17 Ways to Acquire Your First 100 Customers
Your start-up is up and running and you have a great product. Unfortunately, a great product or service is not enough. You will have to convince customers to buy your product or service. Your first 100 customers are a major milestone for any startup.
Getting early customers for your product is challenging because you do not have a database. You may be unsure about your target audience. Acquiring your first 100 customers is a blend of marketing and customer development. Do not limit yourself to acquiring a customer but find out more about them.
Here are some strategies that will help you land your first 100 customers.
Use your network
One of the fastest ways to start customer development is to start with your existing network. Interact with them and question them about your product. Listen to them with an open mind when they answer questions about pain points.
Ask friends and family if they know anyone who can help. If your product caters to a specific niche, you may already have some contacts. Going through your contact list on websites like LinkedIn is a great starting point. You can contact people who are from your industry.
Many people are willing to help. Several start-ups flounder, because founders do not reach out to customers. Step out of your comfort zone – use your friend’s networks, colleagues, and alumni. When you contact someone, ask them if they know someone who may be interested in the product you offer.
Use Social media for market research
Social media platforms like Twitter and LinkedIn are great tools to find potential customers. You can use Twitter’s powerful search engine to find data to match your parameters.
Once you can contact them and find out more about their pain points. Online forums and blog posts on competing products, will give you a feel of problems your product needs to solve and the features that will add value.
Studying these websites will help you draft out the perfect sales letter. Use the search results to confirm or disprove your hypothesis for your product. Ask potential customers you have contacted, if they would like to receive updates on your product.
When building your start-up, document your journey on social media websites to generate a buzz. We call the practice building in public and is a concept used by many start-ups. You can use a social media publishing tool like social aider to publish in various social media platforms.
Quora is a fantastic customer development tool any startup can use. Quora allows users to browse and post questions on any topic. It is the perfect tool to gather information from your target customer group about the product you plan to sell.
College-educated professionals use Quora. Several users work in technology companies. Some of the most searched topics are investing, computer programming, mobile, and software engineering.
You can ask questions related to problems your product or service is aiming to solve. Upvote functionality will give you an idea about popular answers.
Customer Development Tools
Tools like SurveyMonkey and Quanlaroo will help you understand your audience better. If you know the profile of your target demography, use the information to generate leads by using surveys to qualify them. You can integrate Quanlaroo with blog websites like Good blogs to boost registration.
For the process to work, you need to ask a leading question to qualify your prospects. If they answer yes, ask them for their name, email address, and company name. You now have a potential lead.
Launch to an E-mail List
Marketers consider emails to be one of the best marketing converting tools. You can leverage your social media profile to get email addresses. You can use emails, to expand your reach and follow up with people who show an interest. A profitable launch will add value to your subscribers and persuade them to buy your product.
Nathan Barry recommends the following launch formula –
- Educate your subscribers- The emails should be informative and educational. Begin your campaign by giving information about your background. Draft your l carefully to convince your readers of your credibility. Your emails should be able to generate a buzz about what comes next.
- Describe your product – After you have established your credentials as a subject matter expert. You should work to generate curiosity about your product. The purpose of your email is to inform your audience about the product and how the product will help.
- Launch – You need to launch the product to the public.
- Educational email – Now that you launched your product, you need to reinforce your confidence in your product by having a strong call to action. Highlight the unique features of your product. Adding case studies and testimonials to the mails can document the useful features of your product and add credibility.
- Hard Sell – The final e-mail should entice your readers to buy you can add an element of urgency to your emails.
This sequence helps to build anticipation. You should provide educational and sales material before you persuade readers to buy your product.
Use Beta websites
Websites like Product Hunt and Reddit feature products and get you lots of upvotes and visibility. There are websites like Betalist which features your products for a fee in front of a larger technology audience.
These websites can help you generate early bird signups. Beta list users are known to be early adaptors to source and test out with the beta user’s communities. Other beta websites you can use are Erlibird and Startup list. They help startups get their first signup by featuring them in front of targeted users.
Use other peoples platforms
One of the fastest ways to build some visibility is to look for brands with a similar target audience and use their platform. You need to build trust when you persuade someone to buy your product. Using someone else platform you can leverage the trust to drive your sales. You can use two strategies –
- There are startup incubators and accelerators like AngelPad, YCombitors, and SeedCamp. When you are using a well-known incubator you get some credibility. Another advantage is you get access to some potentially paying customers.
- You can run affiliate deals and offer discounts.
Building credibility and trust are time-consuming. Leveraging these platforms will give you a head start. Another effective strategy is attending conferences and industry meetups.
Guest posting is leveraging another person’s audience to build your own. It is a popular approach to build a customer base. There are some things you need to keep in mind when you start guest blogging –
- Be patient and persistent – Your early post may not build traffic to your websites. It will take time to improve results.
- Focus on the right metrics when you want to judge the effectiveness of your post. Some experts recommend getting signups. Rather than focusing on metrics like page views, likes, and shares, focus on how many paying customers your blog helps generate.
- When you are guest blogging, post your blog on the right website. There are several forums you can use like BloggerLinkUp and MyBlogGuest or Quora and Medium. You may have pitch editors of larger websites.
- Several bloggers make the mistake of over-committing the number of blogs they will publish. Instead, scale up gradually, start by writing one or two blogs. Once you are familiar with the medium, you can write more.
Remember guest blogging is not only about increasing traffic to your website. It can help establish a relationship with the website where you are blogging. It can provide opportunities like affiliate deals and joint ventures in the future.
Search engine traffic is a great way to get paying consumers. For many verticals getting a high rank is competitive and difficult. You will learn some keywords are more competitive than others.
Industry experts recommend focusing on long-tail keywords. You need to be persistent and publish quality content using long-tail keywords. It is important to place these words organically and avoid keyword stuffing.
You can get long-tail keyword ideas by reading questions posted on forums in your niche in forums like Quora. The handy Topic FAQ will give you an insight into what your target audience is looking for.
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Cold E-mails are a great tool to get your first paying customer. Sending emails will help you reach a high volume of people. A well-drafted email can have a high response rate. Here are some tips that may help
- Have an enticing subject line. The subject line should make your readers curious.
- The body of your mail should be engaging. Specify how your product will help your reader.
- Using social proof in your emails will improve your response rate. You have limited time and space to capture your reader’s attention. Give specific instances or social proof of how your product will help your readers.
- Your letters should close with a strong call to action.
You can use a tool like Go Mail Merge which can easily automate cold and marketing emails with the highest deliverability rate possible with Gmail.
Run Paid Advertising
Paid advertising is a great way to get your first few customers. There are a lot of contrary opinions on the benefits of paid advertising for startups. Some experts feel it is the fastest way to generate leads when you begin your business.
While planning a paid advertising campaign, ensure you have a high-converting landing page to captivate the interest of your prospective clients. Your landing page should have the following –
- A unique proposition in the headline
- A video or image of your product being used.
- Benefits of the product.
- Request information from the visitor (name, email address, and company)
- A strong call to action
- Social sharing elements
Popular channels you can use are
- Google Adwords lets you target prospects. You can bid for targeted keywords in your niche to get your first customers.
- Facebook advertising lets you send focused advertisements. You can target your customers as per interest, location, and behavior.
You can also use a tool like Agora Pulse to schedule posts on your social media pages
LinkedIn messages have emerged as a good alternative to cold emails. It can have a higher conversion rate. Cold emails are quite impersonal and lack a human touch.
LinkedIn messages are less impersonal because the recipient can see your profile. You can send messages on LinkedIn –
- LinkedIn Inmails are private messages you can send to anyone with a LinkedIn profile. You can send a certain limited number of emails to anyone who is not on your connection. After you exhausted the number, you can send more mail for a nominal fee. You can send these pitches to high-value, potential early bird customers.
- Sponsored Inmails allow you to send thousands of professionals at a time. Sponsored inmail is a fantastic tool for lead generation and to increase conversion rate.
Use the LinkedIn advanced search feature to contact your targeted prospective clients.
Interact with your subscribers
When you start your business, you will have a small customer base. Use this opportunity to have more personal interaction with your subscribers. This technique will help you establish a long-term relationship with them. It will also help build a deeper level of trust and understanding.
The subscribers are more likely to share their positive experiences on social media platforms and stay loyal to your company.
Use online communities
Online communities are a great forum to get your first customers. Use the forum to interact with like-minded individuals, offer them something in value, stay in touch, and you can potentially get a paying customer.
Online communities are like industry conferences, but it will be a bad idea to immediately hard-sell. You need to understand their problems and concerns before offering a product. We underline it is vital to add value to the community before you offer your product. Some online communities you can consider are:-
- Hackers news is one of the biggest news sites for the tech community. The website is very popular gets 1.6 million views and 100,000 unique viewers daily. If you can link up in one of their posts you can get a lot of traffic to your website.
- Product Hunt is a forum to discuss the latest tech products. Product Hunt was first intended for venture capitalists and startups in the Bay Area. Now the forum has subscribers from all over the world. Several startups have used the forum as a launchpad.
- Tropical MBA is a targeted group for remote entrepreneurs. Users have to pay a quarterly subscription fee to be part of the group. The group helps each other with problems associated with starting and growing a business. Since this is a paid forum, you have better odds of getting quality customers.
- Facebook has several forums. You can join and add value to forums. Look for something that caters to your niche. Some Facebook groups are more valuable and targeted. A good rule of thumb is Facebook forums nurtured by influencers have better quality discussions.
You need to get the feel for the topics that are popular within a community. You can add value to any group by offering free office hours to help solve the problems that your product solves. It will help you get a better understanding of the market. You can encourage users to try your Beta version.
Offer free trial/ premium versions
Several startups offer paid versions and free versions of their product to get more customers. This model allows users to test the product to learn if it is suitable. If you think this is not sustainable you can offer introductory pricing that your customers will not mind paying.
Get Social proof
It may be difficult in the initial phase, but you should work towards getting social proof. Blogs can give your brand some visibility, while social proof helps build trustworthiness. There are some ways you can get social proof-
- Find an influencer who enjoys using your product and will market it in their way.
- Use press releases to generate a buzz for the launch.
- Use social media platforms to create excitement.
You can use these methods or your own to get the social proof required.
Blog from your site
Having a blog on your website has become a common practice. To make your blogs effective, you need to consistently deliver engaging content that will help your target audience. You can repurpose the content used on guest blogging sites and other websites for your blog.
If you want to become an influencer for your niche, blogs are a great way to start.