Customer Acquisition 101

How To Get Your First Clients
May 8, 2019
Interview with Brian Kennedy
May 22, 2019

Being able to turn an idea into a product that people will want to purchase is, naturally, a crucial aspect of any business. If you do not have a customer base, you will quickly find that you do not have a viable enterprise. As such, you need to establish a reliable way of communicating with your potential customers in order to tailor your product to their needs. By doing so, you will have made something that solves a problem they were struggling with. Thus, you will captivate them, and in turn they will want to buy your product or adhere to your service.

Communication

Ideally, you will be getting in touch with people in order to discover what they think of your project and gather feedback on how to improve it. This can be done in several ways, such as:

  • Talking to focus groups;
  • Conducting interviews with interested people;
  • Carrying out surveys;
  • Running beta or early access versions of the product;

These methods will allow you to test your assumptions regarding your product, as well as gather some very important information. First, you will learn how much money people are willing to spend on your product. Second, you will better understand what your potential customers’ problems are, which in turn will guide you towards finding a solution for said problems. By adapting your product or service to satisfy their needs and targeting the issue directly, you are strengthening your product and creating something the customer wants to have or use.

First Clients

Finding your initial customers is a task that all startups must undertake. One of the simpler ways in which this can be accomplished is through your personal network of acquaintances and friends. To do this, you must talk to the people you know and scope out whether they, or people they know, have problems in their lives that could be solved through the product or idea you are working on. While talking to people in person is ideal, you can also do this through video calls, or just regular phone calls.

Getting feedback from people you know is vital. Ask them questions and take note of everything they tell you, as the more data and opinions you can gather, the better. Further, ask them if they would be interested in staying in the loop regarding the development of your product. If they show interest in joining a beta test for the product, even better. If you are working in the BTB sector, you can always launch a pilot, which will give corporate entities that might be interested in your enterprise a sneak peak of your product. The feedback gathered from these various sources will allow you to fine tune the product.

An Example

When Gymhopper, a Swiss-based startup that connects gyms across Europe, was still in its conceptual stage, the founders (who at the time were students) reasoned that they needed to get out into the world and talk to gym owners about their idea. So, they did just that. Taking advantage of summer break, they set off and drove to a handful of gyms over a 2-and-a-half-month period. There, they would request to talk to the gym’s owners about their project, and would ask them their thoughts on it, as well as if it was a service that they would be interested in being a part of. During this time, they learned that businesses were generally willing to set up appointments to hear them out, as they were honest and enthusiastic about their idea. They also used this opportunity to learn as much about the gym industry as possible, since that was an area of expertise where they did not have a lot of experience.

Although they did not have a working app yet, they found that this product was something people could get behind. In addition, they noticed that the first 5-10 clients they spoke with were the most helpful, providing them with a wealth of information. This feedback was vital for the building of the app. Eventually they realized that as they talked to the gym owners and refined the project in order to adapt it to better suit the realities of the gym industry, people were getting excited about being a part of the project. More importantly, they were expressing interest in paying them for it. This was when they truly knew they had a real opportunity to establish a viable business, and that their idea could be successful.

Pricing

This is one of the most important aspects for any startup that is developing a product and looking for clients: you must not undersell yourself. Especially if you are creating a unique product that is not easily compared to other products on the market, you should be very careful with how you decide to price your work. While a good deal of guesswork is always involved, underselling yourself is always a bad thing, as you will be cutting into your profits and perhaps into the business’s longevity. Keep in mind that it is oftentimes easier to lower the price of your services, than to increase them after the fact. However, do not overreach and set the price too high, as that may drive people away.

While there is no sure-fire way of going about finding the right price, you should use the feedback you have gathered to adjust the price. Ask people what they would be willing to pay for your product. If you build a quality product that solves people’s problems, they will want to give you money for it.

Key Points

By adapting your product to match your potential client’s needs, which can only be done by taking their feedback into account, which in turn should be gathered by meeting with them in person, you will craft a viable product. From here, you can start thinking about how to sell your product.

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