How To Acquire Your First 100 Customers As A Startup – A Startup Selling Guide
Congratulations on your new business venture!
BTW, do you have a plan on how you are going to acquire your first set of customers?
Let’s face it, you have probably spent the maximum chunk of your budget in building your startup and now you are likely to be strapped for cash to spend it on marketing.
And the downside is that you can’t acquire your customers without marketing your product. Guess what, you can still do it!
Here is a step by step guide that will help you acquire your first 100 customers as a start-up without shelling big money!
1. Identify your Market & Potential Customers
If you are starting a business, there is an audience out there who would require your product or services. Duh!
However, you will be surprised to know how many businesses are actually going after the wrong audience. That is, many businesses fail to identify their target audience. And a lot of them try to reach their target audience through the wrong channel.
As a result, their startup tanks even before acquiring a considerable amount of customers.
Sometimes, some businesses are so similar that they fail to identify their target audience and target the audience of the other business. Take, for example, Cosmopolitan magazine. What if Cosmopolitan started to target the audience that reads Vogue?
Yes, you got it right! The magazine wouldn’t have soared to such a success.
The same applies to B2B businesses as well. A marketing consultancy firm cannot expect to have the same target audience as a financial consultancy firm.
Now, this gives way to another question…
How will you identify your market?
It’s quite simple actually, you have to go after the audience whose problems you care about and who actually need your product. So, the way is to make a list of your potential audience that you care about and envision yourself helping in the future.
You might get confused between your audience, but try to narrow it down and be as specific as possible. All in all, you have to find your niche.
Consider these factors that will help you choose your niche.
i. What is the size of your target market? Are you targeting global audience?
ii. Is your target market equipped to spend money on your product or services?
iii. How prolific is your competition in your niche market?
iv. Are you offering enough value proposition to make your product stand out amid the competition?
This was just one avenue of how to acquire customers as a startup. This is just the beginning!
2. Blog Extensively
They weren’t lying when they said that “Content is the king”. In fact, whenever someone points out the question – How to get clients for a startup? The quick answer is to start blogging extensively. It should have been the first thing to embark on. But hey, now is as good a time as any, right?
Are you a bit cynical of investing your time and resources in blogging?
Before completely doing away with the idea, let’s have a look at this success story.
The success of Buffer’s content marketing strategy is one classic example. This social media management platform went on to acquire over 100,000 customers for their BufferApp, within a year of starting a blog.
That said, the company was consistent in their blogging endeavour, extremely so. They claim that their co-founder wrote over 150 blog posts within 9 months.
And it is for everyone to see how wonderfully it paid off.
According to a report, B2B marketers that use blogs receive 67% more leads than those that do not.
Blogging tips to get you started
i. Be consistent
As is evident from Buffer’s marketing strategy, consistency is the key.
You can’t slack away in your blogging efforts to keep your momentum building. It is not enough to post one path-breaking, in-depth post every once in a while – you have to do this consistently.
This would not only create a regular customer base but also bring some much-needed SEO juice your way.
ii. Guest Posting
Blogging includes not only posting on your own website, but it also entails guest posting. Guest posting is one of the best ways to get backlinks or increasing brand recognition.
Come to think of it that way – you are posting your content in someone else’s website so that their customers will be redirected back to your website. This way, you will end up getting some indirect traffic as well.
iii. Write for your audience
When you write something, do you analyze who are you writing for?
The main motto is not just to produce quality content. It comes close second to, or let’s say, has equal importance to creating content relevant to your audience.
However, make sure that your content is relevant to both your existing as well as your potential audience. Try to solve problems with your content, share tips and strategies that might help your audience out and DON’T try to be all promotional and spammy!
3. Start Cold Emailing
Yeah, didn’t see it coming, did you? That “cold emailing” that many salespeople actually dread!
But now is the time to embrace cold emailing as it is going to play a crucial role in increasing your customer base.
And, to be honest, those who dread those two so much are probably doing it the wrong way.
So, how can you do it the right way?
Just ask yourself the following questions…
i. Which subject line would I find compelling enough to actually open the mail?
ii. If I were my audience, would I read it till the end?
iii. Now that I have read this, would I bother to reply?
You are unlikely to go wrong if you keep these things in mind.
Now, have you ever wondered, “what do bad email pitches have in common?”
Have a look at some of these characteristics that they share:
i. Overtly promotional
ii. Too generic
iii. Irrelevant call-to-action
iv. Not worthy of a reply
Good emails are usually:
i. Driving for a reply
iv. Entailing clear call-to-action
Have a look at this cold email template:
Hey (Potential customer),
I noticed that you were facing X problem a few weeks ago and are looking around for a solution.
Are you still looking or have you found a solution to the problem yet?
If you have, what did you do?
If you haven’t, we have a solution that will help you sail out of the problem without hiring any additional help!
Speak on DAY and TIME?
Have you noticed, how easy was it to breeze through this email? Heck, it doesn’t even sound like an email, if anything, it feels like striking a conversation with a friend who needs your help.
And this is the best approach one can espouse. When you are just starting out, you can’t get away with sending generic emails. You have to walk an extra mile to go through your prospects’ problems closely and send them a personalised email like aforementioned. I don’t think a lot of people would be able to ignore such an email.
Don’t forget, that humour and care always work like a charm! Those two, along with a good product, should be enough to acquire customers as a startup.
So, when I say cold emailing, don’t go by the verbatim. Cold emails don’t have to be cold and bland, instead, make them fun, witty and conversational.
4. Give away free stuff
I don’t like free goodies… said no one ever!
Whenever someone faces a question like “How to acquire customers as a startup”? There’s one simple answer – give out freebies.
Everyone loves free stuff. EVERYONE! Expect probably the one who is giving out the freebies.
But, when you are just starting out, don’t worry too much about it. Because trust me, you will actually look back and applaud this decision.
Giving out a product for free will get a lot of people behind you and your brand. And, you are just starting out, I can name many brands who are stalwarts in their fields but are still giving away something or the other for free… even if it is just FREE shipping.
But hey, as long as it is “FREE”, I don’t care, do you?
Here are the things that you can consider giving away for free and acquire quick customer base:
i. Free Trial
For SaaS products, giving out free trial is not even a tactic anymore, it has become a necessity. And it is something that would be actually very fair on your part. Because wouldn’t you rather try out a product beforehand before actually spending money on it?
This is another way of attracting customers. With your freemium plan, you give away your basic services for free, while charging for other, more powerful features.
Freemium plan allows users to get familiar with your product or service. Chances are that if the customer feels that your product is useful, then they will eventually purchase the higher plan to have access to the features that you are withholding.
There are many other things that you can give away for free. Free shipping is again, one example.
5. Pitch Your Product In A Language That Your Audience Understands
There’s some veracity in the claim that says, “Best marketing doesn’t even feel like marketing”
You are a startup and you are struggling with how to acquire customers as a startup? So, you can’t afford to be indifferent to your prospects’ preferences and understanding.
Thus, your aim should not be to just point out the specifications of your product and how great it is. More often than not, your potential customer doesn’t even understand about the jargons you are pointing out. And who cares how great your product is?
What people care about is the fact that how your product is going to help them. It’s that simple!
So, for starters, always remember that don’t use too many technical terms while writing or talking about your product your service. Secondly, benefits go hand in hand with the features. Because, what would I do with something that has exceptional features but is not really beneficial for me?
You can actually draw some lesson from tech titan “Apple”. Nobody does it better than Apple actually.
Whether it is an Apple keynote or their product pages, you will notice one thing – they don’t initially use words like megabytes or gigahertz. Instead, they will bind you throughout and show you some photos and benefits and they end up making them look “revolutionary”. So much so, that at the end of a keynote, you wouldn’t be able to help but being a part of that “revolution”.
Have a look, how they use simple terms to make their point.
They know the customer very well and they have mastered the art of touching their customers’ nerve as is evident from the legion of fans camping outside Apple stores before any launch.
So, make sure that your sales copy should be speaking your customers’ language. Once you have reeled in the prospect, then you can start talking about the technicalities.
6. Interact on Social Media
Social Media plays a pivotal role in the question, “How to get clients for a startup”?
If you do it right, Social Media is going to bring you more than just 100 customers.
However, the key is to find your tribe. This means, that you have to indulge in some heavy research and analyze where your customers are and what is their social media routine like.
Find the pages, groups & people on social media channels where there are talks about your niche or industry. Find the places where the talks regarding your niche are most alive and kicking. Become a part of these communities and engage them by giving out some tips or just by simply asking questions.
The place where B2B industries find most leads are Quora, Reddit and LinkedIn.
However, it all depends on your industry. If you are launching a fashion line for teens, then Instagram is your holy grail.
Research! Research! Research!
And research some more.
7. Turn to professional help
Since you have just build your startup, chances are that you have your hands tied up with so many things at once. Amid this, your sales process is likely to suffer which in turn makes it nearly impossible for you to acquire your first set of customers.
This is where sales consulting firms come into play.
With a sales consulting firm as a helping hand, you will get experts with vast experience in the field. And neither you nor your newly hired employees simply can match up to that experience.
It might seem like a lot of expenditure for a startup, however, you will be surprised with the ROI you will generate after availing professional help. However, before hiring an agency, it would be suggested to do your homework first.
Summing It All Up
Customer acquisition for startup is not an easy task. However, you can succeed if you follow these customer acquisition strategies correctly.
Plus, get one thing in your head – you are NOT supposed to sell your product. Instead, you have to help your prospects. You need to start by engaging with your audience and connecting with them on almost every platform that you come across.
Apart from this, one thing that should be prevalent in your sales process is the inclination towards customer satisfaction and success. To prove your mettle in the industry, you have to ensure that all your customers are either highly successful – or you are doing everything in your power to make them so.
We know, it seems like you have your work cut out for you. However, once you start with these strategies, there will be no turning back for you.
How are you planning to acquire your first 100 customers?