When we first started Ghostit, we were like any young entrepreneur – naïve about our product and its place in the market. Now don’t get us wrong, we did our research, made sure there was a market for it and all that fun stuff. We knew we had a fantastic idea about our SaaS product (and the result is excellent, check it out). The Ghostit platform was unique in the content marketing space because it is a combination of software and service. Our thinking was that we would build it and people would come. It performed sense to think this way because for one no one else had a product like us, and two when we canvassed for ideas our target audience indicated that they would use this product if they had it. We focused on all the success stories of similar SaaS products in the past but barely looked at the failures.
But no matter how great your SaaS idea is, if you don’t have customers, you don’t have a sustainable business. We found out the hard way that the ability to come up with a great new product doesn’t automatically mean you have the ability to successfully sell it.
So this blog post is for all you starting entrepreneurs with the big SaaS ideas. Don’t just focus on the success stories, learn from our initial failures. We’ll be writing a two-part series to how to grow your SaaS company when you’re starting with very little. Our first one? Using the tools you already have.
1) Tool 1: Your Existing Network
The biggest mistake people make when they have a new idea is overlooking and not taking advantage of their existing network. We get it, it’s a lot harder to be vulnerable in front of people you know compared to strangers you might not even meet. However, you should remember that your existing network will have a higher probability of wanting to help and try out your product – not just for what the product is but because you have already developed a trust relationship with this group of people.
This goes beyond just your friends and family. Sit down and brainstorm all the different types of people in your life and start listing them into categories that would be relevant to you, they can be overlapping as well.
Ghostit Example: family, friends, co-workers, friends of friends, business owners, management people, writers, hobbyists, etc.
You should make sure what you are asking is appropriate from the right person in your network. Try to match, as much as you can, your request to the specific relation. For example, a free trial, a discounted trial, a testimonial or a review. You should know that the level of your requests will differ between your close relationships versus people you’ve just met. Not understanding this fundamental principle can tarnish your brand and damage your authenticity.
Finally, make sure that you are showing your appreciating when you are asking your existing network to do something for you. This doesn’t just come at the end either. Your appreciation needs to show in the beginning. Ask individuals in your network to meet for coffee before you deliver your request. Talk to them in person. Don’t just shoot an email request or a message on Facebook. Doing this will add to your good reputation. When you’re done running your trials or exhausting your network, don’t forget to update those who’ve helped you along the way. People want to feel like their time was put into something purposeful. By keeping the people you ask for help in the loop, they are more likely to respond warmly to future requests.
2) Tool 2: Your Success Stories
Organic endorsements and testimonials will take you a long way. Once you’ve taken advantage of your existing networks, you’ll probably have a few testimonials that you can use to jumpstart this process. It’s nice to receive a review for your product spontaneously, but never feel nervous to ask for one – especially if you believe that you delivered excellent service and results with your product. If you’d like to take it a step further you can entice your customers by providing discounts or other perks for writing a testimonial or review. Once you have your first couple, you need to market, market, and market. Don’t just leave them at the bottom of your comments page (if you don’t have an area to leave reviews, we suggest you work that into your website or app immediately). Take those testimonials and showcase them on the front page.
Always ask permission when you will be using someone else’s words for your own marketing purposes. Putting testimonials on your landing page is just the first step. To actually reach your targeted audience you need to be able to showcase these testimonials over social media whether that’s a post on your profile or a sponsored ad.
Another way you can market your customer’s success is to ask your customers to comment reviews directly on a published sponsored ad. Incentives will be particularly helpful for this strategy. The reason behind why this works is because nobody likes taking the first shot without knowing that someone else has already done so successfully already. This will provide that first step towards building a trusting relationship between you and your future customers.
3) Tool 3: Your Extraversion
This is a tough one to dive into, especially if you are naturally an introvert at home. People say that being a business person and getting into the life of an entrepreneur takes a particular type of personality. We beg to differ. Take a look at Larry Page, Bill Gates or Warren Buffet who consider themselves to be introverts.
It is not that you need to be the biggest social butterfly to master the arts of business, but knowing when to use your extraversion as a tool to leverage your business networks. Which leads us to our next strategy- you should be tapping into your existing networks in order to be introduced to new networks.
There will be a time (whether that is sooner or later) where you will have exhausted your current network. Of course not for good, you’ll always need to come back now and then when a specific problem arrives. But we all know that it’s foolish to stop expanding your relationships. Your business can only grow along with the growing relationships you have. This is where your extraversion kicks in.
You can introduce yourself to other networks by joining your local business chamber, or associations. You can attend mixers, workshops, conferences, and the list goes on. But the best way to tap into a meeting quickly is to ask for an introduction from someone you already know. Knowing who your people know is important, which is why keeping up relationships is important. It might sound exhausting but trust us it is rewarding.
We will be launching a part 2 on how to grow your SaaS Company. We will be covering inbound marketing techniques, and high traffic websites you can leverage to showcase your SaaS product so sign up for our newsletter to be notified when we publish that post.