How to sell products using waitlist strategy
I remember times when getting a gmail.com address required a special invitation from a friend. I recall how exclusive this product seemed at the time and how desirable it became because of that. Over time, the success of this marketing procedure has declined in popularity, but recently it is experiencing a true renaissance.
After all, when I’m writing this article, the waitlist to receive to the SuperHuman email program has more than 250,000 people.
New product launch strategy: attract attention and make people give you their time
When creating my first e-book on bringing minimally ready products to market, I devoted a large part of it to how to test my idea on real recipients using small steps. The easiest way to see to what extent our solution can interest our audience is to create a simple landing page with information about our product or an expert blog. It’s ok to put a form on such a website and offer to join the waitlist of people waiting for the premiere. Thanks to such a move, you do not even need to have a finished product, but only an idea of attitude and general interest in your solution.
The main goal of a Novice startup strategy is to get acquainted with the target group and the market. So imagine how perfectly people who signed up for the waitlist fit into this group. How important the faced problem must be for them if they have devoted enough attention and time to click on an ad or article, find your page, get to know it, become convinced it’s the right decision, and finally leave an email address. This means they are genuinely interested in your new product if they invest their time in the pre-launch phase.
If you want to prepare for product development accurately, read our article Product Workshop 7 Steps to Reduce Cost and Minimize Risk during Product Development.
Domination strategy for the launch of a new product
A good approach when building products with pre-launch waitlists is to implement a “domination strategy” approach. Jay Abraham, its creator, describes it as a strategic philosophy and strategy of running a company. It should become the basis of the whole company culture, its management as well as marketing and contact with the customer.
The strategy I mentioned is to show my company as a fully dominating force in the industry. You need to value your services above all else, deliver amazing experiences to your users (even in excess) and become the best source of information in the niche you’re in.
How to sell products with Jay Abraham’s approach?
As a company, you have to stand out, and the problem you solve or the product you offer should be clearly associated with you. Only this will give products with waitlists a real chance of success.
Founder of CodeAlly.io
Before we started building Clients’ waitlist, we explored the possibilities by trial and error – from LinkedIn InMails, through reaching out to potentially interested users on Facebook, to visiting various companies in person. Although the efficiency of individual channels wasn’t always as expected – we learned one important thing: our solution is primarily useful for developers, who, at the same time, are not present at the beginning or at the end of a recruitment process. That’s why when we tried to sell our products to developers – we had zero ROI. However, when we got to the people responsible for recommending recruitment tools, we managed to expand the group of potential and actual Clients. At that stage – the social proof we gathered was not without significance, as the support and recommendations we received from the City of Lodz gave us credibility as business partners.
CodeAlly application is the first solution on the market that enables to manage of the whole recruitment process within one single tool. It allows sharing development-ready environments through the cloud in one click, significantly reducing the time of programmers’ job interviews. Additionally, Stove provides recruiters with a live preview into the candidates’ programming process, which allows companies to explore in more detail not only developers’ skills but also an approach to problem-solving or teamwork.
Create an email list NOW
To do this, any advertising material, publication, or content you release must give the customer the feeling that what you are doing is top level. This email list strategy involves a lot of patience. It takes a lot of time for it to bear fruits and it certainly will not make you profits in the short term.
Once you start collecting email addresses of your potential recipients, you will be able to become their “teacher”, expert and mentor and have ongoing discussions.
In my experience, a strong emphasis on data analysis is vital. The more information we gather about our users at the acquisition stage, the better chance of catching those who would make our ideal recipients we will have. With a huge amount of data and the use of machine learning, we will reach such precision as to be able to clearly determine whether the person who is currently entering the site is fully interested in purchasing our solution or just looking around.
Of course, products with sign-up waitlists are not only applications but also fully tangible ones. One example may be the recently released brand By.herbs which I happened to find on the Internet (link to the product group here), and which is involved in the production of herbal pills. Another example of waitlist is a school that teaches children to swim, equipment rental, massage parlor, and perhaps the most specific list is the one containing thousands and thousands of people waiting for individual, telephone, or email sessions with a mystic and a clairvoyant.
A similar sign-up waitlist strategy was adopted over the years by the dating app “The League”, which waited until achieving an acceptance rate of 20-30% before reaching new cities. Only then did it enter new markets, with the confidence of being introduced where it would find enough recipients. In one of the articles on medium.com, which I recently stumbled upon, it was pointed out that such a strategy is successful because it has its basis in psychology. The article mentions that according to the mimetic theory, we tend to covet things because other people desire them too.
Worth remembering: Human desire is not autonomous but a collective process and this is how we decide what we really care about.
How to build a waitlist for a product
How do I start building a waitlist for my new product?
First interested users
To begin with, we should focus on gathering those who got interested in our product first. We invite a small but exclusive group of first users from a group of recipients predefined by us. We listen to them, analyze what they say to us, and implement the first changes in our product. This is the moment when you don’t sell your product but rather share it with others.
For us – the starting point is always a conversation with the Client: establishing their needs, challenges around the recruitment process, areas that we can help with. Thanks to many insightful conversations with the potential users we were able to establish that our potential Clients use our competitors’ products to a limited extent, often deciding to use only one feature in their own recruitment process. However – they still need to pay fees to up to 6 different suppliers of the service. It is due to the lack of a comprehensive tool on the market – the remote recruitment process is arduous and time-consuming, as it requires mixing and matching of multiple tools. So we managed to find a market niche we were able to fill in. However, prior to any conversations crucial to our product – we had to reach people with actual influence on recruitment (Product Owners, HR Managers, Founders), as well as those responsible for assessing the candidates’ competencies and skills at the substantive level.
Launch of the waitlist
The next step is to launch the “waitlist”. We set our internal limit in the form of the number of people and when it’s exceeded, we present our product to a wider group.
Product strategy focused on exclusivity
The exclusivity of the product, the first leaks of photos or screenshots, the first positive reviews, publications by influencers, sneak peeks or a preview of the company’s behind the scenes will attract more users.
Building a community
In addition, we gradually build a community, care for it, and allow it to influence the development of the product. For this purpose, we can use groups on Slack, Discord, Facebook, discussion forums, or dedicated spaces on our websites. We publish the first, supposedly unofficial information leaks.
This is also a good time to collect the data we’re going to use to run our first product promotion campaigns. Or posts on blogs, websites, forums, or industry media. If we haven’t done it before, it could also be a good time to build our first real sales team. In the meantime, we continue to collect information from our users, identify those who will actually be our customers, improve the product, and look forward to more users. Like before, we line them up and let them in after a while.
Launch a referral program
Once the data we have collected is already satisfactory and the number of users willing to sign up for our product grows exponentially, it is worth launching a product referral program. That’s the strategy used by Gmail in the past and recently, by the creators of Basecamp on the occasion of the release of their new product Hey.
What does this new product launch strategy give you
Thanks to this approach:
- We can enjoy certain anonymity of what we do for a long time.
- We do not focus on one big launch of our product, but
- we break it down into installments so that we can work on developing and improving our solution successively for many months.
When I was last looking for a good project management program in our software house, I came across Clubhouse, a project management product. As it turned out, the developers of this software have been building a strategy for the release of a new product for years, and they planned everything well in advance.
They did not focus on paid advertising, they did not even have a premiere on Product Hunt, and the promotion was based on building contacts from VC, word-of-mouth marketing, conversations with people, and eventually influencers (here it was quite serious because the promotion involved such people as Oprah, Ashton Kutcher, Chris Rock, and Mark Cuban).
More about project development with the real team – read our blogpost Product Owner – the one who controls the chaos.
Waitlist: Small steps policy
Advice for anyone building a Client waitlist
Actively test different channels of reaching potential clients and don’t assume something will definitely not work. The way you communicate what your product changes EXACTLY is of great importance: product description, users’ feedback, quality of implemented improvements
The entry barrier of a new product launch waitlist strategy is relatively low. With virtually zero marketing budget, we can start working on our solution, see if it attracts the interest of people in the target group, and bring the solution to the market in small steps. I think too few companies use this strategy to establish a relationship with their users, and ultimately when it is fully authentic, honest, and transparent, it produces amazing results.
Thank you for reading so far 🙂