Co-Founder, Pascha Scott

You’ve just created a new product or service and you’ve founded a scrappy little start-up. You’ve put everything you have into building the product and there’s no funding left for marketing at this stage.

You know you need traction, validation, sales and revenue. Every investor asks these same questions. So where do you start, what do you do first?

Here’s a list of 10 things that will get you started.

1)   Imagine your perfect customer

Who is going to use this product most often, and be the most delighted with what you’ve created? Clarifying this profile will be useful in many ways now and in the future.

2)   Find out where these people hang out in your area

Are there meet-up groups, fan clubs, conferences, trade shows, fundraisers, markets, or shopping areas where these people tend to gather?

3)   Wherever they are, join in

Hang out with these people, join the same clubs or meet-ups, attend a conference or exhibition, shop at the same farmers’ markets or warehouse stores. Wherever they are, meet them there. Ask for introductions to like-minded folks.

The most important thing is to go to your audience, don’t wait for them to find you. You’re brand new so they don’t know you’re out there yet.

4)   Strike up a conversation

Truly think of this as information gathering, finding your tribe and building community. You don’t have to be in sales mode which will change your focused intention at this early stage. You don’t need the pressure of sales performance right now; concentrate on learning. Don’t be afraid to share what you’ve made with your target audience.

Very few people are going to put in the time, effort and resources that you have in creating a new company or product. You don’t need to share proprietary IP at this stage.

5)   Watch and listen to learn

When you are in stealth mode, observations about what these core customers do and what they like will help you refine your feature set. Later, demonstrating your prototype to them will help you understand customer objections so you can iterate your product or craft your story to overcome their reservations. Every ‘no’ gets you closer to ‘yes.’

6)   Document your learnings

Writing down the places you’ve been, the people you’ve talked with and the things you’ve learned demonstrates hard-earned traction.

7)   Reward the early adopters

If you meet people who really like your idea, incentivize them with free samples, reward them for sharing with their friends or offer bonuses for feedback.

8)   Meet these same people online

Now that you’ve met your potential customers in person, start up the conversation online as well. Follow the friends that you’ve made, ask them about the people, groups and content they follow and join in.

9)   Share your knowledge and insight

What you’ve learned in these early conversations will be valuable to you as you develop your product and interesting to the people who are most passionate in your area of interest. Write, draw, photograph and share your ideas through the channels most used by your audiences to build your credibility and influence. This will support your business clout going forward.

10) Use the momentum of action taken to drive your idea forward

By being an active member of your community, you quickly rack up actions taken and achievements made to help you design and build the next steps for your business. Eventually you will be too popular and too busy to do all the outreach yourself, and that’s when the next phase of marketing kicks in.

Good luck with your entrepreneurial journey. The most important thing is to take the step towards your potential customers, make the effort to talk to them directly and learn from every encounter. Onward.