September 2, 2016
Launching a SaaS? Good call.
While the market may be increasingly crowded, there’s still enough to go around. Global SaaS revenue is expected to hit $106 billion in 2016. That’s an increase of over 20 percent.
And Cisco predicts that it’ll account for 59 percent of all cloud workloads by 2018.
But this is no if-you-build-it-they-will-come scenario. Your marketing is more important than the product itself.
I’ve seen a decent product with great marketing become a huge success. I’ve witnessed a great product with only mediocre marketing be dead-on-arrival.
Hollywood gets it. It typically spends as much if not more on marketing than the film itself.
Launching an SaaS? Get these marketing ducks in a row first.
1. Write Your Marketing Plan
Only 32 percent of surveyed businesses have a documented marketing strategy, even though 53 percent of the most effective marketers use one.
Your plan states where you’re trying to go and how to get there before you’ve even started. It highlights your strengths, weaknesses, goals, competition, target market, strategies, and tactics.
Make one. Use it. Monitor and adjust as needed. According to CMI, 61 percent of the most effective marketers meet with their team either daily or weekly to analyze how their plan is playing out.
2. Create Your Buyer Personas
Who exactly are your ideal customers? A buyer persona helps to identify them. It’s a fictionalized version, much like a character sketch that an author might use in writing a novel.
To create yours, conduct a little market research, examine your existing customers (if you have any), and think about what types of people would be best served by your product.
You may have only a couple, or as many as 15-20. The best ones include key demographics, shared values and beliefs, fears, wants, likes, and concerns.
Because when you’re trying to sell to someone, the more you know about them, the better your position.
3. Draft Your Elevator Pitch
Quick, what’s your SaaS all about? If you can’t effortlessly, confidently, and concisely answer that question, you need an elevator pitch. And you need it yesterday.
An elevator pitch attempts to explain in everyday language what your product does, why it does it, and for whom – in 30 seconds or less.
It’s a fantastic way to boil everything down to its essence. It serves as a touchstone in your marketing efforts. And it keeps everyone on your team on the same page.
4. Identify Your USP
A key component of your elevator pitch is your unique selling proposition. In my experience, weak marketing usually has no sense of what makes the product special.
A USP explains why someone should use you over your competition. Identifying yours can be tricky, but it’s worth the effort.
Look at your competition. What do you do better? Look at your target market. What do they most want? Define how you deliver.
5. Build Some Buzz
We all want what we can’t have. It’s human nature. So use that to your advantage and build some anticipation leading up to launch.
Include “coming soon” posts, sneak peeks, and “leaked” photos and videos. Reveal a bit, but not too much. Tease. Entice. Apple is brilliant at this strategy.
You might also consider an advanced release to influencers so they can write early reviews and recommendations.
It all amounts to people wanting your product before it is even available.
6. Set Up User Communities
User communities are a place to share success stories, updates, user-generated content, tips, tricks, and assistance. Users and fans can help each other out. You can exploit it for real-time focus and beta testing, and even the occasional promotion.
Set it up before you launch. Include it in your marketing efforts. Share the link. Point people to your virtual doorstep. Connect. Engage.
It doesn’t matter whether it’s a portal on your website, a Facebook Fan Page, or a standalone entity. It just matters that it exists.
7. Make It Easy to Find Out More
As the buzz builds, as the campaign intensifies, as launch day approaches, make it ridiculously easy for people to find out more.
Their interest is piqued. Now seal the deal. Landing pages, free trials, FAQs, demos, video tutorials…the more the merrier.
Hammer home how much they need what you’re selling.
8. Diversify Your Campaign
Not every buyer is on Facebook. Not every prospect enjoys reading blogs.
Variety is the spice of life. And marketing success.
Your content campaign should include articles, blog posts, infographics, videos, case studies, and more.
You should engage your buyers where they like to hang out. Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram, Slide Deck, YouTube.
The CMI B2B Content Marketing Report found marketers used an average of 13 different tactics, on an average of 6 different platforms.
9. Establish Your Brand Personality
SaaS is driven by recurring revenue rather than a one-time sale. You need people to buy and buy again. Every month.
You want them to connect to your product. But you also want them to connect with your brand.
You do that through a clearly developed brand personality. How would someone describe your brand? Serious, authoritative, laid back, approachable, formal, fun, socially-conscious? You want everything to reflect that. Your voice, design, content, actions, and service.
If your personality resonates with them, they’ll expect to see it everywhere in their engagement with you. If you’re consistent, they’ll be loyal.
10. Learn from the Mistakes of Others
There’s no reason to reinvent the wheel. Look at the mistakes others made. Read up on what they’d do differently next time.
And shamelessly steal that advice for your launch. The web is overflowing with mistakes-I-made, what-I-learned, and how-it-went-wrong posts on every conceivable product or service. Do a little digging. Their misstep is your windfall.
What’s the best launch advice you’ve encountered? Share your thoughts in the comments below:
Aaron Agius, CEO of worldwide digital agency Louder Online is, according to Forbes, among the world's leading digital marketers. Working with clients such as Salesforce, Coca-Cola, IBM, Intel, and scores of stellar brands, Aaron is a growth marketer - a fusion between search, content, social, and PR. Find him on Twitter, LinkedIn, or on the Louder Online blog.