📂 You might NOT have a marketing problem...

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Ever since going through Blogging For Business, I've been a massive fan. In fact, they're one of the companies I feature in Marketing Like A Media Company with their top-notch blog, YouTube channel, media personalities, and more.

You know I'm a massive fan of SEO. It's the only source of free, recurring traffic for SaaS companies. And Ahrefs is the essential tool to build and scale SEO for your company. Even if you're completely new to SEO, you can start by creating a free Ahrefs Webmaster Tools account and get a full website audit that'll tell you how to improve as well as which keywords to rank for.


A lot of bootstrappers think they have a marketing problem: "I need to get better at marketing." But, it's more likely that you have a product problem: "Do customers really want this? Do they care enough about this to switch to a new solution?" — Justin Jackson

Founders must accept the fact that not all problems can be solved with more or better marketing.

Sometimes, you have a product problem.

Do customers really want this? How badly do they want it?

Peldi Guilizzoni, the founder of Balsamiq, said:

"If your product is remarkable, getting noticed is a lot easier."

Having a great product isn't all that's required to grow. Customers aren't going to magically show up out of no where. (that's the "build it and they will come" fallacy)

But you'll have a much easier time marketing a product that's truly exceptional.

Bad products kill marketing. Great products amplify the effectiveness of marketing.

Here's an excerpt from Paul Jarvis's Company of One:

"Of course, the stereotypical model for selling is manipulation: pressuring potential customers until they give in and buy, like the proverbial pushy used-car salesperson. But great salespeople — from car dealers to real estate agents to B2B sellers — know sales increase when you honestly evaluate what someone needs and then teach them the value of what you're selling."

To succeed, you need to build a product that solves a problem and is desirable for a market and then market it.

A lot of founders suffer from "ugly-baby syndrome". Of course to them, their baby (the product) is beautiful. But to others (customers) it's ugly. Now this is where the analogy breaks down but instead of taking that feedback (even though it hurts to hear) and making their baby more beautiful, they simply ignore it and say that customers are wrong.

You have to face the truth about your product because all marketing is derivative of the product.

If your product isn't truly superior in some way for certain people, why should they switch to you? Then it's just a race to the bottom. You don't want to be a commodity.

Superhuman

Before Superhuman was the premium email client of choice for VCs and startup bros everywhere, they were a fledgling startup trying to find product/market fit.

In other words, their product was good. But not that good. There was still work to be done.

Superhuman CEO Rahul Vohra shared his process for using a specific survey created by OG growth hacker Sean Ellis to figure out which features they'd need to build in other to create a high-retention, high-growth company.

To save you some time, I'll summarize the findings quickly.

They decided to double down on what avid users already loved about the product, build the features that supportive users needed in order to become avid users, and then ignore everything else.

"With a clear understanding of our main benefit and the missing features, all we had to do was funnel these insights back into how we were building Superhuman. Implementing this segmented feedback would help the somewhat disappointed users get off the fence and move into the territory of enthusiastic advocates." — Rahul Vohra

They essentially spent half your time doubling down on what users already love and the other half on addressing what’s holding others back.

The result? The Superhuman you see today — growing, thriving, and innovating.

Drip

Rob Walling started Drip as a simple lead generation tool to capture a visitor's email and then enroll them in an email sequence.

The product got some initial traction but quickly hit a ceiling since it was hard to justify a decent price for such a small tool.

But instead of figuring out how to make the lead generation part of the product more valuable, they focused on what users truly valued: automations.

Drip was one of the only email tools at the time that made it easy to enroll subscribers in different automated "drip" sequences of emails.

So they made a big bet: turn the product into an email marketing tool instead of a lead generation tool.

Drip would later go on to become the email marketing tool of choice for SaaS companies and eventually get acquired by LeadPages for a hefty sum.

Product matters. Features matter. Product strategy matters.

Excel unbundling

Want to know what your product is likely being compared against?

Excel.

You might think your competition is another SaaS company. A new startup with lots of funding, a few hustlers looking to capitalize on a trend, a big company moving into new territory.

But in reality… the biggest competition is Excel.

Spreadsheets make up every industry, they have multiple use-cases, and can be tailored to a specific industry need.

They also have virtually no user onboarding thanks to decades of usage.

So maybe you should think about how your product is truly better than a spreadsheet before you think about how it's better than your closest competitor.

—Corey

p.s. over the holidays I created a short course on How To Beat Your Friends At Poker just for fun. Would love for you to check it out!

Thanks again to our featured sponsors:

  1. Agorapulse: “The Zappos of social media management platforms” helps you plan, schedule, and report on your social presence.
  2. Ahrefs: Ahrefs Webmaster Tools is a free SEO toolset to help you build backlinks, improve your site, and rank for keywords.
  3. The Juice: “Spotify for marketing & sales content” to discover blogs, podcasts, and videos to help you grow your business.
  4. 42/Agency: My #1 recommended demand generation agency for SaaS to help you drive demos and signups.

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