Here’s how we gained 20,000 users in three weeks while being a bootstrapped startup
Updated: Jul 28, 2019
No, I’m not selling you anything and I’m not giving you a crazy headline and not tell you the whole story. I just want to share with you how we gained 20,000 users in three weeks while being a bootstrapped startup that uses product marketing, product messaging, and communities.
I’m an entrepreneur in heart. I wanted to establish something like a TripAdvisor for pregnancy and birth. I was just starting my motherhood – I was tired, chubby and bored (just joking about the bored). I had two successful FB groups, with one of my groups evolving around pregnancy and birth. I had doctors there, gynaecologists, lactation consultants, midwives, doulas, and lots of women wanting to receive tips and good advice on topics related to pregnancy, birth, and support. Thousands of users were creating a community, engaging on a daily basis, interacting, contacting the professionals, and receiving support.
I decided that I want to take this knowledge out of FB. I asked/convinced/forced my friend to come along with me to this journey (not sure if she’s still mad at me).
Being really poor, with almost zero budget, around $10K, we established two simple landing pages, both providing great user experience. We had two communities that we wanted to reach out to – the professionals and the users, in the same as my FB group that I’ve mentioned above. I ignored all the skeptic people telling me that you cannot take the users out of FB and just moved forward.
Every user needed to create a profile – the professionals had to elaborate on their experience and skills, and the users needed to rate and review the professional’s services. The problem was that we were inviting people to the “platform” but there wasn’t any platform. It was just two landing pages and we had asked people to trust us and become an active user – super challenging. The most promising thing that we had was the story behind the venture, that this product is for the people and for the community to use and that all parties would benefit if it became more established. We were very honest and very direct with our messaging.
Back then (well, actually, also today), I was living inside online communities, not just my own communities, but other communities as well, and we wanted to target super active users to join us. When I say super active users, I’m not talking about influencers. I’m talking about users (especially women) who love to chat, to give recommendations, to help and support, and to contribute. We posted a few posts in targeted communities asking for super active users to join us. We specifically asked for active ones who spent between 3-4 hours per day on social media, posting content and answering questions – not the silent-reader type, but the active types.
We received tons of replies and needed to select the right ones. It’s a big challenge to select a real active user. We searched inside the groups to locate their posts, investigated their profiles, and, finally, we selected 7-10 product ambassadors. Why 7-10? This was because, after a few days, we could see who the real super active users were, and who was not. After selecting the ambassadors, we created a WhatsApp group to allow us to connect more freely.
After reviewing our vision with them, the only thing that we told them was to not sell anything to anyone and to not sound like they’re selling anything because they will immediately become untrustworthy. We told them to just tell the story of the product. Don’t convince, don’t be pushy, just tell the story.
Now you need to ask me, which story to tell? For that, my answer will always be that, when you treat your users as a community, always tell them the truth – who you are, the value of the product, and the value that they will gain from using the product. This creates true product messaging, and product marketing comes from the heart. People want to feel connected to the product and that the product is owned by the people and not by the business owner. Like in communities, the community is owned by the members and not by the group admin. Groups admins, who feel like the community is theirs, can destroy a group.
So, going back to the ambassadors and zero budget, we gave the ambassadors daily briefs and treated them like a community. We sent them to the online field packed with product value and messaging.
It went wild! In 3-4 weeks, the statistics went crazy. The developers texted us every hour asking what we were doing because it was so crazy. At the end of the month, we had thousands of professionals and thousands of users, 20,000, just engaging, creating their profile, and taking part in the product.
Taking part in the product is my finish line. Treat your users like they own the product, as you’re just there to give them what they want and develop the features that they need. Don’t ever get confused with that. Give them voting abilities, community features, community messaging, and the right customer support and they will feel connected to your product – this is always my product marketing strategy.
I think that I could tell this story from so many perspectives. Today, I decided to approach it from the messaging and the community side, but you will probably hear more inputs from this story in my future posts.
Let me know what you think, and please PM me for questions.
Cheers for now,