Create a Buzz in the Marketplace
Best-in-class companies are able to create a buzz around themselves in the marketplace. The leading SaaS/Cloud providers are talent magnets attracting the best and brightest college grads and execs. Users beg their leadership to adopt their technology and CIOs quickly embrace as them as the right choice for forward-thinking organizations. They become analyst darlings that are showered with accolades and awards from respected media publications. They don’t need to hire investment bankers to help raise capital, because investors are cold calling them with unsolicited proposals.
Analysts can be highly influential in purchasing decisions, acting as trusted advisors to software buyers at all size companies. Gartner, Forrester, and IDC are the best known and largest. However, there are dozens of “tier 2 and 3” firms that provide more in-depth research in specific industries or technology sectors. SaaS marketing organizations invest time in:
- Market Research – Monitoring new research published to understand the analyst’s perspective as well as to gather insights about competitive strategies, market trends, and emerging technologies.
- Vendor Rankings – Responding to surveys and securing customer references as inputs to the evaluation process for the Gartner Magic Quadrant, Forrester Wave, and IDC Marketscape.
- Analyst Briefings – Conducting regular updates to share the company’s latest product roadmap, new customer wins, strategic partnerships, and technology innovations.
- Influencer Spend – Invest marketing budget to gain additional time, access, and grow mindshare. Examples include custom research projects, webinar speaking engagements, and on-site analyst days.
Getting free press is a great way to build brand awareness. Being quoted in an article by a major news publication such as the Wall Street Journal, New York Times, or Financial Times brings instant credibility. However, there may be greater ROI from being featured in a industry trade publication that is more closely read by your target audience. SaaS marketing organizations invest time in:
- Media Coverage – Securing live interviews for corporate spokespersons with reporters. The ideal outcome is a feature story about the company, but often the reporter is simply looking for comment on a major news story.
- Contributed Articles – Thought leaders in the organization author bylined articles about market trends or emerging technologies. If accepted, the article is placed side-by-side next to the work of the in-house reporters.
- Award Submissions – Competing for recognition in lists ranking the fastest-growing or most innovative organization in high profile awards programs such as the Inc 5000, Deloitte Fast 500, and the CNBC Disruptor 50.
Building a Marketing Moat
Most people don’t think about marketing when they think about competitive advantage. Sustainable differentiation typically is associated with areas such as creating unique product features or obtaining significantly lower costs. But marketing can be a corporate differentiator as well especially if the organization can establish a high level of brand awareness or a highly efficient demand generation model. Ideally, you want marketing to build a competitive moat around the business that is impenetrable by competitors seeking to attack your leadership position.
Events and Tradeshows
Mega-conferences such as Dreamforce, SXSW, and CES (tech) generate massive crowds and the opportunity to deliver millions of impressions to your target audience in a single location. Regional events can be equally effective by offering more personalized interactions with a smaller, focused audience. Event planning teams in SaaS marketing organizations own functions such as:
- Sponsorship – Deciding whether to just have a footprint with a 10×10 booth or to go “all-in” as the platinum sponsor. Supporting sales by hosting a dinner for customers or reserving a suite for 1:1 prospect meetings.
- Logistics – Shipping and setting up the booth and associated video displays or demo stations. Managing the booth schedule and enabling event staff with lead scanning apps.
- Engagement – Executing creative approaches to draw booth traffic, which might include interactive games, contests to win prize giveaways, or handing out a “must-have” tsotschkes.
- Speaking Opps – Building credibility as a thought leader on stage. Options include participating in a panel, presenting in a breakout session, or sponsoring a keynote to the whole crowd.
Branding and Graphic Design
The best brands are not only distinguishable by name, but recognizable by sight as well. Developing an eye-catching visual identity and enforcing its consistent adoption is the best strategy for building a recognizable brand. Graphic design and corporate marketing departments at SaaS organizations need to manage:
- Brand Strategy – Defining the brand promise, the personality, voice, and tone. Managing sub-brands and the overall architecture. Working with IP lawyers to establish trademarks and registrations.
- Visual Identity – Defining the standards for typography, color palette, iconography and types of imagery used in visual assets. Enforcing usage guidelines for the corporate logo, favicon, and product names.
- Content Production – Design, layout, and file production for written brochures and white papers. Recording and editing of podcasts and videos. Design of illustrations for the website, presentations, and social media posts.