Lesson 3 of 7
In Progress

Business Context for “Acquire Your Customers”

Scale up from your prototype

The data or traction you use to “Validate Your Claims” help your stakeholders to believe that your innovation has been de-risked to some degree.

But doing something the first time – while challenging! – is much easier than doing it consistently, day in and day out. In fact, the challenge of shifting from the development stage – “we have to make this work the first time” – to the production stage – “we have to make this work 500 times a day” calls for such different skills that it is an unusual person who can lead a team to do both. For every Mark Zuckerberg or Bill Gates, there are thousands of founders who leave their startup because they find it less fun to grow a company than to innovate new solutions.

Growing a business demands technical and strategic creativity, just as launching one does. The teams are bigger, things tend to move more slowly (though usually better funded), and the problems tend to be more about incremental, detailed improvements instead of quantum leaps. In fact, customers, partners, and investors want you to be predictable: When they invest money in your company, they expect a product that works as promised or to get prompt and cheerful service if it doesn’t. They expect you to build new and better products, but to keep supporting the old ones.

Customer acquisition is key

Building a better mousetrap does not guarantee you eager customers, or any customers. Before they buy from you, they need to:

  • Know that your solutions exist.
  • Have money (and the will) to pay for your solutions.
  • Be confident that if something goes wrong, you will help them fix it (for major purchases).

In some ways, these challenges are much easier than they used to be. The Internet and social media have (at least until now) made it technically and economically feasible for almost anyone to advertise, sell, deliver, and service almost anything to almost anyone.

Unfortunately, all that affordable access means that the overall noise level is much higher, so you have to work harder to be noticed. You need thoughtful strategies to raise your profile in your various market segments, focusing your resources on the channels that will deliver the best return on investment for your first products and the generations that follow.

Duplicate success

The most straightforward way to show your audience that you have a smart business model is to copy whatever similar companies are doing right and avoid their mistakes. In fact, the work you have done in analyzing your competitors can inform your business model choices and make your audience more comfortable with them.

Of course, if your business model is your innovation, then you can’t copy anyone else’s model and will need to reduce fear and increase greed more carefully.


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