The Startup Starter Kit #5: Early Partnerships Are Your Ultimate Distribution Tool

There’s a misconception with startups that if you can build a great product, people will beat down your door to use it.

Sadly, for most products, it’s not even close to true.

The Startup Starter Kit #5: Early partnerships are your ultimate distribution tool

To even give your startup a chance, you need an outstanding digital product and a robust distribution plan.

  • But so many first-time startup founders get tunnel vision.
  • They get caught up in the product build.
  • Life becomes about the next hurdle, the next feature, whatever’s right in front of them.
  • So they don’t think long-term (or they don’t make time to).
  • And when you’re not thinking about distribution early, you’re kinda setting yourself up for failure.

It’s why finding partnerships that will get your product in front of the right audience early is essential.

The key to finding a partnership is to look for other businesses that have access to your audience and show them how your product is beneficial to them and the end-user.

Say, for instance, you create an app for healthy eating. You could approach Supermarkets and health stores for sponsorship or endorsement. They’re happy because it’s helping promote their goods. And It works for you because it gets you in front of your target audience.

But the really great thing about partnerships is they’re free marketing. A few cleverly placed partnerships here and there markets your product through referrals. And as any marketer will tell you, referrals are the ultimate distribution tool. In fact, referred customers bring you 25% higher profit margin.

I’m not just talking about word-of-mouth referrals though. Adding a simple automated referral email system to your app can go a long way. If you make it easy to refer people, it’s going to happen more.

Even better is adding an incentive. Can you offer one month’s free subscription or a discount for any new referrals customers bring in? Because people are suckers for free sh*t.

When you can combine industry partnerships that get you in front of your audience and an easy-to-use system, you’ve just built a referral system that’s…

…cheap (or free).

…a driver of organic app growth.

…hard for competitors to disrupt.

And for cash-conscious startups, this is a godsend.

But there’s one final step to building a robust, sustaining referral network. You need to understand where you’re haemorrhaging customers because your business relies on your connection to your customers.

Business and products live in a dynamic environment — what thriving one month is often tanking the next. It’s why you need a clinical feedback mechanism that gives you insight into why your users are leaving, what you could change, and how you could improve. These invaluable nuggets from exiting users help you test, learn, refine, and continually improve your product. And when you’re continually repeating this process, users stay happy, stick around, and refer you to more people.

The Startup Starter Kit #5: Early Partnerships Are Your Ultimate Distribution Tool


Darren Clark

Dazlab Founder

“I started Dazlab because there’s a huge knowledge deficit between people who want software built and those that build the software. I watched again and again as non-tech product owners with great ideas overpaid for complicated solutions to simple problems, or underpaid only to end up with crummy products with little chance of lasting. Tech doesn’t have to be that way. If I’m going to do something, I’m going to do it well or what’s the point?. Even now, 20 years later I’m still heavily involved in the onboarding process with every one of my clients.”

Darren Clark

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