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EXECUTION Building SaaS with a full time job, finding focus and pacing

adiakritos

Bronze Contributor
May 30, 2011
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Hey everyone,

I've got a killer SaaS product idea and I've created the MVP. I can take orders and the product functions properly.

Now it's time to promote this baby. But here's my dilemma - my core skill is in creating apps and I have a full time job. There is SOOO much for me to do alone, and I really don't have the inclination to do it all myself. What I'd PREFER to do is align myself with others who do know what they're doing.

So what I did tonight was post an ad on craigslist to find a sales person to sell while I'm at work, believing that this may bring in customer sales much more quickly than the time it will take for me to call them myself and screw up (which is fine, but that'll just take so much time..), write ad copy, create ads, let the run, wait... etc I freaking hate waiting!

What I need right now is to get customers so I can test the software, iron out the kinks quickly, and then even focus on building out other important features while someone else brings in the business.

Then when I have a solid product with a set of complete and focused features I can let the sales person do their thing, while I focus on online advertising, improving the ad copy, creating the ads..etc OR I can just start looking at the cost of hiring a copywriter and let them do that. I'll create the ads and all that...etc That would be the perfect time to think about doing anything else. If it's too expensive for the time being I'll model some other SaaS preneur's out there and tweak the copy to be relevant to my own appeals..etc I know enough about copywriting to understand how they're using pain and pleasure to motivate..etc The appeals are different tho but that's ok.

Next, when I have online working and the sales person really in full gear I can either sit back and let the cash roll in or I can begin focusing on other features I can build as up-sells or separate packages. I have one in mind in particular which I know would also do very very well. But first things first.

At some point I'll have to hire a senior developer contractor to help me optimize things, because I have skill but there's always some wizard stuff I don't know.

Lastly, I'll ship that other feature, save and invest my profits, and focus on automating everything and making everything easy to manage for non-technical people - mainly to make it easier to sell the whole thing.

Anyway, this is my stream of consciousness on what I'm doing to execute. It helps to think out loud.

I know I've been very ambiguous but I'm thinking that someone might be able to relate and have something to share.
 

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LeoistheSun

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You should make the first few sales before spending money.

Have you validated the idea?

I feel like your way ahead of yourself. I do this all the time. But its best to make your first $100 or $1000 before thinking of yachts etc.
 
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adiakritos

adiakritos

Bronze Contributor
May 30, 2011
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125
You should make the first few sales before spending money.

Have you validated the idea?

I feel like your way ahead of yourself. I do this all the time. But its best to make your first $100 or $1000 before thinking of yachts etc.
Yup! The idea is validated. I didn't run with an unvalidated idea this time. I'm competing with someone else who's already generated decent results with it. It's just that the idea isn't common on a large scale yet so it's perfect.
 

LeoistheSun

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Yup! The idea is validated. I didn't run with an unvalidated idea this time. I'm competing with someone else who's already generated decent results with it. It's just that the idea isn't common on a large scale yet so it's perfect.
Dont want to sound like a broken record, but your product also is different from your competitors too? I wont go into details, but its in Unscripted.
 
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adiakritos

adiakritos

Bronze Contributor
May 30, 2011
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Dont want to sound like a broken record, but your product also is different from your competitors too? I wont go into details, but its in Unscripted.
These are great questions, no worries!

It's virtually the same thing. In fact it's not as complete as theirs - yet. But imagine it sorta like competing on Amazon where you have someone with a killer product and they're marketing is terrible. You can enter the same space and offer the same thing and if you're marketing is on point you can blow them out of the water. Also, I happened to know that my competitor isn't focused on growing this business. They're distracted doing other things that are unrelated. So I have a sleeping competitor who is terrible at marketing and who hasn't even begun to really penetrate the market. lol I myself am not that great at marketing but I know that I can't sell so I'm not going to try to.
 

JAVB

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I'd focus on finding a partner/co-founder with a Growth Marketing mindset/skillset.
I doubt you can find the person off of Craigslist. Additionally, a co-founder would the risk and invest his/her time without a salary, something you won't be able to do with an employee.
Additionally, it sounds like your validation comes from competitors playing in the space... that's a soft validation. There are things you probably don't know about those competitors.
Strong validation would be 1. non-paying customer using your product and actually solving a need they had and 2. one, but paying. You could easily have 1, and use that to find the growth hacker to grow into 2.
 
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adiakritos

adiakritos

Bronze Contributor
May 30, 2011
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I'd focus on finding a partner/co-founder with a Growth Marketing mindset/skillset.
I doubt you can find the person off of Craigslist. Additionally, a co-founder would the risk and invest his/her time without a salary, something you won't be able to do with an employee.
Additionally, it sounds like your validation comes from competitors playing in the space... that's a soft validation. There are things you probably don't know about those competitors.
Strong validation would be 1. non-paying customer using your product and actually solving a need they had and 2. one, but paying. You could easily have 1, and use that to find the growth hacker to grow into 2.
I hear you on that. I'm always on the look out for a solid partner. But since I don't have one and I want results FAST, I'm doing what I think might work in the short term. I can be calling and selling the product myself while I'm also looking for a sales person to take over. Getting customers is #1 priority right now.
 

Torger

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Pretty funny to read as i am in your exact same position. Working a full time job while i'm creating my Saas product aswell. I am in middle of user testing the product at the moment while working on a marketing plan. I reached out to users in the field and gave away free trials for feedback etc. Super excited to continue on this Saas journey :)
 

LeoistheSun

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I'd focus on finding a partner/co-founder with a Growth Marketing mindset/skillset.
I doubt you can find the person off of Craigslist. Additionally, a co-founder would the risk and invest his/her time without a salary, something you won't be able to do with an employee.
Additionally, it sounds like your validation comes from competitors playing in the space... that's a soft validation. There are things you probably don't know about those competitors.
Strong validation would be 1. non-paying customer using your product and actually solving a need they had and 2. one, but paying. You could easily have 1, and use that to find the growth hacker to grow into 2.
Yes. This is where I am at!
 
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adiakritos

adiakritos

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May 30, 2011
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Pretty funny to read as i am in your exact same position. Working a full time job while i'm creating my Saas product aswell. I am in middle of user testing the product at the moment while working on a marketing plan. I reached out to users in the field and gave away free trials for feedback etc. Super excited to continue on this Saas journey :)
Awesome to hear! Keep on going!
 

Baku85

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How you get ideas for saas product ?

Wysłane z mojego SM-A510F przy użyciu Tapatalka
 

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HackVenture

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Have u tried getting onto product hunt to get initial feedback? Is the demographic on there suitable for your product?

Is it a must to sell in-person for your product? I mean, is it complicated/enterprise sales?

If remotely feasible, I would suggest investing some time and effort to creating an online funnel to sell the product, I think that would be easier to scale than hiring more salespersons.

Rooting for you!

Sent from my SM-N950F using Tapatalk
 
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adiakritos

adiakritos

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May 30, 2011
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Thanks friend!

No need to put it on product hunt because it’s been validated. The other company I’m competing with already has like 200 customers and I’m pretty much copying them and attempting to command more market share than them more quickly than them. Think McDonalds and Ray Crock. The brothers created something awesome but we’re limited in how they think. “We tried to franchise and it doesn’t work.” That being said, I think I can blow it up as well as innovate on that using a similar thing out there that’s also already doing very well but has its limitations.

I just refuse to try and do it all myself let alone believe it’s a mistake to even try. My buddy started a dev agency a little over a year ago with a tech partner he’s been friends with his whole life. He had tried to do everything in his business himself until he turned 40, had a baby and wife... etc but all along he worked in sales. Fast forward to just 1 year later and his company grew from 2 employees (I saw them because I visited his office) to 17. 17!! He called me because he’s looking for a senior developer. The point is he literally told me “I stopped trying to do it all myself. I found someone who’s the best at something else and partnered with them and it’s working very well.”

Anyway, thank you all for your responses I really appreciate you taking interest in my journey. I’m happy to continue to share how things go.
 
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adiakritos

adiakritos

Bronze Contributor
May 30, 2011
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Another point I want to make..

Tony Robbins says to model success.

I am doing that now more than ever before.

Here are a few examples:

- the business idea itself is based off a successful model
- splitting focus on core competencies is based off everyone I’ve seen who is killing it
- meeting some generous marketers who give me free info I can use to innovate my tool is the result of modeling Arnold Schwarzenegger and how he was successful in 4 different careers. He networked and became tightly involved in every circle he ended up doing very well in!

It’s nit mentally whacking it anymore I’m putting this shit into practice.

Anyway, none of this matters till I make some profits so I’ll again try to shut myself up make some money.
 
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adiakritos

adiakritos

Bronze Contributor
May 30, 2011
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One last point on the sales funnel... in my mind a sales funnel is a bit of work. Entry points, info pages, landing pages.... opt-in forms... etc.

Assuming this is what you have in mind, if the goal is to validate the ideas honestly feel that’s way too much work to achieve that goal. I’ve seen people putting up simple landers and driving ads to them, starting conversations on reddit and Facebook and driving traffic to a lander... etc or even just calling businesses to ask them questions. All of those options are more efficient to me imo unless I have a solid skill set in building funnels.

Next if I am going to promote my product with a solid funnel, I’d look at my potential profits from a successful funnel promo and find someone who’s very good at it and partner with them. I stand to make way more much more quickly by leveraging someone else’s expertise I think than to try and fail at it myself. I can build the features and produce the product.

Which finally leads me to my ultimate realization: my core activities as an entrepreneur who knows how to develop are 1. Spotting potential opportunity 2. Leveraging resources 3. Building software only until I don’t have to anymore.
 

HackVenture

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Reason why I suggested product hunt is cos in addition to validation, it also provides you with a crowd tolerant of bugs etc (natural in the beginning) and allows u to gain rapid feedback, rev, reviews, testimonials, exposure, all that good stuff.

It's a great thing you are conscientiously making decisions to run this as a proper business without yourself as a bottleneck.

Imo though, an online funnel is what makes your saas easily scalable. Funnels don't take sick leaves, don't go AWOL on u after partying, don't demand pay raises if they perform, don't jump ship and divulge your company secrets.

Sure, having in person salespersons lets you gather feedback from customers on their pain points etc but I think it's important to not be dependent on them.

If you're keen to test this out, drop me a PM and I'll see if I can help you out with the funnel FOC if u can provide me with the content, if it works out we can rev-share, if it doesn't you just lost a little bit of time and effort.

Sent from my SM-N950F using Tapatalk
 
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adiakritos

adiakritos

Bronze Contributor
May 30, 2011
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Reason why I suggested product hunt is cos in addition to validation, it also provides you with a crowd tolerant of bugs etc (natural in the beginning) and allows u to gain rapid feedback, rev, reviews, testimonials, exposure, all that good stuff.

It's a great thing you are conscientiously making decisions to run this as a proper business without yourself as a bottleneck.

Imo though, an online funnel is what makes your saas easily scalable. Funnels don't take sick leaves, don't go AWOL on u after partying, don't demand pay raises if they perform, don't jump ship and divulge your company secrets.

Sure, having in person salespersons lets you gather feedback from customers on their pain points etc but I think it's important to not be dependent on them.

If you're keen to test this out, drop me a PM and I'll see if I can help you out with the funnel FOC if u can provide me with the content, if it works out we can rev-share, if it doesn't you just lost a little bit of time and effort.

Sent from my SM-N950F using Tapatalk
Yeah I totally agree that a funnel is worth the investment over the long haul. Also I didn't realize the benefits of product hunt, you're right - that's pretty cool! As far as sales people go, I def don't want to rely on them to grow 100%. In my mind it's a shorter term leverage thing to get moving faster.
 

HackVenture

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Yeah I totally agree that a funnel is worth the investment over the long haul. Also I didn't realize the benefits of product hunt, you're right - that's pretty cool! As far as sales people go, I def don't want to rely on them to grow 100%. In my mind it's a shorter term leverage thing to get moving faster.
Awesome, use your salespeople to refine your pitch and create a solid funnel, that way you're not dependent on them and you can then scale up more easily.

Keep us updated!
 

eekern

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Exiting! Keep us updated on your progress.

I can really recommend Laravel Spark as a framework and foundation for your first SaaS

It will save you a lot of money, time, frustration and confusion for sure.

I quoted my first BETA to $50k for my first SaaS, with this framework it was completed for under $20k !
 
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LeoistheSun

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Exiting! Keep us updated on your progress.

I can really recommend Laravel Spark as a framework and foundation for your first SaaS

It will save you a lot of money, time, frustration and confusion for sure.

I quoted my first BETA to $50k for my first SaaS, with this framework it was completed for under $20k !
Is that for Apps on smartphones or websites?
 

eekern

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Is that for Apps on smartphones or websites?
Hi LeoistheSun, this is for making a SaaS (web application) as stated on the website.

Does your idea require an app to work ?

If you want to turn your SaaS into a iphone/android app for cheap you can use a service like: GoNative - Convert your website to native Android & iOS but I don't really see the point.

Focus on making a SaaS that solve real problems, that framework let you use ALL your time on that part, where the payment, structure, onboarding, users section already in place.
 

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adiakritos

adiakritos

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Awesome, use your salespeople to refine your pitch and create a solid funnel, that way you're not dependent on them and you can then scale up more easily.

Keep us updated!
Great idea!

It’s an interesting process I’m seeing here.

As I mentioned in my other posts, I work a 9-5. While this is a huge time sink it also has me forcing myself to really make shit as simple as possible and prioritize things. I ended up leaving basic shit out like remember me, forgot password, and even some pretty necessary features inside the app before actually getting two trial customers in.

Now that they’re in I immediately discovered an entirely different set of things that need to get done in order to make onboarding as smooth as possible. Since it’s such a simple app, very much a set it and forget it type of thing, I realized that the onboarding setup part is worth much more to this business.

I’ve already gotten at least 6 feature recommendations from the conversations I’ve had which is great. But they solve too many different problems for too many different people. Since my time is so limited I’ve decided to shelve absolutely anything at all that doesn’t support the one core main feature that is getting people into the app to begin with.

Next, I’ve realized that human nature can be a bitch. I get it now why when someone has a great business going they don’t share it with anyone, even family in many cases. They don’t reveal details about it, how much thier making, how fast it’s growing, what future opportunities are... etc I mean as far as I’ve seen. It’s not that they’re assholes for withikdong it’s just that human nature can be a bitch when people know too much.

As far as marketing goes I’m now considering a few options here. I might be able to do an affiliate program to grow really fast later on m. It’ll be a phased rollout perhaps.
1. Sales people to refine the pitch
2. Sales funnel to convert using the info from the sales people and my own research and conversations
3. Affiliate program to really push the software and leverage the sales funnel that’s been created.

There’s a ton of technological stuff to get done before I can execute these phases so this is why I’m pretty sure I’ll want a partner. If I go a little slower I might be able to pull it off. If not I can try again but with a partner or rev share deal do some sort. I’ll cross that bridge when I approach it.
 
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adiakritos

adiakritos

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May 30, 2011
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Progress update —-

I partnered with a marketer to help me do market research, product development, pricing, and also make some sales.

What I ended up doing at it seems is building a product that works for him in his current business and which he could sell to a few people in his network.

But now that I’ve created more than enough to sell, he has yet to building any marketing assets.

No email list
No social media presence
No sales funnel
No sales people

No system for generating sales.

I put pressure and his best effort is 1 Facebook ad to book demos. No new ideas, no feeling that he’s PUSHING to make it happen.

He’s got the best end of the deal because the software is giving him massive cost savings and he’s content I guess.

So that being said, the next time I get ahhols of him I’m going to talk about dissolving this partnership.

This is all my fault because I didn’t see far enough into the future logically and trust my instincts. I knew in the back of my mind this would happen.

The upside is that I have something that works and is paying for itself.

Not sure what my way forward is at this point. I have 6 months invested in a software that helps this niche but still I can’t do this all on my own and time is ticking as others enter the space.

I’m thinking that I’ll trust my instincts and update things as I know make sense, find another marketer to rev share with who seems to actually know more than me and brings value in terms of a following, a receptive network, way more experience... etc
 

NMdad

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Late to the party, but if your "partner" is doing nothing, end it now.

Outsourcing marketing/sales from the start--before you deeply understand your market & what they want--is often a mistake. End that too. Take ownership of it, so you can establish relationships in your niche & start selling--even if you later decide to outsource/delegate these activities.

You're 9-5 does limit how much you can do during business hours. But there's still plenty of time to call prospects--especially if they're in different time zones, or during your lunch or breaks during the day. You can fit calls into your day, unless you work at NORAD or on a submarine. :)

If you fully commit to doing this, you WILL get it done.
 
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adiakritos

adiakritos

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May 30, 2011
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Late to the party, but if your "partner" is doing nothing, end it now.

Outsourcing marketing/sales from the start--before you deeply understand your market & what they want--is often a mistake. End that too. Take ownership of it, so you can establish relationships in your niche & start selling--even if you later decide to outsource/delegate these activities.

You're 9-5 does limit how much you can do during business hours. But there's still plenty of time to call prospects--especially if they're in different time zones, or during your lunch or breaks during the day. You can fit calls into your day, unless you work at NORAD or on a submarine. :)

If you fully commit to doing this, you WILL get it done.

Your point about the relationships is one I never considered and it makes 100% sense.

Thank you for that, it really does make the path forward much clearer.
 

NMdad

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Your point about the relationships is one I never considered and it makes 100% sense.
Exactly. Think about how much control you'll have if YOU own the customer relationships & visibility in your niche instead of your "partner".
 
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adiakritos

adiakritos

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May 30, 2011
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Honestly I feel tired and defeated right now. Another year of my life invested and now I again feel overwhelmed by the idea that I have to shoulder the entire project and software and do my full time job.

And I come here looking for something, some kind of salvation or inspiration but I never find it here.

So I look inside myself again and I dig deeper to ask myself WHY and I doing this? The vision of freedom I have that I want so bad seems perpetually out of reach.

And I get mad because some people get lucky earlier than others, and I still work extremely hard but I don’t know what I don’t know.

How do I attract the right partners to help with this? How do I show them my F*cking ruthless grit and skill set? I software takes a lot of time to do right. I want my powers combined with someone equally as passionate and hard working as me who has their super power in marketing. It’s necessary for my niche because the market switches fast just because someone else has some other shiney new feature. So the key is getting to a point where I can drive a small dev team to build and innovate very quickly and my marketing partner will need to have solid creativity.

I’ve been on this forum since I was about 23 and I’m 28 now. I’ll never stop trying. I will get up again and keep moving forward toward my dreams.

I have a great asset I’m what I’ve created, all it needs is that push into the market. Do you have any idea how it feels to know that your competitor made a much shittier version of your product and sold it to 600 people within 45 days? And here’s I am with this Bugatti by comparison just parked in a garage?

It’s like being 5 feet from gold, SEEING AND KNOWING it’s there and then running out of gas on your machinery.

Arrrrgggggg

I will F*cking get that gold god damn it!!!!
 

Bekit

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Honestly I feel tired and defeated right now. Another year of my life invested and now I again feel overwhelmed by the idea that I have to shoulder the entire project and software and do my full time job.

And I come here looking for something, some kind of salvation or inspiration but I never find it here.

So I look inside myself again and I dig deeper to ask myself WHY and I doing this? The vision of freedom I have that I want so bad seems perpetually out of reach.

And I get mad because some people get lucky earlier than others, and I still work extremely hard but I don’t know what I don’t know.

How do I attract the right partners to help with this? How do I show them my F*cking ruthless grit and skill set? I software takes a lot of time to do right. I want my powers combined with someone equally as passionate and hard working as me who has their super power in marketing. It’s necessary for my niche because the market switches fast just because someone else has some other shiney new feature. So the key is getting to a point where I can drive a small dev team to build and innovate very quickly and my marketing partner will need to have solid creativity.

I’ve been on this forum since I was about 23 and I’m 28 now. I’ll never stop trying. I will get up again and keep moving forward toward my dreams.

I have a great asset I’m what I’ve created, all it needs is that push into the market. Do you have any idea how it feels to know that your competitor made a much shittier version of your product and sold it to 600 people within 45 days? And here’s I am with this Bugatti by comparison just parked in a garage?

It’s like being 5 feet from gold, SEEING AND KNOWING it’s there and then running out of gas on your machinery.

Arrrrgggggg

I will F*cking get that gold god damn it!!!!
Hey - really sorry to hear about your experience with the other marketer.

I'm a professional copywriter, and here are some ideas for you.

I know how it feels to be busy and not have enough bandwidth to do everything. But my instinct when I read your post was the same as NMDad - dissolve this partnership and build this asset yourself. An email list is an asset. An audience is an asset. YOU should control it.

Even if you don't do the actual execution of tasks, YOU oversee it.

So....here goes...
  • Is there search volume for the product itself, the competitor's version, or other tangentially-related versions of the term that indicate buyer intent? If so, run Google ads for those keywords. Maybe hit up @Andy Black about this?
  • Are there facebook groups or LinkedIn groups where people in this niche congregate? Identify the groups (a VA can do this) and then participate in the groups by offering helpful tips and freebies that point people back to your site. Be careful not to spam the groups and to abide by the rules that the mods have established. Still, you can build real relationships by providing value, and then take the conversation outside the group to offer them the thing you have.
  • Create content around the main pain points that your problem solves and post these posts on your site. Maybe you're answering questions - maybe you're "ranting" - maybe you're writing a keyword-optimized post - maybe you're subtly establishing the criteria that people should be using to choose the right SaaS program (which, of course, all the criteria you establish are the ones that your product fulfills).
  • Like you said, be scrappy and efficient, put up a quick landing page, and run Facebook ads to it.
  • Pitch podcast hosts in your niche to try to get hosted on a podcast to talk about the innovation you've developed. (Again, a VA can do this - identify podcast hosts and send them a pitch that you've drafted. A good VA might even be able to research the host and customize the pitch to them.)
  • Go to conferences, meetups, and events in your niche, talk to people, build relationships, and introduce them to your solution.
  • Or, do the online version of this. Get the list of speakers at these conferences. Go like their facebook page. Then take note of all the other people who liked their page, too. Then build a retargeting list from these people that becomes the group you run ads to. (Again, a VA could do this)
  • Answer questions on Quora about your niche to establish yourself as an expert, and where it makes sense, weave in a mention of your product.
  • Ask thought leaders in your niche to offer the product to their list in exchange for a commission on any of the sales you make from that list.
  • Look at the marketing style, techniques, and tactics that this competitor is using and copy what seems to be working for them.
Hope this triggers some ideas for you! You've got this!
 

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