How to get our first 1000 users?
Here’s the inspiration and research we are using to build anticipation, interest and our reputation before launch.
We’re in a bunch of growth hacking groups and the same question keeps reappearing frequently… how to get those all important first customers. Back up even further, how to build your email list of interested possible first customers before you have built the actual product?
Often times when we are listening to founder success stories, they had a previous saas product that they had an audience for and leveraged it for their new one. Not many people talk about starting from scratch with absolute zero. When we say absolute zero what we mean is no one is aware of what we are doing/creating/building. Except maybe our spouses and kids and moms.
We were interested to know how one builds anticipation, an audience, potential users, with no product and no money?
The first thing someone might say is “First leverage your own network, friends and family.” While this advice is true and a great place to start, that would most likely account for 30–50 users total (or more, you may be a much more popular person than I am), some of which are doing it out of the kindness of their heart and do not represent our true persona. While “friends and family” looks ok and counts toward acquisition, these are not users who would actively evangelize on our behalf or chase us up with feature requests or feedback.
Read on to find out what avenues we are trying out and whats working as far as traction.
Inspiration & Research
Buffer Blog: “How to Pre-Launch on Instagram: The Inside Story of Jot Coffee’s Social Media Strategy”
HBR Ideacast: “The Right Way to Get Your First 1,000 Customers”
Start Now, Not Later
One of the major mistakes founders make is building something first and then attempting to market it second, when they should have been marketing it while building. There is something to be said for building anticipation, pun intended.
FramerX did this very well dropping a series of high-impact, very slick videos showcasing their product in the lead up to launch. UX and UI pros were chomping at the bit to get their hands on it. The video ended with a lead capture form, ensuring they could market to these interested parties in the future.
RankMath, a SEO plugin for Wordpress, teased its new Pro version features by providing a slightly blurred screen shot along with hints as to what the feature being shown was, in their Facebook Group, to an already established, rabid fan base. Each post with a tease garnered dozens and sometimes hundreds of interactions.
RankMath are also very active in their group, responding to every post and comment, answering every question. They are on it.
Other Places to Get the Word Out
Spnsrmnstr is in the social media vertical, so having a social presence is very important to relate to those users we are trying to recruit. We’ve signed up for most of the major ones, Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn and Youtube.
It’s a good idea to sign up for what you think will be relevant, even if it does not end up being useful, simply to reserve a consistent social media handle. Using different handles between platforms can make your brand harder to find for users without knowing the unique name.
That said, you may want to also think about (if you aren’t already there) signing up for Reddit and Quora.
Reddit is a great way to start networking and building your online presence in subreddits that pertain to your vertical, and even in broader subreddits dealing with startups. I recently read a post in /stratups about a person who had done the traditional route and not found traction. One day he posted a link to his project in /theinternetisbeautiful and it went viral.
We are on Reddit in /startups, /influencermarketing and more. It’s a great place to start asking questions and getting some market research as well as learnings from other founders.
Quora is another great way to create backlinks as well as build authority by answering questions in your niche.
It will take a lot of work to get this done, kind of like building your Instagram audience. Slow and steady wins the race. You want quality over quantity. You want people to evangelize for you, become your champions. Bring them along with you on your journey. Don’t just sell to everyone, talk to them too.
Give sneak peeks, get feedback, ask questions, give surveys. Carve out an hour a day while you’re drinking the morning coffee or taking an afternoon break to reply to others on Reddit, Quora, Instagram and others. Establish yourself as an authority in the niche.
But by all means, start now, not later.
– head mnstr 😈