How To Get The First Customers For Your Startup From Your Network

Initial customers
Image credits: jscreationzs at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Whether it's generating initial traffic for your website or getting users for the product offered by your startup, getting the first few customers is the biggest challenge that every entrepreneur faces. You might not have realized it but unless you are a reclusive loner, you already have a significant network to get some of your first customers. And if you really are an entrepreneur who does not have enough relevant people in your network then you need to do some homework in this direction (Read: Marketing: Did you do your homework?).

All the contacts in your existing social network at different websites or your existing email accounts are readily available to you without any preparation. Hence it should be the first segment that you target, right away the moment you launch or even if you wish to create a pre-launch buzz. Here are some ways that you can use on your existing networks and find some of those early users for your startup.

Social Media Contacts

Create individual posts suited for Facebook, Twitter, Linked-in, Google+ or any other social media accounts you are active on. Shun away from brazenly asking for favors like 'Please visit my new website' or 'Please like my Facebook page', it doesn't work. Rather, try to generate interest through interesting and catchy posts. You can also try to offer a freebie, like an ebook download or any other thing that suits your startup. Don't hesitate to read a good article or two on how to create a good post for the respective social media channel.

The Phone Address-book

One of the founders of travel search engine Ixigo revealed that once in their early days they asked all their friends and contacts to set their status for one day to a line suggesting that they are using Ixigo. The hack helped them a lot to generate a significant initial traction. You can also try out such growth hacks depending upon the product or service of your startup.

Pick up your mobile phone and change your profile picture in the messaging service to your startup logo. Use your status to get people interested in your startup, don't just put your URL or ask them to visit it, instead write some catchy line evoking people's interest in your startup. You can also create an interesting message and send it to all your contacts in your messaging app.

Your Email Contact Lists

'Direct mailers' is still one of the most effective techniques if used correctly. And it doesn't require anything else other than your existing contacts and the free email marketing services, to create an email campaign. We would not talk much about it in this blog, you can quickly read on a step-by-step guide on how to write effective mails create an effective email campaign here: How To Create An Email Campaign For Your Startup.

Going a little overboard

In all the methods above we have been using a generalized message sent to all your contacts on the respective channel. Then comes using specific messages to a chosen set of contacts, with whom you can go a little overboard. These people normally would be the ones who share good relationship with you or they are somehow relevant to your startup or product. List out such contacts on all the channels and send them personal messages, mails or make phone calls asking for favors and referrals.

The rule is that you should try each and every contact without exception and without expectation. But at the same time try to be as innovative as possible. People will not help you much if you just beg for it but they will definitely do so, if you make it interesting for them.

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