How to Get Your First 1,000 Users Like a Hustler
“THE ONLY PLACE GREATNESS COMES BEFORE HUSTLE IS IN THE DICTIONARY.” — Ross Simmonds (Tweet)
We’ve all heard the adage: “If you build it, they will come.” This is a huge myth and often misleads early stage startups. Many founders put a substantial amount of effort and time into building a MVP and believe that once they launch it, users will magically find it. This never happens and adds additional stress to founders because they now have to spend more time developing a plan to acquire users. Founders need to implement certain strategies to initiate momentum and get users using the product.
We’ve all read PG’s article, “Do Things That Don’t Scale.” In the article, he discusses how to delight customers, to focus on narrow markets, and explains how Airbnb and Stripe manually recruited users. But what else can you do? In this post, I’m going to discuss several techniques and examples regarding how to acquire your first 1,000 users and create that early traction…. like a hustler, of course.
Email These Tech Blogs: The following link (PR Pitch List) contains a spreadsheet that I created that lists about 40 tech blogs with corresponding email addresses. Cold email everyone on that list. It’s unlikely that most will respond or publish an article about your MVP. However, I guarantee at least one blog will respond and post about your product, which is a great way to initiate momentum.
Meetups: Establish your ideal customer and find them. This can be done by determining their interests and finding Meetups that you think they’ll attend. Go to these Meetups and talk to your customers. Install your product on their device for them if you have to. Be nice and get as much feedback as humanly possible. Possibly bring cookies or other treats so it doesn’t seem like you’re being too aggressive.
There are many other live events that you can attend and galvanize users at. GroupMe did a version of this at the Austin City Limits music festival. I’ve heard of companies breaking out at Burning Man, The Democratic National Convention (Airbnb), and the Sundance Film Festival. And we all know what SXSW did for Twitter, Foursquare, and Meerkat.
Curated New Product Sites: Submit your MVP to websites that showcase new products. The following are sites that have a loyal following and feature new products daily: Hacker News, BetaList, Product Hunt, StartupLi.st, Produktfang, and AppSumo. Some of these sites are difficult to be featured on; however, others simply require a registration with a Twitter account and a user submission.
Twitter: Share your MVP with people with large twitter followings. Don’t find people with large followings overall. Find people with large followings in certain communities. Look for communities that would be a good fit for your product. Instagram utilized this strategy when they launched and they obtained over 20,000 users their first day!
Reddit: The key to getting a good response on Reddit is understanding that self-promoting is unacceptable. However, asking for feedback on something new and well suited to the community you’re targeting can be very effective. Additionally, long titles do well on Reddit. Make sure you add a description of the product/purpose of the product in the title statement. Also, cross-post across several sub-reddits related to your community to maximize exposure. Lastly and most importantly, engage in conversation with the Redditors who make comments to the submission.
Blogging: Draft a blog post detailing the process of making your MVP. This will give users a behind the scenes look at your work and will give them access to information that only few are privy to. Additionally, discuss the purpose behind the product and disclose any entertaining events that occurred. The more entertaining the story, the more likely people will be to read it and the more likely journalists will be to publish it. Once the blog post is ready, tweet about it, share it with the above mentioned Tech Blogs, and put it on your product’s website.
Also, think about what content your target customers will find valuable, and give them lots of it for free. Blogging is one of the most cost effective ways to establish your product and build an audience.
Lastly, comment on blogs that are in similar communities and discuss your product. Search 5 to 10 keywords related to your industry on Google. Find the blogs that are related and comment on their pages. If you personally know bloggers in similar communities, guest blog on their sites and discuss your product.
Competitors: Make a list of all your possible competitors and go to their Twitter and Facebook pages. Start blowing them up and write about how your product is better. Manually reach out to their followers and personally engage with them.
Existing Users: Email or call all of your existing users and ask them to tell their friends and refer people if they love the product. Tell all of your family and friends about the product, and tell them to start using it and sharing it with everyone. Customer acquisition doesn’t have to happen one user at a time. Think about how you can leverage one user, and double or triple the impact.
Quora: Build a reputation on Quora. In order to do this, you must answer questions in which you have sufficient expertise. Your own company is obviously a thing in which you have expertise and that’s where you could start. You should then look at the area/community your company focuses on and provide answers to questions related to that. If you start self-promoting on Quora, you’ll lose credibility. The way to get members to notice you and start using your product is to help the Quora community by providing great answers to specific questions.
Thus, implementing these techniques and engaging with users will lead to your first 1,000. It may take some time, but once you begin to see traction, it will be much easier.
Feel free to reach out at firstname.lastname@example.org or Twitter: @danny_minutillo.