• Ruben Gees

Diary of a start-up in growth marketing & sales (EP01)

Last week was probably one of the most exciting weeks in my professional career. After years of dreaming to start on my own, I finally took the courage to do it, by launching my very first start-up in growth marketing and sales. The timing feels right. My former employer, where I was the responsible of all marketing activities became for two years fastest growing scale-up in the media industry according to the Deloitte fast 50. Furthermore, I now have over 10 years of experience of which I spend 8 years in start-ups and scale-ups.


8 years ago I decided to join start-ups and scale-ups after graduating as an engineer. I realized, 'I can program, that's great! But how can I make people buy the software I'm about to develop? How can you make it a success?'. There is no school or university that will teach you this skill. Furthermore it looks like something completely abstract, almost unmanageable based on luck. Now, many years later, I think luck is still part of the game (especially for the so called unicorns), but there is so much you can do to 1) make your business and services visible to large audiences, 2) make people buy your products and services, 3) do this in a measurable and structured environment.


I only launched this website last Tuesday. As I have some achievements already which came in as a little surprise but encourages me to go for it. It made me think, why not summarize and share my story of launching my own company from the start on a weekly basis. After all, you're building an agency claiming it can grow and market a company, why not make it public how you did it for your own company?


There are more benefits to this approach. As I want to share real results and KPIs with you, it will force me to work hard and improve every single metric. I don't believe there is anything more scary and motivating at the same time to be reviewed publicly by you, my peers, prospects and customers. Furthermore, I do want to start conversations, so if you have any feedback or thoughts about what I'm doing, you can always use the comments section on my blog or on LinkedIn.


Achievements of the first week


You might remember from my previous blog post I went to Spain for a week to prepare for the launch of the company. Over the weekend I requested approvals from THEO Technologies, Twipe and Raskenlund to use their logo's. When I got these I was ready to launch.


Tuesday at noon I wrote a LinkedIn post to announce my company. I pushed the publish button and then I was like, let's play the 'waiting' game. Well 'waiting', I did some other tasks, but I did not have the ambition to reach out to potential prospects using outbound techniques because I first wanted to see what was about to happen to just the announcement.


Four Meeting Requests


A first request pops up. A friend of mine decided to start his own SaaS company in January and would like to sit together. He could use some help but currently doesn't have any budget. Do I accept rev share? By preference not, but he's a friend... I decide to invite him over to my place so I can help him getting started.


A second request... Great marketing Ruben, as expected... I'm looking for a person helping to set up an agency of professionals. I think... great, bring it on!


A third request... I'm building new products for IT companies, but we struggle on how to get them live. Could you help? Hell yeah I can!


A fourth request... We need a growth hacker? Can you help? Naturally :-)


I'm like, wow,... I always thought I had an interesting story to tell, but this level of enthusiasm? I didn't expect to get that many 'opportunities', so thank you all for liking and sharing my story. Now most of these opportunities are very very early discussions so let's first see how all of this will turn out in the long run...


What I did in my first week.


So what did I actually do then, besides responding to the questions above?


Using Phantom Buster


The first action I took was to do some growth hacking to extend my reach using Phantom Buster. I won't go into details what I actually did, because its not that appreciated by certain companies if you do these type of actions haha. But I will write a blog post on how you can use this tool in the future.


JSON LD tag & Google Webmaster Tools


Every SEO expert will tell you to make sure to implement JSON LD so Google and other search engines know what you're doing. Furthermore it is always important to submit your sitemap.xml with the Google Webmaster Tools. Although I did it a little prior to the launch, I did some fine-tuning on my SEO on Friday and resubmitted my sitemap.xml with Google. Now have a look what happened.

I'm very sorry to the international readers, but apparently my Gmail is configured in Dutch (will try to solve this in the future). Now, not too hard to understand. The dark blue line is the amount of clicks I received; The light blue line is the amount of impressions my website got in google.


Look how the impressions bar shoots up on Saturday after making some small changes on Friday. Looks like the Google algorithm is starting to go through my content.


I currently hold an average score of 69.6 with my keywords, which actually makes me happy given I've only launched the website like a week ago with very limited content. Google currently indexed me already on 28 keywords and this with not a lot of efforts.


Ranked 7 on marketing sprints?

Some of you might have read my other blog post on marketing sprints. It's one of my unique ways of managing a marketing team which is very useful to manage any marketing and/or communications team. I wrote the blog post very specific because I want to rank high on that specific keyword on Google. Now I performed an incognito search on "marketing sprints" (I'm assuming this is still biased by location, but ok, it's a start). But I'm happy to let you know I'm already ranked 7th on that specific keyword.


And this is an important lesson. I just read somewhere that Google made 3.234 algorithm changes in 2018. As a result, Google became a lot faster in indexing a page. 5 years ago marketeers would still say, it takes a few months in order to appear on relevant positions in Google, but I believe those days are over. Probably another topic for a long read.


A first experiment with Video

So I published a picture on my LinkedIn that I was experimenting with video. When I showed it to my wife however, she advised me to wear something else, more neutral than a blue polo and a green pair of trousers. Guess she's right :-). I promised I would be sharing everything, so here you go, my first attempt to recording video.



So let's discuss the material first. When I was speaking for my former job with a video recording agency one of the things I liked about them was that they would make the video look very professional. Their recording material would be so state of the art, especially for the 'Boke' effect (the sharp focus on the subject and a blurred background).


I don't have these type of video recording material at my disposal, but I have a Nikon D3300 body and a Nikon AF-s 50mm f/1.8G. The latter I bought for 200 euro as a Christmas present for myself because I wanted to experiment with video regardless of building my own company. What do you think? The boke looks pretty good right?


Sound is still mediocre and I do sound a little rusty. I'll probably by a decent microphone pretty soon, but for now I can live with it. Tomorrow, I'll be publishing the video on LinkedIn!


What's my plan for next week


As from Thursday I'll be flying to Malta for a city trip. You might say, hu why? You're just starting your business... And that's right. However, it's a Christmas gift my wife bought me on Black Friday, so what can I do? :-).


On the plane I'm hoping to write or draft a few blog posts, so at least I can keep up the pace of publishing 2 posts a week. I'm also hoping to record my first video to generate a little more visibility for my content.


Besides that I have a few meetings scheduled with the opportunities mentioned above. let's see what the outcome will be.


And remember, if you don't want to miss out on any of my tips and tricks, feel free to drop me your contact details and I'll make sure you get an e-mail when I publish something new.


See ya!



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