7 Startup Customer Acquisition Lies You Probably Believe

7 Startup Customer Acquisition Lies You Probably Believe

Customers are the lifeblood of every startup. You go to great lengths to find them, understand the value of keeping them, and aspire to multiply them exponentially over weeks and years. But with countless experts doling out their mixed advice into the world for all to absorb, it’s becoming harder to separate fact from fiction.

While no two marketing plans should be alike, having tested a ton of customer acquisition strategies over the years, I’m happy to try to debunk several myths to help speed along your decision making.

Here are 7 startup customer acquisition lies you might believe:

A Great Product Will Sell Itself

While a great product is absolutely essential, it won’t sell itself. Just think of the last time a kooky product you never thought would make it big, did. The Slap Chop? Snuggie? (I mean, come on… What’s wrong with knives and blankets, anyway…?)

In those cases, it wasn’t all about the idea. Execution (marketing tactics) mattered a great deal. “If you build it, it’ll come” just doesn’t apply. It’s critical that you find the best way to tell people about the product. And if that’s a slapstick video laden with humor, so be it.

PR is a Substitute for a Great Product

While this might sound counterintuitive to my last point, it isn’t. PR is a wonderful, magical thing when executed properly around an amazing product, but it can quickly turn on you if the product isn’t market-ready.

Focus first on creating a product your customers love, then use PR to amplify the message.

You Can Rely on “Best Practices”

“Best Practices” exist because they’ve been proven to work, but keep in mind that a “best practice” for someone else’s industry might not apply to yours. It’s important to create your own best practices over time, using data from your own experiences and feedback from your customers.

By blindly defaulting to the use of another industry’s “best practice” without testing or optimizing, you run the risk of not only losing opportunities, but also customers.

You Need a Strong Social Media Following

You have a ton of followers on social media, so that will surely help you acquire a ton of customers, right? Wrong. Focusing on vanity metrics is a surefire way to distract yourself from what really matters: attracting and retaining actual customers.

Taking a moment to consider the congestion of everyone’s social feeds is an easy way to remind yourself to spend the bulk of your time elsewhere. The reality is that with 9,100 tweets being posted every second, a tweet is likely to disappear from someone's newsfeed before you know it.

So, forget concentrating on growing huge social media numbers as a startup customer acquisition tactic. Instead - focus on connecting with a niche community, being truly social with them, and using your rapport to convert your new friends into customers.

Blogging Won’t Help You

In the early days (when you don’t have a lot of traffic), starting your own blog might not be the best investment. But, consider guest blogging strategies to take advantage of other (larger) networks. Leo Wildrich of Buffer is well-known for having applied this strategy in their early days. (In over 9 months they amassed 100,000 users!)

To get started, research a few smaller but extremely synergistic blogs. Subscribe to them and get to know their tone, audience and the keywords they’re writing about regularly. Propose contributing a smart topic that aligns with both your and their goals, and you’ll increase your chances of getting a yes from their editor.

Celebrity Endorsements Will Translate Into Success

I feel like we’ve been through this before, but I’m continually asked by startups if getting a celebrity (or celeb-esque influencer) involved will make a big difference. My take: it’s too hit-or-miss to invest a ton of energy in AND star chasing can be extremely distracting.

Instead, find outspoken customers to nurture as customer advocates. Often a well-connected YouTuber or blogger can have far more impact than a celebrity endorsement.

You Need to Hire a PR Agency

Coming from the owner of a PR Demand Marketing Agency, this last recommendation might come as a surprise to some. But here’s the thing- PR agencies can be a massive help when you’re profitable and growing, but a distraction and a costly expense when you’re not.

My 3-step checklist for assessing whether it’s time for help from an outside agency is simple:

  1. Do you have a product your customers love? (This tells me your product is solid and we’ll have case studies to leverage.)
  2. Do you have funding or are you generating revenue? (This further validates point #1, and tells me people are invested in helping you be successful.)
  3. Are you ready to take this to market? (This tells me we can bust the doors off of this thing and promote, promote, promote.)

If the 3 steps above apply to you, it might be time to get some help.

If they don’t - I always suggest defaulting to a DIY approach. (Note: If you’re interested, I’m about to launch a 6-week prep course for StartupPR. Sign up using the landing page for more information or shoot me an email and I’ll make sure you’re the first to hear all about it.)

Properly executing startup customer acquisition means the difference between the success and failure of your big idea. By focusing on finding the tactics that work for you and steering clear of assumptions, you’ll speed up the process and be better for it.

Photo Credit: Startup Stock Photos

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