There are multiple awesome ways to ramp up Customer Acquisition. This article provides a framework of the channels your company can use to acquire customers, and set your traction goals on track.
All channels are great, they all work, but there is no channel that is best. We cannot say use this one or that one when at this specific stage, or when facing this or that challenge, there’s no silver-bullet. Any and all however, when used in the right way and at the right time have propelled companies forwards and increased their traction towards success.
As always when it comes to strategy, what you do is one thing (for example, which channels you choose to tap into at a given moment), but how you use them individually (the campaigns or initiatives you design and launch), or how you combine them to create exponential leverage is what could take you to sustainable customer acquisition.
Publicity is all about having other people speaking about you, your name, your brand, your product, and your company. Different from paid ads (see below) publicity may include interviews, reviews, reports, and mentions in different media (news outlets, magazines, newspapers, and TV) or platforms (such as people speaking about you on twitter or Facebook).
A big part of succeeding with this Customer Acquisition Channel is creating and developing relationships with the media, and doing things worth talking about.
2. Unconventional PR
While there are the traditional or conventional PR activities that companies and individuals can engage in, such as participating in events, conferences, and product launches, that are backed by press releases, there are alternative ways to get attention. The classic one is the publicity stunt, where you (or your logo!) happens to be photographed or filmed with a celebrity, politician, sports-star, news reporter…you’ve seen it many times.
The key is to get attention from the media, and to generate buzz…
In addition to the publicity stunt there are many ways to get unconventional PR: jumping on trends; sharing bold opinions; alternative YouTube campaigns; and organizing contests or challenges… But not everything has to be radical and extreme, or risky. Doing amazing things for your customers, for your employees, for anybody, can also generate buzz and in many occasions, media attention. A great unconventional PR campaign calls for a good deal of creativity, humour, really thinking out of the box and low risk aversion.
3. Search Engine Marketing
In short, online advertising. A booming service that is taking both interest and budget from offline advertising. Do you know why? Well, it’s cheaper, it’s measurable (experts call this Attribution), offers real-time results from which you can monitor the impact of campaigns, and it can be super-targeted to your interest groups. Which means you only pay for the attention of the people who are likely to be interested in your product.
The key here is strategy, testing and adapting to keep obtaining the best results over time.
4. Social and Display Ads
Social Ads are similar to Display Ads are similar to each other, with one distinction. Social Ads appear on social networks, whereas Display Ads are the advertising we see on websites and apps in form of banners. Both can be part of the marketing strategy, at any given time as they are versatile and scalable.
The principle of Social Ads is that, with an ever-increasing amount of content being uploaded, glanced at and shared on social networks, a paid ad can get millions of users who are browsing their feeds to pay attention, even for one second. Here is a big difference: Display Ads don’t show in search results, they are a graphic element that invites the user to interact with your company or brand. They are used for targeting or retargeting your audience. Both Social Ads and Display Adds increase brand awareness and can draw users to enter your marketing funnel.
5. Offline Ads
According to statistics, online advertising only trumped global offline expenditures for the first time in 2018. And even then, only just €80 billion of offline global expenditure versus close to 82 online expenditure. It seems then, offline media are here to stay for another good while. Offline Advertising includes campaigns on TV, radio, magazines, newspapers, billboards and direct mail, which can all be done at different scales, and in different regions, etc.
6. Search Engine Optimization
Increasingly, SEO is being used by all kinds of organisations and professionals. SEO is about taking specific actions to improve the ranking of your website(s). This is based on the idea that your prospects perform searches online. So, the higher you appear on the list of searches, the higher the the probability people will visit your website(s), thereby discovering you, your solutions, etc.
SEO can be considered a must have for almost any type of business, and it can be approached with different levels of intensity, and budget. But contrary to what non-technical people think, it does not yield immediate results, and needs to be nurtured and tested over time to bring value.
7. Content Marketing
Yes, the content you publish on your own company blog, and other targeted blogs where you hope to reach a wider or targeted audience matters. This is because content expresses the message you want to tell the world about you, your team, your values, your products, the problems you solve, etc.
A true Content Strategy entails discovering all the topics relevant to your audiences, and providing them with exactly that. A “content strategy” based on (for example) thought leadership only, fails to show and educate your audience about your products, the benefits users gain, etc.
8. Email Marketing
Email marketing refers to the mass communication your company sends to your contact databases. It is a personal channel, and, therefore, ought to address aspects specifically relevant to the recipient. It aims to inform, educate, and -hopefully- engage the reader to take some kind of action. Success here is measured in terms of conversions, and how effective what you do is to move prospects through the different stages of both your marketing funnel, and your sales funnel.
9. Business Development
Business Development is about strategic relationships. If Direct Sales is a “linear” concept -acquiring customers one at the time- what is amazing about Business Development is its “exponential” effect; when executed correctly, it literally multiplies the touchpoints and the influence your company can have in its chosen markets. In principle it works like Direct Sales, however with a Business Development strategy your company gets stronger by creating strategic alliances with businesses and organizations that are not direct customers. This can include partners and distributors, educational institutions, chambers, government, associations and other professional groups, evangelists and influencers, research groups. Basically, it can be with any party with which an agreement creates mutual benefit, value, and serves both your strategy and theirs. True power, defensibility and traction are founded on a strong, meaningful network.
10. Direct Sales
Direct Sales is a channel that includes processes, success metrics, and technology (CRM and others), it requires people to execute it, manage it, and support it with a strategy. Moreover, all other Customer Acquisition Channels also support it (just think for a moment about trying Direct Sales with no leverage of any kind. If it is outsourced or not, automated or not, inbound or outbound, Direct Sales makes sense when the return is larger than the customer acquisition cost.
If we were to define a sales process, we’d say it is measurable, repeatable, sustainable, and scalable. In addition, a good sales process is one that produces predictable outcomes at its different stages. Success in Direct Sales is measured by performance, and in turn, performance is measured by conversion ratios. The purpose of Direct Sales as a channel can be understood in terms of a sales funnel through which leads are actively turned into prospects, and prospects into paying customers.
11. Trade Shows
Trade shows are all about showcasing your products in person. They are normally very targeted so your audience most likely falls into one of your interest stakeholder groups (prospects, investors, possible partners, media, and so on.). With the right preparation, and thorough follow up, Trade Shows can be an amazing way of getting exposure and impacting your KPIs. They are relevant for companies big and small, early stage or major players in any industry.
Trade Shows can be used for many specific purposes, such as spreading interest on a prototype (pre-launch), making an announcement, launching a product, and so forth. Participating in Trade-shows with a planned strategy is not only about “meeting people”, “networking” or creating relationships and starting conversations. It should be forum to close deals, meet with existing customers, and gaining insights an exposure to potential markets and your competition.
12. Offline Events
When correctly planned, managed and advertised Offline Events are ideal places for sharing your message with targeted audiences, getting to know them, and learning about their concerns and perspectives. Organizing events can respond to any goals: prospecting (gathering prospective customers, investors or partners), stakeholder success (gathering your customers, existing investors, existing partners), and for any other purposes such as thought leadership, publicity, and announcements. If you understand networks, and the power of connecting with people (and having them connect with others at your events), this channel can make a big difference in your traction strategy.
Events can take any form, size and budget. They can range from a national conference to a semi-private meet up in a local coffee-shop, and everything in between. Your role can also be anything from sponsor, to organizer, to co-organizer, to speaker, to moderator. Or or you can simply be a guest!
13. Speaking Engagements
Speaking Engagements are great opportunities to showcase your product and Company. They are a great way for people to get to know you, and to sense first-hand what you are up to. Lack of exposure leads to lack of awareness of your product and company by your target market and interest stakeholder groups). Whereas awareness creates opportunities to facilitate engagement in the other traction channels we’ve mentioned. Needless to say, quality content, relevance, and a good sense of story-telling are also needed to create the right effect.
So, here you have the framework. As for the creativity, boldness, persistence, curiosity and willingness to make things happen, those are on you.
Take action, take the time, team up, prioritize…and here’s to your success!
This blog is based on the framework described in the book Traction, coauthored by Gabriel Weinberg, CEO and Founder of DuckDuckGo.