Growth hacking trick #1: Acquire loyal customers… and get paid for it

If you read this blog post, you probably already know what’s PastBook about. If not, let me try to explain our raison d’etre in a single line.

PastBook allows busy people who want to relive their precious moments in life to create a professional photo album within 5 minutes.

In practice this means:

  1. Easy access to all your pictures. You can use all your photos that are out there somewhere, floating in the cloud or still hiding in one of your devices
  2. Less is more. You choose an awesome photobook template, insert your selection of photos and change the layout just enough to make it your own
  3. Online and offline. Order the photobook as a high quality printed book, a free pdf of a shareable online viewer

Sounds logical and appealing, right? As a high value service in a billion-dollar-and-still growing market, which is flooded with alternatives that take you at least a week to produce a proper album of your beloved photos? As a no-brainer, a ready-to-grow-with-the-speed-of-laserlight business proposition?

Well, that’s what we thought.


Customer development for tackling big challenges

The reality however turns out to be a bit more harsh. If we take it back to the core, the main business challenges we’re currently facing are:

  1. Getting the critical mass to know us, without big marketing budgets
  2. Creating a solution that will turn visitors into paying customers
  3. Making sure they share our solution with their friends
  4. Extend our financial runway

Yes, I know. These are the main problems most consumer-focused startups are struggling with and there are several strategies you can use to tackle them. Especially the “Customer Development Methodology”, written by Brant Cooper and Patrick Vlaskovits
is a must read for startup founders.

For those who don’t want to read the book (although I strongly recommend it), let me summarize it. According to the methodology, you:

  1. Find a corporate with a problem that is closely related to the consumer problem you want to fix
  2. Build an (awesome) solution that solves the corporate’s problem, based as much as possible on your current consumer solution
  3. Use the insights and customer feedback to enhance your consumer solution
  4. Get paid for it

In the next few lines I would like to tell you about a specific case of customer development we just executed for our friends at Sanoma.

The Sanoma Case: how to turn tension into a positive vibe

Corporate: Sanoma Netherlands

Problem: A division of Sanoma Netherlands is moving from their office in the centre of Amsterdam to the Sanoma HQ in Hoofddorp. This means the ending of an era and a new start for many employees. As always, such a significant change brings forth tension.

Goal: Turn tension into a positive vibe, by highlighting the positive moments of working for Sanoma and connect new neighbour colleagues in a pleasant way.

Solution: The Sanoma collective memory book. Every employee can upload their best memory of working for Sanoma. All entries will be published in a PastBook, which can be ordered in print, pdf or shared online.

Results for Sanoma
– A lot of positive responses amongst the participants
– A collective memory (link to the public book) to be proud of, with more than 350 entries



Results for PastBook
– Big insights in how to improve our both our b2b and consumer platform
– An A-level business partner
– Revenues

What about user acquisition?

Some of you will notice that this approach didn’t solve challenge #1: user acquisition. Yes, we gained new users that became interested in our consumer photobook platform and signed up. And luckily we had most of the platform development work already done for the We Love Holland-campaign (user acquisition campaign, targeted at expats in Holland). However, the quantity would not justify the time spend at this project without the other benefits mentioned before.

If you’re considering following this approach for user acquisition purposes only, it might be wise to do the following first.

First make a calculation of the expected number of participants. You can best use the metrics of industry standards of e-mail campaigns, provided by Mailchimp

And complete this funnel for your specific branche.

Employee receives message to participate (%) >
Employee opens message (%) >
Employee clicks on call to action (%) >
Employee participates and thus signs in (%)

Be honest to yourself, is the outcome worth the time and effort spent?

If yes, discuss upfront with your client if you can communicate with the participating employees about your consumer service. During the campaign and -importantly- afterwards!

Next week we’ll tell you about how we open up free acquisition channels by creating a winwin situation for travel and leisure companies.

Do you want to know more about our approach?

Please feel free to contact us at you[at] or leave a comment.

Leave a Reply