When you’re starting from scratch with a SaaS product it’s an exciting time.
But then you sit back and realize that nobody knows about your product.
You know it’s great. You’ve worked with a few target customers to hone the product and make sure it really fills a need.
You see the potential and realize that people should be paying attention, but the reality is that people won’t simply find out about your product.
They’re not aware you exist. Even if you’ve been around a while it takes work to build that brand awareness.
So that’s the goal of this post.
Here are some ways to build brand awareness both in the short and long-term.
I really think the best way for new companies, including SaaS companies, is to form a partnership.
I don’t want to come across like it’s easy. It’s not, but the payoff can be incredible and even if it’s not incredible it can be a way to build your business very steadily.
The trick is finding a real win-win for each party involved in the partnership.
For example, at Ghost Blog Writers we partner with a few creative and marketing agencies. They offer a variety of services and outsource the blogging using our service.
That’s a partnership.
In some partnerships the win-win is that the combined offering is better together than either partner could offer on their own. One company might have a larger customer base while the other has none, but the payoff is there for both.
I like looking at the music industry as well. In a way, artists partner with record labels because the record labels have industry connections and the ability to break artists into the mainstream.
But the labels can’t do that without quality music. That’s what the artists bring to the table.
Each party takes a stake in the success and if things are done right it’s a balance that keeps each party investing energy into the success of the partnership.
2. Side Projects
Side projects are things you work on outside of your main product.
This, I think, has been around for a while, but seems to be gaining a little bit of steam lately. Many in the online community use Unsplash for photos. There is a company behind that site that created it as a side project and it’s helped raise their profile.
Back in the ’90s there was an airline in Wisconsin called Midwest Express Airlines and their little side project was providing freshly baked cookies on every flight. People really talked about those cookies all the time.
That’s a little different, but the takeaway is to try different things that would interest your target customers to build some awareness. You don’t want to invest a ton of time in side projects, but invest some time and effort with the goal that one or maybe two might catch on after a while and raise your profile.
3. Regular Guesting (Free Content)
Getting one guest post published on a big time blog can really raise your profile. It can even bring traffic to your website for a while. There are guest posts I’ve done years ago that still bring in traffic to this website.
The goal, however, is to commit to regular guesting and there are even more examples that writing content like blog posts or whatever.
I look at people that write regular guest columns for websites or even for local newspapers. It might be a local CPA providing money tips in a section in the local newspaper. Or a yoga instructor providing weekly health tips on local television.
There are a number of examples, but the takeaway is to do it regularly and find a channel where your audience is listening.
4. Event Participation
There are events for just about everything these days.
Just in the area where I live it seems there is a run for a cause just about every other week and it’s great. There are always companies that seem to always be involved and their names are attached for all the participants to see.
You can sponsor these events, but obviously that costs money. It might not cost a ton of money, but it does cost money and that can be more than a SaaS startup can afford.
But you do have your time and energy and events, and not necessarily charity events need time and energy. There is an event here for new business ideas where people from the community can come for the weekend and share their ideas and even work on them to flesh things out.
Local business people are there to help foster the ideas.
It’s a way to make connections for those businesses that participate.
It could be local events, webinars, online events and more.
Building on the last one a bit is charity. It’s hard to look at charity events as a way to raise your own profile, but it is a way to do so and while you’re doing it you can help a cause that you truly care about.
Some companies do this by offering 10% of their profit to charity. Others commit their time and energy to one cause that they are really committed to on a national or local level or whatever.
People care about helping others and if your target customers care about something and if you care about it as well there is likely an opportunity for there to be a win-win situation with your involvement that raises your profile while helping others.
6. List Inclusion
This site was recently included in a post about productized businesses.
That post or list is bringing in some good traffic and a few inquiries.
That one came about organically. We didn’t seek it out, but you can really help it along if you pursue list inclusion. There are a number of sites, blogs, etc. out there that likely write about your industry, which includes software, tech and whatever other industry your SaaS product fits in.
It takes finding the lists that include products like yours and reach out simply saying that you think they have a very good list and that since they like those products you think they would like yours.
Don’t push to be included. Don’t do any of that.
If you commit to that effort you’ll start getting included on one, two, maybe three lists.
And what you’ll find is that once you start getting included on lists you’ll organically get included in more and more because people that create these lists will search and see what’s been written before and if they see you on another list they might include you on their list.
It’s like creating a Best Rock And Roll Songs Of All Time. Once a song is on one list it’s usually on all the lists.
7. Long-Term Web Property
Finally, I think one of the best things you can do is invest in your website.
I like to look at your website as your online salesperson, always working to sell your service 24/7/265.
Investing with a blog is a great way to build content over the long-term. You focus on the top-of-the-funnel content, the questions your customers are asking before they know you exist, but that they’re asking about your industry.
Focus on answering those questions one at at time and over time you’ll build goodwill.
Think of it like you would in real life. Imagine answering a question for someone every day for a year. After a year you’ve helped 365 people, potential customers really.
Now, when those people are ready to find a product like yours they’re going to remember you because you helped them and even if they don’t need your product themselves they’ll tell their friends or whoever when the topic comes up.
Brand awareness is not an easy thing. I think there is a perception that’s it can be an overnight success kind of thing. I don’t think that is the case at all. You can do some things that will pay off quicker than others, but it’s important to focus on the long-term and commit to forming habits that will really pay off over time.
I think there’s a good mix above of things that might work in the short-term while really building your brand awareness over time.