How Will Your Startup Get, Keep And Grow Its Customers Base?

I bet you’ve been working hard on thinking about your solution design and features. Right?

But, what about your strategy to call customers’ attention towards your product or service? What about your plan to make them start and keep using it? And how will you make them buy more from you?

These are questions related to the Customer Relationship element of your business model canvas and to answer these questions is fundamental.

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It’s very likely that you, as a new startup founder, think your success depends solely on how good your solution is. That’s only half true.

Without a clear strategy to reach your customers and convince them to use your product, you’ll have to wait a long time to that happen organically.

You know how many commercial stimuli you receive every day. Don’t you? How many of them you just ignore? Maybe the most of it. Right?

Now, imagine how difficult it would be a new service to come to you organically. That’s why, not taking care of your Get, Keep and Grow strategy may prevent you from finding traction in time (i.e., before you spend all your cash or a competitor conquer the market).


This customer-relationship brief describes how you get customers into your sales channel, keep them as customers and grow additional revenue from them over time.

Steve Blank / Bob Dorf – The Startup Owner’s Manual


Your GET strategy refers to your efforts on making your customers to:

  1. Be aware of your solution: that’s how you’ll call people’s attention and make them realize your product/service exists.
  2. Be interested in your solution: after seeing your product for the first time, they must be able to connect their problem to it. Aligning your message to connect with your customers’ lives is essential.
  3. Consider buying from you: based on their initial interest in your solution, you must present some advantages of your product when compared to other alternatives.
  4. Purchase your solution: This is the stage in which you’ll work to solve any doubt your customers might have to take the last step. Are there any worries about your startup? About the price?

If you’re building a digital solution, you need to replace the “Purchase” phase by “Acquisition” and “Activation”.

Acquisition refers to the step taken by the customer that represents the beginning of the relationship with your startup, by providing you evidence (information) that he/she is willing to use your solution.

For instance, if a customer signup for the free tier of your app, you have acquired a user. That’s the evidence that he/she wants to start using it.

On the other hand, Activation is the evidence that a customer is using your solution.

Following my previous example, if the user has started using your app features, congratulations: you have an active customer.


No, it’s not just about convincing people to buy from you or start using your solution. You need to define a strategy to make them repeat the process.

Think about all the efforts you have to do to convince someone to start using your product. It certainly costs you some time and money.

However, if your current customers are satisfied with the value you deliver they will keep buying and, consequently, your GET costs will be zero for them.

Customer retention is mainly associated with customer satisfaction as well as the advantages of buying from you when compared to alternatives.

So, when designing strategies to retain your customers, always consider measuring their satisfaction and understanding what is not contributing to customer success or what could be improved.

And remember to constantly analyze market alternatives that may convince your customers to stop using your product.


Finally, you must define a strategy to grow the relationship you have with your customers.

“To grow” means to look for opportunities of making your current customers to buy more from you or making them bring new customers to your solution.

What kind of complementary products/services you may sell them after buying from you? Maybe it would be a good strategy to break the product into several “smaller” products so you could convince people that wouldn’t buy the whole product from your startup.

Besides making current customers to buy more from your startup, you may incentivize them to refer your solution to other customers. Referrals are certainly a powerful resource you should try to nurture to grow your customers base.


Customer relationship is the most dynamic element of your business model canvas. On one hand, to discover which are the most effective strategies you’ll have to test several ones. On the other hand, channels and messages get saturated and, from time to time, things that used to work won’t have the same effect anymore.

So, start by designing some strategy. To do that, consider all the previous knowledge you gather about your customers’ personas and their journeys. What would be the best ways to get each one of these personas? And to keep them? What about growing them?


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