Customers will not come just because you build it
As a software engineer you love to build product and dream about quitting your daily job to create your own path.
There is nothing more rewarding than people using a product/service that you’ve built with your own hands.
The day you’ve chosen that path, be ready for a long ride.
Don’t underestimate sales
When entrepreneurs build products like a marketplace, SaaS I often heard:
I don’t need a sales, my product will sells itself
If you think the same way, then you are the sales guy.
Developers are sceptical of advertising, marketing and sales because they seem superficial and irrational. But it works, it works on you, on me.
Developers have technical skills and in engineering disciplines, a solution either works or fails.
Sales is the opposite: you can’t expect immediate results after posting ads or attending some business meetings, the goal is to drive sales later.
No matter how strong your product is, you will have to sell it.
How to sell a product
Work on your Customer Value Proposition, it resume your idea in 3 elements:
- a headline : 1 short sentence. Grab your visitor’s attention so they read the sub-headline.
- a sub-headline : 1-2 lines, a specific explanation of what you do/offer, for whom and why it is useful.
- an image: a picture is worth a thousand words. Show your product, or strengthen your headline.
Let’s take a concrete example: www.hackerhouse.paris/en-us
We convey 3 core values in our headline:
Work, live and connect !
Through our sub-headline, we explain what we offer with keywords like the price and the location :
In a 860 sq. ft shared flat located in Paris for 400€/mo only
Our image illustrate perfectly what we offer:
A shared living space with beds and desk.
A single Call To Action button: subscribe to our newsletter.
Cover Page vs Landing / Home Page
What is a Cover page ?
It is a single scroll-less webpage use to convey a single idea in a beautiful way.
I recommend to build a cover page before any landing / home page. Why ?
Because most of your visitors won’t scroll down your website, if you can’t convert them in a single page, you won’t either with a long homepage.
Spend time building a clear and beautiful cover page rather than a boring homepage that 90% of your visitors won’t even bother to read.
After you get some metrics and you’ve iterated enough to have a decent conversion rate then you can start building a landing / home page.
Small targeted audience
The more precise your audience is, the more effective your marketing will be, which means:
- higher conversion rate
- higher engagement rate
- higher chance of word of mouth
It could be a specific location (Paris), age (20–30), job (entrepreneurs, developers) or even interests (startups…).
Send people to your website
Once you’ve built a beautiful cover page it’s showtime.
Nowadays, it is easier than ever to quickly acquire massive traffic:
- Google ads: use it when you know your visitor will be looking for you through given keywords. e.g: “house renting startup paris”
- Facebook ads: Facebook knows more about people than Google does. You can build super relevant ads trough precise targeting (age, interests…) I would consider this channel when having a bright idea than people might not obviously search on Google.
Listen, talk to your customers and iterate
Talking to your customer is annoying and a non-scalable task but it is the secret behind many successful startups (Amazon, Zappos,…).
If your audience doesn’t understand your CVP or even your product: iterate.
Bring major updates as many as necessary until it is clear as crystal for any visitors.
Pitch again and again
Only a few people are naturally comfortable with public speaking.
Other people like me have to practice, over and over again to overcome their fear.
Start pitching to your family and friends then a small audience like meetups of 10–20 persons, etc. After this you will be more confident, you will easily find the right word to capture your public‘s attention.
Pitch is an everyday training, you iterate on your speech as many times as necessary like your Customer Value Proposition.
And you never know, the guy sitting next to you might be your future co-founder or investor.
Pitching have a bigger impact than you may think, and is the first way to sell your idea.
Doing so, you will build a product based on customer’s feedbacks, not on your own expectations.
Go, build things people want.