A mindful of idea is great . . . only if it leads to pockets full of cash.
It is true, even if you are a social entrepreneur; the element of value has to figure in any startup’s equation. Transforming of efforts, resources or ideas into valuable offerings is a call every business must answer. Startups are no different in this regard.
We all know that a startup’s journey from being a revolutionary idea to an entity registering incremental revenue is littered with obstacles. More often than not, many startups fail to float owing to their inability to sell their products / services in the market. In fact, there are businesses that close shop without making even single sales!
As incredulous as it may sound, it is a harsh truth that every startup faces. Selling the first unit of product or instance of service (sales to family / friends being discounted) is the toughest challenge startups face.
Many entrepreneurs concur that making the first customer is very important for any startup as it gives them immense motivation in continuing their efforts. Moreover, the very first set of customers gives the startups valuable feedback, giving promoters an opportunity to fine tune their offerings.
We bring to you 5 simple steps that will help you immensely in clocking the elusive first purchase order. (Young startups and would-be entrepreneurs must pay heed.)
1. Define an apt offering & identify the right market segment
Of course, you have this one figured it out.
Let’s do it once again. Even before thinking of approaching prospective customers, be 100% sure that your product is well-defined and rightly priced, offering a high value proposition with respect to competing products / services. Next, make a list of people who could be your customers. Narrow this list to include only those who would certainly be interested in your offer. Finally, work towards reaching out to prospective customers who want a product / service like yours NOW!
2. Get a web presence
Having a website is not about being fashionable. It is a need. While you take your offerings to various markets and across several forums, let your digital shop be open 24X7 to dispense information about your business and its offerings. Contrary to popular belief, it costs nothing to put up a neat, static, multi-page website (visit www.wordpress.com).
However, it always pays to get a professional website in place, get custom domain, and not just tell the world about your brand, but also sell through your website.
3. Optimize Social Media
While many label social media as a useless addiction, platforms like Facebook, Twitter and Instagram are taking small businesses to far reaches of the world – at paltry sums!
Social media platforms are your cool sales reps running through various countries and continents, taking your brand, products and services where your real target audience resides. Social media giant Facebook not only allows you to make business pages linked to your profile (for free!), it also lets you promote your website, Facebook page or post (with images / information about your offerings) to a supremely targeted market at unbelievably low costs.
4. Reconnect with old contacts
While young startups work hard to build a market from scratch, many potential buyers sit cosily in their contact list, completely oblivious to your new venture. Book a day or two, craft a personal message / email and reach out to your phone / email contact list. Do not forget to share links to your portfolio, website / social media page and add a call to action.
Wait, your exercise is not yet over.
Follow up with these contacts after sometime, but do not try to sell them your products yet; take their views and feedback – make them feel a part of your venture. This way they will propel your brand by sharing and liking your posts, spreading good word about your product, and someone from this list might even turn up to be your very first customer!
5. Better your offering
While you immerse yourself in pursuing the abovementioned ways to earn your first customer, try to better your offering vis-à-vis the competition. In the initial days, do not shy away from dishing out some samples or extend a service for free. These revenue-less exercises may cost you a bit, but in return can give you free press, an opportunity to build new contacts, and above all, feedback and insights to better your offering.
In the end, never forget that if your product or service has true value (it alleviates a pain, adds value to other people’s lives or simply entertains people) it will always have a corresponding market. Use the above 5 steps to connect with your market, today!
18th November 2016
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21st December 2017