Cold start problems affect all startups, big or small, but it’s how these companies address these issues that ultimately determine if they sink or swim. Without brand recognition on your side, you’re basically launching to an empty room. It’s daunting, but there are ways to overcome cold start and actually come out with substantial heat behind your new business venture.
The ol’ ‘fake it till you make it’ mentality might be just what your startup needs. ‘If you build it, they will come’ isn’t a solid plan. No one wants to be the first guest to the party, but if you already have a house full of beautiful people, they’ll show up in droves. It worked for Reddit. When the site launched, they had no users, no buzz, no one cared. Instead of begging people to sign up, they created fake accounts and filled the site with fake conversations. The illusion of activity made it seem like the place to be. The illusion was soon replaced by reality and now they’ve become one of the most popular sites on the web.
Begging does still has its advantages. You need to gather feedback as quick as you can and get as many people talking about your startup as possible. Even if you just have a prototype, targeting small businesses and locals directly through social media can turn these contacts into not just long-term customers but also your greatest cheerleaders. That personal touch makes a difference. Emailing and personally speaking with early users can turn those users into powerful tools for word of mouth marketing.
Maybe the most common of the cold start problems is spreading yourself too thin, too early. You want your startup to have a national or even global impact, but to hit the ground running, you may need a more focused approach. Start by tackling one region. Now when the ball gets rolling, less users still look like more. This helps with both the previous points. It’s easier to do hand-to-hand marketing in a single city instead of the whole world and when you’ve dominated that one small market, you’ve already created buzz that can now spread like wildfire, taking the chill right out of that cold start.