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You built an amazing product, how do you let your clients know that it exists?


#1

I know that this is the bane for the existence of pretty much any business (“how do I sell?”), but I’d like to go a little deeper over that issue.

Let’s say you finished building a service that you know, without a doubt, that:

  1. Completely fulfills a particular market need, and I mean, it honestly gets the job done, it doesn’t lack any fundamental features and usability/UX is top notch.
  2. Is something that is being sought after, your market wants something like this, they just don’t know where to get it.
  3. Is priced reasonably in relation to the problem that is solving. 9/10 people wouldn’t hesitate to acquire it at the asked price, or better yet, it actually helps the client save on a significantly larger amount of money than what they would pay for your product.

One would expect such a service to pretty much sell by itself, but the reality is far from it. Relevant people lack the knowledge that this product exists (just because you made it, doesn’t mean it magically appears in people’s radar), and this is still an obstacle that one needs to overcome in order for a product to succeed in the market.

How do you approach that?
There are two straightforward answers that can be proved to work for some kind of business but I think that for the majority of scenarios that are encountered by bootstrapping entrepreneurs they don’t work and I’ll explain why.

Straightforward Strategy A - Publicity and Marketing
We’ll just buy some ads to let people know about our product
I think this one strategy is not particularly suitable for bootstrapping entrepreneurs because:

  1. They require a significant investment which you obviously don’t have at hand because, by definition, you are a bootstrapping entrepreneur and hence you don’t particularly have money to throw around things.
  2. Even if you had the money, it is not a strategy that’s effective to niche markets because they are more difficult to target. On top of that, noticed how I highlighted the term relevant people, you need to target your efforts towards the one guy at your potential client’s side that is in charge of making the decision wether to acquire or not your service. This is extremely difficult to achieve in real life and practically impossible through publicity/marketing, if you know of a way to achieve this please share your experience in the comments, otherwise this leads us to …

Straightforward Strategy B - Networking
I know the relevant people in the business and they trust me so it’s natural for me to sell my product
A well-networked person could naturally sell your/his product to its network because he’s in touch directly with the relevant people on the client’s side, not only that, but they already trust him because they have an established business relationship that spans through many years. This is also essentially what incubators/VCs offer to you (or at least make you think they’ll do) and that’s why they are regarded as critical allies when trying to lift a startup off the ground. The problem with this strategy is that you have to be/know a well-networked person, and let’s face it, most entrepreneurs don’t start that way. That’s why they are venturing into a new business, to get more money or a standard of life that they would already had if they were a well-networked person in the first place.

So what are the other options? How do you start to effectively build up your brand and introduce your services to the relevant people, following a bootstrapped philosophy. Feel free to share your experience.


#2

Well under your 3 assumptions, it’s quite easy - you take the phone book, look up all the numbers of the people in your target market, buy a headset and $100 of Skype credit and start calling them. You’d be running pretty much the highest converting call center in the world. The real problem though is that not all of these 3 assumptions hold, and for most businesses, none of three are (really, fundamentally) true.

Apart from that, the process is actually rather well-known and described on 1000’s of websites and books. Of course a generic process needs to be tailored to each product and that’s where the skill and experience comes in. But fundamentally, it boils down to: 1) identify your customer; 2) find a cost-effective way of contacting them, given a certain CCA and LTV (in later stages, this becomes 'find the most cost effective way); 3) execute on that strategy.


#3

How do you know any of these are true? If you built the product without talking to customers, I’m doubtful if it saves them time or money.

And if you did talk to them, then you already know how to reach them. :slight_smile:[quote=“almosnow, post:1, topic:3977”]
One would expect such a service to pretty much sell by itself,
[/quote]

Nothing sells itself. Period.


#4

You missed the words right next to that… and the rest of the post as well.


#5
  1. Have you talked to customers while building it?
  2. Did you show it to customers to confirm your claims above?
  3. How many ?
  4. How did you find THOSE people?
  5. What % of those you first talked to have purchased?

If your assumptions are true:

  1. talk to the above customers and ask how they would search for this.
  2. Ask them what they read. Ask them if there are professional societies, Facebook groups, etc where that type of customer "hangsouts out "… (I.e., Where can I find more of YOU
  3. Read forums where they post on that type of problem and discover how THEY describe their problem.
  4. Try Google Adwords. It’s EXTREMELY Targeted once you know the vocabulary (search terms) people use. You only pay for clicks and you can often get a free $25 credit for a new account.
  5. Tweak your ads, to fine the ads and keywords that work well.

#6

So far I’ve found #2 to be the most effective strategy.


#7

almosnow,

A lot of startups think they have a great product. Most do not. And there is no way to know which your product is unless you talk to the customer.

If you answer the questions I asked above you it’ll clarify the basis for your belief that your product meets your customers needs.


#8

You really need to start talking to customers as early as possible, preferably as you are building it, or before you’ve built it. That’s why I created Find70. I wanted to give people the power to find highly targeted potential customers easily. Give it a shot: find70.com

Just like Clay said, it’s all about meeting the customer’s needs. At the end of the day, they are the ones handing you the money and that’s where the rubber meets the road.


#9

There’s inbound marketing, which includes blogs, articles, podcasts, video, eBooks, newsletters, whitepapers, SEO, and social media marketing.

You can also cold-call or cold-email people you have identified as prospects.