Strategies for getting initial customers


At last I have gotten my SAAS product to a state where I can take on some customers. I believe as-it-stands it offers significant advantages over existing solutions.

I am finding it incredibly hard to get those first customers, even if I offer the service for free for a period of time.

What are some good strategies for getting initial customers? What are my pre-requisites?

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asked Jan 5 '10 at 06:58
Sam Saffron
432 points
Top digital marketing agency for SEO, content marketing, and PR: Demand Roll
  • What is the business/market. It would help to know that. – Tim J 14 years ago
  • @Tim, the product in question is linked in my profile page at the bottom – Sam Saffron 14 years ago
  • I went there (even before you posted the reply) and I have no idea what it is. Can you explain it? – Tim J 14 years ago
  • @Tim, that is an excellent point, I guess before anything I need to put up some website that "sells" the damn thing and explains what it is. In a sentence its "uservoice / getsatisfaction" on steroids - a public feature request / bug tracker and Q&A system to help manage the communities interaction and feedback with your product. – Sam Saffron 14 years ago

4 Answers


You'll have to get out there, hit the phones, burn some shoe leather, and build some real world relationships to get people using a brand new platform with no other reference customers.

Rather than think of them as customers, why not approach your earliest ones as partners who will help you test, refine and improve the product. The best partner will be a passionate early adopter who is really keen on your solution to the extent that they will put up with it's current shortcomings, put the effort into making it better, then act as a reference and evangelist.

Also, a wise man (bear?) made the point to me yesterday that there is no point in building a product and all that surrounds it until you've managed to excite people about the idea. If you talked with people, found out their exact pain point, and worked out exactly what excites them, your earliest customers are there for the taking.

answered Jan 5 '10 at 07:37
Benjamin Wootton
1,667 points


Even if the service is free there may be frictional costs for migrating from one system to another. People may not have time to make the effort. Reduce ALL barriers (not just the "price" you charge)

answered Jan 5 '10 at 07:04
Tim J
8,346 points


Like you said, you should set up a website that sells the software.

Some things you can include:

  1. A quick screencast that overviews your product. (i.e. )
  2. A call to action. (i.e. "Click here to create your community (free!)")
  3. A features list
  4. A blog (good for SEO)
answered Jan 5 '10 at 09:05
Olivier Lalonde
2,753 points
  • I did listen to your advice and got started, still need to do a screencast and blog ... – Sam Saffron 14 years ago
  • Great, it's a lot better now ! One last thing: as it is right now, people have to email you in order to get their community. You would drastically increase your sign up ratio if you automatized the community creation process. – Olivier Lalonde 14 years ago


An effective way to get your product out there is to give it away to non-profits or small companies (provided they wouldn't buy it anyways).

You gather feedback, testimonies and references that way. If they like it, ask them to spread the word around.

And then you might try to up-sell these early adopters to additional features, services, etc.

answered Jan 5 '10 at 09:51
Slav Ivanov
1,146 points

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