Forget About Marketing. Focus on Building An Awesome Product

Forget About Marketing. Focus on Building An Awesome Product

I completely focused on building and stopped marketing for 3 months — here is what happened.

If you’re just starting your entrepreneur journey to build an awesome product, I bet you don’t like this quote:

Even the greatest ideas need a megaphone. Without marketing, they’re just whispers in the wind. — Jeffrey Eisenberg in The Rice and Beans Millionaire

or this one:

Great products don’t sell themselves; marketing is the storyteller that brings them to life. — Seth Godin in This Is Marketing

Don’t we all wish to create a product without the extra hassle?

In this article I want to share the words every indie hacker dreams of hearing: Sometimes, you just need to take a seat and BEGIN CREATING. Improve your product, create something incredible, and let time do its thing.

First, a quick side note:

  • I am a developer building projects on the side

  • No shareholders are dictating any roadmap

  • I do not financially rely on my product’s success

To put it another way, I am not dependent on the financial success of my side projects and can let time play for me. I’m not a pro marketer yet, and I know marketing does matter. However, I still wanted to get improvement, so I focused on what I could control: the quality of my product.

Generally, I don’t let my business make me too happy, so that it can’t make me too sad. — Sahil Lavingia in The Minimalist Entrepreneur

What Made Me Write This Article?

Isn’t it strange how quickly people can change their minds? Just a few months ago, I was emphasizing the significance of SEO in my articles, but now I’m suggesting that sometimes it’s better to concentrate on creating a fantastic product.

If you don’t change your mind frequently, you’re going to be wrong a lot. People who are right a lot want to disconfirm their fundamental biases. — Jeff Bezos at the MARS conference in Las Vegas

Don’t get me wrong, SEO and Marketing are essential to scale a great business.

However, if you’re a Company of One like me, you need to prioritize wisely. In the past, I spent too much time on SEO and marketing, neglecting the product itself.

There were always a few things that weren’t working quite right but should have been fixed earlier.

If you have a full-time job, spend 30 minutes every morning writing an article for SEO, then post it on Twitter and LinkedIn. Well, then there simply isn’t much time left to work on new features for a long time without interruption.

That’s why, in the last few months, I dedicated all my efforts to improving the app for my users. I didn’t share any articles here, didn’t tweet or post on LinkedIn, and didn’t write blog posts to boost my SEO rankings — I simply sat down and built!

What are the results?

I wouldn’t be writing this article if I regretted my choice to focus on building and putting marketing aside.

The results are great and I wish I would have done it earlier.

“The most powerful marketing is the joy customers experience when using your extraordinary product.” — Jeanne Bliss in Chief Customer Officer 2.0

Here is what happened:

  • Web Highlights active users increased from 40,000 to over 70,000

  • the average Chrome Store rating went from 4.6 stars to 4.8 stars, with over 1,1K+ ratings.

Active users grew from ~46K to ~72K in only three months

Active users grew from ~46K to ~72K in only three months

I want to highlight that I’m developing a Chrome Extension, and the cool part is, it naturally grows through the Chrome Web Store. Good reviews not only boost your extension’s ranking but also attract more traffic and enhance SEO scores on the platform.

This also goes for apps in the Play Store or App Store. That’s why I would say this article is most relevant to indie developers creating apps on these platforms.

I believe attracting traffic to other SaaS websites could be quite challenging without any marketing efforts.

Why You Should Focus on Building An Extraordinary Product

Robust Foundation for Scaling

In ‘The One Thing,’ Gary Keller says that whenever we have to decide what to do next, we should ask:

What’s the one thing you can do such that by doing it everything else will be easier or unnecessary?

I have asked myself this question and came to the conclusion that some main parts of my application needed to be refactored and renewed.

This meant a lot of work. It required me to concentrate for many hours straight without being distracted by other things. Only by doing so could I lay the groundwork to scale Web Highlights beyond the 100,000 user mark while maintaining or even improving my good reviews.

I was amazed at how quickly I accomplished things and how wonderfully fast and error-free my application became all of a sudden. In a relatively short time, I was able to make the app significantly faster and more user-friendly.

After just one month and the first release, it became clear that my users were much more satisfied.

“This extension should have existed since browsers became a thing. It’s useful, well designed, intuitive, and beautiful! Fast, no bugs, also useful for PDFs. It’s the whole package. Warning, you may not be able to do without once you use for a while. Thank you Marius!”

Growing numbers of users started to love Web Highlights.

After that, I revamped the entire web app and even built a completely new landing page. This was long overdue, as I had put both together ages ago during my time at university.

Web Highlights landing page before (left) and after (right) the rebuild.

Web Highlights landing page before (left) and after (right) the rebuild.

I was truly astonished at how I could achieve such significant improvements in less than three months.

These substantial enhancements now provide me with the perfect foundation to focus more on marketing and SEO in the future, knowing that my app is ready for a potential 1 million users.

Great Software Has Built-In Marketing

Just because I’ve focused on development for three months doesn’t mean I haven’t indirectly engaged in marketing efforts.

The best marketing doesn’t feel like marketing — it feels like an exceptional product that speaks for itself.

— Gary Vaynerchuk in Top Inspiring Thoughts of Gary Vaynerchuk

Often, a well-structured website itself serves as a marketing tool. As mentioned earlier, I completely rebuilt my landing page for Web Highlights, implementing Server Side Rendering (SSR).

This brings about several SEO benefits, hopefully enhancing my website’s Google ranking in the future.

Additionally, I’ve refreshed some texts and addressed accessibility issues, making the website more accessible to everyone.

Performance: 94, Accessibility: 96, Best Practices: 100, SEO: 100

The Google Lighthouse score is now almost perfect.

Word of Mouth Marketing

I don’t want to build any product. I don’t want to build a product with the most users. I want to build the best product for my users!

Your product should be so good that even your competitors recommend it. — Elon Musk

I strongly believe that my product holds great value and has the potential to revolutionize the way people organize their online research. Consequently, I anticipate that when the product is truly outstanding, users will recommend it, driving substantial growth.

Briana Mar 4, 2024 This extension is amazing! I love that I can write notes with any highlights I make. It’s so helpful and runs smoothly with almost no issue! I recommend it to all of my classmates and friends in college!

Word of Mouth Marketing is powerful

That’s the kind of marketing I’m aiming for. It’s likely the reason why the key features of my app are free. I want people to enhance their research, and if they genuinely enjoy the product, they can upgrade to access all the other fantastic features.

Final Thoughts

Well, of course, the article’s title is intentionally provocative, and I understand that marketing is a crucial factor for any product.

However, I believe that sometimes it’s more important to have a truly excellent product before promoting something that may not be ready for the masses.

User validation is crucial, but before aiming for a million users, it’s essential to ensure that the product can scale without compromising quality.

Especially as a “Company of One,” it’s wise to choose priorities carefully and sometimes just do what you love most: Building.

Thanks for reading! 🙏🏻

Want to learn more about how I built my Chrome Extension, and scaled it to 100k users? Subscribe to my newsletter or follow me on LinkedIn and Twitter.

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