How to Gain Customers who Love Your Startup and Scaleup — 10 Ideas!

Neil Lewis
Sep 19, 2018 · 7 min read
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No More: ‘Never Mind the Quality — Feel the Width’- Your Startup Deserves Love!

I first heard “Never Mind the Quality — Feel the Width” as a 8 year old making my first trip on Petticoat Lane Sunday market located in the East End of London. I think my dad was being sold some dodgy jacket at the time…

Back in the 1970s and 1980s this phrase represented that dominance of quantity over quality that seemed to infect all organisations and their marketing.

Our advertising in magazines, newspapers and broadcast media was defined by ‘audience size’ with only to a minor degree by a measurement of quality — typically all decent publications claimed at least 60% ABC1 readership (which represented a vague category of ‘middle class people’, which most media claimed to have).

And, even in the early days of the dot com boom and consumer internet, entrepreneurs used the ‘if only we could get 1% of the market’ fallacy — again, falling for the lie that quantity matters above quality.

But no more! And making this shift in marketing strategy could be your Startup’s winning advantage…

1. Share the Love

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Since the growth of Social Media, we have a new metric — engagement! It might be Likes, Pins, ReTweets, Hearts, 5 start reviews or even shares, but this is the new marketing language of social media, and by basing your activity in and around digital and social media, it gives you an opportunity to track how much your customers;

a) love what you do

b) love what you are currently saying

c) are willing to share and recommend your startup

2. Move on from Quantity — Choose Quality

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Digital marketing really does allow us to move on from counting the number of customers to begin to create a mechanism for understanding the quality of our customers.

Whilst our older customers may love us but not share or recommend our products and services, the younger generations — those most likely to actually buy and transact online — aren’t held back by such quaint reservations.

3. Sharing Fans are The Best

Every ‘like, pin or heart’ is progress — but the holy grail of digital marketing is to convert positive responses with actual endorsement — that is, shares, retweets and, well, plain old endorsement.

You already know that big companies pay millions of Dollars, Pounds and Euros to have some recognisable (and likeable) personality recommend their brand? Well, now, through social media, you have the opportunity to replicate this hugely powerful message — but without shelling out $£€!

So, how do you build a base of Sharing fans?

4. Start with Purpose

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First and foremost — have a purpose! Have a reason to exist and explain it up front and centre to your customers and potential customers. (See my previous article How to Fuel Your Startup with Purpose).

Then engage your customers with your purpose — not your business — but your purpose. Look for people who share your frustration, disappointment, hurt, anger, sadness; and then show them how you can make their world, their city, their home, a better place and how they can help you make that change.

Be an organisation that seeks to make a difference and then hold yourself and your company accountable against that standard.

5. Build it for Your Muse (or Yourself)

Next up, decide exactly who your customer is.

Write their profile — including name, age, education, life experience, what they like to do, who they hang out with, what they care about and what motivates them.

Artists and authors have for years writen, painted or created for a Muse — a singular person who inspires them.

Many of the most successful books were written for a single individual — The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe was written for CS Lewis’ goddaughter; Harry Potter was written for the children of JK Rowling and Picasso used to paint his latest lover (his second wife, Jacqueline, was painted over 400 times).

If you can’t decide who your Muse is, then its you! I have often coached entrepreneurs who have built great businesses solving a problem or issue that they personally experienced and understood.

6. Yes, really, just one person

I know — you’ll be saying — ‘I can’t possibly build a business for ‘just one person’ — I need *way* more customers than that…

Trust me. You can! You see, whilst your business and your marketing is highly targeted on a specific person, you can still accept sales and support from everyone!

Do you think JK Rowling got rich selling books to her children? Of course not, it was just that the stories were rich and unique because they were specific and focused. That’s what gives them so much of their appeal.

You can do the same with your startup. Focus the business and marketing on one person — or one customer profile — then accept sales from everyone!

7. Be a Magnet not a Funnel

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The marketing funnel is out of date. Customers do not follow a mechanised process of moving from one stage through a series of second and third stages (getting to know you / like you) until they (give in??? and) become customers.

Instead, our customers waft into our organisations and then drift off again, then perhaps, something draws them back, before they slip away again.

Hence, the power of our organisation is down to our ability to draw those customers back to us time and time again.

Think, therefore, of building a super-powered customer magnet — so that even if a potential customer slips past you, they will inevitably be drawn back towards your organisations sooner or later.

So how do you build that magnet?

8. Draw back Customers Again and Again

We have to accept that our customers inhabit many media.

Yes, digital marketing used to be just about search engine ranking, email capture and sending our newsletters. But that idea has been dying for some years now and, I believe, was officially declared dead by the EU’s GDPR (General Data Protection Rules) which since May 2018, placed severe fines against spam emails.

Hence, your startup needs an active presence across multiple digital platforms — but the messages need to be consistent and coordinated because it is possible for your customer to encounter you on Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter and any other platform (Instagram, Pintrest, Whatsapp etc… and even Medium).

And, the lead brand(s) for your business will be the founders and investors. They should be tweeting, sharing and blogging about how cool your startup and the amazing difference you are making for the world.

As your organisation grows, ask your really best fans to share why they like your products and services, perhaps even reward them with prizes or special access to your startup team or launch events.

9. Email for Retention not Acquisition (if at all)

Stop using email — for acquisition.

The effort to achieve suitable email consents is now a very high bar and frankly, only customers who already love what you do are going to jump that bar.

As a result, email is now best used to share wisdom and inspiration with your current (and possibly past or sporadic) customers. You will not find new customers by building your email newsletter list (but you may retain existing customers).

10. Make me a Better Me

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Lastly, customers don’t just buy just because of how you make them feel — they also *share and recommend* based on how you make them feel.

And, almost universally, we seek brands that reflect positively on us or perhaps ‘make me a better version of myself’.

Yes, I might sound a bit new age or even gobbledegook, but be honest with yourself, yes, be really honest — why do you buy the things you buy? Why did you buy that laptop or this phone and not alternative brands?

Why did you choose this colour of car or go to this hairdresser or wear this brand of clothing? Because it makes you unique — yes, often — but almost certainly, because it makes you feel you are a better version of you.

So, does your organisation deliver?

Does it make your Muse a better version of themselves? If you get that part right and then create magnetic communication and digital stories for your Muse to love and share — then you’ll win.

And best of all, your lumbering legacy competitors won’t be able to keep up!

Have fun and enjoy!

Oh, about me…

My purpose is to democratise entrepreneurial knowledge. That’s why I write — so if you like this post — please share. If you want to hear more from me, please follow me. Or if you really, really want to know more about my coaching for startups and scaleups, come and join our free Media Modo group.

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