22nd May 2021
Getting started with idea validation
Start-up SaaS ventures can often get bogged down in the process of creating ‘buyer personas’ for their product. You’ve just left a meeting with your marketing team with an extensive and detailed list of profiles on hypothetical customers, and you feel confident that you’ve got all the bases covered – but this is likely your first mistake…
As you’ll most likely be looking to exploit PPC (Pay Per Click) advertising to secure your first batch of signups, you’ll want to tailor your spending strategy to the strengths of the PPC model. With a limited budget, spreading your placements too thin over a broad criteria of potential customers is unlikely to give you the returns you’re looking for.
Instead, you’ll want to hone-in on a tight set of definitions that can be microtargeted on a smaller spending budget. To make a success of this, you’ll naturally want to make sure that our target audience is as well researched as possible. Part of this process will be knowing where to find them online through ‘field’ research. This is something you’ll want to do as early as possible, as locating your SaaS audience’s online hangout of choice will continue to pay off as you develop your product.
Again, much of this advice will shift in emphasis depending on the nature of your SaaS product. A key distinction to open with is whether your product is B2C or B2B. Whilst many of the same principles apply to both, targeting organisations rather than individuals will require an extra few steps to finesse your strategy.
For B2B strategies, you’ll want to consider your client as three separate entities:
Shifting your focus between these three facets at different points in your SaaS venture will increase your chances of a successful marketing push.
In the initial stages however, you’ll want to pay closest attention to The User – that is, the people who have the most to gain from using your service. As part of your development research, you will have identified a problem point that your service is looking to fix. These users will therefore be the first group that you need to win over and get signed on to a trial, or beta testing an MVP.
Winning over The User should be straightforward provided your SaaS product is delivering a relatively smooth and functional feature set – but that’ll be for your beta launch, which is still in the pipeline. For now, you’re still looking for where your future clients reside as part of understanding what their priorities are before you launch anything. The concerns of the other two categories – The Manager and The Budget – come later once The User is secured and engaged with your product.
Be wary of casting too wide a net over who your potential users might be – you’ll want to keep your initial target userbase as focused as the problem you are trying to solve. SaaS founders can quickly get carried away describing how their app could change the lives of every living soul on the planet, and that enthusiasm is healthy for motivation, but is unhelpful in delivering the precision needed to get the idea off the runway.
The search for your users should also begin to inform your marketing message. As you identify ‘pain points’ and use them to refine your SaaS product and the solutions it’s offering, you’ll want to start thinking about how your ‘elevator pitch’ to future users will come together. This doesn’t have to be overly poetic or witty – clarity of purpose is your priority. For instance, if we were to pitch well know SaaS platforms, it’d sound something like this –
To conclude, your opening strategy should include the following traits:
This research and development is worth investing in, as it’s the blueprint that will guide you through the idea validation process and beyond; to your first beta, MVP and eventual product launch, from both a developer, marketing and sales standpoint.
Keep reading for where to go from here if you think you’ve ticked all of these boxes!
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