Last month, I wrote an article on “The Afroprenuer” titled “Attracting and retaining your first users as a virtual start-up”. Now, this month, I’ll be writing on important tips that can literally move your business from hundreds to thousands or millions of customers (or users for technology start-ups).
As a recap, in the previous article, which was centered on research carried out on five successful start-ups: Konga, Jumia, Uber, Airbnb, and Jobberman, we explored three main points for attracting and retaining first customers, which are: Think like your customer and market, create a compelling experience, and leverage on circumstances. In this article, I intend to still use research from these five start-ups to drive home the basic points.
After a business has gotten its first set of customers (early adopters), it can start strategic execution towards expanding its customer base through more traditional marketing approaches. In each case the strategies should be different. While word-of-mouth might work for the first hundreds, it can’t get you to beyond that. You will have to be more proactive and control the acquisition process, which word-of-mouth does not allow – and this is why I am writing this based on specialized research.
As a quick reference, at this stage of business when you have gone past your first customers, you can explore digital marketing on platform such as theAfroprenuer.net or Google Ads to reach your targeted customers. Digital marketing is more cost effective compared to traditional marketing in this information age, because it allows your business to target specific customers through search ads or social media at a low cost. Digital marketing also makes it easy businesses to rapidly iterate its advertising message, tweaking it to figure out what works best. Please note that, only after passing a certain threshold of customers should you go into advertising on traditional media –- that’s when you need massive scale, so you go to mass marketing through traditional media such as Billboards, radio, television, and newspapers.
As a business grows, it must consider the purpose of advertising in order to achieve the best effects in gaining new customers. Some tools are better for the beginning, some are better when you are bigger. It’s not about, should I use digital marketing or word-of-mouth or TV ads. The question only makes sense when you say, ‘At this stage, what approach should I take?’ Only when you answer that question will you know what tool is most appropriate. You need the right size of eggs for each stage of your nest.
Timi Olagunju is a Cyberspace Lawyer, now a radicalized tech evangelist. He is a Partner at “The Growth Hub”, providing specialized legal, business, and training support to Individuals, Start-ups, and Innovators anywhere in Nigeria and the diaspora.