Stop selling and start helping your customers

You know that trope about being alone in a city full of people?  In a place as busy as San Francisco, it can be hard to find new friends.  Julie Krafchick knew this and started 500 Brunches to help like-minded people connect over meals.

Like any business, Julie wants 500 Brunches to grow, but she’s more concerned about making the experience great than she is about scaling it as fast as possible.  Instead of making it easy for every person in the world to instantly signup for an event, Julie has a waiting list.  New members fill out a 13 question form and then wait to possibly be invited to a brunch.

This does two very important things for 500 Brunches:

1. Draws the right people

In a world of landing page optimization, it can be tempting to make it so easy that everyone joins, but that’s not actually the goal.  Just as your customers are looking for a product that’s right for them, you should be looking for customers that are right for your product.

Big numbers are fun, but if you sell a bicycle to someone who needs a car they’ll be less happy, more likely to ask for a refund, and less likely to refer their friends.  You’re much better off sending a few potential customers to the car dealership down the road.

The importance of product-market fit becomes particularly paramount in the events industry where fellow attendees are actually a critical part of the value proposition.  By assuming the role of gatekeeper, 500 Brunches matches people with similar interests and can make sure everyone has a great experience.

A good marketer could sell water to a drowning man. A great marketer wouldn’t. (tweet this)

When we think about product-market fit, we spend a lot of our time thinking about product issues, but choosing the right market is just as important.

2. Increases growth through exclusivity

Exclusivity is a strong attraction. I never knew I needed to “tweet proreactively”, but now that it’s in limited beta I want it badly (and I still have no idea what it means). clash

Ever wonder why Clash of Clans makes you wait while your digital settlement and armies are “built”? Sure, in-game properties don’t really take any time to build, but the personal investment makes us value the results more.  Irrationally, we tend to correlate value with perceived effort.  Free books at the library are worth little while expensive college degrees are worth much.

Make it too hard to get in or fail to deliver value on the other side and exclusivity will backfire, but if you balance the right action with the right reward desire can be a powerful growth lever.

I was quite happy to fill out 500 Brunches’ application because (1) I knew what I would get out of it - a customized experience and (2) I didn’t have to spend more than 3-5 minutes on it.

Are you trying to sell your product or trying to help your customers? (tweet this)