Many of the largest companies today started small. The uphill journey is never easy, but reaching the top is always worthwhile. Every business comes with risks. No entrepreneur had been 100 percent sure about their future revenue. Everything is just an estimation, hopes and careful planning. For startups, especially, it could be challenging to flourish in just a short time. However, success is possible if the right steps str done. So, how will you get from ‘no one knows you’ to your first 100 customers? Here is a useful guide.
First things first, you must know how to improve the odds of reaching your target. Startups get through a certain process, and they do it by exploring different channels and sources. They build up their user base, but the successful startups maintain a laser-like approach to hit their ideal client profile.
Many startups once thought that ‘mass marketing’ is the key to catch the big fish, but they are wrong. Using techniques like blogging, SEO, social media and paid advertising can be compared to huge nest. It would allow you to catch a lot of fish. However, you’d probably end up catching a lot of fish for every one big fish that you get. It isn’t good news.
Your mistake will be wasting your time and energy on these small fishes, while failing to oversee all those big fishes go back in the water. Thus, to be able to catch the huge fishes, you must learn what the clever aboriginal fishermen did – spear fishing.
These fishermen silently paddle their canoe to narrow rivers where big fishes hang out. They patiently wait, poised and focused on the fish they aim to catch, and with the right timing, they will then throw their spears. In one swift motion, lunch is served.
For startups, the way to catch the ‘big fish’ is to narrow down your audience. Hang out in small inlets where there is a higher chance of getting a huge catch. You can’t do it by using Facebook alone. This platform is clasping a large market. Too large that you will end up disappointed when your goal is to get a hundred customers using Facebook alone.
To target your audience with a laser-like focus, better go on a spear fishing expedition. In real life this would be professional associations, trade magazines, trade conferences, or unions. It may cost you money, but there’s a good reason to let go of some cash.
Striving businesses are willing to spend money to belong in such groups or attend their events because they gain benefits from it – and you will, too.
Hunting fishes in narrow rivers, might get you a list of members that you can contact personally. Perhaps you could pay for an advertising spot on the group’s emails.
In this small pool of prospective clients, you’d be able to target 1 in 6 clients that fit your brand, product or service. Now, this is good news.
Getting your first 100 customers
Now that you know how to target your specific audience, the next step is to gather customers. Like said, startups go through a process that help them become successful with their goals. Though there is no definite template for businesses to follow, the methods below will do great for your business tinkering, testing and validating:
Define your customer and their problem
To make your product or service needed, it must serve as a solution to a problem of your customers. First, know your customers, then know what they need.
Emma’s story will help you get a clearer view:
It was a Monday morning when Emma hurriedly reached the gym’s changing room. She was sweating and panting as she sat down heavily on the bench. The time she unzipped her gym bag, all her things stumbled out hastily. Emma stopped for a second.
She realized she hasn’t taken out her 3-day-old sweat towel that she left over the weekend. Emma slowly sniffed the towel, and returned spraying deodorant on her feet.
Emma is a real customer with needs and wants. She is far from the fictional narratives who sell the latest fitness course, or gym membership. Emma will never be the woman on their avatar, but Emma has real problems. She’s a real customer with issues that need to be solved.
To know your customer, it is essential to know how they are doing in real life. Businesses must think where their customers are, and not where they should be. This is how you can identify your customers and their problems.
Applying the method:
- Conduct a survey to your customers. This way you would get helpful validations of what you are doing right or wrong. You will know specific problems, and you will be able to develop appropriate solutions for it.
- Your target audience has different segments. Pick one customer segment, the strongest one. These people are those that want your service or product.
- This customer segment that you chose know the problem you are trying to address, and they are in your strongest channel.
- Sieve your market, and spot the customers that need your product the most.
- Define your customer’s reality, put your feet in their shoes, and do the job that your customers expect you to do.
Create a clear message
Enough with the marketing promises. Just craft a simple, clear and relevant message about the benefits of your product or service. To do this, you can use this formula:
What your customer wants + Specific/Time/Money + Address Objection/pain = Clarity
Applying the method:
- Focus on your customers
- Create a clear and specific voice
- Test the waters
- Add modifications and write it down
Expand your network through introduction requests
Ask for introductions. Though, it is easier to reach out to family and friends, you may also consider building connections with previous customers and investors. Ask people to introduce you to their network who may be interested in your business.
Chargify CEO Lance Walley agrees this is true. He mentioned in his blog post that a Twitter connection with a motorcycle rider led to his connection with Mark Cuban. Reaching out to a person he knew online resulted in his introduction to Mark Cuban, which eventually led to Mark investing in Chargify.
Applying the method:
- In the next 24 hours, contact 10 people, and ask them to be your customer. The aim of this practice is taking action. You must develop a habit of making things happen.
Reach out to influencers
The most common way to engage with influencers is to attend events and conferences, where you can break the ice and attempt to build a relationship with them. Other people choose to set meetings with influencers where they can get the chance to ask them to spread the word about their venture.
Another way is to create blogs.
The tangles of the world wide web are already packed with innumerable blogs. To be able to stand out, you must do something different.
Take for example what Buffer cofounder Leo Widrich did as a startup. Buffer was able to publish 150 guest posts in its first 9 months. This copious content resulted in the site’s 100,000 new users.
You can use your blogs to entice influencers to make a review or feedback. You can also consider allowing guest posting just like what Leo Widrich did.
Applying the method:
- Create a blog about the problem you are solving. Define an existing issue in the marketplace and propose a solution, then write it on your blog. If it fits the market of the influencer they may share your blog, where you can get people to sign up.
- Share your blogs on sites like Reddit where there are groups of people with similar interests.
- Work with your About page. People who bother to click the about page exist, and they are typically the strongest segment of your market. So make sure you are able to create a clear message about who you are and what you’re looking for in your About page.
- Write about the industry you are in. Create a blog that enlightens people about the industry, and the probable solutions to the current issues. Gather people around your blog by having a different perspective, but they can relate to. Most importantly, never forget to ask your audience to sign up for more updates.
Keep a simple online presence
Online presence is essential when starting out. However, when creating your websites make sure that you keep it simple. You don’t need to waste time and energy in making complex sites.
The key is to keep your initial website uncomplicated. There is no other way to describe it, but just to keep it as simple as possible. A straightforward, and neat landing page will do, but make sure it contains the essential elements.
Applying the method:
Here are the essential elements your landing page must have:
- A call to action: provide an opt-in form. One of your significant goals when creating sites is to turn visitors into leads. You can do this by creating a form that your audience can fill up with their name, email address, and other necessary information that will help you reach out to them.
- Social media links: It is important to include a few relevant profiles on your blogs. Your visitors probably hang out mostly on social media platforms, thus you can optimize the exposure of your business by giving out links. However, you must not overdo it. Include just a few that your audience prefers.
- Start a blog: A blog site adds credibility, and improves your online presence. You don’t have to be the greatest writer to create blogs. The important thing is the value of what you provide, rather than how you provide it.