The “build value” stage

Underpants

+

?

=

Profit

That hilarious question mark is what I like to call, the “build value” stage.

A common example of this
is any product where you have two types of users (any kind of marketplace, social network, job board, community etc.).

There are product users who use what you built and become your product (think facebook or twitter users).

And there are customer users who pay you money to access the “product users” (think advertisers). These people aren’t buying a product or service, they’re buying a return on their investment.

Here are a few insights I’ve picked up from each of the times I’ve reached this stage.

Once you’ve identified your user groups, there is absolutely no chicken and egg dilemma - you must build value for the product users before your customers will arrive. This is the quintessential idea behind building your value.

So lets say your product is the users on a forum, or the viewers of a job board. It might still feel like a chicken and egg issue at its heart - after all, people won’t view a job board without jobs, and nobody wants to be the first person to join a community, ever.

First shrink your market. A single category, subject, geography, whatever. Something where even a few product users (10-100) is a lot. Define and control your initial growth, and you wont appear empty.

Then, you fake it.

If it’s a job board, find and post the jobs for free.
If it’s a message board/social network, start the community by starting the discussions.

You need to personally be the most active person on your product. You can even create multiple accounts to make your community appear to be even more active. Don’t continue this practice (multi-accounts) once organic growth begins (as it cheats your customers).

If you think this is crazy, its also how reddit got going, and they’re doing alright.

Consider

 
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