21 Ways To Get Your First 100 Customers

Starting out is always the hardest. When you are new in the market, you need to build your startup brand awareness and know how to get customers to trust you before they are willing to buy your product. If you are struggling with how to get your first 100 customers, you are not alone. We entrepreneurs know the difficulty. Here are 21 proven strategies to build your brand and get your first 100 customers.

 

Start with Friends and Family

When you are a new entrepreneur with a startup, perhaps you are a bit embarrassed to let your loved ones know that you are entering a business venture. Look in the mirror. There’s an entrepreneur in you. Own it. Share with your family and friends. Hold a party to celebrate your new journey and pitch to them. You will be amazed how supportive your loved ones are and how much they adore your bravery. Your first customers may be people you know very well.

 

Get to Friends of Friends

Once you have let all your loved ones know the value of your business, ask for a favour.  Ask them to refer your business to their friends. That way, you will have already reached your 2nd degree contacts to know your startup. Ask them to share a social media post, a hashtag, a flyer or your website. Who knows, perhaps your friends’ friends would spread the word.

 

Start an Email Marketing Campaign

You need to quickly get publicity for your small business beyond your immediate circle. You need to know how to get customers online. To start an email marketing campaigns, I suggest that you first begin with 50,000 emails. I don’t suggest that you buy email lists. They are super overpriced and 50% or more of the emails are outdated.

At the same time, you don’t want to manually search websites for emails. If I did that, I would take 4 hours to find 50 emails. I recommend that you use TQ Prospector. It helped me find 50 emails in 4 minutes. It automates the entire lead generation process for you and it’s absolutely free for your first 200 emails! There’s nothing to lose except 200 potential customers if you don’t give it a shot!

 

Blog, Blog, Blog

At first you may be wondering how blogging can help you get customers in a short time. The truth is that blogging is useful to show to the world that you are an expert in your field. Your knowledge in your domain will help others understand what you do and respect you as a thought leader. This is especially important to build credibility as a startup founder. Learn Search Engine Optimisation to maximise your reach. Use keywords that people normally search on Google. That way, your blog post will appear on the front page of the Google search results and you get free traffic to your website.

 

Create a Newsletter

Do you remember moving your mouse out of the webpage and suddenly a pop-up on the screen appears? What does it offer? A free toolkit? An ebook? A newsletter? A free trial? Exactly. Do that. Copy best practices and this will supercharge your startup’s growth.This will generate leads for your email marketing campaign to reach your initial customers.

 

Answer Quora

A great way to directly meet your potential customers’ needs is to find relevant questions on Quora to answer. Often people ask questions that they need an expert to advice on. Treat Quora like a blog. Share your expertise and build connections with a global audience. This will bring great long-term awareness to your startup.

 

Maximise Facebook

Create a Facebook page and post your blog content. I also suggest that you create a “like-and-share” contest to incentivise your fans to share your content with the rest of the world. Building a following on Facebook is quite tricky nowadays. You may need paid adverts to give your startup brand the awareness it needs.

 

Tweet in Droves

Hashtag-ing is most popular on Twitter and it is an amazing technique to get your brand in front of a relevant audience. I recommend tweeting 10-17 times a day. Create your own hashtag and use other common hashtags also. How do you get your brand in front of potential customers? Ride on viral hashtags to drive traffic to your Twitter account. Direct your followers to your startup website through images and blog posts.

 

Pin It on Pinterest

Pinterest is a visual blog. Convert all your blog posts into infographics and post them onto Pinterest regularly. When people click on your image, link them to your website. Honestly I find myself more inclined to read an infographic than a blog post. So it is also prudent to post your infographics in your blog too.

 

Link Up on LinkedIn

LinkedIn is your digital CV. Everything you share and do on LinkedIn will determine the success or failure of your business. Be professional. People go to LinkedIn like they go for a business networking event rather than a birthday party. Share valuable educational content and not cat pictures. Advertising on LinkedIn is definitely an effective way to generate solid leads and get your first 100 customers.

 

Write on Reddit

How do I describe Reddit? It is a discussion page for everything under the sun, and that includes discussing your startup business. Getting in relevant discussions and providing insights will definitely provide you with a good reputation as a passionate leader in your industry and bring you your first 100 customers. Reddit has a cult following that is smaller than other social media platforms, but if you stay committed to the platform, you will reap a handsome number of leads.

 

Contribute to Forums

There are online forums for everything. They are decentralised public discussion pages that passionate enthusiasts gather around. These forums tend to be less formal. So it is perfectly fine to offer the lighter side of your startup business. But people on these forums know their stuff. So they appreciate truly valuable insights that have educational value.

 

Connect with Your Subscribers

Your subscribers are fans, regardless of which social media platform they follow you from. They expect to be related to as friends. So it pays to interact with them over social media. Your aim shouldn’t be to figure out how to get them to become customers, but rather how to add value to them. It helps you build rapport, learn their needs, build trust and get referrals from them. Actually help them even if it is beyond your scope. Refer them to people who can help them.

 

Call to Action

You need to link every Social Media account, blog and print adverts to a single landing page. That landing page needs to be optimised to reduce barriers to purchasing your product. You should only have 1 button “Try for Free”, “Subscribe”, “Download Now” etc. Any other button on your landing page is a distraction. Remember that your landing page has 1 sole purpose, which is to convert your committed fans into your first 100 customers. Don’t ever forget that.

 

Go to Networking Events

Conferences, book launches, breakfast clubs, round tables, and talks are great places to meet like-minded people. Always have an elevator pitch in mind to stimulate a conversation about what your startup has to offer. Prepare name cards, promo codes, discount vouchers and flyers to give away. See my article about 12 money saving tips for start-ups for ideas about how to go for these events for free.

 

Dish out Deals and Discounts

Who doesn’t love a $10 voucher? Personally, once I receive one, I want to make the most of the voucher. I will spend just to use it. It’s a psychological tactic. The loss aversion I feel from not using a voucher makes me buy. So use that to your advantage (just don’t do it to me). I still want a voucher though.

 

Try for Free

Often software has a free plan and a paid plan. You will use the free plan until you realise that you are addicted to the product and need to use the paid version. For your free plan to work, you need to make sure that you offer enough free stuff for it to be sticky and people actually stay on the free product instead of deleting it. That’s how getting them to become paid customers becomes easier.

 

Get Free Publicity

Start connecting with influential people in your field who can share your startup story on their blogs or magazines. You can cold email them or message them on social media. But the best way to make the emotional connection is through meeting them in person. That means actually going to networking events to meet people. I didn’t say this yet but I’ll say it now. Networking is nerve-wreaking for an introvert like me. I love people, but meeting new people is exhausting. But it is worth it. You will meet new friends, help others and receive help. Being in community is good.

 

Paid Adverts

I generally avoid paying for adverts, unless it is for retargeting. Retargeting is how you get undecided visitors to become customers. Retargeting basically goes like this: a visitor enters your website but decides that he needs time to think about it. The adverts he sees subsequently will be about your website to persuade him that your product is really what he needs. There is a higher chance of getting a sale from him than from randomly placed adverts.

 

Affiliate Marketing

2 is better than 1, and 3 is better than 2. So why not get someone to be your brand ambassador for your startup! Offer your salesperson a commission for each sale to incentivise him to work hard for sales. You could approach bloggers to be affiliate marketers for you too. Then you don’t have to figure our how to get customers on your own. You have a team to synergise and figure out the best strategies together.

 

Fusion Marketing

Find a complementary product to partner and exchange advertisements. Why? That’s because you will benefit from targeting your partner’s network while your partner will benefit from targeting yours. That’s why I say find a “complementary” product, not a “competing” product. Get creative about bartering for publicity.

 

BONUS: Tell your Story

Once you have made it past your first 100 customers, it is time to share your story to inspire other entrepreneurs who want to be like you. How did you end up doing what you are doing? What was the journey like? What were your ups and downs? Frame the story into the Hero’s Journey. Every story has the following elements:

  1. Living ordinarily
  2. The Call to Adventure
  3. Taking the First Step
  4. Trials, Tribulations and Troubles
  5. Meeting the Mentor (or guru)
  6. Confronting Your Biggest Fears
  7. Crippling Despair
  8. Slaying the Dragon
  9. Journey Home
  10. The Heroic Return

 

I hope this article helps you with many ideas find your first 100 customers. It is honestly not easy at the beginning, but that is the life of a startup founder. Entrepreneurs all go through these same problems as you. Keep pressing on and let us know any ideas you have too or surprising methods which worked!

 

ThunderQuote is the most comprehensive business services portal in Singapore, Australia and ASEAN , where hundreds of thousands of dollars of procurement contracts are sourced every month by major companies like Singapore Press Holdings, National Trade Union Congress and more.

12 Money Saving Tips for Start-ups

From our experience, running a business need not cost an arm or a leg. However, we realize that entrepreneurs tend to compartmentalize their personal budgeting away from business budgeting. While it is true that you need to invest a sunk cost to get your business going, you should watch your business spending as much as (or even more closely than) your personal finances.

Here are some proven innovative cost saving ideas to cut costs and stretch your dollar.

 

Follow Procurement Best Practices

It is not enough to simply record your expenses and explain their practical use in the business. You need cost saving ideas to maximize cash flow. Often there are more cost-effective solutions to save money and you need to compare prices before making a purchase. Make it a habit among your team members to source for the most cost-effective solution and presenting their researched options to you before committing to a purchase. But who has time to do all that right, so save yourself the time and hassle and get quotations from ThunderQuote for free.

Just another tip: Assign your most trustworthy and meticulous team member to be in charge of all fund outflows. All proposed expenditure need to be justified to him and there should be no commitment to purchase before his approval, else it’ll be easy to overrun your budget without realising it till the end of the month or worse!

 

Use Free Advertising

There are many free alternatives to paid advertising. Getting paid clicks on social media platforms and Google are targeted and cheaper than the regular billboards, but they may still be expensive for a start-up who needs to cut costs for other business opportunities.

Blogging with good SEO keywording is one way to save money and get free traffic to your website and build your company’s reputation as a thought leader in your industry. Building your repertoire of articles will take a long process, but this is a long-term marketing strategy to build brand awareness.

You can accelerate your web traffic through email marketing and setting up a newsletter. However, buying email lists can be extremely expensive and easily 50% of the emails in the list are outdated. You can create your own email lists, but that will take a very long process. Manually finding 50 emails can take up to 4 hours. You should automate this process for free with TQ Prospector, which extracts 50 emails in 8 minutes. That saves you time to attend to your more important business appointments.

 

Run Your Business from Home

In many countries, a home office is legal and may only require a licence. Take advantage of this flexibility to save your rental and transportation costs. By home office, I also mean working from Starbucks and other cafes at your convenience.

If your business is really successful and your home cannot accommodate your expansion, look for co-working spaces such as Workcentral with all the amenities provided at a cheap cost or incubators like NUS Enterprise which provide free hot-desking spaces are great too! Once again, do your shopping and find the cheapest option that doesn’t burn a hole in your wallet.

 

Go to Conferences for Free

Oh I love this one! Usually conference organizers are understaffed because conferences occur very infrequently. And they tend to hire a lot of part-time working students to shoulder the heavy-lifting for them. Hiring part-time students cost money too! You can help them cut costs through some innovative negotiation.

Here’s what you can offer them: Tell the conference organizer that you have a team of friends who are willing to volunteer their help for free in exchange for participation in the conference. I did this for 6 conferences already, and every one of them were glad to take me in!

And here is the good part: Invite your team and friends for a free learning and networking opportunity in an otherwise expensive conference, at the cost of ushering or doing registration for a short time. You will gain a good standing as being resourceful and generous. So why not?

 

Get Sponsors for Your Own Events

While networking at the events you attend for free, you may meet people who find your services extremely valuable and they may want to sponsor you. I recently attended my friend’s book launch at a Harley Davidson showroom, complete with a sponsored test drive, sponsored catering and sponsored wines. How did he do that? He conveyed the vision for his book in a way that resonated with the vision of his sponsors’ values. His sponsors saw the alignment of vision and decided that sponsoring his book launch is the perfect way to convey their vision to the public. So it is possible! Be creative about getting sponsorship.

 

Buy Refurbished Equipment

You do not always have to buy new equipment if you are not operating your office as a showroom. A refurbished photocopier, cupboard and mini fridge may not look fancy, but they certainly do their job and saves you money. If you work in a co-working space, these may already be provided to you. Otherwise just find a thrift shop, buy in bulk and get a discount.

 

Don’t Hire Full-Time Employees

On the surface, this sounds harsh. But the truth is that you do your entire team a favor in the long-run. Hiring full-time employees can be expensive, and you don’t want a case where you put them out of job if the worst happens. Begin with interns and contract staff to help you with various projects within the business. Your interns will greatly value the experience you offer along with the allowance to pay off their student loans. That helps both you and your interns save money!

If you need a longer-term solution, look for part-time hires. These may be new mothers who need time to look after their kids or university students and other people in a season of transition. Hire a full-time employee only once your start-up has grown enough to need and afford one.

 

Be Lazy. Do It Once, Automate.

What business processes can you completely leave to a machine to handle? I wrote a full article about how you can automate your sales and marketing at zero cost. There are automation tools for almost everything. Write down all your business processes and Google search for tools that can do that 10 times faster than you. Typically, the cost is small relative to the time you save for the things you cannot automate, like meeting prospects and clients. Saving time means money making opportunities for you and your business.

 

Keep It Lean: Outsource

Anything apart from your core business? Outsource. Warehousing? Outsource. Delivery and fulfilment? Outsource. Graphic design? Outsource. Keep your business focused on your core product and lighten the load of your team with what truly matters. Hire consultants as needed on a project basis. This will ensure that you have more time devoted to your team and cut overhead costs and put your money to other uses.

 

Watch Your Cash Cycle

Take note of your accounts collectibles and payables, ensuring that you get money in faster than you pay out is incredibly important especially as a cash strapped start-up.

Even if your income and expenses look healthy, you don’t want to get catch in a situation where your cash on hand falls beneath what you require for daily operations! Read more about cash flow mistakes and tips on how to better manage your cash flow here.

 

Value Your Employee Time

Your employees typically spend 8 hours in office, with a lot of time wasted in meetings. Keep your meetings short! For an introvert like me, meetings drain my mental energy and that means less productivity for the rest of the day. Please spare a thought for the awkward geeky nervous nerds like me.

Rather than having everyone travel to a centralized venue for a meeting, just do teleconferencing, or videoconferencing. In my company we find Skype the most convenient solution to get our meetings done quick. An introvert like me prefers that actually.

 

Negotiate

Negotiate with your landlord. Negotiate with your suppliers. Negotiate for a barter trade. Negotiate for a longer payment period, cheaper rates and yes, an exchange of services.

Negotiate is not about getting all of the pie. Negotiating is about making the pie bigger. Often we don’t know what our counterpart really wants. We just assume that they want the cash. Take time to develop the relationship and know what they need. Perhaps you have something to offer to them that is of value. My marketing consultant wanted to revamp her website and I wanted an email campaign. Guess what? We bartered. And the cost savings we got could be put to other business opportunities.

Find a win-win situation for everyone to come away happy at the outcome and build the relationship.

 

ThunderQuote is the most comprehensive business services portal in Singapore, Australia and ASEAN , where hundreds of thousands of dollars of procurement contracts are sourced every month by major companies like Singapore Press Holdings, National Trade Union Congress and more.

5 Free Tools To Make Email Marketing Work Harder For You

Email marketing can become a laborious process that can seriously suck the joy out of your passion. Let’s keep things simple here. I have a few email marketing software tools that I highly recommend for any marketer to use. Coming from a start-up background, a lean team really needs some serious automation firepower. Let’s fire away.

 

TQ Prospector

If you are doing email marketing, you will either buy email lists that are ridiculously overpriced and 50% outdated or you will manually extract emails one at a time from Google. Both aren’t the best options on the market.

If you are someone like me who takes 4 hours to source 50 emails, TQ Prospector cuts that down to 8 minutes. Yup you read that right. This Chrome extension can source every single email from your Google search results without you even having to click on the websites. Add this to your arsenal. It’s free by the way.

 

Hello Bar

Apart from sourcing emails automatically, you will definitely want to convert your web traffic into email leads before they leave the site. Too often, your visitors scroll through your website and go “I guess I’ll think about it, but not now.” Then you lose your chance funnel them into your email marketing campaign.

What Hello Bar does for you is to add sticky bars to catch your visitors’ attention before they leave. You can offer a free newsletter or a free ebook through subscribing to the free mailing list. This helps you follow up with your prospects and funnel them into your email campaign. Grab this low-hanging fruit.

 

POWr

Sticky bars may not always do the trick for your website visitors. Sometimes you need a pop-up that communicates the value of your freebie in a bolder and louder voice. By just offering their email, your visitors can get your free gift plus plenty of other offers? Why not?

POWr really powers your lead generation and drives more traffic to your webpage. The full suite includes plugins like social media icons, form builders, chat functions, maps and much more. Take a look and shop for what you need. I mean free shopping.

 

Campaign Monitor

Now that you got your email list generated, it’s time to put it to work. Once again, you could manually email your leads and read each reply and follow up with another email. Or you can simply automate it.

Campaign monitor is a killer at email automation. This email marketing platform helps you schedule emails, email blast, autoreply and track your progress on your email marketing campaign. It is more than an email blast software. It is seamless, intuitive and reliable. It is a free subscription with upgradable features. It is very affordable relative to its competitors so far, and considering the time you save to focus on other things that matter, I think this tool is a must-have. Lock and load.

 

Agile CRM

There comes a point in your email marketing campaign that you need to build relationships with prospects more personally and automation just won’t cut it. There are a lot of CRM software available in the market, but Agile is free (yep I love free stuff) and it syncs well with Campaign monitor. It is probably the best customer relationship management software available in the market.

You will definitely appreciate the wealth of resources they uploaded to supercharge your email marketing. And not surprisingly for a customer relationship management system, their customer service is pretty good!

 

These free email marketing software tools are among many that are available in the market. I highly recommend that you take time to research your company needs and continue to source for other alternative tools or look into the paid tiers of these tools as your needs grow.

 

ThunderQuote is the most comprehensive business services portal in Singapore, Australia and ASEAN , where hundreds of thousands of dollars of procurement contracts are sourced every month by major companies like Singapore Press Holdings, National Trade Union Congress and more.