We are trying to launch a SAAS product to the market (https://koraki.io). As you all might have passed this stage already, can you share your thoughts/experience how to mass market the product?
We are willing to provide forever free subscription plans (with premium features) to the first customers. But how to give a publicity? Spending on paid ads doesn't seem to be a good answer as we are running out of money
It sounds like you created your company backwards. The correct order is marketing strategy, marketing validation, product-market fit, product development, delivery of product. You can go back and do the steps you missed, but it may completely change your product. The "if we build it they will come" model never works well.
Publicity and advertising mean nothing if people aren't interested (meaning you delivery value that is a fit for needs and desires). You're running out of money because you're advertising something not enough people care about or want. This is why marketing strategy and testing must come first. Advertising is not marketing. Advertising is a tactic, you need strategy to define the next steps.
You're not alone, a lot of companies make this mistake in building something they hope to sell rather than proving something will sell and then building the thing that they've proven will sell.
Stop advertising now and work on validating your product-market fit so you can make adjustments to your product before you run out of money completely.
Connect to various marketing communities/groups on social media networks like Facebook or LinkedIn, register on marketing forums Warrior Forums or Digital Point and try to post announcements about your product launch in relevant categories, create offers with discounts or free subscriptions. Reach out to marketing bloggers and news magazines with a guest post request to feature your company website within a guest post or ask for product reviews in exchange for money or free subscription.
You had to develop an MVP first in order to validate the market. Can't really do that with slideware. So you have made a great leap forward.
First off, reorganize yourself to extend your runway. Might be painful, but layoff all but critical people. Everyone can still keep equity they earned and you can always hire them back once you have the cash. Cut salaries to the minimum.
Now that you have an MVP, go out and sell it one customer at a time. Assuming you understood the market correctly and have something people want, start selling. Every snowman started out as a snowball.
If you can't sell it, even when its free to start, then you likely need to revisit you initial assumptions.
Madusha - it is difficult to tell where the problems are.
First, I recommend that you have a native English speaker go through your site and help you make the messaging stronger. I couldn't tell what it was that you do and since the grammar had some issues, it would be likely that you are being discounted just because of that, versus what your product actually does.
Second, I am going to try your product. We are a B2B company versus B2C, but it will be interesting to see how it works for us.
Third, as everyone else has advised, you have to prove product/market fit first before trying to scale. My lead advisors recommended the Startup Owner's Manual. It is like getting an MBA in the lean startup methodology.
Here is my answer to a similar question on "how to get Beta user to signup"
Re posting it here for your reference.
Firstly, bringing in beta users for the product will not happen in a day. It is a process. we can only expedite it by implementing different strategies and with a systematic approach. Some of them on the top of my mind are :
1) Gamification of Signups:Beta user who have successfully referred and on boarded new users would be collecting points and will have first access to final product.
2)Targeting UX influencer groups/people in twitter and linkedin by tagging them
3) Leader board for user who have signed up:Similar to a Kaggle for UX, you can create a small case study competition and create a leader board for beta users. Points will be allocate based on polling any other criteria set by Mighty.(User can participate in competition in only teams, this will provide a incentive for signed beta user to bring in more beta)
4)Viral marketing of posts highlighting pain points of UX designers(finding work/showcasing talent) on Linkedin/twitter/any other platform where UX users are in high numbers. [there is science associated with making post viral]
5)targeted Email campaigning:We can send customized and targeted message by reviewing their social media profiles, most likely opening time for mail,etc.Analyzing past campaign results for failure trends and pitfalls in user signup
6) Collaboration with complementary startups