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By Sean Ellis

It doesn’t matter why you started your company - perhaps it was to achieve an independent lifestyle, perhaps to grow it into a billion dollar enterprise.

Whatever the reason, the biggest challenge you will face is the same as most startups: Gaining initial traction with customers. Successfully meeting this challenge requires a dynamic approach that’s both disciplined and creative.

The Internet offers great options in reaching customers. Let's look at a few:

Reaching Active Seekers and Impulse Buyers: OK, so you’ve heard this before: you must fully and exactly understand who your target customer is. And you probably think you know. But do you? Have you interviewed them one-on-one? Have you surveyed them en mass? There are some very inexpensive and easy-to-use Web-based survey tools that allow you to reach out to your customers. Once you’ve captured this data and really understand it, you can then creatively position your product as the solution to their specific problem.

As you initiate your outbound marketing efforts and spend, the key is to be conservative - yet all the while keeping your eye squarely on the end of the rainbow - until you discover methods that generate a positive return on investment.

Generally, the easiest sales with the shortest sales cycles are achieved by reaching customers when they are in the buying or evaluation process for your type of solution - what I call “active seekers.”

Online Search/Adwords:When it comes to reaching active seekers, you be thankful to be marketing a startup during the proverbial “Internet Age.” These days, the most common method customers use to find business solutions is through online research using popular search engines like Google. Google Adwords provides a flexible and scalable way to reach prospective customers who are in the buying process.

Although Google Adwords offers both search based and content based advertising, the best way to maximize your budget for initial campaigns is to activate only the search function, because these clicks convert at a much higher rate. The good news, financially speaking, is you only pay when potential customers click on your advertisement.

When they do click, make sure you’re ready for them. What was the subject of their search, and the ad that got them to click? Create subject-specific landing pages or content that will draw your prospect to an e-commerce transaction or an incentive-induced registration. The customer clicked, so they’re interested… now it’s up to you to prove why you’re the “it” solution for them. Generic content will only result in a high abandonment rate, and waste your money in the process.

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Sean Ellis is Vice President of Marketing For LogMeIn.
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