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We just launched Sportmatchr, a sports network to connect people with other players and events for the sports they love. What's the most effective method you can think of to spark early traction?

  • SH

    Skyler Hair

    over 4 years ago #

    This is a frequent and deceptively difficult question to answer. The short answer is....it depends. But because that's a pretty lame answer, I'll see if I can elaborate and give you some ideas.

    The first thing that I always do is take a step back and look at the audience that I am trying to reach. I make a list of all the places that I can think of where my target market hangs out (both virtually and physically). If you haven't thought about your buyer persona yet, now is a good time. (A lot of people get really intense about this but I think that this can be done effectively in 10-20 minutes.)

    Don't rule out the possibility of reaching people in person. I live near two large universities and I am not afraid to set up a booth and talk to every person that walks by about my product (assuming college students are my target market, of course). With your product being about sports, I would think that you have a huge advantage in this arena (see what I did there?) because your target market physically congregates and you can try some old-school hustle. I have always thought that because we have grown so used to being pitched online for tech products that normal person-to-person sales can be really effective.

    Once you have defined your ideal customer and brain-stormed about where to find them, the next step is to organize the methods you will use to reach them. I really like the method popularized by Noah Kagan here http://okdork.com/2010/07/15/quant-based-marketing-for-pre-launch-start-ups/?hvid=2IS39A.
    Basically, Noah suggests filtering by the estimated reach, cost and effectiveness of your different channels. I think this is important to note because it's really easy to swamp yourself for days "growing your business" without any real ROI.

    If you want a laundry list of marketing channels and tactics, here are a few resources:
    https://blog.kissmetrics.com/resources-for-customer-acquisition/
    http://www.growhack.com/2012/11/12/places-to-start-acquiring-users/#.VA3-ebywLIW

    Noah (I love his stuff if you can't tell) gives this list for brain-storming:
    1. Directories
    2. Inbound Marketing
    3. Paid Advertising
    4. Free
    5. Press
    6. Word of Mouth
    7. Viral Marketing
    8. Social Media Marketing
    9. Event Marketing
    10. Sponsoring

    Try to be smart about pursuing the channels that will drive not only traffic but TARGETED traffic.
    I work with a company that has extremely low search traffic but that traffic has high buyer intent and that's how we not only stay in business but thrive. Perhaps with your app it's different and mass adoption is the name of the game but I feel like there is almost always an element of buyer intent to be considered when weighing out ROI.

    Final thought: What about family and friends? I imagine that you built this product with specific people in mind. Don't be afraid to start with your network and use them to grow. You definitely have 1000 people within a second degree network who would download a free app if you asked them to.

    Hopefully something there sparks a new thought for you and helps in some way.

    Good luck brotha :)

    • GF

      Gareth Fenney

      over 4 years ago #

      Thanks Skyler; some really useful stuff there and will definitely look at Noah Kagan's article. We are definitely thinking of the person-to-person route - we will be attending three Freshers' Fairs in London this month as well as visiting spots (parks, gyms, sports events) frequented by our target audience!

  • NK

    narek khach

    over 4 years ago #

    This: Do things that don't scale.

    With all the golden nuggets of wisdom floating around it's easy to lose sight of the fundamentals, and I think this is one of the fundamentals.

    (re)read Paul Graham's article about it here:
    http://www.paulgraham.com/ds.html

    • GF

      Gareth Fenney

      over 4 years ago #

      Thanks Narek. A great article indeed. The collision installation route is definitely something we will implement at the Freshers' Fairs!

  • SM

    Stuart McKeown

    over 4 years ago #

    1,000 users is much easier than 1,000 customers, we've crossed both milestones in the last year. Happy to answer any questions.

    Here's how we got our first 100 customers: http://blog.gleam.io/100-customers/

    That was 6 months ago, once you get your first 100 the next 100 is much easier.

    • GB

      Gael Breton

      over 4 years ago #

      Stuart, I love your story. It's inspiring me to go more bootstrap on sales on our own project :).

      • SM

        Stuart McKeown

        over 4 years ago #

        Thanks Gael :)

        • GF

          Gareth Fenney

          over 4 years ago #

          Great post Stuart! I think a lot of what is there applies just as much to users as it does customers. For us we need to get the userbase growth first in order to then implement the revenue generating streams of Sportmatchr.

    • NC

      Nicole C

      over 4 years ago #

      Absolutely fantastic write up Stuart. Thank you.

  • DW

    David Wang

    over 4 years ago #

    I'll give it a go:

    1. Most consumer products need to focus on retention and referrals when they start. So figure out how to make an awesome first touch experience so that they share they your product (track viral coefficient). Prioritize these features and keep testing to see what works.
    2. While you're tweaking that, see how you can get some free acquisition via SEO (you'll need to do your keyword research).
    3. Partnerships - are there local groups that work well with your product? Maybe meetups, or local tennis associations? Reach out to the different places where sports are happening and see if they have an email list that you can tap.

    • GF

      Gareth Fenney

      over 4 years ago #

      Thanks David. Certainly integrating the viral loops into the user experience is something we are working on - simply having the options there for users doesn't work. Would be interested in hearing which sharing features people have gained the most from?

      We've found that the Facebook invite feature is now next to useless so are considering a combination of custom user stories and email contact imports.

      • DW

        David Wang

        over 4 years ago #

        Invites definitely won't work (as they're pretty buried now). If you're targeting facebook, most likely some sort of content sharing feature would work the best, or somethin with another feature that no one else has thought of yet. That's pretty vague, but that's the creative part of growth hacking :).

      • DW

        David Wang

        over 4 years ago #

        What might be interesting in your space is event creations on FB for match play to tagged users? Not sure if anyone has tried to create automated events through FB. You may want to test to see if it's effective.

        • GF

          Gareth Fenney

          over 4 years ago #

          Interesting idea David. I think what we would want to do is create the custiom user stories on FB around people's activity on www.sportmatchr.com, for instance when they accept matches with other users or when they create/attend an event - that way we pull people from FB onto Sportmatchr rather than feeding content through into FB events

  • VV

    Visakan Veerasamy

    over 4 years ago #

    Have you heard that one about how to eat an elephant? The answer is "one bite at a time". If you want to connect people with sporting events, you first need to build an audience and get people in the door, before you even launch your product. (People hate joining empty, dead networks. The first person who bought a fax machine must have been very bored.)

    So blog, write about sporting events, comment on popular news about sporting events. Get people into arguments in the comments. Maybe even make people signup to comment. If you have great content that people are compelled to read and share, then getting those people to convert into users of your network is a smaller step.

    • GF

      Gareth Fenney

      over 4 years ago #

      Thanks Visakan but the idea behind www.sportmatchr.com is to get people offline and playing sports - creating their own sporting events. I think the fax machine analogy is a good one here but its how to get that critical mass of users who can interact with each other on the site.

      We think that email capturing at the Freshers' Fairs and then pluggin them all into the site at once and matching the users together will be a good way for us to do this to start with.

  • RG

    Robert Graham

    over 4 years ago #

    The advice here is really good.

    I would add that it'll be easier to get traction if you have some critical mass somewhere. Pick a sport like tennis or soccer (or something local and popular) and post flyers at courts or fields. Go meet the players and show them the app. Partner with local sports groups or leagues.

    • GF

      Gareth Fenney

      over 4 years ago #

      Thanks Rob. This is the approach we have been taking and tends to get us 5-10 users at a time but they soon will get board with no-one to play with. We need something high impact to get the first 1,000 almost in one shot to get that critical mass off the ground. Hopefully the Freshers' Fairs will provide us with enough opportunity for this.

      • RG

        Robert Graham

        over 4 years ago #

        Could you run a local (monthly?) tournament with a cool prize for the winner?

        Or maybe go the unusual route for PR purposes. Run a sports tournament a la the 'underwear runs' some colleges have at one of those colleges or similar. It's link-bait and local news can't resist either being outraged or amused.

        • GF

          Gareth Fenney

          over 4 years ago #

          The underwear run concept worked well recenty for TransferWise in London recently as well; definitely something to consider!

          Sportmatchr cup could be a good idea on the tournament but I think we would need the 1,000 users first to make this a success!

  • DN

    DJ Neawedde

    over 4 years ago #

    You don't need 1,000. You have traction at 10 unaffiliated paying customers.

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