“How do you intend to market your first product?” One of our board members asked me.
It was March and we were going to launch our first product, the TS1001. We had 20 more products scheduled for launch in June. That was the big event.
“We’re going to soft launch,” I said. In other words, no marketing, no nothing. We just wanted to make sure all of our systems were functioning properly before the big June launch.
“Build it and they will come,” the board member said in response. Then he added, “I hate build it and they will come.”
I replied, “So do I.”
I honestly didn’t know what to expect. Would anybody even know we existed? We were still in stealth mode for all practical purposes.
The website was still a crappy GoDaddy edited page. The new website was being readied for the June launch.
About 24 hours after we soft launched, we received our first order. It was for $13!
You’d of thought we made $1M from the commotion around the office that day.
Think logarithmically about growing your customer base.
We immediately started advertising when we had our formal launch in June. The advertising was effective, and the number of customers kept growing. That was how we got our first ten customers. We repeated this process to get our next 100 customers, and our next 1000 customers after that.
I encourage the entrepreneurs I work with, especially the early stage ones, not to worry about developing a scalable sales process. Just get to ten customers any way you can.
I’ve been amazed at the clever approaches I’ve seen the entrepreneurs that I’ve worked with take to get their first ten customers. Here are three clever approaches and one obvious approach:
“James” went to meet ups of other entrepreneurs in his metro area. He would give a pitch about what his company did.
The pitches led to conversations that would lead to customers. James built his revenue from $0 to over $1M using this technique.
A variance of this technique is…
B. Facebook groups.
“Aric” found his first customers through Facebook groups. Aric’s strategy was pretty simple.
Aric would communicate with other businesses in a group. Then Aric would provide value by providing his insights for free. Then, once he shown expertise, some of these businesses would convert into customers.
Obviously this is not a repeatable process, but it is a great way to grow your initial revenue and get your business growing.
Or you could enlist…
That’s what “Andrew” did.
This is one I would never have thought would work in a million years, but it did incredibly well. Here’s why. The brokers in Andrew’s space were an untapped sales channel that had a huge incentive to actually sell Andrew’s product.
The broker network has grown Andrew’s business to close to $10M/year.
Finally, the obvious one…
D. Your network.
I’m saving the most obvious one for last because there seems to be a stigma entrepreneurs have against tapping their network for customers. However, you should absolutely use your network when you’re starting out.
It should be obvious, but your network will be happy to help you. All you have to do is ask. Yet, again and again I see entrepreneurs unwilling to use their networks.
Asking for help from people you know gives you the best chance of success. You get the stamp of approval from someone who has credibility. That helps a lot.
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