First of all, thanks for the support from everyone about Shift SMS! I’ve gotten some amazing feedback from a lot of people and I’m glad that people are so interested in the idea.
So without further adieu, this post is going to go over the marketing strategy for Shift SMS – what I’ve done and what I will do.
Social (Facebook & Twitter)
Anyone that knows me is aware that I’m not especially bullish on social media, especially when smoke testing a software as a service business. However, when you’re trying to look the part, you have to have your social media channels setup. I’ve been using Buffer to build up a cache of posts through out the week (and if you’re reading this Buffer, I would totally love to join the team;)) with the primary focus on Twitter.
The reason that I’m focusing on Twitter is 2 fold: I use Twitter more and Facebook has recently started charging people to distribute their content. It’s gotten so bad that even celebrities are commenting about it:
Turns out my @Facebook is kind of worthless. I used to post & reach most of my 200k followers, now I reach 5k & have to pay to hit more.
— RainnWilson (@rainnwilson) March 25, 2014
Either way, I’ve been doing the standard “follow a crap load of people and retweet really popular things” strategy. I’m currently just south of 100 followers after about a week and a half.
Like I said, the strategy here is to make it look like there’s people in the house like in the movie Home Alone:
Content marketing is really at the core of the marketing strategy for Shift SMS. Here was the plan:
- Write about 20-50 blog articles using long tail keyword phrases people would search for (“how to write a staff schedule that won’t change” “how to train teenage staff“)
- People interested in the subject would read more about Shift SMS and want to sign up for the beta program
So far, this has not worked at all. The traffic for these posts have been abysmal to say the least (I know, I know, it’s only been a couple weeks, but still).
I ended up listening to an episode of Pat Flynn’s podcast (Episode 66 – Niche Site Duel 2.0) and realized that I currently have no backlink, or backlinking strategy. Basically, there’s no way people can find my stuff because no one has linked to it. And because no one has linked to it, Google doesn’t see the page as valuable. In order to combat this, I have a few ideas (that I have not executed on yet):
- Guest posting on reputable blogs
- Creating powerpoint slides of my blog and posting them on Slideshare for SEO juice
- Writing press releases and submitting them to PR directories
I’ll let you know how those go in a future post.
This is the part where we start to get into the nitty gritty of smoke testing – getting to your actual customer. I’ll be completely honest and say that I’m a little scared to approach people about actually selling this to them. But enough whining.
My plan is basically compile a list of about 20 restaurants to start, ask them customer development questions, and then potentially ask if they would be interested in a product like Shift SMS. I’ve concluded that my “closing” line will be something like “We’re looking to launch our beta program in 4 months, and we want to partner with you because you’d be a good fit. Is this something you’d be interested in?” and then go from there.
Overall, I think the process is going pretty well and I’m just encountering the bumps and bruises that come along with building anything. I’m definitely getting overwhelmed with the amount of stuff that I feel like I could be doing, and there’s a level of anxiety that’s coming a long with it. I’m going to try and keep my head up and hopefully it works out.