Getting people to use your product is tough. The odds are stacked against you. People are bombarded with new apps and gadgets to try all the time that finding a way to the buyer is tough. In established business-to-business markets, the same problem exists. Major players dominate the space, and there are tons of new players trying to break in.
After talking to entrepreneurs who were able to solve this chicken and egg problem, I found similarities in how they did it. They all said it took a ton of work and luck, but doing a few things right can give your product the ignition it needs to go full stream.
Below, I've listed three pieces advice on getting early traction. Hopefully you can use these to propel your company to startup glory.
1. Fake It Until You Make It
Act like you already have a huge amount of fans for your product. Create the idea that your product is the new disruption in your industry, and you don't want the customer to miss the train.
A couple of resources that can help you do this are press and an early customer who can give your product a recommendation. For a consumer product, try finding an authoritative voice in your field to back your startup. Having them on your side will go a long way in bringing the followers on board.
2. Use Free As Your Friend
Some people have told me it's never good to give out a product for free. Overtime, I've learned that it more depends on the situation. If you are in a tough market, and you have the funding, sometimes it's worthwhile to give your product away to early customers. They can help give you amazing feedback, and then endorse your product to others.
If you are able to scale the business this way and know how you can make money eventually, go for it. This will help get you the initial traction that you need early on. Of course, if you're able to charge money and get customers right off the bad that's even better. With that said, I'd rather give a product a way for free and improve it then to die slowly because I couldn't sell my version 1.
3. Do Things That Don't Scale
To get people talking about your product, you have to make the experience for them amazing. This might need personally visiting your users, sending them free swag, or calling them to thank them. While you may not be able to do this in the future, making your early customers fall in love with your product should be priority number one.
Once you figure out what made the experience with your product so special, then worry about how to scale that experience. It's more important to have ten customers love your product than having 100 customers kind of like your product. Do whatever you can for your first customer, and overtime they'll pay you back ten-fold.