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I hope you had a really good start to this new week. Get ready for another SaaS Manual post. If this is your first email, you can find previous posts here.
In this post, let me dive a bit into my thinking around building a community and "customer" trust. You might wonder, why this topic now? Because this is what I was focusing on over the past two days. I still need to "catch up" and share how I actually built the SaaS Manual landing page, but I thought it might be nice to already show what I am working on. So let's dive right into it:
If there is one thing I would focus on, it is this:
Build great relationships with the people who are interested in your product or work. No matter how many or few.
Those people will become your strongest advocates. They will recommend your product when they are able to do so, they will give you valuable feedback and they can be the ones to inspire you to continue on your mission. Let me share how I am approaching this so far.
After I announced SaaS Manual on Product Hunt several people started reaching out on different channels. Some on Twitter, others on Slack, others via email or LinkedIn. I also was surprised that startups reached out, promoting their products. The first reaction was, wow, that is awesome! And then I wondered how I can build relationships with those folks.
There aren't many things you need to know about building relationships. For me, I am boiling it down to three principles:
Respond to each and every person in a timely and personal way.
Respond in a way that reflects who you are.
Don't drop the ball on follow up conversations.
After sending the first email, I got several wonderful responses. Let me share one from Ben Brook:
This is how I usually respond to emails. Just make sure you follow up in a timely way and stay in contact.
Another example was from an interaction with Atif Khan who is working on a startup in the medical space. Atif reached out and a couple of days later we had a really awesome call. I hope that was able to help and I definitely got a few great ideas from Atif, win-win.
A few startups reached out to me as well, sharing their products. Maybe their thinking was that I could use their products in the course. And I am definitely open to the idea because there is no way we should build everything ourselves.
I was really happy about those messages, though some didn't come through on their promise. Let me share one example of how I would not do it. I edited everything out so it is not clear who this actually was. But it still shows that this was a lost opportunity for a new customer/supporter/advocate (me).
More than a week has passed and I haven't gotten a response. Why is this? It lowers the excitement I initially had. So now I am simply less inclined to use this product, even though it looked amazing.
Unless you are betting on mass emailing and then a few folks signing up, you have to follow up when you reach out. Relationship building is real, it doesn't end after the first message.
The big question is: will this approach work for SaaS Manual? I don't know! There is no silver bullet. What I can say is this: I rather build a business where I have a real connection with my customers/community. In the end, this is also a decision about business values. I want to invest in those relationships because that is the type of business I'd like to build.
For me to stay on top of the people who are reaching out, I built a simple "CRM" (Customer relationship management) in Notion. I sometimes review this and see if there is anyone I should reach out to again. You can check out an empty version here: SaaS Manual CRM and make a copy if you feel like it could be useful for you.
I want to share one thought on tools. Tools are there to help you achieve your goals. They don't exist to keep you busy. So I built the CRM to help me stay in touch with people right now. There likely will come a point when I will no longer use this and have found a better way. Don't get lost in tools and always feel free to drop them as soon as they are no longer useful. There is no use in sticking to a tool because you invested time into it.
I used Skitch to blur out the personal information in the screenshots and can recommend it. I am working on a Mac, so for Windows, you need to use a different app.
I previously shared that I wanted to create a "log" where I share everything I am doing. As I was thinking about this I wondered: Should I set up a Discord server? Discord is similar to Slack, a cool chat app that we could use to talk about building SaaS Products. I could post regular updates there and you could ask questions, and share your insights.
If you like the idea, simply reply to this email with "I like it". If you don't like the idea, reply with "I don't like it". I would really appreciate it!
The coming update will cover how I built the SaaS Manual landing page. I already mentioned that I am using Notion to manage the content. But you might wonder how I managed to point the domain https://saasmanual.com to the Notion page. I will explain this to you in the next post. Best of all, this setup is not costing me anything.
Follow me on Twitter if you are curious about more regular updates on SaaS Manual. And as usual, please reach out to firstname.lastname@example.org if you have any feedback, questions, or comments.