Three Circles of SaaS Marketing

Life is tough so is marketing – this is the saying we have in our company!

 So is the case with marketing for your SaaS.

 Now before we dive into this post, let’s clear few things out

  • If your company is not making sales, you are a sinking ship
  • Loss making company will survive until the investor has breathing power
  • No matter how cool your product is, human beings are going to pay for it.
  • A human being will only trade his money if you can save his / her time.

Why is marketing for SaaS different?

Imagine yourself holding a container which is chilled, tastes sweet and gives a sensation while drinking.

Now what did you imagine?

If you imagined 

  • Coca Cola
  • Thumbs up
  • Pepsi
  • Sprite

We are on the same page! You see it is very simple to pitch something which are already well known! You just have to be creative enough to sell it. Red bull is an energy drink but it’s advertising says “it gives you wings”. People may not fly but you understand.

Now if we talk about SaaS, first of all people don’t know that they are facing a problem! Yes they don’t, otherwise why only Newton discovered gravity, while apples were falling long before that! Why Elon musk wants to explore mars when we know that human beings are on the moon!

If you go to a traditional shop and explain the importance of internet marketing, or marketing via the internet! A majority of them may laugh at you, not because you are funny but because they never realized what they were losing until nationwide lockdown!

You can see the pattern here, people don’t understand things they cannot relate to! That is the reason things take time before getting adopted fully!

This is the issue with the majority of SaaS products based marketing, your product can be the best in the industry but you are selling something which people don’t understand or may have not yet seen!

How can you market your SaaS products?

You have to realize one thing, people don’t give away their money! They only and only trade money in exchange of something they themselves are not able to do. If you don’t believe this, try trading your favorite toy from a kid near you, unless you give him / her something 10x better, he won’t give it to you!

 Now you have to figure out what he wants, you have to talk to him, ok who is your favorite superhero? His likes and dislikes, what cartoons he watches and what not! And only after that you will reach towards a conclusion about what he wants!

 SaaS products are like that only, every successful SaaS product has a person who is sick of that problem. Don’t take my words, take Drew Houston’s words “He built a solution for his problem of forgetting thumb drive again and again, he wanted to fix that problem once and for all(not exact words)”

 Now SaaS products are of 2 types

  •  Yes, we solve this problem (copycats)
  • I know this is a problem, I couldn’t find a solution so built one

 To market your SaaS product, you have to literally have to understand the problem, you have to breath in and breath out with that problem, then only you’ll be able to find the perfect solution.

 Example: What is shopify? A platform to sell online? No, it is a platform for people who want to sell online but they cannot code a website.

So unless you are not going through that problem, you cannot give a solution to your customers.

Types of customers for your SaaS product

There are typically 3 types of customers who are users or potential users of SaaS products

  • Category 1 or The Green Circle – People who are aware of the problem, but are unable to find solutions for it ( < 5% )
  • Category 2 or The Blue Circle – People who are aware of the problem, but found a way around it, may look for a solution ( 25% to 35%)
  • Category 3 or The Red Circle – People who don’t care about the problem at all but will follow the herd( above 35% )

If you want to make your product successful, you have to be in the 1st category or be in touch with people who fall in the first category.

People in the 1st category are not satisfied with what they have, they want change, problem? They cannot do it, either they are not the right person or they don’t have the right solution. But they can be the best evangelists and can give you best suggestions or feedback for your product.

People in 2nd category, are people who have built a CRM with Google Sheets / Microsoft Excel, they know they need a solution, but instead found a way around it with existing resources. Even though the current solution is not 100% efficient, they found a way around it. They will be spectacle about your product at first, because they don’t like experimenting a lot! But if you can present your solution in the way they understand, you can win them.

 Finally, People in the 3rd category don’t worry why the apple is falling from the tree, because that’s the way nature is built! They don’t like to apply their brain a lot and are waiting for others to perfect it before jumping on it.

Marketing your SaaS product for humans

First and foremost you have to start with the problem! Ask Category 1 people the problem they are facing, what kind of solution they are expecting? This will help you create your marketing copy better.

You should be able to explain the problem and solution in 7 – 10 WORDS.

When you are at the early stage, you cannot have mission as your tagline, nobody will understand or worst they will say “Good for you”! 

Example

  • Google Chrome Browser – A web browser for tomorrow! (ok, because they are google)
  • New Browser – Browse websites without eating your ram (hinting, why this is better)

Is this important? Yes, absolutely! Because those Category 1 people ( < 5% ) don’t like their computers getting slower when browsing for websites, they know that this problem exists but they just don’t have the solution for it.

Now, you have to start marketing to only Category 1 people, because they are the only people who care about this problem and want the solution. Because since you are a startup, you cannot afford a big budget on marketing(unless you have deep pockets). Everything is not just related to budget but also, you have limited resources to support, your tech team, your customers support and what not!

Let’s try to understand this with an example.

Example – In the past, Facebook and Twitter were dominating the social media game, but today you have Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat and homegrown social networks, it is getting impossible to manage all of them at one go or getting impossible to shift gears. While facebook and twitter were about texts, instagram was about images now snapchat is about video!

Category 1 – We want solution

Category 2 – We autopost from instagram to facebook and twitter, we know it is not much but it puts bread on the table.

Category 3 – You guys have more than one social network account? o.O

Where to find Category 1 people? If you realize the problem thoroughly, start your hunt with people of Category 1, they are on Facebook Groups, Reddit, Twitter looking for an alternative or a better solution. Don’t just pitch your product, try to understand why the current solutions are not working for them? Because this will help you pitch them better.

If not, look for a forum for that niche, they will be definitely asking questions related to that problem.

Finally you have the best option, go to YouTube, search for videos related to your problem and filter them by date and choose past 1 month. You will get a list of videos which are related to your problem!

Why does this approach work the best? You are not cold reaching people! When you reach them like “Hey, I read your post/comment/blog, I saw that you are struggling with that problem…” you have their attention. You can then ask them questions around that problem, it will 100% help you pitch your solution better!

If everything goes right, pitch them your solution and make sure you have a price(it could be a discount). Don’t share for Free, however you can offer a trial (remember they are category 1 people, they need a solution). This will help you with these things

  • Are people willing to buy your solution?
  • Is price too much for that problem?

Example 1 – Someone offers you immortality for a $1 Billion, you’ll pass not because you don’t have that money but because you know it is not possible.

Example 2 – Someone offers you a carwash for $1 Million, yeah I need a car wash but the pricing is too much for that, I’ll do it myself.

Now to keep the feedback loop coming, ask them to join an early users program and gather as much feedback from them, remember they want a solution to that problem, they are passionate about it!

Now, after you have your paying customers, who are from category 1, if they like your solution they will share it with others for sure (maybe category 2).

To get Category 2 people, you have to make a product which takes less time to learn and easy to implement, and your reviews from Category 1 people will help, because they were passionate about it from the start.

You can market their videos, or make them your influencers because chances are, they are connected with the same set of people!

Also you can take advantage of paid advertising which is totally a different way to market your product.

And once you have Category 1 and Category 2 onboard, Category 3 people will follow along in no time!

So, I hope this may help founders or marketers who are passionate about the problem and have the solution but don’t know how to start.

I would appreciate your comments and suggestions.