Using A Sniper Rifle To Acquire Customers

Acquire Customers

“Focusing on customer acquisition over ‘awareness’ takes discipline… At a certain scale, awareness/brand building makes sense. But for the first year or two it’s a total waste of money.”

This quote succinctly said everything I’ve thought about early-stage marketing. Most marketers (and we’re all marketing something) don’t realize that it is, in fact, better to do nothing than to just throw a bunch of stuff at the wall to see what sticks.

Most projects have a marketing budget. Each time you fling something against the wall, you use part of your budget. And if you answer to someone, each time you fling an idea, your credibility goes with it. You can fling nine failures, but that tenth better have some sticking power.

In practice, this looks like:

  • Opting for specific marketing copy with explicit calls to action – instead of “awareness campaigns”
  • Tracking all of your efforts (there is technology for anything you’re marketing)
  • Not spending money on a campaign unless you can track success/failure
  • Having the discipline to label something a failure and not revisit it (before tweaking, at least)
  • Knowing who you’re targeting and using a sniper rifle instead of a shotgun

Yes, a shotgun is fun to carry. Anybody can pick it up, pull the trigger, and hit something if it’s within range. But you have to be close to use it, it’s results are unpredictable after a short distance, and a non-direct hit probably won’t deliver the desired results.

Contrast the shotgun with the sniper rifle. You know exactly what you’re shooting at; there’s only room for one target in your scope. Hit or miss, you know exactly what happened, there is no guess work about results. Finally, you can hit things much further away with a sniper rifle than you can a shotgun.

I am in the first year of marketing my book. Nearly all of my efforts have used campaign tracking URL’s that allow me to determine clear success or failure. Many of my efforts have not worked. The good news is that I know they haven’t worked. The bad news is that I am now tasked with continuing to fling trackable ideas before my budget runs out.

I am in a stage where I must stay disciplined and not waste resources on “awareness campaigns” that are untraceable. If your business/idea/product is still in its infancy, look to do the same. Spend resources wisely on campaigns you can track the success/failure of. For instance, my next approach will be using the proverbial sniper rifle to target a very small community of people (former high school/college football players) who I believe will enjoy my book. If my efforts work, results will be clear. If they don’t, I know exactly how much I spent. Find your “ideal customer” and go after them with a traceable, targeted effort.

If you’re not in this stage, you can still track your efforts, but odds are you’ll have more unknowns due to length of time in the market. Your efforts should be tracked, but they will inevitably be more diluted.

What are some of your most successful “sniper rifle” campaigns?