Putting yourself out there is scary. Whether it’s joining people dancing on a dance floor, asking someone on a date, or cold calling leads — the idea that people will laugh at us, turn away, or react with anger is scary.
There’s a few fears here, but I believe they all come down to the idea of being “good enough”.
As humans, we’re taught from an early age that if we’re “good” and play by the rules, we’ll be rewarded. Things will just kind of naturally work out for us, like a built-in societal karma.
By and large, this is true. Sure, you might not get that job you were qualified for or that person you felt compatible with might not feel reciprocal attraction towards you, but we acknowledge that there’s some luck in the mix and move on to the next one.
But, every once in a while, all of this “be good → get rewarded” stuff gets called into question. When you get in an accident. When someone you love dies. When something political and unfair causes you to lose your job at a company you love.
And then you think, for just a second: maybe it’s not the good ones who succeed, maybe it’s the ones who go out and get what they want and take it. Life’s too short for me to just wait around for things to come to me. I need to figure out how to fight tooth and tail for what I really want!
And that’s how it can seem when you first launch a company and no one — absolutely no one — pays attention to you.
“Maybe I need to manipulate them into paying attention.”
“Maybe I need to buy followers or votes on social media.”
“Maybe I need to overpromise and just expect some refund requests.”
These kinds of thoughts are scary not only because they might affect other people in a negative way, but because even considering doing them can affect our self-image negatively.
And here’s the impasse that most indie hackers get trapped by when it comes to marketing and sales:
“I will not be evil or do underhanded things in order to get an advantage in the marketplace, therefore I refuse to do any advertising, any cold calling or email, or any marketing that could be interpreted as manipulative.”
No one wants to be lied to or manipulated or have their attention be pulled into something that looks really promising at first but turns out to be a mirage.
And you’re a good person for refusing to do to others what you wouldn’t want done to you.
So, there’s no way you could call someone up or post an ad on Facebook saying:
“I have the perfect app for your needs. You will not be disappointed. I’m about to save you half your budget and streamline your communication with your clients so you’ll save weeks of time every year”
But, there’s two levers you have control over:
- Your messaging
- The actual, real experience of using your product
And what I would suggest — if you’re reading this guide — is that there’s a way to be a perfectly good person without changing your “over-promising / manipulative” messaging.
And it’s by:
- Getting real users to use your product
- Improving the product based on their feedback until they’re consistently saying really nice things about it
- Using the nice things they say about it as part of your marketing and messaging — not because you want to manipulate people, but because you’ve heard enough people say it that you genuinely believe that the more people you recruit, the more people you’ll help
Once you get to that point, you won’t have to do cold calling or purchase ads — news about your product will spread on its own, person to person.
But, if you did cold call or purchase ads, you might actually be able to see it as a service to the customer that you’re paying for (how generous of you!), simply letting them know there’s a better alternative for doing things than what they’re currently doing.
That’s called Product-Market fit. It’s also the point where you can outspend your competitors on advertising because your drop-off and churn rates are so low and you’re making so much money per customer that you can afford to outspend them and still be profitable.
It can be the opposite of what you thought at first: it’s a genuine care and love for the customer that can be the driving force behind getting the word out about your product. It doesn’t have to be greed and avarice.
But, in order to get there, you have to start talking to customers today and getting feedback on every step of the experience of using your product. That’s the only way — starting with a single customer — that you’ll build up the confidence to know for a fact you’re “good enough” for them.