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Recently, Scott had a chance to sit down with with founder & CEO of Ontraport, Landon Ray. Catch it above (or if you prefer to read, check out the Transcription below):
Scott: So there’s forces in play in anyone’s life that kind of help evolve them forward or not. My personal opinion, you’re alive to try to evolve forward. The business is kind of a microcosm of that. You’re trying to evolve your business forward. There’s forces in play in your market, in your product, how did you talk to people, and most importantly, the force of time, that affects your results, and so you got to be aware of those when you’re taking any strategy and trying to use it in your business or in your life, kind of a life strategy to evolve.
Landon: Welcome to MODERN ONTRAPRENEUR. Today we have Scott Desgrosseilliers who is a data and analytics guru, and the founder and CEO of Wicked Reports, which is one of the top subscription based marketing analytics platforms around today. Prior to his Wicked Reports venture, he played a key role at Motorola as a data architect and led global programming teams for 10 years. Scott brings a simple, commonsense approach to the complex world of data-driven marketing. Thanks so much for being here.
Scott: Thanks for having me. I’m jazzed.
Landon: Man, your unique skillset. Tell me about that. You have a unique, unique skillset.
Scott: I have one that came to me, and I’ve always been driven this way in that I love to use data to solve puzzles, so when I was even 12 years old, I would be on family vacations, and I would be obsessed with trying to predict the dog races or the horse track results.
Landon: No way.
Scott: My parents probably thought I was a degenerate gambler like my dad. No, he wasn’t that bad. I’d have the books out. We’d be on vacation, and I’d be scoring the programmes they’d be like, “What are you doing?” I’d be like, “I want to try to see if I can predict who’s going to win.”
Landon: Could you?
Scott: Sometimes I could. I had a pretty good little system. Good with horses, with the standard breeds. They sit in the carts. I did pretty well with that. It was before speed ratings and all that came out. I was a little ahead of the curve, and I was just obsessed with it. The idea that you could take numbers and make sense of it and use it to predict the future, or at least attempt to, was just fascinating to me.
Landon: That just drove your career pretty much from there?
Scott: Pretty much. I went from that to be a daytrader, and this was in 96, 97 when people knew what it was. I used to have to call on the phone to make the trades and go in somewhere and have a special phone to download the stock prices.
Landon: Oh my gosh.
Scott: And loved it, or I worked for a firm where we’d bet against the public. When people would have the $20 broker trades, that was a new thing in 97, it was because we would pay just for the right to bet against them because we had all these other analytics we could use, so I’ve always just been involved with that. Then when I got into Motorola, they were really into tracking everything, and people had to know, it was hard to communicate before. Nowadays Slack and instant video conferencing. This is 2001-2, you didn’t really know what was the status of the project. What am I supposed to be working on? You got 25,000 people, you got to figure out how they’re all going to know what to do. I’ve architected the systems behind that, led the teams that did that.
Landon: Wow. Then your current venture, Wicked Reports, is a pretty heady piece of software that helps marketers who are typically spending money, or at least time, doing content figure out what’s working, what’s not. Tell me about that.
Scott: The idea came to me through a couple of friends that were running their online businesses. They were struggling with trying to figure out if their Facebook advertising was working. I looked around to try to help them because I was doing some cited data consulting just because it was kind of fun. It was like, “Geez, there doesn’t seem to be anything out there.” I jerry-rigged something up to hack up a solution. Told a few people about it. Whenever I told anyone, they wanted it. Then I slowly, incrementally, started to build it. Hired a programmer to help me with some things that I had hacked up that I didn’t love. I would run all the data myself for a long time. As each challenge came, like your speaker last year Ryan Halliday, the obstacle’s the way. That iteratively grew it based on what’s the most problematic thing with trying to figure out what’s working and not working.
It’s tough to build links. How do I know a sale really happened? We got to wire into where the orders happened and pull them out. With ONTRAPORT, it’s easy. You guys have everything in there. We can just pull it out and match it up with all our other algorithms. Then we can layer in data and the challenge becomes how do you make it usable for an entrepreneur that’s busy? That knows data’s important but doesn’t know quite what to do. We mapped the data to different points in what I call the customer journey. So that you know, based on this data, this is what works for cold traffic lead gen that leads to customers. If I’m doing retargeting, this is what’s making customers. The value, if you got ONTRAPORT, you want to set up all the follow-up sequences to email the people over time, or subscription business, they become very valuable.
Then, when you’re trying to answer the question, where did I find my customers, it’s not that easy to do unless you got Wicked Reports, course.
Landon: There you go.
Scott: [crosstalk 00:04:36]
Landon: The business has exploded in the last year or so, really-
Landon: Like a slow build and then all of a sudden, boom. What’s the cause of that? What’s working to grow that business, right now?
Scott: We use a couple of things. We have Facebook for cold traffic lead gen and for content. We use AdWords for-
Landon: Facebook paid ads?
Scott: Yep, paid ads, and we use organic ads. Our organic following isn’t doing that hot, actually. That’s what I find. It’s not even 80/20. It’s almost 95/5. There’s a couple of things that just work for everyone’s business. For us it’s, Facebook for content and for cold lead gen. Events work really well. Retargeting is AdWords. Then we have drip sequences that don’t really convert but they get people to book demos. Then I have people do live demos. Our sales cycle is pretty complicated so we use Wicked Reports to grow with reports, as well. People have to see the software, know what it’s going to do for them, then they get excited.
Landon: It sounds like a pretty traditional process right now.
Scott: It is.
Landon: I mean by traditional, not long-term traditional but it’s like what’s happening right now is Facebook ads to content to demos or whatever and making it happen.
Scott: Still need the human touch.
Landon: Still need the human touch-
Scott: I’d love to have it in a pure SaaS but people like to talk to people.
Landon: Complex sale, it’s impossible. Great. Just boom, and all of a sudden it’s working?
Scott: It’s working. People get real value. We get unsolicited testimonials a lot. It’s been fun, at this event, people come up, “Hey, I just want to tell you, I love your software. I have three licences and I’m using it and I tell everyone.” You don’t normally hear that in a given day. If someone’s using it, they’re just using it and happy, you only hear from the people that are a little grouchy about something. Like, “Wow, these people are telling us they love it. This is awesome.” It’s been really happy, a real gratifying feeling already.
Landon: Yeah, good. Would you attribute the hockey stick that happened in your business, a year ago, to these Facebook ads or did something else happened that really shifted it?
Scott: It was a couple of events. It was going to your event and going to the digital marketer events. That people were excited and people that … The gurus, the marketers that people trust, used us early. Very early. That just happened and they would tell people and then that was it.
Landon: Word-of-mouth [crosstalk 00:06:46]
Scott: It was word-of-mouth at first.
Landon: Getting to some influences and just letting them spread the good word about a great product.
Scott: That was what really started. We were strictly product focused and obsessed. We still are. We are still really data product guys that do marketing because that’s what we know how to track. We don’t really know, hey, this is what you should do in marketing. We just know how to figure out what’s working for you. That’s our specialty.
Landon: Good. What are you learning and excited about next? Let’s the cutting edge for you, personally?
Scott: Couple of things. We’ve got a customer journey, ROI, visual stuff coming in. People like visuals. We have a lot of visual reporting that you can then dive into the nitty-gritty just when you need to. We’re doing more artificial augmented intelligence so that we detect what’s right or wrong in your business and just bubble it up and not only tell you, hey, this is working or not but here’s what to do. Try to do that with literally no steps at all. Just so that they log and then say, “Here’s what to do, here’s what to stop, this is working, this is so-so.” Those are the two big things I would say we are working on. Just trying to get ahead of you even having to think. As little thinking as possible. People just want to make money and do what they’re good at.
Them combing through data, we make it nice enough so people will stick with us but they prefer to not even have to do that. We could just make their lives easier, auto update spends on ads for people.
Scott: On Facebook and [inaudible 00:08:04]
Landon: In terms of your own experience of that, that’s like what the business is doing, you’re designing these systems? That’s what you’re cranking on every day is trying to figure out how to make these things happen or …
Scott: I’m really into personal development. I do a lot of intuitive training and I have a theory that I’m actually presenting here, tomorrow. It has to do with forces in play. So there’s forces in play in anyone’s life that kind of help evolve them forward or not. My personal opinion, you’re alive to try to evolve forward. The business is kind of a microcosm of that. You’re trying to evolve your business forward. There’s forces in play in your market, in your product, how did you talk to people, and most importantly, the force of time, that affects your results, and so you got to be aware of those when you’re taking any strategy and trying to use it in your business or in your life, kind of a life strategy to evolve. It’s like a stealth personal help speech hidden as a data speech. I didn’t realise it until I built it. It’s like, geez, I think about this stuff personally, too.
Landon: What are the forces at play for you, right now?
Scott: Forces in play for me right now is elevating my business vision and being clear about what I want it to be, which I’m figuring out. I’m determined in the next two weeks to figure out because we could go funding, we could go merge, we could go a lot of ways. They all sound kind of fun. I want the one that’s most fun, valuable, and profitable for everyone involved. Trying to keep something called a master intention, which is let everything be done on purpose … Excuse me. Let everything be done in service for the greater good of all as an expression of life, purpose, and getting closer to the source. If I can keep that intention without getting any ideas of how it has to happen, it hopefully will unfold the way it needs to. Which is a challenge. You hear advice, you want to do it, you want to just …
You get your expectations in the way of what you want from your actions. If you just hold and intention of what you want to happen and then let the actions unfold more naturally, you’re more likely to get the result you want or something better than what you started with. That’s my opinion.
Landon: Interesting, yeah. Entrepreneurs tend to be action oriented and drivers in a lot of ways. What I think you’re saying is that there is something about stepping out of the way of what’s meant to happen and really focusing on the end result that you’re looking for and letting life fill in the gaps?
Scott: Yeah, it would be like, okay, so we met with Facebook four times. That gets us excited. But then they drag their feet. They say, “Hey, we’re going to fund all your stuff, you’re going to be a millionaire or whatever or more.” I’m like, “Oh, this is awesome.” Then, instead of my intention, which I just said the greater good of all, that I’m like, “So Facebook’s going to buy me, then I’m going to get this house, then I’m going to do this.” That might not be what’s going to happen. Now that I have that expectation, that blocks me from the other possibilities and opportunities because I let the expectation get in the way of me, maybe, taking other actions that could have opened other opportunities.
Landon: I see. Interesting. So staying action oriented, staying goal oriented and action oriented but making sure that you remember to let go of your expectations.
Landon: Interesting. I find that entrepreneurship has a way of grinding our expectations out of us over time. Like-
Scott: That’s true [crosstalk 00:11:12] self-help guru. Fix the grind.
Landon: Well, no, I mean after many, many years, we try a lot of things and a lot of things don’t work. You get to the point where you’re like, “You know, we’re going to try this and it may or may not work,” and there something about that attitude that’s actually okay. That allows you to continue to move forward because you’re not so worried about failure because it just happens over and over again. In the midst of all that, you find successes.
Scott: I thought, for sure, a quiz funnel was going to beat me to the promised land. I was going to do a quiz, everyone was going to love it-
Landon: I remember you talking about that.
Scott: I was going to be rich. I did it. People said, “Oh, it’s fun, fun, I had two people bought out of it. It took a lot of time and I was just obsessed with the idea a quiz was going to work and that was it. Waste of time. But whatever. I just go onto the next thing. It was a couple of weeks burned that I shouldn’t have burned or … I don’t know if I shouldn’t have.
Landon: No, that’s-
Scott: It was just another way to know-
Landon: The process.
Scott: “Hey, that’s just not …” Yeah, it’s the process.
Landon: Another thing that’s not going to work.
Scott: Mm-hmm (affirmative).
Landon: How long have you been doing Wicked now?
Scott: Wicked’s two years. I had a failed meditation site where I had spent all this money on masterminds and I thought I knew everything. I went in there and had a good meditation content but not a good thought out business process. I was underfunded and I was having babies, or my wife was. It was bad timing. Then I had to go back to work in data. I ran data at apartments.com for a couple of years but then I still had the pull that once you tasted freedom, you want it. It’s just never going to work to be going in a place where you’re just going to grind out a long haul and retire when you’re 70 or whatever. That’s just never going to work for me. It never will again. I could understand working somewhere for a while but not just take when I’m 70, then I can go live on a beach somewhere. I don’t get that.
Landon: If you could go back and give a piece of advice to your nascent entrepreneur self, what would that advice be?
Scott: It would have been to set up a paid funnel and try and get it to be profitable as soon as humanly possible because there’s no denying the market. The market doesn’t lie.
Landon: It’s really going to work or it’s not.
Scott: Either they like your ideas and your prices or they don’t. If you go off and say I’m going to blog, or I’m going to do this, you do all these things rather than just finding out, hey, does the market want my stuff at a profitable spread? That’s what I would have done right from the start.
Landon: You’re saying spend money, actually, on acquiring customers from day zero to see if it’s a viable product. Don’t waste your time with all the long play stuff like content marketing and all that stuff.
Scott: I would first make sure I had a business before I started doing all kinds of pretend business stuff. If you’re doing a huge great blog and people are reading it but they don’t want to buy whatever you have, then you don’t have a business, you have a blog that people read for free. That’s what I would have done different.
Landon: Interesting. When you think about long term, what do you want your legacy to be?
Scott: I’ve got patent pending on customer lifetime value by email and IP, which is hopefully I’ll get this year. That’d be one thing. Get that one sorted out. I think I want to try to figure out a way to use data to help people evolve, would be my long term. I don’t have that figured out yet. That’s what I want to be able to do. I want to almost have an app where it’s reading in all of your physical and mental activities and your journaling or something, and then it’s piecing together helping make you a better person. Gamify becoming a better person, whatever that means for you.
Landon: What do you feel like being a Modern Entrepreneur means?
Scott: I think it means you have a lot of grit because you need to face the unknown and make decisions and have the courage to, as you said, fail often and not have it ruin your life over it. You could just face the unknown and tackle it. That’s what I think it comes down to is a lot of courage and grit.
Landon: Cool, thank you so much for being here. This has been great. Will you sign our wall?
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