Your startup won’t grow if you can’t get customers. Plain and simple.
Now, I know user acquisition can be a drag, especially if you’re short on time, money or knowledge. (Not to mention all three.) And no matter how much work you’ve put in to create a bomb website, app, etc., your business will fail if nobody knows about it.
Everybody wants users. But not everybody knows how to get them.
While social media/technology is an amazing tool and has changed the way brands communicate with their audience, it’s also done something a bit less amazing—it’s made us lazy.
You know what I’m talking about.
Have you seen those people who spend their time spamming the IG comments of popular news sites or influencers or putting info on their story/fleet and begging you to repost? Or, my personal favorite, plugging their business under a viral tweet?
Yea, you’ve seen it—and it’s not effective, especially not as a long-term strategy.
An effective strategy for getting users is a bit more complex than that. It includes brand awareness, reaching out to and engaging your target audience, and ultimately, getting them to do what you want—whether that’s to follow, subscribe or purchase your product.
And the truth is, when starting a business you really only need two things: knowledge of your product and knowledge of your customer.
Meet the womxn who’s got both of these concepts down—Jasmine Jacobs, founder of Black Remote She.
Black Remote She (BRS) is a community for Black queer, trans and nonbinary womxn and allies interested in working remotely. Jasmine started BRS in 2019 as a YouTube channel focused on sharing career tips, advice for navigating remote work and her experience as a Black queer woman working remotely.
She realized that instead of only sharing, she wanted to provide opportunity access for Black LGBTQ+ professionals interested in working remote jobs. The following February, she launched a website, intent on connecting these womxn with employers committed to maintaining values of inclusivity and equity.
While it started slow, BRS picked up steam quickly, thanks in part to the pandemic and the massive increase in remote work and her own strategies to acquire a consumer base.
Jasmine spoke with Mogul Millennial to share her experience and her best tips for getting (and keeping) new users.
Find and get to know your audience (for real)
Many new business owners are reactive. They set up shop and post, post, and post until someone finds their content. Whoever ends up interacting with them is their audience, right?
In building your consumer base, you have to be on offense. You’re the one doing the pursuing. Identify your audience and devise a strategy to reach out and engage with them where they currently hang out.
Here are a few questions to ask yourself to zero in on your target market:
- Who needs your product or service?
- What problem does your consumer have that your product/service solves?
- How does your audience communicate? Where do they look for information?
- What is your audience talking about? What do they care about?
- Who is my competition? What are they doing?
- How does a customer benefit from choosing me over my competitor?
For BRS, Jasmine knew she needed to find active, progressive companies who were hiring and reach underrepresented groups looking for work. The goal was to build a healthy amount of employers to add to the site and a large, diverse candidate pool to apply to the open positions.
Jasmine focused on aligning herself with networks that were already sharing resources for Black queer and trans people, while respecting and honoring gender identities and personal pronouns. Having work that aligned with the values of those who would be applying was of the utmost importance.
Once you learn who your audience is, determine what the ultimate goal of your product/service will be. That way, you can target your efforts in spaces they’ll be with exactly what they need.
Produce content your AUDIENCE wants to see.
One common mistake in content development is for a business owner to create content they like to see, not what their audience. Content is arguably the most critical aspect of obtaining users, as people need to find value in what you’re offering.
Use your audience profile to develop personas. Personas are representations of your target audience members. Once you have these, you can assess whether your content will resonate with the target audience member and the potential benefits they’ll receive from reading or engaging with it.
If you have an email list or other substantial form of following, send out a survey. This survey should include a series of essential questions that help you learn more about their struggles or what problems they need to be answered.
Don’t have an email list? Time to start one.
For BRS, the audience is two-fold: employers and job-seekers.
Historically, Black and brown people have lacked access to opportunities. However, BRS shares them from employers committed to building a better economy. There is a tremendous need for job seekers to safely and securely navigate the hiring process and work environment. Millions of people are unemployed right now, but Black queer, trans and nonbinary womxn have been denied jobs long before the pandemic.
Jasmine shares, "For the employers, a diverse pipeline of candidates is crucial to employers' hiring process. When company culture and values center on healthy boundaries, equity, and inclusion, people of color and LGBTQ+ identified employees can thrive.
I valued introductions and joining various Facebook and employer groups for LBGTQ+, womxn, technology, and/or startup business owners within platforms. I quickly learned there are networks inside of networks, so I joined a few of the Slack channels shared.
When connecting with businesses for the opportunity to be listed on BRS, templates were essential to maintain consistent messaging. However, I would customize them to each organization or company.
This has proven to be most effective and allowed me to build good partnerships and relationships with our website's employers. Those connections eventually led to collaborations to equally share visibility and opportunities for expansion on our platform."
Choose your channels (and start with what you’ve got!)
Jasmine wanted BRS to be an official job board, but she didn’t have the funding like many startups. Instead of waiting, Jasmine used her freelance blogging experience to create a weekly digest with a list of job opportunities on a website. She then would share with her network.
Sometimes, everything you need to get started is right in front of you. At the time of launch, Jasmine had the most following on Facebook, so she started a BRS Facebook group and invited Black queer, trans and gender nonconforming people in her personal life to join. She also encouraged them to share with their connections.
Although Jasmine focused her efforts on Facebook, her friends and allies would share information about her website on Instagram, reaching an entirely new set of people. In turn, Instagram quickly became another platform of focus for promotion.
To gain insight into user behavior and traffic on the website, she tracked acquisition, retention and referral through Google Analytics. In turn, she was able to use this to attain funding.
Using the data provided, she learned more about where her users were coming from and their habits. She then used this information to pitch to employers about the opportunity to reach their desired candidates.
Additionally, a revenue model was designed to allow BRS remain a free platform for job seekers. For the employers, monetarily supporting the site helped to further display their commitment to reaching marginalized groups.
Leverage and lean on your existing network
Tell people what you need! Even if someone can’t help you directly, they can introduce you to someone or share resources to assist you. Being afraid or hesitant to ask for help can cause you to miss growth opportunities.
“The biggest mistake I made, in the beginning, was doing it all by myself. It was challenging to prioritize time networking on platforms vs. ‘doing the work.’ I shared with former and current colleagues, mentors, friends and family members about Black Remote She. I asked them to keep their eyes out for platforms, companies, or organizations worth being on my radar.
One of my colleagues learned about the launch of BRS and shared the Radical Communicators Network, led by Movement for Black Lives, as a place to source more job openings.
I discovered Ureeka through a white ally asking me what resources or connections they could share on my behalf. Instead of being modest and brushing him off, I answered him honestly and told him what would be helpful. Since then, my time on Ureeka’s platform has led me to additional partnerships, promotions and mentorship opportunities.
Personal connections mean a lot when you’re building a business. Whether you’re networking at a conference or getting an introduction from a friend, many things can lead to great partnerships and future customers.”
Ultimately, to acquire new users, you need to make sure everything you do is about and for them. Take the time to understand your audience and what they want to see.
While you may be creative and have great instincts, that is not enough to build a sustainable user acquisition strategy. Think about how you can be creative and stand out in a field of people doing the same thing as you.
For more information about Jasmine and Black Remote She, check out their website and social media handles:
Web: Black Remote She
Facebook: Black Remote She
You can also connect with Jasmine via email.