Social Media

Growing from 0 to 80 customers, for free

I share a case study of my own work, finding initial customers for a new healthcare startup. These customers were acquired for free.

👋 Introduction

Welcome, this week’s Hi Social features a work project from me.

I work at a software agency called Switchplane, and this year, we are launching our first SAAS (software as a service) product.

This case study will look at how we built an audience from scratch, throughout the pandemic, and includes tips that social media pros could use for lots of purposes.

A warning in advance: this case study contains quite a few acronyms.

📢 Meet The Product

Ok, so it is called Julia.

Julia is an app and website to help a certain group of healthcare professionals in the UK.

Our audience are Allied Health Professionals (AHPs), which includes around 13 job roles found mainly in the NHS. This includes dietitians, occupational therapists, radiographers and paramedics.

Julia is an app that helps them record, reflect and report on their continued professional development (CPD). A percentage of our audience of AHPs are audited by their governing body each year.

🤔 The Problem We Are Solving:

AHPs do not have one way of logging and managing their CPD. From research, we found that they:

  • Send emails to themselves
  • Have a physical diary
  • Print files and keep them in a filing cabinet
  • “Have bits of paper” in their spare room
  • Have an ongoing Google docs

And so many more.

Julia was created to solve this problem.

Switchplane as a company only knew 2 AHPs personally. We had conversations with them to learn more about the audience. But we had to find more.

We wanted to recruit real audience members to test the app in the first instance.

This is when we turned to Twitter.

🦅 The Strategy:

We chose Twitter.

Side note - A lot of marketing pros cast off Twitter too quickly.

The reason for choosing Twitter was because ultimately: that is the platform of choice for our audience for Julia.

We searched fairly generic keywords at the start like “dietitian” or “occupational therapist” and found a bustling community on Twitter.

After discovering this community, this is what we did:

  1. Created a Twitter profile for our new project.
  2. Tweeted regularly.
  3. Engaged with the community who are already there.

Fairly standard stuff right.

Then, when we were ready to bring onboard test users to check out Julia, we started to use DMs.

I would DM our target audience individually and introduce myself.

It looked something like this:

Now you may not understand the acronyms, but this message ultimately said:

"We are making an app for you and want you to test it."

And it had a ridiculously good response.

We had lots of people get in touch and want to “help share the app”.

What Next?

After recruiting test users, we turned to Twitter again for our first customers.

We had a similar message, but this time we were asking our customers to sign up to our waitlist, and ultimately subscribe to the app.

We recruited 80 people to sign up to the waitlist, and are slowly nurturing them now to sign up to a free trial.

And it is working.

It is a slow process, as we are building a community from scratch, but it is working.

Through our email marketing comms to the waitlist, we are educating the potential customer on why we created the product, that we understand their problem and how Julia is the solution.

🚨 Takeaways

Growing an audience is tough. Every case study out there focuses on getting your first 10,000 customers, not your first 80.

That is why I wanted to include it in Hi Social.

I also think that “cold DMs” on social media are underused. Some marketeers hate this approach. I wanted to show you that it could work.

It does take time, and I believe that it can work for any audience.

Ultimately, it’s up to you to consider this approach for your business. But this is an example of how, on a small scale, DM outreach on Twitter can add customers to a business.

I also completely agree that this approach is not scaleable. But the product (Julia) is not at a scalable stage yet.

All we are trying to learn right now is: will our audience pay for this thing?

And Twitter has helped us find this audience.

October 10, 2020
Garry James
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