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#6 Thirty Days To Build An Indestructible Castle
In next 30 days find hundreds of super users who will also help you in improving as well as promoting your SaaS product. If this is something you are not interested in, stop right here. This week’s newsletter is not for you.
First set of Facebook users were from Harvard where Mark Zuckerberg was studying at that time. In a matter of days, over 1200 students signed up for it. Later throughout 2004-2005, Facebook was launched only within the universities in US & Canada.
Tinder identified and approached sororities and fraternities as their initial users. Tinder team went to meet them in universities and explained the possibilities available within the app.
Etsy approached craftsmen in craft fairs, took them for lunch and spent a great deal of time with them. A lot of these well-established craftsmen became Etsy’s early users, selling their handmade crafts to distant corners of the world. At the same time they provided years of experience selling handmade items to help Etsy build great features.
Seasoned entrepreneur Stewart Butterfield used his network to find first few companies to use Slack. His own team had used the Slack as an internal tool for over 2 years before the official launch while working on a product which never took off.
Facebook did not remain limited to universities, Slack did not remain limited to Butterfield’s network.
A great many successful internet companies engaged only a small group out of their target audience during initial stage.
They researched and selected the user group which has the highest probability to gain from the product immediately out of their target audience and figured out the most effective way to engage with them.
This group of audience is the low-hanging fruit for organic growth.
Engaging with this low-hanging fruit (LHF) audience is not only the simplest but also the most beneficial strategy for early stage SaaS startups.
Pluck the low-hanging fruits first.
🙋 What is the LHF audience?
👉 A segment of your target audience which:
Either has a latent need for your product or has high levels of pain that your product solve.
Can be reached and engaged via defined channel
🙋 Why targeting LHF audience is simplest and most beneficial?
👉 Engaging with LHF audience can not only bring in early users but also help in improving the product. This is a sub-set of your target audience which live and talk about the pain your product solve all the time.
Sororities and fraternities might not be aware of any dating app before Tinder but this was a group which was always talking and discussing about dating. It’s a part of their life.
Before you plunge into high decibel growth activities, gain these key users. This will help in:
Product usage insights
Discovering best positioning and messaging
Sowing the seeds for word-of-mouth
Why this works?
This is an extremely contained growth experiment. You will reach out to a very specific audience which has been selected due to its high potential affinity to your product.
The contained nature of this activity enables you to focus on this audience, have conversation with them, build messaging to suit them, observe their usage behavior and listen to their feedback. In this sense it is a high-touch activity.
Due to exclusivity, this group in no time will feel special and will likely to adopt your product as one of their own.
Do not waste energy on 10 different things. Do not produce content for everyone. Just focus all your energy on this LHF audience.
“Sounds great! How exactly should I do this?”
Here is a good heuristic:
Audience discovery: Use the data of all your growth activities till now. Platform you have used, responses you have received, profiles of those who have signed up, channels which have worked and flopped, profiles of those who are actively using the product and everything that you have.
Within your target audience, you are looking to discover a sub-set of people who can be clubbed in some kind of group, those who share some sort of homogeneity and have shown maximum responsiveness to your efforts.
In case you are just starting out and do not have any data yet, you will have to rely on secondary research and be very agile. Be very specific and use the ideas mentioned above.
For example, if your target audience is SaaS companies, then your LHF audience can be a sub-set of it. Whether it is early stage SaaS companies or those who have raised more than $100k in seed round or those who have crossed $5 million in ARR or those who has been incubated by Ycombinator, this is something you have to decide. Possibilities are endless.
Determine a channel to reach them: Once you have LHF audience selected, it is a matter of few brainstorming sessions to figure out the best way to reach out to them. Find a high touch channel if possible. Connect with their incubators or attend events which brings them all together or if they are students then go to universities..any channel that enables you to reach out to them more effectively.
Engagement: Discuss. You have to learn about them as much as you have to promote to them.
Tell them “We’ve built this. This is how it helps you”. Share your story and focus on the pleasant change your product can bring in to their life. Ask them for advice and invite them to share their story. Offer a real time, guided experience and hand-hold them till the moment they realize its value.
There is indeed an element of selling involved in this exercise. But that need not to be something to get started with.
✔️ At the end, you will have valuable users, great insights and a lots of feedback.
Repeat this exercise with another group.
A NOTE ON MINDSET
As you go about building your business, you will come across a lot of shiny stuff.
People will say you got to have huge Twitter following, attractive banners, Facebook audience, attractive funnels …this and that.
If these do not help you in your immediate goals then these are shiny objects.
Look awesome from a distance, but may or may not of any use.
Don’t focus on shiny objects. There is no end to them.
Do what is absolutely necessary to get clients, serve them and grow revenue.
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