1) Have a “Why?” – All great organizations have a “why?”. While every organization knows what they do, very few know why they do it. Simon Sinek’s TED video taught us the importance of answering the question “why?” when looking to inspire action. We worked hard to come up with ours and landed on something great that is easy for people to get behind: We believe that every activity is more fun when it’s a competition. While we haven’t launched yet and have publicly shared few details about ChallengeLoop, we’ve found that people get excited about the product based on our “why?” because they agree with what we believe. Having an impactful “why?” is the only chance a pre-launch stealth startup has at gaining attention in an oversaturated space.
2) Drive Beta Signups – We began connecting with early adopters and social media lovers on different social networks (Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, etc.) 8 months before we launched in an effort to create excitement. We quickly realized that while it was great to get our name out there on many social networks, we were able to use the Twitter platform as a surefire way to get sign ups every day. We followed people who were tweeting about tech blogs and other fun startups, which in turn drove them to our website where they could sign up for our beta list. Once they signed up, we prompted them to share the link with their friends in order to get even earlier access to ChallengeLoop.
3) Turn an Early Adopter into an Ambassador – Anyone can get beta sign ups, but turning those sign ups into brand evangelists is where the true value lies. We wanted our users to feel like they were truly part of the team and decided to implement an Ambassador Program. We wanted representation all over the world and came up with the idea of having one Ambassador per city. This exclusivity created a sense of scarcity which increased the perceived value and made for an environment where people were clamoring to claim their cities.
4) Create a Meaningful Ambassador Program – Our Ambassadors will be crucial to our success and creating a lackluster program would have been a disservice to them and us. We didn’t want to just throw up a landing page and say “we have an Ambassador Program”. We put time, energy and thought into every aspect. We figured out our hook (one Ambassador per city), decided what the benefits were, how we were going to communicate with them and gave them a way to provide feedback and suggestions. Our goal is to create a long-lasting relationship with our Ambassadors, treat them as VIPs and invite them into the inner circle.
5) Drive Ambassador Signups – Since we’ve had so much success with Twitter, we decided that it would be the best place to announce our Ambassador Program because we’d fostered such strong relationships with this group of users. After we announced it on Twitter, we then sent an email to our beta list with a survey to get their feedback on a few key product decisions (you’d be surprised at how many startups don’t take the time to cultivate a relationship with their users pre-launch and just send them an email on launch day). At the end of the survey we asked them if they would like to apply for our Ambassador Program. We included the Ambassador question at the end so that we got the most committed people to apply. We were looking for quality over quantity. These people signed up for beta, opened our email, took the whole survey, and then decided to apply to be an Ambassador.
The Twitter announcement and email to our beta list resulted in over 100 Ambassadors in 15 countries. These Ambassadors are armed and ready for launch day where they will be hosting challenge parties in their cities using the ChallengeLoop app. We’ll be live blogging that day, highlighting our Ambassador’s challenges so that all of our users can see the action.
Using this same formula, any startup can ensure a successful launch by leveraging the power of Ambassadors.
If you’re interested in being an Ambassador for your city, feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Jason Davis is the founder and CEO of ChallengeLoop. With the knowledge he gained from being the Web Products Director for IDEA Health & Fitness Association, Jason launched ChallengeLoop, an iPhone app and website designed to create fun challenges and tell the story of competitions from beginning to end. Follow him on Twitter @JasonDavis1.