etracks-wordpress-website-blog-wide-feature3

For the first 5 months of 2010 I was working 2 days a week for Sanjay Singhal, the CEO of Fusenet, an innovative tech incubator in Oakville, ON with a staff of 60. I was helping with general business strategy, business process development, online marketing training and leadership development. In May of 2010 Sanjay had a new SaaS business that he wanted to get up and running and he didn’t have anyone internally who was the right fit to lead the project, so he asked me to. The Fusepay business is a new subscription billing software service for small digital businesses.

Over the 7 months from May – Dec 2010:

  • I led a cross-functional team in creating the dynamic business plan. We wrote it on a wiki rather than in Word.
  • I led the competitive research and industry analysis.
  • I led a cross-functional team in scoping the initial releases of the product as well as a 12 month-out feature set.
  • I oversaw our 6 person Development Team which built a from-scratch working beta of the software in 4 months.
  • I managed the overall project through weekly team meetings and made sure we hit our key release dates.
  • In Oct 2010 we went live with our first internal customer, a startup within the Fusenet parent company. We have been processing live transactions for them for 3 months now.
  • I built a very complex financial model that allowed us to fully model the business from an investment and return perspective. We also used it to model the impact of different pricing strategies.
  • I met with several potential investors to discuss a potential Series A round of VC financing.

Despite Sanjay’s offer to have me run the business, I knew that I wanted to keep building some of the other businesses I’m involved with and I also felt that the project needed a leader with more SaaS Product Management experience than I have.  I spent the fall of 2010 interviewing candidates for this plum job – and got to meet some excellent people in the Toronto and GTA tech community. In early January 2011 we hired the former GM of e-commerce for Grand & Toy as our new CEO.  I will be spending the rest of January onboarding him and transitioning out of the project. I’ll miss the team – they were a great team to work with – but I know they will go on to build an amazing business and I’ll enjoy watching from the sidelines while I move on to put my energies into the other businesses I am building.

The Situation:

The client, Traditional Life Sciences Inc., was looking to start an online business in the health and wellness space, targeted to Boomers. They wanted a starting-point e-commerce, content management and marketing system that could be managed by 2-4 people but that could handle sales of $5-10 million a year before it required a major overhaul. We were asked to recommend an overall technology strategy and then to submit a proposal for executing the work.

Our Strategy:

  1. Use an inexpensive open source CMS. We contemplated WordPress but eventually went with Joomla.
  2. Instead of building out all the desired functionality using custom code, we recommended “renting” the functionality by using SaaS applications (also called hosted or cloud applications).
  3. We used our Canadian designers to design the Joomla site but then we had it built by overseas coders to keep the cost down.

The Execution:

We call it a web ecosystem because calling it a website is a bit misleading (at least we think so). The ecosystem consists of:

  1. A Joomla front-end which manages all the pages, article and the merchandising of the products.  The products are managed through a powerful Joomla component called Virtue Mart which acts as the product database.
  2. Infusionsoft is the real power behind the system. Infusionsoft manages the email marketing and marketing automation, the CRM (user/customer database) and the e-commerce. All the actual transactions are processed through Infusionsoft and then sent electronically for order fulfillment. It also provides all the e-commerce sales and order reporting.
  3. Customer Hub is an Infusionsoft add-on that allows customers to do self service on their account like updating their credit card information and seeing their past orders.
  4. Get Satisfaction is the ultimate in web 2.0 community based support and it powers the support forum.
  5. Google Analytics gathers all the visitor and conversion data and allows the client to do detailed conversion and ROI analysis.

Most people working in e-commerce have figured out that building a nice site is just the beginning and that most of the effort actually needs to go into driving traffic to the site, getting visitors into some kind of marketing automation sequence and then testing different offers until they convert. Then you up-sell and cross-sell them, also using marketing automation sequences. So how do you do this with a staff of 2 or 3? If you try do it using Constant Contact or aWeber or any other stand alone email tool you’ll be importing and exporting data every day and spending your life trying to get it to interact with your shopping cart and your customer database. Infusionsoft is really the only application on the market that allows you to manage this kind of marketing automation engine and it’s built for small companies with limited online marketing resources. It’s CRM + email marketing + marketing automation + an e-commerce cart, all in one, all pre-connected and ready to roll.

Cost Savings:

The client mentioned that they had our functionality quoted by an agency that would have built them a custom solution. The quote was for more than triple what they invested using our approach.

Client Feedback:

Getting to the final product as specified, on time, and on budget should be “price of entry”, but in a fairly sophisticated integration like Zwell, cost overages and time creep is likely more often the rule than the exception. Jonathan and the Strategy Cube team hit the timeline, delivered against the budget (while still indicating where options and upgrades were possible), and delivered a result that exceeds our expectation.  Communication throughout was efficient and solid.  We are delighted with the result, and recommend Strategy Cube without reservation.

Rob Carscadden, President & CEO of Traditional Life Sciences Inc. and zwell.ca. June 29, 2010.

The site went live in June 2010. You can visit the site at www.zwell.ca

Screenshots:

Thank you for visiting www.strategycube.com

7systems is a small firm run by several athletes who manage the business in their personal time – they all have pretty impressive day jobs. They wanted to run a contest to build awareness of their excellent product among non-users and so they designed a contest that would encourage athletes to tell their story online and then have their friends and family come and vote for them. 7systems didn’t have the budget for a full custom voting application so they asked us to build some inexpensive voting functionality. One of the reasons we love WordPress is the availability of free plugins. We researched and found the WP-Post Ratings plugin and then customized the look & feel as well as the functionality to suit their needs. You can visit the 7systems website here but the voting pages have been removed as the voting period ended June 30th.

Screenshots:

Thank you for visiting www.strategycube.com

We recently launched a Facebook application to support Campbell Canada’s Help Hunger Disappear™ campaign. As of July 27th the app has 12,846 users.

Deliverables:

  1. We developed a custom Facebook application to allow users to give their friends virtual cans of Campbell Soup. Campbell Canada will then donate a matching real can for every can given and accepted on Facebook. We focused on making the application simple to use and easy to spread virally.
  2. We built Campbell a professionally designed, custom website through which visitors could explore all the parts of the Help Hunger Disappear™ campaign, and be directed to the Facebook application.

Execution:

Click here to go to the application’s homepage on Facebook. You need to be logged in to Facebook for the link to work.

Visit the www.helphungerdisappear.com website.

The Facebook Application:

facebook-confirm-requests-gif

Campbell Help Hunger Disappear Facebook app - reception screen

Campbell Help Hunger Disappear Facebook app - share screen

Campbell Help Hunger Disappear Facebook app - status-update-edit

Campbell Help Hunger Disappear Facebook app - profile-page-w-context

Campbell Help Hunger Disappear Facebook app - boxes tab

The www.helphungerdisappear website

Help Hunger Disappear website screengrab

Commentary:

Facebook users have not reacted that positively to overtly branded applications. Brian Morrissey mentions a few of the high profile brand failures in this article from ADWEEK. As I wondered as to why this might be (and how to avoid becoming another statistic) I hypothesized the following:

  • Facebook users care most about how their network perceives them. Social status is the currency of Facebook.
  • Most actions on Facebook are done by users to enhance how their network feels about them. i.e. they send their friends a funny video, a photo or a fun game so they can be seen as the source of humour. They post photos of the hot guy kissing the new girl at the party so that they can be seen as the source of news, gossip etc. See the graph from McKinsey & Company below.

mckinsey-graph

  • Activities that allow the user to increase their social status are likely to do well.
  • On judgment, I thought that many Facebook users would think that being seen donating to the foodbank was good for their social status as long as the application did not look like purely a shameless sales pitch.

In 3 weeks the app reached over 8,100 users starting from two people and spreading virally. The app has reach 12,846 users as of July 27th.

We’d appreciate any comments or feedback you may have on the application.

Thank you for visiting www.strategycube.com

The Problem:

The team at 7 Systems had a nice looking website but they were finding it expensive and frustrating to update the site because it required them to pay the agency who built it to make all changes and updates. They wanted to enable several of their people to easily add content and make text edits themselves without having to pay the agency every time.

Our Solution:

I shared with them how rebuilding the site on a WordPress system would give them a content management system (CMS) so they could update the content themselves and it would also give them a blog so that various members of the team could contribute stories to help sell the 7systems products. It would also help their site be found more easily in search engines because Google loves WordPress blogs because of how they are structured and organized. Many of our clients find their WordPress blogs get 2 to 4 times the traffic than their HTML site gets.

Recently 7systems wanted to run a contest so they asked us to design an inexpensive contest mechanism into WordPress so that they could create Athlete profiles and then have visitors register and vote for their favorite athlete story. See some screenshots here.

Client Feedback:

“Strategy Cube was a true strategic advisor.  Jonathan effectively presented a recommendation and then helped every step of the way in making sure the execution delivered on the ideas presented.  We’re seeing double the traffic and saving major money because we don’t have to rely on an agency for the constant updates we make to our pages and our blog.” Martin Rydlo, Co-Founder, 7systems.ca.

Execution:

You can visit the WordPress powered site we built for them at www.7systems.ca

nice WordPress template

nice WordPress template

The Situation:

My client is a new safety training firm and they required ground-up brand development and marketing to be able to present themselves professionally and generate awareness of their services.

Objective:

  1. Develop a compelling brand identity for a small safety training company.
  2. Acquire new clients for Insight Safety Services by making prospective clients aware of them and their services.

Strategy:

  1. Start with developing a compelling brand identity integrating the concept of “people” as the object of the training and a contemporary design that communicates up-to-date expertise.
  2. Build Insight Safety Services a professionally designed, custom website through which visitors from the ad campaigns can explore the company and its services and be encouraged to call or email for more information.
  3. Add to the website an easy to use WordPress blog with a CSS template that matches the existing site. Teach the principal of Insight Safety Systems to use the blog to post articles and expert advice on safety training. Use our favorite WordPress Plugins to 1) automatically optimize posts for SEO and publish new blog posts to google and Yahoo, and 2) send the blog post content via RSS to Feedburner and other blog sites to drive additional exposure on the web.
  4. Use locally targeted google adwords and facebook ad campaigns to drive targeted traffic based on keyword searches and content placement to the new ISS website. Also register the company with Google for visibility on Google Maps.

Execution:

Logo & Brand Identity:

Insight Safety Services logo

Business Cards:

Insight Safety Services business card front

Insight Safety Services business card back

Brand Guidelines:

We created an 8 page set of Brand Guidelines to ensure continuity of the brand over time and different executions. Some example pages are shown here.
ISS Brand Guidelines example

Website:

The website is live at www.insightsafety.com

Insight Safety Systems website homepage

Google AdWords Campaign:

iss-google-adwords-ad-w-logo

iss-google-maps-w-detail

Facebook Ad Campaign:

ISS Facebook ad

Other Print Collateral:

We also developed:

  • Printed letterhead and envelope artwork
  • Printed desk cards for training sessions
  • An HTML email template
  • A Word document letterhead template
  • A Powerpoint template for presentations

Thank you for visiting www.strategycube.com

The Situation:

My client is a 7 person physiotherapy clinic in Aurora, ON and until October 2008 they had a holding page for a website and were running no online advertising.

Objective:

Acquire new clients for LifeSpring Physiotherapy by making prospective clients aware of the physiotherapy clinic and its services.

Strategy:

  1. Use locally targeted google adwords and facebook ad campaigns to drive targeted traffic based on keyword searches and content placement to a new LifeSpring website.
  2. Build LifeSpring a beautifully designed but cost effective website through which visitors from the ad campaigns can explore the clinic and its services and make a decision to call or visit.

Execution:

The website is live at www.lifespringclinics.ca

LifeSpring Physiotherapy homepage

LifeSpring Physiotherapy Team Page

Ron O Hare physio, AJAX popup example

Google AdWords Campaign:

Google AdWords Maps ads for LifeSpring Physiotherapy

Facebook Ad Campaign:

LifeSpring Physio Facebook ad example

4″X9″ Rack Card brochure:

LifeSpring 4

LifeSpring 4

Thank you for visiting www.strategycube.com