Acquire Customers

A customer is checking out.

Hey,

Are you trying to find customers for your new business?

I know, its like never ending job. Nothing seems to keep your workflow on. Must be a difficult task to get through.

No matter how good your product may be but if you do not have customers for your business you can’t inflow the cash you expect it to, and therefore it might fail to exist.   

So, Lots of ideas and nothing defined as to where to begin with and how to do it.

No problem! I am here to help you with that.

Even though there is no specific step by step guide to follow to acquire your first customers. Yet let’s take it from the basics.

Reaching out for the potential customers –

let’s begin with trying to know  your customers. Not that you need to spend a huge amount on your market research, but you do need to have a good idea about your target market.

Try to build a profile, where you can understand your customers and also think of ways how you can appeal to them. Provide customers with the value they can appreciate and also offer them something unique or better value for the money than the competitors.

When a business goes through it startup phase, it explores all the channels to find as many customers as possible.

How did Facebook go viral ?

Product that goes viral, are rare. As is the case for Facebook.

Facebook was launched as the inverse of Myspace. Even though Myspace was colourful, vibrant and open Facebook at that point didn’t really qualify all these qualities.

Facebook came into existence on Harvard campus, it began to grow gradually form selected universities to increase the demand in the later stage.

Facebook went to next level by restricting access to only those fortunate few with a college’s domain name. They even combined the feature that nobody could view the content from outside unless they are logged in.

They took it step by step until they could dominate the existing segment. From Harvard to Ivy League. Then it went on expansion to all colleges. Then high schools and then companies before it went accessible to general public.  

The strategy here was to take it slow so as to build a momentum, allowing Facebook to bring in the most elusive form of promotions, i.e the word of mouth.

When the platform was available for the public, Facebook has enough leverage to move forward dramatically. They had proven viral loops in place that utilized a series of automated emails to increase the level of engagement and get more people to join.

This is a closed-to-open tactic which turned out beneficial for Facebook at all levels.

11 ways to acquire your first customers

1. Networking is a important part of finding customers!

You can also start with the network you already have. Your friends, family or any professional connections. Finding network among your network is the most convenient way. Ask to introduce yourself with the networks your current network might have.

You can also expand the network by looking in your past customers or investors. If you have another business, and your previous customer can benefit from your current product, it is some good networking.  

You can also access your networks from the investors you have. Investors generally have a good networking going on. This will help you snag a few early customers.

Take it as a challenge, to get 10 customers in the first month of your business using any kind of channels or networking. This will help you explore different ways to connect with the people and to know your target market as well.

Some customers are really hard to reach out to. For this you sort of need to ‘stalk’ them. Not the kind of stalking which is illegal but where you need to be constantly in contact with the customers to get any insights on their preferences. To build this contact you need to try to find a way to get yourself introduced to them and then start with a welcoming email or a call.

You can also get this potential customers interested in some events you might held so as to get into a better interaction with them. And when you have bought enough value for your product may be it can turn out to be your customer.

For example

Onboardly –

It is not like one tactic will help you through out. It is the combination of various ides that bring out the best results. At Onboardly, they combine the public relations, content marketing and social media together to create a strategy that works for all the startups. With content marketing it has to been done correctly. The logistics suggest that 80% of the time PR either spends sourcing publications to post your content to promote it  so as to build a relationship key. This is the kind of relationship that helps drive your marketing forward.

As a big startup you can surely spend million and billions on advertising and quirky promotions and many other paid form of promotions. But as a startup it won’t get that easy with the small cashflow. With the limited cashflow allocating those resources to marketing spend is not so much of a priority.

At this point what you need to do is start out trying to build your network, speak at events, conference or meetups. Get to know your community. Your opportunities can be anywhere.

 

2. Deliver the positive

Positive thoughts are the best. Isn’t it ?

When speaking to your customers, they might bring in new and varied questions they want to be answered to. Questions may vary depending on the customers preferences, like how many current customers do you have? Time period to the existence of your business ?

These questions need to be answered positively to bring in some good insights about your company. Even if you do not have a large number of customers but trying to build few, try to answer it positively by saying that the number isn’t that important then the fact that those who have tried it have recommended it to their friends and family.

3. Increase your credibility

Your brand owns zero credibility. This is not such a good thing. Try to build a credibility for your brand by using the credibility score from a existing  trusted company. Find a group or a person that you customer can trust, offer them a partnership on certain portion of the revenue, or the chance of being a customer at a discounted rate or whatsoever they might reasonably agree on.

4. Get on the map

Maps on smartphones have become one of the search points for every customer. Since putting yourself on the map is a easy and free task, every startup should do this so as to make customer reach you.

It should be easy to locate your business on the map easily.

map depicting various business

5. Start a blog

Blogging has been trending now a days. Even though being a slow process it works really well in long term. Few things to consider while blogging.

  • Try to develop relationship with the existing market.
  • Increase your search ability online.
  • Take in feedbacks and pitch a solution.
  • Try to create a brand image and make people aware about your product.

To know the power of blogging let’s look at a example, KISSMETRICS.

It was founded in 2013, and 50% of the revenue came from the organic SEO. By bringing together some of the great leaders in the marketing industry, KISSMETRICS’ blog receives around hundreds of shares and comments, with the consistency in the readership keeping the engagement level high.

Guest post can also be used to reach out to top bloggers which will expand your reach for more customers. Be different as to what you are offering from the competitors.

Their is quiet a competition in the blogging world, and it can be time consuming but with a great content it is a good long term investment for your startup. You do not need to be a professional writer, but just being honest and transparency about the thought or knowledge shared on blog makes is work.

6. Email Marketing

This is one of the services which might be easy to conduct but comes with it’s own complications. Sometimes when you send your email it might not reach to them and might land up into a spam box since you are messaging them for the first time. You need to build a sender score to deal with it. I have talked about this in details in the earlier article.

You will have to email to strangers as potential customers and pitch your product to them. If you do not have a shared connection, you need to build one by researching and emailing them.

Writing cold emails is also one of the way to generate more customers.

What is cold email ? It is an email that is sent without any prior contact or request for information by the receiver. It is like cold calling a stranger. They vary from spam emails.   

In case of cold emails, you have to test and adjust according to the reactions of the customers. It is very important to make sure you are pitching the right type of customers otherwise there will be no response.

Start with the people you might already know and are familiar with your work ethics like friends, family, previous customers etc.

Use your network to get into a opportunity to speak to a connection you may find in any  company. Introduce yourself and try to pitch your product for their benefit . If nothing try to walk away from these conversations with the name for who you should be reaching out to. Then you can work your magic on cold email.  

7. Giving away your product for Free trial / Free plans

Giving away your product for free obviously attracts more customers as a startup. It is one of the marketing tools that tend to work, since who doesn’t like free stuff.  It is comparatively less expensive than traditional marketing tools.

It helps is creating large user group and drives more traffic. To get that success it is important to have great value in the free product for the users to prefer it enough to pay for it and tell others about it.

These are few ways you can try to reach out to people to create your own customers. Rest you should try to go for as many meetups and events held in your country. This will help you meet and interact with more people and may be build some clients. This will also help you to know your market better and the existing requirements.

Social media is a great platform to interact with people and since almost everybody is now a days available there it will be really helpful.

The task does not end here. After finding your potential customers you need to monitor the reachability.

Did you think just bringing in customers would solve all your problems?

I don’t really think so.

You need to make sure the tactics you have used to bring in customers is working to sustain them.

Pointers:

  • Try solving the problems your customers might face.
  • Keep a track of interaction level.
  • Listen to what they have to say and get feedback.
  • Since you are a start up try solving problems for a few people to see what solution works best and what price.
  • Try to get feedback on your product and services.
  • Try to get a  validation from people who are willing to pay for the solution and delivery.
  • Make sure to get them on board before dealing with other group of customers.   

After building up some customers it is important to maintain a relationship with them. For this you need to keep a constant communication flow with the customers and also take their feedback.

8. What is customer feedback?

Feedback is something said about someone in a context to describe the services received, whether its direct or through a conversation on twitter, or a review on a blog post.

It is obviously important to know what you have been working on is making a difference. You might keep launching new products and create marketing campaigns but without customer knowledge and feedback  you are just taking a shot in the dark.

Customer surveys can be conducted to know customer feedback. Inventions on some of the worlds best product have been based on customer feedback. Knowing your customer is utmost important. Further some research on the competitors and the market can lead you to a good path with your business.  

Knowing all the analytics is beneficial in a way but through survey their is a clear picture.

Feedback is conducted on different levels i.e the idea phase, pre-launch phase, early traction phase and if things go well period of long growth phase.

The idea phase – This is a phase when a idea clicks your mind and you want to get ahead on it, but before you do that maybe you should look back and talk to people and get their reviews. Don’t worry about getting it stolen, that’s a risk to be taken since it’s a greater risk not talking to people about your idea. This will avoid you from spending a lot of money on something nobody really cares about and turns out not so worthwhile. Talk to people not necessarily your friends and family but also people beyond that.

The goal here is to identify your customers and the problems and convivence you may tend to offer them though your product.

Begin with asking questions related to your products like

what kind of product would help them?

What kind of things they have been looking for in the market ? etc.

Start these conversations with a pitch and don’t jump right into it. The main motive here is to gain customers knowledge.

The pre launch phase – once target customers are found, you need to get their feedback on your product, whether it is worth spending on. At this point you are on your pre launching of the  product so you can create a landing page/website to collect all the customers informations. Their are different ways this can be done.
One of the ways to get feedback is on your blog which can have call-to-action or comments or questions by the customers. YouTube videos, or sending email newsletters etc. Building good content is one of the ways to drive traffic to your website who can give you feedback.

Getting feedback on your content can also help you improvise on that.

Early traction phase – At this phase the product is being launched and you are expecting a lot of customers to dive into your product. But the situation can go either ways so if it all goes well it good but incase it goes the other way around the probable solution is to talk to the customers get their feedback and try to understand why your product hasn’t gained the recognition it should have.

offer free trial and get the customers feedback on it. Ask them questions like:

  • How was the product?  
  • Was it helpful and worth spending on ?
  • What is not working well in the product ?

Get these feedback and use it to your benefit.

This will not lead to Current customers feedback – It is important to keep track of customer feedback ongoing basis. The current customers should not be neglected to get new ones. Don’t neglect your existing customer.

Make sure your customers hear from you on regular basis but their is define line between annoying and informing which should be maintained. Sending promotional or some interesting information is a great way to stay on your customers minds. The  more engaged you are with your customers the chances of their staying going high.

Customers support is also a place to get valuable feedbacks.

These are few ways to get customers feedback so as to launch a new products and continue existing in the market.

It is important to maintain professional relationship with the customers. Build a meaningful relation with the to be customers so they care about your offering.

9. Deliver great customer service

The ways to provide great customers service:

  • Respond as quickly as possible – This is a important factor. Customer doesn’t like to wait too long for a response as in this case they will switch on to other options. So in order to retain customers it’s important to have a good response rate.  
  • Know your customers – Interacting with the customers is important. Customers love personalization. Remember your customers and probably the conversation you had with them, this make them feel like considered and leave them with a great experience.
  • Fix your mistakes – Not  taking responsibility of your mistakes gives a bad reputation. Try to achieve a higher level of standards.
  • Go the extra mile – Putting some extra efforts for your customers is surely a good deal. It always leaves customers with a good experience. This also helps to retain customers for  long term, which is one of the requirement of any business.

let’s take an example here:

Amazon is a big brand name.

Ever wondered how did it achieve that ?

It follows marketing techniques to get through the customers.

 

Check out above image.

This is a follow-up email from Amazon after a purchase was made for a kindle. This message  prompts the customer to review their product. This signals customer appreciation while getting the reader back for future purchase.

This happens by the actionable, yellow CTA that takes you back to the Amazon website and reconnects to the online marketplace that got us here in the first place. Round two of buying!      

For a good customer service it is important to have a good delivery system –

Customer service is the utmost deal for any business. A survey found that around 68% of consumers would react by telling their family and friends, few by posting on social media. And social media is biggest platform so a good review surely add values.

A great value ensures you deliver a positive customer service. Business should be built around how to deliver good customer service. Just having a brand will not get the success rather it depends on customer service and their experience with the brand.

Customers never buy product because of their features, rather because of the “benefits” they acquire from those features. Most of the marketing and sales messages depict the features of the product.

There are rules based upon conversation:

1. Understand the difference between a benefit and a feature.

Example:

-> This car supports safety roof. (feature)

-> This car keeps your family safe. (benefit)

2. Use plain language.

Example:

 -> This roof provides protection in case of a accident. (feature)

 -> This car helps to walk away unharmed in case of accident. (benefit)

3. Keep the list of benefits on minimal.

Example: 

  -> Top 10 benefits of our product. (feature)

  -> The few important things to remember about the product.  (benefit)

4. Focus on the unique factor your have.

Example:

    -> Our software provides more productivity. (feature)

    -> The report from our customers depicts 30% decrease in the cost.  (benefit)

5. Make your benefits more real.

Example:

     -> The average cost is reduced by the use of our products.

     -> The average cost can be reduced at a level of 25% by our product.

10. Get the lifetime value and acquisition cost of each customer

Often entrepreneurs get busy building a business and they forget to pay attention to each individual customers. Tracking such a data may seem like a lot of work but it isn’t. Online business can use Google Analytics to track the customer activity, similarly bricks and mortar companies can use point of sale software to get detailed data.    

11. Become an expert

Not having a good track record of happy customers, is not going to be working for any business. The best thing here to be an expertise in your chosen domain. If your customers trust your knowledge in a specific area, they will buy from you.

Develop your expertise, and express it through different media resources. Whether is social media or write a guest blog to spread the message. You can also get people together for a seminar or invite them to learn about your subject area.

Have the urge the sell to customers. Use your platform to try help people and find your first customer. This first customer will breathe life in your startup.

 

We would love to have your questions in comments.

Sonam Kedia

Sonam Kedia

I keep exploring new ways of content which influence people to live a better life. Travelling is something I cannot resist.

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