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3 Essential Strategies Entrepreneurs Must Use to Make Potential Customers Want Their Product

What makes people want stuff?

This is a critical component of any launch, but it’s often forgotten by entrepreneurs as they introduce their idea to the world. In order to build a community of customers, you first need to understand what it is about your idea that people really like.

At the most basic level, people want stuff for one of two reasons: to move closer to pleasure, or farther away from pain. They don’t want stuff because of the stuff itself, but how the stuff makes them feel.

In 2001, shortly before Apple launched the iPod, they broadcast one of the most well-known taglines of all time: “1,000 songs in your pocket.” In this simple line, Apple highlights the benefit to a potential buyer and generates a reaction, rather than showcasing the specifics of the offer itself. Consumers didn’t care about the iPod’s processor speed, the RAM, or the connectivity. They cared that this little device could give them a large library of music, anywhere and anytime (giving them pleasure).

And, once you’ve captured their interest, that interest then must be maintained throughout your pre-launch engagement with them. Engaging with your potential first-ever customers is a big deal. Too many entrepreneurs skip this step, thinking the product itself is enough to convince people to make the purchase.

One of the more famous engagement initiatives in launch marketing was that of Harry’s, the New York-based grooming brand. They focused on engaging and rewarding their community through a referral campaign that helped people to spread the word about their product launch.

The campaign was relatively simple — a two-step funnel. First, prospective buyers entered their email addresses on a landing page registering their interest in the product. Following the signup, the prospects were taken to a web page that contained a shareable link to the first landing page, coded specifically to each individual who signed up. By sharing the link with friends, users had the opportunity to earn free products. The more friends who signed up using the unique referral link, the bigger the prize. In short, users would be rewarded by sharing the product with their friends.

A simple referral funnel like this helped Harry’s acquire and engage a whopping 100,000 prospective buyers into their community before they launched.

Importantly, most folks tend to take an action (either engage or purchase) because they imitate others who they admire. Conformity and imitation habits sit slap bang in the middle of a launch marketing strategy. In launch marketing, there are three groups we consider to cause potential customers to imitate others (and therefore engage with you and your product).

1. The close (family and friends)

Picture this: you’re in need of a plumber and have two options. The first is a lifelong friend of your cousin. This person is affordable and highly recommended by your cousin and his wife. The second is from an ad you saw on the highway, a chap claiming to be the “#1 in town at rock-bottom prices.”

Most would go with the first choice. According to a study by Nielson, 92% of consumers believe recommendations from their friends and family over all forms of advertising.

Reviews, recommendations, and referrals have a greater impact coming from someone like us, someone in our social circle, who we know and trust. This is why anyone launching an idea should focus on incentivizing the earliest supporters to help spread the word among their social circles.

2. The many (the tribe)

The Dutch tulip bulb market bubble, also known as “Tulipmania,” was one of the most famous market bubbles and crashes of all time. It occurred in Holland during the 1600s when huge demand drove the value of tulip bulbs to extremes. At the height of the market, the rarest tulip bulbs traded for as much as six times the average person’s annual salary.

Tulipmania isn’t dissimilar from the effect a crowd — and demand — can have on the perceived value of a product or idea at launch. If more people appear to want it, then the value perception and the desire for others to obtain it increases. Another, more contemporary way to look at how “the many” can impact an individual’s behavior is FOMO: the fear of missing out.

Here are some ways to achieve FOMO:

  • Make your crowd visible. One of the components of crowdfunding websites, like Indiegogo, that makes them successful is that the number of backers and funding total are front and center of the campaign. The moment potential customers see the web page of a successful launch, they’re able to see just how many people have jumped onboard. If they see that 5,000 others have supported this launch with their hard-earned cash, then they’re more likely to do so, too.
  • Create scarcity. If you’ve ever tried getting a table at a Michelin star restaurant, you know that such things can feel near impossible. Why? Because there’s limited availability — scarcity. Creating limited availability for an offer means prospective buyers have no choice but to act fast, leading to a high level of traction quickly and creating a powerful snowball effect.
  • Incentivize positive urgency. While scarcity could be perceived as a stick rather than a carrot — those who don’t act fast are punished, positive urgency is more of a carrot — rewarding those who act quickly. You see this often on TV infomercials, where the charming gentleman and beautiful women on screen are urging viewers to call in quickly and make their purchase, as the first 100 customers get a free accessory included in their order.

3. The powerful (those with status and prestige)

According to research by Harvard Business School professor Anita Elberse and Barclays Capital analyst Jeroen Verleun, a celebrity endorsement increases a company’s sales an average of 4% relative to its competition, and also increases a company’s stock value by 0.25%. Clearly, when trying to corral people around a product or idea, the impact of endorsements from those with status and prestige can be monumental.

Each of these strategies uses assets available to almost everyone — such as family, friends — and familiar psychological tactics — like urgency and FOMO — to engineer imitation among a group of prospective buyers. This form of marketing engagement serves as the fuel to your launch fire. Use these engagement methods to pull the right triggers, and the growth at launch can quickly become exponential.

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