Like all of us, we develop a lot of cool business ideas in our heads on a day-to-day basis. Personally I collect my ideas to a Notion table. Then I let the ideas sit there and once the "heat of the moment" has passed and if I still like them, I start executing.
Building these ideas into a functioning product is often time consuming and hard. Getting customers to actually pay money for them is REALLY difficult. Getting customers to LOVE your service is next to impossible.
Here's a story of how I got my first 10 paying customers and customers sending me thank you letters after my service was delivered. One of them even wrote a blog post as a kind gesture of customer satisfaction! With a direct quote: "Wow, you should ask more for your service!".
I started www.honestfeedback.co to build the best possible service to get honest landing page feedback.
There are forums like Indie Hackers and some Reddit channels where quality feedback can be gained, but it's almost always in a text format and usually only length wise only a sentence or two. Testing out, UI, UX, copywriting and the conversion requires quite a bit of knowledge as well..
We have all have built a lot of services and products. And we know: feedback is crucial for improvement. People also have a tendency to sugar-coat feedback or give constructive criticism instead of just being honest. This is due to our subconscious psychological need of wanting everyone we interact with to have a positive mood. I wanted to change this.
Now, how did I get those DAMN paying customers?!
Well this is exactly what I did.
I scoured through this list: https://www.notion.so/Where-to-post-your-project-bc6ce54240884770b2467c3b0f7c1624
My strategy was not to blast to every single forum with: "BUY MY SERVICE!". Rather, I took an opposite direction. I figured, only a highly curated request to a highly qualified audience would create initial conversions.
I opened a posting on YC forums. This posting was simple:
"Post Your Website -> I will give you HONEST landing page feedback - AMA
Hi YC People!
It's Friday, and I would like to help fellow builders, by giving you honest website feedback FOR FREE.
If you are interested post your website below!
If you would like comprehensive feedback on your website please check out my company: www.honestfeedback.co"
Only about 15 minutes after:
I got a an email to my personal gmail account from a person who had seen my service, and telling me he was interested. As there was no posts I think he felt uncomfortable to ask the question using a forum post?
I immediately replied to him and gave him the best possible feedback, I could craft highlighting all the problems he had on his customer journey hurting his conversion.
I was slightly nervous, this was still kind of a nerve-racking situation even though I offered my service for free that night.
This is what happened next:
The person who I had helped emailed me back. The message went like this:
"Wow, I am speechless, this is such an awesome help for me. I will write a post to the YC forums stating how happy I was with the service, and if you are okey, I will as well share your work to the others? Thank you so
much once again!".
Well after that positive review went on the forum. The requests started flooding in. I received over 60 requests to help different people out within 24 hours of the initial post. After that I had to call it, and start asking people to actually pay for my product.
Well that would have been fine, except I got an email from my client stating my Stripe checkout wasn't working! I had wrong format on my redirect page and my customers were actually not able to pay!
After I fixed it, I sent him a message thanking him and asking if he could try to pay again? That was such a humiliating feeling, but somehow he paid! First customer in the bag!
I spent an insane amount of effort trying to make sure my service was the best feedback ever. I returned my work to the customer, again, nervous as hell. What happened next was unbelievable.
My client sends me an email: "Wow thank you, you should ask more for your service! I would definitely use this service again for my other websites. I will as well post a review to make sure others know how good your service is!".
Again this testimonial boosted my business, and I was able to gain the next two customers through this testimonial on a public forum.
As I had some early success with the forum posts. I started repeating my strategy, but learned from my mistakes. This time I asked people to "signup on my landing page and post a comment and I will review their website".
This allowed me to actually start collecting email addresses, which ignited my next strategy: customer retention.
After a person signed up, but did not purchase, my next step was to give them a bite, a seriously valuable, yet a fast service over the email, ending with a request for the customer to order the full service. This worked miracles! I actually started to gain customers and getting positive reviews!
This way I was able to reach first 10 customers. My pricing point for my service is low which helped, but I truly believe that if you repeat these steps, you can definitely get the first 10 paying customers in almost any vertical.
I hope this helps and if you are wondering how to improve your client acquisition checkout my service, sign up and I'll be happy to give you pointers!