Growth Hacking Interview Series #130: Niklas Laninge
Niklas Laninge is a Psychologist, entrepreneur, learning and education enthusiast, he runs dailybitsof.com a startup making learning fun, frictionless, and bite sized.
How did you start out as a marketer?
As an entrepreneur, you really have no choice. Your idea is just 1% of the work, then you have to create it and make sure people hear about it. Writing has always been one of my favorite activities so a lot of my marketing is basically me writing stuff.
I quickly started enjoying marketing activities because it's a perfect blend of moving fast and breaking things, getting attention (as an only child, I must admit I love attention) and having to force yourself into learning new things and discover what works best.
Looking back, what is your hardest struggle when it came to delivering results?
I find it always to be difficult to assess what gets results, and then stop doing activities that's not paying off, even if they are joyful activities. In my last startup we got a lot of press coverage, but looking back it's easy to see that all that press amounted to ZERO business opportunities.
In a sense it was more of a way for some people at our company to build on their personal brand, something I realized way too late.
In my new business I always try to make it about the product, the vision and if there is a need to talk about the people at the company I try to highlight the people that actually make the magic happen, i.e. my awesome team mates.
How did you get your first client back then, and what kind of service did you do for them?
So, I'm more of an idea man with no patience. The first seed of Daily Bits Of was planed and shipped in just 24hours with no intention of making money.
The product was rough to say the least, but some PR managers saw it as a diamond in the rough and asked us how much it costs to use the platform. Platform I though? Cost? And there I had it: a business model, product and our first paying customer. All without making a single marketing action.
What do you find most rewarding about what you do?
Talking to the team, the users and seeing our KPIs go up.
Sure, as I said I do enjoy the attention PR and marketing creates but at the end of the day our business is about helping people improve themselves on a daily basis and delivering a service that delights them so much that they want to pay for it.
Building a company with my awesome team is all the reward I need.
We have a lot of readers who are bent on becoming freelancers, aside from freelancing how else can someone earn online, and what is your advise?
Make and sell courses on Daily Bits Of. All jokes aside, I must admit it's hard making money online these days. If we're talking pocket money I find that services within the sharing economy helpful.
I sort of moved in with my partner after just seeing each other for a few weeks, not just because I was really into her, but also because I was AirBnbing my apartment like crazy which allowed me to work on stuff that didn't bring in that much cash in the beginning.
Another advice everyone could try: try charging twice as much. Your customers might not go for it, but then they will feel that they “won” the negotiation if they can lower your price by just 25%.
If you were given the chance to build your career all over again, what would you do differently so that you will achieve your dreams faster?
I'm a strong believer in that our past experiences make us who we are. That said, I wished I could have met my co-founder Björn Henriksson earlier.
How is your typical work day structured?
I always plan the coming day on the evening before. I try to sort tasks into an A, B and C priority, something I learned from a therapist while working on my stress issues. A is the kind of stuff that needs to get done, B is the kind of stuff that's not crucial and C is usually some icing on the cake.
Also, I try to only check the email once before lunch, once before leaving the office and then once I have gotten my baby daughter to sleep.
Can you tell us about a time where you had to put in significant effort up front and then wait a long time for success?
Haha, running a start up, hopefully.
You’ve been tasked with redesigning the company’s brand strategy from the ground up. Walk us through your process.
First, I would talk to the team, what kind of company do they believe we're building. Then talk to our power users, why do they use our service?
Then I would bring in 4-5 of the smartest people I know and brainstorm ideas. Lastly, I would talk to my friend and cofounder Mathias Eriksson, a true marketing wiz and the two of us would hammer out the strategy.
Can you tell us about a past situation where you had to juggle multiple projects with competing deadlines?
My first business was a consultancy firm I ran together with 10 other psychologists. We did everything from public speaking to advising ad agencies on product design.
And since we were young, hungry and naive we did it all at a very low price. Needless to say there were a lot of sleepless nights, panic last minute work and a lot of fun. Something I could never do these days.
What recently-developed marketing strategy, technique or tool interests you the most right now?
We're betting big on bots. Not necessarily as a marketing tool, but more as a platform for delivering our bite-sized courses. Really looking forward to see what the bot movement might mean for us and the rest of the world.
What do you do to stay up to date with new marketing techniques?
Not much to be honest. I try to keep an open mind, talk to a lot of people and listen to a lot of podcasts. I use Economist Espresso to stay up on the latest news and enjoy Marketplace on a daily basis, Kai Risdahl is my favorite host (all categories) of all times.
Can you tell us about a project you’re most proud of from your past work history?
When I worked at the innovation agency Rodolfo we launched an auto-reply service for social media.
The product was brilliant in all its simplicity, but we did some amazing PR work focusing on the stress some people feel that they get from social media. We got a lot of press coverage, tens of thousands of users and I ended up getting interviewed by USA Today.
Which one book/blog post would you recommend every Marketer should read?
Know your sociology. Sure, Seth Godins books are brilliant and useful, the same goes, but all that stuff will get to you somehow through ted talks and generous coworkers.
Instead, spend some time with a good book that tries to grasp the times we live in and what have shaped the society so far. Liquid Times: Living in an Age of Uncertainty by Zygmundt Bauman is one of those books.
What advice would you share with other Marketer's who want to become more productive?
Measure what gives effect and stop doing stuff that's not making a difference
Know what you are good at and do more of that
Delegate the rest (if you can)
If there's one Marketing Guru you'd recommend who and why.
I try to stay away from naming the obvious ones, they don't need more Inbound links. Instead I would like to highlight my friend Mathias Eriksson, who deserves more attention. Check him out here http://www.matter.se/mathias-eriksson/