Bryan Dsouza leads product marketing at Grammarly, and previously led various product management and product marketing roles across B2C and B2B at Microsoft.
A startup is a beautiful thing. It’s the tangible outcome of an idea birthed in a garage or on the back of a napkin. But ask any founder what really proves their startup has taken off, and they will almost instantly say it’s when they win their first customer.
That’s easier said than done, though, because winning that first customer will take a lot more than an Ivy-educated founder and/or a celebrity investor pool.
To begin with, you’ll have to craft a strong ideal customer profile to know your customer’s pain points, while developing a competitive SWOT analysis to scope out alternatives your customers can go to.
Your target customer will pick a solution that will help them achieve their goals. In other words, your goals should align with your customer’s goals.
You’ll also need to create a shortlist of influencers who have your customer’s trust, identify their decision-makers who make the call to buy (or not), and create a mapped list of goals that align your customer’s goals to yours.
Understanding and executing on these things can guarantee you that first customer win, provided you do them well and with sincerity. Your investors will also see the fruits of your labor and be comforted knowing their dollars are at good work.
Let’s see how:
1. Craft the ideal customer profile (ICP)
The ICP is a great framework for figuring out who your target customer is, how big they are, where they operate, and why they exist. As you write up your ICP, you will soon see the pain points you assumed about them start to become more real.
To create an ICP, you will need to have a strong articulation of the problem you are trying to solve and the customers that experience this problem the most. This will be your baseline hypothesis. Then, as you develop your ICP, keep testing your baseline hypothesis to weed out inaccurate assumptions.
Getting crystal clear here will set you up with the proper launchpad. No shortcuts.
Here’s how to get started:
Develop an ICP (Ideal Customer Profile) framework.
Identify three target customers that fit your defined ICP.
Write a problem statement for each identified target customer.
Prioritize the problem statement that resonates with your product the most.
Lock on the target customer of the prioritized problem statement.
Practice use case:
You are the co-founder at an upcoming SaaS startup focused on simplifying the shopping experience in car showrooms so buyers enjoy the process. What would your ICP look like?
2. Develop the SWOT
The SWOT framework cannot be overrated. This is a great structure to articulate who your competitors are and how you show up against them. Note that your competitors can be direct or indirect (as an alternative), and it’s important to categorize these buckets correctly.