This may be similar to a previously asked question ( What is standard marketing practice for a niche SAAS product?) but I'm hoping that by providing a bit more detail, others will have additional thoughts.
I've gone through the process of qualifying (via surveys and meetings with folks) a need for a Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) product I'm currently building that targets a niche within the "work from home" market. And while I've gotten great feedback/support from 50 or so folks looking to sign up when we launch, its the other thousands/millions that I want to reach, but am struggling to do so.
Essentially I have discovered a workflow problem (opportunity) that most work from home-rs have, but most seem not to know that they have the problem and therefore are not actively searching on the internet for tools that provide a solution...so keywords/adwords/social media seem to be of little return for us. We've been able to leverage a very small amount of word-of-mouth marketing, as once these workers are made aware of our product, they want it, but its been slow going.
The "work from home" market is fragmented, with a few forum sites here and there that I've been able to target, but most won't permit you to post sales/marketing info, and I don't want get our product misconstrued as spam. We've been able to source the contact info (mostly emails) for about 5000 folks by grinding through the web, but we don't want to mass email them and have little ROI.
The problem thus far has been that with so few places to go to target a larger audience all in one spot, its going to be difficult and resource intensive to go from 50 to 5000 to 5 million customers. Its been suggested that we do everything from postal mailings, to bus stop ads, classified ads in newspapers, to radio...all very costly, and I'm not certain of the ROI...especially since we are bootstrapping this.
Any thoughts/advice is greatly appreciated. Thanks for your time.