As part of a Mentor panel at a Founder Institute session yesterday, I was answering questions from existing and wannabe entrepreneurs on the challenges faced by them.
Not surprisingly, most of the questions directed at the panel from founders in different verticals, were about getting those initial customers for their product or service.
When probed slightly deeper, as much as the time would permit, we discovered that most of them have not invested substantial time in defining the customers and the real problem they were out to solve with their offering.
Answers to these questions about their customer definition were very tentative at best and some even appeared clueless about the same. One founder said that “anybody who eats xxxx is our customer” and then lamented that he was unable to understand their purchase dynamics.
I believe that one must be able to identify the customer clearly, especially in a B2C situation, from the definition.
I recall the example that I shared at one of my sessions at the Founder Institute of a traffic police constable.
In Chennai, it is easy to identify traffic violators if they target those not wearing helmets and from those they may be able to find those who do not have the required documents like a valid license or a current insurance on their vehicle. But if they are to target those with insufficient documentation, then it would be an herculean task.
Even finding out if a person is drunk is not easy and requires some basic procedures like asking the rider/driver to blow his/her breath.
It is therefore the prime job of a Founder to define the profile of the customer in a way that makes it super easy to identify the customer.
I have often heard founders talk of qualitative attributes like willingness to try out new ideas as a basic part of the customer profile. The moot question is “In a room of 30 people, say, how do you identify someone who is very receptive to new ideas?”. And if you can’t do it in a closed room, then how is it possible to find them out in a city?
And if it is not easy to identify the customers then the sales process is even tougher!!
And this is equally important in a B2B scenario because the time and efforts involved in reaching out to the right person would make a huge difference to the sales cycle itself.
Founders of Startups!! Please invest time and effort in defining your customer profile as sharply as possible and also in a manner that you can really identify that person quickly!!
However, we understand that as Founders, it is very difficult for you to be objective about your customers because you do not want to leave any potential customer out of the picture.
That is why, when our clients engage with us on QWICK, our consulting service aimed at Early Customer Acquisition, we work with them for a substantial time to get them ultra-clear on their customer definition as that is the key building block for a successful launch.
So if you are facing the challenge of getting early traction for your product or service after launch, just get in touch with us to know how QWICK can make a huge difference to your business.
Image courtesy: onlinemastery.co.uk