Even when you think you have a brilliant idea, it can take some convincing to get others on board.
Just ask some of today’s most successful founders. Airbnb, Dropbox, and Reddit are just a few companies that used some far-out-of-the-box strategies to get their very first customers before becoming household names. Learn from their examples. Will they work for you?
Creating a viral moment that targets a specific community
Sure, they aren’t easy to pull off, but viral moments can be crafted with some strategy and dedication. When Dropbox launched in 2007, the cloud-storage company had a hard time bringing in new users. It ran a Google AdSense campaign, but it barely made a difference. So, co-founder Drew Houston, 39, decided to show, not tell. He made a video to demonstrate exactly how its storage worked, and posted it on the news aggregator Digg. Users on Digg quickly upvoted the video, and by the next day, the site had 70,000 new sign-ups, according to Dropbox, which noted that the Digg community of avid internet users was an ideal target.
Still, Houston says that it was important for the company to keep innovating for the company to gain new users. One standout strategy: Dropbox ran a campaign that offered users 128 megabites of storage, in return for sharing a referral link on Facebook and Twitter. Within just 30 days, Dropbox users sent out 2.8 million invites, which greatly bolstered the site’s user base.
Pulling from another company’s user base
Poaching customers from another business may sound like playing dirty–but it’s often a reality of business. When developing their apartment-sharing platform, Airbnb’s founders thought about what alternative a prospective short-term renter might use without their service. The answer: Craigslist. The founders were confident that they could make the rental experience more pleasant for everyone involved, but they knew that, before they started any kind of customer outreach, they needed to find people who were…