Tired of spending hours and thousands of dollars in sales meetings with no return? You’re not alone.
It comes with many challenges and many unknowns, which can be daunting – especially if you haven’t had much experience as an entrepreneur before.
In today’s post, I will share my top 7 tips for getting early startup traction (and some actionable steps too).
These strategies will help guide you through the initial stages of marketing your company and achieving product-market fit so that founders can focus on more important things like building their product or service. So without further ado, let’s jump right into the tips!
What is early startup traction?
This refers to the stage when the startup is just getting off the ground.
It refers to your first set of users that discover your company and try the product.
These can be frequent users or test-users that are willing to give you feedback, inspiration for new features, and validation that they see value in what you’re doing; these are known as your early adopters, they are often willing to work with you on bugs, give feedback, and help you grow into a sustainable business.
Moreover, these people are most likely to be your early ambassadors that will be promoting and advocating for your product in the long run and the short-run (to their friends and family)
Have A Clearly Defined Goal
Having a clearly defined goal is very important in your marketing efforts.
Your startup’s goal is to generate sales and money, right? So it makes sense that everything you do leads to generating more sales.
The way I like to approach this problem is:
“When people are looking for products or services like ours, what keywords will they use?”
This strategy will help pinpoint exactly your customer base and guide you in the right direction of what keywords to focus on.
So if you want to target a niche, then go for it!
Finding a relatively decent-sized niche will help you get feedback more easily.
For example, if you are targeting computer programmers and developers, you may want to target keywords like: ‘web developer tools’, ‘java compiler’, or ‘programming languages’. At this stage, it’s unnecessary to be absolutely accurate with your keyword targeting because later on, when you have more customers (and data), you can retrospectively hone in on better keywords.
Once you’ve discovered you’re initial keywords; you can ask yourself these questions:
- What are their pain points?
- How can you solve them in a better way than how they do it now?
- What problem are they trying to solve?
- How many additional clients might we get if we implemented a certain feature?
- What is the potential reach of a partnership with x in terms of the number of people?
- What does it mean for us to integrate with a certain service provider to access a larger market?
- What is the likelihood that spending x hours on a piece of content will pay off in the long run?
- How can we encourage more users to pay on an annual basis?
- I would talk to people that may be interested in your product.
- Ask them these questions and watch how they try to solve the problem themselves.
- These are usually the most passionate users; you want these people!
Find Your Early Adopters
Who is the person you’re trying to sell it to?
When you figure out your audience, then it’s time to put yourself in their shoes. Who would buy your product?
That’s the person you’re trying to sell it to. So now we want to target these people. These are the first customers that will be willing to help you grow and test out new features. As discussed before, these are your early adopters.
Often, these people will help you become a sustainable business by giving you feedback on features that they want, evangelizing to their friends and family, and giving you great advice for growth and feature updates.
What do early adopters like?
There is no one answer to this question, but there are some commonalities that they like.
For example, early adopters of websites and blogs like getting value for free.
They don’t have any allegiance or loyalty to a particular blog out there, so if you give them something valuable for free (like this post), then they will most likely be happy to hear more from you and may even become frequent users.
Now that you know what they like, it’s time to give them what they want!
Early Adopters are typically willing to do things for no cost (or minimal cost) in exchange for more value.
They want to be able to influence the company’s direction, so make it easy for them and poll or survey them to find out what features you should build next.
These people are essential, so make it easy for them to stay in touch with you.
Don’t just send them a random email once every couple of months.
Make sure you engage with them regularly.
Make it easy for them to give you feedback and promote your product by giving them an avenue.
So make sure that you are present in the places where your early adopters spend their time and any other place relevant to your audience. Get involved with these communities and build relationships with them!
When they see your product in the wild (like a blog comment section, forum post, or tweet), they will be more inclined to try it out and give you feedback.
The people that follow your early adopters and users can also become customers of yours in the future.
In other words, treat your early adopters like they are the most important people (at least in the beginning)
Pre-launch your startup
If you want your product to be successful, it’s best to get users before officially launching.
An official launch is a great way to build momentum and create a buzz around your product (as discussed before).
But if no one knows about it beforehand (or even cares), then there is no reason for people to show up after the official launch date (or even know that it exists)
I would recommend pre-launching your startup on a website like Product Hunt.
You can also pre-launch on the following sites:
- Hacker News – Show HN what you are working on and get valuable feedback from users. There is a thread for this, located here: Show HN.
- Reddit – Go to /r/startups and post about what you are working on. You’ll get feedback from users as well as people who are interested in your product.
- Twitter – You can use the hashtag #Startup to post about what you’re working on and get feedback from people following that tag (like me!). I’d be happy to help give feedback as well.
- #Startup – https://twitter.com/hashtag/startup?src=hash
- Beta list – Start your startup on Betalist and get valuable feedback.
All of these methods are great ways to create a buzz for your product before you launch.
Producthunt is definitely one of the greatest options since it has a large audience and individuals willing to try your goods.
Your Product Hunt launch should be one of the most significant days of your company since it allows you to create momentum for future success.
If you want to find more communities like these, you can use PromoteHour to help you in that process.
Even if you don’t have the time to submit your company, you may use StartupLister to publish your information to startup directories, review sites, and forums on the internet.
Build a community around your product
If you want a loyal following for your startup, then it’s important to build a community.
Building an audience takes time but is very much worth the effort.
So how do you build an audience?
Here are a few ways to build a community.
Reddit – Create subreddits and post interesting things about your product (or related topics). This will help you gain followers and more feedback about your product.
I would recommend an account on Reddit because of its large user base and how easy it is to use.
You can find information on how Reddit works here: https://www.reddit.com/wiki/reddiquette.
Twitter – Create lists of influencers in your industry and follow them to gain followers for yourself. Use hashtags like #yourindustry and see who is involved with that hashtag.
Lanyrd or Eventbrite – Find local events related to your industry and find people who will be there.
You can also try the following ideas:
Find a forum related to your industry that has many users.
Comment on their threads and provide value with each post.
If you have a good reputation, others will notice your comments and look into your work.
There are many ways to build a community around your product. T
The key is to be consistent and persistent with what you do.
There will be ups and downs along the way but stay with it because it will pay off in the end.
Create a “Buzz” Around Your Product
How do you create a buzz around your product?
How do you get people to talk about it and share it with others?
To answer these questions, we can go back to my favourite word, “Value!”
Yep, the best way to create a buzz is by giving away extreme amounts of value.
There are a couple of ways to do this:
1) Give away content in the form of blog posts or e-books where you teach something valuable (like how to use your product).
I’ll be releasing an e-book, “How to get more users for your startup”, soon, so stay tuned.
2) Give them something that they can use (a download or access to a product).
If you’re selling something physical, then this is the best way to create a buzz.
This is how you get people talking about your product and telling their friends about it (and giving you free marketing if they are not paying customers).
3) UI/UX design – making sure to have a good UI/UX design is the best way to give people a good experience using your product.
Ensure that your website is easy to navigate, uses clear labels/descriptions of what your product does and is visually appealing. Bad design will make people leave your site very quickly.
If they love what you are giving away for free but then discover that your product is not as amazing as they thought, they will most likely not become paying customers.
But if they see that your product is amazing, they are more likely to be willing to pay for it (and recommend you to their friends).
Also, make it easy for people to share with others by having one-click sharing buttons and being in places where they spend their time most (like the main page of Reddit, Hacker News, or Product Hunt).
And good customer support (like the kind that I provide here ).
Giving your customers the best experience they can have with your product is an important part of creating a buzz. This is one of the reasons why Apple products are so successful and why Steve Jobs was one of the greatest innovators in recent history.
He cared about every detail, making it simple for people to use his products (while getting more value from them).
So ask yourself: “What experience do I want my users to have when they use my product?” Then work backwards and design your product around that experience.
Once you get a good product, creating a buzz is much easier and will come more organically.
Data is king
In today’s world, data is everything.
The more data you have, the better off you will be.
If you don’t have any information about your users or customers, it’s hard to decide and figure out what will work best for them.
You need to really ask yourself these questions.
- Do I have enough data to decide this?
- What is my goal with the data that I am collecting?
- How much time do I need to spend on analyzing the data to make a decision?
- What can I learn from the different data sources that are available for me to analyze and use?
- What data do I need to succeed?”
The type of data that I would recommend collecting is demographic data and usage data.
Here are some ways to collect the different types of data:
Demographic Data – Collect information from your users about their background (age, occupation, etc.).
This will be helpful in the future because you can use this data to target your audience better when creating ads/marketing campaigns.
Usage Data – Collect information from user behaviour on your site (conversions, transactions, etc.). This will allow you to create conversion paths that are more efficient for your customers and provide a better service, as well as a better user experience.
Rounding up all of the information in one place will be very helpful for you because it will help you make better decisions and understand your users.
One of the best ways to collect data is through a tool like Google Analytics.
This tool allows you to track your visitors, traffic sources, pages, events, and more with just a few clicks.
Check out their website here: https://analytics.google.com/ and sign up for a free account.
There are many other tools to track data like MixPanel, Kissmetrics, and Hubspot. Of course, these aren’t the only ones available, but I have personally used them all in my experience with startups.
Build an email list
Having an email list is one of the best things you can have for your startup. This will help you market to users without paying for ads (which is a great way to save money).
And no, email is not “dead”.
That’s a myth.
People are still using email, and you will see that once you have a strong following.
The best part is that emails don’t cost money as ads do.
To start getting email addresses, you need three things
A method for collecting emails.
I would recommend using MailChimp as a service for collecting emails.
Here is their website: https://mailchimp.com/ A marketing automation solution (Segment & Klaviyo are good ones)
A way to segment your list and send targeted content to different segments. This will allow you to build trust with the subscriber and reduce the likelihood of your emails counting as spam, possibly one of the worst things.
A platform for email marketing.
You could use MailChimp, Aweber, ConvertKit, or Infusionsoft for this.
You could also use something like Salesforce as a CRM to send emails from.
Overall, there is no right answer here about which solution is the best because it depends on what you prefer and how you want to organize your content.
Just make sure that it is all automated, so you don’t have to worry about manually sending emails out every day or keeping up with your subscribers.
Something you offer folks in exchange for their email addresses.
Either a PDF about your product or service, an ebook, a coupon, or something of value that will get them interested in trading their email. Then, put it on a landing page.
This is the page you can send people to when they subscribe for updates.
On this page, we will have our signup form so they can enter their email and get on your list.
This page will be the hub for all of your marketing campaigns and email outreach, so make sure you spend some time getting this right.
If you want more information about building a startup, I highly recommend checking out Blake Adam’s podcast. I learned a lot from his guests and topics.
Here are some other podcasts that I have listened to which may be of interest to you:
The Top Entrepreneurs
Entrepreneur On Fire – John Lee Dumas
The Smart Passive Income Podcast – Pat Flynn
This Week In Startups – Jason Calacanis
Startup Secrets Podcast – Rob Walling & Mike Taber.
I hope this guide was useful for you and wish you the best of luck with your startup!
If you have any questions about this post, comment below. 🙂