How to sell products using sign-up queues and waiting lists

I remember when to get a address, you had to have a special invitation from a friend. I remember how exclusive this product seemed back then and how desirable it became. As time passed, the success of this marketing technique decreased in popularity, but recently it has experienced a real renaissance.

After all, as I write this article, the list of people waiting in line to get access to the SuperHumanemail program is over 250,000 people.

Entrepreneur’s handbook

While creating my first e-book on how to market minimally finished products, I spent a good part of it on testing your idea on a real audience in small steps. The easiest way to check how interesting your solution can be for your audience is to create a simple landing page with information about your product or an expert blog. There is nothing wrong with placing a form on such a website and offering people to join the waiting list for the release. This way, you don’t even have to have a product ready but gauge the mood and general interest in your solution.

The main goal of a budding startup to get to know your target audience and market. So imagine how perfectly the person who signed up for the waiting list fits into that group. How important the problem she is facing must be if she spent so much attention and time to click on your ad or article, get to your website, get to know it, be convinced to make the right decision, and leave her email address.

Dominance strategy

When building products with queues and signups, a good approach is to implement the “dominance strategy” approach. Jay Abraham, who is its creator, defines it as a strategic philosophy and strategy for running a company. It should become the foundation of your entire company culture, how you manage it, as well as your marketing and customer contact.

The strategy I mentioned is to show your company as fully dominant in the industry. You need to value your services above all else, deliver an amazing experience to your users (even in excess), and become the best source of information in the niche you’re targeting.

As a company, you need to stand out, and the problem you solve or the product you offer should be clearly associated with you. Only this will give you a real chance to make your products with sign-up queues a success.

To do this, every piece of advertising material, publication, content you put out must give the customer a sense that what you are doing is of the highest possible standard. This strategy involves a lot of patience. It takes a long time to bear fruit and will certainly not allow you to make profits in a short period of time.

Once you start collecting email addresses of your potential audience, you will be able to become their “teacher”, expert and mentor and have ongoing discussions.

In my experience, it makes sense to put a strong emphasis on data analysis. The more information we gather about our users at the acquisition stage, the better chance we will catch those who fit perfectly into our audience. With a huge amount of data and the use of machine learning, we will come to such precision that we will be able to clearly determine whether the person who currently enters the site is fully interested in buying our solution or just looking around.

Waiting list


Of course, products with sign-up queues are not only apps but also fully tangible ones. One example is the recently released brand by.herbs, which I came across online(link to product group here), and which deals with herbal tablets

Another is a school that teaches kids to swim, an equipment rental shop, a massage parlor, and perhaps the most specific list is one with long thousands waiting for one-on-one, phone, email sessions with a mystic and clairvoyant.

For years, a similar sign-up strategy was adopted by the dating app “the league”, which waited until it reached an acceptance rate of 20-30% before expanding into new cities. Only then did it enter new markets, confident that it would enter where it found a large enough audience. An article on that I came across recently pointed out that such a strategy is successful because it is based on psychology. According to mimetic theory, the article mentioned that we tend to desire things because other people desire them too.

Human desire is not an autonomous process but a collective one, and this is how we decide what we really care about.

How to build a waiting list for a product

Jak zacząć budować listę osób oczekujących na nasz produkt

1. First interested parties

Pierwszy zainteresowani

To begin with, we should focus on gathering the first interested parties for our product. We invite a small but exclusive group of first users from our predefined audience. We listen to their voice, analyze what they say to us and implement the first changes to our product. This is the moment when you do not sell your product but share it with others.

2. Running the list

Uruchomienie listy

The next step is to start a “waiting list”. We set our internal limit in terms of the number of people, after which we present our product to a wider group of people.

3. We focus on exclusivity


Product exclusivity, first leaked photos or screenshots, first positive reviews, publications by influencers, sneak peeks or previews of what the company looks like from the inside will attract more users.

4. Budowanie społeczności

Budowanie społeczności

Apart from that, we gradually build a community, take care of it and let it influence the development of the product. For this purpose, we can use groups on Slack, Discord, Facebook, discussion forums, dedicated spaces on our websites. We publish the first, seemingly unofficial leaks of information.

5. Community building

Kolekcjonowanie danych

It’s also a good time to collect data that will be used for our first promotional campaigns. Whether posts on blogs, websites, forums, or trade media. Suppose we haven’t done this before, it can also be a good time to build our first real sales team. In the meantime, we continue to gather information from our users, identify those who will actually be our customers, improve the product and wait for the next ones. These, in turn, we queue up as before and let them in after some time.

6. Run the command program


Once the data we’ve collected is satisfactory and the number of users willing to subscribe to our product is growing exponentially, it’s a good idea to start a referral program. That is, what Gmail used to do, and more recently, the creators of Basecamp did when releasing their new product Hey.

What it gives us

With this approach, we can enjoy a kind of anonymity of what we do for a long time. We do not focus on one big launch of our product, but we spread it into installments, so we can gradually work on developing and improving our solution over many months.

Interestingly, Clubhouse has recently become very popular and elite. As it turned out, the creators of this software had been building a strategy of releasing a new product for years, and they planned everything well in advance. They didn’t focus on paid advertising, they didn’t even have a premiere on Product Hunt, and they based the promotion on building contacts with VCs, whisper marketing, talking to people, and finally influencers (here it was quite serious because in the promotion were involved such people as Oprah, Ashton Kutcher, Chris Rock, and Mark Cuban).


The barrier to entry when launching our product using a waiting list is relatively low. With virtually zero marketing budget, we can start working on our solution, see if it sparks the interest of those in our target audience, and bring the solution to the market in small steps. I don’t think enough companies are using this strategy to engage with their users, and ultimately when it’s fully authentic, honest, and transparent, it gives amazing results.

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