📂 Why SaaS founders struggle with marketing (speaking from a SaaS founder)

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Brian is a serial entrepreneur, currently the founder of ZipMessage, but has also started and sold Restaurant Engine, Audience Ops, ProcessKit, SunriseKPI, and Productize.

Even so, he still struggles with marketing.

twitter profile avatar
Brian Casel
Twitter Logo
@CasJam
May 17th 2021
12
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147
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Here's what Brian had to say:

Observation 1:
Every time I've set out to work on marketing in a purely measurable way, I felt like a failure. PPC, SEO, bullseye framework, channel tests... Good investments for later stages. Frustrating, expensive, and often counter-productive for earliest stages.
Observation 2:
"Do things that don't scale" tactics are good to do, but have ceilings that most don't talk about... Cold outreach is spammy & interruption-based. Pitching in communities & social isn't cool, can be annoying.
Observation 3:
Integrations are good to do, especially for converting customers who need to use them. But hit/miss for sending lots of new customers your way.
What’s in it for the integration partner? Why should they promote you (repeatedly) within their customer’s flow?
Observation 4:
Tapping into current demand is incredibly important. This goes to product and market selection… But not “marketing”.
If you build it and share it on Twitter, they won’t just magically come.
Observation 5:
Positioning, niching, jobs to be done, use cases—all important work on the path to product-market-fit… But not “marketing”.
Interviewing customers and rewriting your homepage copy could convert more visitors but won’t drive 10x more people to your website.
Question: Why do our favorite product companies seem to not do any marketing? Or why does their marketing seem invisible? Somehow we know them, use them, recommend them, talk about them, follow them, reference them, etc. How did they make that happen?
I think the answer is "Brand". I think it's more of a thing than we (small B2B SaaS) like to admit. Brand isn't your logo. Brand isn't billboards in a sports stadium & TV commercials.
Maybe the reason we hate to talk about branding, or write it off as just logo design, is because it isn't measurable. It isn't attributable. But in my opinion, for the company I'm interested in building, I don't think brand should be ignored.
Back to me feeling like a failure with marketing... Looking back, all the marketing successes I've had were non-measurable, non-attributable things. Yet, they were things I enjoyed creating, felt like I was helping others, and generally resulted in increasing $ over time.
What made those things happen? I invested my time and energy projects that had meaning and purpose. Some were/are long-time investments, like podcasting. Some were one-time launches, like a course. Some were ephemeral, like tweets about my work.
So the question I'm working on today: How do I invest in brand for my early-stage SaaS? How can we create & ship meaningful projects that reach and help more of our people? How to do that without being a "personal brand"? i.e. I'm trying to build a "we", not an "I"...

To me, this screams content.

Blog posts, podcasts, YouTube videos, tutorials, etc.

Content IS a product. Which is why it feels good to produce and also lasts a long time for marketing purposes.

Do you share the same feelings as Brian?

—Corey

p.s. did you see that I launched my new course, Marketing Like A Media Company? Would love for you to check it out →

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