As the year comes to an end I want to share my experience with launching a SaaS product. COVID had a massive impact in the world and if you just check the amount of new SaaS services that had popped up this year you will be surprises, it’s like the new gold rush. The good news about this is that obviously SaaS products do work but there are some key steps that you need to do to ensure that you are not wasting your time developing something that nobody wants but enough intro, let’s dive in.
It might be a bit daunting to launch a SaaS service. You might not be sure how to do it. There are so many things to focus on; you might not even know where to begin. You might feel so overwhelmed that you want to drop the product. If you do feel this way, don't worry. Here's how you can grow your product:
Set up phase
As tempting as it is to set up your business, you have to make sure that your software product will have a certain number of customers. One way is to calculate the total addressable market (TAM). It's pretty simple. The formula is the number of available customers*value of each customer. If the value of TAM> $1,000,000, you're good to go! However, if it is not, move on. Look for other options. Another way, and I think the more correct one is go do a bottom up approach where you identify the smallest subset of people (your early adopters) that would benefit from your product and develop something that is specifically designed to solve their immediate problem. It might sound strange but trust me this is much better that targeting a massive market where you have to compete with already established companies.
Focus on the product
It would be a bit challenging to get the perfect product, but you can do it. One of the first things that you will do is to split your time accordingly. This means 50% of the time should go into the development of the product, and the other 50% should go in for test traction channels.
You need to find a way to get continuous feedback to mold the product according to the consumer's demands. Remember to refine the product until you can achieve product-market fit, evidenced by a high retention rate. To get this high retention rate, you could focus on the steps laid out by the marketing expert Seth Godin. According to Seth, you can:
- Talk about the story of ME: you should explain why the product is here.
- You should talk about the story of US: why it is your story.
- You can also discuss the story of now: IN other words, why you should care about the product today instead of tomorrow.
Remember, this is only one half of developing your product. The next thing that you have to do is to test your product with different channels.
You can go through different traction channels, such as targeting niche blogs and encouraging media mentions. This will help you to grow your product and to make people aware of it. Then, you can also do unconventional PR, paid search, content marketing, and email marketing to see how you can grow your product. However, at one time, you should only test 3 channels. You don't want to overdo it.
Remember, your goal here is to identify where your customers are at. Once you have that base, you can move from there.
Build yourself a roadmap
Now that you have some ideas about the customer base, and you have decided that your product is worthy of being sold, you can focus on building a roadmap.
Goal, Mission and Statement
One of the first things that you should do is to identify a goal. For instance, let's assume your goal is to get a $5000 profit every month. This is not a random figure. You should calculate the figure by aligning the price with the value of the product.
Once you have done that, you should focus on the mission of your company. It is something that should be simple and on the landing page so everyone can remember it. For instance, try to do it Nike style. Don't mention the product. Just what the brand stands for.
Your positioning statement should also be here, and ideally, not something that is less than 5 attributes. Remember, the positioning statement must only pass three tests. It must be something that the customer wants; it must be something that you can deliver and of course, it should be better and different from the competitors.
The goal here is to make it so simple that a potential user can understand the basic concept of what you are offering in a matter of seconds.
Now that you have covered the basics, you should provide the product for free to customers for life. This could help you with the growth of the software product. It could also help you get more customers. These existing customers can tell their friends and family about your products, and before you know it, you have a vast customer base. Remember, it pays to have existing customers talk about your business. It is much easier for the business to grow that way.
Of course, you can also try the formula of viral growth and see how it goes from there. Your customer base will grow exponentially by networking, collaborating, and sharing stuff on social media platforms. At this time, you should focus on community building.
Building a community requires a clear mission, openness, and regular interaction with people. Once you do that, more people will hear about the product and want to use it. Bear in mind, when you are building a community, it can become difficult to maintain the quality and you should set up strict standards at your earliest to prevent this stuff from happening. If in the event, you are having trouble building a community because you do not have enough audience members, you can always bootstrap from a common group of followers. It will get easier from there. At this point, you can just promote your landing page on Reddit or Quora as a thread and see how people respond. Remember, avoid promoting the product on startup business; it will ruin your credibility. Perhaps when you have established yourself, you can do so.
Here, you can beta test with 100 users and launch the customer referrals scheme. For instance, you could ask your customer to refer people, and those who do will not have to fees for three years. You should also look into the practice of community building. This time, you could promote on Instagram. The trick is to show the results, not the product. Keep it like Nike. On Twitter, you could have ads targeted at the Instagram channel where you are showing your results.
Dig a little deeper. Analyze how many people are going through your ads and then tweak accordingly. You should also answer questions like 'Are the customers happy? Are we happy? What can we do to make it better?' you'll get your answers and will be able to improve more there.
Here, your focus should be on marketing. Focus on building content to help customers perform better. You could also reach out to influencers and offer your products for free. You also have the option of giving them without tax. Go strong on your engagement game on Twitter and Instagram and get a stronger customer base.
You can focus on giving freebies, books with optimization tricks or some other kind of giveaway. Your aim should be to nurture the clients so that they will be there for the long run. You could also select some users and feature the success stories to become more integrated with the product.
There is really no generic solution for scaling. If you are at this point you should go and check what has worked for you in the past months in terms of customer acquisition channels and focus on those. Remember you don’t need to higher people in order to scale you will be surprised how much more you can accomplish by keeping your operation lean.
Yes, it might seem impossible to launch a SaaS product, but you will see it paying off. Just follow the steps, and you'll get there!