How to market your startup for cheap

Here’s a simple hack to combine product roadmap, product requirements, user manual, product testing, use cases, business justification documentation – all to abet your product marketing.

Categorized as Marketing

Most #startups or #productmanagement professionals are cash strapped and regimented #productmarketing falls to the wayside. 

Here, you’ll learn simple steps to kick start your product marketing.

Let’s take #telemedicine software as an example and see how to do product marketing for this. I am going to pick a product differentiator idea, send cold emails to validate the premise of my differentiator, and base my product decision on the responses from my prospects. 

Who are you creating this product for?

Please don’t say – for everyone. That’s amateurish and just goes to show that you need to do your homework better.

Yes, telemedicine uses the same old video technology we are all used to, and, yes, it can be used by anyone and everyone. However, narrow down further.. You are not a name brand, you don’t have all the budget in the world. Focus your limited cash to one teeny, tiny slice of the market. Try to capture at least that.

For the purposes of this guide, let’s try to market to eye care professionals (ophthalmologists, optometrists, eye clinics) only. 

We help eye care professionals with our telemedicine software. 

That’s the start of your pitch.

What do your intended users use now?

Let’s understand that even if you are making the best thing since sliced bread, you are not unique.

Research your competitors. 

It’s pretty simple – just go to sites like Capterra’s telemedicine software category and also read their buyer’s guide. Or, go to the G2 crowd’s telemedicine category. Software comparison and buying guide is the business that capterra and G2 crowd are in. It’s not going to be easy to beat their SEO.. 

Your prospects / intended users are either using one of those products OR they are not using anything at all because they don’t know why those would be better for them. 

Either way, your road is not a straight path to market leadership. You are going to have to fight all of them. 

It is expensive to educate a market

It is a lot easier for you to market to people that already use another software of this nature. At least you don’t have to explain to them why telemedicine software is the best thing since sliced bread.

Why are you creating this product?

Answer this honestly – to yourself. You are going to have to answer this to your prospects, employees, partners as well. 

Your answer cannot be just “We can do this better”. You need to do better than that. 

What can you do better?

You can also say that “Hey! The market is hot, I want to capitalize on that”. That’s fine to admit as well. But you are still going to have to compete.

Continuing with the example of telemedicine. Let’s say that you are creating this telemedicine software for eye care professionals because other telemedicine software don’t assist in billing, so a doctor does not need a dedicated billing department to handle their televisits. Your team will do all the research for them (which code to bill, whether to bill based on E/M , eye visit codes, MDM, how long they should see a patient for, what documentation they need to reduce denials/audits etc). 

You are ASSUMING that doctors want / need help with that differentiator of yours.

Now, your pitch becomes We help eye care professionals with our telemedicine software. Unlike our competitors, we help them get the highest reimbursements without denials.  

You are ready to get started.

What are you trying to get from your outreach efforts?

Do not proceed without a plan/expectation. This plan could be VERY simple.

Examples are

  • I want to collect the prospect’s consent to share such guides in the future
  • I want the prospect to share my link with someone they know
  • I want my prospect to respond to me and introduce me to someone
  • I want my prospect write to me to “Learn more “
  • I want my prospect to validate that adding billing to telemedicine software would be valuable enough for them to make the switch to your software.

Whatever you are trying to achieve, put it down on paper.

For the purposes of this experiment let’s assume that your goal is to validate that adding billing guides to telemedicine software would be valuable enough for them to make the switch to your software.

Great, now you are ready to get started.

Validate your assumption(s)

Don’t hire a development team yet ! You made an assumption that doctors will care about getting help with billing

Just because you have a pitch, it doesn’t mean that you should go ahead and build the product. Let’s test the market with our assumptions (i.e validation).

How does one do it?

Pretty simple – you were going to do outreach about your flashing new software, right? Do exactly that. 

Or, you were planning on running Google / Facebook / Bing ads, right? Do exactly that. 

Or, you were hoping to get inbound traffic that would beg you to sell them your software, right? Do exactly that.

But know this – each path has its own set of “rules of the game”.

Answer what’s in it for them?

Never, EVER forget that we are all human beings. We ALL want to know “what’s in it for me?”.

In every single communication, you need to answer that question first.. “What’s in it for them?”.

Cold email outreach for your telemedicine software

Let’s start with this as it requires the least amount of research. Let’s buy some email data to get started quickly. 

Go back to the G2 crowd website and find the sales intelligence software category. Capterra doesn’t have a good category for them yet. Let’s say that you chose bookyourdata

On BookYourData, you are going to find a lead list for eye care professionals. Spend that $ 1,229/- for 9,128 contacts (as of writing).

The problem with lead lists is that they do bounce (bad data). Now, with COVID and people losing jobs each day – the bounce rate might be even higher.

Cold email outreach – use a CRM to maintain your sanity

Import this data (CSV) into your CRM software (e.g. Hubspot, pipedrive, agileCRM) that integrates with your email (you don’t want a clunky CRM that makes you do more work than needed). 

If you don’t want to use a CRM just use a spreadsheet. Even that will do.

You already have a spreadsheet with your purchased leads data. Add these columns – Date contacted, Responded on, Next Step.

Cold email outreach – email pitch variations

Next, prepare your email pitch and various variations by following this format

Variation 1 | Subject line | Body

Make sure you do not write long emails. No one reads them.

Your subject line should be enough to generate interest. If you cannot generate interest with your subject line, you will not even get a chance for your first email sentence to be read.

Assume that your prospect did open the email. Now, you have to prove your worth with your first sentence. Sure, you want to say “Hi/Hello etc”.. But don’t bore them to tears – get to the point.

Cold Email Sample #1

Subject line: Dr <last name>, Need help with telemedicine research please

Body: Hi Dr <last name>, I have a telemedicine software idea to run by you. Of course, should you help, your first 6 months using our software would be at no cost to you. We (your company website link) think that a telemedicine software that helps you get the highest reimbursements without denials is more valuable than all the telemedicine software that are already in the market (maybe you are using one that allows you to just do video calls with your patients). 

I would greatly appreciate your opinion. Please hit reply with:

  1. YES! This would help me.
  2. NAH – This is not enough for me to switch to your software, Ronnie
  3. MEH – not very useful to me… go back to the drawing board Ronnie

Thanks for your input! 

<your name>

Your website, 

your phone,

your address

Send your first cold email campaign

Again, very simple to do. 

You can do a mail merge with Google Docs. or word documents.  You are going to use the spreadsheet of leads you purchased and run a mail merge (email merge) on the sheet.

Don’t send it to everyone in one shot.

It’s better to send in batches… e.g. batches of 50 over the day and in one week, you would have reached out to 250 people. 

Each day, go back to your sheet or CRM and mark prospects with whatever the next step is.

Grow a thick skin – you are cold emailing and your prospects don’t know anything about you – some are bound to mark you as SPAM. 

Get a thick skin. 

Hit send and start looking for responses. 

If you are getting no responses – no problem. Try another email variation. 

If you are getting responses, update your spreadsheet religiously, collect responses and once you have a good sample of data (1, 2, 3 etc), then you know your next steps

Go ahead and prospect.