What Rush Teaches About How to Get Clients

What Rush Teaches About How to Get Clients

Sorry, Client #1 I once heard a startup software CEO say, “You have to feel sorry for client #1.” It’s true. That first customer gets the brunt of the growing pains of your startup. Sure, they get all the initial customizations, and maybe a lot of attention, but little else. They’re your beta – if they’re lucky. Most likely, they’re your alpha. But if you know how to get clients, any client, you’re off and running. Right? The problem is, so many tech startups are dying to get client #1, that they end up taking just anyone. And that’s a mistake. Choose Wisely It turns out, knowing how to get clients isn’t enough. The wrong choice for client #1 – and any thereafter – can set your company on the wrong path – and it can be very difficult to recover from it. Mark Nogaki, CEO of Cambio Technologies, a Fintech startup dedicated to customer analytics, talked about his experience with a previous software startup. Our first paying customer was just wrong for us. Instead of helping us understand the needs of the market, they had us over-customize the software to their particular needs. We dumped UI components that turned out to be critical for other clients, and we spent a lot of time teaching them things that no one else cared about. It set us on a path we never truly recovered from. The problem starts because most tech startups don’t really know what they want to be when they grow up, not because they don’t know how to get clients. They’ve taken the “Lean Startup” mentality a...
3 Must-Haves in a Tech Company Web Strategy

3 Must-Haves in a Tech Company Web Strategy

What’s Your Web Strategy? When you kick off your startup, one of the first things you’ll do is put up a website. But is there a pattern to a good tech company web strategy? Obviously, some things will depend on who you sell to and what you sell, but there are 3 things you must have as part of that web strategy. 1. An Active Blog Notice the focus on “active” here? Yes, your tech company needs a blog. It’s not just for internet marketing firms anymore. Your tech company needs to be teaching something. Teaching is critical to your web strategy. Whatever your keeps your target market up at night, you need to be writing about how to keep away the boogie man. The pace and length of the posts depends on your market and solution. But generally speaking, my clients have to convince me to do it less frequently than weekly. When you blog weekly, you start to generate a pace of content that begins to saturate the space. Make keyword research a critical part of your web strategy. Make sure you’re blogging about stuff that matters. Don’t just take the time to mouth off about the latest piece of research or statement in the press. You’re not a consulting firm or trying to be controversial. Focus on the problem your technology solves. Write about the pain. Sure, mention the solutions, but save that for other content (see #2 below). Spend time in your blog “needling” your market a bit. Make them feel the pain more than they already would. Show successes and talk about how they...
How to Promote Your Business: 1 Thing You’re Not Doing

How to Promote Your Business: 1 Thing You’re Not Doing

You Must Know How to Promote Your Business You want success for your tech company, don’t you? That means knowing how to promote your business. There is only one success – to be able to spend your life in your own way. – Christopher Morley You want that for yourself and your business. One major reason tech founders and entrepreneurs can’t succeed is because their companies can’t break through. They can’t break through the noise of the marketplace. Knowing how to promote your business will allow you to break through that noise. Most don’t. They just blend in. Blend in with thousands of other companies just like yours solving similar problems. And even when you’re solving something differently, unless you communicate that difference, you’re just like everybody else. But You’re Not Like Everybody Else There’s a fear when you start a tech company that you have to engineer yourself out of it. If you were going to get acquired or IPO, the market had to see that the organization was bigger than you, the founder. That idea is starting to change, and what one writer calls the “paradox of personal branding” has been busted wide open. In fact, in order to stand out, you have to stand up – and be you. Become the one  who is setting the standard in whatever line of work you do – be it in the office, at home, in school or everywhere in between. – Jim Joseph So, to truly be successful – to know how to promote your business, you need one big strategy you probably aren’t doing today. Your #1...
3 Things to Speed Up Customer Acquisition

3 Things to Speed Up Customer Acquisition

When you’re scaling up, it’s all about customer acquisition. You have to build a minimum customer base in order to get the scale you need. But more than that, you won’t really learn about your market and how it interacts with your product until you have a reasonable customer base. If you search for customer acquisition, you find a lot of platitudes about email marketing, SEO, content marketing, blah, blah, blah. Don’t get me wrong. Those are all critical things. And if you need a primer in these items, check out Help Scout’s comprehensive post on it. You know all of that. Maybe you even do it. But still, the people don’t come. Why not? Because all of the marketing tools in the world don’t matter if you don’t have the big 3: Relevance, Trust, and Authority. 1. Get Relevant through Audience Segmentation One of the major things you need to do in a start up is choose a target market. A target market focuses you to the demographics and psychographics that define your ideal customer. Many thing that’s enough to target the message. But that’s a mistake. You need to take that target market and segment it across two dimensions. Dimension #1: Customer Profile A lot of marketing professionals talk about this as your “avatar.” Think about the type of customer you have. Imagine the situation they’re in and draw up a profile. Write down the following: Give your customer a name. What are their demographics: age, income, educational level, job function, family status, etc.? What are their aspirations? What do they want? What are their biggest frustrations?...
4 Steps to Create a Minimum Viable Product

4 Steps to Create a Minimum Viable Product

How Can You Create a Minimum Viable Product? The discussion of a minimum viable product, or MVP for short, is all the rage. From Lean Startup founder Eric Ries, the MVP gets you to market faster with a better shot at winning. A brief description in case you’re not familiar. A minimum viable product is the balance between a product with a minimum number of features, but just enough that someone will still pay for it. Take too many features out and no one will buy it. Leave too many features in and it’ll take too long to get to market. I get a lot of questions about how to actually design your MVP and it turns out there are 4 major steps. Step 1: Wrap Your Head around Imperfection As entrepreneurs, we are often perfectionists by nature. Or if we’re not a perfectionist in our whole lives, we often feel like our product is our “baby.” No one wants their baby called “ugly”, so we fuss. Get over it! If you want to survive, you’re going to have to deal with your “baby” being called ugly. In fact, you want the feedback. From the feedback, you’ll create a better product, and an even better one. The minimum viable product is what gets you there. Embrace it. Don’t make the mistake of analyzing and analyzing forever before launching. You don’t have the time and rarely have the money. It will not be perfect when you launch. Believe it or not, this is the hardest part for most entrepreneurs. Even if you think you’re okay with this, check yourself again....