10 Growth Hacks for Pakistani Startups
As Pakistan finally begins to accept the inevitability of the digital age and starts moving away from the days where your dad wouldn’t let you use your credit card online because of reasons ranging from a lack of cyber-security to the fact that the helpers in your house might be noting it down (yes, dad, because Allah Ditta totally has the sophisticated hacker equipment and Megabit internet connection needed in their one-bedroom Machar Colony apartment to use those digits and commit massive acts of internet fraud), we have finally, as a nation, reached the tipping point where we have begun to rely on the startups springing around us for our everyday needs and requirements. From asking BookMe for our movie tickets, to using EasyTaxi to get us there and FoodPanda to order our food while we wait. Logically, the next step is to make sure these startups are educated with the skill-sets they need to gain as much traction as quickly as possible. For that very reason, TechJuice has come up with a (non-exhaustive) list of 10 tactics, of growth hacks, which these startups can use to ensure their own thriving existence. Let’s jump right into it, shall we?
10. Blog, Blog, Blog and then blog about what you blogged:
The essentials of getting your company name out there start with making sure the raw text of that name is present at as many locations on the internet as possible. Not just on your own blog but on obscure threads in confines of the internet where few dare to trek (read: Reddit). Blogging is just one of those things no one can ever have too much of so you don’t need to be afraid of overdoing it. Just make sure you aren’t selling yourself too hard. Don’t put your name in EVERYWHERE, be smart about it. Think of creative ideas and follow the contemporary trends, for example: BuzzFeed quizzes are all the hype.
A Pakistani quiz revolving around any of the present social issues + the proper social promotion and you’ve got one of the most basic recipes for a successfully marketed company. So what if one of the questions hidden within that array throughout the page was a survey question for you to assess your demographic; the small percentage of readers that will even be able to figure out what you’re pulling off still won’t mind answering (and answering HONESTLY) as long as they’re enjoying what you’ve brought to them. But be careful how you use these tools, you don’t want to appear as if you’re trying too hard. You’re the good guy trying to give everyone a hearty laugh or the concerned corporation making sure all the social issues that don’t get the voice they deserve are heard and known (they don’t need to know your intentions behind it). To be clear, however, this blogging does not exclusive entail a content based startup, blogging about your product/service is just as important. As the dot com bubble inflated and burst, it left behind ever-lasting remnants – blogging is one of them and will remain so for the foreseeable future.
9. Be the good guy, give away your work:
Approach websites, forums and real-world organisations that already have a firm user base and ask them to publicize or post your content. This content does not even necessarily have to do with your product or service, just general content for the well-being of it’s readers. It could be an article on a web-page or a seminar at a conference. Anything from a detailed recipe to create the perfect biryani to an article on the situation in Caracas; the aim of this is to hammer in the brand recognition you are trying to create. Users should come across your brand as often as possible, as quickly as possible and always in a positive sphere. Something they want (even if they don’t realise they want it). In doing so, however, it is important to be pro-active. Write first, approach later. Got rejected? Don’t worry, Use your next option. Even if all doors end up being closed to you, you can always publish that content on your own. Something is ALWAYS better than nothing, just make sure that the quality of all the “somethings” you put out on the never-ending expanses of the internet are up-to-par with the image you want to create of yourself.
With particular reference to products and services. EasyTaxi’s launch in Lahore was followed by discounted trips for the students of large academic institutions (LUMS, LSE) and as such created instant demand for their service. If not freebies, then discounted rates; but a thrifty approach takes direct appeal within the Pakistani consumers mind. We desis are, and always will be, infamous for our supernatural skill at and love for haggling (more on this in #4).
8. Share, everywhere:
As an extension of points 10 and 9, share your content. Content on your page, your blog, your wall or your twitter feed is not exclusive to where it is published. Try and make sure everything is everywhere in order to create this spider web of sorts, pulling anything and everything it catches in towards it’s centre (i. e. YOU). Another part of this to make sure that any and all of your content available online is easy to share for the demographic you’re targeting, you want your web to have as many outward extending threads as possible and you want to take in the potential social reach of each of your readers, watchers, quiz-takers.
7. Social campaigns: follow, but stay ahead of the curve:
See what the demographic depicts and jump on to that bandwagon, but in the ever important drive to be different, try to predict what the next train to “”break the internet” (to use the contemporary vernacular) will be. Always be aware of what has, is and will happen and try to act on it as soon as it hits. Getting to first position is a lot more difficult then keeping it. Once they have begun to trust your content, they’ll begin to rely on it all the more and it is that very reliance that feeds in to your revenue stream. Case in point, the quiz on Pakistani issues mentioned above. Enough said. If you are marketing a product on the other hand, your aim could be to centre these quizzes around what you intend to install within the consumers mind. Surprise them with twisted (yet interesting) endings to your marketing gimmick and you’ll create an engraved impact. Even if they don’t exercise use of your product right at that instant, they’ll remember your brand as soon as they realise their need for it.
6. USE. YOUR. REACH.
Make your content interactive. Force users to share but don’t make them feel used. Structure your content in a way that they WANT to share it with their friends just to achieve closure. Example: Your quiz only displays it’s results after having been shared on at least one of the user’s social media outlets (alternatively: after having received the user’s email information). Essentially, it’s the outreach of the quiz that is the ultimate aim. The greater the number of eyes on that web page (even if they scroll through it), the greater your brand recognition and hence increased loyalty from customers towards your brand as compared to any competition that may exist in the market. They will WANT to visit your page and they will WANT to use your product or service; it’s a matter of waiting for that recognition to form a permanent place for itself within the customers needs and wants hierarchy. Patience and persistence form a deadly combination that ALWAYS pay off.
You don’t just need to get people to talk about you. You need to get the RIGHT people to talk about you. Imagine Shahid Afridi talking about the strength of your C++ build, not only would the words sound like gibberish to most of your target market, they would very evidently look as if they were fed into his mouth and are not in anyway his own. Find out WHO is relevant to what you offer and approach them all. Offer them free trials, make sure what they say looks, sounds and in all cases possible IS genuine content. You only need one success to get the word off the ground and as such it’s mostly a game of hit and miss until eventually you get the money shot. Pitched correctly, most of the time these people will be eager to share your content (possibly even for free).
4. Appeal to the inherent human desire to be a hipster (and the generally thrifty nature of us Pakistanis):
Now is about the time when you’ve got a few people on board but it’s not nearly enough. You need more. Provided you are confident that your product is exactly what these people need but you just can’t seem to get more traffic, start offering your present user base discounts (and the opportunity to tell their peers about their amazing new discovery). Chances are, more often than not, that you’ll see your user base almost double with very little added effort. People WANT to make their lives more convenient and of those around them, they just need to be incentivised to make those extra few clicks on their luxury mouse pads.
3. Sell out. It’s not as bad as you may think.
Offer your services to larger portals in return for the recognition and reliability they add to your name. Given that your services are relevant to theirs (in such a manner that a feature addition of your company and it’s offering on to their portal will provide an overall enhanced service experience of their end consumer) and that you offer them a significant amount of extensibility, they will have absolutely no reason to deny you the opportunity.
They’re getting your “something” as a value-added service and are having to give back with almost nothing. To them, they are the ones getting the better end of the deal. Disclaimer: This will only work if you are adequately prepared to use all the aforementioned tools to take advantage of this increased clientele. Recognize that this process of outreach works on an exponential basis. The more people you have, the more you can get. For products or services, couple your services with the prominent brand names. Offer them use of your offering for free for a trial period of time and focus on performing an impeccable job. Provided you’ve catered perfectly to their requirements and proven your selling pitch to them, chances are they’ll realize your worth sooner rather than later and take you up on a permanent basis.
2. Don’t be shy.
The number of forums available to disseminate the information you have is far too numerous to be counted. Talk to people about your product and encourage them to talk to further more people about it. Gain traction through traction. This point is essentially a neat little golden tip on top of the pyramid of publicity you’ve built so far. Use not only social media but print, TV, radio; the works. Once the word is out there, it stays out there.
1. Hold on to what you’ve gathered:
Ok. Now they’ve taken the bait. They’re on your page. What to do now? Make sure your product is up-to-par with not only your own standards but with those of the industry and the standards your consumers desire. If you’re attempting to model yourself after a service that is wildly successful in first-world markets but never before seen locally, make sure your product compares to what they offer. Otherwise it will only come on as a feeble attempt to rip off an idea without the adequate skills to do so. Harsh? Yes. But also true. Focus on yourself and only once you’ve convinced YOURSELF that your product is the absolute pinnacle of perfection (in the relevant field) will you be able to sell it to everyone else.
Bonus Hack (because there’s never too many):
Be Fast! Once you’ve decided to completely radicalise your work ethic and business plan, make sure you aren’t detaching yourself too far from the basics – make sure your company (read: website) is responsive, swift and most importantly FAST. Nothing loses traffic as quickly as an unresponsive web page or a slow service. Meet the standards of quality that have been set all around you and be aware of how quickly and constantly they are increasing. The worst thing a startup can EVER do is fall behind the curve. NEVER. FALL. BEHIND. THE CURVE.
In conclusion, the above list is by no means exhaustive in it’s content, more hacks can be found here. However, the ones mentioned above have been carefully assessed and tailored in a manner which would relate to the Pakistani demographic (unique as we are). Make sure you act on what you’ve read, initiative fuels development and development is exactly what eventually translates into cold hard revenue.