How successful startups acquired their first few users

Came across an interesting article recently and just wanted to share my thoughts on it:)

Link to article:

Why go around the block just to get next door?

A simple quote that hits the nail on the head. I personally know of start-ups that pour thousands of marketing dollars down the drain monthly and the only one laughing its way to the bank is Facebook. As a start-up,  it’s  good start lean and avoid spending unless it’s strategic. The article mentions that Groupon had done it right by “asking fellow tenants if they’d be interested in a half price pizza at the shop on the first floor.”  When I was working for a daily deals based start-up in Singapore, back in 2011 when Daily deals sites are at its peak, instead of spending on email marketing, we did a few things that cost almost nothing:

1. Barter trade — You have 13,000 likes on your facebook page or 50,000 email subscribers; I have 14,000 likes on facebook and 50,000 email subscribers. Can we each post a facebook shoutout on the other person’s facebook page or send an engaging mail to each other’s subscriber list? This trick dates back centuries but it still work in today’s digital world. But do it smartly, posting on a facebook page that caters to car lovers won’t do if you are in the business of selling art and craft.

2.  Work on your facebook page and Participate in related facebook groups– If your product is B2C, often times facebook can help to accelerate the customer acquisition process. When I was in the daily deals start-up, we basically set up a facebook page and share interesting images, websites, articles and videos daily. We also realised that sharing them at mealtimes give us the most hits as people are basically surfing their newsfeed at that time. Go try it on yours!

We also share it (casually:p via our personal accounts ) in related facebook pages or ‘deal aggregator’ pages as it reaches to your target market directly– customers with similar interests. The trick is to share it in a casual manner.

3. Participate in related Forums— you need to do this legally as some forums do look out for people who post with commercial intent. But this strategy has worked well for consumer based product businesses, for example, mummy-preneurs often advertise their wares on forums like SingaporeMotherhood Forum.

4. Create a strong following of loyal customers

When Google launches a beta product, there are often people who queue to volunteer to help test the product etc. This is often not a tactic you can deploy when your business just started but do plan it into part of your mid term plan so that you are constantly building that network of loyal customers. Create your own trusted group of customers and keep them close so you can (almost!) sit back to watch them perform the magic.

5. Testimonials

Word of mouth marketing is king, even in this high tech age. Treat your customers well, especially your first batch of customers who had taken the plunge, and they will help to spread the news for you. Some would even be kind enough to give you testimonials so find your rare gems and display them strategically on your company website!

Let me know if any of the tips above work for you!

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