Top 16 Client Acquisition Tactics for a web-design startup

Every web design startup has one major challenge initially- How to acquire new customers? And while it’s easy enough to determine that new customers are vital, attracting, converting and retaining them is not less than winning a war. It’s because very few people are familiar with your products, services, and brand. As a result, business owners have to employ the best of the best customer acquisition strategies for startups to even experience a sliver of success. In order to promote the acquisition of customers for your startup, here are top 16 proven strategies:

1- Media Publicity – Publicity is very much required to put your name out there. There could be many channels through which a web-design startup can do publicity. For example-via traditional media outlets like news outlets, TV and through print media like newspapers, magazines etc.

2- Unconventional Public Relations – There are two major ways one can apply an unconventional PR. The first one is a publicity stunt. A publicity stunt is anything that is engineered to get media coverage, for example, one can introduce some offbeat features/offers and gain media attention. The second type of unconventional PR is customer appreciation. That could be small, more scalable actions (like holding contests or sending handwritten notes to customers) that both increase reputation as well as generates press coverage.

3- SEM (Search Engine Marketing) – Search engine marketing (SEM) refers to placing advertisements on search engines like Google, where online marketers spend a bomb every day.

4- Online advertisements – Display ads are the banner ads that you see on Web sites all over the Internet. Social ads are the ads on social media websites like Facebook, twitter etc. and are one the most popular way to promote your product lately.

5- Offline Advertisements – Even after so much of digitalization, advertisers a lot on offline ads apart from the online ones. There are many kinds of offline ads — TV, radio, magazines, newspapers, yellow pages, billboards, and direct mail.

6- SEO (Search Engine Optimization) – In this ear, almost all the internet users turn to search engines for answers. Search engine optimization (SEO) is the process of improving your ranking in search engines in order to get more traffic towards your website.

7- Content Marketing – Having good content on your website is great but unless you market it well, it’s futile. Popular websites have copywriters who write magnetic headlines, persuasive landing pages, and conversion-driven emails. Posts that receive hundreds of comments, lead to major publicity and result in thousands of shares. This massive engagement leads to massive growth.

8- Email Marketing – Email marketing is one of the best ways to convert prospects while retaining and monetizing existing customers. Email marketing is a personal channel. Email marketing works best when the messages are customized as per the user’s needs.

9- Viral Marketing – Viral marketing consists of growing your customer base by taking referrals from existing customers. In the context of startups, literally “going viral” means that every user you acquire brings in at least one other user. That new user then invites at least one other user, and so on. This creates true exponential growth. Though difficult to sustain, it’s been the driving force behind the explosive growth of consumer startups like Facebook, Twitter, and Whatsapp.

10- Affiliate Programs – An affiliate program is an arrangement where you pay people or companies for performing certain actions like making a sale or getting a qualified lead. Companies like Amazon, Zappos, eBay, Orbitz, and Netflix use affiliate programs to drive significant portions of their revenue. In fact, affiliate programs are the core traction channel for many e-commerce stores, information products, and membership programs.

11- Trade Shows – Trade shows offer you the opportunity to showcase your products in person. These events are often exclusive to industry insiders and are designed to foster interactions between vendors and their prospects.

12- Conferences and Events – Sponsoring or running offline events like meet-ups or public conferences can primarily lead to traction. Offline events give you the opportunity to engage directly with potential customers about their problems. Such events are especially important when your target customers do not respond well to online advertising and do not have a natural place to congregate online. Attracting these customers to one location or going to a place where they meet in person can be the most effective way to reach them.

13- Community Building – Community building involves investing in creating, growing and maintaining real selfless connections among your customers, fostering those relationships and encouraging them to bring more people into your startup’s circle. For example Companies like Wikipedia and Stack Exchange have grown by forming passionate communities around their products.

14- Analytics– Building an online business without utilizing analytics is like driving with your eyes closed. There are lots of online tools available for the designers to keep a track of the visitors they have on their website like Google Analytics, Mixpanel etc.

15- Start a blog: A blog could be the best way to talk about your work, process, and portfolio. One can also put in client’s testimonials to build more credibility among the first time visitors.

16- Go the extra mile: The biggest advantage a business can have is the personal touch. So whenever possible, take the extra step to set yourself apart.

Below are some examples:

  • Demo Website: Instead of directly jumping into telling people that you can build them a website, give them a mini mock work of the site they are looking for. Most of the prospects will respond positively.
  • Human touch: Once your email address (or contact form) is out there on your website, you become immune to seeing bad cold emails for SEO, web development services, graphics and everything else. It’s always better to send top 20 target businesses a customized letter and t will be more effective than emailing 1,000 with a generic template.
  • Thorough Research: The more you can make it about them, the better. Check out their current website, see how long they’ve been in business, find out if they are active on social media, etc.
  • Follow Up: There are so many distractions in today’s world which can make people forget things. If they showed an interest in working with you but you don’t hear from them again, it never hurts to touch base after a day or two. One can send a brief email to understand what is holding them back from making a decision.

While considering these 16 traction channels, try your best not to dismiss them as irrelevant for your company. Each traction channel has worked for startups of all kinds and phases and don’t let the right channel become an underutilized one.

Winning customers is more of a creative as well as analytical task. You have to put together all the data points, analyze your customers’ behavior and mindset, and devise a campaign that is creative and informative and exudes innovation.

Need any further guidance or have questions. Shoot us those on the comment below.

Straightening the revenue curve

Once you’ve achieving recommended CIH, for couple of months and continuous good sales for 6-8 months, your next job as a business owner should be about straightening the revenue curve.

Might be now your revenue graph seems like this:

What you want to make it is like this:

Look we are not growing our revenues like anything, but we are ensuring our revenues curve straightens towards top. This ensures we can at least have this many revenue at any given month. It removes the basic fear of decision making if you don’t know if your next month sales will plummet. This also can help you in planning your hiring, fund planning, stock planning etc. This makes you now a serious businessman.

Now if we study the current graph of yours it might be a result of the issue of sales or product delivery. But now an effective CEO needs to ensure his curves are straightened on top of which he can make baseline decisions as we just discussed above.

Now let’s see the few steps necessary to make it happen:

  1. Ensure your sales guys are motivated continuously, well trained, and perfectly compensated.
  2. Ensure your delivery people have tools to make work faster.
  3. Ensure you created and operational structure & efficiency into the system.
  4. Ensure you align your company according to a profitable market segment.
  5. Now push the sales & hire if necessary.

And now ensure minimum target is set and make sure your organisation achieve it each month or quarter. Hope it helps :)

Ask us if you need any help doing these planning inside SlickAccount.

Are you selling it right?

I’m not a good marketer. Neither a good sales person. ( my mom warned me not to use businessman and salesman in my words, so I’m writing sales person 😛 ) But when I’m in sales mood my conversion rates in sales go real higher. So here is a little secrete that can improve your sales much higher, as high as 20-35%. Especially effective for people who also understand what their service or product really is.

When meeting a customer don’t talk project or price from the start. Listen to your customers explaining why they want the product in the first place. In web design business, I used to ask, “What do you think a website can do for you?” or like, “Why do you want a website for your business?” You know it’s different than I’m telling what we do and how we are different.

Then listen. Listen till they drain up all their motivations and influencers who told them to make a website in the first place. This is really wonderful. You get to know who they really are. What’s the situation of their business. How their friends make them to think about designing a website can solve their issues. I heard like “My offline business is doing good. But you know I’m missing ways to scale up my market reach and sales. My XYZ friend who came for a dinner last month told me by creating a website I can get lots of inquiries from people who are searching for services like me. Also my YYN I HATE THAT GUY competitor is growing by creating a website.”

Then see when influencers are these, you can’t talk a lot about branding and colors. You should be better talking about if this piece of design can solve their issue. You also need to tell, what else may be required to scale this up too, like may be SEO etc. if you want.

Then I agree to what he said, “Yes! We could improve the sales of XXR OF OUR SWEET CLIENT to some X% by creating a better website.” And they inquire more and I try to confine the discussion to few more lines.

Then I ask, “How does your company want to represent it to your client? What’s the way you do market? And what your customers ask you often when doing sales?” or “I heard about XX company in your space. How is your solution or customer segment is different than them?” See here you are gathering ways you can make them successful online too. For new businesses it may be difficult to get a real picture.

Then listen to them carefully. See I don’t talk the design, look and feel of the website. I talk about their vision of their own company. Listen to phrases like “We want to be caring”, “We are actually good at XX, which can solve XX in the whole process”, “We make products with lot of care and heart”, “As we grow we want to be different than other companies and make our customers save more”, “We hate this, the other company is doing”. If you are listening to stuffs like our customers love it, then it’s time making customers the center piece.

Understand, for every company owner, his company is really good and he wants his company should look good as their sales man. And frankly they don’t know what color is best for them or what style, they just saw it somewhere or think of that would be best. It’s your job to recommend them a color. But understand their brand color and why these colors are or should be there. If indeed.

And when it comes to telling about price, just tell what your best upper price is. Never hesitate to tell. Or else they’ll feel you are cheating them. If they are that comfortable, which often they become, when they reach to this point. They would tell either “OK! that sounds good when should I pay?” or they would tell, “look I don’t have this amount of money?” or “The others say XX REAL LOW PRICE, your price is really high”.

If you get the first one then congratulations. You owe me a treat :P

If you got the last two, this is the time to tell why you are different. They just experienced a bit of it. It’ll help them compare the money they are paying vs the benefit they’ll get for it. If possible you can give them a ROI demo. And then tell how taking low money like others force you not to do good work. Explain them your expenses including salaries etc. if you can. People don’t want to hurt you. They would be OK and love to help you and also themselves.

If they stick to the price stuff, you should understand they are not yet well convinced. Often I say thank you at this stage, because I knew my time is much worthier. And I say “loved talking to you, You can look for X, Y and Z good designer out there who work at low price. They may help you? Wishes for your business, it’s just that my expenses are little higher and I can’t help reduce it :)” Don’t make them feel guilty. Sometimes they bring you more clients or comeback when they have money.

But if you feel the customer worth it, then you can ask, “What should be the price, you think?” And tell “See I can provide you this much in that price and you’ll be loosing XXX”. Look customers love getting value more than the discounts, though discounts can quicken the process. Read my upcoming book “3 Ways to Price: Part-I” releasing coming Sunday, before giving a discount.

Understand sometimes customers really don’t have money to pay you. That’s OK. If you can’t help with price, just refer them to others. I usually tell “Ask me any other help when you need like advise on designs if I’ll have time, I’d love you help you grow.” Sometimes I sit with the customer to figure out where they should start with the little money and then as some money flows in how to improve bit by bit.

But if you need to get to the conclusion. You need to understand why something is important for them and why they put money into it. Customers often don’t tell you what they exactly need from a service and you can’t guess either. Better ask them to explain, why it’s important. You’ll figure things out much better.