How we won Product of the Week on Product Hunt with a half-baked MVP.
I decided to write this post after thinking about how much research I personally undertook about launching the perfect Product Hunt campaign. There was a lot I learned, as well as multiple beliefs that were shattered around what needs to happen to be successful in your PH launch.
Below, I’m going to outline the ___ steps we took for our launch, which resulted in winning Product of the Day, Product of the Week, 600+ Signups, and 7 calls from VC’s.
Deciding on the right time to launch
When I scrolled through the past few weeks of product launches, they all seemed so…. polished. Like they were already in a V2 or V3 stage, way past what I would have considered an MVP.
When I looked at our app, we didn’t even have a log in button yet. We were so concerned with testing whether people would signup, we didn’t even think about them wanting to use the product again. Regardless of this, my partner and I decided now was the time to validate our concept, and waiting longer would just mean more $$$ spent without any real feedback.
Once we launched it became clear to me that the goal was more about getting users to see how this product could work in their current workflow, than trying to show off a flashy new product. We had signups coming in droves, and they immediately “got it”. We didn’t have to explain or try to educate on how the product worked. From this experience, we felt we made the right call in launching early, gain feedback, and then work on rapid development to fix any gaps you missed or anything that was still half baked.
Recommendation: Launch before you’re ready. Collect Feedback. Prioritize your next features/fixes.
Optimize Your Submission
You won’t have a lot of options to customize your submission but you have a few critical ones.
Name: Don’t get cute here. Use the name of your product, with no descriptors.
Tagline: Quickly explain what the product does, and who it is for.
Categories: Search Product Hunt similar products to yours, and find the highest-ranking ones and see which categories they’ve chosen. Make sure you pay attention to their first category as this is the primary one you’ll be grouped under.
You can also submit a video and up to 4 additional photos.
We didn’t go crazy with our media. We created a quick video walkthrough showing how you can use the product, and used Canva to create 4 “cards” that included a screenshot alongside some feature/benefit copy. Again, not highly designed, I did these at 11pm before launch with a couple of screen grabs and copy/paste from our website copy.
Recommendation: Don’t stress over the submission process. The biggest takeaway is to make sure your tagline is clear on what your product does and who it is for. Throw up a 60-second video walkthrough so people will “get it”.
Prepare a list of friends, colleagues, and channels you can reach out to on launch to get early votes & positive comments.
We also found that the number of comments and frequency of comments played a major role in moving us up the rankings. We had significantly fewer votes than the submissions right below us, which leads me to believe that PH puts a heavy weight on engagement.
For us, we reached out beforehand to friends who were already avid ProductHunt users, and let them know when we would be going live. There are two critical factors here…
#1 Reach out only to friends and colleagues who already have Product Hunt accounts.
#2 Ask everyone that may leave a comment to make it one that elicits a response. Generic comments like “cool app” or “will check it out” actually hinders your score.
For us, Slack groups we were already active in were a great place to post to when we launched. A tip though, don’t post anywhere you don’t already have a built up relationship in, otherwise, you’re going to get a ton of pushback. It’s honestly just not worth the effort.
Recommendation: Build up your early list of friends, family, and colleagues who can engage with your post when it goes live, and have them start a dialogue.
Be on standby to answer comments as they come in
This is key. When comments start to come in for your launch, make sure to address them as quickly as possible. We found most comments were overwhelmingly positive, but as always there are some people who come in just to chop you down. Don’t get defensive, but reply and acknowledge their problem/concern with how your product addresses (or will address) their issue.
There’s not too much more to say here, just be active in replying. Questions are great as well, it keeps the thread going and tends to get others involved in the conversation.
Recommendation: Actively engage with all comments, quickly.
Picking the right day to launch
There’s a lot of opinion on this, but to be honest I don’t know if you can really plan the perfect day. It’s sorta a crapshoot. We went on a Wednesday and luckily didn’t find any major players who launched. I have a friend though that launched midweek and ended up with Tesla, Apple, and Trello all with major updates.
Recommendation: Pick a date mid-week (my gut feeling), search for the major tech brands (Apple, Google, Microsoft, Facebook) and just make sure there aren’t any major announcements coming out in the next day or two.
Having the right product
One thing I didn’t mention… is that I’ve launched on Product Hunt before and it didn’t get anywhere near the success as our latest launch. I can factor this into the want/need for the product we were offering this time around. Funny enough both products were in a similar space (around video updates), but one of these just “stuck” with the audience. If I would have launched our latest product first and seen that success, I would have saved some serious $$$ continuing to build out our first product that never really caught on.
Lastly, it wouldn’t be fair to leave out the timing of all this. We launched a product that allows teams to stay connected through asynchronous video updates, during the middle of COVID-19 when remote work has been exploding. This really was the gasoline on the match for us.
In hindsight, I really overanalyzed launching on Product Hunt, reading dozens of articles, asking Slack Groups, and trying to “optimize” as much as possible. In the end, there were only a couple of key things to focus on, paired with a little bit of luck, that turned our launch into a success.
Here are our results from our launch:
- 6,000+ Visitors
- 567 Signups
- 5x VC Calls
- 2x Angel Call
- An invaluable amount of feedback for new features and use cases
Wishing you all the best of luck in your Product Hunt Launch!