I built it, now how do I get them to come?

Your product is finally ready. You’re ready to start marketing and push your product out there.

  • You post a bunch of links in a few Facebook groups.
  • Maybe write a launch post for Reddit and Indie hackers. 
  • You’re thinking a big Product Hunt launch next. 

Once you get started, the horror sets in and you realize this whole “marketing” thing might be a bit more complicated than you’d originally planned.
I’ve been here. It’s not a nice place to be. 

This post will explain how to get out of this situation so you don’t have to make any of the same mistakes.
Crudely put, there are 4 ways to market a tiny digital business:

• Virality• Ads• Outreach• Content

Here’s a quick breakdown of each…

Virality

By virality, I specifically mean getting referrals from people who already use your product. This could be word-of-mouth referrals or the result of a viral mechanism baked into your product. The principle here is that your product solves the problem it was designed to address well enough that people want to share it. If your product doesn’t solve the problem it was designed to address then that should be your only priority. 

Paid ads

Ads work great when you can afford them. Regardless of whether they’re print, search, social, or sponsorships, you need to be targeting people towards the end of a buying journey. If people aren’t aware of the problem your product solves, or if they’re not looking for a solution, running ads can be an effective way to light a bundle of cash on fire 🔥

Outreach

Direct outreach, whether in-person or through cold emails, makes sense for some B2B businesses. The economics get complicated for B2C businesses if they have small ticket sizes. If you’re a B2C business and you don’t have money to spend on Ads or do direct outreach then content marketing is your best bet. 

Content

My current understanding is that there are two ways to swing content marketing, you either rank on search engines, or you produce content for the express purpose of getting it shared. 
Content that does both is the holy grail 👼
Ranking on search engines means:

  1. Understanding what people are searching for.
  2. Finding opportunities where the current results are rubbish.
  3. Getting in there and producing the single best resource on the internet around that query. 
  4. Once your article is written you begin the work of building connections with other players in your space and earning backlinks one genuine relationship at a time 🤝

The trade-off here is that is SEO is a competitive space and it’s slow.
I don’t know much about creating content for the express purpose of getting it shared. I wish someone could just explain the principles and break down how it all works. Much confuse 🤯
My limited understanding is that if this is the game you want to play then you need the resources to build a content team that pumps out viral content on a regular basis. At scale, this is a numbers game.
Regardless of which approach you take, creating content is predicated on the fact that you focus on an audience that has a problem your product solves (and has the authority and means to spend money on a solution). 
Ideas for content, whether they’re to be optimized for search or crafted for virality, come from embedding yourself in communities where your audience interacts. The goal is to pay attention to recurring, persistent problems and pain points. 
Then you help the shit out people. 
Helping people is the hack.
You commit to providing complete, actionable answers and useful solutions to real problems that people express. 
This all becomes a lot easier if you belong to the group you have set out to serve.
Provided each piece of content has a way for people to follow you or sign up for more; over time, you slowly move people out of the public space and into a personal space where everyone is interested in what you have to say. 
This is conventionally done with an email list 💌 but could just as easily be done with a Twitter account, a YouTube channel, a private slack or discord community, or all four. Each platform has its own tradeoffs but they should all get the job done.
The job is to gradually transition people into your space, build credibility by being genuinely useful on a regular basis, and then you can sell them a paid solution to an important problem. If your product meets this criterion, then you’ve demonstrated your worth and earned their permission and trust.

Starting with an audience

The people who have the most success with this approach, usually start with an audience => then unearth problems => then work on creating a solution. 
Showing up with a solution and looking for an audience is all back-to-front. It makes the whole game harder.
But if that’s where you are then that’s where you are. 
If we’re being honest, most people who work in tech have been here at some point. 
The truth is that there is absolutely no reason you can’t get to work helping people in your space and building an audience for your product one helpful piece of content at a time.

These posts are meant to be conversational. Let me know what you think. Replies to this email go straight to my inbox.

Related links and further reading