Many startups in recent years have relied on user growth to display a working business model. This craze began when Facebook became wildly successful with their user acquisition strategy and many startups have followed in their footsteps.
However, this model only works if you gain immense traction from day one. Launching my second startup, I was targeting a very niche market. My startup helped high school students with college admissions.
We decided to take a user growth strategy and were able to go from 0 to 10,000 users overnight. In fact, things got so crazy that our servers crashed, we were overwhelmed with feedback, and we were only in ‘beta’.
How does this explosion occur? It’s not magic, luck, or even a good prayer. My team & I had strategized this months before we ever launched.
Instead of trying to reach each student ourselves, we looked for influencers. An influencer is someone who has credibility and authority to convey a message to a large group of people.
Our ideal influencers were teachers, counselors, and principals at high schools. We knew this months before launching and began reaching out to these individuals one by one.
We quickly found out that they would not spread the word for us and we moved to the next group of influencers. We identified a television station that shares news in short and entertaining clips in many high schools around the nation.
We reached out and they immediately loved everything about our idea. They told us that we needed a video (2-3 minutes long) and they would air us once we launched. Since we did this 2 months in advance, we were able to successfully plan and execute one of our many marketing plans out of the gate.
The segment aired and we LITERALLY had 10,000+ users overnight. The website was going crazy and we were even voted “The Next Big Thing” by the students on Channel One news. Always find influencers who can really deliver a powerful message to your target audience.
Social media is a great way to promote a new startup even if you haven’t launched yet. Businesses can utilize social media to share the startups vision and invite people to become early adopters.
We had a construction page that allowed individuals to enter their email address and be notified the day we launched. By promoting our website through social media and word of mouth, we had over 2,000 users who gave us their email addresses!
The day we launched, we had 2,000 ‘hot leads’ to email and notify about our launch. Even though every single one of them didn’t come check out the website, a LOT of them did.
Find a creative way to get people involved with your startup long before you launch. You want to collect vital information such as email addresses or phone numbers so that you can easily spread the word.
Social Sharing Chain
A few days before launching, we prepared a social sharing chain. I asked as many people on my networks to do me a huge favor. I asked them to share a message (created by me) and post it as a tweet/status.
But, it wasn’t just that. I asked each of them to also get 1 other person to do the same thing and so forth. Before I knew it, we had created a social sharing chain through our networks.
From this massive promotion on launch day, it’s safe to say that over 50% of all high school students in a 10 mile radius knew about our website. This was done with very little work, but gave us a lot of buzz.
For the next few weeks, everyone at school was talking about our website and asking me about it. When a social sharing chain is created, individuals cannot avoid your message. They see it and eventually end up clicking it just because they want to know what’s going on.
Power of the Press
If you don’t know this already, the press is a great way to get your story pushed out to thousands of people. Right before launching, we created a media release sharing some exciting news.
The exciting news was, “Teen Entrepreneurs Create Startup That Predicts College Admission Chances”. That was the headline used and we targeted relevant media outlets.
From educational newspapers to entrepreneur enthusiasts, we contacted them all. Even though a lot of this marketing was not targeted, it created buzz and awareness for our product.
People saw the article and shared it with a counselor or high school student telling them to check it out. It was all about getting the name out there, which we were very successful with.
Creating a startup on a user acquisition model is hard work. Just because your website is free and offers great features does not mean you will have a million users. It takes a lot of planning, hard work, and strategizing to create a successful startup.
Jeet Banerjee is a 20 year old serial entrepreneur, digital marketing consultant, author, and speaker. Jeet uses his passion to create innovative solutions that solve problems.
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