Now that we have a demo, we need to market and sell it to understand if there is business logic to produce it.
To avoid the high cost of producing a product that no one will pay for, we decided to make a few slides to show to customers.
We sat down and thought about how we were going to do that. Finally, for that b2b bootstrap, we decided to use our network to call the persona of most interest for us. At that time, it was the DevOps or CTO persona.
It is important to note that we did not approach like a door-to-door salesperson. When you tell someone you want to sell them something before they see a value, their personal valuation of your product is very low, and they automatically shut down.
Instead, we asked for feedback about the product, using slides “to speed things up” or to show “new features”.
Some customers said it was not for them and we had to pivot, and some said it was missing some features or too many features.
At the end of the conversation, we ask how much such a product would be worth? We then asked if they would like to be in the beta?
With some key customers, we asked for a written interest. A kind of soft letter of intent (LOI). It could be in an email or a WhatsApp message. It both creates seriousness going forward, and if you want to raise money later, it is something you can show to investors.
All in all, it was difficult but a lot cheaper than leaving your job, to produce something that nobody wants.
In another bootstrap, the city accelerator set up an open day for the community to see what we are doing. We got a lot of feedback that really they did not understand the value of the product we were describing, and we did a pivot.
Later on, my incredible co-founder submitted an article to an online technology magazine with our bunch of scripts, a little money, and a super simple web app we stitched up in a week. Finally, it took off.
It is essential to read between the lines to get good feedback. If this is a conversation, ignore the platitudes and use all kinds of tactics to get your customer off guard so they won’t resort to being nice and be brutally honest with you.
With our B2C bootstrap, we had to go further and add a lot of logs and database entries which we analyzed in excel sheets to see who was using our app the most. We were amazed at who really enjoyed the app and was willing to pay a lot to keep us around.
So far, what worked for us:
- Friends and family feedbacks and reports of using the product.
- Fliers in malls and personally and respectfully ask if you have time to hear about and provide feedback.
- Video call meetings with our network of colleagues and LinkedIn contacts.
- Demonstrating one on one for high-value potential customers.
- Content/Interview in online magazines with many readers from the target audience (early adopters).
What did not work for us:
- Buying Facebook ads with pray and spray.
- Cold outreach for LinkedIn contacts who don’t know us or without introduction.
- Content on your site and throwing it in some social new site or group.
All in all, they were great experiences.
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