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Always Start by Making a Customer Acquisition Plan

Last year a friend and also kind-off the co-founder of my first company came along with what I thought was a ridiculous idea. Despite a career as CFO of leading international operating companies and having worked in that capacity in Europe, China, and the USA, he wants to quit and create a game app.


Despite his busy jobs, he had not forgotten programming and as a Sudoku fan, he wanted to put together a Sudoku App himself. Even though I have seen many ‘special ideas’ in my career and am usually open to everything, I did not see the point in this and immediately thought of a midlife crisis.


But you take friends seriously and so I started a quick scan of the market and the information he had already collected was correct. How could it be otherwise as a true CFO? The gaming market and certainly the Sudoku app market is booming! He would develop the app himself and I would work with him on the strategy, and the business model and take on the marketing. In other words, how do you get enough downloads? In official terms: The customer acquisition plan.


First a good product or first knowing how to get customers?

The heading is a bit misleading because I firmly believe that every startup should start with a clear purpose and a strategy that shows how to meet a certain need of a target group. But of course, we already had that ready when we could talk about the quality of the game app and the customer acquisition methodology.


The problem is that my friend insisted on developing the app himself and therefore had little (or no) time for meetings. I also had little time, because I did this project as a favor to my friend in between work. The result was little progress in the field of customer acquisition.


Even though I have little or no experience with game apps, I knew one thing for sure. If you have a fantastic app, but you haven't set up your acquisition plan, it's better not to launch anything, because you usually don't have to count on downloads. 


Another problem was and usually is in practice that activating your customer acquisition plan takes time. Once your plan is ready, it may take weeks or months before it is implemented. This is not useful information if you know that when a (game) app is launched, the number of downloads in the first weeks is crucial for its further success.


Fortunately, my friend is not stubborn, so he decided to give his full attention to the app because in his opinion the quality of this Sudoku app had to exceed 100%. Logical and I am always in favor of it, but if you launch a top app without downloads, no one will notice that quality.


First, complete your new study and then find customers or vice versa

My friend's story is not an isolated one. Another friend of mine wants to become a holistic nutrition coach. She always taught English at home and because that market is declining due to the competition and because of her passion for healthy eating and living, she decided to follow a training course in this.


When I spoke to her about this, she had time to call, but she had not yet thought about difficult questions about her business model, her marketing, or in more detail how she is going to position themselves. First I have to complete my study and that was quite tough, she told me.