Focus on Delighting Early Customers Over Accumulating Followers

Written by Sean Murphy. Posted in 3 Early Customer Stage

“If you see a line get in it, because you’re going to want what’s at the end.”
USSR aphorism

This thinking is far too often the basis for a launch message. Too many “viral launch” strategies require a prospective user or customer to tweet or e-mail friends or post a badge on their blog before they have had a chance to experience any aspect of the service.  This reminds me of a joke from the USSR era:

Two women walk by a long line of people on a Moscow street.  They reach the end and one says, “Let’s get in it!” “Why”, asks the other, “I cannot tell where it ends.” So they ask the last person in line, “What are you in line for?” He answers, “I am not sure but with a line this long it must be something good!”

There is too much focus by too many startups at the “launch page” stage on getting folks who are  “in line” to encourage their friends to “get in line” instead of providing them with an remarkable experience, service or outcome. There is no real basis for a referral and/or testimonial from someone waiting in line to use your service for the first time.  All they can do is to repeat your marketing message: the net effect is to poison any possibility of a legitimate testimonials.

Ambrose Bierce’s cynical definition from the Devil’s Dictionary seems particularly appropriate for startups asking customers in line to have faith and invite their friends:

Faith, n. Belief without evidence in what is told by one who speaks without knowledge, of things without parallel.

A handful of delighted customers are much more valuable than a collection of “followers.”

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