How to find your first 100 customers


Adii Pienaar on finding your first 100 customers

Getting your first paid customer isn’t easy. Especially when you are competing against hundreds of other startups, trying to break through the ‘noise’.

I believe building your brand and personal reputation is one of the most important things you can do to acquire new users. Great branding (which mostly isn’t anything visual i.e. your logo or website) makes you stand out from the crowd and gets you the attention of those first 100 customers.

To acquire those important, first customers, here’s a few tips:

Be unique

Nobody wants another Google, Facebook or Apple. Do things in your own way and avoid any generic notion alltogether. If you’re delivering a service, add your personality. Or if you’re selling a product, include all of your best bits and imperfections in that. Your first customers will love that authenticity, individualism and uniqueness.

Looking through history, the leaders that have gotten the biggest support have been the leaders that weren’t afraid to use their voice and opinion to stand for something. Communicate your beliefs passionately and find those customers that shares that interest with you.

Don’t be everything to everyone

The biggest mistake you can make is to try be everything to everyone. Whilst this makes sense when you’re desperate and you’re willing to take anyone on board as a customer, I’d recommend being more selective. Find those customers that appreciates you for who and what you are; not those that will always demand just another feature. Not all customers are equal and your first customers should only be the best.

Become better writers

This is probably an undervalued skill and one that we generally leave to a copywriter (which most startups – especially those that are still looking for their first customers – can’t afford). Reality is that the written word is still one of the best ways to communicate anything and especially the things about your brand. Even something seemingly insignificant (like an e-mail) can influence your branding success. So spend time becoming a better writer and refining your words.

Be great at communicating your brand with what you do

Branding is all about what you do. Whilst the written word is powerful, it is superseded (and potentially undone) by your actions. Actions will always speak louder than words. So know who you are, what kind of brand you’d like to build and how your actions influences others’ perception of this.

Branding is the new essential startup competency, because it’s become almost impossible to compete on features. There’s one thing that other startups however can’t beat you at: being you.
Value your brand enough (to invest in it significantly) from Day 1 and use those efforts to drive the acquisition of your first 100 customers. Your first customers will ultimately represent your brand and determine whether you create that viral loop to drive future customer acquisition at scale.

Adii Pienaar is the co-founder of WooThemes and author of Brandiing, a practical guide to content strategy and branding for business. Adii is now ‘paying it forward’ and launching PublicBeta, a learning platform for entrepreneurs by other (very) successful entrepreneurs. You can follow him @adii.

image credit: flickr/brizzlebornandbred