MD at Techstars London. Investor in 40+ companies across the US, Europe, Africa and Asia. I run a dealflow email that goes out to 600+ investors around the world. Worked with hundreds of companies on product, go-to-market, investment and more.
Meetup is a great resource for events, so that's a good start. Have a look on Eventbrite and other sites to see what sort of networking events are happening in the city. See if there are relevant LinkedIn groups that you can join and use those to find interesting people to connect with. You'll also find that a lot of the bigger/more popular groups will have news feeds with useful links to events and more. Find out what big conferences are on and head along to one or two that are particularly relevant. You'll find a bunch on Lanyrd and other sites.
Ask your existing clients for intros - not leads - but just intros to people they know in NYC. Can they help you get coffee with a few people. If they can and you manage to impress those people, there's a good chance that referral will lead to some work.
Cherry pick some of the people you'd like to work with - specifically ones where you think you could add real value. Reach out to them with a two or three sentence email saying hello and seeing if they have five mins for a coffee. It's never a bad thing to meet more people.
Follow people you'd like to work with on Twitter and build a bit of a relationship with them that way. Use that relationship to potentially get a meeting or a coffee with that person. Maybe they can do some relevant intros or help you in some way.
Be useful - if you're going to meet all these people, make sure that you provide them with some reason for meeting you. Maybe you can intro them to someone or help them with some advice or insight. Whatever it is, make sure that you have something to add into the mix.
The short answer is yes if there is a local station that caters for your catchment area. Thing about the way that you do these radio ads though. If you look at the available data, most reported car breakdowns happen between 8am and 9am on Monday mornings (based on 70,000 reported breakdowns in the UK) while most car accidents happen between 3pm and 9pm on weekdays (with a peak between 6pm and 9pm - this is based on US National Highway Traffic Safety Administration data).
Can you target shows and slots that happen just before or around those times? So breakfast show slots between 7am and 8am on Monday mornings and some drivetime evening slots on weekdays? That might be an effective way to reach a likely audience - along with some spread of ad spend across other times of the day or in relevant programs (think about the majority of your customers - what sort of shows would they listen to and target some of those).
The other thing to consider is trying to offer your services as an on-air personality. There is always merit in approaching stations to spend some money as an advertiser but also offer your services as someone who can talk about general car maintenance tips on some of their shows - so in the runup to winter, maybe you could come on and give some tips on how to Winter-proof your car etc. Or you could just have a general car maintenance segment every week or two. Radio stations have a lot of airtime to fill every day - if you can help them fill it with good content and a good personality, it will pay off. I used to be a radio producer and presenter, so I know how useful it is to have a good person on call for on-air slots about just about anything!
There's a lot of PPC marketing that you could also do at a hyper local, targeted level, but it strikes me that in a smaller geographical area, radio would be a great opportunity.
Happy to talk through in more detail if that would help.
The sad fact is that lots of startups don't know how to acquire customers. You'd also be surprised at how many assume they don't need to 'acquire' users - they subscribe to the field of dreams way of thinking - 'build it and they will come.'
I've lost count of the number of amazing products I've found that are incredibly useful and yet have a tiny userbase. In too many cases, it's because they haven't done any media or user outreach. In many cases, they have an overcomplicated onboarding process. In a lot of cases, they don't have simple social hooks baked in to encourage people to invite their friends.
Why does this happen - in many cases, companies don't have a strong marketing person on board early on. Those are the people who will drive that initial stage of customer acquisition. They're the ones that will be going out, tweeting, connecting with journalists, bloggers, potential partners and anyone who might be interested to get them to write about the service, suggest it to their friends or just try it out themselves.
A lot of the time, people aim for moonshots instead of doing simple, effective things to launch a product. I've met a lot of companies who have pinned everything on a massive partnership with a global brand or outlet without ever looking at something smaller or local as a test case.
You'd be amazed how easy it is to get media coverage in papers, radio, TV and on blogs with just some simple approaches. You'd be surprised how easy it is to find potential users and partners on social media and other channels with some simple searches. It should be easy to get to several hundred or several thousand users with these simple approaches.
To scale from there - simple things like a really easy onboarding process, social hooks (invite your friends, rewards for getting other people on board etc) and a level of activity that encourages repeat visits is massively important. To give you an example - the reason that you need to follow about 8/10 people when you sign up for a Twitter account now is that they lost lots of people after they signed up, didn't follow anyone and then logged back in to find an empty screen. Once you follow people who tweet regularly, you'll have fresh, interesting content when you go back. Having that freshness or activity is really important - social proof and little bits of feedback matter to people.
I'm happy to talk through some more specific examples of where people have gone wrong and how you can do simple things to help acquire users if you're interested. Feel free to get in touch.