My product is about to get ready for launch and I am weighing options to get initial traction. Is this a good time to spend on ads?
In response to your question: depends on what the objective is.
If the objective was to get a benchmark, sign-ups to a list, then I would say a small test is acceptable.
Based on the information provided (objective initial traction), and your response to Jared’s valid points, my reply is now is not the time.
Like Jared said, target your early users, for a multitude of reasons:
1. There needs to be a controlled environment in order to ensure the system behaves as it is meant to, like you are breaking it in
2. You need to iron out any bugs, once bitten twice shy
3. You need to see how they use the platform:
a. This will aid in illuminating what features they used and thus what they consider as valuable
b. Paths taken when first coming on the system (useful for taking an initial stab at an on-boarding process as well as email marketing campaign for trial users, because where you may want them to start getting immediate value from the system, they may want to sort out some foundations, such as profile info, client info, etc)
4. You need to form a relationship with the early users in order to obtain feedback, which can be used in marketing collateral from website to funnel to journey. Some of these early adopters may even become your cheerleaders, so they are your personal clients in my book.
5. Feedback can also be used to give weight to any roadmap features, and any features that have been requested repeatedly. Don’t be a yes man when it comes to this though.
6. Un-scalable acquisition is typically what gets the ball rolling. You are at Seed stage, the objective isn’t scalability, but product / market fit, testing is acceptable. Some investors may want to see indications of scalable acquisition near the end of this stage. Ecosystem maturity will play a part in this.
Finally, ads are a form of scalable acquisition. You don’t know what levers to pull, you can’t predict output based on input, furthermore taking into account the aforementioned points, what are you going to scale? Churn and Burn. You’ll scale yourself out of business.
This is a hard question to answer with such little details but I'll give it a shot.
I would only start spending on ads if the product is ready from a customer experience and scalability standpoint. If you don't have the finished product, you don't want to prematurely drive people who will get frustrated with a bug / lack of feature / etc. and create bad experiences before you get the ball rolling.
Again, this is very dependent but offering a demo or beta to some friends or target users to gauge if it's ready for a larger scale roll out could save you some time and money.
Thank you Jared. I can see it is too early for me right now.