I’m working on a product launch right now, so anything about growing your customer base in the early stages is going to grab my attention.

There was great food for thought at The Growth Hacking Conference in London on Tuesday. The venue was the Troxy theatre – in the heart of Tech City – and it was packed to the gills with aspiring entrepreneurs, startup owners and growth-focused marketers.

My favourite speaker was Zack Onisko of Creative Market (an online resource for designers championed by the likes of Google and Twitter).

Zack’s way of gaining early traction with customers was not about running one or two over-arching campaigns. Instead, he implemented a range of small, highly strategic tactics. He called this “the hustle stage”.

Here are my top five tips from Zack:

  1. Manually invite your first customers – start in a niche.
  2. If you can, start with a beta invite-only version – a great way to build loyalty and interest early on.
  3. Work on 100 per cent customer satisfaction – engagement is super important in the early days when your numbers are low. Get to know every single customer.
  4. Go above and beyond to delight your customers – for example, send them handwritten notes. They’ll never forget you.
  5. Throw parties – don’t be afraid to invite your customers into a room and get them drunk.

Zack’s overall message was this: if you focus on high quality engagement early on, you’re building brand loyalty that your competitors just can’t compete with.

Give a lot of love to your early customers – they’ll love you right back.

I like his way of thinking.

Photo: Ruben Alexander