25 Creative Ways To Get Your First Marketplace Users

25 Creative Ways To Get Your First Marketplace Users

Blog Post
June 11, 2022

This is a blog post that provides a preview of a recent post in the Everything Marketplaces community by Mike Williams.

Hey all, I wanted to do a sort of fun post here sharing a list of 25 ways & tactics (many creative) that you can use to get your first marketplace users. Since this is usually going to be supply, this list will focus on that. Most of (if not all) are also tactics that I've used myself with marketplaces in the past, so might be familiar for those that have followed along with what I've shared before or maybe even mentioned on one of our office hours. Some of these might also seem obvious, not scalable, and very creative, but they’ve proven to work in the past when doing what it takes to onboard your first marketplace suppliers and solving for the chicken & egg or cold start problem.

Here’s the full list, which starts off with the more obvious:

1. Ask existing friends & your network to join
2. Ask friends to share it with their network
3 Ask friends or your network for one direct introduction to someone else that would be a potential user (referrals)
4. Share about it on your own social (LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, TikTok)
5. DM suppliers or first potential users on social channels as you research them (LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram based on hashtags, location tags, etc.)
6. Post in specific & niche Facebook Groups
7. Message Facebook Group admins to potentially sponsor or do paid postings
8. Start your own Facebook Group by inviting friends, then start aggregating supply & demand
9. Message Facebook Marketplace listings to try and convert to marketplace users
10. Email any existing email contacts (email lists, newsletter, etc.)
11. Try to have targeted email newsletters (your ideal audience of first users) mention you or do a paid feature on their newsletter
12. Create Craigslist posting with user personas and/or product listings and reply to requests manually to convert to marketplace signups
13. Text or email Craigslist postings that are ideal first suppliers to join
14. Create a landing page for pre-launch to “launch” on a platform (i.e: Product Hunt)
15. Go to a local meetup, school, or other event where a dense amount of your ideal users are and pitch them on your marketplace, then prompt them to signup (collect emails, signups on location, etc.)
16. Run a contest or offer some sort of reward for your first users (i.e: $50 amazon gift card you offer to your first 50 users that create listings)
17. Be your first supplier or seller and market your own listing or offering (social sharing, etc.)
18. Be your first demand and buy from businesses, sellers, or service providers and mention it came from visibility on your marketplace (i.e: Grubhub and DoorDash with ordering from restaurants listed, but not joined)
19. Find virtual events in the industry to join and focus on getting 1-2 valuable connections that you can convert to users (i.e: virtual fitness class and message instructors following to join your new fitness marketplace)
20. Find local events, attend, and focus on getting 1-2 valuable connections that you can convert to marketplace users
21. Make a list of 10-20 high quality leads for businesses or service providers from other platforms (i.e: Yelp, Thumbtack) and manually reach out to them
22. Create your first listings and cross-post on other platforms
23. Partner with another industry provider to start offering services or drive demand so that you can solve for one side of the marketplace, then be the first user for the other yourself
24. Paid ads (i.e: Facebook Ads, Paid search, etc.)
25. Paid influencer marketing on social platforms where it might be underpriced (i.e: TikTok, Instagram, etc.)

As mentioned, the above might not be the most scalable ways to drive supply, but there should be a few out of the list are tactics you can use to get your first marketplace users. They could probably also be further classified into the main ways that marketplace end up driving supply, which are:

  • Direct sales
  • Referrals
  • Word of mouth
  • Cross-posting (or piggy-backing)
  • Subsidizing
  • Being your own supply or demand
  • Being single-player mode
  • Paid marketing
  • Events
  • Community/groups

Note that you can see the original post in the Everything Marketplaces community & join the discussion with other marketplace founders here.