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3 Proven Ways Your Startup Can Get Its First 1000 Customers

3 Proven Ways Your Startup Can Get Its First 1000 Customers

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Starting a business is the beginning, the real challenge is getting customers – generating sales.

Your startup could have one of the best products in the market and you could have a few thousand followers on Twitter or Facebook, but if you aren’t getting new customers, you’ll find yourself nowhere.

Instead of growing your startup overnight by reaching 100K customers, you need to stick to small achievable targets. Once you get a good chunk of your first 1000 customers, you’ll have a better understanding of what works and what doesn’t.

You can then scale your marketing campaigns easily.

So how you can get first 1000 customers for your startup?

There are 3 proven techniques to do so.

1. Content marketing

LeadPages was started in January 2013 and in less than a year, they had 16K customers. How did LeadPages manage to grow itself from 0 to 15K subscribers in less than a year?

Two words – content marketing.

Their blog has a long list of posts that offer value to the readers and each blog post has at least one opt-in that is designed specifically for that same post. These guys don’t just publish high-quality content but they’re using content to build their email list.

Things then become easier.

Content marketing costs 62% less than other types of marketing and, at the same time, it generates 3x more leads.

Content marketing is all about creating valuable content for your target audience so they visit your website, subscribe, and become happy customers.

Let’s say you’re a founder of a SaaS company. You’ve got two choices:

  1. Promote your product with the help of AdWords, Facebook ads, and other types of paid marketing.
  2. Write and publish high-quality content that helps your target audience because they have seen nothing like this out there. They subscribe and enter your sales funnel.

Content marketing outperforms traditional marketing because you’re not selling anything at the frontend. Once you start doing it, your startup will enjoy the following benefits:

  • Increase in sales
  • Loyal customers
  • Cost saving

How do you make the most of content marketing?

It is a 3-step process.

Step #1: Create awesome content

Start creating awesome content that delivers nothing but value to your readers. In other words, create 10x content. Content that is 10x better than the best content out there.

If you’re writing 10 weight loss tips, you’re not doing something new. There are hundreds of posts and videos already out there that share 10 weight loss tips.

This type of content doesn’t work.

What type of content works then?

Here is a perfect example.

A beginner’s guide to website speed optimization by Kinsta is one of the best guides on website speed optimization. It has well over 10K words, it’s easy-to-read, visually pleasing, and is better than everything else that’s out there on speed optimization.

If you can generate this type of content for your startup, getting 1000 customers won’t be an issue.

Step #2: Publish on your blog

Publish these types of posts regularly on your blog.

If you’re writing massively useful posts, 1 to 2 posts a month are fine.

Don’t forget to add CTAs and opt-in forms throughout your posts.

Step #3: Promote it

Publishing content on your blog won’t do much. You’ve got to promote it.

Ensure that your awesome content gets in front of as many eyeballs as possible. There are several ways to promote your content such as social media marketing, outreach, content syndication, and others.

But there is one technique that is mostly underutilized but delivers big time.

Content repurposing.

You can convert your blog post into other forms of content to reach a new audience. You can convert it into a PDF guide and submit it to PDF sharing sites, it can be converted to a video, you can create a slide deck and submit it on SlideShare, create an infographic, create a podcast, and so on.

High-quality content sitting on your blog is useless and won’t help you generate sales. You’ve got to tell the world about your content – that will help you get new customers.

2. Guest blogging

Did you know Buffer’s co-founder, Leo Widrich, published 150 guest posts when Buffer was launched and in as little as 9 months, he managed to grow Buffer from 0 to 100K customers?

Nine months – 150 guest posts, and BAM!

Let’s see how Widrich did it for his startup so you can replicate the same and get at least 1000 customers.

Step #1

If you’re new to guest blogging, start with sites like MyBlogGuest, Blogger Linkup, and others. Targeting large authority sites out of nowhere isn’t going to help much.

The blogs you’ll normally find on these sites won’t have awesome metrics but since you’re new to it, don’t hesitate to contribute to smaller blogs.

Step #2

After you’ve successfully guest blogged on a few good blogs in your niche, move ahead and start pitching to high authority websites in your niche.

Here is a template that Leo used to reach out to high authority sites.

The real challenge isn’t how to pitch but how to find relevant blogs.

There are a few good ways to find guest post targets.

  1. Use relevant search strings such as “your keyword + guest post”.
  2. Run this very search string in the Twitter search too. This will reveal guest posting opportunities as well as blogs that accept guest posts. You can pitch them.
  3. Often times, bloggers have pages on their blogs where they share their guest posts on other blogs. Your job is to find these pages by running variants of the following search query in Google “my guest posts + your keyword”. You can pitch to all the sites where these bloggers have already published their guest posts.
  4. The best way to find guest post targets is to see where your competitors are getting backlinks from. I love SpyFu and Ahrefs as they’re the best in the game to analyze competitor backlinks.

Visit SpyFu, enter your competitor’s URL and hit Enter.

Find Backlinks and click Backlinks.

Filter backlink type by checking Blogs and you’re done.

If your competitor has published a guest post on a specific blog, you can publish your post there too.

Step #3

Create awesome content for every single guest post you write.

Ordinary content won’t take you too far. In fact, if you’re really interested in reaching 1000 customers in record time, you’ve got to create content that will WOW readers.

The Skyscraper technique works best in this case because it lets you create content that is sure to stand out from the crowd. It is a three-step process but in this case, you’ll only focus on the first two steps that are:

  1. Find link-worthy content that is already doing well in terms of search engine rankings and social shares.
  2. Create something better. Make it longer by adding more words, come up with an updated and latest version, design it better so it gets easier to read and navigate, or generate a more detailed and thorough piece.

Once you have this type of content, you are able to drive tons of targeted traffic via every single guest post. Getting 1000 customers will become a piece of cake.

3. Influencer marketing

Influencer marketing is one of the best and easiest ways to reach 1000 customers. I’ll tell you why in a moment but first let me tell you that influencer marketing isn’t cheap.

A single post on Instagram might cost you as much as $1K.

But the good news is that it pays off. Statistics show that businesses generate $6.50 for every $1 spent on influencer marketing. It is not a bad ROI, right?

So what exactly is influencer marketing and how it can help your startup get its first 1000 customers?

Wikipedia defines influencer marketing as a marketing type where a business targets influential people instead of its target market. Instead of you promoting your startup, an influencer promotes your startup for you.

Influencers include celebrities, journalists, public figures, or anyone who has a considerable influence on your target audience.

Rescue promoted its products with the help of influencer marketing. They hired influential bloggers like A Girl Named PJ and A Clothes Horse who created sponsored posts featuring Rescue products.

This resulted in massive exposure and over 6K clicks to their coupon site.

Influencer marketing can prove to be a game-changer for your startup provided you do it the right way.

Here is how to plan your influencer marketing campaign for your startup to get new customers.

  1. Define clear objectives
  2. Find the right influencers
  3. Measure ROI and scale

1. Define objectives

Set SMART goals for your influencer marketing campaign.

Your objectives and goals should be specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and time-based.

You should know exactly what you intend to achieve from your campaign. In this case, you are interested in getting 1000 customers for your startup so this would be your goal.

Make it time-based. Something like getting 1K customers in 6 months.

2. Find the right influencers

Finding the right influencers is the key.

An influencer is someone who has a significant audience that makes decisions based on his/her opinion. The right influencer is someone who has the same audience as your target audience.

If you’re selling a music app for iPhone, Katy Perry with her 103 million Twitter followers who are music-lovers seem to be a perfect influencer.

If you’re selling an anti-aging herbal cream, Katy Perry, despite her hundred million followers, is not the right influencer because her followers will be least interested in anti-aging herbal creams.

You’ve got to find influencers who have almost the same audience as your target audience, this is what makes a perfect match.

Macro influencers are expensive while micro influencers are easier to afford. Instead of spending $50K on a single macro influencer like a celebrity, a decent approach is to hire multiple micro influencers who are relatively less famous but have a huge impact.

Klear and Followerwonk are two tools you can use to find the right influencers in any niche.

Yes, you’ve got to pay influencers. They don’t promote you for free.

Nobody does it free.

3. Measure ROI and scale

Measure the ROI of each influencer and see how the campaign works.

Some influencers will do better than others in terms of user engagement, sales, and quality of leads. Your job is to analyze every influencer and choose the best ones.

The influencers who outperform and send the most customers your way, rehire them and scale up.


Getting new customers for your startup is indeed challenging. If you know what you’ve got to do and how you’ve got to do it, things become somewhat less complicated.

You don’t have to necessarily use all of these techniques, instead, choose one marketing technique at a time – the one that you think will work for your startup and will easily integrate with your marketing and business strategy.

Once you get your first 1000 customers, all you have to do is scale up and repeat.

Guest Author: Sabih Javed is an experienced freelance writer for hire with specialization in digital marketing. He has written data-driven and actionable content for numerous B2B and B2C companies. His publications appeared in Yahoo News, TheNextWeb, Business2Community, and more. Find more about him on his blog DigitalMarketer.PK, and catch him on Twitter @sabihjavedd.

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