You have to FIND customers to
Helpful MarketingTM for Lean Startups
by Kevin Dewalt
SoHelpful, 3 previous
Collabspot (JFDI), Power Supply
(500 Startups), Vericant (???)
1,000s, mostly Lean Startup
3rd Major Marketing Shift
1995 - 2012
You ignore 99% of your inbox
and 99.9999% of your ads
I hear …
“We can’t FIND customers to DO Customer Development”
“I have paying customers … and they STILL won’t talk to me”
“Nobody reads our blog … or opens our email”
Finding Customers + Winning Trust = EVERYTHING
Worse yet … what works in SV doesn’t
work everywhere …
Your Lean Startup stories?
• Challenges finding customers?
• Getting users to return your emails?
A strategy for winning customers by
proving you help them solve problems.
Prove you are helpful and customers will …
• Find you
• Trust you
• Buy from you
• Tell everyone about you
And most importantly for Lean Startups …
TELL YOU THEIR PROBLEMS
Fail to win trust?
You product or service needs to be transformative
Help them through…
Blogging … Speaking … Newsletters …
Face-to-Face … 1-on-1 over Skype or
Hangout … Webinars … Hangouts on
Air … Drip email … ebooks … courses …
workshops … organizing meetups …
hackathons … office hours
But … how do I … ?
… identify WHO is my customer?
… know WHAT problems they have?
… know HOW to solve them?
… WRITE something?
… get them to READ it?
… use this trust to SELL to them?
… create EVANGELISTS?
… get customers to CALL ME for help?
Let’s Do Helpful Marketing!
1. Create a Target Persona
2. Identify a key problem/solution
3. Write helpful content
4. Get them to find it
5. Develop your 1-on-1 help strategy
6. Get customers to call you for help
7. Take what you learn to develop products
& content that sells
Target Personas bring focus
A fictitious caricature of the most important
person your business needs to influence.
(usually the paying customer)
My “Dave” Target Persona
Dave is a 35-year-old American who
lives in Wichita, Kansas. He has a
family, is college educated, and a full-
time job. Dave’s life dream is to
become an entrepreneur and sell
web and mobile products online. He
doesn’t live near a startup hub - and
thus he has a hard time getting
Name & Demographics
Dave is a 35 yo American
living in Wichita … college
Follows regional tech scene
… uses twitter for news …
reads TechCrunch … read
Running Lean …
Dreams or Needs
Wants to become a
web/mobile entrepreneur &
make a living selling online
Challenges or Obstacles
Doesn’t have active startup
community locally, no way
to get advice
Target Persona Tips
• Based on a REAL person
• Have 1 Target – or at most 2
• Don’t sweat details
How to use your target
• Use it to give FOCUS.
• Pick your Target’s PROBLEMS and help her by
providing a SOLUTION.
This is how Gary wins trust …
Need to do Customer Development but don’t
know where/when to find customers.
Engage people immediately when they sign up
at your landing page
Let’s hear some problems/solutions
for written content
My Target Persona’s name is .... XXXXX …
… he/she has a problem …. XXXXX
… I can help her by writing the solution ….
• Pick a REAL Problem!
• Solution just needs to be helpful.
(tangentially related to your product is ok)
Bad: “problem” that needs your product
Polly Lou lives in a trailer park - loves lobster but
can’t afford it.