6 Unscalable Tactics That Will Get You More Customers

The biggest problem most businesses have is getting more customers.

Business owners believe that if they could just find that one magic growth tactic, their business would be set.

Unfortunately, the vast majority of them will never find that tactic.

And while they’re searching for that magic bullet, they’re passing up on smaller, unscalable tactics that could be getting them a consistent stream of new traffic.

The confusion mainly comes from misinterpretation of the concept of growth hacking:

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The only real condition to growth hacking is prioritizing customer/user growth above all else.

However, too many marketers seem to believe that growth hacking must involve rapid, viral growth that makes or breaks the company.

Sometimes, maximizing your growth potential means focusing on unscalable tactics. They cost more per acquisition but deliver customers when other tactics are failing.

These are best applied early on in a business, when scalable tactics (advertising, really high quality viral video campaigns, etc.) are not realistic.

Download a cheat sheet of 6 unscalable tactics that will get you more customers.

I’m going to share 6 unscalable tactics that are often very effective for young businesses looking to grow. Probably, not all of them will apply to your business, but you should be able to identify at least a few you can try. 

1. Trialists rarely leave for no reason

It makes me want to bang my head against my desk.

via GIPHY

Some marketers are so focused on getting new customers that they don’t realize that what happens after a signup or purchase is the most important factor behind growth.

Growth comes from creating a product that is as close to the needs and wants of your customers as possible.

You can’t create that kind of a product going on intuition, without any actual customer feedback.

No feedback is feedback: If someone signs up for a demo or a trial or purchases something from you, that tells you something.

It tells you that:

  • They need a solution to a problem you’re trying to solve.
  • They like the sound and/or look of your product.

But if a customer stops using your product right after they start using it (particularly for software products), that’s your feedback.

Their problem didn’t just disappear. What happened is they concluded that your product couldn’t help them sufficiently.

What’s the point of getting new customers if you barely retain any of them?

On top of that, you need to absolutely thrill customers if you want them to recommend you to others.

The solution? Get feedback: As long as you collect email addressed when people sign up, you can contact them.

If a large portion of your new signups are disappearing on you, personally send them an email and find out how your product fell short.

The customer is still in “pain” because they haven’t solved their problem, which makes them pretty receptive to outreach.

It’s not scalable to email every single new customer you get, but this type of feedback is how you’ll make your customers love your product. You could even survey a fraction of your customers and still get really valuable feedback.

You can also preemptively get feedback by sending your customers a welcome email, asking them how they found you and what they’re hoping your product can do for them.

Here’s how Groove did it with great success:

image01

Try something similar, and you’ll get a high response rate with great feedback.

2. Don’t be afraid to sell one-on-one at first

I’ve started many companies at this point, and believe me, they weren’t all successes at first.

It’s a huge job to start a business from scratch. Getting customers is just one area, but it is indeed very difficult since you don’t have your perfect product yet or any word of mouth in most cases.

Sometimes, you can throw money at advertising and get your growth off the ground.

Sometimes you can’t. Whether it’s because of your budget or because of your product, advertising isn’t always a great option.

An option that I recommend is to have one-on-one conversations with your potential customers.

Where do you find them?

  • Forums
  • Sites like Reddit
  • LinkedIn, Facebook, and other social media sites
  • Friends in real life

Let me give you an example. Say you’re selling a website builder. You could spend time on the startups and entrepreneur subreddits, forums such as Warrior Forum, and many groups on LinkedIn and Facebook.

It will take time, but you’ll come across questions and conversations like this one I pulled from Reddit:

image04

Someone was looking for a website builder with search functionality.

Then, you can send the user a message. Something like this:

Hey, I saw that you were trying to create a search based website. I actually have a lot of experience with that sort of thing and even built a website builder for that specific reason.

I’d be happy to answer any questions you have about it. Just send me your email address, and we can hop on Skype or Slack or have a quick email chat.

Regards,

Neil

Note that everything in this message is about how you can help them, and not the other way around.

It’s much easier to sell to someone when you have their full attention during a chat, and especially when you’re actually providing them with additional help and guidance.

3. Make customers come back with a little extra effort

Like I said above, the customer experience after they try or purchase something is what leads them to become return customers and to start talking about your product to others.

One way you could make sure they end their experience on a high note, which will encourage them to talk about your business and come back, is with a handwritten thank-you note.

Unless your customers are very young, handwritten letters are typically perceived as a caring, personal gesture.

For example, this is a simple card that a Jawbone customer received:

image07

When the recipient of the note posted the above photo on Twitter, this one tweet resulted in over 100 shares (at the time of writing).

While a card will take you a few minutes to write and send (if you batch them), it will return much more to you if do it well.

Could this be scaled? If you have thousands of customers, it’ll be hard to write a real letter to each of them.

Some businesses, such as Bond and MailLift, offer services that will write the letters for you. You just need to provide the addresses and names:

image05

Ideally, you don’t want to be writing the same thing to each customer. So, while this is an option, it’s not quite as good as writing your own letters.

4. Trade your product for something more valuable

I mentioned it earlier: it’s tough to get customers for a new product with no customer base.

People want to see that others have had a good experience with something before buying it themselves.

Translated to marketing, this is social proof, primarily seen in the form of testimonials and case studies.

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Both can provide assurance to potential customers considering buying from you and often have a large impact on conversion rates.

You have to give to get: Great testimonials or case studies are worth several times the cost of your product.

One option, early on, is to give away your product or service in return for a testimonial or case study.

The hard part is finding a way to actually get this offer in front of people.

It will depend on your product.

For some, you can simply make a forum post or Reddit thread and offer a few samples of your product (say 5-10) to any users willing to give you feedback. You can get their emails and go into more details later.

If that’s not an option, you need to be more creative:

  • Offer it to anyone who contacts you with questions about the product.
  • Install live chat on your website, and offer products to anyone who engages.

image00

  • Actively reach out to customers if possible (say you sell a product for bloggers)

Most people are pretty receptive to trying something for free.

Once you’ve invested in these testimonials or case studies, you need to make sure they’re effective. Luckily, I’ve written about it in the past:

5. Have a broad market? Consider stickers…

I’ve mentioned Reddit a few times in this post as well as many of my other posts. Reddit is now one of the largest sites in the world.

Do you want to know how Reddit got off the ground?

In 2005, the two co-founders got $12,000 from Y Combinator.

That’s $12,000 for the whole business, so not a ton to go around. They were left with $500 for a marketing budget.

They promptly spent that $500 on stickers of their alien mascot:

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They plastered them in public everywhere they could and handed out the rest at events or to random people on the street.

Soon after, stickers started showing up on social media and other websites, and people learned about Reddit. The picture above is of Wil Wheaton in the background of a sticker.

I love this idea because you’ll always stand out. Just make sure that your site or product is identified on the sticker and that it ends up in view of the people you’re trying to target.

The Reddit stickers worked out well because they were placed on bus stations and buildings on college campuses. Reddit had a pretty broad audience, even at the start, but primarily focused on young, tech-savvy users (college students).

You don’t necessarily have to use stickers. You could try:

  • Backpack or luggage tags
  • T-shirts or hats
  • Bracelets
  • Glow sticks

Be creative.

6. Get out and speak

Speaking at events comes with a lot of benefits.

For one, it may lead to direct payment, which alone is highly rewarding.

But when you’re first starting out, the biggest benefit is having an audience in front of you.

Most crowds consist of customers and peers (other businesses in your industry).

As a speaker, you position yourself as an expert—an expert with whom many people in the audience will want to do business.

If you have something to sell to those businesses, you’ll almost always make some sales. More importantly, you can find ways to work together.

For example, a real estate agent could partner up with a home decorator. The home decorator could touch up houses for sale and leave business cards or pamphlets for people the agent shows the houses to.

The agent gets a better looking house to sell, and the decorator gets more customers. Win-win.

Where do you start if you want to speak at conferences? Unfortunately, you can’t just jump in and speak at the biggest ones in your industry.

You’re starting from the bottom, and you need to start with whatever experience you can get.

Focus on getting experience first so you can leverage it later to get speaking opportunities at bigger events. If you can get customers from these first few speaking gigs as well, that’s just a great bonus.

To find a list of conferences actively looking for speakers, Google “(industry) conferences speaker proposal”:

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Put in some decent effort into your proposals, and you’ll get at least a few chances to speak.

Here are some quick tips on how to increase your chances of being invited to speak:

  1. Stick to the requirements – Different conferences want to know different things about their speakers. Always read all the details they provide, and try to describe yourself according to them.
  2. Don’t be a generalist – Never submit a proposal and call yourself something like a “marketing expert.” Instead, pick a specific area, e.g., “influencer marketing expert.”
  3. Your bio leaves a mark – You’ll get a chance to submit a bio most of the time. Put emphasis on your most impressive professional accomplishments.
  4. Talk specifics – Part of a proposal is a topic you could speak about and a short description. Try to think of something unique that the audience would love. That way, no other speaker could fill your spot.

Apply to several conferences at the same time because they can take a little while to get back to you.

Conclusion

Scalable growth is sexy, but it’s not always possible.

If your business is still struggling for customers, don’t be afraid to use unscalable marketing tactics.

I’ve shown you 6 in this post, so you should be able to get working on at least one right away.

If you have any experience with unscalable growth tactics, I’d love it if you shared your creative ideas in a comment below.

Comments

  1. Rintu Biswas :

    Hey Neil, once again great article.

    Is there any way to rank a new website (DA 1) with competitive keywords? If yes, then how to do it? The client is in hurry. He is impatient. He has given us 1 month to rank for commercial keyword like: life coach, best life coach etc.

    • It doesn’t matter if they are in a “hurry”, patience is one of THE most important factors when it comes to success in digital marketer.

      No quick answer to do SEO. Create really good content, especially things like infographics

  2. Shaiq Uddin :

    Cool article Neil. No doubt that some of these tactics work really good for every type business especially #4 and #6.

    I’ve been using social proofs and case studies to drive traffic and get more customers from my blog. And I’ve experienced measurable growth over the past few months using the same strategy.

    Thanks a lot for sharing these!

    P.S. I recently wrote a data-backed article on “How Important Are Social Proofs?”. So if you’re interested in starting with this tactic, this article could be very useful. http://www.freelancesupremacy.com/socialproofs/

    • That’s a great topic Shaiq, I’ll be sure to check it out, thanks for sharing.

      Have you done any a/b testing around social proof?

      • Bertrand Hazard :

        Hi Neil

        Great article. On the social proof topic, companies like TrendKite and AlienVault have experienced double-digit conversion lift on demo requests, trial downloads and quote requests after installing our review syndication widget on their key/high traffic landing pages. I’d be happy to share these examples with you and your blog readers.

  3. Hi, Neil! Just wondering how you would get people to believe a product or service is real? Not to many people have heard of our services and they ask me over and over if it is fake! Have you had any experience with this sort of issue?

  4. Hey Neil, great post. It is great to see that I am on the right track. You always have great ideas! Thank you so much for being so generous with your knowledge.

  5. Fábio Mazzeu :

    Hey, Neil, greetings from Brazil!

    Amazing post, as always. I really liked the sticker idea.

    Ps: check out the Quora link, it’s showing a 404 page. :/

    Cheers!

  6. Hey Neil,

    One your first point, trialists don’t always leave because the product was unsatisfactory. Often times, I have some sort of problem that I want to solve, or some sort of issue that I just want to be better at. A beta test, or free download, often is something I think will help. But then I get busy and I look at it once, briefly. And I never get back to it. So it’s not that the product necessarily failed to meet my needs; it’s that I failed to adequately engage with the product. And then the trial period expires. And so I’m still left with my initial challenge, and the challenge of not having enough time to solve it. So it might be worth tracking usage metrics if possible, and then segmenting an email to those who used it heavily and disappeared, vs. those who signed up with good intentions but took no action.

    • Absoultely Ryan, that kind of data will take you an incredible long way. Not only would you be optimziation the sales process but the over experience will change the way people engage

  7. That’s funny you though that! I almost didn’t read the article because it’s unscalable. Interesting to know people would be curios about that. Thanks for sharing that Tavleen.

  8. Hey Neil,

    Again i found informative post.

  9. Colin Robertson :

    Hey Neil, this post was absolutely perfect timing for me. This was great!

    • It was serendipitous Colin. Let me know if you get stuck or have any questions I can help you out with

  10. Neil,

    This absolutely fantastic! Thank you.

    Best,
    Anil

  11. Nick D'Alessandro :

    Hi Neil,

    I was able to personally relate to this post and found it to be a good reminder that marketing is like laying bricks. For most entrepreneurs, it happens incrementally and normally, there aren’t any magic bullets. I believe consistency, discipline and a lot of testing wins the race. I agree, user feedback is priceless and sometimes no feedback or user activity is vital feedback in and of itself. It is up to us to then delve further and make the necessary modifications. I have been reading your posts for some time now, keep up the good work Neil and thanks!

    • You will come across a ton of magic bullets through out your life time, but the wise person knows that there real secret to success is really just good old fashion persistence

  12. Great article Neil..You always provide killer content! And to your first commenter Rintu, there’s no way to rank a brand new domain for the keyword “life coach” within 30 days unless you’re doing some super black-hat shenanigans that will get you penalized and possibly deindexed. SEO is a marathon not a sprint. Don’t promise to deliver on something that unreasonable. Try to educate your client on SEO and how age, trust, and competition can affect rankings. Good luck….thanks again Neil.

  13. hindustan property :

    awesome article.Neil. It is great to see that I am on the right track. You always have good ideas! Thank you for being so generous with your knowledge.

    REPLY

  14. Hi Neil,

    Again a fantastic article! The social proof is working wonders for us…it just takes time for key clients to actually send it through.

    The handwritten letters sounds fantastic. I think we will try it with a few select clients first and see how it goes!

    Thanks again for the great content!

  15. Thanks for the well timed article! Will definitely try the sell one on one tactic. Would love to hear your view on the tactics for social travel sites.

  16. Harshit Sharma :

    Hey Neil,
    It seems tough with these skills because I am not familiar with them. But I will surely try them and will also post results for the same.

    Thanks

  17. Saket Panicker :

    Again a nice article… I’d like to share one thing over here is, although we can use technology to build customers around. All we can do is convince or confuse them but the entire choice is theirs to proceed in the game.
    Even customer initiation stands important. Will be glad if you can write on ‘How to make customer’s a good choice-maker’

    Enjoy

  18. Stuart Ting :

    Hi Neil,

    Great tips and tactics to get more customers. Enjoyed reading the post. Loved the 1st point and paragraph. Will surely follow the tips for getting more customers. Thanks for sharing.

  19. Jason Malikow :

    Neil,

    You make some good points here, especially with regard to one-to-one selling. That technique is a great way to get immediate feedback on a product, on a sales pitch, and prove how valuable the customer is. I recommend it for every young business.

    • You’re welcome Jason, glad this helped. Let me know if you have any other questions I can help you with.

  20. cong ty tu van moi truong :

    “Stick to the requirements
    – Different conferences want to know different things about their speakers. Always read all the details they provide, and try to describe yourself according to them.
    Don’t be a generalist
    – Never submit a proposal and call yourself something like a “marketing expert.” Instead, pick a specific area, e.g., “influencer marketing expert.”
    Your bio leaves a mark
    – You’ll get a chance to submit a bio most of the time. Put emphasis on your most impressive professional accomplishments.
    Talk specifics
    – Part of a proposal is a topic you could speak about and a short description. Try to think of something unique that the audience would love. That way, no other speaker could fill your spot.”

    I Like like like. Thanks you soo much

  21. Neil, I have tried the this tactic on Reddit jobs and it works well. I will usually find someone who has asked a question about my specialty, The No Network, No Problem Job Search and then ask them if they would a link that they would find helpful. While not scalable, it has about a 80% success rate.

  22. Customers do get convinced with such strategies

  23. Neil – great article and I already have an idea I can execute this technique on.

    All of points you showed is very important for almost every blogger who wants to grow their blogs.

  24. akshaykattam :

    Hi Neil,
    It was a fine article, many of them suffer from less customers or no customers, you really made there day through this article, i think six of them are really awesome and worth implementing, thank you for sharing.

  25. Hi Neil Patel,

    First of all thanks for sharing this interesting post. I have found these 6 tactics very helpful, and I have already implement some of these for my business, and get valuable customers. Thanks

  26. Medical Dialogues :

    Hi Neil patel,

    It was an informative article.It leads to get me valuable customers.This time you nailed it.

  27. Alok Jasmatiya :

    Neil, will you please tell me any online resource about twitter marketing ? If on quicksprout, Please give me the link I would love to read that online guide.

  28. Himmat Chahal :

    I remember discovering the term ‘growth hacking’ some months ago (years late to the party, as usual), and googling it. That’s how I found your blog — through a growth hacking inforgraphic or maybe it was one of those super-guides. Nicely done 😀

    I think it’s a bit of a buzzword though? Which I guess is the point of this article — that growth isn’t a trick and growth hacking isn’t a different type of growth dependent on different tricks.

    The hand-written notes idea I have really liked in the past. I’ve received a few hand-written thank yous from smaller stores (fragrance creator; independent skateboard shop) and it really made me remember them / get a good impression of them.

    Never heard about the reddit stickers, that’s very interesting although I wonder about how much they contributed. Back in high school 2002~, my friends and I put free AMD stickers we’d received all over our school. And look where AMD is now! (Just kidding, true story though.)

    • Yeah it is kind of a buzzword Himmat, good eye.

      Thanks for sharing your story, glad to hear you’ve come such a long way.

      Let me know if you have any questions 🙂

  29. Mohan Mishra :

    Great post, Neil. Will definitely use them as soon as I set up my new business.

  30. Thanks for your post.. I read your post in 14 minutes and then read comments in 30 minutes!

    That’s why I visit your blog regularly.

  31. Neil, thank you for helping me on twitter marketing guide. can you tell me the similar any other link building guide on web like yours to read? I have already read your guide.

  32. Thanks for your post.. I read your post in 14 minutes and then read comments in 30 minutes!

    That’s why I visit your blog regularly.

  33. Good tactics! creating a great product is hard and nailing the want/need circle is a risky game.

  34. Neil,
    Great post.
    I found point no2. Don’t be afraid to sell one-on-one at first – is very useful.

    Thank you and trying to get some customers.
    Deb

  35. One thing people fail to realize is in order to get to those masses of social followers, they have to create quality content for their blog or website. And have good social networking relationship building skills too.

  36. Hii , Niel
    I Liked the concept of Reddit. Yes, your are very right the concept of stickers is very nice for attracting more customers towards our business . because the images look more impressive than the text and in digital media everything should be digital so it’s a great idea I will also use it for me as well as for my clients. creating a decent stylish sticker then I will promote it on social media and the physycal world also .
    Thank you so much for this use full information with us.!!

    • You’re welcome Aditya, I’m glad this information was helpful

      Visual content will always produce a better response then text based. Next year 80% of the internet traffic will be videos

  37. I worked offline for 15 years and I can say the offline work is easy and profit module is clear to set But when I decied to build my own work and looked to Internet to be my workplace.

    I found that the offline work is Heaven to online work.

    You need to have:

    – Idea(s).
    – P/L Module. (profit/loss).
    – ToDo List.
    – Start working.
    – Building the team.
    – Check the project health.
    – Continue / Rebuild the project.
    – Invest in your self (learning/reading).
    – Never stop…..

    And, start over again, again and again, because, if you stopped, your competitor will eat you.

    Working online is so heavy work, but, I love it.

    Thanks Neil for useful tips and I found (stickers) is GREAT idea.

  38. Naveen karma :

    Amazing information share you, Neil. It is reliable news for getting more customers.

  39. This tactic simply assures any business to get more customer. Thanks for writing valuable post with all of us.

  40. Great suggestion and tactics to get huge customers. Thank you for an awesome post shared here.

  41. I am using this tactics and it so helpful for me.

  42. That’s a great way of explanation. Experience matters a lot and that’s revealing here. Thanks for the great post. You Rock Neil 🙂

  43. It’s my first time over here and I’m looking forward to reading more articles.

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