S5B: E12: Brian Casel on building Ops Calendar

On today’s episode Corey and Sam interview Brian Casel about his passion for productized services and how you can launch a SaaS product quickly.  They discuss  Brian’s newest product, Ops Calendar and how that naturally evolved from Audience Ops.

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Brian Casel started out in 2011 with a plugin called Restaurant Engine, a hosted website design service for the hospitality industry.  He grew it until 2015 when it was sold.  Now he is the owner of Audience Ops, a productized done -for-you service which he started in 2015.  In 2017, Brian launched Ops Calendar, a software tool that enables content marketers and agencies to plan a content calendar, schedule social media, and track traffic and conversions from content. Brian’s role today consists of strategy for growth, product design, marketing, and customer development.

What you will learn in today’s episode:

  • Audience Ops is a Content Marketing Company focused on productized services for Software and B2B clients. (6:40)
  • Ops Calendar is a SaaS product that naturally grew and is complementary to Audience Ops. (7:20)
  • Ops Calendar is a content calendar with smart features built into it. (ex: Social Media scheduling) (7:34)
  • The Audience Ops service will continue in addition to the SaaS product. (9:02)
  • The full-service product of Audience Ops will still exist where the research and writing of content is done for you. (9:13)
  • There is a package called Audience Ops Express that provides all the tools except the writing. (9:43)
  • Audience Ops Express will launch with Content Calendar but it is a spin on the current service. (10:52)
  • Audience Ops was built around processes, not writing content. (28:29)
  • The content calendar came from day to day work of producing podcasts. (29:30)
  • You do not need to use WordPress to use the Ops Calendar. It is a standalone tool. (36:04)

Challenges and Opportunities of the SaaS Product:

  • Ops Calendar was pre sold to a beta customers group to pitch the idea. (11:02)
  • Prepaid customers of Ops Calendar receive a lifetime discount. (14:43)
  • Public pricing is offered when the SaaS product is delivered. (15:18)
  • There is a side plugin business that is being created from custom tools used by Audience Ops. (17:10)
  • Audience Ops solutions are created from customers pain points that are reported around content marketing.  (18:00)
  • Brian is a big fan of productized services because they can be launched quickly. (20:15)
  • You can charge for the product right away because it is offered as a service. (21:20)
  • Pick an audience that you can relate to.  Make sure that audience is easy to reach online or attend the conferences that you attend. (25:05)
  • Continue to solve problems for the businesses that you serve. (27:34)

WordPress Features:

  • Ops Calendar will be able to post to your WordPress site. (33:56)
  • You install the WordPress plugin and connect it to your Ops Calendar account. (34:11)
  • A user can save the permalink in WordPress.
  • The composition of the post is still created in WordPress.
  • If you create the notes in Ops Calendar, it will automatically post to WordPress. (35:30)
  • A tracking code is put on your site from Ops Calendar. (36:32)
  • The WordPress plugin is not going to work unless you are using Audience Ops. (37:34)

Lessons Learned:

  • Do not be overanxious and move too fast when launching a SaaS product. (38:40)
  • Always remember that there is time ahead of you in the grand scheme of things. The product does not have to be perfect for launch. (39:16)
  • When problems are being solved for a particular audience or market you can discover the next audience to serve. (40:50)
  • Once you decide you have a product – launch it – do not wait. It may only need to be a core version. (43:00)

Episode Resources:

Restaurant Engine
Audience Ops
Content Upgrades
Landing Pages Plugin
Ops Calendar
Bootstrapped Web podcast

Follow Brian:

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