How to get 2.5 million customers in 5 years without advertising

It’s not a secret that I’m a fan of 37 Signals and how they’ve built their business. What I didn’t know until yesterday was the number of customers they have. How many of those are paying it’s hard to know – but a good proportion I bet.

Jason Fried is the co-founder and president of 37 Signals and in his presentation below, taken from a Chicago conference last year, he outlines his company’s ethos for winning new customers.

It’s all about Market Leadership, as Ed Dale would say.

It’s also a brilliant case study for David Meerman Scott’s The New Rules of PR and Marketing.

[quote]The video below will make old skool marketeers shake their heads in disbelief. [/quote]

At 12 mins ish Jason talks about a single blog post which explains the way 37 Signals have tested and implemented a flashing yellow bar to alert users to a change on the screen. This post has been read 800,000 times! How many of those hits have resulted in sales? Who knows – but a good few I bet.

The moral to this story is give away your secrets, build trust and people will buy from you.

If you have any interest in winning customers in the 2010’s, do yourself a favour and spend 20 mins watching this.

How to really demonstrate an online application

Write on Glass has been gathering buzz and momentum for some time now. Quite simply, it looks like an awesome new way to share content. Sorry, experiences…

Whilst I’ve not got access, what really interested me is seeing how have they chosen to demonstrate the concept. With screen shots? screen cams? a clever technical animation?


They’ve illustrated the concept quite brilliantly by showing the application interacting in a real live environment and I like it. It stands out from the crowd as an application and they way they tell their story does exactly the same.

We can all learn from this!

Watch, enjoy and learn.

Execution is much more important than the idea

You may have read our sister blog – Watch us Getting Real, where we write a regular diary of the trials and tribulations of an online startup and building a web application, following the process outlined in the totally awesome Getting Real book from 37 Signals.

We are getting to the stage where the talking’s about to stop, the planning’s done and the focus swings onto execution. Remarkable execution we hope.

I couldn’t help noticing a sidenote in Getting Real, from a chapter you find in its entirety here, but I wanted to emphasise the thinking of the entrepreneur, Derek Sivers, founder of CD Baby and Hostbaby. He provides the simplest of formulas behind the making of a good idea and it’s based on a multiplier:

Ideas are worth nothing unless executed. They are just a multiplier. Execution is worth millions.


  • Awful idea = -1
  • Weak idea = 1
  • So-so idea = 5
  • Good idea = 10
  • Great idea = 15
  • Brilliant idea = 20
  • No execution = $1
  • Weak execution = $1000
  • So-so execution = $10,000
  • Good execution = $100,000
  • Great execution = $1,000,000
  • Brilliant execution = $10,000,000

To make a business, you need to multiply the two.


How well are you executing?