On the MegaMaker Slack, Nirav Mehta asked:
What's the best way to get the word out about your SaaS? Should you pursue partnerships? What marketing channels work best?
Here are a few ideas we've pursued at Transistor.fm.
Build anticipation before you launch
One big opportunity many folks miss is building up anticipation before they launch. Examples:
- Adam Wathan and Steve Schoger shared design tips on Twitter and on their blog for 6 months before they released their book, Refactoring UI.
- Derrick Reimer allowed people to “Claim their username” for Level.App before he launched. So far 5,787 people have registered.
- Ben Orenstein talked about Tuple.app, his new product, on podcasts for months before they launched.
Build a reputation for being helpful
Adam, Steve, Derrick, and Ben have something else in common: they were consistently helpful to their respective audiences for years before they launched anything.
Being helpful now, in forums, on Twitter, in podcasts, on your blog, in your mailing list, at conferences, at meetups, in an email, is an investment in your future.
Jason Cohen says that the only real competitive advantage is that which cannot be copied or bought.
Having a reputation for being helpful can’t be easily copied or replicated.
Bake SEO into everything you do
Currently, I think the most underrated growth strategy is investing in Search Engine Optimization.
“SEO is the biggest growth lever that you have and it's something that you should prioritize." - Ryan Hoover, Product Hunt
Think about it, when people have a desire to solve a problem, what do they do? They Google it!
If your product is the answer to people’s question, you want to make sure they can find it on Google.
Quick SEO tips:
- Explore what questions are asking on Answerthepublic.com.
- Use tools like Ahrefs.com on your competitors’ sites! See what keywords people are using to find their site, and what their most popular pages are.
- Make sure you have Google Search Console set up for your website. They have a new “Performance Report” that will show you what keywords people are using to find your site, and where you could rank better.
- Focus on what matters on each page. Your main title should feature keywords you're focusing on. Make sure you've defined a meta description – a short, concise (usually 300 characters or less) description of a webpage. This description is shown in search results!
- Keep a document on “blog post title ideas.” For example, I can see, through all my research, that “podcast distribution” is a good keyword combination to pursue. So I could write a blog post with the title: “Podcast distribution made easy - 5 steps.” A tool like Sanity Check will give you automated content ideas!
- Write an authoritative guide on a topic. Ben Orenstein noticed that there weren’t any good pair programming guides, so he wrote one! These guides get shared a lot, which means you’ll get high-quality backlinks to your site (which is important for SEO).
- People will also search for “[competitor name] alternatives.” Those are great keywords to target.
Other things to try
Lars Lofgren, one of the best marketers I know, will focus exclusively on one channel at a time. He recommends:
"Do not spread yourself too thin. Usually, it takes a solid year to build a channel from scratch."
If you're ready to try other channels, here is a list:
- Ads: Facebook Ads, Adwords, LinkedIn ads, etc.
- Partnerships: finding influencers that have a similar audience to you. Cross-promoting. Integrations.
- Content marketing: blogging, podcasting, infographics, viral videos.
- Platform marketing: engaging in Facebook Groups, on forums, in comments threads.
- Direct mail: sending your prospects stickers, postcards, or letters by post.
- Events: attending tradeshows, conferences, and meetups and handing out business cards (or other swag) with your website address.
Things to remember:
- Marketing doesn't work like a jackpot. You're not going to hit that "one thing" that works and creates an avalanche of sales. Instead of "putting it all on black," it'd be better for you to diversify your marketing investments: you'll get customers from a variety of channels and tactics
- Marketing is a lot like physical fitness. Small gains every week give you biggest gains in the long term. It's like hitting the gym once on January 1st and expecting to look like Arnold Schwarzenegger. You've got to do something every week to get good results overall.
- Last: for many of you, marketing is a big, hairy, ugly problem. And what's the best way to deal with a big overwhelming problem? Break it into smaller pieces.
Looking for more?
This article started as a podcast. You can listen to it here.
I cover more tactics in Marketing for Developers.
You might also like my newsletter; it's free!