3 reasons why Marketing SaaS products is hard and where companies make mistakes

Posted by John Aikin
on February 6, 2018

In this article, we’ll answer the following questions:

  • How does tech startup messaging need to evolve between the early stages of funding and initial pushes to market?
  • What can your goals for your marketing do to inform your strategy?
  • Why is it important that your initial marketing efforts focus on your users and the value of your product to them?

Let’s be honest for a second: there are a LOT of tech companies out there struggling to wrap their head around what a successful marketing strategy looks like. There are plenty of reasons for this, the most common one being that they’re just focusing their resources on making a really great product.

A flopping marketing strategy can often be reduced down to a few simple mistakes. Especially when a product is new and a company is first finding its voice, it’s easy to fall into the following traps, but it’s also easy enough to climb right back out.

Thinking Too Big-Picture

We all know that one guy who has all the visions of grandeur. If you’re the owner of a tech company, it might even be you. You see the end result of your vision, but you might not necessarily see every little detail in the framework it takes to get there. This kind of big-picture thinking often becomes a disservice with initiatives like marketing, where the devil is in the details.

Marketing is never just a one-off solution; it’s a growing, breathing process that requires some tender love and care. Building a scalable framework around any marketing campaign is what will see it through to the end. Instead of looking to the end result and the big picture, focus on how you can connect the beginning to the end and what it will take to get you there. If your goal is simply to get 5,000 new email newsletter subscribers and you’re looking into how you can make it happen, take time to put together small, attainable benchmarks that will help you get there.

Develop a content plan that’ll funnel your online readership right to the subscribe button by utilizing Facebook posts and ads, Tweeting links, and even posting regularly on your blog reel. Offer practical advice, and promise that an email subscription will bring more of the same directly to your ideal user.

The point is to break down the path from point A to point B and the steps it’s going to take to get there.

You’re Focusing on What Your Company Wants, Instead of the User

A lot of companies make this mistake. In short, focusing on what the company wants may seem like the right idea internally, especially when the boss-man (read: investor) is down your throat to produce results; however, it’s important to recognize your product is only going as far as the user will take it, which means that your marketing should be best suited to their wants and needs instead of your own.

Apple did this when they rebranded in the 90s and launched the iMac for the first time. Instead of focusing on what the company wanted, they instead turned all of their marketing initiatives towards the needs of their clients. Advertisements existed to show the users how the iMac would be used in their daily lives.

So, sure, your goal might be to sign a certain number of users. You might have a long history of messaging surrounding your product and the value propositions you used to secure funding. But to your end user, what really matters is the problem it’s going to solve for them; make your marketing about that.

There’s a Disparity Between the Product and the Marketing

We’ve already seen a lot of industries take strange creative sensibilities to their advertisements, which often leads to a disconnect between the products they’re selling and that messaging of the ads themselves. That memorability may lead to views, but it’s not going to do much to convince your target customers to make a purchase.

I’m sure you can think back to a time when you were watching a commercial and had no idea what it was trying to sell until the very end when the brand is randomly dropped—this is especially prominent in car and make-up commercials. These ads often attempt to provoke an emotional response, but when that response is jumbled within confusion, it doesn’t work as well. Of course, a brand like BMW already has a following and their main purpose is to stay relevant and apparent in the consumer’s lives.

Don’t be like these companies. These marketing strategies don’t work for everyone, and they especially don’t work when you’re doing the double duty of both raising brand awareness and driving conversions. Your ads need to fit a model that works to promote and educate your audience about the product you’re selling. The emotional tie-in should exist purely to show how your product works in the lives of its end-users. The easy fix to this is to establish solid brand standards for image, messaging, and tone. When you understand the boundaries in which you have to work, your marketing initiatives will become a lot easier, and more effective.

Ultimately, if you can limit your marketing efforts to ones that provide value to your ideal customers and reflect a genuine understanding of their experience of both your product and the problem it solves, you’ll not only make a splash in the right crowds, but you’ll also see your marketing lead to more conversions. At the end of the day, that’s what it’s all about.

For the full breakdown of what a successful marketing strategy looks like, check out our SaaS Marketing resource guide!

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