Insightful learnings from Slack

I’m impressed by the content marketing team at First Round Capital and their The Review. They often have interesting interviews with founders, marketers and others that’s going deeper than the 10 best ways to build a unicorn. Today I read their insightful post about how Slack entered the market and how they got their traction. Just go ahead and read the full article now. If you’re short of time, here are my main take-aways and notes:

  • Spend time on educating customers, and potential customers — so many companies take it for granted that people will understand how their product works. We don’t. We need advice and inspiration.
  • “Don’t leave PR to two weeks beforehand and throw something together” — PR is a continuous work and it doesn’t stop when you’ve received your first coverage. PR starts to pay off when you’ve worked with it consistently over time, when the journalists know you and start reaching out to you instead of you pitching them. That takes time. And patience.
  • If people claim to use “nothing” instead of your product today, try to understand what that nothing is. Convince them that they’re already using something, but that you have a better option. — It’s hard to make people do something entirely new. We dislike changes, but love improvements.
  • “If you’re innovating in a nascent market, the push for recognition of your product category needs to be a major chunk of your go-to-market strategy.” — This is extremely important and we worked hard on this at Wrapp in the beginning. We built “social gifting” as a category, with success I’d say. The media started to talk about it as the new hot thing, and Facebook as well as Amazon jumped on the social gifting train.
  • Don’t sell to entire companies, sell to teams. The bottoms-up approach was a key factor in Slack’s early enterprise success.
  • They treated their early customers as beta testers, listened very carefully to what they said and changed their product accordingly— this should be a no-brainer for any company but this is so important and worth highlighting.
  • “Most people who fill out the form and hit submit — more than 90% — never invite anyone or start using the software.” — I think most companies will be fairly relieved when they see this. If your conversion is too good you may not reach enough people.
  • Inspired by Gmail, Slack picked three things that they wanted to be incredible good at, and focused on becoming the best in these three areas. Other things mattered less early on. — You can’t be the best in everything. Pick your fights. And stay focused.
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