If you are following JumpStart’s Entrepreneur Roadmap methodology, you probably have a checklist where you are running down the items completed. MVP? Done. Website? Built. Pricing model? Check. Contracts? Ready to go. Customers? Not a prospect in sight.
It feels that way sometimes—you spend so much time working on a product and all the things that underpin getting it to market, and when you are finally ready there’s a collective gasp of ‘what comes next?’
Hopefully, I can save you from this with a simple directive—don’t wait to start selling.
It feels counter-intuitive, but waiting until you have a product to start reaching out to prospects means you are starting too late. If you’ve followed (even loosely) the entrepreneur roadmap model, that means that while you were in development you took the time to build customer archetypes and an initial market segmentation. That means you know who you want to pursue (ideally, even having lists of targets already built) and information on what types of outreach vehicles work for them.
Using the details (your segmentation) and your direction (your archetypes) you can begin to build out a scrappy acquisition strategy that meets your prospects where they are, with the messages they need. More importantly, you are doing it quickly, cost-effectively and learning as you go so that each time you refine you get better.
How? That’s going to depend on if you are selling to a consumer (B2C) or a business (B2B), but there a few tried and true things to think about.
Lead with your value proposition
Before you even worry about where to say it, you need to be crisp on what you are saying. A prospect is going to care about one thing—how their life is going to be easier or better. Leading with that will help open the door to a conversation.
Offer an offer
Solving the problem is only half the effort. It’s why those TV infomercials are so successful—they lead with the value proposition and close with an offer. Since you are just getting out there, your offer could be 30 days free or at half cost in exchange for product feedback. Whatever it is, be direct, be timebound and make sure that it’s interesting enough to get their attention.
Start scrappy and build up
Don’t feel like you must build an incredible complex demand engine to get started. Using emails, simple Facebook ads, search engine optimization (SEO) and other low- or no-cost options are great ways to get started that don’t require months of work. You can optimize as you go, based on what is and isn’t working.
Measure. measure, measure
Using a new email template? Measure responses to it versus prior. Change call to action or offer? How does it perform compared to prior. Your plan of attack will evolve over time, and being able to track what does and doesn’t work will help you get there faster.
Finally, don’t worry if you don’t have a sales or marketing background. At one point, you probably didn’t have startup experience either, and yet here you are. You will quickly learn your way into this, and as you get traction, you can begin to automate the things that work, or staff to the things you don’t particularly enjoy. This is part of the funnel of growing a business, and you may be surprised at how well smart and scrappy gets the job done!