One of the most challenging facts that you’ll have to come to terms with is that no matter how innovative your product is, you won’t have any customers if they aren’t aware of your startup. Even more challenging is figuring out how to attract your first customers when you have a limited budget and resources.
While you definitely won’t experience overnight success, the good news is that most startups have been in the same place that you’ve been. And, they were able to turn out just fine by using the following techniques to gain that initial traction.
#1. Start With An Awesome Product
Incredibly obvious but the best way to start gaining traction is by offering an amazing product. Sure, other elements like packaging and customer service will help determine the success or failure of your startup. But, you’re halfway there if you have something so incredible that it practically sells itself.
Take Elon Musk’s Tesla. The electric car brand hasn’t launched an expensive advertising campaign. Instead, the company relies on word-of-mouth marketing to back-up its product. And, that could only be accomplished if there was actually a great product to boast about. Guess what? Tesla succeeded.
If you build it, they will come. You build it really well, they will come even faster.
#2. Brand Yourself
When you think of branding, you automatically have visions of logos, voice and tone, website design, and social media presence. But your brand is the experience you deliver to customers. While a slogan (think of Nike’s “Just Do It”) or lighthearted image (think of Dollar Shave Club) are important components of your brand, you have to go deeper.
This is one of the reasons why Uber has found so much success. The company offered an experience that’s incredibly difficult to replace.
#3. Connect With Influencers
One goal that should be defined, and achieved, is reaching out to influencers in your industry and community. Whether that’s sending out a specific amount of cold emails to influencers, interacting with them on social media, or enticing them with an offer they can’t refuse.
This is one of the strategies that propelled Yelp from a Bay Area startup to global juggernaut. The company reached out to a core group of influential reviewers and bloggers and rewarded these “elite” reviewers by placing their profiles on the home page.
#4. Leverage Your Email List
Despite all of the other pieces of marketing advice and technological advances, email remains one of the greatest marketing tools. This worked for Facebook during the early days at Harvard. You can use email marketing to gain traction since it allows you to speak directly to the customer, send special offers, keep them updated, and highlight new products or features.