Freshbooks: Don’t talk about the product. Talk about what it means to people.

Freshbooks has been very successful in establishing an online community of fans, customers and promoters. Third Tuesday Toronto moderator Michael O’Connor Clarke found 1,664 blog posts mentioning Freshbooks. He asks, how has this Toronto-based startup cultivated this level of awareness and attention?

Says Freshbooks’ Saul Colt : “We have a really good product. But we don’t push our product…. We want to tell the stories of our customers and make everything about the company compelling. … We try to push the unique values of our company, the different sort of things that we’re doing and that’s the kind of thing that gets people talking.”

“Invoicing isn’t the sexiest thing in the world. But there are amazing stories that come out of how we are saving people time, how we are making their lives easier. … We’re actually letting people do the thing that they love doing. When you were a kid, no one dreamt of doing invoices. You dreamt of being a PR person, or being a superhero or whatever. So, we’re actually letting you do that stuff and we’re saving you all this time while you’re doing it. We’re giving you your life back. We’re giving you your job back. So that you can do what you actually want to do. And that is why people talk about us, because it’s much more than just a product.”

Later in the evening, O’Connor Clarke asked Michael McDerment to tell The Triscuits story. Brief version: A resident of Fiji responded to a blog post McDerment had written about Triscuits, indicating that he can’t get Triscuits on Fiji, but that he’d love to. McDerment sent him a box of Triscuits. The fellow on Fiji wrote a blog post about McDerment’s gesture which was picked up by other bloggers – and Freshbooks ended up being talked about positively because of it.

Says McDerment, “It was born out of doing just what seemed natural. How would you like to be treated? Well, this is how.”

Adds Colt: “It’s really about being authentic. … Stories like that you do not because you’re hoping it will grow into something. You do it because it’s part of what you are. And that’s really part of the personality of Freshbooks. … And that’s also why a lot of people talk about us, because the company actually has a personality as opposed to a faceless, nameless corporation.”

Interested in reading more about what Freshbooks’ Michael McDerment and Saul Colt have to say? You may want to take a look at: Freshbook Execs listen and respond to customers .