That’s how I’ve felt about Jet.com and their audacious launch plan since I learned of it a little over a week ago. Considering that I’m raising a family, running a fast-growing startup and writing a book, it takes a lot for me to get obsessed with something else. This is a lot.
Jet.com is the brainchild of Marc Lore, the founder of Diapers.com & Soap.com, who sold to Amazon in 2011 for $545 million. Marc’s new company represents a potentially disruptive model to Amazon. Think Costco meets e-commerce: Customers will pay $50/year for membership and then supposedly enjoy huge savings on millions of items, including what you’d pay at Amazon, but for less.
Marc told me, “We’ll have cost and supply chain savings passed on to our customers. Everything’s re-priced in real time to reflect the true underlying economics. We’ll make all costs transparent, since we don’t profit on anything we sell, only on club memberships.” Marc’s raised an astounding $80 million of seed capital pre-launch for what he calls a “streamlined, easy way to shop.”
The only thing bolder than the company’s vision is their audacious launch plan. Jet is doing business and consumer press, but the lynchpin of the launch plan is the Jet Insider club, a word-of-mouth-marketing initiative to sign up as many people as possible pre-launch. People sign up for Jet Insider at Jet.com, earning a free 6-month membership as soon as they do. Then they get custom referral links to invite their friends. Everything is tracked, and the people who refer the most friends get prizes ranging from 5-year memberships to lifetime memberships to stock options in the company.
If the company succeeds at the scale Marc’s hoping for, those stock options will be worth millions of dollars to the 10 people who bring in the most referrals by the February launch. Combine that with the hundreds of thousands of “free memberships,” and we’re talking about over $20 million of value in prizes! Already, a whopping 250,000 people have signed up for Jet Insider.
Most entrepreneurs dream of having 1,000 users at launch and Jet.com will have well over 250,000 users thanks to Jet Insider. So what are the lessons we can all learn from this launch plan?
1. Go big.
The bigger your vision, the bigger a launch you can plan. People like big — it’s exciting, and creates more buzz for your launch. How big can you go?
I’m currently ranked 22nd out of over 250,000 Insiders, and I keep checking my rank to see what prizes I’m qualified for. People like scoring, playing games, and winning stuff. How can you gamify your launch (or app, or sales and marketing strategy)?
3. Keep it simple.
Jet.com’s landing pages are simple, clean, and attractive. Albert Einstein said, “If you can’t explain it to a 6-year-old, you don’t understand it yourself.” How can you keep things simple enough to explain to a 6-year-old?
4. Give people incentives to share.
Marc Lore told me, “I think social media is a critical component of any marketing and branding strategy today.” Social media allows people to not only connect with you, but to share your company and products with their friends. What incentives can you give your customers and users to share?
5. Think of creative, inexpensive prizes.
Jet is somehow giving away millions of dollars worth of prizes without actually costing themselves a dime, since all of the prizes are in free memberships and stock options. How can you give away cool prizes without it costing you too much?
6. Keep some mystery.
Jet’s website is clean and clear but there is still lots of mystery about exactly what the site will look like when it launches. Mystery intrigues people and gets them excited about what’s next. What kind of mystery can you create for your customers?
Whether the Jet.com launch and subsequent company is a huge success or a huge flop is yet to be determined. But we know it will be huge, and we know there are great lessons to learn, no matter what.
Now it’s your turn. Which of these 6 lessons do you best utilize currently? Which will you focus on? Please let me know in the Comments section below, and please share this article with your network. Sign up here for the Jet Insider program too and join in the fun!
Dave Kerpen is the cofounder and and Chairman of Likeable Media, an award-winning social media and word-of-mouth marketing firm comprised of communications and consultancy agency Likeable Media, and CEO of software platform, Likeable Local.
The Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC) is an invite-only organization comprised of the world’s most promising young entrepreneurs. In partnership with Citi, YEC recently launched StartupCollective, a free virtual mentorship program that helps millions of entrepreneurs start and grow businesses.