Instead of building a product first and then finding customers, I figured my first goal will be to obtain 100 e-mails before I even have anything to offer. I have a rough idea of the vision I want to accomplish, but as Seth Godin says, “Don’t find customers for your product, find products for your customers.”
To do this, I will need to tap into my own personal network and ask if they’re interested in joining my email newsletter (which I don’t have yet).
When starting out a business, it’s important to “Do Things That Don’t Scale” and recruiting your initial customers manually, is one of the most effective ways.
My network may not be my target market, but they probably have friends who are. I’ll be leveraging referrals later on in a separate experiment.
Here’s my experiment…
Objective: Obtain my first 100 e-mails from people who are interested in entrepreneurship.
Time Period: 1 week: November 16-23, 2015
My goal is to get at least 100 emails, since it’s a relatively small number and I have no existing product/content yet. It doesn’t make sense to leverage any of the other acquisition channels yet.
I have 685 connections on Facebook, therefore I would need to get 15% of my friends interested in order to reach my target.
If successful, my email list will increase by at least 100 because many of my friends will be supportive or interested in what I have to offer.
- Create a spreadsheet to keep track of everyone I message, their response, and their email.
- Prioritize the people who have the highest chance of being interested in my offering (i.e. starting a business with no previous experience). Utilize Facebook’s Graph feature by typing in terms such as: “Friends who are interested in entrepreneurship”.
- Send a copy/paste message to 10 random friends in my network.
- Analyze response rate and adjust the message if necessary
- Rince and repeat until I have 100 email sign ups
Below is a snippit of the message templates and some variations which I will use.
Using the FB graph feature, I identified 17 friends who are interested in entrepreneurship. To my surprise, all 17 of them provided their emails, this was pretty effective. 83 more to go.
*note to self – remember this if I’m going to use FB Ads*.
Afterwards, I started sending messages to the rest of my network.
- 223 people were contacted
- 142 (64%) provided their email (as of this moment)
- 67 (30%) haven’t replied
- 14 (6%) were not interested
I didn’t have to switch any of the messages up, it seemed quite effective. Here’s one via FB messenger…
And another via text…
I also went to a local entrepreneur meetup on Tuesday, my goal was to collect as many business cards as I could and to send them an email afterwards. Got a few this way too!
- It’s very important to create a proper spreadsheet to track the people you’ve contacted for following up. There were quite a few people who replied with interest, but never provided an email. I waited a day or two to re-engage these people by sending them a reminder. Otherwise, they may have been lost leads!
- To help keep track of the people I’ve contacted, I turned my spreadsheet into a sales funnel using the tabs: No Contact -> Contacted -> Closed (provided email) -> Not interested
- This could very well be a confirmation bias, but it appears that there are quite a few people who want to start a business, but don’t know where to start. I’ll drill into this much deeper with actual interviews and data, but for now…here are some examples:
Follow Up Action Items
- Repeat the above but to the rest of my Facebook friends list. So far the ones I’ve messaged are those I’m closer with, which may have resulted in a pretty high success rate of 64%.
- The next batch of people I’ll message aren’t as close to me, thus I’ll assume the success rate will be more around the 30-50% mark. With 462 friends still to contact, I might be able to get 139 to 230 more emails.
- Once I’ve leveraged up my own personal network, it’ll be time for Experiment 2 and a new goal of gathering 1000 emails.