Growth marketing

The 8 Steps to Building a Customer Acquisition Strategy That Actually Works

Written by Mallory Kuhn / December 8, 2021

Mallory is a Growth Marketer at Lean Labs, working with brands to ignite their growth engine through conceptualizing, implementing, and optimizing growth marketing strategies.

Does your customer acquisition strategy have a fatal flaw?

In our experience, many brands rely too much on Google ads and paid social media posts to acquire customers. With more businesses and agencies jumping into already-saturated ad platforms that generally reward those with the thickest wallets, the competition gets steeper, costs go up, and your budget achieves less of a return year after year.

Ads aren’t the magic wand they’re made out to be. No market-leading brand achieved “top dog” status solely because of their digital ads or B2B social media strategy.

They became category kings on the back of deliberate customer acquisition and lead generation strategies which they have executed exceptionally well.

So how do you create a killer customer acquisition strategy? That’s a great question.

 

8 Steps to an Effective Customer Acquisition Strategy

Often, when we think of customer acquisition, the first thing that comes to mind is lead generation. While your B2B lead generation strategy is a vital piece of the puzzle, it’s not the only key to winning the customer acquisition game. 

You’ll certainly need to generate some leads to have a solid customer acquisition strategy. Still, customer acquisition is a holistic view of a prospective customer’s journey, from stranger to evangelist, ideally. 

Customer acquisition is vital to the success and growth strategy of any company. When you have an unbeatable customer acquisition strategy, you’ll be able to fill your sales pipeline, wow your existing customers consistently, and obtain referrals. 

Every business is unique, so there is no one-size-fits-all template for extraordinary customer acquisition. In our experience, following these guiding principles will set any business up for success in its customer acquisition strategy. 

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1. Dig into Your Ideal Customer Segment’s Problems

Your product or service exists for a reason. That reason is that your customer has a problem, and your business is there to help them solve it. It follows that to make sure you’re targeting the right population with your message, you need to understand what that problem is and who struggles with it. 

There are two stages to understanding this. Firstly, you’ll need to understand your target customer. What does their world look like? What challenges do they face regularly? What frustrates them about their current processes? What’s at stake for them if they fail in rising to the challenges they face? Ensure you and your messaging empathize with those challenges.

Next, you’ll need to take a close look at the existing alternatives to your proposed solution. After all, your customer could solve their problem in a dozen different ways. You’ll need to identify why those alternatives will ultimately fail your customer and be able to show them those warning signs. 

The best way to accomplish these steps is to talk to your customers. Have conversations with existing customers and listen to recordings of sales calls with prospects to get a sense of your market’s most significant pain points. Once you’re armed with this information, you’ll be able to position your product or service as the solution to their problems effectively.

 

2. Identify and Analyze Your True Competition

Before you roll your eyes and say, “I already know this,” stick with us for a moment! Chances are, you already know you need to analyze your competitors but are you genuinely examining all of your key prospects’ alternatives to solve their problems?

Chances are, you’ve examined the competitors listed on G2 or Capterra, but what about the less apparent alternatives? Is there a low-tech competitor you haven’t considered? For example, if you provide sophisticated inventory software solutions, have you considered a manual spreadsheet a competitor? 

Work with your sales reps to see what your most common competitors are. Which of these competitors are you losing to most often? Who are you beating out almost every time? 

Once you have this data, you can work to analyze the messaging of your key competitors. Take a close look at your competitor’s marketing plan. Check out their positioning, their websites, social media, and paid ads. How is their reputation? Are they performing well on review sites? This information is invaluable when it comes to revising your customer acquisition strategy.

 

3. Identify Your Pushes and Pulls

What do we mean by pushes and pulls? Simple: Pushes are the pains your prospects are currently experiencing. What are they struggling with that is pushing them away from their current solution? What gains do they foresee by adopting your solution?

Pulls are just the opposite. These are the habits and anxieties that pull them back. Any objections they may have to your proposed solution or fears of failure would also fall into this category. 

The best way to identify these is to complete a Jobs To Be Done framework. This can help you identify your customer’s situation, their motivation to make a change, the outcome they’re hoping to achieve, and more. 

Talk to sales reps, listen to call recordings, and interview your current customers to help you get inside their heads and fill in this framework. Then, you’ll be ready to counter any objections your future prospects may have. 

 

4. Get Clear on Your Competitive Advantage

You created your product or service for a reason: You know you offer something previously missing from the market. But do your prospective customers know what that “something” is? 

You need to make sure you’re telling the customer a story they can see themselves in and placing your unique value proposition (UVP) as the silver bullet solution to the conflict in that story. The metaphor we like to use is that your customer is the wizard in the story: Your product is their wand. 

To set up this story, let’s do a MadLib:

We help (target customer) achieve (positive business outcome) through (unique mechanism) so they can (transformation) instead of (villain/roadblock).

Filling in the blanks here will help you not only layout your UVP but will also help you show your prospects the way your business shifts the paradigm, offering a solution they might never even have imagined before. 

 

5. Build Your Content Pillars

This is the information age, and in the information age, content is king. No matter what your industry or business model is, you’re going to need to attract your audience with a successful content strategy

There are several different content formats you can explore. Maybe blog posts aren’t your thing, but your product has a fascinating visual component. In that case, you may want to explore videos. Perhaps you’re ready to position yourself as a thought leader in your space by starting up an amazing podcast.

Whatever content format you choose to produce, make sure you ask the following questions:

  • What’s going to hook my audience?
  • What will help me demonstrate my expertise?
  • What speaks to my audience’s questions and problems?
  • What will help show my audience I can deliver the results they desire?

The easiest way to get started with content is to lock down your key terms. Perform keyword research using a tool like SEMRush to find search terms related to your business, and produce content centered around those terms. 

 

6. Create Your Lead Magnets

It doesn’t matter how many people your content drives to your website if you don’t have a way to capture those visitors as leads. That’s where your lead magnets come into play. 

Simply put, your B2B lead magnets are pieces of content that will convert people from readers, viewers, or listeners into potential customers. The key to creating a great lead magnet is to produce a high-value piece of content that aligns with your target audience’s problem.

For example, a lead magnet for audiences who want to create lead magnets could be a PDF titled “The Ultimate Guide to Creating Killer Lead Magnets.” Visitors interested in accessing that piece of content will need to provide a valid email address to gain access to it.

You should have lead magnets for all different stages in the buyer journey, from cold traffic all the way up to your hot, bottom-of-the-funnel traffic. Remember, the goal of a lead magnet is to gain amazing leads you’ll be able to pass along to your sales reps, so the name of the game is quality, not quantity. 

 

7. Define Leads, MQLs, SQLs, and Opportunities

The quickest way to confuse your customer acquisition funnel is to have competing definitions of what makes an SQL an SQL. The same goes for MQLs, opportunities, and leads. To eliminate friction from your SaaS buyer journey, your team will need to be aligned on what these terms mean for your business. 

Partner your marketing and sales teams together to set these definitions upfront. The results of this alignment will help your marketing team create content and lead magnets most likely to attract people who will convert and become customers. It will also prevent marketing from passing leads onto sales before they are what your sales team defines as a sales-qualified lead. 

In short, a little communication upfront can solve you a great deal of frustration down the line.

 

8. Craft Your Irresistible Offer

Now that all the pieces of the puzzle are in place, you can start to craft your irresistible offer. You understand the challenges your ideal customer is facing, and you know how to position your product or service as the solution to their problems. 

You’ve identified your prospects’ anxieties, fears, and objections. You know the result they want to achieve and how your product or service can get them to that finish line. 

Put all of these elements together, then add a reason they need to act now to motivate them to get started. The last element of any truly irresistible offer is a guarantee. How can you give your prospects absolute certainty that they can’t fail with your solution in hand?

 

Test, Refine, and Test Some More

These elements are the building blocks of any great customer acquisition strategy, but just like any skill, becoming great at customer acquisition may take some time to achieve. In other words, your process likely won’t be perfect the first time around. This is why you should take an iterative approach to your customer acquisition strategy.

Once a strategy is live, test how it performs and then optimize the lacking areas. Determine key metrics of success, and keep a close eye on those metrics. Continue this process, even when you’re satisfied with the results. After all, you never know the heights your business can grow unless you keep striving to improve your processes.

Lean Labs offers a tool called the Growth Grader that can assist you with this process. The tool focuses on the six levers of growth, helping you keep tabs on the success of your initiatives. Download the Growth Grader today to track the success of your customer acquisition strategy!

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