On this episode of the podcast, we’re joined by Beacon co-founder Kevin McGrath who gives us insight into what it’s like to run the company with his brother and how they work together with Kevin as designer and Eoin as Developer. Beacon is a product for marketers and business owners to efficiently create the lead magnets they need. Their product is simple, with features their audience needs to get the job done quickly.
The Importance of Managing Your Resources
As a team of two, managing resources is extremely important. While Kevin focuses on the design side (his area of expertise), they still will outsource to other designers at times. We discuss how this allows them to bring in fresh perspectives and enables him to avoid the dreaded loss of productivity when you’re shifting contexts.
Outsourcing Content has lead to Expanded Areas of Content
With Beacon being such a focused product, prior to working with Audience Ops, it seemed logical that all content should be related to lead magnets. But, by bringing us in to not only create content, but help them develop topic ideas, they’ve realized that there is a much wider topic-base to write from.
Working with Audience Ops for content has helped Kevin release guilt for not spending time on that part of the business, and allows him to focus on growth and development of the company.
To wrap up the episode, Kevin shares what Beacon is focusing on next to grow the company as well as his tips for listeners who are looking to grow their company- you won’t want to miss it!
Transcription of This Episode
Do you consider how you manage your resources? Of course you do, but what if you’re a team of two? How do you handle resources then? Beacon, co-founder, Kevin McGrath shares that and more with us on the podcast. I’m Sara Robinson, a manager here at Audience Ops and on this episode Kevin gives us insight into what goes on behind the scenes at Beacon, a product for marketers and business owners to efficiently create the lead magnets they need.
Beacon was started by Kevin doing design and the businessy things as he says, and his brother Owen, who’s the developer. Their product is simple, lead magnets features their audience needs to get the job done quickly. Kevin and I discussed what it’s been like to be a small company with a very focused product. He shares how they manage resources and how they decide to outsource. He’ll even bring in other designers even though that’s his specialty. We also discuss how they utilize content as a part of their marketing, and how Audience Ops helps them realize the variety of content that could be created for the company. Kevin also shares what Beacon’s focusing on next to grow the company, as well as his tips for listeners who are looking to grow their businesses. You won’t want to miss it.
Kevin, thank you so much for joining us on the show today. How are you?
I’m very well thank you. Yeah, cheers for having me.
So glad to have you here. So let’s jump right in and talk about Beacon. Is there a latest milestone that you’ve hit that you’re really excited about?
Yes, we were actually, we were talking about this earlier today. So we tend not to focus too much on our stuff, like the thing that gets us really excited is milestones that our customers hit, and sort of customer success. So we’re working on a few new features at the minute and we’re just, we’re this close, to crossing and 10,000 leads generated and for some of our customers. So I think about maybe 1% of our customer base is trialing these new features and that 1% are about to generate 10,000 leads. So they’re getting pretty successful with these new features so we’re pretty excited about that.
Yeah, that’s amazing. And I love that you look at, not your milestones, but what your customers are up to. That’s amazing.
So you’re a small company as we’ve talked about, it’s founded and still run by you and your brother Owen. So what has your experience been like working as a team of two?
Yeah, I love it to be honest. Like myself and Owen, we’ve been working together for I think about 13 or 14 years now, that’s always been more or less as a team of two. So we’re used to it, obviously we’re brothers so we know each other pretty well. But from a work point of view, we know how we work and we know how we work best, so we’re able to move quite fast. Like communication is fairly seamless, it’s effortless. So I think a small team suits us at this stage.
Absolutely. Well, and it’s interesting because you’re brothers. Like you said, you know each other really well, but I’m sure many of our listeners are sitting here going, “I could never run a company with my sibling.” And then people are probably going, “Oh yeah, that makes complete sense. We know each other so well. The communication is just so effortless,” like you said. So that’s really interesting that you’ve been working together for so long, and found it to be so great.
well everyone says that getting into business with family, it’s risky, it’s a big decision. But honestly, it always felt very natural to us. We don’t have big blazing arguments or anything, I guess we just, we knew each other so well. We can have a frank and honest discussion without it getting heated. So yeah, I’m all for it. Yeah, brothers in business works for us. So yeah.
I like that. Brothers in business. So you’re obviously a small and growing company. Can you share a bit how you manage your resources?
Yeah, so obviously two co-founders, I’m from a design background, my brother, Owen, is from a development background. So from a product point of view that works really well. I take care of all the sort of user research and put together product specs, put together wireframes, mockups and and went back and forth throughout that whole process with Owen. And then he takes care of all of the build more or less. So we do occasionally bring in freelancers from either a design point of view or a development point of view. But I’d say, 95% of the work is carried out between the two of us from the product side of things.
Yeah. So let’s talk a little bit more about outsourcing. We know you outsource content creation obviously, and you just mentioned some freelancers. So what other roles or responsibilities might you be outsourcing, or what is that 5% that you’re not taking care of on your own?
Yeah, so for example, we might, from a design point of view, I might send wireframes to a designer and ask them to interpret them into fully blown mockups. So that’s good. I suppose from every point of view, from development or design, you can find yourself getting into a little bit of a rut. I have my design style and it’s fairly well established at this stage, but sometimes you just need a third party to come in and just almost just mix it up a little bit. And so it’s great to see what some designers might come back with. It’s completely different from what I would have thought up. It’s sort of helps to breathe a bit of fresh air into the process.
And then from a development point of view, obviously at this stage, the company has been up and running for five or six years, the product’s well established. So from a design point of view, there’s not a huge amount of ongoing product design work, but there’s a big amount of product development work, just from a maintenance and new features point of view. And so Owen would bring in freelancers just really to share the workload and just so we can keep moving it as fast as possible there.
Yeah, that’s a really interesting point. You make that even though you know design and that’s your specialty and your background, you could do the work, but it makes sense to bring someone else in, like you said, to breathe new life into things. So I really love that concept that even though you can do it and do it well, it doesn’t always make sense that you’re the one doing it.
Yeah. And sometimes you’ll find as well that switching between tasks, I’m doing a lot of this sort of businessy stuff, a lot of them marketing stuff as well. And then to suddenly switch to design thinking perspective, it’s a big context switch. So moving to a design, like I say, a new landing page or a new homepage, it could take me quite a while just to get back up and running, just to find my groove again. So sometimes I’ve beat my head against enough brick walls to know when to just pass that off to somebody else and not to sort of soldier on through.
Yeah. Work smart, not hard.
So let’s get back to Beacon, to your tool, so it’s simple and focused on one use case. We talked before we even hit record on this episode that you’re okay with not everyone liking your product,. but share with us a little bit about how that impacts the marketing that you do?
Yeah, so Beacon, you’re right, it’s a very specific product. It’s a tool for creating lead magnets to things like eBooks, resource guides, checklists. And so a lot of people might look at that type of product and think, “Oh, it’s a design tool,” something like Canva or Photoshop, something like that. But because it is so specific, it means that we don’t have a lot of those features that maybe a designer would expect in a piece of software. Instead, we try to just only provide the features that a marketer or a small business owner would need and appreciate.
So we’ll get a lot of maybe designers that sign up for the product and say like, “Why doesn’t it do X, Y, Z?” We have to say, “Well, no, it’s not really a product for designers. It’s a product from marketers.” So from our point of view when we’re doing our marketing, we have to be very clear that this isn’t necessarily a design product, it’s more of a marketing tool. So that impacts if we’re doing partnership outreach, like we don’t reach out to sort of design-focused sites or design-focused businesses, it’s generally other companies within the marketing life cycle.
Yeah, that definitely makes sense. And so, how does content creation fit into your marketing plans?
Yes, so it’s a big one. From our point of view, it’s sort of a mix between education on the best practices of how to use lead magnets and when to use lead magnets. Then if you think about a user journey, our marketing has to touch on every part of that user journey from conversion rate optimization to email marketing and sort of everything in between. And to be honest, this is where Audience Ops has helped us a little bit in that we can see past it’s a tool for creating lead magnets, all our content has to be about lead magnets. Really when you broaden that out, there’s a bigger marketing opportunity there for us than we realized. So that’s been great.
Good. Well, we’re happy we could help you do that. So how or why did you decide to work with us for content?
Yeah, it’s half a time pressure thing and half, just against it’s that context switching. If I’m doing 50 different things, I couldn’t honestly say that I can give 100% focus to our marketing, our content marketing specifically, and making sure that I’m producing high quality content on a consistent basis. So to be able to offload that mentally on to a team that we trust, it’s a big load off my mind. And then you can see the compound results over two months, four months, six months, and it starts to add up. Like it’s, yeah, it’s really worth it from that point to do.
Definitely. Can you share a little bit more about the benefits that you’ve seen from working with Audience Ops?
Yeah. So the biggest one is definitely it’s a time saver, there’s no doubt about it. For me to dedicate that amount of time just wouldn’t be possible. But as well, it’s the ideation, so we couldn’t come up with half of the ideas that you guys come up with. It’s just, I don’t know, it’s just, you guys are living and breathing this every day and we’re not to the same extent. So coming up with great ideas and also coming at them from a fresh angle, I’ve definitely spoken about this before, but when you’re all day in working on the product and it’s lead magnets, lead magnets, lead magnets, it’s hard to see just how to branch out and where are the maybe hidden opportunities are. So, I’d say that’s been one of the biggest benefits for us.
Absolutely. And I think, we find that over time as we work with our customers longer and longer, we get better at finding those other topics that we could write about. And I think for you as the person in it, it becomes harder and harder, and for us it almost becomes easier and easier.
Yeah. Like whenever I get a draft blog post through from you guys, I’m reading it going, “Oh, this is good. This is really good, why didn’t we do this like six months ago?” So it’s, yeah, it’s nice to read that draft content for sure, I’m always pleasantly surprised.
Yeah. Well it sounds like you knew that you would benefit from continuing with content and it would be great to free up this time. But was there anything that helped you feel good about letting go of writing the content yourself and passing it off to us?
The biggest thing is the release of guilt. Whenever you’re a small business owner, you’re constantly feel guilty about not spending enough time on this part of the business, or I’m not the amazing writer that I should be. I should spend some time learning to write better. You can’t do it all, so you just end up feeling guilty about it all. So to know that you have a secret team working away who are professional writers, who put the time into the research and make sure that everything is fact-checked and proof-read, that’s just … Yeah, it’s guilt off my conscience a little bit.
Yeah. And when you first decided to bring on Audience Ops, was there anything in the process that we did that helped you sort of feel like, “Okay, yes. This is going to work and this is a team that I can trust.” Was there anything about that process that really stood out to you as beneficial?
Yeah, so a lot of this stuff that we try to teach our users from a lead magnet point of view, you guys were already doing and already doing well. And so for example, you pair every blog post with a content upgrade. For us, that’s absolutely essential. We think that every single blog post should have an appropriate content upgrade with it. Most other marketing agencies or marketing services wouldn’t, we’d maybe do one lead magnet. So it wasn’t the case of me having to convince you guys that, “Yeah, we need one for each blog post.” That was already ingrained into your process. So that made me feel very comfortable that you know what you’re doing and I can switch off to it to an extent.
Right. We were already practicing what you preach. That would be not so great if the tool that is all about lead magnets doesn’t utilize them in their content and have no process.
Yeah, for sure.
So in general, why do you think it’s a good idea for our company to focus on content creation?
Like we found from our point of view, obviously producing high quality content helps with inbound traffic, like it helps to bring new customers to us. But it’s been really good for educating our existing customers. And so it’s helped us to reduce churn, it’s helped our customers to become more confident with our product. Especially when they see us implementing things like content upgrades for every single blog post, they can see it in practice, they can see it in action. They know what these content upgrades look like and what format should be like. So it’s been great from that point of view.
Definitely. So for you, what’s the next phase of marketing? Is there anything you’re continuing to focus on or different that you’re going to do?
Yeah, I think we’re going to double down on partnerships now in the next few months, it’s something that we’ve had a lot of success with in the past. But we probably haven’t been consistent enough with our partnership outreach and our partnership operations. So that’s definitely something we want to focus on.
Can you elaborate a little bit for our listeners on how you’re utilizing partnerships and what that might look like for you?
Yes, we do all sorts. So generally there’s I guess, three types. So we would either do a technical integration with another product. So, for example, Beacon integrates with HubSpot, and so our software compliments their software, and so we’re part of their partner program so we can reach out directly to their customers and we can share resources directly through HubSpot. So that would be a good example of a technical integration.
A content partnership is probably the most common, and we’d link up with another company. Again, software company with a complimentary product. And we would say, “I think your audience should be using lead magnets. And I know our audience could use some advice on say email marketing. So let’s do maybe a joint webinar together where we’ll teach your audience how to get more email addresses with lead magnets, and you can teach our audience how to nurture those leads through email.”
So these types of partnerships, they work because they make sense. The customer’s the winner at the end of the day, we always want to put out good content that helps our customers, like every other software companies is the same. So it’s typically, it’s not a difficult pitch to these types of companies.
Yeah, it absolutely makes sense. I find myself nodding as you were talking about that. Like, “Yeah, that definitely, that makes sense.” So for the founders who are listening, do you have any tips for those that are entering that next phase of growth. Things to look out for or to focus on? Any tips for them?
I would say focus is definitely the key. It’s so easy to get distracted by different marketing channels, different marketing techniques. But I would say definitely focus on one, even six months at a time. I think it takes at least six months to fully see if a new marketing channel is working. As well I would say, and this is especially I guess for smaller teams where the founders are both product-focused or founder team is product-focused. It’s always tempting to go back and tweak the product constantly. But you’ll find if you keep doing that, your marketing slowly but surely drops off to nothing. So I think if you’re already established, maybe focus a bit less on the product and a bit more on the marketing.
I like that. Great advice. The last but not least, where can people find you? Where can they find Beacon?
Yeah, so our web address is beacon.by. And so you can create a free account there. You can also contact me on Twitter I suppose @mrkevmcg, is my Twitter handle. Probably the best way.
I like that Twitter handle.
Awesome. We will link for everyone in our show notes so that they can find you. But thank you so much Kevin for joining us today and sharing all about Beacon and what you’ve been up to.
Yeah, no problem. Thanks for having me.
Those are great thoughts and tips from Kevin at Beacon and we love their products and actually use them for our lead magnets here at Audience Ops. So if you want to learn more about our Done-For-You Content services, don’t forget to check us out at audienceops.com.