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Ask HN: I suck at sales and marketing, got any advice?
7 points by notchatgpt 49 days ago | hide | past | favorite | 8 comments
For context, I have a SaaS product (b2b) which is making good money (average ~$30k/month via subscriptions). I have never done any marketing or outbound sales of any kind. All of my customers have found me organically (mostly word of mouth, or through search engines).

I have tried to do outbound marketing, social prospecting, using "lead magnets", boosting my social game, content marketing, etc. Nothing I have tried seems to really "work" but people keep coming. I know the business can grow exponentially if I could get the sales/marketing machine rolling.

I have read every sales and marketing book I could find. I have tried everything. I don't want to hire sales people or a marketing firm of any kind. I'd rather do this myself and keep the business lean (it's just myself and has been for 5+ years).

What else can do, or what am I doing wrong?

First of all, congrats on getting to 30k/m. More than many startups achieve :)

Since you have already got users, you need to talk to them:

- How did they find your? What did they search for? - What problem are they trying to solve?

Would any of them give testimonials? Social proof is increasingly important, even in B2B markets.

Most marketing is a long game. For B2B content marketing LinkedIn is the place to be at the moment. Engage regularly and post regularly as well. This is a lot of work and takes at least 3-6 months till you see first results depending on how aggressive you are.

Given your progress so far Id imagine your better than you think at sales and marketing. A few things immediately spring to mind to accelerate:

- You have a lot of existing customers. Where do they hang out? Maybe theres a conference you can attend, a newsletter you can sponsor, a community voice who can give you a shout out? Ever asked your existing customers how best to market your product? If they like your product they will be happy to help, especially when your small.

- What about other people that sell to to your customers? How do they market their products? Ever contacted them to see if you can work with them on increasing awareness of your product? Dont limit yourself to other saas products. If the CEO of an SME is buying from you, you have the same sales funnel as the person selling office furniture to them.

- Also if a portion of your customers arrived via search, you may consider finding out what they searched for and better positioning your site for people searching for this. In niches its generally not too difficult, just write some slightly-interesting relevant content and make sure your site is spider-friendly.

I appreciate that you are still trying to learn marketing and not sitting back on your laurels or outsourcing the work. There shouldn't be any upper bounds on your growth just because you make more than one person needs, assuming you are one person at all.

Even if you might not need this skill now, you might still need it in the next project. Also you are the best possible person to understand what works and doesn't work and why as you will have the indepth understanding of the product.

That said, I do not have much to offer in the way of advice. I hope someone else would be able to.

In the meanwhile, I would like to pose some questions and maybe you can figure it out yourself or someone can help you.

1. As someone else have pointed out, have you been iterating on your work? Even ads need lots of iteration, feedback and course correction before it clicks. The same goes for other marketing channels too. Here analytics and googling can be your friend.

2. All the channels you have been speaking about take time to produce rewards. They are more like a garden that needs sowing, tending and weeding before results start to appear. How long have you been doing these activities? Have you been giving consistent attention to each channel overtime?

3. You have the most important treasure key to marketing success. Customers. Have you been talking to your most ardent customers? How did they find you? What value do you add, in their own words? What problems have you solved for them? What capabilities have you enabled by solving the problem? Where do they hang out? How can you reach more of these people? It is very important that you be able to talk to them and see your product from their viewpoint. I would recommend that you record the interviews (with your users' permission) and playback often to get a good understanding from their perspective. Maybe you are targeting the wrong market?

And an obligatory recommendation to "Obviously Awesome" by April Dunford. It is a short book but full of interesting insights.

You haven't really tried everything if you "don't want to hire sales people or a marketing firm of any kind." This might be a self limiting belief.

You can learn by hiring someone / paying someone for a limited time. You can learn what they do, and then use that knowledge to set up systems and processes. Once you have a process, you can pay others like a VA to execute it for you at a lower cost than your time is worth and gain back that time to do higher leverage things.

If your product is making $30k a month, you can afford to experiment with some amount of that, say $2k a month, for a few months, then switch it up. You will learn. If you could spend $2k a month on a sales person or marketing firm which resulted in you making an additional $3k a month, why wouldn't you?

30k for a SaaS business which has one person behind sounds pretty good and normal. If you consider it self funded and/or bootstrapped then you’re pretty much at the limit of what you can do alone. But in any case if you say you’ve read everything under the sun and it still doesn’t work the most basic conclusion I could come up with is that you don’t have your analytics set up right. If you have the time and budget try experimenting with different approaches of marketing then just sit back and draw conclusions from the analytics. A very scientific approach can be applied to marketing nowadays.

Doesn't sound like you're doing anything wrong? $30k/mo for 1 person alone seems pretty decent...? :D

Not much other than doing it again and again and again. But you know this already

With that kind of revenue, why not just hire an employee or an agency?

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