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Managing Startups: Best Blog Posts by Thomas Eisenmann

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Chapter 23. Building It Is Not Enough: Five Practical Tips on User Acquisition

Brian Balfour

Stories about the growth of “hot” startups such as Facebook, Instagram, Airbnb, and others have created a belief that if you build the right product, customer acquisition will be easy. Don’t be fooled. These stories are the exception, not the rule, and don’t tell the entire story of the immense effort it took to grow their customer bases. Finding scalable acquisition channels is a time-consuming and strategic effort.

If You Build It, They May Not Come

You probably have a product road map and a development process. But do you have a process and plan for discovering your scalable customer acquisition channels? For software development, we have well-documented processes such as Agile, Waterfall, and Kanban. For finding product market fit, we have an increasingly defined process in customer development and the Lean Startup methodology.

Finding scalable customer acquisition channels is as much of a process as software development or finding product market fit. Here are five mistakes to avoid in finding your initial customer acquisition channels.

1. Do Not Test a Lot of Channels at Once

This is the ol’ throw stuff against the wall and see what sticks strategy. Unfortunately, this rarely works. Consider this: with Facebook ads you typically need to change your creative every 24–48 hours across 10–20 different segmentation combinations, with 4–10 ads per combination. That is in addition to all of the ...

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