Jeremy Butler is the Director of Marketing at Grasshopper Group. In that role he is responsible for anything from UX design and development to “buzz”, search marketing, social and new product launches. Jeremy especially enjoys A/B and MVT testing as it allows him to understand user behavior and optimize marketing efforts accordingly. He is extremely passionate about our newest product Spreadable, so if you want to talk about anything marketing, WOM or referral related get at him on Twitter @jeremyrbutler.
Mike: Your service, a virtual phone system designed for entrepreneurs, is packed with useful features. I can see this being very beneficial to small and medium businesses as well as single person operations. What kind of feedback do you hear from your clients?
Jeremy: There is tons of positive feedback, but what I love to hear the most is when entrepreneurs express that Grasshopper allows them to stay connected to their business. We understand entrepreneurs have hectic, non structured lifestyles so to allow them to sound more professional and always be connected to their business…that is powerful.
Mike: How did you decide to name the company Grasshopper and the website Grasshopper.com?
Jeremy: For starters, its easy to spell! Which you may laugh, but is very important. With our old brand “GotVMail”, we would have to spend nearly half of a 30-second radio spot spelling out our domain name. So wasteful, we learned our lesson second time around! We also needed to make sure the name (the brand term) wasn’t heavily saturated in the marketplace…in this case the only other real company named Grasshopper was a lawn mower company. Lastly, grasshoppers have an uncanny ability to take large leaps, do really well for their size, and are always on the move – just like entrepreneurs
Mike: What process did you go through to acquire the name Grasshopper.com? Are you willing to share what you paid for the domain name?
Jeremy: Unfortunately I can’t share what we paid, but it was more than $75,000 and less than $1 Million! In terms of actually acquiring the domain name, we speak very highly of Sedo.com, and would definitely recommend using a domain broker for this type of purchase.
Mike: While Grasshopper is a generic term, I understand it is not highly saturated in the market place. How have you leveraged this advantage?
Jeremy: When we transitioned from GotVMail to Grasshopper we knew it would be a challenge to have such a generic term as our company name but we were actually pretty fortunate. The only other “Grasshopper” brands out there were a mower company and local vegan restaurant. Plus, with all the great press we got during the re-brand campaign (both online & television) and our marketing team making sure we were everywhere we could be (Social networks, Google, etc), it made it pretty easy to take over as “Grasshopper”.
Mike: What are some of the methods you are using to market the service?
Jeremy: We do some PPC, a little bit of radio and this past January we launched our first television commercial. I have to say though, the one form of marketing we really believe in, and have the most success with, is word of mouth. We have a lot of great customers out there who help us spread the word about our product. We actually have a whole list of customers on Twitter who are willing to go to bat for the company. So when someone asks about our product, we simply refer them to our customers. You can’t beat that.
Mike: You have been featured or mentioned on some by some of the top media outlets including Mashable, CNN, and Business Week. How have you been able to achieve this type of recognition?
Jeremy: We don’t invest money in sales staff. We invest in our Buzz Department, which right now is 2 extremely passionate entrepreneurs. Their goal is to create word of mouth traffic, in any and every way humanly possible. They love the entrepreneurial community, love what we are doing here at Grasshopper, and they are very good at sparking and maintaining conversations. People like doing business with people they enjoy spending time with. So I guess how much fun we are having here is just contagious!
Mike: You obviously understand the needs of entrepreneurs and small business. What words of wisdom can you share to those seeking a domain name for their business?
Jeremy: I will say that transitioning from a domain where a part of our service was included in the name (“vmail”) to a generic domain name was a bit more difficult than we thought. Luckily we were an established company and our old site had been around long enough for us to overcome it. For a business just starting out, I would certainly recommend choosing a domain name closely related to your business vs a generic name. People and search engines seem to have an easier time.
Mike: Aside from having a great name, what other components are needed to have a successful online business?
Jeremy: Every entrepreneur would probably answer this differently…but for us its really caring about your customers. Positive experiences can be shared so rapidly these days it’s more important than ever to really build an army of brand loyalists. Yes we offer 24/7 US based customer support, but more than that we sponsor events and bar camps that entrepreneurs are at. When we travel we will reach out to customers and take them out to dinner or drinks. We make an effort (especially in our Buzz Department) to promote our customers not only in guest blog posts we do, but to our media contacts. All of these little things help create an emotion connection of sorts. So when choosing between services, why not buy from the brand you trust.