As part of the process of defining your ideal customer, you figure out what websites your customers visit, what social media figures they follow, what hobbies they have, and where they hang out. These are all insights into where to find your first customers. However, let’s start by revisiting your business idea.
Remember that businesses sell solutions to problems. Your first customers are going to be the ones that most feel they have the problem and are ready to pay for a solution. If you wanted to start a landscaping business, then people with yards in the spring and summer will be the ones most interested in hiring you. If you wanted to create a dating app then your first customers might be single and in the weeks leading up to Valentine’s Day would be looking to use your app.
In the example of the landscaping business you can easily identify who your first customers will be. They are people with lawns who live in your local geographic area. Leaving flyers on doorsteps will likely be enough to get you your first customers.
For the dating app example, you can start by getting your single friends on it. But your first real customers are likely not going to be people that you know and might not even be in your geographic area. Instead they are going to be people around the nation, if not the world, and you are going to need to go to your ideal customer profile, find them, and talk with them.
With Twitter, you can search for specific hashtags (e.g. #single or #dating) and respond to the tweets with those tags and tell them about your app. Use personal messages when talking with people rather than pasting in the same message to everybody. (This goes for anywhere you talk to potential customers.)
Reddit will have subreddits around your product niche that are full of potential customers. Subscribe to those and answer people’s questions. From time to time you can mention that you have a product that can help them.
If you have a local business, then nothing beats getting out and talking to potential customers. You can try fliers in mailboxes and bulletin boards but nothing beats knocking on doors and making phone calls. This can be hard for many people but it really shows your dedication to your business and is a good test of success.
Approach clubs and organizations that your first customers are likely to be a part of. Introduce yourself and describe your product. Ask if they might know anybody that might be interested. Don’t hesitate to ask for help. The worst thing that can happen is somebody says no while the upside can be somebody helping you get dozens of new customers. Expect a lot more nos than yeses but don’t be discouraged by it. Even the best salesmen hear no more often than they hear yes.
Your first customers are always the hardest to get. Once you have them you will be able to scale your business on the revenue you have earned and the lessons you have learned.