Using only a handful of tactics, we recently were able to get 10,000 people to check out our product. Here is how we did it.
As I was wrapping up the sale of the Prosperio platform, I was anxious to sink my teeth into a new project. A friend, Robert Kiraz, and I always talked about collaborating and finally decided to take the plunge.
Robert and I share similar perspectives on early product and market development. In fact, his company, Leanometry, helps clients determine a minimum viable product of any idea and bring it to market in four weeks. Drawing from our combined knowledge and network we brought together a small team split evenly between product and marketing rolls. Our goal: come up with a winning product and bring it to market quickly.
We brainstormed late into the evenings at Cross Campus in the heart of Santa Monica’s booming tech scene. After talking for hours about authors and online-content creators, we came up with the idea of Sharewalla.
Sharewalla helps to fill the “marketing gap” that now exists for self-published authors or content creators. Historically, book-publishing companies helped authors with marketing and distribution, but Amazon changed this by making it easy for authors to self-publish. The problem is that although self-publishing has its benefits, it also means that now authors are responsible for marketing their books.
Since marketing is often times not an author’s core competency, we thought that adding value in that area is a big business opportunity. Initially we imagined an all-encompassing tool that would that would allow for content creators to both market and sell their content through one simple system.
However, after a bit of competitive research we narrowed the features down and determined that Sharewalla would be a tool that requires viewers to tweet about content for access.
We had the first version of Sharewalla after six weeks and, in typical startup fashion, we launched to zero users. This is generally a bad idea because it puts the most expensive part of the business, product development, ahead of the riskiest part of the business, the market.
Eager to catch up, the marketing folks got to work.
We knew generally that we wanted the product to service authors and other content creators, but in order to tailor messaging and identify an initial core group of users, we created four segments: YouTubers, Authors/Speakers, Designers and Growth Hackers.
We purposefully wanted to stay away from doing press for this project because the results from press are hard to recreate. Additionally, we knew that if we could lock in the messaging and product before we did press, we would have a better idea what to say in the press. After all, since there are only really a couple of press events a year, why waste time when you don’t know how to talk to and service customers?
With all of the above in mind, we opted to use outreach to drive awareness. Outreach is an art form that is usually learned by sending emails or cold calling for months on end. Fortunately, however, there are some shortcuts. Here are the ones that we used to drive awareness for Sharewalla.
1. Start with your network.
Two of the Sharewalla partners have many YouTuber relationships from previous ventures. So we began there by compiling a list and contacting everyone. This is a no-brainer tip, but often people do not realize how many people they actually know. It really takes some effort to think this through, so do yourself a favor and make it a process.
2. Ask the right question.
To keep the pipeline full, at the end of every conversation or email correspondance, I would ask, “Who are three authors that you thinking are doing a good job self-publishing?” This is one of the best questions you can ask customers because it helps you to understand who the influencers are in the market. It also turns every conversation into more prospects.
Related: How to Make Your Content Go Viral
3. Use technology to speed up the process.
None of us knew a large group of designers, so we needed some extra magic to communicate with that segment. Using Kimonolabs we were able to create a document that had all available information on the top 100 designers, determined by sales.
None of the profiles had contact information but they did have websites and Twitter accounts. Assuming that most of the designers would have an email or contact form on their site, we outlined a process for finding this information and hired a virtual assistant to loop through the process for the 200 profiles in the file we used Kimonolabs to compile. The result was a healthy lead list that cost us about $40 to generate.
4. Use every resource imaginable.
Growth hackers are a really tight-knit community that is very active online. This makes it easy to find the most influential members. To find people to talk to within this segment, we fired up BuzzSumo, which is an amazing tool that helps you find influencers.
We looked for people who were actively talking about growth hacking and had good engagement metrics — retweets, favorites, etc. We compiled those names into a list and used a mixture of reaching out to them on Twitter and/or email to make contact.
In all, from the above three strategies we generated around 400 unique visitors to the site, a far cry from the 10,000 we eventually had in August. The rest of the traffic comes from our final tip.
5. Have a shareable product.
Virality is something that we were careful to design into Sharewalla from the beginning. For each tweet that is sent out through Sharewalla, more people are directed to the product and asked to tweet. Any time a tweet from one of our customers would go out through the product, we would instantly see anywhere from 20 to 100 new users start to flood into the site. This is the single biggest factor to driving thousands of unique people to the site.
The end result of all of our efforts was outstanding! We achieved our objective by bringing a new product to market and, using the above strategies, we generated just over 10,000 new sessions on Sharewalla in August. Better yet, we were able to collect a lot of data on what users liked about the service and what they didn’t like.
So the next time you are working to bring a product to market, remember, a little bit of outreach, as well as building sharing into a product, can generate a lot of awareness.