Last updated on May 11, 2016 in Announcements
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Today I set live a whole new version of my company Credo. While I’ve been iterating on the original idea of generating leads for marketing consultants and agencies for a while, and done it well (I’ve sent over $500k of work to pros on Credo), the time has come for phase 2. I’m excited to be here and absolutely terrified by it as well.
As of today, Credo isn’t a lead generation business. It is truly a marketplace, and the first of its kind, where you can find the best marketing consultants and agencies and contact them, for free.
Not much has changed for businesses looking for growth. You can either contact a pro directly through their profile, in which case you will hear back from them directly. Or you can submit a request for proposals and get up to 3 responses from pros, often within 24 hours. Ok that part has changed, because previously pros couldn’t opt in to these leads. So big win for you there.
The biggest change happening is this:
Credo is no longer a lead generation model. Rather, Credo is a SaaS (software as a service) platform that exists to help consultants sign more and better business through high quality leads (some businesses have made over $100k by being on Credo) and education.
Here is all that is new in this version.
Credo has always been free for businesses to find the best digital marketing providers available online, and that’s not changing. However, what is changing is how pros get onto the platform and what being on the platform means.
I have to be honest — this is scary for me and not something I’m taking lightly. However, I’ve realized that this business provides huge value for agencies, with some making over $100k in the past six months from Credo referrals. The average pro has made $5k from Credo referrals.
So today I am announcing Credo Pro, where any digital marketing pros (agencies, consultants, and freelancers) can apply to join Credo as a pro.
When I started working on Credo (then called HireGun) fulltime back in October, it scaled from nothing to ~$5000 in revenue a month. Since then, though, the numbers have gone the wrong way even as the number of leads has increased:
This new model allows for a more scalable company and revenue stream while also bringing more value to more businesses on the platform as there is now transparency into open leads that anyone qualified with that level of access can claim.
Payments are handled through Stripe and automatically billed each month.
One of the things many of the early pros on Credo have asked for is a place to view all of the leads that they have received through the platform.
Part of the launch today is a new way for pros who belong to the platform to view all of their own leads, and more than that, if they are a Consultant or Agency level member, they can also view all of the leads that have come in that did not go to a specific pro. If they are interested, they can then contact that lead directly.
This feature is powered by GravityView.co.
Since the beginning of this business, it has been invite only. I firmly believe in the Lean Startup methodology and doing things that don’t scale, so for a long time I was inviting pros who I knew did good work. I also only invited them when I needed their specific services.
The downside to this is slower growth on the supply side of the marketplace. I also didn’t have the systems in place to allow pros to edit their own profiles and submit them for review.
Every pro still goes through a review process, but they can now create their own profile and change it as they see fit once they are approved.
I use GravityForms.
You will see a theme here on out, but I’ve done a lot of work on the front end of the site.
One of the biggest ones was the previously sitewide header image across the site. While it was a step forward from the default image, it was sub optimal and I hated seeing it every time I went to a profile page on desktop or mobile.
You’ll now see a cleaner design on most pages, especially pro profile pages:
As an online marketer, I never really took design seriously in the past. I’ve always preferred to ship and iterate to better. As I get deeper into building a product, however, I am starting to see how amazing good design can be for users as well as the business. Retention, conversion, all of that are made better by great design.
The old version of the profile page was bare-bones. It had the information needed for businesses to make decisions, but it did nothing to build trust.
For this new version, we wanted to bring the pro’s profile photo above the fold so that they can instantly build trust with potential businesses. The call to action above the fold should be good for conversion as well.
Generally, this is the most important page on the site for businesses looking to find a pro. The better this page can be and more information it can provide, the easier it will be for businesses to find the right pro.
Because I’m a digital marketer at heart with a background in SEO, I’ve long known I was hurting myself on Credo by not having pages that automatically created based on the skills that pros told me they have.
As of today, that is now fixed and you can find skills pages (such as SEO consultants or PR pros) all over the site (and they look great too):
As I mentioned above, I’ve never really prioritized design. I was trained as an engineer and for the last number of years I’ve been focused on the more technical side of marketing and product. For the longest time, I had never really worked with designers either.
On a phone call with a friend a month or so ago, this friend (a woman) said to me “It’s pretty obvious this site was created by a man”. Ouch, but oh so true.
Taking that feedback into account I am starting to value design more and more. My wife Courtney is a designer and has done an amazing job on Credo, giving it better interactions and actually implementing a visual style guide that, quite simply, makes Credo more professional.
One of the biggest changes you don’t see on the front end but makes life so much easier for everyone involved is the way that contact forms are architected.
On the old version of Credo, I had a form dedicated to each pro. This was completely unscalable.
Now, the form and reviews are automatically added to each profile when it is published. I have gone from managing 60+ forms to managing 4 across the site. Now that is a win.
Along with this, pros can now control the types of leads they get and the types of businesses that can contact them. For example, some agencies only work in ecommerce. They can now specify this within their own form.
I’ve been working on this new version for a couple of months now and have learned a lot as I’ve built it. I’m excited to continue pushing it forward, providing more value on both sides of the marketplace, and continuing to learn how to scale a bootstrapped SaaS company.
Sometimes the hardest part of growing your company is finding the right tools to use to execute on your strategies. Tools are a dime a dozen, but the right tool for the job is hard to find.
Check out our recommendations for lead generation and SEO tools as well as the books we recommend reading as you grow your business.