When you sell to customers directly you get to hear their reactions and get a much better sense of what's valuable to them. You also make yourself more approachable if/when they've got feedback down the line. Finally, you get a predictable return to your effort (even if it's low!), which prevents the kind of boom and bust that can burn you out in the early days.
I'd really, really highly recommend anyone else looking to start a B2B business take the same approach, even if your product is way too cheap for sales to be scalable.
Anyway, I'd definitely suggest redirecting the www to the naked domain.
It's a nice looking site too.
I coached for a long time at a weekend workshop called Lean Startup Machine and it was amazing how much teams would benefit from just talking with 5-10 potential users. They'd often come back in a few hours and say, "Ok, our previously brilliant idea turned out to be entirely dumb, because we didn't understand X, Y, and Z about our users. Let's try this again."
Couldn't agree with this more. I also have a low-priced SAAS product  and spent a ton of time early on talking to new users who signed up. I wouldn't even call it "sales". I just wanted to hear from early users' own mouths why they had signed up, what they hoped to get out of the product, and how it was working for them so far. These conversations (which I still do today) provided invaluable insights into how to improve my product.
One thing I’d add is that we approached these businesses like partners, not customers. Our pitch is that we wanted to create something great (that would save them lots of time) and wanted to hear directly from the horse’s mouth what would make the product great.
Rather than relying on the ROI of long term marketing techniques such as content marketing early. Otherwise, it takes too long to learn from your users/iterate on the product.
And don't be afraid to play small ball. Of course it's amazing to get on the front page of HN, PH, big subreddits, etc., but it's also hit-or-miss and subject to the whims of the hivemind. Posting comments in relevant threads is slower, but it can drive a surprising amount of traffic over time, and the conversion rates will often be much higher than a 'featured' placement.
Of course, you need to take care that you're adding something to the discussion and not just advertising. Basically, your comment should be able to stand on its own as something valuable without any mention of your product, but make people curious about what you're doing, so that by the time they get to your link, they actually want to click it and learn more.
Another tip: if you have a product that has sdks for various languages, integrations with other platforms, etc., treat each one as a mini-launch to that community. It's often much easier to get attention with "here's a cool new thing for Elixir" vs. "here's something for everyone".
1 - https://www.envkey.com
Generally speaking (and not in anyway a comment directed at the lovely people behind EnvKey), it can be a double edged sword, as if you are seen to only plug your business, even if you do add to the conversation, it can come across as a little disingenuous or pushy. So if you do take this route, don’t forget to be human and post normally sometimes.
Great point. As an inveterate HN addict, this isn't an issue for me, but it's important to strike a balance.
It's like asking friends for favors. It's totally fine, but if it's the only reason you ever get in touch, it will start to get old.
YouTube Share Enhancer: https://chrome.google.com/webstore/detail/youtube-share-enha...
SoundCloud Share Enhancer: https://chrome.google.com/webstore/detail/share-enhancer-for...
Could you elaborate on this? Do you see ongoing traffic coming in from comments on old HN threads (even old ones)?
This actually turned out to help in two ways: I knew _exactly_ what to build, and where to find first users. After that I point I really haven't had to market or even cold-call anyone since (thanks to SEO and GitHub) most folks find the solution when there in the midst of the problem.
If you're looking to build something, and are tech-savy, I think it's an interesting thing to go to popular OS projects and do some research. It'll open your eyes as to what others are needing and (sometimes willing) to pay for.
Looking back now, it amazes me at how often you see people crying out for a solution that they want to pay someone for. Mainly CMS plugins, but there's still a lot of opportunity out there.
Also, nice product!
Additionally, when we started the company I didn't have much money, but I saw that the most commonly searched term for SoundCloud producers was "How do I get more Reposts on SoundCloud?" A repost on SoundCloud is like a retweet on Twitter, so artists want as many of them as possible so their music will get heard.
I thought if I named the company Repost and dominated the SEO on that specific search we could get some free inbound traffic. My assumption worked. I believe if you search "SoundCloud repost" in Google we're one of the top hits, and something like 25% of our inbound applicants come organically.
The approach of discovering a keyword niche and targeting it is harder now that more people know about the technique.
1 - https://www.openhousetour.ca
The rules are simple. Whenever you talk to a client you haven't spoken to before, your goal is to learn something new. It might be something new about your product/problem, but it could be completely unrelated. Hell, through the years I've learned how to make an insanely good brine for turkeys, piss off Mormons in Utah and make a killer whiskey sour.
I recommend this because at this point, that level of support you're providing is business development, so the impression you leave is very important. Clients tend to feel very awkward when they have simple problems with someone they deem an expert. And, if you can provide that level of support while seeming genuinely interested in your clients, you'll win more than you lose. Try it!! Worst case scenario, you might learn to make a turkey so good you'll get emotional thinking about it...:)
When you're in the early stages of a venture, ideally, you know a little bit about the person you're talking to, know a bit about the problem they're having and are genuinely interested in how they found you and if your solution is working for them. That gives you a ton of fertile ground. In this stage, I love to thank people for using my product, tell them that because my product is so new it's very important to me that all of my users are very happy, and then ask them for any feedback or advice they have. It sounds very corny and scripted (and honestly, it is), but most of the time, if my product is any good and if it solves a real problem, everyone I talk to will have something.
At that point, it's about always validating what the person says to you. It doesn't matter if you agree, if you plan to implement the feature, or if you think it is the most incredibly stupid thing you've ever heard. Someone cares enough about your product to give you some feedback! Hearing feedback is an honour and I think it should be treated as such.
If you get those two things down, you'll learn from almost everyone you talk to. Particularly those people who need a little extra help. And, when you're working with people who need a little extra help, it's good to validate them too. Maybe you have a user who has trouble with copying and pasting. That sucks, but it's also an unbelievable opportunity. As builders, we need people like that to help us escape our own little, highly technical echo chambers!
Aside from those things, it really just comes down to active listening. If you listen closely, you'll start to notice that lots of people leave little threads in their statements. They'll often leave these little threads when they're about to pause and let you talk. For example, if you ask "how are you?" someone who is really open to talking will reply, "I'm good, it's a beautiful day today." That little thread about a beautiful day opens up lots of questions. If you don't already know where they're from, you can ask. If you do know, you can confirm, "Ah, you're from Timbuktu, right?"
Also, it's important to note that this only really works if you're genuinely interested in what people are saying. A big part of the game is knowing when to stop playing. We live in a world where it's expected to be prosocial and interested in everyone around you. But honestly, there's nothing wrong with being selective in who interests you. I would caution you that if you aren't genuinely interested in what people are telling you, you need to either get genuinely interested, or you need to replace yourself with someone who is. But, there's no value judgement in that. We're all programmed differently and it's all good.