"1.2 million unique people in 18 months."
That sounds impressive.
It looks incredible at first sight.
Until you start reading. Until you start listening.
And then you see it. Find it one kilometer away.
"raised $ XX million from Joe Schmo's venture partners" in small print down. As it was insignificant. Like that did not change anything.
Immediately, you should see red flags. Instantly, you should be turned off.
This is not just money. It's access. That's the network. It's the email of a friend's line to a friend who puts you in touch with all the media properties on the net.
I do not hate You should not either. It's just that the numbers and so, the article, become stuffing. These "tips" that they used. These "hacks" that they used.
Writing a "really great content" is not the reason they hit 1.2 million unique people in 18 months. Going from zero to millions of dollars is the night. By going from 10 beta users to 10,000 the next day, that's also the case.
Talent begins to listen. Prospects start to buy. The journalists start to take notice. Instant results of credibility as a by-product.
All of these things are great. If you can get them. But you can not. Because you are not funded.
So here's what you should do.
The biggest problem facing the unfinanced
Raising money is not the end goal. This is also the exception in most cases.
You would not get that by reading most of the tech sites. But in reality, there in the real world, it's true.
The problem is that if Paul Graham is not on your abbreviated number, you will need a second approach.
Because the things that work in this tiny part of a market will not work for you. Or me. Or more.
The context is completely different. Which means that strategies, tactics and campaigns are too. Or should be, at least.
Here is an example to make this crystal clear.
Let's go on a new journey. Choose anywhere at all. New York City seems fun.
So, what do you do first? You do not go to "Hotel XYZ". Not at first, anyway. Instead, you go to Expedia or TripAdvisor or Yelp, Hotels.com or Google Travel or anywhere else.
And what do you look at first, before price?
Names that you recognize.
That's because 59% of people buy businesses that they recognize.
Another study from a different source found the exact same results.
"70% of US consumers are looking for a" known retailer "when they decide the search result to click."
"Brand bias" is far ahead, before setting the price for most people.
How about one more for skeptics?
MarketingExperiments.com performed a simple conversion test. They did all the
shit A / B tests that you hear about on most sites.
They made the headlines the CTAs the colors and the rest of the unwanted "experts" say you should do.
TL; DR? None of this stuff moved the needle. Not significantly Not permanently.
A test, however, did it.
Except that you probably will not like the answer. Not if you are unfamiliar and unfunded, anyway.
Did the test move the needle on 40% subscriptions?
The frightening logo.
"There was no significant difference between the treatments.The Boston Globe public is highly motivated and put a button above or below the limit did not as important as respected journalism journalism. "
That's all. All it took was the name of the brand. Because it's known. Because it is respected. Because people can trust him.
Because it's been established over the last century.
This is the part that nobody tells you online. This is your biggest problem.
These are not skyscrapers. It's darkness.
Financed companies (usually) get instant credibility. By association. If they do not suck completely.
But you have to get there as you can get it.
The unfunded does not do it. There is no awareness. Which means that there is no trust. Which means nobody buys.
Social proof is not a gadget. That's the validation. And you need it. So here is how you are going to get it.
First, here is what will not work for you
All societies have constraints.
It's time for funding. They have to go big, fast, now.
This is money and notoriety for the non-funded. Time? You should have plenty of them. You do not have a lot of customers distracting you, is not it? ?
The fact is that you do not have a time bomb. You could feel pressure at the X scale or hit $ Y in income in Z months. You might need a number to live on. But there is no pressure to do it at the end of the third quarter.
Hell, the unfunded probably never did anything by Q's in the first place.
So it's a marathon, not a 5k. And that changes a few things.
❌ SEO is a non-go. Yes, it is important. But no, it will not help in the beginning.
Search engines are literally designed to reward the entities that have been the longest, which have most often been cited and who already have this great brand.
All that you do not have. And will not do it. At least not in the next few months.
❌ Advertising will not help you either. Yes it works. Amazingly good if you do it right. What you will not do. Because you do not have enough capital.
And even if you did, he probably should go somewhere else, first. Like people. Like the design. Similar product quality.
Because your product is your marketing today.
So you always need awareness. You still need to build a brand. And you still need customers.
Realize now, from the outset, that almost 90% of your options have been eliminated.
Counter-intuitively, it's OK. You can focus now. You can start in the direction that works with what you have.
1. Align yourself with others
You need eyeballs, leads, and credibility.
Fortunately, other organizations already have these things.
So, go get them. Even if it costs you a little more.
Example: Who is the biggest player in your industry?
If we are talking about B2C e-commerce, it's Amazon. 44% of all searches begin (and end) there. They account for nearly half of all online retail sales in the United States.
Walls Need Love, a decorating site that you probably have never heard of, debuted on Amazon.
So too, The Daily Fairy. "Amazon has been amazing for my business.I started selling on Amazon in October 2015, and that doubled my sales.What it says to me is that there is a whole lots of people, "according to Emily, the founder of the Daily Fairy.
Amazon is an obvious first choice. But they are far from the only option.
Walls Need Love also works with market places like Etsy, Wayfair, Touch of Modern, Fancy and even Urban Outfitters.
From the start, Walls Need Love looks for market places that have decent conditions (nothing more than net 30, no restrictive shipping policy, etc.).
But then they will look at the promotion options.
For example, some marketplaces will give them advertising options to put them on their site. Except instead of charging them out of pocket, they will do it as a rev-share agreement.
This means that they are wasting nothing on unsuccessful ads. They do not pay for impressions or clicks or any other meaningless statistics.
Instead, they only "pay" (or give up some of the income) when a real buyer passes their doors.
This gives Walls Need Love what they need most: consciousness. It gives them credibility. This gives them recognition.
And that also gives them a chance to resell them or resell them later to offset that cost.
This is no different in the B2B world.
Same goal, different tactics.
If you sell any type of inbound marketing, you will align with HubSpot. They are like Salesforce of the marketing industry. The biggest, the brightest, the best known of the alternatives.
It starts with the certifications that they offer.
Of course, you and I know that they are mostly useless. I am not saying that the information is bad. This is not it.
It's just that it does not mean anything in real life. Except, to the prospects. For potential customers. To people who are not so familiar with the ins and outs of the industry.
The next stop is a partnership.
Most software companies offer something similar.
Unbounce has an official. Wistia has one too.
The Moz is unofficial, but still punchy.
Personally, I have never heard of Mammoth Growth. But they are an official partner of Kissmetrics. So they must be good!
See how it works?
You are no longer just an unnamed and anonymous "marketing company". You are a HubSpot Partner.
You send a cold awareness e-mail on LinkedIn or, God forbid, you meet someone at a networking event, and you're an "Unbounce partner."
All these programs often also offer an education. They can connect you internally to other companies that have been where you have been and scaled up.
So you can learn. So you can level up. So you do not go it alone.
At the very least, you exchange. You exchange time for eyeballs. You exchange your expertise for eyeballs.
You make all it takes to get eyeballs.
Basically, you need early victories that you can exploit for more future victories. Start with legitimacy and credibility.
Because these pave the way for everything else.
2. Now, focus on these early victories
This is how it works in real life.
Someone finds you through a market, a partner, a supplier, a supplier. They find you because you are perfectly aligned with them.
So they check that. They click and watch. You have to bring them back.
Let's stay at the example of Mammoth Growth, because they do it better than most.
You hit their website and see this:
Quite simple and straightforward. A consultation form on the far right. A basic copy of what they do and how they can help you.
Now look in the upper right corner:
You only have three options.
Home introduces you to everything. This is the top level overview.
Case Studies dig deeper, showing the third-party validation obtained in the previous section.
Contact is the next step. That's the thing you need to do next.
And that's all.
Where is the page of the nerdy team? You know, the one where the agency shows their "culture" and their "personality" and their "quirkiness" that makes it the perfect crew for you hipster.
This is not listed. Nowhere to be found
Instead, the focus is on building credibility.
Scroll down the page and you will see more partner badges:
What do these three partner badges tell you? What do these companies have in common?
Mammoth Growth uses these for credibility, of course. But more importantly, they position themselves subtly.
They have a specialty. They work with specific companies looking for a specific solution. And if you adapt this mold, with this need, there is no one better.
Keep scrolling and you will see Testimonials.
Best of all, the people in these testimonials align with the case studies above. Thus, the work and the results become real.
Go to the bottom of the page and you will see more customer logos.
Some, again, are the same companies . This is not a shot. It's smart.
Sports Insights, for example, are presented in a case study, a testimonial, and here again at the bottom.
You kill him with five customers on your first 15. (Let's be honest, there will be losers in the early days.)
Good! Celebrate these victories as if there was no tomorrow. Highlight the biggest, the best, the best known.
Not once the services discussed on the page. We are not interested in prices once. We do not know once when there are two people in this company or there are 500 in three countries.
But that does not matter.
You see Walls Need Love is featured on the following and you know that they are legitimate.
Validation by a third party is not the only criterion. It could be the most important. It makes people recognize you and trust you. It's more than half of the battle.
However, there is still a subtle difference to get you on your way.
You will not be overwhelmed by traffic in the early days. No need to worry about falling servers.
But on the other hand, it also means you have to convert what you get. The growth of mammoths is right. The whole site experience is top notch. Here is why it is important.
3. Simple Conception Based on Conversion
Things is a task management application of the Cultured Code.
It was not founded by former Facebook members. It did not raise a series A, B, C, D, E, or even F. It is not valued at $ 100,000,000,000 or another similar fake number.
But it's really beautiful.
And that counts when 94% of your first online impression comes down to design.
Things did the first two steps here brilliantly. They took advantage of others. Mainly, through their only thing: design.
Literally every great critic that they received mentions:
But how do you find that? How do you know what this "thing" should be?
You do not do it. Your customers (or potential customers). Which means you should ask them. Interview them. So you can pre-sell the vision so you can build it.
Just under the first section of the homepage of their site is an introduction video.
Thank you all for a fantastic launch! In case you missed it, take a look at all the new things and our introductory video: https://t.co/MKwe8EdL9k pic.twitter.com/9YmZTgZbC7
– Things (@culturedcode) May 20, 2017
The reason here should be obvious.
Video is the best way to show their main competitive advantage. It's something that they can control. And it does not require a Series A to pull it.
Almost all statistics show that video produces the best return on investment, increases revenue faster and is preferred by customers.
Scroll down further to obtain simple and transparent pricing plans:
A little further for the mentions on Twitter to reinforce the credibility:
And … that's all.
Again, no superfluous extras. The main menu only squeezes the essential:
"Simple websites" often work better. Simple like that.
You have constraints. Often, these are limited resources. It is money and limited people.
That means you have to make the most of what you have behind fewer things. Which means you have to make sacrifices. Which means you can only afford the essential.
The good news is that aligning these things with what has been proven can work well. It does not matter how much he stays at the bank.
Every company is bound by constraints.
Each decision maker must move the needle with a less than perfect hand.
The pocket ace does not just fall on the knees without funding. You have to do your own luck. You have to remove bluffs.
Big bets can put you in trouble too early. You can not afford to lose on big pots.
Instead, you must win a bunch of jars before you are ready to go after the big ones. You must capitalize on what you have.
It starts with joining bigger players. Roll on their quattails. Do what they want to get what you want.
Then you exploit these first victories. It does not matter how small. You pay attention to these things to attract the attention of you.
Then you do what you have best. Even if it's not a lot. Even though it's three pages instead of 100.
Make these three pages the best in the industry. The best design, the best copywriting, the best social proof, the best video, the best examples of features / benefits, etc.
Financing can afford to diversify. Literally.
You can not. And you will not do it. At least not for a moment. So do not even try it.
About the author: Brad Smith is the founder of Codeless, a B2B content creation company. Frequent contributor to Kissmetrics, Unbounce, WordStream, AdEspresso, Search Engine Journal, Autopilot, and more.