There are many tools and methods to use for growing your customer base and expanding your business. How Noah Kagan and his coworkers were able to grow Mint from 0 to 1 million users in 6 months is well worth mentioning. Let’s retrace the steps and break down how the multi-million dollar business owner tackled growth hacking.
To cover the basics, Kagan was the 4th employee to join the Mint team. At the time, he was a personal finance tracker, but he wanted to join Mint as the Director of Marketing. Of course, the fact that he had never worked in marketing raised some questions with the founder. Kagan persevered and planned out a 6-month marketing and launch strategy which immediately impressed the team. All the while, there was no product and 0 users.
Kagan states, “Deadlines are everything. Always set measurable deadlines.” Hence, the first challenge had been set to get 100K users in the first six months. Now it was time to decide, “Who is my customer?” This is also much more than “anyone who has enough money for my product.” In order to accumulate customers, you must dive into the details. Get to know who you need to sell to and understand their needs. To learn more about his audience of young professionals and personal finance nerds, Kagan resided in coffee shops. He asked the questions “Do you need help with your finances?”, “What is your current financial strategy?” and the obvious, “How would your ideal personal finance tool work?” The answers to these questions defined which way they should be looking and where the route should head.
But let’s get back to the most important aspect, which we mentioned before. There was no product in sight. This meant that Kagan had to sell something that wasn’t there. How did he handle this? He created a buzz. His initial plan was to collect the emails of his target audience and send them monthly newsletters and blogs.
Very few startups were blogging at the time, so it was powerful to embrace an undervalued marketing channel. He summoned writers with $1,000 sponsorship offers which brought a lot of emails. This worked really well and left the 100K goal in the dust by sprinting off to a million users in the first six months.
So the first takeaway of this story is, set deadlines. They help create realistic expectations. The second one is to get to know your customers. Go out there, find where they are, and see firsthand their needs and what you can do to help them. Last but not least, build hype. Get people talking or even wondering about your product. Make sure they anticipate what you’re willing to throw their way.