You Need to do More than Build it to Make Them Come

In the 1989 movie Field of Dreams, there’s this iconic scene where Kevin Costner’s character is standing on his land in a corn field, when he hears a voice say, “If you build it, he will come.” Confused, Costner keeps walking, assuming he’s hearing things. Then he hears it again. “If you build it, he will come.” Then again. And again. Eventually he gets the hint, and is inspired to build a baseball field on his land, beginning a journey of catharsis he needs for guilt he feels after the death of his estranged father.

Why am I telling you this? Well, I feel this is a sentiment felt by myself and by others when we build products on the web. If I build it, they will come. After all, it works for Google. But building it, much like in that classic movie, is not enough. It takes a lot more work.

So you have built what you feel is a great product, you’ve launched the site, and you’ve posted it on social media. Maybe people in your circles are even sharing it. How come no one is buying? This is exactly what I found myself asking when I relaunched WP in One Month. After a bit of reading and soul-searching, I’ve come up with a plan and some helpful guidance.

You Have to Fill a Need

The first thing you should ask yourself when building a product or a business is, “Why?” Why are you building what you’re building? That’s the entire premise of an excellent book called Start with Why. By starting with the Why, you will be guided by a common set of principles that should be seen throughout your product, how you interact with your users, and your marketing. Having a Why should help you determine the need you are filling. One you know the need, you can figure out the answer to the next question.

Who Needs Your Product?

If you were doing a paint-by-numbers painting, you wouldn’t just take a bucket of paint and throw it at the page, would you? Sure the page is now painted, but it doesn’t look like…well, anything. You would instead take a brush and carefully apply each color to its corresponding number. In both scenarios you have painted the page, but only in the latter did you accomplish your goal. Finding the people who need your product is the same way.

Marketing to everyone is like dumping paint onto a canvas and hoping you get the next Picasso. Click To Tweet

By creating something and just releasing it on social media, you are throwing a bucket of paint at a page. What you really need to do is find the people who need your product and market to them. By doing this, you can tailor all of your copy – your website, your tweets, your ads, etc. – to them. You can talk directly to them and tell them how your product will help them. This brings me to my next point, as well as my biggest weakness.

You Need to Market

A few weeks ago, I wrote a post about ROI and WordCamps; I opened with a story about trying to sell to people on the crowded streets Rome and other tourist attractions. Selling on social media can be a lot like that. You’re reaching out to anyone and everyone, in a place where lots of stuff are vying for their attention, with no particular message besides, “buy my thing.” Instead, take your “Why” and your “Who” and create a plan.

Creating a Marketing Plan

I am by no means an expert, and like I said earlier this is something I struggle with, but lately I’ve been trying to jot down specific, targeted tasks for reaching the people I feel will benefit from my product. Here are a few of those tasks:

  • Make a list of business owners who might be able to help you. Maybe they provide products similar to yours or your product can help their customers in some way. Try to offer some sort of partnership; offer them something in return for helping market your product.
  • Go on podcasts and seek out interviews to talk about your product, especially in circles where the audience matches up with your “Who.”
  • Run contests where your give things away.
  • Provide previews or trials: a lite version of your software or a free lesson from your course works well here. Give folks a taste of the product.
  • Build a email list
  • Sponsor podcasts or blogs with your target audience.
  • Create Facebook Ads for your demographic. This one takes some time and a little bit of extra money to mess around and find the right combination of copy and target. I haven’t quite found that yet.
  • Talk to people! Talk to friends, family, potential users, confidants, professionals, and anyone else that will hear you. Get their insight and advice. Pick and choose what works for you.
Talking to everyone you can will help you and your product evolve. Click To Tweet

I’m still in the throws of this one and will be for a while. I’ve reset my expectations to be more a slow build that a big burst. Which reminds me…

You Need to Have Patience

Success is not going to happen overnight. It’s going to happen after days, weeks, or months of grinding it out, marketing to the right people, getting your product out there in front of those who will find it useful. Hard work, patience, and perseverance are your best friends.

Hard work, patience, and perseverance are your best friends. Click To Tweet

You Also Need to Listen

On one final note, having patience is needed for more than just getting customers. Patience is also knowing how and when to evolve or pivot your product. Talk to potential and current customers early and often. Make sure it works for them and actually fills their need. Make sure the want to use your product.

That’s what I have for now

These are things I’m working on now. I’ll continue to work on these things, refine my process, and find the right fit for my product. Are you trying to get eyes on your own product? What is working for you? What did I miss? Let me know in the comments.