A tried-and-true list of commotions was part of the playbook for beginning a new company five years ago. You would try to get a feature story on TechCrunch, a front-page hit on Hacker News, hunted on ProductHunt, and an AMA on Quora after you produced a great product with a catchy name. While all of these achievements are still amazing today, attracting attention and achieving a breakthrough adoption trajectory has never been more difficult. Rather than the other way around, in this new decade, you can out-market your competition first, then raise a lot of money, employ the greatest team, and construct, rather than the other way around (building first, then marketing).
Outbound marketing tools like company newsletters are useful, but in the new creative economy, they are a slow burn and offer little conversion. So, where do we go from here? With audiences dispersed across several media, cult status necessitates some kind of hacking. Branding is no longer a one-hit-wonder, but rather a process of repetition: It may take four or five times for a person to recognize, recall, or Google your startup’s name or logo. Below are some growth strategies that I think will aid in the endeavor to establish a loyal user base.
Users are observers before they become evangelists. Consider building a bot to notify you of any product mentions on Twitter or to uncover topic-related debates on Reddit (“Best tools to manage AWS costs?” or “Which marketplace do you resell your old equipment on?”), which you can then respond to with insightful remarks. Join relevant Discord communities, infiltrate Slack groups of relevant conferences (including previous incarnations – chances are such groups are still active), watch forums on StackOverflow, and participate in the debates on all of these channels.
Your posts will convert better if you post more frequently. The more frequently your handle appears in newsfeeds, the more probable it is to appear in highly mentioned “listicles.” In the early stages, you should generate the majority of “user-generated content”, from both personal and business accounts.
Building in public can be intimidating due to the rapidity with which ideas can replicated, yet competition will always exist because new ideas do not emerge in a vacuum. Every time a new changelog is published, companies like Railway and Replit tweet about it. Stir refers to its feature releases as “drops,” same to how streetwear labels refer to their releases. Building in public can also lead to viral chances, which necessitates drama, comedy, or both. Basecamp’s public battle with Apple about existing App Store take rates boosted Hey.com’s launch. Mmhmm, a virtual camera program that gives video meetings TV-presenter flair, debuted with a viral video that received over 1.5 million views. To demonstrate new use cases, the firm continues to post interesting YouTube demos.
Some businesses, like a musician previewing an impending album, are able to build significant anticipation before departing stealth mode. Humane was formed by two ex-Apple executives who created gorgeous social media pages with superb photography without sharing anything about what they intended to achieve.