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I've seen many posts on growth hacking strategies that "only cost us $1,000". I'm curious on what tips this community would give to a startup that doesn't have that $1,000 to spend.

Tips specifically for a SAAS model would be great, but anything is welcome!

  • MF

    Meagan French

    over 5 years ago #

    What pre-funded startups lose in funding, they have to make up for in time. I agree with @angelolireezy that intimately learning who your target market is is essential. Once you know it, identify the problems and challenges your target market face, then create quality content, and lots of it.

    I enjoyed Jay Baer's piece on marketing sideways (creating content that is inherently useful to your target market but not directly related to your product): http://www.convinceandconvert.com/content-marketing/you-are-not-the-star-of-your-content-marketing.

    Use your time to create content that is inherently valuable to your market. Optimize it for search, social, and syndication. Do the uncomfortable thing and reach out to carefully chosen influencers for a quote or syndication. Sometimes one ask email can be worth dozens of retweets.

    It's also worth aiming high when it comes to guest blogging on high-profile publications. Make sure you know that your target market and article align with the publication's audience before you pitch, find the right editor, and write exceptional piece.

    Great content + great product and some strategic following on Twitter can also catch the eye of influencers and result in signups to an email or beta list.

    Again, all of these things take more time than money, but it can be worth building the buzz around your startup.

  • PL

    Pierre Lechelle

    over 5 years ago #

    There is no such thing as an Universal Growth Hack you could use across all SaaS products. It always depends on the product and on the audience.

    Look at this presentation from Bryan Balfour (http://www.slideshare.net/500startups/02-brian-balfour-hub-spot-final). He explains the Growth Process and how to generate ideas.

    I then guess that most product can integrate some sort of Viral Marketing with Affiliation, Referral...

    The main tip is to experiment over and over again. Experiment with your ideas and keep the one that work.

    Look at your metrics and try to act on them by experimenting new ideas.

    Sadly, I don't think that there is an universal tactic to unlock growth. You'll have to figure out this one ;)!

    • LS

      Logan Stoneman

      over 5 years ago #

      Thanks @pierre-lechelle - I completely understand there is no universal growth hack..that's not what i'm looking for. I'm curious of real life examples of growth hacks that companies have done that have cost nothing aside from sweat equity.

  • AL

    Angelo Lirazan

    over 5 years ago #

    My first tip is to just go out there and talk to your target audience! Maybe offer some free trials and get feedback. Like @platformula1 was saying, have these people talk to others about their trials.

    As said before, it always depends on what your product is. Growth hacking is about effectiveness, which is hard to achieve without being specific.

  • JB

    Joseph Bentzel

    over 5 years ago #

    Good one Logan. If you don't have cash you use shares. You offer equity to potential 'advisory board' members who are kingpin or queenpin influencers of one flavor or another to tweet about their trial use of your product. You can also apply the same principle with potential distribution partners when you're cash poor.

    Thirty years ago (yeah I'm that old) when I was running sales for graphic board startup Tseng Labs, I convinced Jack Tseng, the founder and one of the most incredibly gifted and hard-working design engineers on planet earth, to give every inside sales rep at Ingram Micro (then called MicroD) 500 shares of stock as a spiff. We even went to their shop and hand delivered the certificates inside a frame in a little motivational ceremony straight out of the pre-Comdex launch episode of 'Halt & Catch Fire' on AMC.

    Later we diversified into a graphics chipset company targeting PC, board and consumer device OEMs. That's where I really began to absorb and internalize various upstream partner sell-through best practices.

    The well-crafted advisory board can serve as your online and offline network or channel of growth hackers. Happens all the time.

  • VV

    Visakan Veerasamy

    over 5 years ago #

    Worth mentioning that nothing is free: If you're not spending money, you're spending time.

    That said, the highest ROI things you can do without $$$ are:

    - improve your offering. This requires deep analysis of your own product, your market, your selling point. How do you make it better?

    - blog, to help educate your potential customers and teach them how to get what they want (with or without your product!)

    - delight your existing customers with astoundingly good service and support. They're the best marketing you can ever ask for

  • LS

    Logan Stoneman

    over 5 years ago #

    Found this as a great resource to answer my own question: https://blog.kissmetrics.com/100k-early-bird-signups/

  • SC

    Shana Carp

    over 5 years ago #

    This one is going to be a bit random:

    Look up about ACT UP (nyc) and Gran Fury (their Art/Media Break Off Group) and TAG (treatment action group).


    The reason is largely ACT UP had essentially no budget, and most of the money it had went towards keeping people alive and in basic housing (basically, in the 80s and early 90s, if you were a gay man and got AIDs, you probably got fired, lost your housing. Then you died) At the same time, it completed nearly all of its original goals (it helped normalized GBLT people into the public eye, stopped discrimination against AIDs patients, changed the way the FDA does clinical trials, changed the CDCs definition of AIDS to better reflect gender differences)

    A huge chunk of how they did was the following

    ACT UP In General did the following:
    1) they knew the area better than anyone
    2) they cooped media attention
    3) They sometimes found allies
    4) they worked with what they had around

    Gran Fury, as part of ACT UP:
    5) they developed distinct advertising style (in fact, it is so distinct that Gran Fury pieces are highly collectible. Benneton now copies the style)
    6)They placed these pieces into the urban landscape. There was a point in the late 80s/early 90s where you would run into a Gran Fury cooped Ad on a bus the way people run into banksys now. And people got excited about this.

    However, I am really glossing over the extent of how this all worked. for a start, you may want to watch the movie "How to Survive a Plague" which at least starts going into this sort of stuff. There is also an archive here: http://www.actuporalhistory.org/

  • RV

    Rahul Varshneya

    over 5 years ago #

    There are many strategies that different products have adopted to gain initial traction without spending dollars.

    http://fifty2.in compiles some of the best actionable ones that focus purely on customer acquisition.