Building a user base is the most fundamental and frustrating aspect of building a successful company. It’s a major topic of conversation for almost every founder I talk with. And, to be blunt, it’s the reason why most companies fail.
When I ask founders and marketers what they’re doing to solve their growth problem, I inevitably hear the same 2–3 solutions. They are A/B testing their home page, exploring new channels, and increasing ad spend. A few questions later, it’s clear that they don’t really know what they are doing.
Most of the time, these activities closely resemble a panicked frenzy instead of strategic thoughtful execution. It’s understandable, after all, the life of their company depends on figuring it out.
The problem is that A/B testing, creating new channels, and increasing ad spend all assume that you understand why users are finding your solution and the pain that’s driving them to look.
This is different than product market fit or product validation. It focuses on the psychology of capturing new users. It’s called intent marketing.
User intent is where the marketing, messaging, and product overlap. And though it seems fairly straightforward, the disconnects can be astounding.
If your marketing, messaging, and product are miss-aligned your ability to grow a user base will be stunted. Here’s an example.
Meet Sam. Sam is a young professional who, like all of us, struggles to main an organized and productive inbox. So, like all good millennials, Sam heads to Google for a solution.
He finds a list of flashy email clients on Product Hunt that claim to end your inbox frustrations and help you achieve inbox zero on a minute by minute basis.
Sam decides to take the advice of the PH community and chose the most up-voted application on the list — Let’s call it no-mail.io.
He enthusiastically clicks the link to the vendor page and begins to explore the product. His first moment of hesitation comes when he reads the opening banner “The first AI assistant for Gmail, embedded directly into Chrome.”
He continues to explore the solution, remedying his disappointment by rationalizing that it would be nice to keep the email client he is already using.