OnlineOrNot Diaries 20

Max Rozen

Max Rozen (@RozenMD) / April 12, 2024

It's finally sunny, and a Friday morning here in Toulouse, time to discuss what I've been doing over the last 4 weeks or so.

I started by taking more demo calls for OnlineOrNot's enterprise plan, reflected on why I didn't do that sooner, and ranted about optimizing for engagement.

Table of contents

Dipping my toe into enterprise sales

A few diaries ago, I updated my pricing page to have an enterprise plan. I had no idea what people would want, so the copywriting was pretty simple:

I added a card to my pricing page with the content: "Have needs that don't neatly fit into our plans? I can help.", with a call-to-action of "Let's talk".

A few people have reached out, I had a quick chat with some folks to learn what they were looking for in an enterprise version of OnlineOrNot (nothing salesy on my end - I just wanted to learn), and I got absolutely slapped down by their requirements. OnlineOrNot fulfilled maybe half of what was being asked.

One particularly helpful person (that I'm eternally grateful for) walked me through their procurement spreadsheet, as well as letting me know what similar solutions are charging, along with the "must-have", "should-have", "nice-to-have" status of each feature, so I now have more information about what customers expect from OnlineOrNot than ever before. I'm particularly excited for the roadmap.

I should've done that years ago

I left those quick demo meetings feeling amazing, like I knew exactly what customers expected, and I'd be able to build those features pretty quickly too. At the same time, I was wondering "why on earth didn't I do that sooner?!" - the answer is simple:

I wasn't ready.

For those of you that don't know me in real life, I'm a massive introvert. Unless we've already talked in real life, I'll probably have a notebook of things to talk about if we end up doing a phone call together.

These demo calls were nothing like that. I just showed up to the call, and asked "Hey, how can I make the next 20 minutes useful?", and chatted about what their business does, what kind of monitoring needs they have, and how they want to display their uptime to their customers.

Frankly, I'm surprised I pulled it off, but I guess when you think about uptime monitoring for at least two hours a day for three years like I have, it starts to become natural, and you don't need a notebook of questions to keep the conversation going.

How giving up "sugar-surge marketing" is going

As I wrote in the previous diary, I'm no longer playing engagement games on Twitter, and writing articles solely so they rank on Hacker News.

It's not like I'm not good at it - I've written articles that reached #1 on Hacker News several times now. I'm not going to lie, it feels AMAZING when it happens. 40k+ people on your site, discussing your product, potentially sending business your way.

The trouble is, most of that traffic is irrelevant at best, distracting and a waste of time at worst. Hacker News are not your customers. Maybe 0.01% of them kinda-sorta fit your Ideal Customer Profile, but you now have to work out if a helpful-looking comment fits the profile of the type of customer you want to serve.

So instead, I've been writing helpful content for software teams. Traffic is down, way down. Sign-ups are surprisingly stable, and conversions from trial-to-paid are increasing.

Now, customer feedback comes directly to me via email, and I can immediately see in their email signature that they're title X at software company Y, and that the thing they're asking for will likely make OnlineOrNot better for folks like them.

A quick rant on engagement games

Somewhat related to sugar-surge marketing: asking extremely basic questions for the sake of generating engagement does not do anything for your business, unless you're in the business of selling "how to quit your job and make 500k!" courses for $500 a pop.

You might get some new followers out of it, but these are not the people that'll stay on your mailing list for years. Folks that stick around, get value from what you're building, and give you feedback as you build do not come from engagement games.

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