I had my second iteration of my business cards turn up today. I’m extremely pleased with how they turned out. The first iteration is the white one at the top, it’s functional but plain. The second iteration is 80% recycled paper and is more on brand. This blog post is a reflection on all of the feedback that went into my kraft paper business card:
They actually just copy pasted that same bug onto the logo, which was inbreach of copywrite. I find with getting freelancers, you get what you pay for. If you pay someone from fiverr $10-$30 for a quick job, you’ll get the minimum effort needed to get the job done.
On my second logo redesigned, I had a better idea of what I wanted and I wasn’t in a rush. I actually paid someone $250 USD instead of $25 USD for the logo and got something I was more pleased with.
I reached out to my awesome marketing mentor, Edward Zia for feedback on the initial design. He recommended adding my qualifications. I also made a few other tweaks myself using Adobe Illustrator. It’s worth asking your mentors for what they think.
Getting business cards designed
I also paid someone else on Fiverr $100 USD to design me 3 different business cards design. My first one I just hacked together on Vistaprint just to get something functional. They gave me a few different designs to choose from. Like this one:
My first card I just printed with vistaprint. There’s nothing wrong with this service but they don’t print on Kraft Paper in Australia and I wanted to support a local business. I met Gareth Tice in a pub one day who works for a local printing company; SKS Printing. I asked him to generate a quote for printing on recycled card. SKS has been an awesome company to work with and I’m super pleased with how my cards have turned out.
Personal Branding is an investment
It’s worth investing in your own branding and supporting local businesses where you can. Do you have a business card or personal branding story? Let me know in the comments below.
Wow, I’m two thirds of the way through my #100DaysOfLinkedIn marketing campaign. Here is an update of how I’ve adapted and grown over that time. You can read up on the launch of the campaign and a halfway through update too.
Before starting this campaign, I had 1400 connections. I’ve now see this grow to over 2200 at the time of writing this blog. I’ve written to every single one of those 800 new connections. EVERY. SINGLE. ONE. I’m now up to my third version of a template message. Here it is:
How are you? Thanks for connecting. What are some of the challenges facing you these days?
It’s short and sweet. Most people don’t respond but I’ve been able to organise a few key meetings with this approach, organise a few testers Meetup events and score a job with a startup.
Reconnecting with Sydney testers
I have around 200-500 QA/Testing professionals based in Sydney in my network. I’ve been reconnecting with them to see what events they are interested in. Here is my template message reaching out to these people:
Have you been to a Sydney Testers event recently? We’ve got a few events lined up that might interest you:
I don’t generally automate these messages because that is against LinkedIn’s terms and conditions. I actually have a Google doc full of these template messages that I copy and paste into LinkedIn and add the person’s name at the start.
Can I get to 5000 connections? Maybe not by the time I finish this campaign but I will continue to use the techniques learned from this campaign after I finish. If I get to over 5000 connections I will become the most connected software tester that I know.
I started a #100DaysOfLinkedIn Marketing Campaign 45 days ago. The original goal was to see if I could message every single one of my connections that I’ve never spoken to and to see if I could add value. It’s actually morphed a bit since then. One of the biggest things I’ve changed is changing my wording from I to you.
What do I mean?
When I started this campaign my template message for new connections was very I focused. I used “I” a lot. I spoke about what I was doing and what my passions are. Look, I’m even doing it now. Where as now, I try to avoid using that word and focus on YOU. How can I help YOU? What are YOUR challenges?
Here is my new template message for new connections:
How are you? Thanks for sending the connection request recently. What are some of the challenges facing you these days?
You might also like to check out my twitch channel, www.twitch.tv/BugHunterSam . I stream live exploratory testing and invite guests from all over the world to join me.
Is there anything I can help you with? Regards, Sam
There’s three new goals with this new template, drive traffic to my blog, collect market research on training and to find people who are interested in coming on my twitch channel. It is 100% pure marketing, there’s nothing salesy about this message.
Looking for a job
If they then turn around and ask, “I’m looking for work, can you help me?” I have a canned response of my general career advice:
Do you mind if I give you my general career advice?
If you need more advice I’d recommend approaching a career coach who has more expertise in this area than me. I’ve partnered with Amy Smith from Aligned Tribe and she has a FREE career program webinar here: http://bit.ly/fasttrackmycareer
This is starting to get a little salesy, but I’m not pushing my own services. I’d prefer they reach out to a career coach who I’ve partnered with.
Most People don’t read/respond
For example, when I sign my first reach out with:
They always start their response with something like Thanks Samantha/Hi Samantha. It’s safe to assume most people don’t read to comprehend. Or take time to respond. The three to four message response with one sentence per response is really annoying.
Most people don’t respond at all even when you send them a message, that’s fine too. People are busy. I want them to know that they can reach out to me if they think I can help them with something. That first message helps build this even if it’s a canned message.
Continuing the growth
I’ve seen my number of connections go from 1400 to 1676 in 45 days. Every new connection has received a message. That’s on average 6 connections a day. I usually save up the connections for a few days, approve everyone and message all of the new connections in one fell swoop.
It was a full day workshop with 15 people. The energy was high and the conversations were awesome. A small workshop like this is great for networking and learning from a bunch of key influencers who are struggling with similar problems in growing their businesses.
I enjoy doing sketch notes for conferences. It’s a great way to network with speakers, helps me to remain in the moment and solidifies my own learning. You can read more about sketch noting here. Here are mine for today’s training course:
When thinking about what type of pitch you need to help with your sales it might be worth thinking about people in terms of DISC. You would have a different approach of selling for different people.
Director – they are often the boss of the company, their time is precious. If you don’t solve their problem in 5 minutes you better get out of their office
Influencer – these are your key people of influence, maybe they are the marketing manager and care about perception and value.
Steadiness – this is the quiet thinker. They might be the head of engineering. They rarely make mistakes with how they talk.
Compliance – this person works within the rules. They might be the auditor who wants to ensure all of the checks and processes are being followed correctly.
At the end of the day this is a mental model that helps make sense of the world. It isn’t perfect but how you sell to a director should be different to how you sell to a thinker.
You should set up daily goals that help your business grow. They might be
10 phone calls before 10am
15 messages on LinkedIn
2 shares of good content
1 blog or video post
These can then build up to weekly or monthly goals like
Get to 1 networking event a week
Speak at a conference
Get 1 piece of content shared by an industry leader
Have you ever wanted to ask a large group of people their thoughts on a particular topic? Maybe you want to know what the 2000+ members of the Sydney Testers meetup group want to get out of the group? Was your first thought to create a poll or send out a survey? I bet you that channel didn’t work out so well for you because I tried it.
Here is my list of orders of communication to help you get the results you need when trying to get data to help influence your decisions.
Face to Face
Nothing beats face to face communication. The only draw back with this method is it’s hard to scale to reach a mass market. However the best way to get lots of feedback in a face to face style would be to collect opinions at a physical event. The low-tech solution here would be to hand out a paper survey at a meetup event and collect the results as people leave. BOOM, 30-120 responses based on attendance and it’s all useful data that’s not from some random scrub off the internet. There’s a little bit of manual data entry at the end but the results justify the return on investment.
You see this method play out at conferences for lead generation. A company will have a stall displaying their products and services. They might tempt people in with a competition or survey. “Give us your email for your chance to win” type of deal. This is leveraging face to face communication.
Do you want to settle a deal or convince your boss to give you a raise? Have a face to face meeting in a cosy cafe. It helps build up that environment of trust.
Video or Phone call
If you can’t meet someone in person, arranging a phone call or video chat should be your next point of call. As a millennial I’ve had a mild social phobia of talking on the phone that I’ve had to overcome. I highly recommend getting comfortable with getting on the phone. It will really help with collaborating with any task. As our workforce gets more global this will become more of the way we get work done.
Asked every tester in Sydney who’s a level 1 connection on my LinkedIn to provide feedback via personal direct messages
Asked the committee to share the survey
Ask every new Tester who I connect with on LinkedIn to provide feedback
The feedback has been really useful but it’s been a lot of work. Work that I’m not getting paid to do either. So I don’t see it as a useful use of my time.
Social Media is the ultimate spray and prey method. You put stuff on the internet hoping for people to stumble upon it and react to it. Posting just once hardly is effective. You need to be consistent with this and constantly posting. This is also a lot of work.
Most of the results so far are around job opportunities, networking, learning tech skills and remaining relevant in my career. If you run a tech meetup, your members probably want very similar things.
I prefer face to face communication above all others. I think meetup sucks as a platform for trying to engage people outside of the “turn up to this event” type of engagement. Do you dis-agree with what I’ve put here? How so?
Naked wines is a new wine distributor in the Australian Market. Some of their sales are a little sneaky but I personally don’t mind. This is a story of how I’ve excused their sneakiness and bought more product.
It started with a survey
We all love a survey, especially if it’s a personality test. I first found out about Naked Wines through a facebook marketing campaign which was basically, “Become a wine genius in 52 seconds” quiz. I found it an interesting approach. I’ve seen Naked be promoted on socials a bit since then and seems they’ve grown quiet rapidly.
Then there was a voucher
In my email one day I found a $50 voucher for naked wines and they selling a starter box for $99. This was the temptation I needed to try their product. Trying a dozen wines for $49 is not a big stretch for me, a non wine drinker who prefers my craft beer. However when I made this purchase they automatically signed me up to the “Angels” program. It’s like angel investors but it’s a wine subscription. You pay $40 per month, it can be banked up and used whenever you like. I guess it was part of the T&C’s I agreed to without reading. #MyBad.
Joining the Angels
When I got my first delivery, I got some information about the angels program. It looked like I was like the 14 thousandth person on the queue and I thought it would take forever so I didn’t care too much about it. However one month later I’m now an angel. I feel like the queue is artificially created to be large to drive up excitement for it or something. However out of my first $40 subscription payment, Naked matched my $40 contribution. This definitely helped grease my wheels. I ended up purchasing more wine and I’ve only drank half a bottle from the first order. Gah I have so much wine now. Good thing I can disperse it through the events I run for Sydney Testers.
Angels = good cash flow
The angels program is a really clever sales tactic. It means the business has a guaranteed cash flow every month and they don’t have to worry so much about people not coming back to the platform. They’ve now signed up to coming back. When I did a back of the envelope calculation based on the email they sent me when I joined the Angels, they had nearly $4 million per month in guaranteed cash flow. That would really help make warehouse management easier.
I would have liked to have seen a bit more obviousness that I was signing up for the angel program when I bought my first box, But other than that I think Naked helped grease the wheels enough for me to get over that grief.
I have nearly 1400 contacts on LinkedIn, a lot of them I’ve never spoken too. So I thought I would go on a 100 days of LinkedIn challenge to see if I could add value to every one in my network who I haven’t spoken to recently. I’m calling it #100DaysOfLinkedIn. I’m already up to day 9.
This is fundamentally a marketing campaign. I’m not too sure what success looks like for it yet but I’m already receiving positive feedback. It is more marketing than sales as I’m attempting to gauge who are good leads on my LinkedIn. I am trying to sell Michael Bolton’s Rapid Software Testing course in Sydney and Brisbane and I’ve sent a few people towards my communication for testers workshop. However getting sales is not the point of this campaign. Adding value is and brand awareness is.
Side note: maybe a way to measure engagement is to monitor the traffic to my blog and replies to the messages?
LinkedIn allows you to export your connections. I exported my connections into a spreadsheet and labelled this spreadsheet with the date of the export. I’ve added a few extra columns such as “Last Contacted” and “Notes”. Some of the notes I’ve collected so far is if the personal is a fan or a lead.
Have a message template
I’m reaching out with people with an a message template. However I’ll tweak this on a case by case basis and add/remove different things based on some details from their profile. Here is my basic template:
How are you? What are some of the challenges facing you these days?
I’m doing a #100DaysOfLinkedIn challenged where I try to add value to everyone in my network over 100 days. I’m up to day 9 so far.
If they are a tester or developer in Sydney or Brisbane, I’ll include a section about Michael Bolton too.
Re posting Job ads
While I do this challenge I will re post job ads that I see that I believe will add value to testers in Australia that I know. I will also share profiles of people who have posted that they are looking and if I know they are active in the community.
While doing this campaign I’m experimenting with the video updates for LinkedIn. I want to see if it’s a useful tool for engagement. I’ve only done one video post so far and it’s already been positive, but I think I will do weekly updates with the progress.
Can I help you with anything?
I finish the message with a call to action, “how can I help you?”. With this campaign I’m focusing on adding value so it’s important for me to drive home this point. Overall I don’t think this approach is too “salesy” and I’m looking forward to seeing how it plays out. A few days in and I’m already seeing positive results.
I was in Melbourne for a conference yesterday. I arrived during the weekend and I spent my Sunday evening exploring two local breweries and tasting craft beer. It was an awesome way to spend a Sunday in my mind. The first one on my list was Hop Nation. Second was Two Birds. This blog will go through the atmosphere and beer tasting of these two breweries.
Hop Nation brewery
This is the first time I’ve been to a brewery that felt more like a barn than a big industrial shed. The exposed brick is a pleasant change from the big shed feel. The building was built in the 1880’s and was originally used as a whale fat candle and wax factory. There was extra seating upstairs and big “stained glass” paintings which gave the feel of a church. I believe the idol of worship here is the humble beer. Considering their slogan is, “in hops we trust” the theming feels on point.
Having 15 tap options is an impressive amount to choose from. Hop Nation specialise in hoppy beers (Who da though it?) but they do experiment with other styles. There’s plenty here to tickle your fancy. I’m not a huge fan of Hoppy beers, I’ve been drinking craft beer for 7 odd years now and it’s taken me this long to start to aprreciate the IPA (which stands for Indian Pale Ale). Basically if you see IPA on a beer just assume it will be hoppy and bitter.
Malibu Stacey – milkshake IPA sounds interesting. I had one from a can a few weeks ago. The sweetness comes from adding lactose into the beer post fermentation. Lactose is a non fermentable sugar that adds sweetness without being fermented into alcohol. It’s weird at first but drinkable once tastes are adjusted. Other milkshake flavours can be added to bring out different flavour profiles.
The Punch – Mango Gose
I like a good sour beer, this one was my favourite out of the tasting paddle. It wasn’t over fruity or over sour and it was nice to kick off a pretty heavy paddle with this one.
Jedi Juide – NEIPA
Hop Nation is probably best known for this beer. NEIPA stands for New England Indian Pale Ale. This beer doesn’t have much to do with England or India and is more of an American invention. These beers usually use fruitier hops, tend to be cloudier than other IPA’s and I feel like they can be a good introduction to the hoppier styles of beer. This one was a bit offensive to begin with (most IPA’s are). I probably wouldn’t use this beer as an introductionary NEIPA. Once accustomed to the hoppy taste it went down easy enough.
The Dawn – Double NEIPA
Another offensive IPA. Once you get past the initial shock of the bitterness it was easy enough to drink. Watch out for that 9 percent alcohol though, you wouldn’t want to drive after having a pint of this stuff.
2018 Kalash – Russian Imperial Stout
I like a dark beer. However getting a strong russian imperial stout that feels easy to drink can be challenging. It’s easy for these beers to feel over powering because of the high alcohol content. This one will kick you in the teeth on your first sip before you are able to settle in to enjoy it.
Blonde Melange – Golden Sour
I also had a sample of the sour beer on my way out. I probably shouldn’t have done this after a Russian Imperial Stout; but I’ll say, “Forgive me father because I have sinned”, and I believe this venue will forgive me. This was more of a sour lemon pucker up type of beer. Not for the faint of heart if this isn’t your style.
Two Birds brewery
This feels more industrial compared to Hop Nation. The artwork on the wall adds a nice touch. There is this huge bridge you can see from the banks of where this brewery is. It was pretty quite on a Sunday evening, maybe daylight savings had an impact on this?
There’s another impressive selection of 12 taps here with a variety of styles to choose from. I went to a Two Birds dinner and beer party at the Kirriblli Pub for the Sydney Beer week last year when they were first launching passion victim. You won’t find many IPA’s on their menu; their beers are more geared towards the easy drinking with family and friends on a weekend backyard BBQ with some experimental flavours thrown in.
Their taco beer is always a good introductionary craft beer that sounds very gross but is pleasantly nice. They’ve changed the recipe recently so I thought it was worth trying again in this tasting paddle. It’s easy to drink, light and refreshing.
Look at the colour of this beer. It’s just amazing. This one is done with a sake yeast. I’d say it borders on the pucker up sour but it’s not going to make you screw your face up on first sip.
Again there’s an amazing colour for this beer and it smelt amazing. This one was my favourite that I sampled on this paddle. I enjoyed sipping this beer while I read my book in the brewery.
Irish Red IPA
This beer doesn’t look like a red IPA, it’s pretty dark in colour. It wasn’t offensive for an IPA which is always a pleasant surprise
I finished my beer adventures with this farmhouse ale. Saison is my preferred style and this was a good beer to finish on. It was one of the least “pucker up sour” beers I’d had all night. It is a crisp and dry with wine-like characters.
Summing it all up
I really enjoyed checking out both Hop Nation and Two Birds breweries. I got very toasty sitting in breweries and ready a good book. I’m not going to go out of my way for a Hop Nation beer any time soon, hoppy beers aren’t my style but I’ll always grab a new two birds sour if I see one.
In a world of time poor families and social media every where; HelloFresh is nailing their branding.
I got my first HelloFresh box this morning. I really like the idea; a food subscription with fresh ingredients delivered to your door with recipes to make for easy meal prep at home. I think their branding is just top notch:
I’m going to walk you through my unboxing experience while I delve into the branding behind it.
Unboxing & Recipe Cards
HelloFresh has a sleek website that was easy to use and an app that pairs with their product offering. I haven’t used their app but having that digital way to plan meal preps sounds like a good idea for them. You should leverage technology as part of your marketing campaigns as much as possible. If I had discovered bugs with my first ordering experience I would have viewed the overall product with less favor. The on boarding experience here is super important to get right especially when you are pairing a physical product with a digital offering.
Hello Fresh could sell a binder and each recipe card could have a 2-3 punch hole on the side to add to the binder. It would be an easy way to keep the physical cards. They are so nicely put together it would be a shame to toss them. It would be similar to the magazine subscriptions I use to have back in the day:
I see HelloFresh everywhere; at least in Sydney they frequently have reps on the street giving out vouchers. I’m sure I have 2 floating around somewhere. Even the box comes with coupons to share with your network. Partnerships are important. If you had a similar product to HelloFresh and partnered with them to give out a coupon code on their next delivery cycle you’d get a reasonable amount of reach. Postal marketing is seeing a resurgence lately.
Good branding needs good marketing to support it.
They also have an instagram photo competition (#HelloFreshAU) going on to engage customers around their brand. What marketing tactics have you seen HelloFresh use that you’ve also tried?
Will I continue with it?
Short answer, probably not. I had 80% of my stomach surgically removed for weight loss surgery 2 years ago. I can only eat tiny meals now and I need to focus on protein first. I would waste some food on this program because the protein to everything else ratio doesn’t suit my dietary needs. I also enjoy researching my own recipes and perusing fresh food markets on weekends to get ideas for meal prep. The convenience doesn’t sell me because I am a foodie at heart and love putting my own research into food. I do think this company is doing an awesome job at branding.
This event completely booked out and the waiting list filled out to double the event capacity within 24 hours of the announcement. If you missed out don’t worry. We are doing a month of these events. Next week will be at Four Corners Recruitment. This event is already full but please join the waitlist. We had a dozen people change their RSVP at the last minute with the last one which opened up the event for half the people on the wait list. If you want some inspiration for your CV I’ve blogged about the evolution of mine before.
Have a good LinkedIn Photo
My LinkedIn profile came up in Barry and Mike’s talk as an example of a good LinkedIn photo. I’d like to dig into more detail the planning that went behind that photo in this blog post. I used a professional photography service called Snappr. I paid a photographer $59 for a 2 hour photoshoot with the soul purpose of getting a good LinkedIn photo. They now charge $75 for this service. Snappr is a Sydney based startup that’s making the news for disrupting the photography industry and being successful in funding rounds. I quite enjoyed the photoshoot and I had a bit of fun with it too:
For the photoshoot we walked around Pyrmont and the Star Casino looking for good backdrops. Maybe you can recognise a few of the locations? Some of the photos didn’t come out that great but it was still fun. You should check out Snappr’s LinkedIn Photo analyser, it’s a fun way to analyse your photo using an algorithm. What score did you get?
Hair and Makeup
The thing is, the photographer was not the only thing I paid for leading up to this shoot. It was my birthday, I decided to treat myself to a pampering. So I also got my hair and makeup professionally done. I think that cost me around $150 at CatWalk hair and beauty in Gladesville. And then there’s the outfit:
I bought the suit from the Oxford Factory Outlet in Alexandria for roughly $200. The shoes were from Paul Dane; $90. The tie was an impulse purchase from an antique suit shop in Melbourne. I think it cost me $140 but I love that tie. It’s so groovy. I didn’t purchase this outfit just for this shoot, I will wear my suit on the odd occasion. You don’t have to spend what I did on this shoot but I’m trying to highlight the planning that went into that one smiling photo.
If I was to get another photoshoot, I’d probably order a tailored suit from Luxury Plus Suits, they do a basic suit for $349. They will measure you here in Sydney and it’ll get made in China. I actually did get one of their suits but it was just before my weight loss surgery. I’ve now lost 50kg since I bought that suit so it’s safe to say it doesn’t fit me any more.
There’s two testing companies that I love the branding for; Ministry of Testing and House of Test. I love the sense of Community that Ministry of Testing is working on building. They even inspire community members to get tattoos of their logo:
House of Test literally market themselves as rock star testers. If I ever move to Europe, this is the company that I’d be begging to join. I’ll tell you a secret. There’s a small community of context driven testers out there (House of test) are one such group. Mentioning context driven testing is like secret handshake material that gets you on top of interview list with these people.
Do you want to improve your Context Driven Testing? Do the Rapid Software Testing course by James Bach at the end of August. I consider James Bach to be the original rockstar tester. If I ever saw a CV with his course on it, it would be at the top of my interview pile, no questions asked. It is some of the best training any tester worth their salt can do.
You will occasional see this secret handshake material mentioned in Job ads too; like this one for a Quality Coach role at Campaign Monitor. Campaign Monitor is an awesome company to work for; awesome people, awesome perks (free breakfast and lunch) and awesome views of Sydney.
Taking Personal Branding to the next level
Edward Zia is an example of someone in my network who has taken personal branding to the next level. He even has a caricature made up with his facial birthmark as part of his branding: