TL;DR: I’m the new VP of Product Strategy at ThriveHive.
(and still Chief Cat Herder at Tidings.)

While this is not a Tidings update per se, I no longer maintain a personal blog (formerly on — not even gonna link to it), so this seemed like the most natural place to publish.

How I arrived here

18 months into Tidings’ existence, I’d hoped to have grown our company to a point where I could take a full-time salary by now. But direct customer acquisition has taken longer than I would have liked, and as a solo founder, I just haven’t had enough time–and as a byproduct, enough runway–to ramp it up in a meaningful way.

At the same time, our 2018 growth has been steady and encouraging. This summer saw our 500th free trial customer, our 100th customer (between agency and direct), and I feel there’s still a ton of untapped potential, particularly on the agency side. Interest there has been extremely steady, with a handful of new resellers signing up each month.

We’ve had a couple of investment offers, but I remain fully committed to the bootstrap model. We’ve also had a few discussions around outright acquisition, but nothing has been a perfect fit to date, so I thought I’d put on a second set of boots from which to fund Tidings moving forward.

My second set of boots: why I chose ThriveHive

I couldn’t be more excited to join the ThriveHive team.

Its president, Perry Evans, has been a friend for over a decade and was an informal member of the Tidings Advisory Board since before there even was a Tidings Advisory Board.

His own Perch team joined ThriveHive about a year ago and they really know how to build software for small businesses — check out that five-star rating on the App Store and try Perch for yourself (it’s also available with fewer stars on Android, but most bad reviews are over 4 years old).

Perry sketched out for me where the company is headed on the software side of things and it’s pretty compelling, starting with their recent release of GMB Grader. And we just announced an integration between Grader and Perch today.

But it’s the combination of software and human-assisted marketing that ThriveHive CMO Adam Blake talked about in a StreetFight interview earlier this year that really has me excited.

Even with the plethora of great low-cost SaaS products now available, marketing is rarely a skill of the typical small business, and even more rarely a priority. ThriveHive’s Guided Marketing Platform aims to help the small business optimize all of its marketing via a completely non-technical, conversational interface. With humans executing many of the directives on the back end.

It’s a unique model that, from where I sit, might be the only way to scale low-cost digital marketing that’s truly effective for the business at a margin that’s sustainable for the provider.

What I’ll be doing at ThriveHive (and what I’m most excited about)

On a personal level it has been a challenge to make a full transition into the world of email marketing these past couple years; I have not been able to keep myself away from the Local SEO space. I still have so many friends in local search, and it’s incredibly stimulating to think about where Google, Facebook, Amazon, and Apple are all headed.

As I said in a recent StreetFight conversation with Mike Blumenthal, nothing has changed my overall view for this space: the return on organic investment for the average small business will decline, particularly those in the middle of the market, and there will be fewer winners overall.

I’ve been *very* wrong though, in underestimating Google’s striking commitment to giving businesses influence over their own SERP real estate — through Posts, Videos, Menus, Messaging, and yes, even Q&A.

These features (all released or significantly updated in the last 18 months) have opened up an entirely new market opportunity for effective, low-cost Local SEO which ThriveHive is perfectly-positioned to help businesses with.

Purely from a search perspective, SEO for these businesses should no longer start with their website.

There’s simply so much that even non-technical businesses can do with their Google My Business profile (and reviews), that I believe GMB is becoming a more natural place for a business to begin investing in SEO.

Mike and I have discussed the imperative for agencies to adjust their service plans to this new reality — perhaps ad nauseam — and now I’ll get the chance to put my money where my mouth has been, or at least ThriveHive’s money ?. I’m excited to help prove this hypothesis instead of just pontificating about it.

(Aside: if you want to hear my GMB-centric pontification in more detail, attend LSA’s Localogy in Seattle next month! Save 50% with discount code TIDINGS.)

What’s next for Tidings

Tidings has been a ~mature product for about the last 7 months — at least to the extent any software product can ever be considered “mature!”

We’ve been sitting on a couple of larger feature releases I mentioned in the update linked above mostly because it’s been hard to find time to polish them to a level I’m comfortable with. I know that SaaS best-practice is to release an “MVP” and then improve it, but I much more closely identify with Rand Fishkin’s Exceptional Viable Product mindset.

Hopefully we’ll have a chance to release all three before the end of 2018, after which time we’ll be focusing on building features for the customer base where we’ve had the most traction — the agency market.

If you’re currently offering email marketing to your clients, I’d love to hear your biggest pain points. And if you’ve considered offering email marketing to your clients but haven’t to date, I’d love to know why.

See you in two places at once!

It may be optimistic to think I’ll be able to put enough required time into Tidings while I’m working full-time with ThriveHive.

But if Jack Dorsey can run both Square and Twitter successfully (OK, yes…I know we’re all still waiting for the Edit Tweet feature…), I figure I can at least help execute ThriveHive’s compelling roadmap with this awesome team, and still grow Tidings at a comparable rate.

I’m looking forward to seeing many old SEO friends and colleagues in my new role, and continuing to make new friends through my older one :).

4 comments on “A Personal Update

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