Annoyingly Simple SAAS Marketing Strategy

Don't believe the internet

Ditch everything you learned about marketing online. It’s useless.

Most people teach and talk about tactics. If a tactic works, then they have a hammer and everything looks like a nail.

Good marketing strategies start with your constraints, not your options.

Most of the tactics are half steps. What you need is customers. It rarely makes sense to take a left turn from that and tell yourself that what you need is a brand or audience or SEO traffic. These aren’t customers, they are precursors to customers.

You might just end up doing one of these with no success:

  • Spend 6 months struggling to build an audience on social media

  • Spend 6 months struggling to rank your content on Google

  • Build in public so other Indie Hackers see your product, even if Indie Hackers aren’t your customers (seriously?)

  • Partner with creators and influencers who already have an audience to get fast-tracked marketing

  • Build a waitlist for your product

  • Launch on Product Hunt

  • Build a YouTube channel

It may not result in any customers because frankly you’re not focused on getting customers, you’re focused on building a distribution channel.

Instead, you need a marketing strategy (not a channel) that’s designed specifically for you and your business.

Let’s demystify marketing right here, right now.

The Foundation Comes First

“60% of the time, it works every time.” - Brian Fantana

If you don’t start with the steps in this section, you are relying on chance.

Start with the audience

You’ve probably heard the line, “If everyone is your customer, no one is.”

Know your customer, and marketing becomes easy.

They tell you how to market to them. Not the marketing gurus online.

Founders often start with the product and then figure out the ideal customer later. This is backward. Start with the customer you want to serve and build your product around them.

If you already have the product, then you need to come back to this step and get specific about who the customer is (and potentially make changes to the product to fit their pain points).

There are 4 criteria you should use to pick a target audience:

1. Massive Pain

They must have pain or be frustrated with the problem that your product solves.

2. Purchasing Power

They have to have the funds to pay for your product.

3. Easy to target

If they are hard to find, they are hard to market to.

4. Growing in numbers

There should be more of them every day.

Take time to drum up some examples, then evaluate all your options by these 4 criteria. They need to fit in each one. If they don’t meet one, they are not going to make a good target audience.

Understand their obstacles

Once you determined who you’re targeting, next figure out what their dream outcome is.

What are they working toward?

The steps between where they are now and their dream outcome is their journey, and their journey is made up of obstacles.

Your product should be a solution to one or many of those obstacles.

List all the obstacles between them and their dream outcome. Be specific.

Not: They don’t have enough customers

But: Their bootstrapping so they don’t have the resources for traditional marketing or the resourcefulness (know-how) to accomplish non-traditional growth

This specificity:

  1. Proves to your audience that you understand their circumstance.

  2. Implies that your solution is designed specifically for the obstacle they have.

  3. Increases their perceived likelihood of success from using your product (which increases conversion rate).

How does your solution remove those obstacles

Your job is to remove an obstacle in the way of their dream outcome.

Attach a solution to each of your customers’ obstacles.

The solution that you should build is likely the one you have the most detail for.

The greater the pain the obstacle creates, and the greater the likelihood that your offering will lead to success, the more a customer is willing to pay.

In fact, most marketing is meant to increase the perceived likelihood of success.

Marketing is Easy

Once you understand your customer and have a solution that is right for them, marketing is as easy as you make it.

Effective, Not Efficient

Most founders I talk to believe that successful marketing is an efficiency issue. They want cheap attention. If you’re urging to go viral, you’re in this camp.

Getting cheap attention, and getting customers are different goals.

You want cheap conversions, not cheap attention.

This is good. Getting conversions is much simpler than getting cheap attention.

How many conversions you get is entirely dependent on how many of your target audience you ask to buy your product.

If your audience is easy to find, then all you do is go where they are and ask a lot of them to take action (buy, start a trial, join the waiting list, etc…).

No, it doesn’t ‘scale.’ No, it’s not efficient. It doesn’t go viral. But it works. And what works compounds.

Customers are marketing assets.

Doing what works, even if that means reaching out to potential customers one by one, builds momentum that you can leverage to create more momentum.

Having customers makes it easier to get more. It’s partly psychological. Once you have happy customers, you feel better about selling more. Then it becomes addictive.

Also, because you spent the time building relationships with your first however many customers, they are invested in you.

They:

  • Give you testimonials

  • Recommend your product to friends

  • Like your social media posts (getting you more reach)

  • Read your newsletter

  • Make requests that make your product better

  • Even complain, which points out your weak points.

This is the essence of how growth momentum is created. It’s organic, but it’s not effortless.

Don’t diversify, Concentrate

There is this weird pervasive thought process most business owners have. Once they have a campaign that gets them more customers, they want to build another.

What they don’t understand is marketing is an investment. And you need to think like an investor when you approach your marketing strategy.

Experiment First Mindset

If you had $100 to invest in growth, and one campaign delivered a 20% return while another delivered a 10% return, don’t spread yourself across both and average out to 15%.

Settle for the 20% returns.

This means you need to spend time experimenting to find the highest return marketing activity.

You do this by running small marketing experiments to test out your ideas and keep track of your inputs and outputs.

Triple Down

"You know, we think diversification is—as practiced generally—makes very little sense for anyone that knows what they’re doing...it is a protection against ignorance." - Warren Buffett

Once you’ve found the campaign that delivers the best results, build a system for increasing the inputs.

  1. Define the campaign process

  2. Optimize each step

  3. Eliminate the unnecessary

  4. Automate or Delegate

  5. Then, finally, scale

It’s simple.

Don’t add work

In only four cases should you change from the activity that produces the highest results.

  1. You’ve found a new marketing activity that produces even higher results

  2. You’ve sucked all the blood out of this marketing activity, and it’s not producing results like it use to.

  3. There is a supplemental marketing activity, that when combined with the first one, increases your absolute return on marketing effort.

  4. You are now a big company and need to diversify your customer acquisition as part of a risk management strategy.

Most people who get big and then begin “omnichannel” marketing, do it to keep up with the Joneses, not because it’s actually a good strategy.

If you feel the desire to grow at a faster rate, invest more in the campaign that’s producing the best results. Don’t spread your resources out and diminish your returns.

Conclusion

Although this article was not tactical at all, it should help you avoid all the poor advice on marketing you’ll find on the internet.

It’s not tactical for a reason. No tactic is favorable over another without consideration of who your customer is, where to find them, and how they want to be engaged with.

When you start with tactics, you end up jumping from tactic to tactic looking for something that actually works, when instead if you kept things simple you could already be bringing customers in the door.

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