The Chicken & The Egg
The most important element of any product is its users, especially if your product relies on user driven content. This creates the problem of the chicken and the egg - which comes first, the product or the users?
If you have no users when you launch, then why would anyone use it? It’s important that you gain traction before launching if you want to attract and maintain further users.
When Should You Start Recruiting Users?
The moment you decide your going to build a product. Once you start creating, then start attracting users.
How Do I Attract New Users If I Don't Have a Product Yet?
By creating hype. Your first priority is to develop a brand and set up a promotional page; this doesn’t have to be anything fancy. Create a logo and a basic statement describing your product and buy a domain name. Be sure to include functionality for users to sign up so you can capture their email address.
If your product sounds interesting, early adopters won’t hesitate to sign up to be notified of it’s release. People love the idea that they will be the first to use the latest cool product. These people will also become the evangelists for your product and help spread the buzz.
Continue to engage with users after they sign up, send them information as the product develops, provide teasers and show them some sneak previews. When people sign up, don’t let months pass without them hearing anything from you – people will lose interest and forget about your product by the time you launch.
Promote Like Crazy
With your new promotional page up and running it’s time to promote your product as much as possible. Utilise social networks to spread the word and direct people to the sign up page.
Start talking to people at conferences or the bar and tell all your friends. Talk to people as if your product is going to be the hottest thing since sliced bread. Convince them to to tell other people. If you can; develop a basic prototype that you can use to demonstrate your product. People make more sense of being able to see something tangible than simply hearing a verbal description, especially if your creating something new and innovative that can’t be compared to previous solution.
Set up a blog and post regular content, keep people updated with your progress and continue to build hype around the product.
Track User Engagement
Use analytic tools to gather as much information as possible. How long are people staying on the site? What is the hit to sign up ratio? If people aren’t engaging at this stage you may need to make some changes to your promotional page. Ensure you have an accurate description. If you can’t describe what your product does in one sentence, then you need to reconsider.
By taking basic steps you can go a long way to generating some hype while you develop your product. You should then have a strong following and user base when you launch.