You will find here a collection of free marketing channels for getting the first users. Most of them will take a lot of time & effort, but will not cost money to do it yourself. Some channels, like Content Marketing or Influencer Marketing, are comprehensively explained in its own directories below. So, get fresh ideas from these real-life stories and think what could work for your users:
- Do Things that Don't Scale by Paul Graham. He is a co-founder of Y Combinator, computer scientist, investor, and entrepreneur. Paul shows how such popular companies as Stripe, Airbnb or Facebook got their first users. It's more philosophical read for helping your brain to think in the right direction.
- How to Grow Your Startup on a $0 Marketing Budget by Hiten Shah. It highlights a bunch of different ideas to try.
- How We Got Our First 2,000 Users Doing Things That Don’t Scale by amazing Ryan Hoover, co-founder of Product Hunt.
- How we got from $0 to $75,000 MRR with zero marketing budget by Sergei Gusev. They sent free products (designer fragrance) to the market influencers and got video reviews. It grew their sales dramatically!
- How We Got Our First 100 Paying Customers in 24 Hours by Alex Turnbull, founder of Groove.
- Comment Marketing: How to Earn Benefits from Community Participation by Rand Fishkin. You can gain attention to your company by sharing meaningful opinions and thoughts. Rand Fishkin made an excellent 9-minute video on using this technique 👌.
- How to create Online Courses and Webinars to get users for your product. Very clever marketing tips in these The Startup Chat podcasts!
- 5 Places to Find and Poach Your Competitors' Customers. Sapph shares many smart ways to find leads and pitch them.
- Hacking the Press: Clever Ways to Get Free Press Coverage with Zero Budget by Tucker Schreiber from Shopify. The post is focused on online stores industry. But the principles of getting free press attention are applicable to any market.
- How to Get Press Coverage for Your App: practical guide from Dan Counsell, indie developer & agency founder.
- Referral Marketing and Mobile Referral Marketing can give you the word-of-mouth growth. For inspiration check 51 Best Referral Program Examples of 2016. These useful guides were prepared by Brandon Gains from Referral Saasquatch.
- 5 Low-Cost Guerrilla Marketing Tactics via Braveen Kumar. 🐒 Direct offline exposure via foot traffic would suit physical products and brave founders.
- Use free tools for lead generation when you have a difficult software product with many use cases. It's a great way to show benefits of your main offering and increase brand awareness. This post shows how to sell Clearbit API-solution via free easy-to-use tools. You can invest your time and make some free stuff as well — UI kits, browser extensions, funny games or open source tools.
We used many free marketing channels. We wrote cold emails, talked to influencers, manually recruited users at events, posted at Facebook groups, worked with developers & designers via Twitter and did many other stuff. These gave us our first 1000 beta users. So it worth trying out!