Launching and Marketing a SaaS Product for Marketing Teams

Have you ever really believed in something yet found that faith really challenged over and over?

No, I’m not talking about politicians or some sports star.  I’m talking about a product you put your heart into creating.

You just know its going to revolutionize an industry if only you could get customers to pay attention, developers to finish debugging, vendors to meet timelines, channel partners to care, and so on.

The wait and the obstacles are seriously challenging and you are super excited.  Then, when you finally launch, its all crickets?

Well, we got to experience that first hand here at Click and it was a real eye-opening experience.

What I hope to provide here will give you some insights into our experience of building a product, launching a product, and pivoting.

History of Launching Lumentis.io

So we are officially relaunching Lumentis.io today! We announced new data partnerships and brand new Easy Button features. But that is today.  How did we get here?

Back in 2015 one of our customers brought us a brilliant idea and amazing product they had built.  They had built up a sizeable customer base.  They knew its power in the hands of a good marketing team, but wanted to stay focused on what they did well.

So we took their product and rebuilt it to serve the needs of marketing teams at B2C companies, enabling them to target their top consumer prospects.  The basic idea was that Lumentis.io maps consumer demographics at the household level for the U.S. on top of Google Maps so that a business can see who their customers are and identify where they can find new customers.

This way, rather than simply a list of people in a spreadsheet or database, you can visually see where people live, how they are grouped and find gaps in who you think your customers are versus who your customers actually are.

Product Validation

So we started by asking a bunch of our customers and contacts, if we built this, would they use it.  We showed them screenshots and talked about the idea.  We had a lot of customers saying yes, yes, and yes.

We were pumped!

Theory: Always, always, always make sure there is a market need for your product.

Reality: Later on, we learned that just because they say yes, doesn’t mean they will.  Our mistake was only asking a small pool of happy customers of our agency here at Click.

Creating Easy is Hard

So we began development.  It took longer than expected (NOTE: it always takes longer than expected).  One of the key problems we had is that creating easy is hard.

Our goal was to create something so easy that the small business could use it.  We knew the big giant companies of the world could do this stuff, so we wanted to level the playing field and bring the power of data to the little guy.

And the good thing is we did. But more on that further in the post.

We got the technical done, but getting approvals and vendors setup (like transaction processing and security) took much more work than expected.  Not just the technical work, but the paperwork.  It was a very frustrating experience just how many hurdles we had to jump through to get even small stuff done.

Money is Distracting

So in the middle of the development, we started to pre-sell customers on the platform and WOW we found a big one.  We managed to get a nationwide print company to agree to use it with their customers for direct mail campaign management.  We first started working with a local branch and they were introducing it to executives.

There was so much positive feedback, they started asking for features.  This was great but it pushed our development out an additional six months. We were tailoring the product for them.

This isn’t a mistake.  Companies will tailor their product all the time to meet customer needs.  Our mistake though was not getting true buy-in.   We were going on a promise.

What ended up happening though is that the branch we were working at got bought by another branch since they were doing so well, but our internal champion left.  Once that happened, we lost our voice internally. We were literally a couple of days from doing an executive presentation. But it got killed.

We lost 6 months of development. 6 months of lost time selling because we were so focused on the big sale.

The Lesson: Get it in writing.  Get approval before spending a small fortune on a handshake.  Lesson learned.

Love It But Nope

So we finally decided to soft-launch the product.  We began showing it to the business leads we had collected.  The feedback we got from them went like this:

  1. This is so easy to use!
  2. I wish we had this last month.
  3. This is amazing.
  4. Wow.
  5. Can we show this to rest of the team?

We showed it to a lot of people in lots of different industries.  Not once did we get a “no this won’t work for us”.  But there was a problem.  We rarely got a sale.

And just like Homer Simpson, our leads disappeared.

What Went Wrong?

At this point, frustration and confusion were high.  The companies we talked with had no issues, they thought the product was great, but they were not buying.

So we knew right out of the gate pricing was an issue.  Because of our agreements with data suppliers, pricing was very complex.  We had to fix that, but it was going to take a new agreement.

But we still didn’t have a good grasp of the core reasons.  If people loved it, why wasn’t it selling as we expected?

It took time and a lot of digging, but at the end of the day we discovered the three main reasons there were no buyers.

  1. Resources needed. Getting new customers was top of mind for our customers, but there were no resources (time, people, money) for testing new tools.  It was a risk on what they know works.
  2. Time for something new.  Many teams didn’t have the time to sit down and do a deep dive on their customer data.  Even though it would mean more customers, there simply wasn’t enough time.
  3. Not enough people power.  Marketing teams are WAY overworked. The expectations on marketing teams is huge and there is only enough brainpower and time to do so much.  No one ever got fired for spending time on SEO, email campaigns, or advertising. Because the marketing teams don’t have the people they need, there is only so much a person can do.

Adapting to Customer Needs

So we had a decision to make.  Do we give up? Try again? Pivot?

Well, as the story goes, we were literally going to shut down the platform, but one of our eCommerce customers had an idea. One that helped us get back on track.

We needed Easy Buttons.

Because marketing teams were so overwhelmed, they need easy ways of getting new customers that they don’t have to earn a degree in data science or spend hours managing weekly.  They already have enough of that with all of the other tools at their disposal.

The closer a product can come to delivering customers without them having to do much work and generate a positive return, they will use it.

So that is what we have done. Started to create capabilities that attract customers with as close to an easy button as we can get.

For instance, we created a connection with Google Ads and Facebooks Ads so that audiences could be imported straight into your audiences.  This gives our customers much more tight control over reaching consumers with their ads.

We need campaigns that just work by turning them on.  Sure, nothing is that easy, it takes a little bit of work, but it doesn’t take much, and it is easy.  This has been our direction, and its starting to work.

Relaunching Lumentis.io With Proven Customers

So we finally relaunched Lumentis.io and customers are signing up finally.  Have we solved everything we set out to do? Nope, but we are helping small and medium businesses compete with set it and forget it tools for marketing that only enterprise companies have at their disposal.  We are helping them compete and bring new customers with new ideas every month like the SEO Potential reporting we did for Christian Brothers and the neighbor outreach campaigns we are running for a consumer eCommerce brand.

Check out the product website and hop on a demo.  See if it can help get customers in your doors, yes, even in here in 2020.

 

 

John Paul Mains

About John Paul Mains

John Paul Mains is the Chief Marketing Scientist at Click Laboratory. He loves all things digital, but especially SEO and analytics. If you're interested in learning more, his LinkedIn profile is https://www.linkedin.com/in/johnpaulmains/.

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