How to get your first 100,000 customers!

You would think the hardest part about building your business is actually creating your product. The hard truth is that anyone can learn how to code a mobile app and then launch it themselves. Or build a prototype with a 3D printer. The real challenge comes down to marketing and user acquisition. In this episode, I’ll explain ways you can grow from 100 to 1000 to 100,000 users!

Here’s the transcript from this podcast episode, please excuse any typos!

In this episode we’re going to help you understand the best way to reach your first 100,000 users on your platform, or maybe get your first 100,000 customers to buy your product and running a tech startup or a company, you would think the hardest part about building your business is actually creating your product or your software, but the hard truth is that anyone can learn how to code a website or a mobile app, and then launch it themselves, or they can hire a programmer or a team of programmers to build it for them, or you can even build your own product you can get a 3d printer or you can go to a place that has a 3d printer, you can create a prototype you can get some tools and some crafts from the shop and put together a rinky dink prototype point is you can actually build it yourself. But the most challenging part of getting the company noticed and off the ground, comes down to marketing and user acquisition. And these two things are so important that they become the foundation to any early stage startup. Plus, there are so many different levels of implementation that you can take. I mean, it’s almost infinite, how many ways you can go with marketing and user acquisition. In order for you to target certain demographics, or specific markets, you need to understand the types of people that are most prone to not only use and enjoy your platform or product, but share it with others. In doing so, you can almost guarantee success with organic growth.

One of the biggest mistakes I find entrepreneurs doing all the time is marketing to everybody, putting money into a bunch of different campaigns that they think is going to get them a million users, and none of them work. And it’s because they don’t know who their target market is they think it’s, you know, a particular person like millennials or senior citizens but there are nuances to those markets, there are people within those markets that are more prone to buy your product or use your software age groups, income levels, all sorts of different things like education, and where they live geography so you really have to understand your market perfectly. And the best way to do this is to take your first step by running some micro experiments. Before you even jump into marketing campaigns, you should do some micro campaigns to determine which campaigns will be the most effective and least expensive. You can do this by having a bunch of different landing pages for free you can use one truck, and this is called AB testing. Also, you can have up to three four or five different landing pages each going to a different particular subset of groups so for example you can do 18 to 24 year olds you can do 35 to 40 year olds you can do 50 to 65, year olds, you can even do teenagers, whatever age groups you want to do and then you can find niches within those markets like maybe some like sports, some like animals, some like food, whatever your product, your software is you can find these demographics and you can find these detailed nuances of your markets. You should also be reading blog posts and creating graphics for social media and videos for social media and really kind of pushing out these different little things, these things that I’m telling you you can do them yourself or you can find someone to help you do that.

So you shouldn’t have to spend any money to do them, then sure if you want to spend a little bit of money on ads for Facebook or Instagram or another social media platform like Twitter. You can spend maybe five to 10 to 20 to $50 or something on each campaign just to get some actual data, but you don’t have to, you can just spend the time. Do it yourself, and push them out with you and a couple friends and family, and just push out these different content posts and see which ones bring you the most data. Once you run all of these campaigns, you should have found your sweet spot, meaning the one that has the most usage of views or follows or likes or shares. And then this is the one that you can use to grow your campaign. Plus if you spent any money on it let’s say you spent $50 on it, and you’ve got about 500 people that signed up for your email list on your landing page. Well now you can project how many people you can get to come to your product or your app, based on that number so you can probably get, you know, if you spent $500 you should be able to get 5000 people, and so on. I understand this is very daunting and it sounds challenging. Sounds like it’s gonna take a lot of time. It is very time consuming, I agree. If you’ve never done it before you should definitely find somebody to help you or again you can pick up a copy of my book or do my course online because both of these explained to you how to do it properly. And it goes without saying getting a mentor or a marketing expert to give you some help and some advice. It’s very valuable so look for somebody who’s done it before, who can maybe sit down for an hour find a cup of coffee, or take her out to dinner or something and get some information out of them as to how you can do this the most effectively. One of the biggest issues I find with entrepreneurs is that they don’t understand their users, they don’t understand their market, and you really need to understand them, which means analyzing the data you receive from them,

and then specifically target them in a way that is most effective to drive your growth. If you’re basing all of your decisions on your opinion and the opinion of your friends and your family, you’re doing everything wrong, I’m sorry. You have to let the market dictate to you what they want and what they think what you think, throw it out the window, it doesn’t matter. Sure, your opinion does count because it’s your company, but in the end, are you going to be the only customer? No, you need millions of customers, so you need to figure out what they want and what they think of your products. So that means you have to get market feedback. It’s funny when I meet with entrepreneurs, a lot of times they say, I’m going to get a million users by doing this or I’m going to get 100,000 users by doing that, and they never do. I’ve never seen it happen not once, so I wonder why they keep thinking they can do this. You’re defying the odds. You have to start small. One of the ways that I like to get market research and get my first users is in person. One of my most effective methods when I was growing my app instant more for example was going to colleges we went to Temple University Drexel University, University of Pennsylvania, and all the business schools associated with them, along with other universities as well. And we set up a table on a nice spring day, and we gave out free water ice and free t shirts and free bracelets and a bunch of other cool stuff and kids were stopping at our table to see what the commotion was about, you know, I had a lot of interns wearing our shirts, so we were kind of like saturating the area. And what we ended up doing was getting people to download the app, create a profile, give us feedback and they would get free stuff. It worked amazingly well, I was able to get my first 10,000 users by doing this in the short time of about two months, 10,000 users is nothing to laugh at you know unfortunately entrepreneurs see that as a bad thing oh 10,000 users is nothing but yeah but 10,000 grows into 20,020 1002 50, and then into 100.

That’s how you grow your first 100,000 users you have to do it step by step, anybody who thinks you can throw money at a celebrity or something like that just to get you those million users, okay great so let’s say you paid Kim Kardashian $100,000 to advertise your app on her website and her Twitter and all your social media. Awesome. great tomorrow, you get a million users, they download your app, and then they don’t stay on the app, they download it they try it and then they delete it. I mean, you want active users, you don’t want just a million users to come on your app and then disappear because Kim Kardashian doesn’t keep promoting it. She’s only gonna do it once for the money. So realistically, it’s not going to be scalable and it’s not going to be sustainable either you need to get users who genuinely want to use your app. And not because they were told by a celebrity to use it, but because they genuinely want to try your app and they want to use it or they want to buy your product, not because you’re forcing them to, but because they want to. Now of course when you have all this data, and all these users and all these different things you need to keep track of it. And I think one of the easiest ways to do this is by using a Google Sheet on Google Drive or spreadsheet if you have Microsoft Excel. So you want to have demographics, all listed out in columns like age ranges genders, what device they were using what location there and their income levels, you know, things like that you want to know your users down to the tee, and this way you can chart it all out to charts, and you can show people, these are your demographics. It also puts things into perspective for you as well, which you definitely need to do.

You need to be able to see the big picture as to who your target market is. In the end you should be able to say, for my product or for my app. 24 to 35 year olds who live on the East Coast, who are pet lovers have an income level of over $50,000 a year, they’re homeowners and car owners and etc etc so you need to know exactly who these people are. Because guess what, once you know this, you can forget about all the other users out there just forget about them. Don’t just try to force senior citizens on there and millennials Don’t try to force everybody on there, just use the data you have to make your decisions for you. Okay. And I have to say this to everybody out there. Stop trying to make your stuff go viral. That word kills me. You cannot make something go viral, you can’t force something to go viral, that’s just not the way the world works. When you see a cat playing the piano and it went viral. Well, we don’t know it’s gonna go viral. How do you know there’s a million cat videos on YouTube that didn’t go viral. Why did that one go viral? Why did that video of that person doing something funny go viral Why did that other thing go viral Why do these videos go viral? We don’t know why did Gangnam Style go File seriously Come on, Gangnam Style, in my opinion, is one of the worst songs, worst videos ever made, and it made like a billion dollars and it’s like the dumbest thing it’s not even in English. I don’t even know what to say. It basically is an insult to musicians like myself who have made really good quality songs. My brother is a world famous musician, and has not had the popularity of Gangnam Style, it doesn’t make any sense you can’t force the viral factor. It just can’t happen. Instead of focusing your energy on making something go viral.

Why don’t you focus your energy on making something go popular, you know, make it a campaign online that has a message that people agree with look at trending news topics look at the trends in the market, what’s popular. Maybe you can tap into a charity or maybe you can tap into a natural disaster that happened and you can help people along the way with your product or your software, so that people can be helped, while they’re using your product. Those are like the best ones and when you can tie it into something that’s very popular already. Another way I was able to get a lot of users initially for instamorph, was we were writing blog posts now It wasn’t just me it was me about three or four female employees we had, and we were already these blog posts about relationships and dating and love and sex and marriage, and that blog actually got really popular we started earning an income from Google ads, and we were getting a lot of people reading comments and sharing the blog posts and of course our app download icons were available on the blog so we were getting people downloading the app, because they liked the blog posts, so if you write relevant content that is part of your industry part of your market but not about your product, you will get people who are interested in the content and are learning information from you, and they may become a customer, and it goes without saying, you should be regularly engaging on social media and I don’t mean just posting your stuff I mean talking to people in Facebook groups, having conversations on Reddit and Quora answering people’s questions about your industry maybe not your product, you can always put your product link on your signature at the end so it doesn’t look like you’re advertising it, they might want to click on it. Also if you can reach out to the press in the media or journalists who have written about your industry, or your market.

That’s a good way to get a lot of eyeballs, because journalists genuinely look for data points, I learned this early on with Insta more when they write an article about your industry. They need data, they need numbers they like to give statistics in their articles. So let’s say you created a new product for the kitchen, that makes cooking easier, and you can tell the journalist that 78% of people who tried your product were able to cook 20% faster, and you can explain why and all the different details of your product, they may include that in their article and link back to your website, and you might get a lot of sales because of that, you never know. So I always tell entrepreneurs to make sure you follow journalists that are in your industry on Twitter and LinkedIn and Facebook and Pinterest and everywhere you can find them and follow them and start retweeting their stuff and commenting on their stuff and showing that you’re interested in their stuff and then you can possibly reach out to them. Not pitching your story not pitching your idea, but instead just telling them that you really like their content, and that you found some data in your company that might interest them. And I guarantee you if you don’t pitch them a story, and if you just try to talk to them and just tell them that you have some data, they will probably want to run it in one of their stores. And before I go, I want to touch.

It might seem like it’s not worth putting this all down on a document like how much money you’re going to spend and how many users, you’re going to get. But if you can actually put down like say you want to get 1000 users and you don’t want to spend more than $2,000 $2 a user basically which is expensive but, you know, the industry standards are pretty much around there anyway, it’s worth it because then you can try to hit that goal. When you try to bypass that goal, and instead shoot for the million users with a wild card like Kim Kardashian or Justin Bieber or whoever is famous for you think you can get to promote your product or your app. You’re not going to hit the goal. You think you’re going to hit it, because that’s what you want and you see these other companies like Facebook and Instagram and Snapchat and, and all these big companies that are blowing up and have billions of dollars. But what you don’t see are the 1000s and 1000s and 1000s of companies that don’t get billions of dollars and who fail and who lose all their money and they crash and burn and die. And you don’t want to do that. So instead get the fantasies out of your head, come down to the real world, onto Planet Earth, and realize that you have to hit small milestones, step by step, and each milestone you hit will get bigger and bigger. Like I said within the more we hit 10,000 users originally on our iPhone app, we launched an Android app after that and then we got another 10,000 users on Android, and then we went into an accelerator we went up to 100,000 users and then we went to 250,000 users, 300,000 to 350, we were getting close to 400,000 users. Before we ran out of funding. So, you can reach these goals, if you set them step by step. Just take your time and realize that it’s not going to happen overnight. I know I say it in all my podcast episodes but it’s true, this stuff takes time and you have to make sure that you’re going to be committed to it for a couple of years. In the case of getting your first 100,000 users, you can maybe pull it off in about two years if you do it right. So create your milestones, do your A B testing, figure out your target market and start acquiring users.



Jason Sherman