The principle of early launch or how we got our first clients before the start of the project

    About service can be found in the company profile. I can only say that this is a personal project, which I do after hours. From the beginning to the present day, only I and a freelance programmer work in it, occasionally other specialists are involved.

    When a project is financed from personal funds, which are enough only for development, and the project idea and business model are not tested, there can be no talk of any advertising. And how to advertise a service that is not yet? Nevertheless, I wanted to start promoting the project as early as possible, so that by the start something was already known about it. I also wanted to make sure that the project solves real, not far-fetched, problems of people.

    As a result, I had a plan that helped me begin to communicate with users even before the official launch, confirm my hypotheses and even agree with the first clients to conduct contests through the service. In this article I want to summarize the experience of launching a project and share it with the community. There is a lot of theory about such approaches, especially in startup parties, but I want to share my real experience, maybe it will be useful to someone.

    In a generalized form, the plan looked like this:
    1. Register domain
    2. Create community in social. networks
    3. Post multiple posts to start
    4. A little "pump" community
    5. Create a simple landing page (with contacts and subscription to launch news)
    6. Engage potential users in the community
    7. Create a section with tutorials for users
    8. Announce the imminent launch of the service
    9. Report Launch
    10. Share first customer results

    Further I will explain why each of the items is needed and what was personally done by me.

    Register domain

    Starting a project, the first thing I do is determine the name. If it has not yet arrived, you can do other things, but when there is certainty with the name, you need to register it right away.
    What for?
    When discussing a project with people, one way or another, its name appears and someone can register a domain in your place, and then try to sell it to you. To avoid problems in the future, it is better to register the name in advance, especially since it is inexpensive.
    What has been done
    I immediately registered a domain in the .me zone, although later I decided to rename the project, having bought a more suitable domain in the .ru zone. Since this happened a month before the launch, the renaming was painless for the service.

    Create community in social. networks

    No one doubts the effectiveness of this channel. I’ll only add that today many have forgotten about the good old forums, and yet many professional audiences can be searched there. First you need to find your users, read what they care about, try to help with advice or deed. Then create a community with audience-friendly content and communicate on its behalf.
    What for?
    In the process of communication, people may ask who you are, go to the page and remember you. Just do not forget to describe there what you are and what you are working on.
    What has been done
    I created communities on Instagram, Vkontakte and Facebook. I wrote what these profiles are about, set up automatic cross-sharing.

    Post multiple posts to start

    What for?
    In the future, you will need to attract readers to the community. And people will subscribe to you only if they understand that you are useful, because no one will subscribe to an empty account. What to write about? Obviously, your future service is aimed at solving some kind of problem. While you are programming a problem-solving tool, you can write about why these problems are important or how you can solve them using existing methods, give some advice and life hacks.
    What has been done
    Our Instagram account was the first in Runet to start collecting all contests in one place.
    I found and posted about ten of the most interesting contests in my opinion, before I started attracting people.

    Pump up the community a bit

    What for?
    As practice has shown, people are more likely to subscribe when they see that the account has at least several hundred subscribers.
    What has been done
    I ordered the attraction of subscribers to the groups, in a day everything was ready to work with potential users.

    Create a simple landing page

    People brought into the community should be able to go to the site and read at least some minimal information about you.
    What for?
    The ultimate goal is to inform people about the service, and the community is just a means. While there is no full-fledged project, going to the site people should be able to read what kind of service it will be and even leave mail to learn about its opening. Do not forget to indicate your contacts there for feedback so that the most interested can ask you questions. By the way, the presence of questions and postal addresses left was for me the first indicator of interest in the project. Be sure to include a link to the site in your community profiles. The name of the service was reflected both in the address of the site and in the address of the communities, so that people immediately realized that they were dealing with a site. This will ultimately attract Type-in ​​traffic, as well as traffic on request of the site address.
    What is done
    To get started, I used the service to make a quick quick landing. A month later, he was replaced with a more informative page, with the ability to log in via Instagram. So I got the first contacts to inform about the opening of the service through direct messages.

    Engage potential users in the community

    What for?
    Having a loyal audience, in the future you can make of it the first and even regular customers. In addition, you can understand what type of users will be the core of your audience, which messages and ways to attract more effective.
    What has been done
    Since the first version of my service was made for Instagram, the main emphasis was placed on this audience. Comments, tips in other competitions, likes of photos - I tried everything with my own hands. It turned out that invitations to the community in the comments are most effective. The @giveaways_ru account, of course, is designed more for contestants than for organizers. I even tried to develop a separate business account, but refused it, because both audiences were almost 100% overlapping and messages for them could be the same.

    Create an article section for users

    A lot of good has been written about attracting users through useful content, including here. I also decided to do this while the development process is in progress.
    What for?
    To have something to tell the audience about and try to get the status of an expert in the field. And of course, unique articles help to get seo-traffic, this effect is not instantaneous, but it is worth the effort.
    What has been done
    I created a section for the blog (thanks to Drupal, which I recently wrote about ) and wrote the first few articles. Then he tried to regularly write new articles. Where to get topics for articles? I looked at audience questions and thematic queries on search engines. Three months after the launch, the project’s seo traffic exceeded the direct traffic from Instagram, which confirms the usefulness of the venture.

    Announce the imminent launch of the service

    When you have an approximate release date for the project, and the community roughly represents who you are and how you can be useful, it's time to add more information about the service to the project’s main page and announce the release date. It would be useful to think of some kind of bonus for the first users or participants of closed testing.
    What for?
    This will once again remind the audience that you are not just a community, but a new and useful service. Those who once heard about you can finally go to the site and leave contacts or sign up for volunteers.
    What is done
    I announced closed testing and scored the first few users. I even had to speed up development in order to start testing earlier and not lose “hot” customers. I was lucky to get a client with a rather large Instagram community before the official launch, due to which problems with the performance and limitations of the Instagram API surfaced. With closed testing, a valuable feedback was obtained. Many asked questions about the details of the service and wrote that they really lacked such a tool. This was the second moment (after questions and abandoned emails from the landing page) when I realized that someone really needed the service.

    Report Project Launch

    What for?
    All previous work was done just in order to be able to talk about the project to those who would be interested. At this point, you should have a community (subscribers, readers, contacts, new friends) familiar with you and waiting for the service to exit. How many first users you will receive after the announcement of the launch will be an indicator of the effectiveness of your work. Create a post on the launch of the social. networks, remind discounts to first customers and get ready for a lot of questions.
    What has been done
    I talked about the launch and in the first week I received about a dozen first users. We did not need more, because we were actively working on performance and closing bugs. I also posted an online consultant on the site and regretted that I had not done this before.

    Share first customer results

    When there are customers who receive the results, let the others know.
    What for?
    No one wants to be the first. Especially in completely new services that have no analogues. Show how it works, so that others understand that it is reliable, uncomplicated, profitable and fearless.
    What has been done
    I recorded on video the moment of determining the winner in the competition, published messages about the completed competitions so that people saw activity and decided to try it themselves.


    It took me no more than a thousand rubles to implement the plan to launch , and for an hour after working for two months, while development was underway. In the first month, I received about 30 clients who took advantage of the free opportunity to hold the first competition without spending a single ruble on advertising. I also received many suggestions for improvement, which helped me prioritize the development of new functionality.

    The main idea of ​​this approach is to open up to users as quickly as possible, giving them something that will cause initial interest, allow them to collect early feedback, and when the service is ready, inform an already prepared audience. The approach does not cancel the traditional advertising, it helps to reach users faster, instead of waiting for the final release and understanding that the product requires rework.

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