Customer Activation

Engaging new users through solution-oriented marketing, built by existing users

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Showーdon't tellーyour existing users' story to reach potential users

1) Intro to Coda 2) Traditional testimonials and case studies lack applicable takeaways for potential customers 3) Coda template gallery 4) Play with templates instead of receiving a product walkthrough 5) Try before you buy with product demos 6) Turning ideas and philosophies into implementation via interactive templates 7) How you should engage your customers to reach more customers

Al Chen:
Hi, everyone. My name is Al Chen and this is my lesson for the ProductLed Summit. It's entitled, "Engaging new users through solution oriented marketing built by existing users." I'll be going through a few slides and also showing some examples in my browser for this lesson. So who am I? My name is Al Chen. I am a solutions architect at Coda. Coda is an all-in-one platform that mixes Google docs, spreadsheets, and apps into one platform. If you want to email me, my email is al@coda.io. My LinkedIn address is there as well. On Twitter, my handle is @bigal123. So hopefully, I'll connect with you all after The product led summit. So what is on the agenda for today? First of all, the key takeaway I want to get across to you all. Today, regardless of how long or how little you watch this lesson is that you should show, don't tell, your existing user's story to reach new potential users, and I'll show what that means later on in this lesson. So show, don't tell.

Al Chen:
So what is the agenda for today? I'm going to talk about what traditional testimonials look like and why I think they aren't a good way to showcase your product or platform. I'm going to talk about Coda's own template gallery as a way to showcase our product. Then I'm going to talk about how you can play with templates instead of doing traditional product walkthroughs, which can be videos or just kind of these tool tip type of things. I'm going to talk about this whole try before you buy use case for products. I'm going to highlight Trello as an example of this. Then going to talk about how you can turn ideas and philosophies into reality. That gives a really interesting way to showcase your product to people by turning their ideas and philosophies into something that's tangible. This is really prevalent with our product at Coda.

Al Chen:
The final topic is going to be how to engage your customers to reach new customers, which is kind of the highlight of this lesson, how you can use your existing users to reach new users. A lot of people use user-generated content to-do this, but I'm going to talk about a few other ideas and strategies for you to-do this with your own products. All right, so let's get into... Actually, I'm going to-do an intro to Coda last. Let's get into traditional testimonials. So when I think of traditional testimonials, I think they are good case studies, but they lack some interesting or applicable takeaways for your new potential users and customers. So I think when someone is browsing a case study or testimonial, they're looking for inspiration about how to solve the problem, they want to understand how your product works in relation to your competitors, and they just want to see how other companies similar to them are succeeding on your platform.

Al Chen:
So I'm going to take a look at a very old company. Well, old in terms of years, I guess, is IBM. So IBM has a URL at client stories, services/client stories. This is essentially, I think they're testimonials and case studies from existing customers. You've probably seen pages like this before for other platforms and products. I'm going to click on the first one for Anthem. I'm just going to click on, "learn more." This is a traditional case study. You have a video here about the testimonial and just some written content about what that customer did with IBM. Anthem is obviously a huge company, and this is a traditional testimonial case study type where you can see the results. While this is great for seeing another logo or another company utilize IBM services, it doesn't actually explain or show the actual products and services that Anthem use on IBM's platform. I'm guessing it's some kind of cloud. They probably use some cloud technologies with IBM.

Al Chen:
So this is the traditional testimonial, which I think lacks the actual product demonstration of what was being used by Anthem in this case. It's kind of static and the stats and figures are helpful, but you don't really know how the product actually helped the customer aside from the CIO talking about how the product helped in this case. So going back to the traditional testimonials, at Coda, we have been able to merge the case study, the product trial, and the product review into one in hopes of creating a destination for discovery and for learning about the Coda platform. It also shines a light on existing customers who we call our makers, which is actually the heart of how we distribute a market ourselves to new users. So I'm going to talk about the template gallery, which exists for Coda. I'm going to close some of these tabs now.

Al Chen:
So this is the Coda template gallery. There's over 300 examples of use cases by real users of our platform. We have some basic search functionality here. So if I want to look for something related to, let's say, employee... Let's take a look at something like onboarding. You can see there's some various templates related to onboarding for new users. We also have categorized our template gallery by different categories. So that's really easy for a new user, potential user to take a look and see and find templates that are relevant to their specific use case. So this type of gallery is probably one of our most visited pages because it showcases all the different ways that you can use the platform for very specific use cases. In this case, this is a cryptocurrency portfolio tracker.

Al Chen:
So the key thing here is that a new user can play with the templates. So instead of just getting a traditional product walkthrough with videos and tool tips, the user can actually play with the product instead of being told what to-do by a salesperson or by tool tips. So, for instance, if I go back to my onboarding example and I'm going to click on this, "onboarding new hires," click on, "try dock," this is actually Coda, the platform working for the user. So you can see like, "Oh, Coda looks like it's a blend of Google docs and spreadsheets. I can click on these different sections along the left-hand side. I have onboarding tasks for a new employee." This gives a new user who has no idea about your platform, a way to play and interact with the platform before they actually sign up for the platform.

Al Chen:
This gets into my next point, which is about trying before buying. So the case study we saw with IBM looks great, but there was no way for a potential new user to try IBM's cloud and technology products before they actually signed up for a demo, or I guess even bought the product. So with the template gallery, the case study and the product demo are one in the same. So with Coda, we have this kind of demo mode, which allows a new user again, to try out the platform, and more importantly, try it out before they actually sign up and provide their email address or contact information. So they try out the platform and they realize, "This is not for me," they don't have to put an email address and we don't have to-do any lead capturing because they already know. They've already filtered themselves out of using our platform.

Al Chen:
With this type of implementation of our product where you can demo different examples of the products, we can build marketing campaigns around these templates. So as you can see here, we have all different types of categories of templates and this allows us to build event planning marketing campaigns that showcase templates that are built from actual users of our product. An example I like to show, which is very similar to our platform, is another kind of productivity platform called Trello, which I'm sure many of you have used. So Trello also has their own version of a template gallery. As you can imagine, these are all examples of Trello boards that you can use. So, for instance, I can click on publishing process by the Telegraph. I haven't even signed up for Trello yet, but I can already view this template and get a feel for what Trello is. Everyone, more or less, knows Trello is kind of like the classic sticky notes. It looks like you can actually can drag and drop the cards in template mode, but still it gives me a good idea of what the product is.

Al Chen:
To go back to how we can turn these templates and the categories into actual marketing campaigns, this is a landing page off Trello's domain, which says, "Trello for marketing teams," and you can see here that they've read some editorial about what Trello is and how it can work for different marketing functions. If I click on, "open board," I can already quickly get a look and feel for the product before actually signing up for the product. I can see whether or not this product is for me. This is a really good use case of how you can try before you buy with Trello as an example. I'm going to close these tabs for now since we're done with these. Okay.

Al Chen:
The next topic I want to talk about is how you can turn your customers and users ideas into reality, again, as a way to generate new users to come to your platform. I'll just talk about how we do this at Coda is we're able to take really interesting ideas, philosophies, frameworks from our users and turn them into these interactive kind of blog posts almost, if you will. Some examples include Tim Ferris who is kind of this productivity, self-help/just all around interesting guy, and he has a really popular exercise called, Fear-Setting. Really, this was just a TED Talk. He had a TED Talk video where he talked about how you can set your fears and overcome them, repair the fears, prevent the fears.

Al Chen:
He was able to take this idea, this framework and turn it into a real implementation. This is the Coda doc that showcases the Fear-Setting exercise. So instead of people having to read more about Fear-Setting or watch about Fear-Setting from Tim Ferris, they can actually go through this exercise and do it for themselves. So you define your fears, prevent your fears, how you can repair damage from your fears, benefits of success. This is basically just walking you through the entire Fear-Setting exercise, but the key takeaway here is that he was able to take his ideas and philosophies and turn them into reality.

Al Chen:
Another example is Ellen Chisa. She is one of the co-founders of Dark, and she has this one idea about how she wanted to automate her to-do list. She writes more about it in the first section of this doc. This is just a template in the gallery. She basically walks through how she sets up her to-do system, how you can sync your email, set up recurring to-dos, and then also how you can go on and make your to-dos actually happen. All started from this idea that she wanted a way to automate her to-dos. Finally, Des Traynor of one of the founders of Intercom, the messaging platform, he had this one tweet, which was also just an idea that he had about how to be more productive. That tweet, I believe, is down here. Yeah. So thinking about productivity and its tools, your emails, what others think you should work on. Your to-do list is what you think you should work on. Your calendar is usually what you actually work on.

Al Chen:
So it's a really interesting tweet, probably resonates with a lot of people out there, especially if you work in a desk job. He took this idea and was able to turn this into, in our case, a real Coda doc that allows someone to manage their email, their to-do list and their calendar all in one place. So this became a way for Des to talk more about his ideas as an implementation of more importantly, it also allowed us to showcase the power of Coda through a real user idea, and how that idea can be implemented into the platform itself. This also, again, becomes a template in our gallery that anyone can use, and then we can build marketing campaigns off of this template.

Al Chen:
So just advice here; if you have a chance to turn ideas from your users into reality in your platform that showcase their ideas, that's a really great way to build new users and just kind of new use cases for your platform that wouldn't otherwise be possible. This leads me to my final point about how you can engage your customer to reach new customers. I talked about how you can give potential users a way to play with real use cases of your platform. I think through the examples I showed with Fear-Setting by Tim Ferris, Ellen Chisa's to-do system, and Des's prioritize productivity guide, it gives your users and customers a way to tell their story using your platform, but from their own words. So instead of you writing a case study or you co-writing a case study with your user or customers, your customers are the ones that actually are writing the case study themselves, and actually talking about how they use the platform in the platform itself. In this case for us, it's a Coda doc.

Al Chen:
One thing that we've done really well, and I've seen other platforms do well, is that you can showcase what makes the user or customer unique on your platform, and they will then feel compelled to share their stories and their case study, and in our case, their Coda docs with their audience, which can potentially lead to more customers and users for your product. So as an example, I like to show Intercom's R&D hub. This is again, Intercom, really popular messaging, customer feedback platform and Aislinn Treacy. She's a senior manager of program management at Intercom and she wrote this long story about what makes Intercom unique and also more specifically, some processes at Intercom that they were able to solve with Coda, the platform. They talked about what made their use case unique and what was unique about their processes. They shared their story through this doc, but more importantly, they were able to showcase how they actually use Coda, the platform, to solve some of their process related problems.

Al Chen:
What's really interesting is that anyone can go in and play with this doc and see what went on in the customer's mind, in Intercom's mind to build out their doc. So you can go here and look at all the different views on the reporting team, mobile team. By having Intercom talk about their story here, they felt more compelled to share this story with their audience, which could lead to more potential users for the Coda platform. Long story short, this is kind of using the traditional strategies of thought leadership and storytelling to tell your story about your product, but in this case, it's doing the storytelling in your product itself so that people can actually play with the product and also read the story together.

Al Chen:
So just to recap everything from the last few slides is to show and don't tell their product. You can always write a bunch of case studies and testimonials and videos, but to really get people to understand and use the product, a lot of times, you have to show, don't tell. Having potential users play with your platform through a public template gallery where they don't have to sign up or sign in to use the product is a really great way to showcase the product without overtly marketing or selling it to your final audience. If you want to learn more about Coda, you can go to coda.io/welcome. This is the homepage right here, and it's a new doc for teams. Again, it's a mix of Google docs, spreadsheets, applications to help you build really any kind of internal tool you want.

Al Chen:
Also, as I mentioned with turning ideas into reality, it's also a way to turn your ideas about some topic into a real interactive exercise, which we'll be actually releasing some features for this in the next a few weeks if you're interested. But definitely go to coda.io/welcome to sign up for Coda. But more importantly, you can play with Coda before you actually sign up, as I mentioned during this lesson, so that you can see if this platform is right for you. Thank you so much for listening to this lesson from the ProductLed Summit, and I hope to hear from you soon.

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Gretchen Duhaime
Al Chen
Solutions Architect at Coda
As a Solutions Architect at Coda, Al works with teams and individuals in the Coda community to build Coda docs to streamline their workflows.