Trying to get this product off the ground, should I call it quits?

My product is a plugin for blogs/online newspapers that helps engage readers better. My target audience is local newspapers, and company blogs running wordpress/Drupal. However, I’m having trouble getting those first few beta partners on board. I wanted to develop the product with feedback from a select few than look into selling it as a service later on to a larger customer base.

I cold emailed close to 17 people from community managers, to editor in chiefs, to company ceos. I got their info from twitter and felt they were solid leads. I also framed the email message in a reasonable light.

I have yesware installed, so I could tell most got the message, and most opened it. I’ve only heard back from two CEO’s though and they just said thanks for sharing but also no thanks.

What should I do? What am I getting wrong with the cold emailing process? What else can I do to connect with the folks on my market place that have this problem?

  • Not sure the CEOs should be your target.

    Who in these organizations feels the pain your product solves?

    Try to get a warm intro to them — possibly through a writer for that publication?

  • IMO, you have tactical issues and strategic issues.

    The tactical issue is that 17 outreach attempts is way too little. You will need to contact 100 people minimum, and via the phone as well as email. Email is too passive when you need to kick down the door to get a person’s attention.

    The strategic issue is that news organizations are a lousy target for a new innovative service. Why?

    Most of them are still living in the 1960s when they had a monopoly on the distribution of information. Despite getting their heads kicked in by information abundance and new channels of distribution (e.g. Google News), they just don’t “get it.”
    Very few of them are using Drupal.
    They are all broke, just trying to keep the doors open, and not investing in new technologies.
    The ones that are investing in new technologies are on 3 year development cycles.

    I suggest you take your core technology and re-target it to digital-only publishers. For instance your product may have value in areas like content marketing, which is white hot right now.

  • Two issues:

    1.) 17 is way too few. You need to contact 100-500. But more importantly:

    2.) Newspapers are a dying industry, and what will end up being left of them is very, very lean. Don’t look to them to make your millions.

  • I think you need to step back and ask yourself if the value is in your own head. Where did you get the idea from? Maybe they don’t think its a problem and you do? If NOBODY is telling you this is something they want – its a problem.

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