, and Scale or Die. Jasper, has helped more than 50,000 companies create mind-blowing content in the form of blog posts, LinkedIn posts, and photo captions, including many others.
In this episode, Austin shares how he has used online communities to catapult the growth of Jasper. He explains in depth the strategy of offering value to community members so that they not only become clients but also attract other potential customers. His marketing and growth techniques are must-know for the success of any company.
- Company growth
- Creating a community for the company
- Retain relevance in your community
- New Technology: Its importance in the fast-changing world
- Rebranding as per the market needs
- How to build a SaaS subscription
- Quality should be the top priority
- Check out Jasper
- Connect with Austin Distel through his personal website, LinkedIn and Twitter
- Connect with Omniscient Digital on LinkedIn or Twitter
Listen to the podcast:
06:51- Company growth
Always set higher goals for your company and strive hire the best talent to assist in the growth of the company
Jasper has been, you know, on this rocket ship. And it’s fun to now be working with the best we used to optimize our companies to be lean mean fighting machines that, you know, how can we have basically the most profit per employee. And, you know, we’re pretty good at that too. But now we’re going for the moonshot. And it is time to recruit the best scale the team build the infrastructure and, and really go all in. And so obviously, with a new, a new goal changes the way you do things. So yeah, that’s you can see our team scaling up fast. It’s pretty wild, to be honest. And I just got to hire my own boss, which is a really fun position to be in. You know, I feel like that’s kind of one of those days in an entrepreneur’s life where you’re like, Yeah, well, I don’t know how to vote 1000-person company, but Megan does, and she’s done it well, before.
12:00- Creating a community for the company
Communities are the core pillar of the company’s growth
Steve Jobs says you can’t connect the dots looking forward, only looking backward. And if we were to look backward of Jasper’s history, it goes all the way back to when I was in college in a marketing agency. And I spent all my spring break money on a course to try and scale my marketing agency. And luckily, by the end of the week, I ended up using the sales scripts I learned and in grew revenue. And by the end of the year, I become a case study, I got to finally meet my mentor in person, we had a pizza, while I helped his fiancée and him move out of their place in Atlanta, and they’re going off to Maryland. And you know, it’s funny, because that was the moment I met Dave Rogen Moser, who is the CEO of Jasper, we started off, you know, as he was my coach, and I was his student. And over the years, you know, a couple of companies afterward, the community started off with, like my peers in that course, of marketing agency owners. And then it grew. The next phase was when I started working with Dave turned to his course into a membership. And that membership was all about helping marketers, you know, with the newest tactics and like growth hacks, and then it grew into software for that community. So, the community itself was actually an echo chamber, sounding board for building software. And that’s when pay funnels was created. That’s when proof was created. And eventually, Jasper. So, community is actually like, the ground floor of what all of this has been built on. And then same email list, right? Like, people that bought Jasper and the first like, pre-launch, were people that also bought the course five years earlier. So, it’s just to see like, wow, this is a raving fan base, but it’s also a long-standing relationship. And we’re not just like some new software on the blog, but like, more of like, this is a community that happened to help build the software. Secondly, it Jasper started off with that Facebook group where we are helping implement AI into marketing campaigns and help you like scale up. So, scale up your creatives, scale up your team and your marketing agency have that extra assistant that sidekick on your team to enable your creative workflow. Over time, I mean, over time, I’m talking about a few months, the community started saying, Hey, can this be used for Amazon copywriting? Can this be used to like create LinkedIn messages? How about for a video sales script, it just kept growing, right? People started creating slogans and jingles. They started creating baby names and writing birthday cards to their mothers. And so, we just started to really see the possibilities here. Which is really fun. And naturally, the product grew, all these features came from the community. And we still do that today. If you hop into our 70,000 person Facebook group, you’ll see that every day like founders are posting in there. And we’re saying, hey, what would you like from Jasper now? Give us feedback on this new feature. And they’re very much a part of the building of the tool.
15:00- Retain relevance in your community
You retain and attract new customer when you constantly offer value to your community members
I think about my role, you know, head of marketing. Now, Senior Director of Marketing, as we’re adding all these fancy titles, is, I’m really here to help bring up the community members, put them on a pedestal, give them the microphone in a way that’s constructive and pointed, that ends up helping others. So, I’m like, hey, I want you to talk about these things. Tell us your story. Here’s, you know, you can do a training. And you can add in a sprinkle in some self-promotion if you want to. In exchange, everybody that is listening, which is 1000s of people per week, get to learn from an expert. And I like hand select these thought leaders. You know, they’re the keynote speakers at conferences, and they’re the authors of books and the CEOs of startups. But I think about this more, kind of like a museum. And so, if there’s three roles in the museum, there’s the person who owns the museum. There’s the tour guide. And then there’s the artist. So, the museum itself is Jasper. And it is the one that collects the tickets. Thanks for coming into our museum, you come on inside. And then you’re going to be met with a tour guide. Now, in the beginning, it’s me. Then it gets passed off to our head of video content, education, Kyle. But he’s like the tour guide, showing you around on how to use how to enjoy the museum. And then there’s the artists. And I think of these as the customers, they are the Picasso’s they are the Van Gogh’s. And it’s actually, if you can create a viral loop of community, it is people come into they pay for the museum to see other people in the museum. Right now, it’s not just like, you can be anybody and get on the wall, you have to be like, you know, using it, well, you’re the best. But that’s what I try to do every week is I’m the tour guide. Thanks for coming into Jasper. Or maybe you’re like scouting it out you my little free trial. And I show them here are all of the accomplished ladies and gentlemen that have used Jasper. And so, for example, let’s get real here about how I actually do this. I host a weekly webinar with an influencer customer. It could be Rachel Peterson who taught on the webinar, how she creates three months of social media content in less than three hours per month. And using AI, so that’s Wow, it’s awesome. We had 3000 people show up live for that webinar. And the beauty is she also gets to promote as an affiliate to her widespread audience. She has like million Tik Tok followers and wrote a book and course creator. And then so I’ve done this, she’s like one avatar, right, that course creator thought leadership person. So, I’m always bringing up our customers. And I’m saying hey, here’s how They use AI to enable their creative workflow. And that’s worked incredibly well. So, we got to have in community, you have to rise up leaders. And you have to show them what success looks like. And then they create disciples, and even offshoots of business start to happen.
22:48- New Technology: Its importance in the fast-changing world
Embrace latest technology to increase your productivity and efficiency
You know, whenever there’s disruptive technology, there’s always pushed back. And, you know, they ended up finding a way, we’re not here to disrupt the profession, we’re here to enable a better experience of the profession. So, what do I mean by that figma is, you know, blowing up right now is one of the hottest like design tools. It’s another tool in your tool belt, just like Microsoft Paint was back in the day… Jasper helps you ideate it doesn’t take it all the way there. And we all know that. We all know it gets you like 50 to 80% of the way there, it gets your first draft done faster. It helps you storyboard. It helps you ideate. But it’s not here to just like print your marketing work. And also, the truth is, the better the input, the better the output. Also, the worse the input, the worst the output, we got to know like this is not a self-driving car. And so you have to very much have your hand on the wheel. Tell it the direction you want to go. You have to be a director, you’re driving the machine, the machine is not driving you. So with that? You know where we see the creative profession going is yes, art made by and with AI will be like part of that creative workflow just like how Photoshop, Illustrator, paint. Pro right. All of these are amazing new innovative tools. So yeah, I mean, it’s just another tool in your creative workflow. And you can choose, by the way, if you’re like a creative and you’re feeling a little threatened by AI, look, you have the choice to choose, do you want to learn technology, and this is a really simple tech to learn. Like, you just tell it what you want, and it does it. And you can figure out how to differentiate yourself how to scale up your business, how to improve the type of creative or even just get your thoughts out of your head into real life. And then you can go in iterate on it as you need. That’s the biggest use case. Most people use it for brainstorming. And they don’t use it for all the way, you know, beginning to implementation. It is more of a, you know, if you if you feel lonely as a creative like this, this one customer. We were talking because he’s a freelance copywriter. And he goes, honestly, my job is super lonely. I’ve been a freelance writer for five years; I have no teammates. And when I’m writing with Jasper in a coffee shop, I actually feel a little less lonely when I have my sidekick. And that’s awesome. Because how many of us feel lonely out there? As online entrepreneurs, we’re on zoom all day. And we don’t have teammates next door to us. Having somebody to brainstorm and go back and forth with is really cool.
40:21- Rebranding as per the market needs
Have a keen eye on the market and you will identify the key changes that need to be made
So basically, we started off with a name called conversion.ai. And the truth is, the reason why we came up with that name is it was a domain we’ve been sitting on for a long time. And we just needed a name. And so, we chose one out of our bank of domains. And eventually, the community started like, pet calling it Jarvis. And we’re like, this is cool. It’s better. And I liked the personification of it. It’s not just you know, an AI that feels like this technical thing. But it’s also someone on your team. So yeah, we went like the personification Jarvis ends up Iron Man’s assistant name is Jarvis. And Marvel doesn’t like that too much. So, they send us some letters. And yeah, now we’re finally over. We were We rebranded to Jasper, like coming up on a year now. And all is good in the neighborhood.
53:17- How to build a SaaS subscription
Do not offer your services for free, always attach a fee to them
Yeah, well, you know, most of the world starts off. And they think that they should have their product available for free to gain an audience to get it going. And, you know, they call it beta mode. And so Hey, try it for free as a beta tester, or they start off with freemium, and then they figure out how to go and get a paid program. That is not our way. We like to make money. We turn it on its head, we say you have to pay to be early access. You might even pay more to be the first, Elon Musk does the super well, I love that he’s like, we’re gonna go expensive first with all of our cars, and then try to work our way down the market. So, I think it’s a really good business strategy. And even though it creates more friction, and that might create space for competitors to come in that undercut your value, the money keeps your roadmap extended. So yeah, I mean, it also validates with a credit card, if your ideas actually good or not. So, we always start off with paying for a product and eventually we might make it free as a lead generation, or we start off with a free trial, credit card required ends, and five days automatic payment. You know, it’s like, that’s not the best experience, but guess what, it grows the company. And, and, you know, we’re, we’ll find a way eventually to build a freemium, which we’re coming out with, so yeah, but it’s like, do that do the opposite. Like if everybody else is doing freemium, then do the opposite and you’ll find yourself success
56:50- Quality should be the top priority
If it’s not wow, then it is not worth doing
If it’s not Wow, it’s not worth doing. And I really like that saying, it applies to all things in life. If it’s not, wow, it’s not worth doing. So, if you’re going to do a marketing campaign, do it Wow. If you’re going to build a product, do it Wow. If you’re gonna throw a party, do it Wow. I think it’s a great way to think about life. You know, and I tried to apply it in all parts. Like, if I’m going to build a house, if it’s not, wow, it’s not we’re doing you know, it I’m gonna take page on a date. If it’s not Wow, it’s not we’re doing so like our first date, we went to an all-you-can-drink wine bar, you know, and that was nice. But like things like that, like, how do you just do you know, wow, things. If you’re gonna travel, like, do it in style. And doesn’t mean to do to expensively means to do it with creative creativity and charisma and fun, and get people involved.