The thing before your thing

So you need/want to acquire more users for your product.

Ask yourself …

What does our audience do right before they need the solution our product delivers?

With an answer to that question, ask yourself :

Can we solve a problem for that “thing before our thing” in a way that has good lead generation ROI.

Sounds like a lot of effort right. Possibly even in the distracting-us-from-our-core-product kinda way. Yeah, maybe. But, let’s look at a couple of examples of where this worked (is working) really well.

Flywheel and Local

Flywheel is a managed WordPress host that is part of the WP Engine family. I work with Flywheel crew every week. They’re legends!

The core Flywheel product is their hosting platform. It has a bunch of unique and interesting features, but the general business model is people pay them $ every month to host their WordPress site.

So question: What does Flywheel’s audience do right before they need to host a website? The thing before the thing?

Answer: They build the website. For the target audience of Flywheel (agencies and freelancers), they typically build the website on their local machine. Introducing Local. Local is, by a long shot, the most popular local development tool in the WordPress space. People love it! It’s free, has a sweet UI, and is technically hot! Now whenever someone uses Local to build the site, there are (tasteful) prompts to deploy to a Flywheel instance.

The thing before their thing!


Veed and Video Compressor

Shoutout to the Indie Hackers podcast for bringing this one to my attention.

Veed is a super easy in-browser video editor.

The founders asked themselves the question: What does our audience do right before they need Veed? The thing before our thing?

One of the answers (they actually have a few) is compressing video files. They found their users were often wanting to compress files before working with them. The team built a simple compression tool and released it on their site. Now folk (their target audience) can use this nifty tool and voila! there is an optional CTA after the compression occurs to begin editing with their main product.

These are just 2 examples, but they give a good idea of what can be done.

3 rules though

You should’t just do this. Here’s 3 rules/considerations:

  1. It takes engineering and product effort away from your core product. Make sure you scope the impact before you do this. Go in eyes-wide-open
  2. The “thing” needs to be useful in its own right and not be dependant on your main thing or feature locked. Seriously, no one has ever had a good experience with finding what they thought was a nifty little tool to only find they have to sign up to something else to properly use it. Gross!
  3. It should naturally progress to your primary product. This might seem obvious, but making a “related” product isn’t what we’re talking about here. Veed didn’t make a webcam. Flywheel didn’t make (or acquire) a SEO plugin. Once users finish with the “thing” it should naturally, if they choose, lead them to the next thing – your core product. Related products work in a different way, but proceeding products have greater potential acquisition impact.

Cheers and thanks for reading!