'YOU CAN DO ANYTHING, MORALLY, TO GET YOUR CUSTOMER.'
With emphasizing enough to take it into customers' hands, it's time to launch. As you can recall, we must remove all other distractions and focus on your main feature that people are willing to pay. With that saying, all your focus should be directed to launch it well and find your first paying customer asap to stimulate the motivation. Often, founders screw this launching part, and due to not landing their first paying customer, their motivation starts dying. The aim here is to follow a step-by-step process that can increase the odds of getting your initial customers.
The key is to keep the distance of days — between the day you discover the idea and the day you launch — as minimum as possible.
When I'd decided to write this book, what I did first, is to create an Instagram account and started giving away valuable content to attract the people who are likely potential customers. We live in the information world. And, everyone continually engages with the information, whether it's useful or not. But, if you can manage to find people in your market, they will certainly stop and listen to you as the content you share is valuable; also, it matters to them.
FREE content triggers reciprocity. Reciprocity means we tend to repay what another person has provided us, mostly in the same manner. Suppose your neighbor gives you delicious food they cooked for dinner, which makes you obliged to give something in return. Reciprocity is one of the dominant mental triggers, along with social proof, when it comes to selling your product.
When people see your free content and find valuable and genuine, then you create authority — another powerful mental trigger. If we need some medical help, we visit the doctor. Because they hold authority over others as we know they have more practice in treating the medical condition you have. Likewise, when you give away FREE content, you make yourself an authority on your subject. If you continue giving them valuable content, you start building trust with them.
The day you conceive the idea and decide to take a leap, your first step is to create a social media presence. You can choose your comfortable medium, whether you want to do Audio, Video, or Blogs. The content you share via your Podcast, YouTube channel, or Blogs, becomes your lead magnet. Meanwhile, you can keep working on creating MVP and your launch process. As I am writing this, I have generated nearly 3000 followers on my Instagram account and 300 Newsletter subscribers, to whom I share valuable content, multiple times a day, and email them twice a week. I have built the list of potential customers by placing a magnet with the help of the word FREE.
Building a community becomes the most crucial in this competitive world.
As an entrepreneur, your job is to build a community of your potential clients, and that too by solving their problems. As soon as they figure out, your content is no longer valuable, they will leave for better solutions. They choose you to solve their problem, to make their life better, to get that end result they have in their mind. You have to provide that consistently without getting fail. And, when you do this successfully, they become your raving fans. They become your salesperson. They tell everyone how you change their life forever. One of the best examples of building a community is Apple. On launch day, people stand in a long queue to get an iPhone first. Apple has built a community of raving fans. You must start building a community for your company if you have not started yet, and give them so much that they go out and become a megaphone for your product.
The Launch Process:
Have you seen how your favorite authors launch their books? Or How big studios launch their movies? They create anticipation by showing a small clip or blurb well before they intend to release their book or movie. They create a buzz for the book or movie. Apple runs a huge campaign before the release date. If you can engineer your launch the way these big boys do — that too within your budget — your sales will be skyrocketed, within your launch period.
As discussed earlier, you must attract your ideal customer once you decide to build a company out of the idea. Even if you are planning to launch your product within ten days, give some time to attract your potential buyer by setting up the magnet. For instance, your idea is to deliver healthy food around your area. The first thing you do is to start posting health-related content on your Instagram and other social media. Subsequently, you check other pages that can provide the same and follow their followers. The more people engage with your post, the more their trust level increases. In this pre-announcement stage, you build a stage for your upcoming product.
Another key thing to remember is that you design your content in a way that your potential customer can easily comprehend. Don't just copy others. There is always room for improvement. Get access to your creative mind, and think about how you can make your content different and yet understandable for others. You can also hire someone who can do this if your budget allows. Do not hesitate to share your best content. Engage them by asking questions related to your product, which helps you to understand what they want.
It's time to give a glimpse of your product. You have been engaging your potential customers through your newsletter and social media; you have been sharing valuable content and building a relationship. Now, It's time to introduce that something big is coming. The primary purpose of the announcement is to create anticipation for your product. We all like surprises, regardless of our denial. We all wait for the next Marvel movie or favorite author's book. With this, you not only create anticipation but also learn how responding our market is for the product. You learn how eagerly they wait for the solution you are to provide for their problems. In some cases, this can be eye-opening to founders and helpful to adjust the course before the launch.
Pre-launch is the heart of any product launch. In pre-launch, you communicate with your customers, bring out all your marketing strategies, and prepare for the big day ahead. You have already built anticipation by announcing something is coming, reciprocity by sharing your most valuable content on your niche, authority by your knowledge, and built a community with trust — irrespective of the number of followers.
I usually start my pre-launch four-five days prior to launch. In these five days, I send one mail each day, or one post a day, telling a story about why this product is life-changing for your prospects. We, humans, are more reciprocated to the story. Every movement has started with the story. Hence, your ability to tell stories will determine the success of your launch. Telling a captivating and alluring story is a skill that anyone can master with practice. Look into your life to discover the story, or you can tell someone else's story that can resonate with your product. In this pre-launch, you are going to tell a story of a flawed character just like you and your prospects, and how she turned around her life, with the solution you are proposing. In the fitness business, you have seen how companies share their client's after and before pictures to ignite your desire to become fit and healthy. With before and after pictures, they actually try to show how their client had fat and how their service or product helped them to transform themselves. These companies target people who are at before stage and promise them a transformation. You must convey what transformation your prospect will experience with your solution. Don't sell the product. Sell experience.
In pre-launch — usually, four days before launch — you craft a story that you can tell over these four days to your email list and social media accounts. In the 1st email or social media post, I would tell them why I decided to build the product/service/course in the first place? What change will this product bring in my prospects' lives? Are they going to be 10-20 pounds lighter after the program? Are they going to be eating healthy? Will they learn about making money online? Will they be able to launch their startup successfully? They will buy the end result. They will buy the promise you make, and how conviction you show to fulfill that promise.
Here is something I would send to sell my ebook:
It's been three years since I left my job and decided to be a full-time entrepreneur. I was pumped to do something valuable with my life, which led me to launch my first startup. Within a few months of launch, I figured out, entrepreneurship is not easy. I know how my days were filled with anxiety and depression because I was not growing. I just kept burning all my savings until my bank account went negative. I made mistakes, many of them. Eventually, I failed.
I realize what if I knew what I know now then the story would have been different. But that's not how it's done. We all have to go through the process of learning before achieving something significant. We must trust the process. But, when life starts putting us through the process, we lost our sanity of realizing the more significant outcome. And, some quit and go back to the job, and some keep working for their success.
Over the last three years, I have learned a few things about Entrepreneurship and Startup, which I wish I'd known back then. Hence, I decided to write a book so you can save time by not making the mistakes I made.
In this email, I talked about how flawed and naive I was, making those mistakes (Which is true!). And over time, by failing, I learned some lessons that helped me, and also can help my prospects. I also gave the reason why I decided to write this book. Same way, you can construct your first email revolving around your flawed character, and her redemption. You can follow the same structure, starting with a flashback, then a hitting-the-bottom story, and then great realization or evolving procedure, to construct your story. Or, you can entirely come up with your version, but keep in mind that the story must be decorated in a way that you or your character were in the same position as your prospects' current position. Show them how you were the same 20 pounds heavier in the past if you provide the solution for weight loss.
The next emails are for building a rapport with your prospect by giving useful insights, stories, or go-through of their journey will look like with your product. If your startup is an application, then show them features, and how they can use it. On the day before your launch, you will introduce the limited offer that can last until you close the launch, which is four-five days from the launch. You can design your offer in many different ways. Most common offers are 30-Days Free Trial, 50% Discount, 100% Money Back Guarantee, or Extra Bonus with the product. You can engineer your offer based on your startup.
Here is your most awaiting day. A day for which you have been working tirelessly. Before opening a launch, test everything, the link you will send in the email should work properly, the link should take your prospect to your product page or app page, and the payment procedure should work without any hiccups. When everything runs perfect, email your prospect that the product is live.
Don't just sit after that, but apply your marketing strategies. Go beyond unconventional marketing strategies. Construct your offer message and send a direct message on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn, or other social media accounts. Test as many methods as you can to find out your champion method that works the most, and keep challenging that champion method with the new method. And do that consistently in the launch period, and beyond. If you can buy Facebook or Instagram ads, then do it, but target only those who can be your prospects. Your prospects will surely turn into paying customers if they see the value in what you offer.
As you are ending the offer, give your prospect a final push to take action. Create scarcity by telling them that offer or bonus will go, and today is the last day to leverage on the offer. Scarcity is another powerful mental trigger which means, we respond better when something is in short supply. You must have heard from your local shop that this product is selling fast, you might not find it tomorrow. Use the same words on the last day before you close. But, don't do it just to make people act fast, and genuinely take off the offer on the closing day, else you will lose your credibility. Always practice what you preach.
In this information world, content marketing builds trust with your prospects when you share highly valuable content. To sell more, align your content marketing with Email marketing and Direct Marketing. Email marketing is when you acquire your prospect's email address and share valuable information along with an offer. Direct Marketing allows you to target your prospect directly by direct messaging them on social media, or cold calling selected prospects. For example, if your product teaches people meditation, give a free guide to meditating every day. When people willingly give their email addresses, provide them more free things with the information about your product. But remember, do not oversell.
Remember the Build-Measure-Learn feedback loop we discussed in the previous chapter? When you close the launch, you will have some customers or no customers, depending upon the list of your prospects and the story you constructed. If you don't get any customers, ask your prospect, what's stopping them from taking actions? Is it the solution you proposed not valid? Or is it any confusion? Or, you missed answering one of their questions? Analyze the reasons which are stopping them. And reconstruct the story and offer, and launch again. Reiterate this procedure until you master the technique.
Once you have your initial customers, your job is to communicate with them about their experiences. Stay in touch with them, ask for feedback, but don't pester. If they are happy with the product, move ahead to implement other features, along with changing the product according to their feedback. All your focus should be on getting as much feedback as possible to improve or pivot. Pivot — the concept of a lean startup by Eric Ries — is when the solution you offered was discarded by customers altogether. Hence, an essential shift in a business model or a new approach in your solution is needed based on the feedback. Instagram: that was a location-based check-in service when it started, and then they pivoted to the photo-sharing app. Twitter — one of today's largest social media platforms began life as Odeo, a podcasting platform. Netflix, which started as a mail-order DVD service, evolving to streaming movies, then started to develop its own films, TV shows and documentaries. All of these examples reflect the importance of fast launching, so you can adjust fast while still not broke.
Earlier this year, I attended a seminar on entrepreneurship in Jamnagar, Gujarat. I was sitting there waiting for the speaker to arrive, meanwhile my mind was glued to the big screen in front of us, playing testimonials of the speaker's clients. They all seemed so excited, going gaga over how the course had changed their life. The speaker was using one of the most potent mental triggers called Social Proof. Even in his speech, he repeatedly addressed how his course helped people gain in their business.
In his book Influence, Robert B. Cialdini minted the term — Social Proof, which means people will follow the actions of the masses. When some people do a specific behavior, others are likely to follow as they think it is the correct way. People choose restaurants based on higher ratings, more people join in clapping and shouting, after one start in a movie theatre. People react based on socially accepted norms. Great marketers and entrepreneurs know this, and utilize it to increase their sales.
After you have your initial customers, ask for testimonials. Tell them to write a review or record a video about their experience using your product. Nearly all the companies engineer their product around the social proof, and they often exploit it by generating fake social proof. Some ask their friends and family to write a good about them, which can backfires if the product is incompetent. Do it sincerely because it can question your trustworthiness. It hinders your long term growth. Are you not here in for quick bucks, right? You are in for long term growth, don't let it sidelined by quick fixes.
Avoid the competition
For you to win, others don't have to lose. When you go out there, you will find many others are already screaming at your prospect with the same solution. They all are screaming, 'Mine Is Better Solution.' Your prospects will always have a choice to leave you, hence unless you give them new and improved solutions, they will move out. Contrary to that, if you make them feel like no one does, including new innovative solutions for their problems, they will stick to you. Not only stick to you but happily pay more. Some go beyond and will become a cheerleader for your product. Therefore, as an entrepreneur, you must figure out new creative solutions. There will always be room for improvement. You just have to look for it.
Ask these questions, 'How can I serve my customers more? What's more, I can do to improve my product? What will be the new ways to solve this?' often. As Peter Thiel said, 'You can't find secrets without looking for them.'
Instead of competing, try innovating a better product. This way, not only will you help your customers avoid normalcy, but you will also give them more reasons to come back to you. I don't mean you should avoid competition altogether, but be smart enough to recognize where to compete and where not. With competition, you kill your profits. Hence it is wise to give, none of your competition capable of giving.