How hyper-targeting got my startup in gear for rapid growth

How hyper-targeting got my startup in gear for rapid growth

This article is part of a series written by speakers featuring at TNW USA Conference on December 10 in New York.

Alexandra Chong is CEO & Founder of Lulu, a private network for women to share their experiences and make smarter decisions, starting with relationships.


I often get asked whether Lulu took off overnight. While our growth was certainly fast and furious, it was the result of careful and deliberate seeding with a target audience.

The original idea for Lulu emerged out of a ladies’ brunch where it occurred to me, “What if there was a way I could tell more women about this great guy?” This idea became the seed for my company Lulu, a private network for women to share their experiences and make smarter decisions, starting with relationships.

As I built Lulu, the general audience was clear: women. However, as I considered marketing targets for the launch of the app, I had to narrow my focus. To do this, I looked into the heart of the product.

At its core, Lulu is an app based on girl talk and female-to-female recommendations. While the app appeals to every woman who has ever gone on a date with a near stranger, I honed my focus on communities of women with highly active dating cultures.

Hyper-targeted

In December 2012, we launched Lulu as a beta at sororities at Florida State University and University of Florida, two universities with flourishing Greek and dating cultures. The schools embraced the app, and within its first month, over 60,000 women had downloaded the app, with over 12 million profile views.

From the positive reaction at FSU and UF, we developed a College Marketing Program that targeted sororities and women in colleges across the United States. This allowed us to go directly to our users and to understand what young women want.

This strategy is not new, but it’s often over-looked. Peter F. Drucker, the founder of modern management, said, “The aim of marketing is to know and understand the customer so well the product or service fits him and sells itself.” Going niche and targeting women in sororities allowed us to understand our audience and improve our product based on their needs.

Today, Lulu is expanding to reach a broader demographic and also continuing to build out our mobile experience for men, but this expansion is built on a strong foundation of college women.

To date, one in four female undergraduates in the United States have downloaded Lulu, and we have niche marketing to thank for this initial success. We invested in college-aged women because we believe they are the springboard to reaching the entire female population in the United States. As our users graduate, enter the workforce, and bring Lulu to new cities and new friends, our network will grow with them and attract new users in these new life stages.

Just as it is imperative to start with a minimum viable product, it is often helpful to start with a “minimum viable consumer.” Simplicity is key. When trying to figure out where to initially target your product, the obvious answer is often the correct one.

TNW USA Conference takes place on December 10, 2014 in New York City. Book your ticket now.

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