Marketing is the most important part of a product development journey and also the scariest. Especially for makers who want to spend most of their time perfecting the product. The good news is that for simple SaaS products marketing is easier than ever. With the number of tools and community support available it is just a matter of how much are you willing to pay. Which could be as low as zero.
Before we dive in, remember that successful and result-oriented marketing is a bit misleading. None of the marketing campaigners guarantees a fixed conversion rate and revenue. Success, in most cases, comes from a decent and useful product. So don’t get intimidated by the marketing-related tasks ahead and failures. You only have to succeed once!
You might have heard this sentence before:
“If you build it, they will come”
Let’s rephrase it to:
“If you build something and put it in front of enough people some of them will come.”
Building something could be a live product, a coming soon page, or a social handle.
Putting it in front of enough people is the marketing part. I’m dividing them into three groups from hardest to easiest: Engage, Announce and Publish.
Engagement is the first and hardest step of marketing. It is hard because it takes a lot of time and there is no way to measure its effectiveness.It becomes much more difficult if it does not come naturally to you, but it is not impossible. The best part is that you can start it before you build anything and use it to validate unstructured ideas in your head.
Topics & Communities
First, you need to find places where you could talk about your product without actually talking about it. These are online forums, communities, and social media platforms where you could engage and share without any restrictions.
The topic of discussion may include but is not limited to:
- Talking about the process of building your product,
- Discussing the challenges faced by you,
- Talking about the problem and solution that your product is trying to solve,
- Replying to posts that may or may not be directly relevant to the problem and product,
- Show appreciation to people doing the same things as you, together we are strong,
- Help others if you can.
At the first glance, it looks like a full-time job and you would think that building the product is more important than spending time on some social network. Also, there is a risk of indulging too much and too close to the conversation and getting sucked into the addiction to social media.
To prevent that, allot some fixed time for engagement. You can compile posts whenever you get the idea or get the time and post them on a schedule. Reply to interaction in an allotted time too. The conversations are almost never real-time and you could take your time to reply and no one would mind.
Active & Passive Engagement
Make your time on social media count. Whenever you open them, engage in at least passive engagement. It includes upvoting, liking, following, and posting simple generic replies to other people’s posts. Always look for opportunities to name drop and utilize them right away.
For active engagement allot a time, and schedule your post based on the perfect time to post on your forum of choice. That is mostly the morning of the workdays of people who form the majority of that forum’s user base.
For starters, I am leaving some social media prompts.
- What is the biggest challenge you face on a daily basis?
- What was your first paying job?
- What is your short-term business goal?
- What are the biggest design hurdles for early-stage startups?
- How can I track my competitors on Twitter?
- Tell me one strong reason why we should check your product.
- Roast my landing page and share yours for my comments.
Congrats, that’s awesome, keep it up, good luck, :D :D :D
Once you know what problem you want to solve, the next logical step is to sit down and start working on your product. But this building could become lonely and demotivating especially if you are working with a small team or solo.
This is also the phase when marketing gets the least amount of time and as a maker, you might get sucked into the rabbit hole of perfectionism and shipping yet another feature.
Although marketing is important, building a flawless product matters a lot and contributes to the success of your product. So, the easiest way to combine the two is to start building in public. Announce what, how, and when you are building. Do mini releases, and share demos, and small achievements. This will not only indirectly help you market the end product but it will also give you valuable feedback from potential early adopters or fellow makers and keep you motivated.
From an effort point of view, it is very straightforward and doesn’t take more time than a daily standup. There are several places where you could announce and post updates about your product, pick at least a few places, not just one, to share updates and promotional posts.
Places to Announce
I’m sharing an incomplete list of such places:
- Y combinator’s startupschool to list your product and provide weekly updates, comes with a great curriculum and forum.
- Product Hunt’s Upcoming page is part of their ship tool. Let’s you gather subscribers and issue updates to them
- Pioneer is set up like a game among other makers to showcase weekly updates and climb the leaderboard.
And many more…
The easiest step of product marketing is once you have some basic things ready for your product. You need at least a name, logo, tagline, a brief summary of your product, and an understanding of who your customers are. A production-ready live product is the best thing to have but a landing page with a call to action section works as well.
The taglines and brief summaries of various lengths become the marketing copies for the publishing task. Don’t spend too much time on it to make them appealing, nobody actually knows what works. Just be clear and concise about the product, what problem it solves and how it does that.
There are various channels where you can put your product based on what is relevant.
- App Exchanges
- Comparison Sites
- Product Listing Portals
Engage: Find communities that could enjoy your product and engage in conversation and submit posts. Try not to promote your product, but listen, understand and validate your product.
Announce: Submit promotional content and launch posts to communities that welcome this kind of content.
Publish: Submit your product to listing sites and app exchanges.
And when they come, be ready to measure the performance of your marketing strategies and improvise. There are several analytical and feedback tools available for this very specific task.
Let the product speak through you, using its own social handles and facades, and don’t worry about the marketing failures because you get infinite chances to showcase the same product.