Why You’re Not Attracting Users to Your Pilot
Pilots, partnerships, and case studies can elevate a startup to a no-name business to a tried-and-tested venture surrounded by a buffet of trusted logos. But no matter how incredible the offering may be, I keep seeing startups falling into the same trap when they are writing their pilot proposal: poor communication and follow up.
Now, I am not saying you must be a copywriter to have a great pilot proposal, but what I am suggesting is that you do not step into any of these traps below.
Writing the Proposal in the Me, Me, Me-Centered Communication.
Me-centric communication is a common hiccup I see in almost every pilot proposal.
“I am building…” “I cofounded….” “Our business…” “We designed…”
If your first sentence of your pilot proposal has the words me, we, I, or myself in it, please just start that paragraph over.
Now, in university founders, this is so common because this is how we are taught to write academically. We as business owners want to proclaim the work our venture does and share that with the audience.
But instead, think about what will capture the audience in, and what are they looking to read in a pilot. (Hint, hint, it is the benefits of being part of it!)
So instead of leading with:
We cofounded Kats&Co to support kittens grow into their healthiest feline selves. We are looking for kittens under a year old to trial our new suite of cat games and toys.
Flip it. This isn’t a WeWork so let’s cut out the we, and replace it with the messages the user wants to hear.
If you are looking for more stimulation and behavior support for your new four-legged family member, Kats&Co is on a mission to support kittens to grow into their healthiest feline selves. In our pilot, kittens will dance, play, and learn some new skills that can help you develop their intelligence through trialing our new cat toys.
Do you see the difference?
Persuasion isn’t a bad thing; manipulation is.
If you are hosting a pilot or event to gather insights on your product or service, be honest in the expectations. Will there be compensation? What are the actual time commitments individuals are looking at? And what are you looking for in this event?
Transparency in your communication not only helps you with the flow of your pilot, but it also allows your users to see exactly what is expected of them.
Now, you can persuade people to be active in your pilot. For example, with my Kats&Co mock example above, maybe the individuals and their felines will receive a pet shop gift card or take home the toys they played with. But, do not manipulate them and set up false pretenses — like promising compensation and leaving empty handed.
Not letting your customers lead the journey will take you off the beaten path.
Users, and specifically early adopters, can lead the charge in not only the development of your product but also sales once the pilot has ended. Whenever I see businesses host a pilot — especially D2C — and not keep in touch or update their participants, I want to tear my hair out.
These individuals who showed up trusted you enough to be part of a pilot when your product was probably still in prototype phases. They already have some initial buy-in to you and your business, and this is why you should keep them in your communication circle to update them on your growth and development.
Having a few trusted users from pilot phase will allow you to keep going back and engaging them for support and insights. Then, once you go live, you have some initial cheerleaders and ambassadors to really help you grow your business.
Having no plan is planning to fail.
Now, as a founder, you will be having a plan from a product management side of things for this soft launch.
But, do you have a communication plan as well?
Whenever you are thinking about your pilot, you must think about more than just the proposal but the whole scope. Though this may be a one-off event, it is not a one-time avenue of communicating your venture.
- How will my pilot users receive updates on how the pilot is progressing?
- When will we push out a case study/the results?
- How can I leverage communication to showcase success, testimonials, or quality content?
Much like developing the product, the communication should not end once the user has finished the pilot.
Now, take a look at that pilot proposal and communication plan again.
Pilots are about working out the kinks in your business and gaining that initial validation from an outside source. But how you communicate them can truly make or break the product before it ever hits the hands of the customers.