Good on you! You’ve decided to take the plunge and turn your business idea into a reality. Now, it’s time to launch and build a customer base, but where do you start?
In this beginner-friendly guide, we’ll share foolproof tips to build your customer base from zero. Let’s get started.
Don’t Wait, Start Selling Today
Did you know that you can sell without having a finished product? Instead of waiting until you’ve built the product, you can start marketing it when you’re 50 – 75% ready. As long as you have a completion date you can accept pre-orders before you’re ready to launch. This cashflow can support you and your team as you work feverishly to complete your product. It can also provide much-needed product validation, which is an incredible motivator and confidence boost.
In order for this to work, you must deliver when you say you will. Your reputation and trustworthiness depend on it.
Explain What You Offer Simply
What’s one of the biggest mistakes that SaaS companies make? Not explaining what they offer in the simplest terms. I visit hundreds of SaaS websites each month, and many of them fail to clearly and simply address their target user.
When a prospective customer visits your site, they’re looking for a quick rundown of what value you offer. If they don’t understand what you do, they won’t buy it.
Here’s a good rule to go by: If it takes longer than one sentence to explain what you offer, you’re going to lose out on potential sales.
Use Stunning as an example. On our home page, we introduce ourselves with this simple statement:
“Recover more failed payments on Stripe with Stunning.”
The above statement describes what we do and invites the visitor to solve their problem (failed payments) by using our product.
You can do something similar. Immediately explain what you do and why the visitor should care.
Nail Your Pricing
Your price can make or break your marketing.
But I’m not saying that you’re charging too much. I’m saying that you’re probably not charging enough. Don’t make the mistake of underpricing your product. It may seem like a savvy marketing move to go lower than your competitors. Sure, that move may attract attention, but it could also repel your true audience.
You see, buyers are hesitant and suspicious by nature. They default to not trusting businesses and if you don’t charge enough, they’ll think that your product isn’t going to meet their needs.
The truth is that you can charge higher than you think and still win over your target audience.
Instead of pricing based on your competitors, think about your target user — what are you saving them in terms of time, effort, and frustration? How much is that worth to them?
Once you look at it from that perspective, you’ll feel freer to charge an appropriate price for your product.
Hang Out Where Your Ideal Customers Are
Don’t wait for customers to stumble upon your website. Go where they are and get noticed.
Your customers may hang out in various places online. Start by joining industry-related online forums. Also become a part of groups on Facebook, Reddit, LinkedIn, and Slack, just to name a few.
When you join, don’t just blend into the wallpaper. Become an active participant in those communities and use the majority of your interactions (80%) to sincerely share helpful advice. The other 20% of the time can be used to promote yourself, but be careful to focus on nurturing instead of marketing. Your efforts will pay off eventually.
Use Content Marketing
You may not be able to compete with the big names in terms of marketing budget, but you can create content that attracts an audience and turns them into paying customers.
Develop a simple content marketing strategy by doing the following:
Build a website
You probably have a website, right? If you’re still working on it, don’t wait until everything’s perfect to get online. If you have a domain name, create a landing page as a placeholder. But don’t just do the “we’re launching soon” bit on your landing page. Add a lead magnet (i.e. a downloadable resource like a checklist or toolkit) that you can offer visitors in exchange for their email address. This allows you to start collecting emails right now.
Create and maintain a blog
Blogging is a great idea for every SaaS.
First, blogging helps you get found through search. If you optimize your post for the search engines (a practice known as SEO), you can then attract customers based on their search queries.
Second, blogging helps you educate your prospective customers. Your prospect may not know what their problem is. You can help them understand their problem and discover your solution.
Third, blogging helps you nurture your prospective customers. They may not be ready to buy just yet, but with each post they read, your prospect trusts you more. Trust leads to purchase.
Create a weekly blog where you tackle questions that your actual target audience is asking Google.
Create an email list
Email marketing allows you to build a relationship with your subscribers. You can continue to nurture them over a period of weeks (or even months) until they decide that you’re the right SaaS solution for their needs.
Get on social media
Choose your one or two social media platforms to master first.
Facebook is a perennial favorite because it’s the most used social media platform. With over two billion users worldwide, Facebook is a no-brainer for most businesses. Facebook knows a ton about their users, so if you decide to market on Facebook (which is a good idea), you’re guaranteed to reach your target audience.
Another social media platform to consider is Youtube. YouTube is unique from other social media platforms because it also acts as a search engine. In fact, it’s the second-largest search engine in the world (second only to Google, its parent company). By creating videos on Google-owned YouTube, you can attract YouTube and Google users, because YouTube videos also popup on a search. If you have both a YouTube video and a blog post, you’ve doubled your chances of getting found through search.
Tell Everyone You Know About Your Launch
When it’s finally time to launch (or before, if you’re planning a pre-sale), send out personal emails to each of your contacts. Share the news on social media. And don’t forget to bring it up during in-person events, such as social or family gatherings.
Now’s the time to perfect your elevator pitch. Just like with your website, you should simplify your marketing message so that it’s easy for everyone to understand, even those who have no knowledge of your business/ industry.
If those in your network don’t need your service, ask them to pass on your information to those who may. It’s never too early to activate referral marketing.
Make It Easy to Sign Up
Whether we’re talking trials or email opt-ins, sign-ups should be easy. Initially, only ask two questions (at the most). Ask for the user’s name and their email address. You can always find out more about them later (such as their goals, pain points, phone number, etc.). If you ask too much upfront, the prospect may hesitate or quit.
Consider your first 100 customers to be your beta audience. They validate your product and give you a chance to figure out what’s working and what isn’t.
You will learn from these first customers and improve your product as you go.
You will also get reviews from these customers and use those reviews in future marketing campaigns.
Your first customers will also be the ones referring others to you.
As you see, your first 100 customers will impact the future growth of your company.
This is why you should treat your first 100 customers differently than you plan to treat the rest. Stay in touch with them as much as possible to nurture them and receive valuable feedback about their experience with your product.
When you’re just starting from scratch, you won’t be able to match your competitor’s budget or brand recognition, but you can do something even better: You can get personal. Getting personal is your superpower.
Your first 100 customers can have immediate access to you, in a way that you won’t be able to provide as you scale. Continue to offer your individual time and attention to nurture those new customers into loyal brand evangelists.
Throw the Spaghetti on the Wall
There’s an old tradition that the only way to test the doneness of spaghetti pasta is by throwing it against the wall. If the pasta sticks, it’s done.
You can do the same thing with your marketing. Try different tactics to determine what attracts your particular audience. It may be a free trial, a contest, or an email course. Then, as soon as you get one customer, figure out what you did to get them, and do that again.
This is known as growth hacking. Growth hacking requires creative thinking and rapid experimentation based on what you’ve learned about your audience. Because you’ll learn more as you amass a larger audience, your growth hacks will evolve and get smarter over time.
Here are two examples of the most iconic growth hacks:
Hotmail – This web-based email provider used growth hacking to acquire one million users in a span of six months. They did it by adding this simple line to the bottom of each outgoing email: “PS I love you. Get your free Email at Hotmail.” This growth hack attracted attention, spiked curiosity, and paid off big time.
Dropbox – Dropbox offered extra storage to users whenever they invited a friend. This incentivized users to refer others. As a result, Dropbox sign-ups went up by 60%.
There are hundreds of ways to score your first 100 clients, but the above tips are guaranteed to generate leads and turn them into customers.
Before you go, check out these related posts:
- How to Use Emotions to Convert Prospects into SaaS Customers
- SaaS Pricing: Here’s What You Need to Know to Generate More Leads
- Essential Growth Hacking Tips That You Can Implement Today