Marketing Strategy · Product Development

What are the best articles you've read about defining your first customer?

Molly Norton Co Founder at Sparklight Partners

July 8th, 2016

I am looking for articles similar to this recent one:

which basically highlights the importance of defining your first customer.
I need reputable sources, preferably from highly successful people, of why you cannot launch one "first" product targeted at "everyone". I know this seems obvious, but want to find some really great resources to share with someone.

Bill Lennan Red Rope Social - everyone is an influencer.

July 8th, 2016

Guy Kawasaki has a few books
Chip and Dan Heath have a book
Jeff Walker has one also. 

One caveat - getting a first customer is awesome and they may NOT be a good signal for the rest of the market. Moore's "Crossing the Chasm" has some great perspective.

Mark Aylward Using customized solutions to fill the IT talent gap | CEO, Calculum Partners

July 8th, 2016

Molly I have spoken about this countless times and don't have direct article links but Tim Ferris ( and Seth Godin (, both speak to this issue and are FABULOUS resources for entrepreneurs and start-ups. Subscribe to both and search their archives... Good luck:) Mark

Jeremy Villano Strategy, Marketing and Digital Transformation Exec

July 8th, 2016

By looking for articles, it sounds like the person you need to convince is compelled by authority figures. That's fine, but it's also an easy way to build bad habits in entrepreneurship -- following the crowd.

Another way to handle this that also reinforces the "figure it out for yourself" entrepreneurial approach is also to simply begin to think about how you go to market.You could sit down with your compatriot and start to define some basic outlines of a customer:
  • What problem does your customer have?
  • How will you solve it in a way that seems valuable to them?
  • Why will they choose you over a competitor?
  • What language will you use that will resonate with them?
  • Likely spending limits?
You will soon realize that you can't answer these questions unless you begin to define your target, and that means prioritization -- getting to that "first customer". Even if everyone would love it, they won't all love it equally. And unless you have unlimited marketing budgets, you're going to need to chose who you target.

I've worked with clients who have thought the same thing -- quite literally working with a client now who believes her skin care product can help 'all women'. And even if that were true (it's not), all women certainly aren't going to buy it at an initial $180 purchase price and a $40 refill every 6 weeks. We pulled some MRI data for the client and showed them that for their target price, we're really just talking about three specific segments that will spend like this, and one segment in particular was a great soft target (i.e. a place to start). So while this product may help all women, we'd waste a lot of money marketing to people who won't or can't buy it, or would take a lot of convincing.

Another way to position this is in the context of a growth strategy -- pick the people who will love you and advocate for you, and then your growth strategy can include growing that segment and activating their advocacy to help achieve scale. This way it's about using the segments efficiently and deliberately to grow the biz.

Some of Steve Blank's work could also be helpful for you.

Good luck, Molly!

Michael Schaiberger Medicaid Managed Care & Health Benefit Professional

July 8th, 2016

 to expand your search universe, look also for "CORE BUSINESS" ARTICLES THANKS, MIKE SCHAIBERGER

Scott Taylor Sales & Marketing Director at Cloudia Assistant / Author: The Opportunity in Every Problem

July 8th, 2016

Not sure what you mean by "highly successful"? I would be happy to help but although I have received several accolades, I wouldn't compare my success level to the likes of Ken Blanchard, Hyrum W. Smith or Brian Tracy but they all endorsed my book "The Opportunity In Every Problem". If you look me up on LinkeIn you can see many short articles I've written. Let me know if I fit your criteria and I'll help.

Michael Boezi Writer, Strategist, Educator.

July 8th, 2016

Hi Molly,
There’s no milestone more important than finding your first customer. If you can’t find someone who likes what you do enough to pay you, then you don’t have a business!

I devoted an entire episode of my podcast to this:
Finding Your First Customer

It’s part of a whole 6-part “customer” thread that I did:

I hope that you find it to be helpful.

Best wishes,

Michael Boezi Writer, Strategist, Educator.

July 8th, 2016

Bill, yes--Geoffrey Moore's Crossing the Chasm is one of the best books out there. I ran headlong into "the chasm" in two startups I was a part of. Wow.

Another absolute fave of mine is Brand Advocates* by Rob Fuggetta. I assigned this in my course last term. Not just finding customers--but activating them too!

*P.S. My affiliate link, if you are so inclined. I recommend this one all the time!

Jeff Gartner Marketing and Community Researcher

July 8th, 2016

Seth Godin has a ton of entries on not marketing to everyone. His daily blog is a great read, you should subscribe to it for its value beyond this question.

Oshana CHT President

July 8th, 2016

Molly, I created a wonderful method for defining your target market, how to refine your services and products, or new ones and the willingness of people to pay for them. I can share more if you like. Have a great day. Oshana Oshana's Joy WorkYreka, Ca  96097602-463-6797

Scott McGregor Advisor, co-founder, consultant and part time executive to Tech Start-ups. Based in Silicon Valley.

July 9th, 2016

Molly, I may be able to help. Contact me directly. Scott McGregor,, (408) 505-4123 Sent from my iPhone