Let me tell you the #1 growth hack I know:
Launch your thing today.
For any B2B or B2C or B2B2C startup idea out there, there exists a way to find an audience who looks like your buyer persona and spend a few hundred dollars buying traffic to a landing page and seeing if it converts.
So launch your thing today.
Launch before you write one single line of code.
Launch before you even know for sure what your product is. All you need is a decent idea of brand positioning, value prop, and audience and you can launch today.
You’re better off launching before you have product in 99% of the business use cases you can imagine. Nothing tells you if you have a good idea more than seeing if people who have no motivation to care about your product actually do care about it.
The tech stack is easy:
- Unbounce or Webflow
- Google Analytics
- Facebook, Twitter, or LinkedIn
That’s it. That’s all you need.
Before I launched the startup I’ve co-founded, my co-founder and I iterated through 4 different ideas that all failed before we ever wrote a line of code. And that was excellent!
Imagine if we’d spent 3 or 6 or 12 months working on the idea first before discovering that we couldn’t build a business on that idea. Imagine how much energy and momentum we would have lost.
So launch your thing today.
Here’s the outline of what you’re going to do:
1. Define your offer
Define your positioning and your value prop. Check out my last article for a quick look at how I do it. Basically, you need to take a few hours to figure out:
- What am I offering people?
- Who am I competing with?
- How is it different?
- Why choose my offer over the others?
- Where can I find an audience who wants this?
- When do they want to buy?
Nail these answers, and you have the fundamentals of a good business.
2. Create your Product Offer
Professionally-designed websites used to cost thousands or tens of thousands of dollars to create and take months to launch. Now you can get websites that look like this:
For well under a hundred bucks. It’s incredible. Find a template in Unbounce or Webflow (or any other tool you like) and build a simple one-page site. You should include:
- A compelling offer in 12 words or fewer.
- Some validation that this is a real product
- A story about who this is for and how it solves a pain
- A explicit call to action that leads to a signup form
Let’s use an example of a product page I launched for a non-existent tool to help teams manage their task planning I called Ottoplan.
A compelling offer in 12 words or fewer
“Ottomate reports from your Trello Boards” is a compelling offer to a very specific person. If you’re the kind of person who has tasks in 20 different Trello boards and you’re in charge of managing teams across all of those projects, this is a tool for you. If you’re not? You’re not gonna sign up.
For the purposes of our test, that’s a good thing.
You can see there’s a
Connect Trello button there, which is not a signup form. I’ll get back to that.
Some validation that it is a real product
The validation I had here was super weak. I had no idea what the end product might look like in this version of the offer page, so I just came up with 3 steps for how this imaginary product might work and rolled forward from there.
None of that mattered. We’re not building a rocket here. We’re building a catapult: the dumbest thing you can think of that you can launch with.
With a tiny bit more effort, I could have worked something up based on a SaaS application template. Here’s a list of 1400+ application templates you can grab and use to toss together a few quick mockups of your product with 0 design skill. Again, for $20 – $70, you can save yourself tons of hours of mockup preparation.
💡 Note: when you get these files, odds are pretty high that you won’t have Adobe Photoshop or Sketch to open & edit them. No worries. Check out Krita (for Photoshop) and Lunacy (for Sketch) to get free software capable of making simple edits (like changing the name on the screenshots) in just a few moments.
Keep in mind here: we are not going to use these mockups to convince anyone to buy a product that doesn’t exist—we are using it to see if they maybe would buy your product if it ever existed.
A story about how this solves a problem
I don’t mean a real story. You don’t open up Word and start with “It was a dark and stormy night” here.
Tell the story of the buyer’s journey.
In this case, the pain is explicit—meetings bad, reports on work alignment good—and we’re testing to see if that exact offer is interesting to our target persona.
You need to write this story to precisely address your persona. In the case of this offer, we addressed it in two ways. Our persona was team project managers or leaders who are lost about who is doing what, what is shipping on time, and where they can help. These people aren’t necessarily technical folks, and they don’t necessarily have a lot of backup from other departments to write tools to help them.
So this story here is followed by the “product validation” above showing how easy it is—and how little technical expertise is required—to get Ottoplan working.
Would this product ever be able to deliver on this promise? Maybe? Probably? It seemed likely enough—without actually building it—that probably we could deliver on that. That’s all we needed.
Tell that story like you believe it, and the visitor will, too.
Identify a pain as clearly and explicitly as you can, and then show the visitor how you solve it.
Once they’re hooked, hit them with:
An explicit call to action that leads to a signup
Here’s where all of the effort you put into your offer page pays off: ask for an email address, phone number, whatever it is that you think you’ll need to close the deal with a lead.
“But your call to action isn’t a signup” you note, looking at my example.
Well, you’re kind of right. It doesn’t look like a signup. But if you click on it, you get:
And suddenly, it is a signup.
This was a further case of “some validation that this is a real product”. And what we really wanted to know was if this free reporting product could get people to connect their Trello boards to our system and generate leads for us.
With your offer ready and a lead capture system prepared, you’re ready to;
3. Send visitors to your new offer
If this is a product that you’re launching without any dev work, it’s safe to assume that you’re not going to be able to send organic traffic to this new page.
Fortunately, Facebook or Twitter are great at that.
You need to:
- Find a demographic / interest / background combination that feels like an accurate fit for your audience.
- Build some ads that target that audience. Use a tool like RelayThat to create easy ads that work for you audience with just a few minutes of work.
- Launch the ads (with the goal of driving site visits) and see what the traffic does.
The goal here is to figure out if you can
- Drive visitors from your audience to your website
- Capture leads from site visits
- Do so at a cost per acquisition that might be sustainable for your business.
Further, once you have people signed up and have their email addresses, you can reach out to all of them for customer development research to make sure that what you want to create fills the need that they have.
What does success look like when you launch?
Success looks like 3 different things after your very very early launch.
One, you launched. 🎊
That’s no small feat. 95% of ideas die on the vine, and you did something about it.
Two, you’ve learned a lot:
- What percentage of people who see your ads click on them
- This tells you how interesting your offer is at the top of the funnel
- What percentage of site visitors convert to leads by signing up
- What your Cost Per Acquisition is
Three, you can now decide if you want to develop your product further or if it’s not a sustainable business, all with 1 days work and 1 week of waiting for advertising results to roll in. You’ve saved that most precious of resources for your startup: time.
So—and I cannot stress this enough—launch your thing today.
Take time once everyone’s in bed tonight and knock it out. Commit a few hundred dollars of your money instead of a few hundred hours of your life and learn your core business truths right.
And let me know how it went.