Pretty much everyone I speak to - be it a friendly convo or through a formal consultation - wants to leverage some form of sexy "growth hack".
- A "set it and forget it" referral sequence.
- An evergreeen automated email sales sequence.
- A stream of JV promos to handle all their marketing for them
These strategies can work. But you need one of two things to get results with them.
- A working product that's proven to get results
- An existing audience (or the ability to generate one quickly with cash)
Most of the time, validating an idea and attracting the first ~100 users isn't an act of scaling growth through smart strategies.
It's the result of unsexy work. The kind of stuff a lot of founders, entrepreneurs, and early-stage marketers think is below them.
We're talking things like...
- 1 - 1 outreach
- Building a reputation through community engagement
- Repurposing content and opinions across multiple platforms manually
They ain't sexy, nor do they scale well. But they're necessary at these early stages.
Take my new idea - DeRev.co - for example.
I finally have the site to a point where I'm content with the design and usability.
I also have a researcher who's adding new platforms to review on a weekly basis.
If I want to monetise the site, what I now need are users and reviews. So how can I generate these?
Bear in mind the below constraints.
- We have 0 DA so organic content ranking will take a concerted effort, months of time, and a lot of backlinks to rank
- We don't have an obvious offer or product - and so burning money on attracting traffic won't necessarily work (or rather I don't have 10s of thousands of dollars to burn through and figure this out)
- My success depends on people taking time out of their day to help me - leaving a review offers them nothing in return
If I want to generate traffic and reviews, I have to get a little creative.
This is the stuff that, to me, is more interesting. So I wanted to share with you my thought processes and plans to go from 0 - 1.
If you're in a similar situation, I'd recommend you look at doing something similar.
Growing from nothing with little to leverage
Growth really comes down to 2 key factors.
- A good offer / incentive
- Getting it in front of the right people
Now, in the Growth Studies I've done here, the brands often have a few things in their favour.
- They've found product-market fit
- They have funding/ cash to burn on growth
And so, when it comes to scaling new offers or channels, they can lean on an established method.
That method is to lean on paid acquisition to get initial traction and feedback (without any return) in the short term, at the same time they build an organic growth machine.
That organic growth machine is built on the learnings from paid acquisition and eventually takes over the lions share of the work.
As your organic kicks in, you start to lay off the paid. You end up with consistent results at a lower cost.
However, this isn't realistic for many brands (DeRev included) operating on tight margins and without funding - especially if the offer is new and as yet unproven.
You could flip the complete opposite way and rely 100% on organic.
That would be producing high-quality content and then promoting it aggressively in established communities (The Content Mavericks' Model).
This is a great way to grow if you have no cash. but it takes time.
Both in terms of creating and promoting and also time to see stable results.
The problem I have right now is DeRev falls somewhere in the middle.
I need fast results (plan is to get this to a 7-figure run rate by end of 2022), but I don't have tonnes of cash to spunk on ads.
So, I have to get a little creative.
I will have to pay for initial traction, but I think I've devised a plan that will minimise that spend whilst getting outsized initial results.
Here's what I've planned based on the above fundamentals.
How I'm going from 0-1 with DeRev
So here's the way I see the best path to set up a simple growth model to help DeRev go from 0-1.
And as a little reminder, DeRev is like a G2 site for Web3 - which is why I did the study on G2.
How I'm attracting new users
So first off, I'm taking the same approach with content as Adam Enfroy did (you can read the study on it here).
In short, I'm producing BoFu content which should help turn visitors and links into short term revenue for me.
Of course it will take time for me to generate traffic and I'll need to build backlinks as well.
So in the short term I'm considering some form of giveaway to create initial buzz.
When analysing the Web3 space, a lot of new brands are generating initial traction with giveaways.
Some give airdrop tokens (basically giving free money to people engaging with the brand).
Others offer some form of free NFT from a collection.
This tells me that...
- Giveaways work with this audience
- Giveaways focused on Web3 offers do well
So I'm looking at what kind of NFT might help me generate some buzz around DeRev.
I'm going to run this through the review system I use on DeRev.
Basically, to be entered, you have to have left an honest review of one of the entries on the site.
So to summarise, I'll build initial traction by incentivising users to leave a review by offering a free, valuable NFT.
I just need to get the NFT first...
How I'm converting them
Fortunately, this is quite simple on the site.
Once they head to a specific page and leave a review, I can collect their email address through the review service.
I have some issues right now with the integration with ConvertKit, but that should be able to be solved with the right Zapier.
So again, to summarise, I'll attract with content in the long term.
In the short term, a giveaway to leave a review, which then leads to a collection of an email address.
If I get the initial promotion of the giveaway off to a great start, I could see a few hundred or thousand reviews.
How I'm engaging them
Once I have the email address, they'll get regular email updates.
These updates will notify the users of changes on the site (new review additions) and also of recent blog articles. Just to keep DeRev top of mind.
I have plans in the future for more partnership offers with some of the brands to add to the value of the emails I can send out.
We're talking $X back on purchases kind of thing to make the newsletter and signingup more attractive.
How I'm, getting them to refer new people
Referral programs are one of the staples of effective growth.
The review system I'm using allows the user to share a quick Tweet after they've dropped a review on the site.
This should help turn each review into social buzz around DeRev and generate a little more hype and traffic to the site.
Which should, in theory, generate more reviews.
Which then gives me leverage with the brands to negotiate some form of monetisation offer with them.
A summary of this simple growth model
Let's bring it all together.
This is what the overall growth model I'm using to go from 0-1 looks like.
- Work on BoFu blog content and social promo of it in the background
- Create an NFT giveaway where entry is a review on the site
- Capture emails from the reviews
- After the review, allow people to share it to social to increase visibility
- Engage email subs with newsletters and new content which directs back to the site and reviews
What's your take?
I'd love to get your take on this speculative and planning content.
I've been absent over Xmas so I could take stock of things and give my attention to the launch of DeRev.
If you'd like to read more like this, let me know.
Of course you'll still get all of the usual Growth Study content. As mentioned in a previous email, I'm not stopping that.
But if there is anything you'd like to see, I'd love to hear from you.