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14 steps for acquiring your startup's first customers:
1. Pay to interview people who've successfully grown a startup like yours. You can find them via LinkedIn Sales Navigator. 2. Ask them which 3 channels (ads, SEO, etc.) you should prioritize for acquiring customers. 3. Ask for examples of companies who run these channels well.
Some channels to ask about: • PR • Ads • SEO • Influencers • Sponsorships • Organic social • Word-of-mouth • In-depth content • Referral incentives • Product-led invites (think Slack, Zoom, Dropbox)
4. Reverse-engineer how those companies run their channels well: A. Map each step the customer takes between the channel and becoming a happy customer. B. Study what makes each step great: its pitch, its design, and its user experience.
Here's an example of steps. • Someone sees your Facebook ad ← Channel • They visit your page • Enter their email • Trial the product • Pay for the product • Stay engaged • Refer more users (Tools like Ahrefs + FB Ad Library show you competitors' ads and landing pages!)
When you're auditing another company's steps, look for moments that make you remark: "Wow, I want more of this. I'm interested." That's the magic you want for your startup.
5. Now recreate a low-res version of the funnel for your company. This is your jumping off point to explore what works in your startup's context. Everything is always context-dependent!
6. First, we need a team to build the elements needed for each step: • Design • Product • Copywriting • Engineering Get a contractor, agency, or full-time hire—or do it yourself. Again, this is where LinkedIn Sales Navigator helps you find experienced people.
7. Set up your analytics to measure conversion rates at each step. I recommend using one of these tools: • Amplitude • Mixpanel • Heap
8. Turn on your channel. 9. Note at which steps people drop-off the most. Fix drop-off points before over-optimizing other steps.
10. How do you fix drop-off? You test new: • Offers + incentives • Value propositions • Product changes • Target personas • Pricing plans • UX
11. Repeat the channel and step exercise for each of the channels the experts suggested you test first.
12. If a channel bombs, consider a new contractor or agency to *attack it from a different angle.* Sometimes, you just need a new approach. If the best of the best can't make a channel sustainable for you, move onto the next—and come back to this later.
13. Meanwhile, run experiments on working channels to increase their performance further: • What would compel people even more? • How can we remove more friction?
14. Over time, your goal is to build your private playbook of growth knowledge. To do this, don't bury your head in the sand: Continually consult others and reverse engineer what works in the wild.
Recap: • Talk to people who've done it before. • Audit competent competitors. • Bring in new people when you get stuck. • Eat mangoes AND bananas! WAHHH 😱😱😱
This thread is a superficial primer on acquisition. There's far more to know about channel selection and testing. My site has a handbook that goes deeper. It's free, of course. P.S. I hope this "14 steps" format inspires memes 😂

My Notes:

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Julian Shapiro

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