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For any startup, there is no greater glory, no greater validation or justification  than a loyal user or paying customer. By reaching your customers throughout the development of your startup, you will discover the exact problems they’re dealing with and create foundations for lifelong customer loyalty.

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Bestselling author and businessman Harvey Mackay said it best when he said,  “by getting your customers to agree with you in small steps along the way, you have a better chance of reaching agreement when it's time to do business.”

You could be reaching your customers now.

Here’s a checklist of how to do just that. Using social media, Landing Pages and a basic prototype of Minimum Viable Product (MVP), all of the steps below can be done to help you reach your customers before developing or launching your product.

These steps will actually  help direct the development of your product because after all, real startup strategy isn’t finding customers for your products but products for your customers (Seth Godin).

Start here.

  • Register your startup’s name before the account is taken. You don’t need to register for every social media account. Be selective of what channels you use for the sake of time. Register accounts that align with your solution and ask yourself, where are my customers?  
  • Twitter
    • Facebook page
    • Snapchat
    • Pinterest
    • LinkedIn
    • Blog
    • Medium
    • Others?
  • Regularly post entertaining and inspiring content.  Create your own or share relevant content from other sources. This study from Buzzsumo sums up some great research about Facebook content, with findings about hacks like Tuesday and Wednesday being the most popular days to post!

Next, design a Landing Page.

    • Create an account on one of the various Landing Page builder tools.
    • Register the domain
    • Design your Landing Page and make sure of the following:
      • The design is above the fold.
      • Your contact information (email/Whatsapp/phone number) is available on the page.
      • The header is clear and includes one thing you do really well Hint: Use keywords, this is your UVP.
      • The subheader includes some detail of what you do. Hint: Use keywords.
      • The call-to-action button is bold with a clear ask. Limit all asks to one or two fields  (ex. name & email). Calls-to-action include:
        • Sign up form to a mailing list with a promise of “Launching soon - be the first to learn about it” or an “Exclusive invitation for beta”.
        • “Follow us on Social Media”.
        • Getting creative.  Hint: Ask yourself, what does validation mean for my product/service? It could be a certain qualitative or quantitative target.
      • There is a basic visual or graphic representation of the product. Tip: Ensure your pictures are of high resolution and that you are not vulnerable to copyright claims. There are many free, royalty-free stock photos available online on websites like Unsplash.  
  • All Social Media accounts are connected to the Landing Page. Tip: Dead links could affect your credibility.
    • Regular  social media postings. Hint: Always lead people from social media to the Landing Page.
    • Google and Facebook ads are incorporated to drive traffic. Tip: Ensure you have the budget for ads and test to see whether the cost is worth the benefit at this stage of your startup. If the ads don’t drive enough traffic, it could mean it’s not the right time.
    • The responsiveness of your site is optimized to mobile. Hint: Use Screenfly.
    • A/B testing or split testing is used to compare two versions of the website and see which one performs better.  

Simultaneously, get your hands dirty.

  • Prioritize what feature you will be developing first. This doesn’t have to be digital; it has to be something you can test. Hint: use prototyping tools like the InvisionApp or Origami Studio. Ensure that what you build is:
    • Non-scalable because your focus is validation right now, not growth.
    • Low-cost.
  • Actively test it and collect data about user behaviour.

Remember whether for social media, the Landing Page or the MVP, ensure that you:

  • KISS (keep it simple, stupid :)).

This checklist is a surefire way to reach your first customer. However, in case your social media is still not gaining traction and your Landing Page is still not collecting leads, it’s a sign that your content is not engaging and that your header is not communicating a solution to a customer problem.  Make little changes and improvements every day, we mean every day. Don’t get discouraged, it takes time but all things worth doing, usually do.

The Bootcamp startup program applications are now open, apply by April 16.

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