ARTICLE
September 28, 2020

I'm Leaving Hotjar to Fight Marketing Bullshit Full-Time

Louis Grenier
Founder of Everyone Hates Marketers

I've left Hotjar to fight marketing bullshit full-time with Everyone Hates Marketers. After nearly four years of working on the podcast while at Hotjar (reaching nearly 1M downloads and making a lot of friends in the process), I am ready to give it all my attention and become a full-time creator.

I joined Hotjar nearly four years ago after my first attempt at building my own business. It was a conversion rate optimisation agency called Slices Consulting (you can access the site using the Wayback Machine); at its peak, we were a remote team of four spread across the World with clients like Dropbox, Phorest, or NinjaOutreach.

Looking back, it's fun to see we were ahead of two trends: remote working and radical transparency (I used to share income reports and learnings every month).

I've made nearly all the mistakes that they warn you about in business books

I started with no existing audience, no credibility in the space, no deep expertise, no true passion for the craft, and no strong support system with people who've been there, done that. The services we were selling were not in high demand and it was an uphill battle to get new clients on board.

Everyone Hates Marketers saved me from going insane when I had no energy left to pour into Slices Consulting. Talking to marketers and founders who believed in what I believed gave me so much energy.

One of those founders was David Darmanin, who had co-founded Hotjar back in 2014. I was a power user of the tool and had been really inspired by the way he was sharing his journey transparently. So I had him on the podcast, we kept in touch, and I had the opportunity to join Hotjar shortly after that.

It was good timing.

I made a promise to myself back then

The next time I launch a business, I will not make the same mistakes I had made with Slices Consulting.

I will have an audience to reach out to, I will have built credibility by giving stuff for free and help as many people as possible, I will create a company of one with no major overheads, and I will sell products that are in high-demand.

Working for Hotjar has felt like being inside a rocket ship during take-off; I had to buckle up to follow everything that was going on. Things were moving so, so fast, in every portion of the business: new hires, new features, new content, new users... It was pretty much everything I had failed to create with Slices Consulting.

I know it's a cliché, but I've learned lessons I will never forget in my lifetime: how to create and maintain a healthy company culture, how to hire the right people, how to give radically candid feedback, how to put your users at the center of everything, how to work remotely and remain productive, how to build a content marketing operations from scratch, etc.

But the most important lesson I've learned is about myself

I love to create stuff that radically stands out and help others do the same. It makes me feel good, it gets results, and it's the antidote to marketing bullshit.

It might sound like a simple statement but it took me a while to peel this onion and get to the core. In retrospect, those are some of the projects I've enjoyed the most:

  • Going against the grain with Everyone Hates Marketers by launching a podcast that is radically different from the others, nearly reaching 1M downloads by relying solely on word-of-mouth
  • Questioning my teachers from a very young age by trying to find 'holes' in their lessons (to the point when one of them called me an 'intellectual terrorist' but that's another story)
  • Re-positioning Hotjar from an all-in-one analytics & feedback startup to the leader in the behavior analytics category
  • Ranking for competitive terms like 'usability testing' or 'user personas' in Google with pieces that challenged the status quo (while growing organic content traffic tenfold to ~200k/month with my partner in crime Fio Dossetto)
  • Helping companies like Dropbox or Phorest develop their value proposition by talking to their users

And, do you know what else is interesting? The most popular episodes on the podcast cover the same topic: take fucking risks with Paul Mellor, marketing secrets with Seth Godin, or even writing copy that converts with Joanna Wiebe.

So, what's next?

I don't have a 5-year plan figured out; I'm aiming to learn as I go and to share my journey with you in the process.

This is what I have figured out so far:

  • I've selected 15 students to take part in Stand The F*ck Out, an 8-week program with with weekly pre-recorded lessons and live group calls I've put together designed for creators, entrepreneurs, and service providers who want to radically stand out from a sea of competitors. It's starting in early October.
  • My goal is to learn as much as possible from this first cohort, improve the program thanks to the students' feedback, and pour all my energy into promoting and running the next cohort in February 2021. You can already get on the waiting list here.
  • I aim to be an open book about my progress with you. I will post regular updates on my podcast as separate episodes and run live streaming sessions where I show you the behind-the-scenes of a company of one.
  • I also have a duty to spread the word about Everyone Hates Marketers and its past episodes (especially the ones that touch on radical differentiation). More people deserve to hear about those and I didn't have time to 'process' them.
  • Finally, I have a duty to reconnect with my people; folks who have followed my journey for a while. Folks who have talked about the show to their friends and colleagues. Expect to hear from me soon.

Right.

This is it. This felt quite therapeutic.

Thank you for reading this far. While I have you, here's my ask: sign up to my email list on the Everyone Hates Marketers website. This is where I'm going to share my updates, lessons about radical differentiation, and upcoming products.

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