[Week 1] Building in Public - Format
The Snapshot section gives you a quick summary in case you are in a hurry or plain curious. If you are a founder/operator working on growing your business highly recommend going through the Breakdown section.
Monthly recurring revenue: $0
Trial Signups on PlusOne: 10
Qualified Signups (real companies that might have the problem): 5
Active Trials: 2
(Week 1 to 12 will be "pre-launch" we won't focus on having a Stripe paywall, rather try to get active adoption first).
🤯 Top Insight
The bigger problem for SaaS companies is gathering existing testimonials from multiple places, and displaying them at their points of conversion (vs. collecting new testimonials).
✌️ Top Wins
873 Subscribers to this newsletter.
5 qualified signups with a clear use case (for us to test with).
Just completed the widget feature - now folks can display old and new testimonials on their own site near the signup or demo buttons (dm me if you want to see how this would look like on your site).
🐝 Top Customer Channels
Direct outreach - Picked 5 SaaS founders to chat with. 3 might have the problem & are waiting for us to finish the widget + chrome plugin to capture their G2 reviews and reviews from few other channels.
🧩 The problem we are going after
Increasing conversions on signup and demo request pages.
I almost made the mistake of saying "the easiest way to capture and display testimonials." That is the solution not the problem. Defining the problem your business will solve well is 80% of the battle won. I kid you not. We are all in love with our own ideas, our solutions. So this is harder than it looks. Took me many years to understand this.
So again, problem we are trying to solve, the outcome/change that we are trying to impact for our customers is:
Increasing conversions to signups and demo request forms on customer sites.
This can be achieved through different solutions, of which testimonials may or may not be the ultimate answer. We need to test how they impact conversions. We have data from various SaaS founders suggesting the right social signals affect conversions by 10-30%.
🤝 Ideal Customer Profile (ICP) Hypothesis
I started by short-listing 3 types of customers for the above stated problem. Folks with a 100% online signup/buy business are:
SaaS software companies
Online Course sellers/ instructors
✍️ Customer Interview #1 (e-commerce company)
I talked to a friend who runs an e-commerce brand, a baby clothes company. They have been around for 5 years. I learned that generating new testimonials was not a problem for them. A lot of their customers showed them love on social media by sharing pics of their kids wearing the brand.
However, outside of resharing and commenting on those Instagram posts there was no way to collect and display these testimonials all in one place. The fact that PlusOne lets the user pull any social media post in one place - this is what was exciting for them.
Now, our product at this stage aims to enable two things:
Easiest way to ask for & capture video and text testimonials.
One click ability to add any social media posts or online reviews as a testimonial to the same place as point 1.
The call with the kids clothing company alerted us to one thing. We would be solving #2 for them. They did not have #1 as a key need i.e. they didn’t get to generate their first set of testimonials or push folks to give them one. #1 would be critical for a business at an earlier stage with no customer love or a young brand.
Good learning for us since we now have to decide whether we should first focus on companies who would tack on to #1. Open question.
The problem validation is going to evolve for a few more weeks (the nature of ‘building in public’). It won’t be done with a few customer interviews.
Customer Interview #2-5 (SaaS software company)
Naturally, I understand this customer profile a lot better. This past week I did 4 interviews with SaaS company founders, who all have either a "free-trial signup" or a "request a demo" call-to-action on their homepages.
Common learnings from these calls:
They have reviews and love shown to them on third-party reviews sites, customer support tickets and social media. They don't have any way of capturing them and displaying them on their websites, landing pages and sales emails.
They need a widget to display testimonials and reviews in a flexible format on the above mentioned properties. Having a customizable widget in different formats (rotating) and sizes will make them use it. Especially if it set it and forget it - one time effort.
The problem of conversions can only be measured if we track before and after analytics due to the changing testimonials.
They want an easy process of capturing their best reviews (not needing a developer etc to categorize them). Usually things fall through cracks due to developer priorities.
💡 Pro-tip: The most important point of this section is how to interview customers. Again, this has to be problem-focused and you can't ask "will you use my product, how do you do this action today." It has to be more along the lines of understanding (1) if they have this problem and, (2) how do they solve it. I recommend this quick read:
Our Customer Profile Focus
For the next two weeks, we will go deeper into testing and talking to SaaS companies and reaching out to a statistically significant sample size of SaaS companies.
This is not a conclusion that SaaS companies are our perfect fit. Rather, it is about focus. We will see if we can if SaaS companies find this useful and what we would need to do to increase their conversions. Then we can move on to testing the other two customer profiles.
We will start getting into the fun stuff like:
Growth Update: My cold outreach campaign sequences (this is what I have helped people with the most). You will see mine in action.
Product Update: What are we building and what are we choosing not to.
This is an evolving format over the next few weeks. Please throw questions and suggestions at me!