Sam Decker’s 8 Principles of SaaS Go-to-Market Success
With over 18 years of phenomenal marketing success, Sam Decker, founding CMO of Bazaarvoice and current CEO and founder of Mass Relevance, has much to offer both B2B and B2C marketers for SaaS start-ups.
Sam recently shared his unique marketing insight with a large group of SaaS companies as part of a SaaS lecture series hosted by Kampyle and IGTCloud here in Israel.
As he discussed his 8 principles for SaaS go-to-market success, Sam emphasized that marketing must be focused on people, because ultimately, it’s a person who is doing the buying. So even when the target is a more buttoned-up B2B audience, the goal should to influence the rational side of business decision-making with human emotions. Sam successfully incorporated this approach by making his marketing activities fun, memorable and not the least bit boring.
Let’s take a brief look at the principles Sam used and continues to use to drive his marketing success.
Principle #1 – Launch with Suspense
This method might not work for some companies, but if you are well known in your industry and have many connections, using suspense is a great way to build interest from the media and potential clients. As an example of this, Bazaarvoice announced that they received funding but didn’t provide details of what they were doing. They played this out for a while, and by the time they officially launched, they had plenty of news coverage and open doors for sales.
Filling the Press Pipeline
While on the topic of capturing the media’s attention, Sam provided a list of marketing collateral you should use to capture the interest of journalists and bloggers:
- Original research – perhaps based on customer data or similar.
- Case studies are great, with clients championing your story to the press.
- Big name client announcements.
- New product or features (ideal if related to hot topic).
- Partnerships with brands bigger than yourself. You can also leverage the new partner’s media contacts.
- Speaking engagements and awards.
Principle #2 – Creating a WOM (Word-of-Mouth) Ecosystem
Measuring the results of your marketing efforts is very important, but WOM or word-of-mouth, while not as measurable, is also an essential part of your marketing mix. You need to create compelling content – funny videos, interesting studies – so people will naturally want to share it.
Once you have the content available, make sure to distribute it across all relevant channels and mediums.
Principle #3 – Create Facetime
B2B marketing is more about getting sales people in front of potential clients and less about SEM lead generation and conversions. Again, this might be harder for measuring and predictability, but as companies mature, they can focus on metrics as well.
Another point Decker made is that start-ups should try and get speaking engagements for themselves or their clients at B2B conferences instead of pouring tons of money into super-expensive booths. This is especially true if the market has never heard about you or your product.
Principle #4 – Leverage Reputation
Leveraging personal brands is not about ego, it’s just about using the tools you have to open doors and drive sales. Additionally, continue to build relationships via speaking engagements and also by being on boards of other companies. Try and hire people with connections that can help build trust and generate more “facetime” for sales.
And it’s not just about the executives. Get everyone in the company to tweet and build social media relationships. Synchronizing tweets and other social sharing about relevant news can really help create buzz.
Principle #5 – Executives Sell
Executives need to sell. Sam sold 30% of the deals at Bazaarvoice, and as CMO and thought-leader, he was able to open doors that the VP Sales could not.
Principle #6 – Market the Future
This method is not necessarily for your blog or media, but you can start quietly marketing and selling products even before they are live. By evangelizing to your clients during beta, you stay ahead of the game. Then when you do announce the product, you already have clients that are using it.
Principle #7 – Case Studies Rule
As mentioned earlier, the media loves case studies. Happy customers stepping up and championing a product or service is the best story that anyone can come up with. Additionally, when Sam asked his sales reps which marketing content was most helpful to them, case studies rose to the top.
Principle #8 – Keep it Human
As Sam mentioned throughout his presentation, you are marketing to people. And people tend to buy more from other people that they like. By creating awesome events, interesting content, and recognizing that no one wants to be bored by….boring stuff, you are building that “likable” factor that strongly influences the ultimate decision to buy.
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