We’ve worked with many startups as well as fully-fledged, global organisations.
When you’re the former, it’s easy to feel like you need to compete at every level, for everyone, with every feature. But that isn’t how the world works. Everyone from airbnb and tripadvisor, to HubSpot and Monday.com started with a basic product, serving a known (but basic) need.
In 2008, Airbed and Breakfast (.com) launched in time for the Democratic National Convention, and took 80 bookings.https://news.airbnb.com/about-us/
Forget your ‘bullseye target’, focus on your Day Dot Evangelists
At the wawawi, when we’re working with startups, we’re a little obsessed with our notion of the ‘Day Dot Evangelist’, or DDE for short.
Your DDE is the individual most likely to appreciate what you’re building, assist you in perfecting it, and to promote you to others along the way.
Some prospects in your your bullseye target market set might have existing relationships that limit their ability to try you out, or restrict them from assisting or promoting you. Others might be notoriously guarded and unhelpful, while others we might not know too much about. Put them on the B list, start with the DDE list.
Why you need to define your ideal first customer
Understanding the customer (who they are, what they need, and where they play) forces you to challenge every decision you’re going to make through your launch or growth stage.
It will allow you to:
1. Avoid feature creep
Feature creep is a a number one issue for anyone building out a product or a service. Investors watch out for it, early customers can’t handle it, and you’re going to kill your product team with it.
Through years of working with startups, when companies ‘pivot’, they’re often circling back to the original pain-point and something close to the original feature, full of adoption potential.
It’s an easy trap to fall into. As startups, we’re constantly looking at (often mature) competitors, and we have a constant flow of new and shiny ideas that we just know our customers will love. It’s also often easy to be adding on new features as an unconscious mechanism to settle our own fears and insecurities. Will this work? Am I an imposter? Why aren’t people biting? These features aren’t as good as they could be.
It’s basically like Tom said:
I’m a creep. I’m a weirdo. What the hell am I doing here? I don’t belong here. I don’t care if it hurts. I wanna have control. I want a perfect body. I want a perfect soul. I want you to notice. When I’m not around.Radiohead, 1992
Defining your perfect customer, and I mean your absolute-no-frills-no-fringes bullseye customer, will help you keep your product, messaging, marketing, and everything else on track.
2. Qualify things before you build them
When you’re listening, and you’re in a two-way dialogue (of sorts), watch yourself save a load of time and heartache by removing the guesswork. When you’re building something that genuinely adds value to the individual, they want you to succeed.
And you’re no longer a creep 😉
3. Know how to approach the pain point, in conversation
Defining your bullseye customer enables you to speak directly to them, in everything you do. For example, if you’re B2C and selling a high-end fashion product to high-net-worth women, you’re not trying to appeal to all women, quite the opposite. If you’re a B2B organisation with a product (feature) for development teams, you don’t need to be speaking to all businesses, all departments, or multiple people within them – you’re speaking to the CTO. Once she’s delighted, she’ll bring it to her team, and to procurement for sign-off.
4. Craft your lead messaging
Everything. From your homepage masthead, your opener for email or DM, that press release or white paper. Knowing your new best friend just makes this stuff way easier – hacking out the most fitting and empathic tone, addressing the key proof-point, and just being authentically engaging… in a way that truly resonates and welcomes your customer into the fold.
Struggling to nail your brand tone? Sit down with your 404 error page.
5. Reduce the pool, but not the opportunity
No more “our total addressable global market is 14m, and our total addressable Irish market is 120k” – that’s for later, and it’s for investors… it’s not how you build out a brand capable of engaging early adopters. Forget the notion of everyone, focus your efforts on those who are mostly likely open to the conversation, who will adopt early, and who are most likely to champion you as you grow. That targeted pool is more likely “140 humans in Ireland”.
6. Start playing where they play
As your organisation and marketing matures, you’ll be focused on optimising some kind of performance and Return on Advertising Spend (RoAS) model. In the earlier stages, when the resources of time and cash are likely prohibitive, knowing what channels your audience frequents and/or prefers is half the battle.
Having reduced your target to 140 humans, at least now you can actually reach them, meaningfully. With the right message, in the right channel, at the right time. And you can listen. And you can optimise the message. Hell, you could even call them!?
How to define your customer
There are scores of ways you can map out your customer persona. There are templates and matrixes everywhere, just Google it. Some of the most innovative organisations we know about simply put a picture on a wall, call him “Dave” and put his pain point in big bold letters, annotating what he does, where he plays, and what he doesn’t need from us (i.e. don’t just talk broad AI because it’s on trend) – from which they review and design user journeys through reach, engagement, acquisition, and retention.
To find your style, start by mapping these core points:
|WHO THEY ANSWER TO / WHO THEY MANAGE
|THE PAIN POINT
|HOW THEY’RE GETTING BY (INCL. COMPETITORS)
|HOW DO THEY SPEND THEIR DAY?
|WHAT TIME ARE THEY LIKELY TO GIVE US?
|WHERE THEY PLAY (SOCIAL / EVENTS)
|PREFERRED COMMS CHANNELS (WORK)
|THEY OFTEN SAY (“ABC”)
|THEY’D NEVER SAY (“XYZ”)
|WHAT THEY’D NEED TO KNOW (TOP 3)
|WHO THEY NEED TO INVOLVE
|WHAT THEY’D LIKE (ONBOARDING)
|WHAT WOULD 100% KILL THE ACQUISITION
Literally just created the “8P’s of Persona”, by accident.
Choose your friends wisely
While we can’t tell you how to fully define your DDE here – it’s about your industry, their network, and sifting through real life human prospects, but we hope the above helps you get started.
And yes, all of this will likely limit your pool further… your 140 might have just become 40…. but if we engage, acquire, and retain them… then well, you’ve just acquired customers who are likely to champion you to others.
And that’s something all the media money in the world just can’t buy.