Partnership with customers
What is the strongest partnership a service can create? Obviously — a partnership with users. This is how Greg Fragin from the Loop — a service that pulls together all the communication apps that you use and allows you to send messages, reply to tweets and send emails, all from one dashboard. Greg recalls how it was with the first version of the Loop – someone from their advisory board mentioned Loop to the Fast Company Magazine — they featured the product, and overnight they had 1800 people on the waiting list. — Unfortunately, the product was not perfect— says Greg. — and we, the team, did not believe that it might grow into something. Because we were not sure it solved the problem that real people had in a really smart way.
So they just tore everything down and started over in 2015. But they did not fire those early customers — they spoke with them every week trying to understand what their challenges were and what was the best way to optimize the product for it. It took Loop’s team 1.5 year of iterations to get to the product where they were Ok with the quality. Only by the mid-2021 Greg Fragin as a CEO of the company gave it a green light to the official launch.
- Slack communities. Luckily, Look turned out to be an ideal tool for that — Greg could plug in up to 10-20 Slack channels into Loop and send the same message or an answer to several channels at once.
- LinkedIn. It’s not the easiest network to navigate, admits Greg. But as soon as you figure out your target market it becomes very easy to build connections — send cold DMs to people you believe would be interested in your product. Again, Loop helped with this. Due to detailed search and fast communication Greg now has a 5% conversion rate from LinkedIn cold outreach tactics.
- Customers. Greg was so obsessed with the quality and perfection of the product because he reasonably believes that Loop is a great candidate for “growth loops” — a marketing tactic that is based on product-led growth and prompts users to recruit other users bringing in more people into the marketing funnel without additional effort from the brand. The way Greg puts it: “We give away the product messaging to customers”. That’s how it works: say, Greg reaches out to a community that hangs out in a specific Slack channel (say, students who attend college X). Several students love the product idea and become users. But they are not sure the positioning and the messaging fits the requirements of the community they belong to. “Very well, — encourages them Greg — take the product and present it in any way you believe is more suitable for your community”. — We take these early adopters and put them on our board‚ — explains Greg. — They become decision-makers who help us to get closer to not only one community but multiple communities. They help us with building a relevant marketing strategy, messaging, positioning, wording — everything. As board members they are motivated to see the product grow and they promote it within the communities they belong to. But they only do it because the product itself is perfect! No one would have bothered if it was a glitchy buggy MVP.
Why Loop has chosen board membership as an incentive to reward those early adopters — instead of affiliate programs or referrals? “That gets old rather quickly, — believes Greg. — You start with a promise of a mutually beneficial relationship and end up in constant discussions about data tracking that drain your energy and drive you away from really important things. With partnership based on equity sharing, when your true fans own a part of your company you ask them direct questions: Where do I need to be to reach this audience? Who are the TikTok influencers? Who are the people on Instagram I should talk to? How do I approach them? Obviously, I can’t be an expert in everything. And I don’t want to be. Instead, I have these 20 super-fans who know communities they belong to better than anyone else”.
Greg’s strategy — to target students with Loop. They are most active as early adopters, they don’t have established behaviours yet and are OK with switching to new products. They also communicate a lot on different platforms and can benefit from Loop more than many other market segments. These 20 super-fans on the board, the ones who have become Loop’s shareholders, also belong to student communities. One person is from the University of Pennsylvania, two from the University of Minnesota, one from Stanford, two from Touro College in New York. There are also several from Columbia Uni, Harvard, and Yale. Greg believes with their support they will be able to grow Loop x3 in 2022. It feels that he is not wrong in his predictions: now Loop has over 4000 signups and 650 paying users. The goal is to get to at least 10K paying users to call it a product-market-fit.