Topic: Attracting customers or partners
To recap the latest articles and summarize this chapter as a whole, I was finally able to release my product to the public. Now my only goal was to devise a relevant marketing strategy for attracting customers and to build a user base. In hindsight, my website and marketing approach had more flaws than I could even fathom at that time. Outdated coding, tiny broken data scattered throughout the huge social network, no mobile app, and an inefficient method of attracting customers. I did have an idea, but I hoped to grow on the way, and at least make a name for myself. My main thought was “Let’s see how this works out.”
A secret that most startups launching a website or an app normally uses is to already have a user base on the product. The reasoning is that users will be discouraged to stay if no one else in on there either. With this thought in mind, I directed my focus on both colleges and students to be on the social network before I publicly released the website to the public. Hence, my only method of contacting schools was cold calling. In order to contact students I would inform students through social media.
“Build your user base before you official launch your product”
My first approach was to reach out to students to populate my website. If students were flocking on-board my website, colleges would naturally come as well. I took to social media by joining many Facebook college groups, making school related postings on all social outlets, and by word of mouth. Once again the full time job and startup life were clashing, as I knew that I really had to be in the field to properly sell this website to students. It would be best to hand out flyers at many schools, deliver speeches at high schools, and attend school events to endorse Colluide. All of which were pretty much impossible to do since I had a full time job. Hiring someone to be an ambassador would be a good option, but the loyal employee willing to work for a future paycheck is sooo hard to find. After a month or so, I attracted only around 40 users on my website. That may be a good start, but I knew my customer retention rate was very low since there was nothing to do on there yet.
To counteract my high website boredom factor and add value to my website, I sought out to recruit some colleges on my website. This was done through cold calling and emailing recruiters from various colleges. I started locally and then tried to move state wide for establishing relationships with colleges. Partnerships with other college related entities were a goal of mine as well. Incorporating scholarship and general tips/advice for college were a huge plus factor for my website.
For any website or app, the user must be enticed to join and stay on the product. Developers should take a keen interest in finding innovative ways to make the product as addictive as possible. Partnerships with other businesses to share resources can be a cost effective method of achieving those resources.
“For a successful partnership to occur there must be an equally mutual benefit for all parties”
I successfully sought out and established a few partnerships with other startups and businesses related to the education industry. For the most part, their information and links were scattered out through my website to become a one stop shop place for students to search for colleges, scholarships and tips for college. Unfortunately, I had a low number of school accounts on my website. At one point, I felt my site was getting a lot of attention on social networks yet not enough users. I figured people liked the idea, but perhaps not the execution. After all my efforts in adding these new features and partnerships nothing was becoming of my website. I lost faith slightly…but I was nowhere near defeated.
At that time I had to take a serious look at my website at its face value. There wasn’t much of a distinctive factor in purpose when compared to Linkedin or any college information website. Also, its functionality was slightly sub-par; however, it was great for a prototype. I had to take a step back and think of a new way to pitch for it and create a unique factor to give it an edge above the countless other social networks.
Long story short, my product failed in seeking investments and gaining popularity. A valiant effort, but the idea still needed work. It was the end of 2014 and I needed to get more feedback. Unfortunately, the inconvenient truth was that I had to scrape the website as I was originally told and incorporate better website coding and a new idea or concept to make it more practical for everyone to use and be inclined to remain as a user. I never gave up though; I was just going back to the drawing board as I still know it’s a validated idea, but needs better execution.
Stay tuned for our new chapter next month to learn how we overcame our product identity issue with a brand new idea.
Colluide is officially launching our Meme Prints online store at https://colluide.myshopify.com. Providing one of kind entrepreneur themed meme shirts, iphone cases and more.
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