Validating A Business That Doesn’t Exist Yet Part 2: Marketing


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:


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:

home alone cutouts



Content marketing is really at the core of the marketing strategy for Shift SMS.  Here was the plan:

  1. 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“)
  2. People interested in the subject would read more about Shift SMS and want to sign up for the beta program
  3. profit

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.

Cold calling/emailing

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.

One Comment

  1. I liked the way you report back on what worked less well or proved even to be dismal decision. Normally, the Internet is full of winners. Like in science journals, only the successful studies get published. Esp. for the beginner this paints a totally unrealistic picture of how “easy” it is to rank. Even your 50 article strategy with long tail keywords was, as you say, “abysmal” in its success record. Others have experienced the same, but they keep mum about it more or less. And many still try getting PageRank via commenting alone. After PageRank was patented by Google’s founders and accepted in current browsers, links on a web page no longer transferred ‘link juice’ from such nofollowed links. They only forwarded PageRank to the site they linked into if nofollow were omitted. With the growing amount of comments, sites who invited comments added the nofollow attribute as a matter of course. That was the main reason it was created: suppress PR leakage through commenting. Most blogs use it today, so how can commenting still benefit us in terms of PageRank? And if it does not, why are told to employ it for backlinking? While it may get you a short increase in traffic from readers, that is short-lived and not the intention of backlinking in the long run. So we all have to come up with creative solutions, since all the trodden paths have a diminishing return each time the next person walks it also. I’ll follow this strategy of yours in any case, it’s refreshing to read of what doesn’t work for a change and it is a great help!


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