Sramana: How did people find out about FreeDemographics.com?
Dean Stoecker: Everyone wanted free, and a lot of people needed demographic information. We were somewhat close to the Census Bureau. Managing that kind of data was hard, so we promoted the FreeDemographics.com website to help people get that data in a manageable format. We did a lot of interviews with newspapers and we also did Google Ad words, the first vendor in our category to market that way.
FreeDemographics.com became our primary lead source, so we created a premium product called DemographicsNow.com. It is still running today, and it generates strong revenue for us. It also generates a lot of leads for us.
Sramana: Google PPC drove traffic to you, and if they had anything more complex, they would just call you for help?
Dean Stoecker: Absolutely. They would see what was possible and then get a presentation or demonstration using other one-off applications. They would see a vision for their solution. That drove our business for many years and let us avoid having a huge marketing team. We did not have to spend our angel funding on marketing collateral. Entrepreneurs have to be scrappy. They have to know where to spend money and where to avoid it.
Sramana: How did you ensure that inbound leads from FreeDemographics.com were coming from the media or real estate markets?
Dean Stoecker: We didn’t know. We started to uncover new verticals that led us to some idea generation around our products. We knew we had to build more products for analytics in other industries. We had a ton of C-level executives who had struggled to gain access to what we did very simply. We picked a good method to drive leads.
Sramana: Did all of your leads come in through this channel?
Dean Stoecker: All of our leads came in on this channel for years. We did not get leads from other sources until we started publishing white papers and speaking at conferences.
Sramana: The first customer you had was a rather large deal. I can’t imagine that every lead that came to your site was that big. How did you position your software? Did you cater to SMBs?
Dean Stoecker: We started an inside sales team. It had two founders and an early employee who were outside salespeople. I began to hire some inside salespeople to do lead qualification and sell the premium services. We would handpick the leads based on titles and industry if an opportunity existed. We would call them and set up WebEx demonstrations, or we would visit them and do a demonstration based on cloud services.
We had a premium service of FreeDemographics.com which ranged from $79 a month to $179 a month. If an SMB came along, or a large company needed access to simple information, we would sign them up to that premium service. Many of those customers would outgrow that SaaS service, and we would consult with them to create private hosted cloud services with far more extensive analytics.