How to Acquire the First 20 Customers for Your Startup

A brilliant idea struck you one fine day, which inspired you to build your new startup business. And now, it’s finally time to start welcoming customers to your business.

A successful startup needs a product that is built with its target customers in mind. Understand the current problems they are facing, their expected solution, and how far your product meets their expectations.

Only then, the product would be a perfect match to meet the needs of more potential customers.

Given that your product fulfills this essential requirement, here are a few more tips from my side to keep in mind to acquire customers for your startup:

  1. Your Target Customer is THE BOSS
  2. Your Customer’s Hangout Spot is your Playing Field
  3. Complete Product Knowledge must NOT be Limited to You
  4. Your Competitor’s Customer is your Future Customer
  5. Take Full Advantage of Online Communities
  6. Referrals Act Like Bridges
  7. Take the Leap to Cold Calls and Emails
  8. Knowledge Need Not be Sold Always
  9. Everyone Loves Free Trials

Your Target Customer is THE BOSS

Your startup business journey won’t reach heights if there are no customers interested in buying your product. And that’s why knowing what your customer wants and strategically feeding their needs with your product is crucial for a successful startup.

For this, optimally listing down your customer’s identity and need is the main task. The best way to do this is by creating a customer persona.

Perform in-depth research and analysis of your potential customers and jot down details such as their:

  1. Overall profile
  2. Personality
  3. Interest and behaviour
  4. Factors that motivate, frustrate and influence them
  5. Media and brands that interest them etc.

Your customer persona will help you draw a better picture of your customer. Through it, you will gain enough information and insight to deliver products and services that are more relevant to them. You will also be able to speak your customer’s language and create persona-specific content.

Eventually, the buying and selling process of your product becomes less of a one-dimensional experience. It will motivate customers to choose your product over your competitors.

Your Customer’s Hangout Spot is your Playing Field

To acquire customers for your startup, you need to figure out the right place to sell your product to maximum customers in minimal time. Technology and the wide range of connectivity it brings across our lives come to our advantage here again.

So, discover where your customers are hanging out online.

Platforms with like-minded existing users will help you to connect with them quickly and grow your business.

For instance, where do you think online learning communities should advertise and sell their educational course videos on web development and UI/UX designs?

Well, one of the most ideal places to display such courses is an online developer’s communities. Such developers communities will have several developers with varying levels of experience wanting to learn more about the course.

Thus, we can see that the right product (online web development courses) reaches the right set of audience/customers (developers) on a massive scale when served on an ideal platform (online developer’s community).

That said, we have set up our own open-source developer community named Nullcast to inspire developers, students and geeks worldwide to learn, share, and grow together.

Complete Product Knowledge must NOT be Limited to You

As a startup founder, nobody would know your product inside out better than you. But, running a startup is not a one-man show.

You can’t take care of all the various requirements for developing your startup. So, what do you do in such a case?

You have to hire proficient team members to delegate the tasks and meet the requirements of your business. Your early team members are the foundation of your startup. Hence, there are several things to consider when bringing on early team members.

Your team should essentially be driven by the same vision, mission and values which drives you. Only then, your team and you will be on the same track.

Potential customers may approach you from any side. Your team must be prepared to cater to their needs efficiently and effectively. That’s why it is not only enough for you to know your product. Your team must also be well equipped with the same knowledge.

So, often communicate with your team and ensure their work resonates with the same kind of passion you instilled in them.

Your Competitor’s Customer is your Future Customer

It is highly likely that your startup product is already available in the market or has similarities with existing ones unless it is a unique, one of a kind product. This means you will have to smartly deal with the competition.

Your competitors are also a source of learning opportunity for you. They entered the market before you and would have figured out what works and doesn’t work for them with time.

Therefore, conduct detailed research on how and where they found their target customers and keep an eye out for what they did and what they are doing at present.

I will not encourage you to copy their tactics, as it will ruin your business’s individuality. Use the information you receive only for the purpose of learning and derive inspiration from it.

Also, talk to your competitor’s customers who are currently using their product. They are the prime people to gain insights from to find ways to improve your product.

By this, you will be able to position your product and business ahead of your competitors and land better quality customers.

Take Full Advantage of Online Communities

Online communities are where members with similar purposes and interests interact with each other.

When you start thinking about how to get the first few customers for a startup, the smart way to do this is by approaching where the herd is.

Start by listing out online communities that are more relevant to your business and the product you built. These communities can be anything from LinkedIn and Quora to Reddit, AngelList etc.

Then, listen to what your potential customers are discussing regarding similar products to yours that they are interested in, issues concerning existing products in the marketplace, etc.

This is where you can jump in with your product as a possible solution to their concerns. The idea is quite similar to what I had discussed earlier in this blog on leveraging customer hangout spots.

Additionally, such online communities will also help you connect and build mutually beneficial relationships with personnel who might later convert to potential customers.

Even if they don’t become your customers, you can still benefit from each other by brainstorming on market trends and staying updated together. Relationship building will bring you endless opportunities.

In case you are a tech founder interested in building such relationships, join our next recurring virtual event called “TECH FOUNDERS CIRCLE”.

Are you interested in participating in the next Tech Founder’s Circle? Comment your LinkedIn profile in the comments to receive an invite.

Also, make it a point to socialise and engage with people who bring relevance to your business.

You can either do this by attending or hosting numerous trade shows, webinars, startup meetups. Or, by maintaining strong communication with your networks through communication channels such as Discord, LinkedIn etc. Even better, do both!

The more active you become in these platforms, the more you will establish your brand’s name and presence amongst the crowd.

Making your brand’s identity and product visible is crucial for developing a sense of reliability. Customers will feel more comfortable approaching your business if you establish an open presence.

Not only will this set you apart from your competitors, but it will also work as a medium of trust that customers can look up to avoid scams from other fraudulent businesses.

Referrals Act Like Bridges

Here comes the part where you will have to start talking about your product to literally everybody you know.

Initially, talk to your friends, family, mentors, colleagues and associates, as they are comparatively easy to access. Anyone and everybody could turn out helpful here as you would never know who will lead you to your next BIG customer.

Later, expand your network by reaching out to previous customers and investors. These people have a high chance of maintaining fantastic networks with people related to or interested in the same field. Cooperation from their side will indefinitely help you spread the word out about your business like fire and acquire customers for your startup.

However, how would providing you with referrals benefit your referee? A great way to make it a win-win situation for both parties is by offering incentives to them. Give them something to look forward to in return for introducing you to the referrals.

These incentives could be anything. Maybe try picking a uniform reward for all your referee’s or get creative to develop personalised offers for each referee depending on their needs.

Either way, all you need to make sure is to maintain motivation amongst your referees to help you.

At Neoito, we are all about building communities. As a part of making our community bigger, better and more robust, we always take the initiative to offer referrals to those in our network before asking for one ourselves.

Take the Leap to Cold Calls and Emails

Cold calls are often “out of the comfort zone” tasks for most people. If you feel the same, don’t worry; we have all been there.

It is vital to step out of your comfort and pick up your phone to make these calls as it is a proven formula to get the first few customers for a startup.

Also, support these cold calls with well-drafted emails too. But remember, in this world where most of the connections we make are behind a device screen, calls add a more personalised touch to the conversation.

However, for both cold calls and emails, stay prepared with information on who your customer is, what does he/she do, who you are, and how your product would benefit them. Excellent research and preparedness will aid you in directing a meaningful conversation and build great rapport.

Your main motive must not be to shove your product down your customer’s throat right away. An essential tip to keep in mind is your product’s sale may not happen with the first call. The win is to end the call, knowing there will be more calls between you in the future.

You can do this by conveying the value you can deliver to your customer by guaranteeing that meeting their needs is your first priority. Wait and watch the wonders it will bring forth.

Knowledge Need Not be Sold Always

In the sea of competition you face in the market to acquire customers for your startup, how will you establish yourself as one who clearly knows what you are up to?

A slow yet long-term rewarding technique to do this is by giving free knowledge about your business and field to the public.

The knowledge you intend to give out can take the form of blogs, Youtube videos, Instagram reels, podcasts, LinkedIn posts etc. It is all about Content Marketing!

Create curated content for your audience, grab their attention and give them everything they want to know along with what you want them to know.

This will enable you to establish yourself as a leader in your field and simultaneously bring organic traffic to your business.

If done correctly using the right set of high-volume keywords and SEO optimisations, you will acquire customers for your startup easily.

Eventually, your business’s credibility will increase. Customers will trust your brand more and look forward to products under your brand name.

Everyone Loves Free Trials

Who wouldn’t like to test a product or service before making a complete purchase? All of us, right!

The scepticism, before investing a large sum of money into a product or service without experiencing its usage, is natural.

So give your customers the benefit of the doubt and provide them with facilities to enjoy your product’s free trials for a limited period.

However, free trials don’t always make sense to acquire customers for your startup. The applicability of it mostly depends on the nature of your business.

For instance, you have a fantastic product. Yet, it still takes more time than the trial period to actually showcase results to your trial user. In such a case, the trial period will negatively affect your business by not converting the trial user into your customer.

So, make sure that you figure out what works best for your business. You can also go for alternatives such as money-back guarantees, videos showcasing your product’s essential features, no-obligation contracts to cancel the subscription anytime etc.

Decide what works best for your business to ensure customer satisfaction.

Wrap Up!

Neoito started off as a startup, like you, in 2014. Hence, we know exactly what it feels like to be in your shoes.

We have seen it all; we have done it all. Every minute detail listed in this blog arises from the experience and learnings of the experts we house.

Our expertise doesn’t stop with our journey to success. We have also helped dozens of startup founders worldwide to scale their businesses from zero to eight or nine-figure valuation in less than a year.

And that’s our strongest flex!

Build, Grow, Scale. | We support founders on their journey from validation to multi-million valuation and beyond.

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