Many training programs and communities offer membership perks, which include discounts and trials of tools and services. Become one and get users and sales.
Why it's a good idea
It takes a long time to build an owned audience of qualified prospects. You can shortcut the process by gaining access to existing audiences, with particular attention to those that are tightly themed and qualified.
Startup communities offer a great way to get in front of a very specific type of B2B audience. Many incubators, online programs, and communities have perks programs, which give deep discounts or trial credits to graduates and members.
Services like web hosting (AWS, Digital Ocean are popular perks) are a great fit because they have a high lock-in. If the founders find success, they’ll likely convert to paying members following the trial or credit period.
If your product is subscription-based and has strong retention or duration benefits, this could be an excellent way to drive users. Additionally, you can find success by offering a lower tier of service and pushing upgrades.
Getting included is mostly a function of just reaching out to these programs and working out a good deal. Actual humans moderate most programs, so a compelling case for audience fit needs to be made — for example, it would be unlikely for many types of e-commerce businesses to succeed with this pattern.
Customer service considerations
Most products limit redemption to new customers only. This is smart because you certainly don’t want to cannibalize existing customers. However, existing customers may likely find these deals and inquire about them. Some companies will honor the discount as a customer service function, and others will have a blanket response detailing the policy for new customers only. If you can, we suggest honoring the credit (or giving something reasonable) to existing customers who ask for these deals.
Come late, or not at all
These programs pop up often, with many being thinly veiled affiliate marketing sites. We suggest not being among the first group of perks available, and instead approaching them several months into their lifecycle. The added benefit here is that you can typically negotiate a blast to all existing customers (and prospects) as a new addition to the perk library.
These sites also make great opportunities for co-branded campaigns, such as webinars and guest posting. If you’re going to be doing education campaigns elsewhere (think webinars or free courses), you should try to get your perk partners to push that content to their audience. It’s a win/win: you get prospects, and they get redemptions.
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Tech and Tools
Many of these programs operate on coupon codes or API-based integrations. Some request a set amount of coupons upfront; others will take them on an as-needed basis (typically requested through API or data-dump).
Very few will allow non-unique coupons due to external redemption and sharing potential.
Real World Examples
Many examples exist, here is a good list of perks programs to start you off:
ProductHunt Founders Club
YCombinator Startup School
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I'm a developer, marketer, and writer based in Appleton, Wisconsin.