discover your customer acquisition secret

How To Discover Your Best Customer Acquisition Secret

Increasing sales is always a demanding task. Sometimes it's daunting and you don't know where to begin. For most business owners, growth is always the number one priority. But where do you find it? How do you make it happen?

When you are faced with the task of growing your membership or subscription business, it's often helpful to think in terms of marketing “channels.” Marketing channels (also referred to as customer acquisition channels) are the roads that lead prospects back to your business. These are things we’re all familiar with: social media, email, and advertising. 

In order to increase sales for your online business, it’s critical to understand the intersection between your chosen marketing channels and your product/offer. This intersection is where conversion happens, where someone decides to buy or bounce away from your product. 

We have more marketing channels available right at our fingertips than ever before. Seriously. If you’re still trying to nail down the ideal marketing channel for your business, it’s easy to get overwhelmed by all of the different options out there. Combine that with a bit of “shiny object syndrome” and it’s easy to spin your wheels and make little true progress in your business.

Here’s a short list of the most common channels used by online entrepreneurs and business owners these days:

Content Marketing:
  • Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
  • Email Marketing
  • Guest Blogging
  • YouTube
  • Help A Reporter Out (HARO)
  • Quora
  • Viral Publicity Stunts 
  • Contents, Giveaways, Etc.
Paid Advertising: 
  • AdWords
  • Facebook Ads
  • Display/Banner Ads
  • Offline Advertising
  • Direct Mail
  • Affiliate Marketing / Joint Ventures
Social Media: 
  • Facebook 
  • Instagram
  • Pinterest
  • LinkedIn
  • Reddit
  • Snapchat

Often times, newer entrepreneurs underestimate the importance of having a good understanding of which marketing channels will be responsible for the growth of their business. “Build it and they will come,” is never a good business strategy.

You have to get out there, where your potential clients are, and let them know you exist. Yet, a haphazard, shotgun style, “dip-your-toes in a bunch of different channels” approach can be cost-prohibitive (not to mention exhausting!) and yield inconclusive results at best. 

True, sustainable success comes when you identify your “customer acquisition secret” (don’t worry, we’ll explain what that is later in this post) and become a master of that channel. By now you’re probably thinking… “Where do I start? Where exactly are those potential clients? And where is the best place to reach them?”

That’s why in this post I’m going to explore these questions with you and outline the process I’ve used time and time again to build profitable online businesses. 

Let’s dive in.
marketing channel

Know Your Product Inside & Out

Before we even begin to consider finding your ideal customer acquisition channel, you need to become the world’s leading expert on whatever it is your selling – whether it’s an online course, membership, or any other digital product. 

I learned this principle from Eugene Schwartz – an old-school direct response copywriter. His message was that as a marketer, sales person, or a copywriter, your number one job is to get under the hood and inspect the entire car front to back and. 

Your job as a marketer is to know the intricacies of the product you’re selling and bring all of that to force when you're crafting a value proposition. Imagine what could happen if you just took a cursory overview of a product and then tried to sell it. You could be missing enormous parts of the picture and risk losing the interest or trust of your audience.

Harness The Power Of Long Copy

I will say right away that I'm a big fan of long copy. If you have something that you're trying to sell, long copy will generally outperform short copy. That is because if you're selling something of value and you have the right person in front of you, reading your website, they will pay attention, they will read all the words. If they don't read all the words, at least they will think this is very complete, it's very robust, this looks solid and they will take the dive.

Discover Your Customer Acquisition Secret

One of the best pieces of advice I’ve ever received was from a man named Mark Ford. He is a major partner in Agora and very, very successful as a direct response marketer. He said to me, “every business has a customer acquisition secret.” I always thought that was intriguing. There's a little bit of a mystery to it, there's something about this that gets your attention.

What he's saying is that there's generally going to be one thing that just really works in acquiring customers. You have to figure out what that is. You want to know what your competitors are doing and what businesses you admire are doing. You need to figure that out. 

In fact, most successful businesses are only built on one customer acquisition channel. This means that you can do everything from content marketing to paid advertising, you can go to events, do press, and on and on and on. However, it’s highly likely that only one of these channels is going to move the dial in your business.
learn about marketing channels and how to acquire customers

Research Your Customer Acquisition Channels

Identifying your best customer acquisition channel comes down to research. Looking at all the viable channels out there and then understanding the hooks that work in those channels. Thinking about these two things and doing this kind of research can pay off enormously.

For example, if you think about what's happening on Instagram, it’s a marketing channel that’s built around photos, photography, and short snippets of video. When I look at the apps that have a lot of downloads and I look at these clothing manufacturers that are doing well, they're building their entire sales process around Instagram.

When you click ‘learn more’ from Instagram and you ultimately end up on the seller’s website – that landing page almost mimics Instagram often times. There's sort of a developing standard, if you will, for products being sold from Instagram. It's important to understand those trends because if you build a landing page and you're not considering the entire customer journey from a channel to the landing page, there’s going to be a lot of drop-off. That drop off is where you lose people. 

Work Backwards 

Now this might sound a bit counter-intuitive, but if you're building a business, I would go so far as to say that you should pick your customer acquisition channel first. Rather than your product or service. While I’m being a little facetious, what I'm really trying to clarify is that you absolutely need to be an excellent operator in at least one specific customer acquisition channel. 

If you're going to build a business, be great at Facebook advertising, SEO, Pinterest, or LinkedIn. There are so many unique marketing channels out there and you’ve got to discover the one that will work best for your business.
customer marketing channels

Design Your Product To Match Your Channel

Before we move on, I need to mention something that's extraordinarily important. Your product should be designed to suit the channel and the needs of the channel. This is sort of a radical idea. Amazon is a fantastic example of this idea. Amazon is a massive marketing channel if not one of the biggest. 

There are more retail goods sold on Amazon and anywhere else, period. When you are a manufacturer or a vendor selling a product on Amazon, you are thinking of things like how can I make the packaging as small and as condensed as possible? Because it keeps the shipping costs down and it keeps the warehousing costs down, which allows you to compete in the channel known as Amazon. 

The best Amazon sellers are designing their product and their packaging to be lightweight and small and as cost effective as possible because it allows them to compete in that channel. You can go out there on Amazon and read the guides on how to design your product and how to make it most effective for Amazon. 

That is a direct lesson from one of the biggest sales channels in the world. Design your product to suit a channel – whether it’s an online course, access to exclusive content, or a physical good or product. This is critical.

Channel The Existing Desires Of Your Market

It is really important to understand the distinction between channeling existing desire, and attempting to create desire. This is truly where marketing becomes both an art and a science. Let’s go back to Breakthrough Advertising and Eugene Schwartz. 
Breakthrough Advertising Book
What he says in that book, he says there are desires in the world that humans have that have always been around. We have a foundational set of basic desires:  to be loved, adored, secure, safe, etc. These are base human desires that will never go away. 

Also, we want things to be easy (and ideally fun). You work from a level of desire and say we have this product, what are the main desires that somebody is going to have who is searching for a product like this? Then you have to start there and say, “what are the features and benefits of my product that most connect with this existing desire?” This is critical. You're not trying to push your product on somebody. That’s a mistake. What you are doing is connecting your product to their existing desire.

“Every business has a customer acquisition secret. There's generally going to be one thing that really works in acquiring customers. You have to figure out what that is. In practice, what I've found is that there will be one or two channels that really work well to move the dial.”

Talk To Your Customers

This all points to the necessity of customer research. I'm a huge fan of interviewing people in my market. We can even take a step back and ask, “what is a market?” We use this word all of the time – marketing – but what does it actually mean? A market is defined by a group of people who all have the same set of needs. People that are in the market for a car, they need transportation. That’s how a market is defined, it's defined by a need. 

So you have to think about your market’s biggest needs. Sure, you have your product and you can talk all day about it. I could say, “Eric I have this guitar it's beautiful and it has this beautiful finish and it has these amazing pick-ups and these tuners are so shiny and smooth…” but you don’t play the guitar. You play piano. 

So, I can talk all day about it but you're going to say, “Dan I don't care, it sounds great but go away you're annoying,” because I'm not connecting to your needs. Other than channel, that is the next biggest thing. It's making sure that you're connecting with a real need.
membership site marketing channels

Wrapping Up

And that, my friends, is the lay of the land. As you consider different tactics to grow your business, consider each of these channels. Which have worked for similar businesses? Which are your competitors using? Which may contain untapped opportunities? Try as many as you can, and also try not to have too many preconceived notions about which will work and which will not. As you start to test each marketing channel, scale up the tactics that work, and cut back on the things that don't.

The idea for this article originated in a podcast episode I recorded with Eric, the founder & CEO of MemberMouse. If you'd like to hear us explore these topics and how they relate to designing high-converting landing pages, I highly recommend you listen to our episode here: Landing Page Secrets & Strategies.

Dan Caron

Dan is a business strategy, positioning, and copywriting guy. He’s sold over 10M dollars direct to consumer over the web. Dan believes that developing high quality products that solve widespread, urgent needs is the key to business success—and that recurring revenue models are the easiest businesses to scale when you make lifetime customer value your highest priority metric. You can read Dan’s Success Guide to learn his approach to growing a membership site into 7 figures. He’s been featured in MarketingSherpa and Mixergy.

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