Week 18 Update - May 3

Actually posting this on May 3rd. Is it a miracle?

Switching gears to sales and marketing mode

I’ll be switching from feature development and testing into sales and marketing for pretty must the rest of Q2, May and June. Webinars, workshops, ads, emails, demo, and calls. Our primary mode of outreach is cold-email outreach and paid social ads to mortgage titles and interests. The primary call to action is attend a live webinar and sign up for the free trial.

If someone jumps on the free trial without attending a training, we’ll try to get them in the office hours trainings. If someone attends the webinar, workshops, we want them to sign up and setup there co-branding on the call.

I committed to my microconf mastermind (accountability) to assign code days and sales days. Code days imply remote work, work from have dev station. Sales days imply office, video, webinars. Not remote. Need to implement and stick to it.

1:1 Demo calls?

I plan to provide a motion for 1:1 demo calls, but it might be challenging at this stage in the game to fulfill on enterprise sales type discussions. At this point, we are focused on the bottoms up sales approach. We are not equipped to handle enterprise sales at this point.

Selling the roadmap

Our roadmap and future features will be critical as we jump into “sales mode.” Selling the future vision of what this application, this ‘platform’ could be will be super-important to getting true believers on board with downpayment.gift.

If we get any revenue in the next two months, awesome. If we get feedback on the current app and the roadmap, then I’m going to be happy. If it’s crickets and no one seems to care about offering down payment registry campaigns… well… let’s not talk about that!

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Week 17 Update - April 26

Finally catching up.. or almost caught up to the current week. This was meant to be posted on Monday. It’s Thursday today. Hopefully by Monday, May 3rd, I’ll be back on schedule.

More setup for cold outbound outreach

Setup MX and DKIM DNS records for two domains that will be used for outbound emails promoting our content. downpayment.io and projectdownpayment.com Clever right? the reverse of this very blog. There are several tools that piggyback on G Suite and Office 365 as well as use native SMTP servers for sending. Just listing them here is probably not productive. Once I have experience and opinions on which work well, I’ll write and report back.

Working in Public

This “Follow along as we build…” style blog in DownpaymentProject.com is my attempt to embrace the Work in Public (not to be confused with Work in Progress). I have been writing here as well as logging status updates on wip.co where I have over 250 sequential days with updates. They track the streaks and rank them… so I have a streak going.. I don’t want to break it.

I started reading a book by Austin Kleon, “Show You Work.” I highly recommend it. It’s all about the idea of publishing your process and early work… with all it’s imperfections. In software development, it’s very common to just continue developing and improving the product. We are motivated to add one more feature or upgrade one more tech stack or use the latest and greatest library. We want to refactor and improve it. In reality, we just need to ship it. Ship It! ..get it out in the world and get human feedback. Actual user feedback and adoption. Actual bug reports on what matters and what works.

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Week 16 Update - April 19

Autofill names and email from parameters in new client, new partner forms

I’ve been spending a ton of time improving and debugging the signup process for new users. It’s been the core feature from December to current. To enable automated onboarding, signup and pursue a PLG approach, Product Led Growth.

In the new client and new partner forms, I’ve enabled pre-filling the first and last names and email from the parameters passed in the URL. This enables passing the data from other directory in the URLs. For example, if we have a claim your partner listing directory with pre-filled data, and they click to CLAIM that listing, it would pre-fill the data into the form and the user only needs to click one button and they are enrolled!

This will also be useful in my email campaigns. If I already know their first and last… and I’m sending a email. The signup form can easily prefill their info.

Renamed Marketing Content section to “DROPS” aka Marketing DROPS

Taking a page from the gaming and streaming industry and renaming the Marketing tab in-app and in the community pages to reference Marketing Drops instead of just Content. So basically, like a video game producer… dropping content or resupplying players (think dropping materials from a plane). I’m not sure where is started to be called Drops. …but that is the new name for Weekly content updates. Marketing Drops. We hope to continually ‘drop’ new content and email the partners and prospects when we do. Look for new Drops on Social and Email.

The goal is to provide users an incentive to return to the app freqently, even if they don’t have any active registries.

My kids play a lot of video games, originally on the Xbox and now on PC. One of the games they played a lot in 2020 is called Sea of Thieves… it does not take a genius to listen to your 10 and 13 year old yelling about going back online to grab the special promotional Twitch Drops from some Sea of Thieves streamer/player… that maybe this Content Drops approach works and might be useful in downpayment.gift.

I had to look up the Twitch API - Twitch Drops enables you to grant in-game rewards to the Twitch community...

So we are going to be focused on Drops in two places: community.downpayment.gift and in-app in the Marketing Tools The first should be available without a login. The in-app content requires a valid partner login.

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Week 15 Update - April 12

It’s spring break now… tearing out carpet the last week, removing a dead tree. Before the pandemic, this would be spring skiing time! This year we had 2 weeks of spring break due to the school budgeting an extra week for wildfire closures. Imagine that! assume the air quality will force closures like in 2017-2019! Well in 2020, thanks to the pandemic, and remote schooling… no days off. We still had fires thought. :)

Vidstep

I spent a little time using a video tool called Vidstep.io. Vidstep is basically a video player with chapter breakpoints (think about how youtube now permits you to break up a video into sections). Vidstep is focused on processes and training videos. I plan to use it for that purpose, but I also think there is an interesting application for webinar and workshop replays. Instead of editing the video or pulling snippets and retitling them… Vidstep enables that “table of contents” to ride alongside the video. You can put resources, documents, links and CTAs below the video too. If we can avoid editing the webinar and just upload to vidstep and tag the various steps along the timeline, that is an incredible timesaver.

Vidstep is a potential time-saver for webinar replays. An alternative to actually editing

Microconf Mastermind

I joined a Mastermind groups associated with Microconf. The conference, group, podcast Startups for the Rest of Us. Basically, they offer for a small fee, to link you up with 3-4 other software founders for mastermind calls. So I’ve been matched with 4 incredible startup founders. At the time of writing this, we already had one call and will have the second call in 2 days.

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Week 14 Update - April 5

I’m actually writing this on April 28th. I got behind on the DownPaymentProject updates due to the kids’ spring break (two weeks) and a home reno project to replace the flooring in the entire house. (note: this is ongoing but it’s a weekend project now)

Publish new main website

The website at https://downpayment.gift has finally be updated. The old site was tweaked a little since the original version but the structure is largely the same.

The main goal of the new site was to deokoy a template that would give us room to grow in the design and features and to launch a non-wedding focus. The original branding was all about down payment wedding registries. The new website is more generic to all first-time home buyers and not exclusively focused on wedding buyers. The logo is the same, with the same green and gift wrap design. I don’t have any plans to revise the logo. I think we would customize the colors and backgrounds on the gift logo and use it for some time to come.

Old Website, featuring the old wedding focus

The new website is a more like a typical SaaS software website. I’m on sure if that is a good thing or bad. It’s based off a Jekyll template. I wanted to stay in the Jekyll / Bridgetown RB ecosystem. It’s using Bootstrap v4. The old website was not using any framework. The new site is still static, still on Netlify.

New site, who dis?

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Week 13 Update - March 29

Here is a rough list of dev activity in the last week. A few key fixes… but the most exciting thing is the new website starting.

Start new main website!!!

Update Roadmap URLs. Need to update the content on the Public and Partner roadmap to make sure it’s keeping pace. Focusing on bigger items on these resources.

Minor UI fix: no caching Old Password in Profile -> Password changes

Partner Trial Webhook. Explored using Invite system in peerboard to generate login and trial users. Looked at other content ideas with existing bulk member invites, like tribe.so, webinars, or private podcasts.

Fix and update legacy paperform webhooks for new client, new partners

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Week 12 Update - March 22

This week we added a drop down “hello bar” style notification to the app. This will be used for urgent messages or offers. The first application is to tell partners to confirm or Verify their Free Trial account through our third-party shopping cart. Once a Partner creates an account, requiring only 3-fields, First, Last and Email, they will see the Onboarding Co-Branding Form followed by the main partner dashboard. After 5 seconds, a hello bar pops down from the top reminding them to Verify their free account.

hellobar style banner with Free Trial confirmation

When they click on this message, it takes them to a “pre-filled” checkout page on the external shopping cart. They should not need to do anything but click Verify. If they skipped their Company name (Lender or Business name) in Onboarding, that field will be blank.

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