When working with a startup, getting from zero users to something a lot more tangible can be hard. There’s a specific switching point between the moment a product launches in stealth or private beta, to the point at which it can safely call itself ready for the real world.
Early adopters play a large part in this equation, for without them, a product would never get off the ground. Getting these early adopters however, can be a brutal wake-up call, where effort applied can sometimes lead you to a less-than-amazing result.
Still, as founders and growth technicians, we can never let these sub-optimal wins detract from the end goal. Growth or nothing. Live or die.
Take INDX.guru for example, the product I help grow, which provides a free solution to the startling fact: 98% of stock market investors are underinformed when they make a trade.
Their market is niche, highly critical, and savvy.
This is a guide on how I Frankensteined an approach that blended early learnings of who the users are, where they get their information from, and called out established ‘competitors’ to help seal the deal.
Who are INDX.guru’s users?
If you’re investing in the stock market, knowledge is everything. Without it, you’re trading blind. Shockingly, that’s the way most are doing it. It’s not because of the lack of opportunity to be well-informed, it’s just that you either need a lot of time, or a lot of money.
This traditional pathway to information is broken. Keeping up with price movements, company information, third-party information that could influence market movements, social data and alternative analyses means you have to sit there, with 10 browser windows open. It’s time-consuming, and clunky, and requires plenty of brain power.
The alternative is to spend up to US 28,000 for tools like Bloomberg Monitor. While Bloomberg Monitor is an exceptional tool, the price tag makes it far out of reach for the general trader.
INDX.guru wedges itself in between these solutions. It’s a free, beautiful stock market monitor, saving you hours upon hours of research with over six million points of data, instantly digestible.
The users of INDX.guru are therefore those who aren’t ready to spend large amounts of money, but still want access to information delivered to them in a timely manner, so they can make better decisions about when to buy or sell specific stocks.
Where do they like to learn?
Qualifying INDX.guru’s target audience wasn’t too difficult. They’re easy to find and target with a short survey. While we did ask a number of behavioural questions, one of the questions was specifically designed to help us learn how we might become part of their learning and discovery processes.
The question was: ‘How do you like to learn?’, with responses being:
- By trial and error
- By watching
- By listening
- By reading
Unanimously, the answer was ‘by reading’.
Armed with this insight, the next task was to find the most influential publications for our target market. Again, not too difficult.
A quick Google for ‘Stock Market News’ and ‘Stock Market Blogs’ provided a seemingly endless list. A collection of around 30 target publications yielded plenty of opportunity.
I called a meeting with everyone on the team helped to uncover in-roads to a number of publications which we may be able to get access to the editorial team, and then negotiated with our primary media source to secure a contribution opportunity.
Who are INDX.guru’s ‘competitors’?
While INDX.guru operates in its own space and supplies a unique value proposition in the midst of other market solutions, it was critical to identify which other products our target audience were using and determine where we fit into this equation.
I was able to identify through this process, not only the closest-match offerings, but highly publicised startups which had grown from very humble beginnings to a mature product with millions of users.
The methodology for selection was product maturity vs social activity (mainly Twitter-based interactivity) and overall public user sentiment towards the product themselves.
The ‘Shoulders of Giants’ hack
Next came the culmination of the hack I like to call ‘Shoulders of Giants’. This is an acquisition hack that uses the most powerful weapon in the inbound marketing arsenal: leverage.
I have a general rule of thumb when looking at solutions for acquisition. Leverage everything. Leverage the connections you have, the connections the founding team and the execution team has, leverage the people those people know. Leverage any connection you can get your hands on via LinkedIn, leverage your skillsets, your negotiation skills, the media … everything.
Once you have a list of everyone that could possibly help you on your cause, find someone that can help you sweeten the deal when pitching a contributed piece to a publication.
When you have an ‘in’, then leverage your content writing skills to compile an article which elevates the status of the ‘competitors’ you’re leveraging. The beauty in this, is that everyone wins. Your product wins, the publication wins, and your ‘competitors’ win. The readers also win, they get to learn and be a part of products that are changing the world, and yours is right in the mix.
So, what does a real-world example look like? Here’s my article on TheStreet, one of the world’s leading investment blogs, out of Wall Street: 4 Game-Changing Stock Market Apps To Start Using Today
The results: An increase of 2490% more users over the next five days
So, just how effective is the ‘Shoulders of Giants’ hack? Here’s a graph that shows the enormous spike in growth versus the daily database growth rate, once the article was published.
Then StockTwits did this on Twitter and helped me milk as much value out of that article as possible.
There’s always some product, whether they compete with you or not, that has more users, more credibility and more market saturation than yours, but everyone loves free publicity. They love it so much, they’ll happily thank you for it with something as effortless as a Tweet to their own, highly valuable niche audience. It’s the type of exposure your product just can’t get anywhere else.
Got an awesome acquisition hack? Share it in the comments!