How a Startup Can Hit the Market: 12 examples from Ahrefs to Zapier

What does hitting the market involve? To make things clear, we should give you a disclaimer: this is an article about the distribution channels the successful startups used, and what they offered to their first clients. Let’s puzzle this out with the Purrweb team.

Reading time: 4 minutes

Table of contents

How to make a market entry strategy

There is no single correct template; most importantly, following this strategy must help a startup find its first paying clients. That’s why we won’t tire you with guidelines. Instead, we will skip to the examples right away.

First, we will tell you about 5 strategies for the market with a clear demand for a product.

Strategies for hitting the market for products with clear demand

This diagram will help you make a decision

1. Talk about the product anywhere the target audience hangs out 

Situation: clients actively search for a solution to their problem and are disappointed with the absence of a suitable product

Zapier. They wrote their solutions on the forums where users complained about unsupported integrations.

Gemini. In crypto communities, they advertised as the first licensed and controlled Bitcoin trading exchange.

2. Impress one client and make them your product apostle

Situation: clients solve their problem manually or by using several services but don’t try to find a single product

Substack. This is an email monetization app. Before launching it, the team contacted one columnist who wanted to make a subscription to his articles and finished the product together with him.

Vanta. This service helps companies pass audits. The startup founders found a company that had troubles complying with the SOC-2 standard and helped them pass the audit flawlessly.

3. Hack a distribution channel

Situation: clients don’t look for a solution actively but a startup offers a simple product

Tiktok. Technically, this example concerns, which merged with Tiktok later. When it emerged in AppStore, the for Facebook and Instagram mark was added to the title, so the app was displayed in the search results when users were looking for the popular services.

4. Hunt on forums

Situation: you have many competitors but clients are not loyal to the products they use

Postman. First, this product was publicly mentioned on StackOverflow when a programmer asked for advice on services for working with APIs.

Ahrefs. They bought ads on forums for SEO specialists and marketers.

5. Use cold outreach with a favorable offer

Situation: clients who have a choice of products but switching to another solution requires effort

Zoom. They suggested to Stanford University that they switch to Zoom and offered a lower price than their competitors have.

HingeHealth. This is a healthcare startup focused on muscle and joint health. Their team wrote to the HRs of the Fortune 500 companies and offered them a care and insurance solution for the employees with the relevant requests.

Now, here are seven strategies for those who create products for the market with unclear demand.

Strategies for hitting the market with unclear demand for the products

The second part of the diagram

6. Launch any way you like and promote your product actively

Situation: clients don’t look for a solution and popular products dominate the market

Notion. They launched on Product Hunt and promoted their product through the community of early users. 

Twilio. Their launch was promoted on Techcrunch when a Techcrunch co-founder was introduced to the product.

7. Use network and sell your product to the clients who trust founders

Situation: clients don’t look for a solution to their problem, a few products dominate the market, and it’s hard to promote the product.

Workday. The founder knew their first clients in person and sold the product in person as well. 

One more situation: the В2В market with no alternatives to the product

DataRobot. They got their first clients thanks to the popularity of their founders and their expertise.

8. Launch through a community

Situation: clients from a certain niche are interested in the product, and there are no solid leaders in the market 

Github. The founders were active members of the Ruby on Rails community and were supported by programmers.

Snackpass. Just like Facebook, they actively promoted their product on student campuses.

9. Attract attention from the street

Situation: clients don’t look for a solution, and the market is limited geographically

Neiybor. They distributed flyers with attached one-dollar bills. They also paperclipped a note stating, ‘This is the first dollar you’ll make renting out your space on’ 

Thursday. They hung a billboard with provocative phrases about dating and the name of their app.

10. Create content that demonstrates your product

Situation: clients don’t look for a solution actively, the market is not limited geographically, and there are no solid leaders

Buffer. They wrote guest posts about the product in the blogs their target audience read.

DesignJoy. The founders regularly shared the info on the product creation process that their target audience read via Indie Hackers.

11. Influence marketing

Situation: В2С market with no alternatives to the product

Spotify. They gave beta access to music bloggers who wrote about the product. 

Canva. They collaborated with graphic design influencers.

12. PR

Situation: the product has social value

Telegram. They positioned the messenger as the only service protected against the control of the authorities.

Hey. They advertised total protection of and control over the user data.

This is the classification we got in the end. We don’t claim it to be the only true variant. After all, startups are a broad niche, and every one of them looks for its way to the market. This article is more like our attempt to find some patterns. We hope they will help you find your own unique strategy and win the market!

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