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Ryan Latta
Ryan Latta

Posted on • Originally published at ryanlatta.com on

Working in Public: Experiment in Failed Marketing

Tomorrow I’ll formally close on an experiment that I’m willing to call a failure a bit early. Why share all of this? Trying, looking at the results honestly, and moving on is a crucial aspect of building any product.

So here’s my latest failure.

Background

I coach tech folk to get jobs and negotiate on the side. This came to a head this year when I was juggling multiple clients and my full-time consulting. So I made an online class.

If you build it, they won’t come.

I’m not good at marketing at all. So I signed up to join a class to help market my online class. The application required that I get 100 people to express interest in about one week.

The Hypothesis

I believed that if I focused my energy on three marketing efforts, I could get 100 sign-ups. They were as follows.

  • Engage almost daily in career-oriented tweets
  • Send out pre-written social media on LinkedIn and Twitter 4 times a week
  • Publish articles to my site and dev.to
  • Notify my newsletter readers

You might wonder where the step where I build a landing page is. I already built that and had a practiced copywriter look at it and give it a thumbs up.

Results

I got 2 sign-ups—just two. I have about 800 or so followers across Twitter and LinkedIn, my newsletter crowd is around 100, and I have 1200 followers on Dev.to.

While the algorithms on social media aren’t kind, conceptually, I had enough reach to get to plenty of folks.

I’d be lying if I said this doesn’t sting. That’s sometimes part of how the feedback goes. I got a result I didn’t want.

What Next

Well, I’m forming a conclusion based on what I see. While I put forth a valiant effort, the first is that it was more of blasting content and ineffective at driving people to my landing page. This is a well-known thing about social media. Without a bigger and more engaged following, most of my efforts won’t pan out.

Next, getting a job isn’t a constant thing for folks. It happens every so often, so while people might think that what I’m offering might be useful someday, it isn’t pressing today. To put it another way, of all the people who might have seen my posts, a very small number are thinking about jobs.

So I need to find a better way to get to my audience or become a more permanent fixture in the career world.

Someone I’ve followed for a while who built a whole business out of this is named Latesha Byrd, so I know this is possible, but I haven’t cracked the formula yet.

Then, while I was kind of down on myself, something cool happened. People I don’t know started a conversation about my book!

I’m not completely decided yet on exactly where I want to focus my efforts next to get my course off the ground, but there’s an ember of an idea forming. I am sure that I don’t have enough reach to the right audience, and that leaves two obvious choices: Find a way to target better or shift my focus from getting a job to future-proofing your career.

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