Getting Started With Organic Channels

The 1 Line Description

Utilizing non-paid channels to market your Startup

When to use it

When deciding on a marketing strategy.

Key Ideas

* This article is a summary of Founders Factory Africa (FFA) content & delivered by Steve Waidelich. [ Summarized by Ighlaas Carlie ]

* A big thanks to FFA for allowing us access to their content!

Getting Started With Organic Channels

Using Organic channels to get your first customer as a startup

This playbook is written to enable startup founders with limited resources such as employees, time, and money to get their first 10, 100, 1000 users/customers.

When it comes to getting your first set of customers, as a new startup, the focus is mostly on paid channels because it is quick to get in traction, you can just kickstart a Facebook ad and start seeing traction the next day, but it is also costly. So we try as much as possible in FFA (Founders Factory Africa) to encourage founders and startups to utilize organic channels/non-paid in getting that first customer. 

We understand the limitations of non-paid channels as it can take time and effort to create, and you can’t see the results immediately, which can be discouraging. 

There are best practices for utilizing non-paid channels to get in your first 10, 100 and 1000 customers that you can use to accelerate your business growth in a short period of time. 

Non-Paid Channels

There are different non-paid channels depending on the context of your Startup.

They include:

  • SEO and Content Marketing
  • Email Marketing
  • Social Media Marketing
  • Community Building

There are links provided on the right hand side to articles explaining each of these channels, and actionable steps when utilizing them.

Each channel can be used as an acquisition tool to get your first 10–100 customers. Don’t spread yourself too thin, the best advice is to validate the one channel that has potential of bringing in your customers and focus your resources on that channel. Choosing a channel will depend on your resources and objectives. For example, a B2B facing startup might have more luck with Email Marketing as opposed to a B2C startup having more success with Social Media marketing.

This was Thumbtack’s early days strategy.

Resources were limited, so we took the approach that we needed to choose bets carefully, and when we did choose, to go all in with basically 100% of our resources. We viewed everything else as a distraction. - Sander Daniels (Co-founder of Thumbtack)

How to validate the right channel

Competitor Analysis

How are competitors in your industry currently acquiring customers organically? What are their customer acquisition channels and most used channels for growth? Having an idea of the organic channels your competitors are currently using in the market can give you an idea of which channels are likely to work for your Startup, as you are likely to have the same target markets.

Analogous companies

What are companies in adjacent spaces using for customer acquisition. Some companies might not be your direct competitors but have similar target market or business model as you; these companies can give you a direction on which organic channels to work with.

Market Validation

For SEO/content marketing doing keyword research can give you a signal if your target market is actively searching for solutions that you offer. If you see keywords with high search volume then you know that SEO can be a profitable channel to utilize. Also, sending surveys or carrying out customer interviews and asking simple questions like how often do you read emails and make purchases from email offers? Will you trust a brand more if you are part of the brand’s community? How often do buyers purchase offers from social media? Questions like these can give you signals on which organic channels will resonate more with your potential customers. This will be useful for customer acquisition.

Evaluate internal resources

Organic channels are free but you still need human resources to execute. SEO/Content marketing requires having content writers (full-time or freelancers) and content strategist/marketers. You need to pay for Email marketing automation software before you can get started with Email marketing. You need to count the cost and make sure you have the resources to cover it before choosing a channel to work with.

Bringing it All Together

After validating the right channel for your startup based on the four categories above, you should be comfortable to go all in on that channel.

An example: You decide to go with SEO/Content marketing as it’s been proven successful by your competitors or startups in a different but related sector, has good search potential (volume and relevance), and you have the resources to bring in content writers and strategists to make it work. You direct the majority of or all of your marketing efforts to SEO & Content Marketing.