Getting a product in front of people who don't necessarily know they have a problem


AKA selling a solution in search of a problem!

Our product is a web-based tool which helps people take and manage meeting minutes. The problem we face is that while most people don't like the way they currently work (normally emailing round Word documents), they don't necessarily know that there's tools out there to help them.

We're going to try a run of Google Adwords shortly, but this obviously won't get us in front of the people who aren't looking for help.

One thing I've been doing recently is watching Twitter for people saying things along the lines of "I hate writing meeting minutes" or other similar negative comments and reaching out to them. During the beta process I found some of our most active users that way.

Does anyone have any advice / ideas on other ways we can get in front of our target market and educate them that there's better ways they could be working?

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asked Dec 9 '09 at 11:03
206 points
Top digital marketing agency for SEO, content marketing, and PR: Demand Roll
  • Do you have any competitors? – A. Garcia 14 years ago
  • We've got a few, we're mainly trying to compete on UI and ease of use. Rendezview ( launched their beta at about the same time we did, they're aiming more at online meetings where-as we're focused on traditional meetings where people are face-to-face and the minutes are written up by a facilitator or after the event. MyCommittee ( has been around a while, but we found it over-complicated. – Rlivsey 14 years ago

6 Answers


Good luck on this adventure. I think you have a really cool product. Are you offering a trial or beta version?

In general, I don't think you should sell a solution, or an application, definitely not features, but not even benefits. Try to sell a story, a story about how much this tool helped somebody in particular. People like that.

Obviously there is no perfect answer for your question, but here is what I would do. I would try to meet with top managers in big corporations where lots of meetings take place everyday and tell them my story. Try to offer a cost-benefit matrix, highlighting how much time (time = money) your tool is going to save them.

Once you have a big company in your portfolio, it will be way easier to sell your product.

answered Dec 9 '09 at 11:52
A. Garcia
1,601 points
  • We're going for the freemium approach with a free plan which just gives you one admin user. Paid accounts have more storage and users etc... – Rlivsey 14 years ago
  • It would definitely be great to get a big company on-board, I'm going to try and get some introductions lined up. – Rlivsey 14 years ago


I agree that a story and/or case study is a good idea. I would try to define your target market. Are you going after small businesses? Medium sized businesses? Mostly offline business? Once you define that, think about and brainstorm where those people go. What magazines do they read? What websites do they visit? How can you creativity get in front of them? If you can find other services that compliment yours, I would consider forming a strategic alliance with another company. This will help your exposure a lot.

Given that you were searching tweets and found some users through there, I think you can creatively find a way to reach more people. Feel free to contact me for further information if you'd like, I love tackling problems like this. :)

answered Dec 9 '09 at 12:34
460 points
  • +1, story + tighter definition of market = more focussed marketing effort = easier to sell – Jason 14 years ago


Besides +1'ing a few folks above, I think you need to take stock in the vast amount of competition.

Just off the top of my head, I've seen all of the following in the past 60 days:

  • Google Docs
  • Google Wave (Yes! Wave sucks at some things but simple shared Word-ish stuff works.)
  • Internal Wiki
  • Basecamp

  • Notepad + email (since meeting notes don't change after the fact, this isn't that bad)

Note that all these things are either free or very cheap and all are very well known.

"Educating the market" is hard. People don't want to be educated. Thrilled yes, educated no.

So I would recommend developing a strong competitive case against these (and other?) tools. If you don't have major advantages over these products, I don't see the point!

That said, I do wish you luck and as you work on this further please continue to use this forum to bounce ideas off -- I'd love to see this take shape and kick ass! (And so would everyone else here.)

answered Dec 10 '09 at 03:02
16,231 points
  • Completely agree. The biggest competition is the incumbent, which is Word docs and email. I also use all the tools you mention on a daily basis, they are great at what they do and people get along fine with them. My, not at all biased(!), opinion is that there's far easier/better ways of doing this specific task, especially if you're just starting out, and we certainly need to sell to people based on those advantages. You can paint your house with a toothbrush, but it's easier to use a roller! – Rlivsey 14 years ago
  • If it really is the difference between painting with a toothbrush and a roller, you should be able to say that simply, e.g. one screenshot or one sentence. If you can't, then the analogy isn't true, right? My advice: Strive to get to that single picture or sentence. I'm SURELY not saying you CAN'T! I'm saying that getting to that point (which is hard!) means you have something worthwhile AND you can communicate to others, both of which are vital. – Jason 14 years ago


You may want to start with a local organization that has meetings, where you may get in touch with people at larger companies, as they use the product.

So, look for a non-profit that has committee meetings, or project meetings. For example, Habitat for Humanity might, or a local IEEE chapter that is working on planning for a conference. If they see that it helps them, as you gave them a free trial, then it may get back to companies about your product.

You should be very familiar with the products of your competitor, and be able to explain what the strengths are, without putting them down, but then you can use a narrative to show why your product would be better.

answered Dec 9 '09 at 12:23
James Black
2,642 points
  • I second this suggestion, My wife is involved with PTA and Girl Scouts, and has been involved with church committees as well, all of these groups create minutes. The also have members who work for of larger for-profit companies who could use your product. Possibly try to crate a free/limited version for non-profits. – Jeff 14 years ago
  • One advantage to helping small groups is you can get customer feedback and how responsive you are will improve how they see you and your application. – James Black 14 years ago


You have a potentially viral product here: Your clients are expected to invite their colleagues to your site during the normal course of using your product. Well done.

I've had a quick glance at your site and personally think that you should expand your scope a bit. It looks like your clients only begin using your site after the fact. Also, you might want to handle external meetings (sales presentations, client liaisons, trade events, interviews) as well as internal ones.

  1. Get involved before meetings take place and manage scheduling, physical location, agenda discussion and so forth.
  2. Make importing minutes from Word a no brainer. Perhaps you have an incoming meeting minutes email address that looks the sender up in the list of users, guesses which meeting the document relates to and parses the document for data (bullet points of resolved issues?) while attaching it to the meeting.
  3. Make it trivial to add a meeting. Perhaps forwarding a meeting request to the above email address from Outlook would do it. Once again you can parse the meeting request to gather participants, look at the text for an agenda, etc.
  4. Email reminder for a scheduled meeting back out to participants asking for minutes / approval of minutes
  5. Allow users who are not registered in your system to register a meeting without signing up or choosing a plan. You could ask them for an optional email address. Consider it viral marketing, and limit the features accordingly.

The ideal is that potential clients do everything they normally do but use your system to make one little part easier. They then grow the usage of your system as it grows on them. That is why I think that the old "type up minutes in a word document and email to meeting minutes" model could potentially work really well.

answered Dec 10 '09 at 10:04
Tom Leys
111 points


You might try tapping into professional project managers; they would likely be meeting note power users. There are several professional organizations running around (e.g. Project Management Institute ); a local chapter might be a starting point.

answered Dec 10 '09 at 11:04
696 points

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