28 April 2022
  • Industry Insight

How to get your first 100 customers

Your strategy for securing your first 100 customers should come before you start development on your product.

It sounds a little backwards but trust us, it’s true.

Before you read this guide, you should first read: 

Start with a cupcake (The Better MVP)

This article will help you shape and cut your product down into something lightweight and ready to fly.

Community first. Product Second.

Building a community before you ship your product is vital for the success of your product. We’ll cover this lightly today but do find out more in the link above.


Our strategy for acquiring your first 100 customers comes in three parts: clarity, conversation and content.

So, without further ado, let’s dig in.

Clarity

If you don’t have clarity over your product and its origin story, then people will write your story for you.

Wouldn’t you rather people talk about your business using your language than using a comparison? 

 

For example, ‘DoorIceCream delivers the best artisan ice cream directly to your door’ is the description you want your target audience to pick up, rather than ‘Deliveroo for ice cream’.

Your messaging, content and vision should be clear for your audience, team and any external agencies.

 

Here are a few questions you should be able to answer with clarity every time:

  1. What does your product do?
  2. What does your product not do?
  3. What problem does your product solve?
  4. Who is your audience? 
  5. Where can you find your audience?
  6. How are you different from your competitors?

1 line, 1 paragraph and 1 page

There should be three written versions of your ‘story’. Here’s ours: 

One Line

We exist to craft digital applications that bring people together.

One Paragraph

We exist to craft digital applications that bring people together.

A small team of smart creatives, innovative and adaptable, we are excited by technology and the future we can create online.

Our web applications resource communities, grow businesses and create value (both economic and social). 

We know what it takes to ship, market and scale products and apply this wealth of background knowledge and experience to everything we do.

Together we can build, grow and scale your digital product.

We are already looking forward to it.

One page

You can ask us for this one! 

Locking down your niche

You can bring clarity to your business by honing down a niche and being specific about the audience you are targeting. Facebook’s target audience is everyone on Earth. You are not currently in a position to make such a claim.

↪ Are you targeting accountants? 

↪Just accountants who use Xero? 

↪ Xero-accredited accountants who work with only software companies.

 

By narrowing down your niche, you are making your possible audience pool smaller. This might seem like a bad thing, but you are actually increasing your chances of success. You are narrowing down the people who need your product the most. 

With a few days of searching, you could create a list of ‘Xero-accredited accountancy firms who work with only software companies’, find their founders on LinkedIn, and arrange calls to introduce yourself, the product and perhaps offer a demo.

 

Key Takeaway

Have three versions of your product’s story and brand. 1 line, 1 paragraph and 1 page.

 

Conversation

Talking to people and building your network is perhaps the most crucial and time-consuming part of the strategy. At this stage you are not looking to sell, you are looking to build relationships with those who may be potential customers. 

 

The hard graft

Starting a conversation is not easy. You cannot be part of the conversation if you are not dedicating time to it.

Set time aside each week to chat and build a community around your topic. This might be using Instagram, Twitter, Reddit, Forums or in-person events. Start to build a network of people within your chosen topic area.

If you’re able to, reach out directly through LinkedIn or email to people who you know are in your target audience. Start a conversation, not a sales pitch.

 

Start the conversation 

If you’re struggling to be a part of the conversation through social media, start the conversation.

– Start a monthly zoom call around your interest group, in our example, Xero accredited accountants who work with only software companies.

– Become the person on social media who helps other accountants with their Xero woes.

– Dig around accountancy forums looking for folk you can help.

 

Talk the talk

There is a lot to be said for the way your company ‘talks’. If different methods of marketing are walls of your product’s house, then tone of voice is your foundation on which all marketing is built.

It literally sets the tone. 

Every tweet, email and advert should sound like they’ve been written by the same person.

Your communication style will change depending on your audience and market.

For instance, if you’re trying to reach the retired generation who golf three times a week, we can almost guarantee your tone of voice will be different for those looking for a graduate apprenticeship.

Key Takeaway

Become an expert in your niche in a public way

 

Content

Producing meaningful content increases your chance to connect with people and show your expertise around a topic. Creating high-quality content can be time consuming and results can take a while to show, this part of the strategy is part of the long game.

 

Platforms

There are many different platforms you can produce content for. Good starting points include: 

  • Twitter
  • Instagram
  • Facebook
  • LinkedIn
  • Written articles for your own website
  • YouTube videos

Working out which platform performs well and is best-suited to your business and audience may take some trial and error, but it is worth reviewing each platform.

Mediums

Written and video are two key content mediums you should focus on. 

Long-form written informational articles and full-length videos are a fantastic way to show expertise and increase your chances for ranking higher on search engines.

Medium length inspirational articles are a chance to show your tone of voice, personality and connect with your audience.

Short videos, which can easily be watched in a social media timeline are fantastic for extending your reach through short shareable content, which provide a glimpse of what you do and builds your credibility.

 

Content Triangle

At Steadfast Collective, we use the content triangle to minimise the amount of original content we have to produce.

At the top, we have long-form content, for us this is an article. This is the most time-intensive part of the content triangle.

Secondly, we use the article to form the outline of a script for a YouTube video (10-15 minutes).

From the video, we cut multiple short videos for social media.

And finally, we use excerpts from the article as tweets and LinkedIn updates.

 

Regular effort

The Flywheel Effect methodology explained in Good to Great can be applied to content too. 

No matter how dramatic the end result, good-to-great transformations never happen in one fell swoop. In building a great company or social sector enterprise, there is no single defining action, no grand program, no one killer innovation, no solitary lucky break, no miracle moment. Rather, the process resembles relentlessly pushing a giant, heavy flywheel, turn upon turn, building momentum until a point of breakthrough, and beyond.

In short, you are better off making small and regular efforts that build momentum, rather than going all out on a single idea.

 

Another talking point 

Content gives you something else to engage people with when starting a conversation.

Rather than a cold email with little substance, you can use your newly-written content as a reason to reach out. 

 

Hi Jenny, 

I saw you recently launched your new website.

Congratulations!

We have this helpful article about 10 things to check on your SEO when launching your website, you can read it here.

We are local marketing experts who help brands such as Twisted Nose and Southampton University. 

I’d be delighted to buy you a coffee and chat further about your business.

All the best,

 

Share early and share openly

To attract a meaningful audience of like-minded people you need to share your ideas and vision early. 

Write about your ideas, goals and progress. People love to see behind the curtain, let them in.

In ReWork, they use the phrase; ‘emulate chefs’.

They put their recipes in cookbooks and show their techniques on cooking shows… Why would they put all their recipes in cookbooks where anyone can buy and replicate them? Because they know that recipes are not enough to beat him at his own game. No one’s going to buy his cookbook, open a restaurant next door and put him out of business.

With our businesses, we should be doing the same.

If you have found an innovative way of doing something, share it. Tell your audience.

It’s better to build an audience with your ideas and tricks than say nothing and have no one care about your product.

Build online community before developing your web application

Key Takeaway

Build an audience slowly, with regular, well-produced content.

 

In Closing

Your product can be world class, but if you don’t have an audience, who will discover it?

Clarity, Conversation and Content are our secrets to gaining your first 100 customers.

Now you know, grab a sharpie and make a plan.

Finding your first 100 customers can be difficult, but not impossible. Once you have your first 100, the momentum will keep building until you hit 1,000, then more.

 

Pete Heslop

Managing Director at Steadfast Collective, Pete's key focus is on building a team of smart creatives who build community-focused web applications.

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