Chasing the hockey stick growth curves that you see all the time in the media.

If you’re like most startups, you’re trying to get as big as possible, as fast as possible. The good news is that it is possible to achieve the type of hockey stick growth curves that you see all the time in the media. Just follow these steps below to get your first 1,000 users!

Make it easy to sign up and get started

This might sound obvious, but people are much more likely to become your customer if it’s easy and painless to get started. If you’re making people jump through too many hoops, read too many agreements, fill out too many forms, or download too much stuff, you’re going to lose them. And, once you’ve convinced people to sign up and become your customer, make sure that you empower them to get started using your product on Day 1. Most people have very limited attention spans. Do you really think they are going to read user manuals before they get started?

Celebrate your early adopters

In the search for rapid growth, too many companies forget about their early adopters. In the race to sign up the next customer (and then the next customer), they lose track of all the customers that came before. Don’t be one of those companies. Instead, celebrate your early adopters. Make them feel special. Give them the total VIP treatment. You absolutely want them to feel like they are now part of something amazing.

Encourage word-of-mouth buzz

The best part of social media is just how easy it is to share a positive experience with friends and family. Before social media came along, if you wanted to tell someone about a great new website or a great new piece of software, you had to tell them directly. Now, you can tell the entire world about a great new company at 2 am in the morning just by firing up the old Twitter machine. So make sure you put social sharing buttons wherever you can. Tell people to share, like and subscribe. If people are using your service or product, you want them broadcasting that fact to the world via Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

 

by Scott Adams

Learn the power of A/B testing

A/B testing is a powerful tool to see what’s working and what’s not. Essentially, you run a randomized experiment over and over again, to see whether option “A” or option “B” is better. At the end of the experiment, you move forward with the better option. The easiest way to see this in action is with news headlines. Media organizations dedicate a tremendous amount of time and energy into creating the most “clickable” headline. They’ll test out a few versions (Headline A vs. Headline B), and once they’ve decided on the best option, they’ll run with it. You can apply this same type of thinking to any content that you create. Not sure which call-to-action is absolutely guaranteed to get people to sign up? Run an A/B test. Not sure which snappy subject heading in an email is going to get people to open it up? Try A/B testing.

Embrace the network effect

In the technology world, everyone is looking for a way to capture network effects. The basic idea is simple: the value of a product or service increases according to the number of people using it. Think of Facebook, the ultimate network. If you are the only person you know on Facebook, your experience is going to be pretty dismal. But if your best friends are on Facebook, your experience is going to be much better. The more people you know who are using it, the more valuable it becomes. (Eventually, even if you hate Facebook, you still have to be on it, because everyone you know is on it…) That’s why so many successful startups look for ways to get you to encourage your friends to sign up as well. Some startups even ask for access to your contacts and Facebook account. They know that the more people you know who use their product or service, the more likely you will be to use it and recommend it to others.

 

by Scott Adams

Become a growth hacker

Unless you happen to have a lot of wealthy venture capitalist friends, you probably will be trying to grow your company with minimal financial resources. As much as you’d like to run expensive Super Bowl ads just like the big boys in order to bring in new customers, you’re probably going to be adopting much more modest approaches to marketing your company to others. So become a growth hacker. One of the most successful startup companies in recent memory — Airbnb — became a multi-billion-dollar company, thanks in part to an early growth hack that paid off big. In order to get people to sign up to rent out their homes on Airbnb, the company’s founders hung out on Craigslist, looking for great listings. As soon as someone posted a really posh listing, they reached out to that person, asking him or her to consider a posting on Airbnb as well. Brilliant, eh?

Leverage customer reviews and testimonials

In many ways, customer testimonials are really Old School. But in the digital era, they are especially important. Have you seriously ever stayed at a hotel before reading a review on Trip Advisor? Would you ever eat at a new restaurant before checking out Yelp? Would you ever buy a product on Amazon before checking out the reviews? If you answered “no” to one or more of these questions, then you understand why customer reviews and testimonials are so important.

Fish where the fish are

Finally, keep in mind the old marketing axiom “Fish where the fish are.” In other words, you’re a lot more likely to find new customers for your product or service if you’re hanging out where they are hanging out. If you have a limited amount of digital marketing dollars to spend, use them wisely.

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Using these tips, you’ll be well on your way to signing up your first 1,000 users. In fact, if you’ve truly tapped into the power of exponential growth, then you’ll be pleasantly surprised at just how fast those 1,000 users turn into 10,000 users and then 100,000 users and then 1 million users.