Business owners often have high hopes about their newly started business, believing that it will succeed. They believe that getting their first 100 clients will be easy at the drop of a hat. But then they end up bearing loss for months. The following article collects tips and strategies shared by successful startup founders on how they got their first 100 customers. Are you ready? Find out what successful founders did to obtain their first 100 customers.
Try Something Unique
According to Matt Brown, CEO of Bonsai, entrepreneurs need to try something new or unique which no one has ever tried. Take a look at Matt’s tips for getting his first 100 customers.
Those potential customers are out there; you just have to find and convince them. How do you convince them if you are just another company doing the same thing as the competition? No one is interested in another small business CRM, photo editing software, or social sharing tool unless it provides something new or unique. Here are some simple ways for getting your first 100 customers to your SaaS business:
- Share your new business with your family and friends. It costs nothing to pitch your startup to those closest to you and they will be more than willing to help out.
- Create a blog related to the services you provide.
- Network, network, and then network again. You can join associations in your field, go to conferences and attend meetups.
- Social media is a gold mine of potential leads. Create content that will reach those potential customers so they can learn about your services.
- Create a referral incentive for your existing customers.
- Take Complete Advantage of Affiliate Marketing.
- Do a giveaway campaign
- Keep in contact with existing and potential customers with email marketing.
- Make onboarding a top priority
Provide Best User Experience
According to Alex Alexakis, Founder of PixelChefs, the best way to ensure that you get more customers is to make the user’s experience the best. Learn from Alex’s experience-based tips below.
While many will try to focus on standing out from the crowd, being unique, or having nice looking UI elements, I’ve found that one of the best, if not the best way to ensure that you get more customers is to make the user’s experience the best it can be. Making everything as easy as possible and having great customer support will make sure that those who have tried your service will stay and that many will be likely to recommend your brand and software to others.
Many see growth as the pool of customers expanding, but I think that it all starts from the customer themselves. New customers have no reason to trust software or brands they have no experience with, but friends who have used the service or even online reviews have no reason to lie about if it is good or not.
Giving your customers a reason to want to talk about your service is vital to not only landing your first 100 customers but also to seeing success in the future. I would highly recommend setting up an automated customer service that only redirects customers to real people if it is a complicated issue or is an issue that can’t easily be resolved, as in other cases, previous answers to the same question can be reused.
I would also suggest setting up social media profiles that allow and encourage customers to ask questions and make requests; these requests are something you should genuinely consider. Seeing your issues resolved makes you feel heard and more likely to be loyal to the brand, so implementing changes that are reasonable and relevant to the service will only give you more benefits. Getting those first 100 is a struggle but once you have everything in place, it will be a much smoother experience
Use Facebook Groups
When you’re first getting started, you have to do whatever it takes to get your first 100 customers
We did that did for free with Facebook groups.
No matter your niche or vertical there is a FB group that you can participate in to contribute to the discussion, answer questions, and develop a presence to refer people to your business, often when they are looking for exactly what you offer.
FB just also launched a dedicated mobile app to support their groups’ communities so now it’s easier than ever to manage the groups that you participate in, monitor the conversations, and participate while on the go throughout your day.
We have found this tactic to be very effective for our marketplace. We monitor local groups and neighborhoods groups, and when anyone is asking for a recommendation on a lawn care service, we kindly let them know about the GreenPal community. We track the success and 60% of the time we make a recommendation, they signup for our service
This tactic can work for almost any business in any niche.
Offer Incentive Through Paid Ads
According to Jon Torres, Founder of Jon Torres Marketing Consultant, entrepreneurs need to offer an incentive through paid ads. See what Jon shared about how did he get his first 100 customers.
From the link I’ve included in my social media lead ads, curious audiences can visit my website and land on a lead capture page. I’ll usually have a relevant lead magnet, freebie, or low-ticket deal on the landing page. People just have to enter their email addresses to download or access the exclusive content. And that helps grow my email list, where I can do further nurturing or offer promotions to start getting value back immediately. Then always call followers to action. Remind them there is more value to explore in your lead ad.
Our founder at Sawinery, Robert Johnson also would like to add some tips regarding gaining customers at the start.
I see a lot of small businesses that primarily focus on getting organic reach and organic customers. But if you’re just starting and are serious about scaling and growing your business, *my tip would be to set aside a budget to invest in paid advertising too. This can take shape in different forms depending on where your customers are: paid ads for popular social media platforms like Facebook/Instagram or search engines like Google. Paid ads can provide you with instant feedback and monitoring, increase brand awareness, and improve your business’ credibility, which are all integral in landing your first 100 customers!
Customer Market Research
According to Alina Clark, Co-founder of CocoDoc, in the beginning, entrepreneurs have to do market research because it can help a lot in gaining the right customer. Let’s take a look at what Aline shared with us.
I can say that getting our first 100 customers was still the hardest hurdle for the business. It’s hard to hack through the bushes when you have tough and innovative competitors in your line of trade.
Even then, new Saas businesses need to look at undertaking adequate market research before launching the product. Adequate market research allows you to build a customer persona for your product. If anything, having a customer persona sharpens the edge of your targeted marketing. For those in the know, targeting your marketing to the relevant persona is the only way to get conversions.
In our case, the first 100 customers came after a lot of trial and error with our Saas platforms. To think of it, one can reduce all the trying and failing by simply investing in good market research, and using the research data to hack their way to a customer base. Albeit late, undertaking customer research has been the cause of our success as a business.
Offer Free Giveaways
According to Steve Roberson, Founder of MapRight, believes that free giveaways are a good way to acquire customers at the beginning. Here are his tips for acquiring customers.
The first one hundred customers are easily the most challenging to gain. People often base their assumptions, and more than that, their trust in a company, off of what they hear from others, and before you have established a customer base, you’re asking them to trust you based on your product alone. It’s no easy feat. To gain those early customers, you have to do whatever it takes, and sometimes, that means giving your software away free of charge for a while. Even though you might lose money for a period by doing so, it’ll be worth it as long as your product delivers what it’s supposed to.
A base of loyal customers, even if they don’t contribute to the company financially, will build up your reputation; real people’s support of your company is the most effective marketing you can find. Plus, the feedback you receive from those early customers will be invaluable. Your customers understand what they want from an application best, and by listening to their suggestions, you can better meet their needs.
Eventually, those free customers will be more than willing to become paying customers; they’ll understand that the benefits they’re receiving are worth the cost of the application. But of course, this is only possible if you have a high-quality product – one that does what it says it does, provides a seamless user experience, and overall, makes the customer’s life a little easier. Unfortunately, a poorly functioning product can’t succeed with this method. Even if it’s free, people don’t tend to continue using faulty software for long.
While it may be disheartening, if you are doing whatever it takes to get customers without success, you’ll discover that your product is subpar quickly, giving you plenty of time to pivot, add on, or rebuild. Of course, this isn’t to say the app can’t have issues, people will understand that it takes time to iron out the details with new technology, it just means that the app as a whole has to be useful – it has to be worth the effort and the cost.
Utilize the Existing Customer
According to Ravi Parikh, CEO of RoverPass, entrepreneurs need to utilize the customer they already have as it is very important in the initial stage of growing the customer base. Check out Ravi’s tips below.
When it comes to snagging your first 100 customers, my best tip is to utilize the customers you already have. Word of mouth is one of the most powerful advertising tools. If your current customers are happy and being treated well, they will undoubtedly refer their friends and family to your business. It is almost a guaranteed way to earn customers and is virtually free.
Additionally, I’ve found social media to be extremely helpful. Find your niche and your platform and find unique ways to interact with your customers. You can even set up Twitter to alert you any time someone mentions they’re unsatisfied with your competitor. Use this to your advantage!
Finally, don’t be afraid to expand your network. Attend events, trade shows, and startup meetups. Make an effort to engage and learn from other businesses in attendance.
Quality, Press Outreach, and Social Messaging
According to Nate Tsang, CEO and Founder of Wall Street Zen, a combination of quality, press outreach, and social media messaging will help you land your first 100 customers.
Quality, not quantity. The potential CLV of your first 100 customers is higher than any in the future. They can join upon launch and stick with you well into the future. For that reason focus on those customers who you’re most likely to convert to brand evangelists. Don’t drop pricing to get them to stay, but offer additional value so that word-of-mouth spreads.
Press outreach is easiest. You’re young, you’re new, you’ve developed your story in pitch meetings. Take all that and hire a PR pro to turn it into a package. Reach out to publications of all sizes—you never know which journalist might jive with your story. An article or two provides lasting value and gives you something to populate your ‘in the press’ page with.
Solidify social messaging. Your social media strategy will change over time. The channels you use, posting frequency, type of content—there’s a lot you can do to experiment. Tone and voice need to come through from day one; it’s debilitating to have a social media feed that looks like it’s written by a dozen different stakeholders. Whether you’re casual and friendly, authoritative, clear and no fuss, playful or otherwise will affect your positioning in the market. Decide early and stick to a pathway to see growth.
If you have read all the tips that have been shared directly by successful founders, then you, by now, must’ve realized how important your first 100 customers are. They can help you establish your business and also motivate you to do better. We hope that these tips help you! Let us know what other tips you would like to see in our future blog posts, meanwhile, you can check our latest blogs for additional SaaS-related information.