One of the hardest jobs as a marketer is to help startups get some initial traction for their product.
We talk to Asia about:
- Why the biggest challenge for most startup founders is focus, and why they should narrow their ideal customer segment to a tiny group.
- How customer research helps Asia to find customer acquisition strategies that work for startups, along with an example of how it helped her identify the perfect search strategy for a client.
- The one strategy Asia thinks is ideal for startups who are just getting started with customer acquisition.
Time Stamped Notes
[2:48] - DemandMaven helps early-stage founders to get some traction for the product. Asia started her marketing career in a large enterprise company before moving to work inhouse at a startup and then going on to start DemandMaven.
[4:50] - The biggest challenge for startups (bootstrapped and VC funded) is focus. They spread themselves across too many customer segments. They would be more successful if they narrowed their efforts down into a very targeted customer segment and expanded that segment after getting some success.
[7:05] - Asia gives two examples, one B2B, one B2C of how you can narrow down your focus to one particular customer segment.
[11:25] - The best way to identify best-fit customers is through customer research. Asia has a framework for customer calls based on the jobs to be done framework. She recommends at least seven customer research calls to start finding recurring patterns.
[13:45] - Asia gives a great example of how she used customer research to figure out a customer acquisition strategy for a client. When talking to customers, she found a pattern customers would repeat on Google when searching for a solution the product helped solve.
[19:55] One of Asia's favorite acquisition strategies is to influence the influencers. She looks for opportunities to be present in the places her target audience hangs out. Examples of tactics could be cohosting webinars, writing guest articles for publications.
[21:25] - To start with your influencer strategy, take some time to map out the ecosystem your target customer segment is influenced by - the publications, the social channels, influencers they listen to, even authors they read.
During customer research, you should also ask questions that help map ou this ecosystem, for example:
"When you want to learn more about your industry, where do you go to educate yourself?"
[26:25] - One of the ongoing challenges startups have is to deliver results in the short-term, but also consider how they'll grow in the long-term.
Asia thinks the answer to that question is dependent on how confident the founders are of their vision. For startups with a three to five-year vision, they can start focusing on scalable longer-term bets a lot earlier in their life cycle.
For companies where they're still trying to find that vision, it's better to work on short term tactics that help uncover their ideal customer segment.
[29:10] - Asia thinks it's not worth hiring a marketer if you're still looking for product-market fit
[30:00] - We have a debate if a business should invest in marketing pre-product-market fit.
[33:45] - It's challenging to balance your resources to hit short-term goals, but invest in longer bets for future growth.