How To Recruit Customers For Your Minimum Viable Product

Joe Procopio
7 min readAug 5, 2019

Let’s talk about how we turn an audience into a customer base. And let’s start with how we don’t.

To give some context, I’ll ask a hypothetical question. Once you’ve spent all the time it takes to ideate, build, and perfect your minimum viable product, would you then head out into your neighborhood, taking your MVP from door to door to hawk your wares like the vacuum cleaner salesmen of old?

Absolutely not. But oddly enough, this is how a lot of entrepreneurs target the audience that they hope to turn into their first customers, the digital equivalent of it anyway. Find a lot of like-minded people gathered in one place on the Internet, hit them with a singular pitch and price point, then sit back and wait for the money to roll in.

I know. I used to do the same exact thing. In over 20 years creating and launching dozens of products, I’ve had to learn the lessons of customer acquisition the hard way — a path littered with expensive and time-consuming rejection.

The goal isn’t how many customers we can hit at once, it’s how much can we learn from each customer we hit. The solution is to go after initial customers one at a time, then tailor the pitch as we move on from individuals to groups.

Here’s how we break down who they are and what they need, how we sell them our MVP, and what we can learn from each of them.

Don’t know they have a problem

When we throw our product out to the Internet — the advertising platforms, social media sites, LinkedIn groups, etc. — the vast majority of our audience doesn’t know they have the problem we’re trying to solve. This is why a lot of cheesy ads start with a question like, “Are you tired of…(insert problem here)?”

This is the worst MVP audience to go after, even though it seems like the easiest and cheapest to reach.

In reality, this is the most expensive audience, because even with all of the algorithms to filter demographics and psychographics and interests and browsing history, there’s probably not a checkbox to select the audience that suffers from the exact problem you’re trying to solve. And if there is, the problem you’ve chosen is probably too broad to begin with…

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Joe Procopio

I'm a multi-exit, multi-failure entrepreneur. NLG pioneer. Building TeachingStartup.com & GROWERS. Write at Inc.com and BuiltIn.com. More at joeprocopio.com