Episode 200 | Customer Acquisition Plans for Bootstrappers

Show Notes


[00:00] Mike: This is “Startups For the Rest of Us,” Episode 200.

[00:02] Music

[00:10] Mike: Welcome to “Startups For the Rest of Us,” the podcast that [puts?] developers, designers, and entrepreneurs be awesome at launching software products whether you do it your first product, or you’re just thinking about it. I’m Mike.

[00:18] Rob: So, on our two-hundredth episode, you flubbed the intro –

[00:21] Mike: [Laugh]

[00:22] Rob: – two, different ways [laugh]. Let’s go back. Number one –

[00:25] Mike: Whoa.

[00:27] Rob: – you didn’t say the title of it before – you know, what we’re going to talk about today. And then I think you said, “helppels” or “heps” or something? [Laugh]

[00:33] Mike: Yeah, I don’t know. I just lost my train of thought. I know!

[00:36] Rob: All right.

[00:37] Mike: I know.

[00:38] Rob: Well, it’s 200 episodes, man. And we were just chatting about how we did not do anything extra special for today. We didn’t pull any interviews in like we did for our hundredth episode. We didn’t do a wives episode, but I think we have some good stuff in store today. We’re going to be talking about customer acquisition plans for bootstrappers.

[00:54] Mike: What’s up with you these days?

[00:56] Rob: Well, you know, you put together the outline for today about acquiring customers. And, you know, we talk about marketing and stuff. And I am basically bouncing back and forth. I’m finding myself on Drip bouncing back and forth from product to marketing, then back to product, then back to marketing. And as I put my attention on one, it goes really well. I invest a lot of time, and we catch up. And then I look to the other one, and I notice that things are starting to fall off the rails. You know, new feature requests are kind of just sitting in a queue and not being prioritized, not being assigned. There’s not enough trials in the funnel, because I haven’t gone and updated our ads. Or, I’m continuing to find this difficult to balance, and as soon as there’s a budget, we’ll probably be hiring someone to assist; but I think it’s a fitting problem I’m running into, given what we’re talking about today.

[01:40] Mike: Yeah, I’m kind of having some of those issues myself. I just recently stood up a continuous integration server, so I don’t have to micromanage on the development side as much. So, that’s kind of working itself out right now, so it’s helpful; but I’m sure that your guys probably have that in place. But you’ve also got more developers working on it than I do.

[01:58] Rob: That’s right. Yeah, I’m moving three full-time on Drip here by the end of the week. What’s coming up for you?

[02:05] Mike: Well, I’ve got my personal retreat coming up this weekend. I think you’d asked me if I’d done any work, or put together an outline for it, and I finally got a chance to do that a couple days ago. So, I’ve mapped out quite a bit of it so far and wrote down a lot of questions that I want to answer and some just general ideas about what I want to do for the future. And it’s not necessarily things that I want to do, but things that I need to think about – how I’m going to structure things, moving forward; different areas that I’m going to personally focus on versus the areas that I could focus on, but I’m not necessarily the right person for that. Not that I don’t have the skills for them, just that that’s not a productive area for me to be spending my time on. So, I want to sit down and identify all of those so that I can figure out what I should be working on versus what I could be, because I think a lot of times I spend time working on things that I think are necessary, but they’re really not necessary for me to do. So, I’m trying to fire myself, I guess, [laugh] if you could call it.

[03:00] Rob: Yeah, I think that’s a good way to do it. On my retreats, I typically spend just a little bit of time thinking about my personal goals and things that I want to improve personally, like working out; and then I do spend the bulk of the time thinking about, business-wise and professionally, what I want to do. And so I think that’s probably a good way to balance it – is depending on how intense your business is right now, you can spend more or less time thinking about it, and then balance that with the time that you’re spending thinking about your home, your family life and personal improvements that you want to make.

[03:30] Mike: Also along those lines, my unit test developer’s working out really, really well so far. I hired him a couple of weeks ago, and he’s done really well. He’s actually found a bunch of bugs that I would not have found otherwise, and he’s done stuff where I’m just like, “What would possess you to even do that?” But, you know, the application just runs into problems, and I’m just like, “Okay. Yeah, we’ve got to fix that.”

[03:50] Rob: That’s really cool, well: a) that you found a developer that’s working out; but, b) that he’s finding bugs like that, because that is so invaluable. That’s what I love about having a unit test suite in my apps – is that you have so much more confidence to make bold changes when they need to be made. We’ve refactored the database twice, and I would even consider that is because we have thousands of unit tests that help us figure out what’s breaking when we do that.

[04:15] Mike: Yeah, just to give you a couple of quick examples, there were places where he pulled up the application, and he went in, created a rule. And then there are places where you’re required to enter certain data; and he put in, like, a space, and it just crashed. And I’m just like, “Why would you put a space in there?” I get you’re supposed to put in, like, an account name or something like that; but he’s like, “I wonder what happens.” Just throw in a space, and it just crashed. I’m like, “Okay.”

[04:38] Rob: And what’s nice is then he’s going to learn the app inside and out, doing this, so that, you know, you can bring him on as an actual app developer.

[04:44] Mike: Yeah, and that’s actually the plan. My plan was to have him take a lot of the unit tests that had already been built, and we kind of set them aside for a while because we were changing way too many things, basically in the way the product worked. So, in an effort to kind of move that along, we kind of set those things to the side. And now, I’m coming back to them and saying, “Hey, I need you to put these back in. We’ll integrate them into the build process.” And then by having him go in and work on these unit tests, it helps him to understand how the underlying engine works. And then from there, I can put him into product development as well. But I’m having him put together plans on, you know, how are other people going to be writing unit tests, and what are the recommendations for them, what’s the structure going to look like, naming conventions – that kind of stuff – so that everybody’s on the same page and following all the same style guidelines and things like that.

[05:30] Rob: We have several, new, five-star reviews in iTunes. We’re up to 356 worldwide reviews. Thanks to Justin McGill, who called us “great insights for SaaS entrepreneurs.”

UC-23 said, “I just started listening a few days ago, and I’m completely hooked. Whether you’re a founder, a barista, an IOS developer, or investment maker, this podcast will change the way you work and live.”

And then Kevin Horgan whose name I recognize – hi, Kevin – he says, “Really easy to listen to and full of good advice for self-funded or bootstrapped entrepreneurs.”

And then long-time listener Emil Hajric from Help Juice says, “I absolutely love this podcast. Been listening for a complete year now. The thing I love the most is it’s not just boring, olde podcast. You also get an insight into the life of the founders and the day-to-day struggles.”

So, thanks again. And you don’t need to write a full review like this. If you want to give us five-star, that’s the best way to help us out. You log into iTunes, and you can just hit “five stars” when you’re logged in. You don’t have to write anything. That’ll help us maintain our top 3 ranking for startups in iTunes.

[06:30] Music

[06:33] Mike: Today we’re going to be talking about customer acquisition plans for bootstrappers. And if you look around out there, there’s lots of different types of plans. There are business plans. There are marketing plans, customer acquisition plans; but they’re not necessarily focused on the bootstrapper audience. And we talk a lot about tactics on this podcast, but not necessarily a lot of strategy. So, today we’re going to delve into a little bit more of a strategy discussion on how to engineer your business using a customer acquisition plan.

[07:02] If you take a look at things like business plans in general, most of them are crap. And, you know, you go out and search for “how to write a business plan” on the Internet, and you’ll come up with tons and tons of links, and most of them are not very helpful. They’re either not realistic, or they’re not actionable. And I’m talking about the general advice about how to put together a business plan or a customer acquisition plan. They mostly talk about what you should be doing, but not how or why, and they don’t really have what I’ll call a basis in reality. They haven’t actually done it. So, usually their guidance is just a little bit too generalized.

[07:36] And I wanted to shift the focus a little bit and address specifically how a bootstrapper should be using a customer acquisition plan. And this idea started out from, you know, how would a bootstrapper put together a business plan and really focus just on the customer acquisition side of things; because there‘s essentially four pillars to a business plan. So, we’re only going to really focus on one of them, and those four pillars are: acquiring customers, product development, engineering and infrastructure, and then business overhead.

[08:05] Rob: Right. And at the top of the episode, I talked about how right now I’m bouncing back and fourth between acquiring customers and product development, and those are going to be the two most important things that you do as you bootstrap. That’s where you should spend as much of your time as possible, 99+ percent of your time; because engineering and infrastructure, which are things like your web hosting, maintaining whatever it is – mail servers; general maintenance dev ops; you know, keeping servers patched – all that stuff, it really is overhead. And at a certain point, you’re going to hire someone, and they’re going to handle it; but for now, you want to run as fast as you can. And you want to spend as little time as you can on that.

[08:40] The other one you mentioned is business overhead, which is accounting and invoicing; payroll taxes; you know, handling payroll – all that stuff – general costs of doing business. And that, again, does not move your business forward. So, that’s the reason we didn’t want to include them in this discussion – because they’re the things you just take care of as quickly as possible and then move on; whereas, acquiring customers and product development are the critical ones. So, we’re going to spend most of today talking about acquiring customers.

[09:08] We titled today’s episode “Customer Acquisition Plans” instead of “Marketing Plans” because, as you said, marketing plans are more like really MBA. Right? I’ve read marketing plans, and they suck. They don’t tell you what anyone’s going to do. They’re super high-level, and it’s a 50-page treatise, and there’s no tactics, and it’s all this discussion of “market channels” and “penetration” and this and that. It just has to be something different. And so we chose the phrase “customer acquisition,” because we’re going to be looking at marketing and then funnels and metrics and all that stuff that it really is a different thing than the marketing plans I’ve seen. In general, when you create this document, it’s going to be more tactical and more boots-on-the-ground than the typical marketing plan that you may have seen or heard about.

[09:52] Mike: So, the general strategy for any of those four pillars that I talked about is you build, test, deploy, measure, fix what’s broken and then repeat. And that’s a general process that you need to follow for those things. So, if it’s product development, you write the code, you test it, you deploy it, you measure how many bugs you’re getting in the field and measure customer feedback. Fix anything that’s broken, and then you essentially go back and you repeat that process. Well, acquiring customers is exactly the same thing. Essentially, what you’re trying to do there is you’re not engineering a product. You’re engineering a sales funnel, so you have to build your sales funnel. You have to test the different things. You put it out in the market and see what’s working and what’s not. You measure those things. And then you fix what’s broken and repeat the process. So, those are the things that you’re trying to do with this, and if you’re not growing the business, then you’re probably trying to optimize things. And if the business is not growing, then that optimization is very likely to be premature.

[10:50] So, to give a couple of examples of that, you know, if you have a lot of support calls, there are different things that you can do to alleviate some of those pains. And a lot of people are trying to say, “Okay. Well, what’s the single best thing that I can do there?” And sometimes there’s only one thing. Sometimes there’s a lot of things. If you’re having a lot of support calls, you can fix the product. You can hire a support person. You can add knowledge bases. You can add support videos to the website. You can provide additional training or on-boarding to users, personalized webinars to get them on board and using the products. A lot of the options that you have available depend heavily upon things like price points, who’s using your product. The level of the value chain [is] very heavily tied to how much you’re charging them on a monthly basis. But all those things are options, and you have to decide what is the best option for your business. Sometimes, it’s just one thing, and sometimes it’s many things because there [are] lots of ways to solve and optimize all those different areas.

[11:44] Rob: Yeah, I want to touch back on the iteration cycle you just outlined: build, test, deploy, measure, fix what’s broken and repeat. And you can view your sales funnel  as one, large funnel. Or, you can view it as a bunch of smaller funnels. And if you look at your marketing website in general, then you do want to build that. And then you want to test certain, key pages that get a lot of traffic. And then you want to obviously split-test those, measure and then iterate on it. You want to fix what’s broke [and] try to improve upon it.

[12:10] You can only take that so far:  a) you need enough traffic to be able to do it, and b) you can only optimize a page so far. So, then you have to think about, “All right. Now I want to create multiple landing pages, and I’m going to send traffic to those landing pages from SEO content marketing, paid acquisition, cold calling, cold emailing” – whatever it is. Each of those is then an individual funnel, and you have to think about building, deploying, measuring and fixing each of those individually. And so don’t think of this as one, monolithic process. It’s like you can take off one marketing approach at a time, send it through the funnel and use this general iteration strategy that you outlined earlier.

[12:46] Mike: So, there [are] a bunch of things that you need to keep in mind when you’re looking at what your customer acquisition is going to look like. And the very first thing that I think you need to do is you need to set a schedule for how often you’re going to go in and review this plan, because you can’t just create a plan and then execute on it and then never come back to it; because these things evolve over time. So, you might have one strategy that you’re going to test out. You put it into the plan. You execute on it. You iterate through that process, and then you get to the end of it, and you have to ask yourself the question, “Do I go back and repeat this process, or do I try something else?” And you may need to iterate through the exact, same strategy [a] couple of times before you figure out whether or not it works, but there are times where you need to review that and figure out whether it’s working or not at all. And if it’s not, you may need to switch to a completely different customer acquisition strategy.


[13:34] Rob: Yeah, the thing to keep in mind here is that you’re going to generate a ton of data as you do this, because you’re going to have – you know, Google Analytics. You may use DigMyData. You may use Cyph. There’s a bunch of things that you can use – Drip. There’s a lot of analytics packages that you can use to look at different parts of it – to look at conversions and all that stuff. The intent is not to bring that back into the plan. The plan is just your framework or your outline that you’re then going to use to go out and implement. And then, you know, you could feasibly link out to stuff; but I never even do that. I just have the plan in place; and as I go down, I have a bookmarked folder in my browser toolbar that I can get to all the analytics for a particular push, or a particular section of iteration. So, if I’m writing a split-test, and I’m running ads, and I have landing pages, and I have Google Analytics, I literally will have four bookmarks all in the same folder. And I can right-click and open all four of those tabs at once, and I can do that a couple times a day. And I’ll typically review what’s going on, and then I’ll make tweaks to things as I need to.

[14:31] And so if you’re trying to drive a lot of traffic via SEO, then maybe you’re going to be reviewing things once a week, or once a month because it’s slow-moving. If you’re running paid acquisition and you’re spending 500 bucks a day, then that’s the kind of thing that you’re going to need to monitor more closely, because you want to see when your ads burn out, how your split tests are running – that kind of stuff.

[14:50] Mike: Along those lines in terms of not keeping all of the data there is use your high-level goals as bullet points. You don’t want to go into a great deal of detail about the specifics or the implementation of some of that stuff in your customer acquisition strategy. Really, what you do is you take those, and you link to them into another document. Or, you have them in another document. And that way, if you ever switch your strategy, you don’t necessarily need to pull out a huge section of text from your customer acquisition plan. You can essentially just change the link, and then you’ll be linking to a different strategy that you’re working on elsewhere. I find that this is extremely helpful if you’re doing it in Google Docs; but obviously, depending on the tool that you have, the exact mechanism that you use might be a little bit different.

[15:30] So, with each of these bullet points that you put in your customer acquisition plan, you want to determine what the milestones that exist for each of those high-level goals are. Are you trying to drive traffic? Are there specific sales metrics that you’re trying to reach? The fact is most of the time, you’re going to have at least one or two key metrics for each of these things, and you need to be able to measure your progress towards each of these high-level goals and towards the milestones along the way. So, your milestones are going to be intermediate steps along the way towards that long-term goal, and you need to be able to measure those – essentially, your progress towards each of those milestones – to figure out whether or not the strategy that you’re working on is being effective, or whether it’s not, and if you’re able to match up different snapshots of time back to those milestones, since you can figure out which of those customer acquisition strategies are working better or worse than others.

[16:20] Rob: The way I’ve done this in the past is I’ll have two levels. The first one will be on a product level. So, if I’m going to launch new product, I’ll say, “All right. What’s my goal for this? Where do I think I can reasonably get?” you know, maybe three months after launch, or six months after launch. With Drip, I said six months after launch, I want to be at X-thousand dollars per month of recurring revenue. And I picked the number not out of the air, but it was an aggressive number that I wanted to hit and I knew could pay for a number of employees that I figured would be working on it by that point. Then I went backwards. Like you said, I started looking at what numbers do I need to get to that point. And for me, since I do mostly online marketing, then I know that I need about this many new trials per month, because I have an idea of what trial to paid when you ask for a credit card up front is. So, then I said, “Well, if I need to” – and trials, I know that about let’s just say 1 percent are going to convert to trial – 1 percent of visitors. So, then back it up. Well, then, how many quality, unique visitors do I need? Well, I need X-thousand per month, and then I calculated in churn.

[17:17] And I had this whole analysis, and it’s just a series of bullet points. And I’m using rules of thumb that I’ve learned over the years. I ran it by a couple of friends of mine as well. Just said, you know, “Is this within the realm of possibility,” knowing that once I launch, those numbers may vary or deviate; but at least I have something that I’m kind of tweaking the direction of.

[17:33] And so that’s typically how I do it at a high level. And then with each, individual approach – like, let’s say I’m going to do Facebook ads. Or, I’m going to do SEO. I’ll pull it up on a spreadsheet; and I’ll estimate how much traffic I’ll get from that, how well it will convert, what the costs will be. And I’ll put the numbers in there as well. If I’m going to do an analysis like that, I don’t typically keep it in the same document, but I do have expectations of where I need to be; because if you’re doing that, you know, you’re going to start getting an idea of what your lifetime value of a customer is and how much you’re going to make per month from each customer. And that pretty quickly will tell you how much you are able to pay for any given traffic strategy. So, you’re going to know pretty quickly, once you start running ads, whether something is going to work or not.

[18:14] Mike: Yeah, I’ve found that essentially reverse-engineering your sales funnel from what your goals are is extremely helpful by working from, you know, what is it that you want your ultimate goal to be and then figuring out, “Okay, if I need this amount of revenue, how many sales do I need? And what does that translate to in terms of the website traffic and uniques” Reverse-engineering it that way – I’ve found it to be extremely helpful; because otherwise, you’re kind of guessing. You’re saying, “Oh, well, how many website visitors do I want?” And you know that you want to increase your traffic, but you don’t necessarily know what levels you need to get to, so you don’t really know what strategies to use either. And that’s kind of a big problem.

[18:52] Rob: Right. And let’s say you come up with a number. You say, “I want $50,000 a month in recurring revenue.” Okay. In what time frame? “Well, 12 months.” So, now you’ve got to look back, and you’re going to say, well, where do you have to be at each month, then? And you’ll notice you need a lot of, lot of traffic during that time, and you need high monthly revenue per customer in order to hit that in 12 months, if you’re going from a standing stop. So, it gives you a very realistic view pretty quickly if you’re going to be able to accomplish that.

[19:22] Mike: So, we’ve kind of touched on some of the different KPIs, or key performance indicators, about your marketing engine. And these are some things that you’re going to want to be able to get data for any arbitrary time period with regard to your sales funnel. You’ll need to be able to get your website traffic, the number of email addresses or leads that you’ve acquired, the number of customer contacts that you’ve made, and the number of new customers acquired. And from those numbers, you can calculate what the revenue you’ve received is, what the customer acquisition cost is, their lifetime value. And to kind of step back a little bit, when I say the number of customer contacts made, when you take a look at those four things I mentioned, the website traffic is essentially the entry point to your sales funnel. Email addresses acquired is essentially your first point of contact with them so that you know who that person is. The next step down is the number of customer contacts made. That’s essentially the number of emails you’ve sent that they have actually opened, because you can send emails to people, and they may not open them. So, you have to be very conscious of the fact that just because you have an email address doesn’t mean that it’s a good contact or a good lead. It could be a garbage lead, but it’s a critical part of your sales funnel to understand that if you’re reaching out to people and they’re not opening your emails, then there’s something wrong with your sales funnel, and you need to address that. You know, maybe your email service provider got thrown on a blacklist or something along those lines. And if that’s the case, that means your sales funnel is fundamentally broken at one of those stages. And by measuring all of these different things – and I think that KISSmetrics is a great way to measure a lot of this stuff. But it shows you where your sales funnel is broken.

[20:57] Rob: Yeah, I think it’s important to call out what you did. Gathering emails in a marketing campaign – it’s a great first step, but it isn’t that valuable in terms of the sales process. Building a big list if you have a low-price-point product and you can email the list and have them buy right away – that’s great. If you’re actually doing medium-touch sales and you’re touching base with people individually before they buy, then the size of that list is less relevant. It’s always better to have a big list as long as it’s quality, but getting 5 or 10,000 people on that list isn’t as valuable as having 100 people at a time who you’re engaging with and you’re actively contacting and actively in conversation with; because they’re so, so much more likely to convert and to actually become customers.

[21:40] So, there’s a balance here, and I guess the real definition is “qualified.” Right? It’s how qualified are people who are coming either to your site, or who are getting on your list, or who you’re emailing with individually. And there are products. Let’s take a lower-price product. HitTail is 10 bucks a month to start. People are pretty qualified when they come to the site. There’s a really high visitor-to-sign-up-rate at HitTail because of the low price point, and there’s not a ton of direct competition; whereas, an email marketing app that may be more expensive – it’s going to be a different scenario, where you can build up a lot bigger list, and you’re just gonna get a lot fewer trials. And so the just sheerly the number or the volume of people on an email list like that is less important the further your price goes up. It has to be how qualified are they.

[22:27] Mike: So, one of the things that we’re doing here is that we’re essentially calling out that you need to understand what your sales funnel looks like. And the reason we’re calling this out is knowing what your sales funnel looks like is extremely important, and it’s very often neglected by people because they don’t necessarily know what they should be looking at. Or, they don’t understand what their sales funnel looks like. If you don’t understand what your sales funnel looks like, it’s very hard to troubleshoot it and figure out where things are not working. So, you can’t go back and fix stuff.

[22:54] So, once you’ve understood what your sales funnel looks like and you have everything in your customer acquisition plan, one of the things you need to do is go back on a regular basis and update it. I feel like once a month is probably a good rule of thumb; but it really depends a lot on what the different customer acquisition strategies and plans you’re executing on is, because some of them are only going to be a week or two long. You know, if you’re running some paid advertisements or something like that, maybe you run them for a week and you’re just analyzing the data afterwards. So, maybe you update it after a week. But then there [are] other things where it’s going to take you a month or two to execute on it, so in those cases, it may take you quite a bit longer to come back and update it. But the fact is you have to come back and update it.

[23:34] And everything is going to be relative. You want to be able to make sure that your customer acquisition plan is not so far ahead of your software development, or so far behind your software development, that it throws your entire business out of whack. I mean remember we talked about those four, different pillars of what a business plan are: acquiring customers, product development, engineering and infrastructure and business overhead. If you go too far in any one of those four directions, then it essentially puts your business at risk because you’re doing too much in one area that is not necessarily going to benefit any of the others. You want to balance that out. It’s important to understand when you’re not going far enough in terms of acquiring customers and you’re going too far into product development.

[24:14] Rob: Right. And I would guess if you’re listening to the podcast, you probably lean towards going to far in terms of product development and that you just want to build, build, and you think features are going to be a fix for everything. I think it’s a good point you raise, Mike, of it’s easy to get too far out in one or the other direction; because your marketing can get ahead of your product. Right? You can start driving way too many leads. And if your funnel is leaky, or if you don’t have the features that people want, then you’re just going to leak people out of the bottom of the funnel. You churn them out, and you are wasting enormous amounts of time. And then if your product development gets too far ahead, then that means your product is this really advanced thing. You haven’t got enough customers in it to actually pay for the development resources, or to pay for your time, and so you just burn out because you don’t have any revenue. Or, your product gets so far ahead, that no one has any input in it. So, your customers aren’t giving you feedback on it. So, it’s a real danger. It’s a place that I think we’re all struggling to balance all the time. I know that I am. I know one gets ahead of the other in my businesses all the time.

[25:12] The other thing I want to touch base on that you mentioned was going back and updating your marketing or your customer acquisition plan on a regular basis. I absolutely do this, but what’s funny is I don’t do it on a regular basis. I don’t have a calendar reminder that tells me. What I’ve done is I will typically go into the plan, and I’ll pull out a couple of marketing approaches that I really want to dive into. And, typically, a marketing approach in my customer acquisition plan is very high-level – right? So, it might say “content marketing” and then have a few bullet points below that. Well, that breaks out into a ton of tasks that I then put into Trello. Typically, it’s like: “find a writer,” “find a guy who creates infographics,” “do some key word research [and] figure out what I want to do.” You know, it’s all these steps. So, then I throw them all into Trello, and so it may be a month or two that I really invest much time in that, and I kind of get that flywheel going. And then at a certain point, I’ll look through my Trello board, and I’ll realize, “Wait. I don’t have any more marketing going on.” Like, everything’s product here. I still have stuff to do, but I don’t have anything that’s going to drive customers.

[26:08] So, that’s my cue to then go back into my customer acquisition plan. I then typically do a strike-through on all the things that I’ve done since then that are already going. Whether they’ve worked or not, I just strike them through because I’m not going to do them again right now. And then I start looking through, and I reread the whole plan. And every couple of months, I find myself doing that. And it’s really nice to have that long list, because it strikes new ideas, or even rekindles old ideas that I’ve had, because I captured them over the past several years. Every idea that I’ve heard goes into that plan that I think could actually feasibly market one of my businesses.

[26:42] So, some examples. If you listen to this whole thing, and you’re thinking, “Well, how do I put the plan together? What are the actual approaches that I should throw in there?” go back and listen to episode 152 of this podcast. It’s called “Strategies for Loading Up Your Pre-Launch Email List.” Read the “Traction” book by Gabriel Weinberg and Justin Mares. We interviewed Gabriel last week. You go to tractionbook.com to find out more about that. That has 19 traction approaches, and a lot of those should go in your customer acquisition plan. A lot of them are in mine. And then there’s a really good blog series on my blog softwarebyrob.com. It was written by Dan Norris. It was a series of guest posts, and it’s called “13 Pre-Launch Traffic Strategies.” And if you Google that, it’ll be the number one. If you just take that and you start there and then expand as you listen to new podcasts and expand your customer acquisition plan – you know, everything we’ve said here applies to all of those strategies. And you’re going to be way far ahead of someone who isn’t taking this approach.

[27:36] Music

Rob: If you have a question for us, call our voicemail number at: 888-801-9690. Or, email us at questions@startusfortherestofus.com. Our theme music is an excerpt from “We’re Outta Control” by MoOt, used under Creative Commons. Subscribe to us on iTunes by searching for “startups,” or by RSS at startupsfortherestofus.com, where you’ll also find a full transcript of each episode. Thanks for listening.

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4 Responses to “Episode 200 | Customer Acquisition Plans for Bootstrappers”

  1. Is anyone able to download episode 200? I’m getting a 404 from project98.com

    • No issues have been reported (there have been several thousand downloads). I’m able to download from 3 different devices. Not sure what advice to offer, but most likely a DNS issue between you and the server.

  2. Hey Rob & Mike,

    Great episode. I listened to it in the gym, but I think I have to give this another listen and take extensive notes. Lots of nuggets in here.

    Hard to believe that you’re already at EP #200. I still remember listening to EP #100 not too long ago while hiking around the temples of Angkor Wat in Cambodia.


  3. Congrats on episode #200! Looking forward listening to the next 200! Keep up the good work!