There are few things that are more frustrating for a business owner than a lukewarm response to an initial offering. You spend countless hours developing what seems to be the next killer app or something similar, only to have the launch result in few leads. With such a slight response, more resources get poured into getting the product in front of the right people.

Sometimes, it takes off moderately well at that point, but there just doesn’t seem to be any excitement for the product on the broader marketplace. The result is a modest success at best, and a failed launch at worst. For many entrepreneurs, this is the repeated reality, and they are left wondering what the Facebooks, Instagrams, and Pinterests of the world are doing that they aren’t.

What causes one business idea to become a runaway, viral success and another idea to flounder? There is much to be said about the quality of the product, but there seems to be another facet. To frustrated entrepreneurs, this facet is an unknown quantity and an invisible wall. The result of being stuck behind this invisible wall is clear: low sales. When these sales are to the wrong customers, it can also lead to mixed reviews of the product, further harming the ability of the company to make money. Some entrepreneurs respond with a “back to the drawing board” approach, attempting to develop a new product while letting the old one die out. Other entrepreneurs double down, trying to resuscitate the struggling idea. In both cases, however, the question remains the same. Where did it go wrong? What is that other facet that was missing from the launch?

What most companies lack that keeps their best ideas from seeing success on the marketplace is a solid customer acquisition strategy. Companies and entrepreneurs are generally quite good at developing the product. They know that they need something to sell in order to stay in business, and that the thing that they sell had better be good if they want big results. This means that the product gets a lot of love from the company. It’s well planned, well developed and well executed.

However, when it comes time to launch the product, many companies fail to put the same kind of thought into how they are going to get people to use their product. There may be some notion of a sales quota, but who is the company targeting with that sales quota? Does anybody outside the company even understand what the product does? These aspects are easy to forget or ignore, but they are overlooked to the detriment of the company. Like in all other aspects of life and in business, things run better with a plan. A customer acquisition strategy is that plan.

Those who have done a little bit of marketing research will be familiar with the traditional funnel model. In many ways, this is what we are talking about when we talk about strategy for acquiring customers. However, the sales funnel starts with awareness. How then do we create that awareness? Customer acquisition is, in part, about creating this awareness and getting the rest of the process started. I would even say that the size of your funnel largely depends on the successful development and execution of a customer acquisition strategy.

A good strategy involves identifying, in no uncertain terms, those who would most benefit from your product. Depending on where you are in the process, this could mean starting with your existing audience and considering whether it represents the sum total of the group you believe your product could best help. However, if you are working on the strategy prior to product launch, there could be no such current audience available. Whatever the case, a good strategy starts with a real understanding of who this product would best serve.

This could be a specific sector of industry, a demographic, or some combination of the two. However, identifying this audience sets the target for the rest of the strategy and provides a frame for everything else that follows in the process.

A good customer acquisition strategy does more than simply guess at audience, and involves far more than just determining the audience. With solid, metric-driven decisions, the launch is bound to go more smoothly and to meet more success on the marketplace. However, developing such a strategy is a difficult task to tackle on your own. Marketing professionals who specialize in online customer acquisition strategies know the questions to ask and the data you need to put together an acquisition plan that will maximize and accelerate the success of a given idea.

Your idea could be the next Pinterest, but the right acquisition strategy can make all the difference. From defining your audience to developing the right incremental steps to attract attention and retain users, each element of the strategy plays into the next.

Today, much of this process can take place online, making online marketing companies a particularly good place to look for help developing your company’s unique strategy. These companies can help not only on the front end, identifying audiences that would benefit from your product, but also through every step of the acquisition process. Landing page development, social media marketing, content marketing and to a certain extent public relations all fall within the purview of a full service internet marketing company, and such a holistic view is helpful at the beginning, when you are identifying customers, as well as throughout the various stages of your product’s life cycle.

Ultimately, it comes down to a simple formula. When you find the right full service Internet agency to help you with your customer acquisition strategy, you get more sales. It really is as simple as that, and the sooner you can get involved in such a strategy, the better your results are likely to be. If you have an idea that you think you are ready to launch, you should ask yourself the following question: How robust is my acquisition strategy?

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