One of the very common, “Chicken or the Egg” conundrums many authority site and directory owners face when launching a new project is, how to “seed” a site with new members.
If you are bootstrapping a new directory, and don’t have a huge budget to spend on ads, trying to pick that perfect frozen moment in time where there is JUST enough members to start promoting your site, vs shrinking away from advertising it or inviting folks, because…..well, you are embarrassed by the number of members you’ve got right now.
I remember, years ago, and I’ve told this story a few times, but some woman I invited to be part of a directory we were building (a niche I still publish in) told me “you need me more than I need you”.
I remember how off putting hearing that was, especially considering the mediocrity with which I considered her place in the totem pole of importance in the niche, but…..she was right.
In the beginning, you need warm bodies. Full stop. It doesn’t even matter that they’re warm. I’ll take some well chilled, but willing members when I still launch something new, and body count matters as a function of how appealing your new community is, to folks peeking in.
With that out of the way, the one thing that still works wonderfully well in 2017 (and will work, no doubt for years to come) is to invite people by email to join your community.
I’ve tried many different approaches with email, and as a bit of a messaging perfectionist, (and to the frustration of the folks who are responsible for sending my invites) i’ll find myself rewording, rewriting, recalibrating the “invite” in a zillion different ways, often small and subtle, to gauge what appears to amping up response.
The 5 words that I’ve found are MOST powerful for launching a new directory?
“We want to interview You!”
(with the exclamation point – and believe me, as Donald Trump likes to say, before saying something you probably shouldn’t – I’ve tested this as well)
This works even BETTER on an existing list or community, after folks have signed up, (let’s say as a free member or listing) as part of a “premium” agency offer, that can be packaged as part of a brand building service, or back end product, program or promotional package that is higher end and really valuable.
(you can even use a killer design tool like AUTHORAPP to create world class interviews that feature your members, live on the web, can be converted to PDF, and look awesome, even if you are design dummy like me)
The other really compelling combination for email invites, that i’ve found REALLY amps up conversion/opens/interest?
When the name of your domain, brand or project has a natural value or ego alignment with your audience.
- Who do THEY think they are?
- How do THEY see themselves?
- What sort of ethos, or lens do they look at their chosen field, personal passion or area of expertise, through?
If you can capture that in the email, in addition to the interview invite, you can really get people to not only get super excited about the offer, but they’ll become your BEST site building evangelists as well.
(remember, people will SHARE the interview on social media, often with friends who are professional peers, who will ALSO want to join your community, often want to be interviewed too….and the magic momentum of marketing mojo starts to roll downhill in your favor, and fast)
You can do text interviews with boilerplate questions.
You can do audio interviews, and post just those.
You can use an app like Cassette, and do audio AND text based interviews that are transcribed automatically.
You can use an app like ANCHOR (just released today their interview feature) or TapeACall (an awesome app that costs $10 a year) or, just get super creative, and combine a few of these ideas into one killer PREMIUM offer that makes your agency money…..GROWS your authority site, marketplace or directory, while helping build BUZZ for your audience as well.
(and turning them into the BEST free traffic source for your site, so you can leap frog that ignominious feeling of shame we all face when launching something new, and the only members are ourselves, Uncle Gene and that fake profile you set up at 3am with your old aol account, just because, when it comes to body count in your new passion project, 3, really is rarely a crowd, and is always better than 2)