There is a slate of common advice we routinely hear on marketing for SaaS companies. Produce a podcast to showcase your talent, nurture your prospects, understand your customer’s needs, practice messaging consistency. But often this advice goes only one level down. What do you really need to know to develop good marketing content? What’s the best way to develop strong customer relationships?
We interviewed dozens of SaaS company founders and CEOs to get deeper insights beyond the marketing essentials and selected five pieces of advice that every SaaS marketer should hear.
Focus On Your Message
If anyone knows how to get a startup going, it’s Kyle York, the co-founder and CEO of York.IE, an investment firm specializing in B2B SaaS companies. He gets the importance of message discipline—but the concept in itself is different than the practice.
Developing your message and executing it across all your channels requires not only commitment, but also patience and a reasonable level of expectations.
“We practice drumbeat marketing. It’s basically the concept of having strong messaging and a strong messaging hierarchy from vision to mission to taglines to descriptors—the boilerplate all the way down through the ‘who we are, what we do, how we do it.’ And then we tell the world about it every single day, all day, across all mediums. And we do that all the time, consistently, forever. Startups will sit there and say, “Well, what the heck, I didn’t get enough leads. And we launched the webinar yesterday, or we got that article in, but I didn’t get any deals.” They forget that all these ingredients in the storytelling and the creation of that momentum is what pops up the peacock feathers, and helps drive the long tail. Especially for SaaS businesses.”
– Kyle York
Watch our full interview with Kyle York:
Producing a Podcast
Lindsay Tjepkema is the co-founder and CEO of Casted, a company that offers an audio and video content marketing platform. And there’s no better person to ask what it really takes to put together a winning podcast than her. It won’t surprise you to hear you need more than a quality microphone.
“No matter what, if you’re getting started with podcasting or you already have a show, don’t ever neglect to think about who your show is for and why you are doing it. It’s really easy to say, “we need to podcast, we need to jump right in.” Before you jump to that, remember who it’s for. Who is your audience? Why are you doing it? What do you hope to get out of it? How are you going to serve those people? And what do you hope they’ll do? What is the intended behavior you hope to get out of your show? That’s something I think is so foundational to any content, but it’s easy to forget.”
– Lindsay Tjepkema
Watch our full interview with Lindsay Tjepkema
Give the People What They Want
Kashyap Deorah is the founder and CEO of HyperTrack, which gives app location functionality to any company wanting to track a mobile workforce. Kashyap is no stranger to product development, and he understands the interconnectedness between your offering and your marketing.
As you continue to adjust your product to reflect your increased understanding of your customer’s needs, so should you be adjusting your message to reflect what is truly connecting with your users.
“Early on in startups, the more you focus on what the user wants—which ends up becoming an iterative product function, you’re putting something out there, they’re using it, you’re watching them use it, and then building it better—and at some point, the insight presents itself of what is the best marketing tool. How are these people finding you? What’s sticking with them? What is solving their business problem enough that they’re willing to pay you money for it? And those nuggets are the ones that you need to amplify in marketing. Often, the mistake is, if your marketing starts with, “Okay, this is what I want to achieve, these are the metrics I want to achieve, this is what I wish would happen,” and starts spending money on that, and then tries to see where it overlaps with the product, and the product keeps moving dynamically, the marketing keeps moving dynamically, the overlaps keep changing, it gets very, very confusing. Using marketing as a way to amplify what’s working with the users is the right way.”
– Kashyap Deorah
Watch our full interview with Kashyap Deorah
Know Your Customers
Funnel is a B2B SaaS company offering marketing solutions for the real estate industry. Chairwoman and Co-Founder Caren Maio is a big believer in knowing your customer. But she also understands that to know someone, you need more than their demographic info. You need to understand what interests them, where they spend their time, what drives them. It’s hard to truly connect with someone if all you have is their age and zip code.
“Certainly, marketing for any company, there should be a lot of testing. There should be a lot of iteration around what works. Now that you know who your customer segment is, where do they hang out? What do they read? Now that I know who I’m going after, what’s the best way to get their attention? It comes down to listening, trying to understand. Now that I know who my customer is, how do I reverse engineer that and figure out what they’re reading, where they’re hanging out, who they’re talking to and make sure we get our name and our product top of mind.”
– Caren Maio
Watch our full interview with Caren Maio
Offer Great Support
ROAR for Good offers a discrete, wearable panic button for hotel staff safety, and Yasmine Mustafa, co-founder and CEO, takes customer service to a higher level. Being there for your customers can go beyond fixing software issues—it can mean a broader interest in their business and wellbeing. When the COVID pandemic began, Yasmine didn’t merely check in with her customers on their product needs, she reached out to really connect with them and find out if they’re okay. Be sure to keep track of what’s happening with your customers where they live, and connect with them periodically to see how they’re doing.
“The first thing we did when COVID hit is we called our clients, making sure they’re okay, making sure we maintain that relationship. And it wasn’t about, ‘Are you going to turn off your service? Are you going to be able to pay?’ It was just, ‘Are you okay? Is there anything we can do for you?’ That was something really important to us.”
– Yasmine Mustafa
Watch our full interview with Yasmine Mustafa
Optimize Your SEO
Optimizing SEO is becoming one of those things everyone feels like they’re supposed to be doing, but it’s unclear how, or if it’s actually working. If you’re merely stuffing keywords into your articles in the hopes of getting more clicks, you might as well just hire a sorcerer to cast a spell on your code.
SEO optimization has to work in tandem with your overall marketing strategy—and it has to be strategic. Consider how Consensus founder and CEO Garin Hess approached his SEO strategy when switching his company’s market focus.
“It’s really about using premium content to drive content marketing. At the beginning of Consensus, we were focused on small business marketers and sales. We’ve now completely changed over to sales engineering teams and large enterprise companies. We had to go try to find sales engineers. Well there wasn’t a community. There were no lists to buy, no conferences to go to. How do you reach them? So we started thinking, maybe we need to write some blog articles. It takes a long time to build up SEO authority. As we were researching keyword terms, we saw ‘sales engineer salary.’ We’re like, ‘Oh, sales engineers are searching for salary.’ We wondered how much they get paid. So we started searching for salaries. Well it turns out, there was no information about sales engineer salaries out there. So we decided, if everybody’s searching for that, we should do a sales compensation report. We surveyed about 450 sales engineers and sales engineering leaders, published a report, and then started promoting it on LinkedIn. That was uniquely interesting to our audience. That is the basis of the success we’ve had in the last 18 to 24 months is doing things like that, where you pick a premium piece of content that is missing that a specific audience wants.”
– Garin Hess
Watch our full interview with Garin Hess
Ignore the Advice
When George Orwell wrote his five rules of writing in his essay, “Politics and the English Language,” he added an additional sixth rule: Break any of these rules sooner than say anything outright barbarous.
The same principle holds for marketing. Yes, you should listen carefully to what others have learned in their experiences, as surely there’s much in their knowledge and opinion you can successfully practice with your marketing.
But ultimately remember that there’s no other company like yours, and your products and solutions are unique (and if not, then start there!). It’s up to you to figure what marketing strategies will work for you.
Discover them and keep going. JB Kellogg, the founder and co-CEO of Madwire, understands this perfectly. His company offers a full marketing platform for small businesses, and he’s seen every marketing strategy under the sun. His advice is the most important of all.
“Marketing is actually really simple. At the end of the day, it’s doing more of what’s working and less of what’s not.”
– JB Kellogg
Watch our full interview with JB Kellogg