What’s the one thing every business wants? Is it money, fame or endless resources? The answer is very simple: customers. Having customers is the surefire way to ensure your business survives in the long run. No matter how good your product or services are, you won’t get anywhere without people buying what you sell. However, building a customer base is one of the most challenging things a business has to do, especially if you’re just starting out.
If you also run a startup and want ideas to build your customer base, you’ve come to the right place. Here’s some proven ways to get your first 100 customers.
1. Use and build on your existing network
Using an existing network of friends and family is something any company does without even consciously strategizing it. You tell your friends and family about your business and hope that someone will make a purchase. That’s how it starts.
However, with a little planning, you can significantly increase your reach, even with your existing network. Here’s what you can do.
- Ask your friends and family to spread the word about your business among their circle by tagging you on their social media handles.
- If you already own a business, ask your existing customers to try your new startup’s products or services. It will be much easier to convince those who are already satisfied with your current business and will have a certain confidence in you.
- You can also target the existing audience of a product similar to yours by conducting market research.
- Contact your investors to spread the word about your company in their circles. They will be happy to do it because they have high stakes in your business and most investors have an impressive network.
2. Start a blog
“The pen is mightier than the sword” is an age-old saying that still holds true today. However, in the digital world, it translates into blogs. With the internet and your blogs, you have the power to reach the whole world. Now a question comes to my mind: why blogs and not something else? This is why:
- Blogs allow you to connect with like-minded people and build lasting relationships.
- Blogs tell your readers what your business has to offer and how it can solve their problems.
- With your blogs, you can show others that you are an expert in your business and that they can rely on you for answers.
- Blogs are also a great way to bring online traffic and authority to your website.
- They also help you set the tone of your business with potential customers.
- You also get instant feedback from people about your products or services through blogs.
You can share your product stories and gain loyal customers and influencers for your business through your blogs.
3. Increase your reach with cold calls and emails
If you can get your first 100 customers with your existing network, that’s incredible. Ultimately, though, you have to reach out to strangers or potential customers, and that’s when cold calls and emails come into the picture.
Cold emails are emails you send to people who may be interested in your services but don’t know you yet. Cold emails are most effective when you have a mutual connection with the sender that you can use as a reference. A prime example of this is an email sent to Andrew Warner from co-founder and CEO Zapier Wade Foster.
No matter how good your email is, there are always chances that the person will delete it without reading it. In contrast, calls are harder to ignore. Try cold calls and talk to your potential buyers and understand why they may or may not want to make a purchase.
4. Give away free stuff
One thing that consumers have a hard time resisting are freebies. Whether it’s your product sample or a trial demo of your software, you can easily convince potential consumers to buy if they liked your product during free trials.
However, you need to ensure that the user experience when the potential customers use your service is exceptional; otherwise you will lose a customer forever. It is the stage where you can gain or lose their trust altogether, as the first impression matters.
“What do you need to start a business? Three simple things: know your product like no other. Know your customer and have a burning desire to succeed.” – Dave Thomas
5. Harness the power of paid advertising
Ads have long been one of the most effective tools in the marketing arsenal. And with digital platforms such as social media and search engines, the reach of paid advertising has grown exponentially.
Its microtargeting options and cost-effectiveness make online advertising one of the most efficient tools for startups to grow their customer base. You can opt for search ads on Google, Bing and other search engines. You can also opt for display ads and video ads on social media platforms such as Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.
6. Make use of online forums and communities
There are multiple online forums and communities like Quora, Reddit, and Inbound, where like-minded people share views, ideas, and opinions on everything.
The power of online forums is that most people trust products or services that get positive feedback from users. It helps you build trust with your potential customers. People who love your product will be happy to promote it in these forums in a variety of ways. If someone comes to watch, they will see the evidence through the opinion of others.
7. Don’t forget social media
In the current era, the power of social media is unbeatable. Nearly 4.8 billion people will be using social media by 2021, which means your potential customer reach on social media could be huge.
There are multiple ways you can use social media for your business to acquire customers. Some of them are:
- Influencing Marketing: Influencers are people on social media who have thousands of followers. They have the power to influence their followers through their content. You can partner with such influencers to promote your business.
- Buzz on social media: By creating a buzz factor with your posts, tweets and videos on social media platforms, you can quickly land your first 100 customers. Follow the trends on social media and use them to build your relationship with potential customers. You can talk about your special offers, contests, etc. to create the buzz.
8. Keep 1-o-1 with your customers
One thing that is good about the early stages of your business is that you have less responsibilities and more time on your hands. Use that time to connect with your existing customers and understand their issues. Get feedback on your product or services and make those changes.
It helps you build long-term relationships with your first customers and build your brand value in the market.
These are just a few ways to find your first 100 customers. There are always more things you can try in the early stages to increase your reach and revenue. It’s all about researching the market and understanding what works best for your target audience.