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Why Building In Public Is a Growth Hack


Building in public is one of those phenomenons that can do one of two things:

  1. Make you really excited
  2. Wonder what’s the point

Or maybe it does both.

But I’m here to tell you that when done correctly, building in public can be the greatest growth hack for your business. But it requires that you treat things similar to how you treat all of your other content marketing.

And that’s where people usually slip up.

Where Building in Public Goes Wrong

If you want to build in public to hold yourself accountable for something there is nothing wrong with that. Just understand that your results will probably be.

You see, most people that build in public tend to go under the assumption that if they talk about what they’re building then people will follow them and buy the thing when it’s done.

But if you’ve read enough stuff on this site then you know that people only care about the problem that is in front of them and chances are your thing isn’t solving the problem.

So what happens is that people that build in public start building up an audience of other people that are interested in the act of building. This can easily give you a false sense of security as you believe people are interested in the thing you’re building and not the process of building it.

They launch their offer and they get crickets. But that shouldn’t happen because they’ve got over 1,000 followers on Twitter with their Tweets about the thing they are building! Due to this unhappy ending, they believe that building in public is a waste of time.

I’m here to tell you that building in public is one of the greatest validators of your ideas that you can have.

Walking Through the Customer Journey

The struggle with any type of content marketing is not understanding where someone is at in the Customer Journey. Here’s a quick recap of the shortened version:

  1. I don’t know what is possible
  2. I know what is possible, but I don’t know how to achieve it
  3. I know how to achieve it, but something keeps blocking me
  4. I’ve achieved it, but I don’t know what’s next (repeat the cycle)

The way most people build in public addresses almost none of these things and that’s where the problem lies.

But let’s see how we can apply building in public to the Customer Journey to get better results.

1. I Don’t Know What Is Possible

How would you apply this phase to building in public?

Talk about why you want something better. Sometimes this might be due to your frustration with the current offerings.

I’ll use one of my projects, Odd Wonderful, as an example if I took this approach.

I hate that games that drop you into immersive worlds also require a huge time investment. There are games I can play on my phone in 5-minute increments, but they don’t build worlds.

I want something that even if I spend 1 minute in it, I feel like I’m part of something bigger.

The point of this is to start gathering an audience that is also looking for something different. If you have a problem, chances are others do as well.

This shows that you share the same worldview as them and that’s a powerful thing.

2. I Know What Is Possible, But I Don’t Know How to Achieve It

Now people are starting to imagine that this is possible. A game that drops into an immersive world where you don’t have to sacrifice hours to feel like you’re making progress.

But now they don’t know how to achieve it and this is where you can start talking about the solution and the choices you have to make.

What makes immersive games immersive is the world that they’ve built and the stories within them. Unfortunately, when you’re playing a game it requires a lot of time to dive into the experience while also enjoying the stories around them.

I think if you had something where people could consume the stories separately it would help to flesh out the world while also making players feel closer to their character.

That way if I spend 5 minutes playing, I can connect the dots to what I just did with a story that I was able to read over the weekend.

Some of you might be having alarm bells ringing. Why would I share this much? What if someone steals my idea?

If that’s your line of thinking then none of what you’re reading in this post applies to you.

But notice that the main point isn’t about Odd Wonderful. It’s about the experience that people are looking for. That’s the key.

3. I Know How to Achieve It, But Something Keeps Blocking Me

The beauty of text-based gaming is that anyone can participate from anywhere. Plus, there is a secret feature that nobody thinks about.

Your imagination.

Sometimes what you picture in your head beats any of the best graphics that can be found today. That’s why I’m building Odd Wonderful as a website anyone can access instead of a game for a specific platform.

In this example, I’m showcasing the problem of people not being able to enjoy an experience because they don’t have the right device. Odd Wonderful solves that by being web-based allowing you to play on the refrigerator if you want.

It’s cool to talk about what your building, but if you can’t tie it back to WHY you’re building it and why it benefits the audience then there is no point.

If I just talk about text-based gaming in general then it’s easy for people to wonder why don’t I use some cool game engine to make it more fun.

This is why I have to segment my audience by describing the problems that many people face:

  1. Want to play games, but do not have enough time
  2. Want something more immersive but accessible everywhere
  3. Want to feel a part of something bigger

You get people interested in what you’re building by showing that it is the solution to the problems they currently have.

4. I’ve Achieved It, but I Don’t Know What’s Next

Here is what Max was able to achieve in 5 minutes on Odd Wonderful.

  • Defeated the Moch King
  • Found a Jellyfish in The Grove
  • Ruined the market for gonuts

Sitting in traffic never felt so fun.

This goes back to #1 of showing what is possible, but it’s actually possible now.

Addressing what’s next is simply talking about the next problem that you need to solve.

You’ve been inviting your friends to play Odd Wonderful with you and it’s great to see everyone competing.

But now it’s time to do some dungeon crawls…together.

This starts the cycle again by showing that there is a future where you can quest together in this new environment.

The How Is Cool to You. The Why Is Cool to Them.

It’s easy to get caught up in how you’re building something or how you achieved something when taking the building in public approach. But that’s getting meta with things.

Builders are interested in how things are built.

I could talk about my design and dev choices around Odd Wonderful but would that attract the people that are going to play it? It’s possible there is some overlap in that crowd, but the majority would be people who want to build themselves.

So in that case, people that do build in public do a great job of selling the tech they’re using to build more than selling the solution of what they’re actually building.

People relate to Why you’re building something more than How you’re doing it.

They are always asking what’s in it for me?

Glad you asked! Here is why this is amazing for you…

There are other amazing benefits to building in public that don’t have to relate to the marketing side of things.

I think I’ll add a BIP module to Feel Good Funnels in the future once I have some more examples gathered. Until then, if you’re trying to take the BIP approach, take the time to map out the Customer Journey to see how you can tie things together.

Meaningful Marketing for Creators Who Care


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