If you're like me, you might look at a SaaS go-to-market plan and think, "Huh. It looks like someone got bored and just copied and pasted the same old thing from their marketing team into a plan." If that's what you're thinking, then it's time for a reality check.
The truth is that most SaaS marketing plans are full of basic mistakes that can't be fixed by copying and pasting from your marketing team.
While everyone has an opinion about what makes for an excellent go-to-market plan, there aren't many concrete guidelines out there to help you create one. So I decided to create my own list of ground rules to help you create a winning SaaS go-to-market plan—one that will help you stand out from the competition.
Build a go-to-market plan before launching a product.
This is a lesson learned the hard way: build a go-to-market plan before launching a product. The reality is, if you're going to be successful in any category, you need an airtight strategy that encompasses everything from how your product fits in the market, to who your buyers are and how they purchase to how you will measure success.
Even if you've spent months or years perfecting your product behind the scenes (and we sincerely hope you have), there's no substitute for a well-designed go-to-market (GTM) strategy. In fact, the sooner you start building it, the better; not only will this help move faster when it comes time to launch, but it can also save you from costly mistakes down the road.
Identify the market and customer you'll tackle first.
You can't be all things to all people. When launching a new SaaS product, you have to pick a market segment to focus on first.
What does that market look like? What problems do your ideal customers deal with? How is your product solving those problems for them? Develop an understanding of their needs and how you'll serve them better than anyone else does.
Once you've cultivated a strong group of users in this market segment, it's OK to expand into new areas or customer segments. But when you're getting started, don't waste time and resources trying to sell to every prospect who comes along.
Find your value proposition and unique selling proposition.
Value propositions are the key to your SaaS go-to-market plan because they define the product's function and what makes it uniquely valuable. Your value proposition will be the main thing you use to sell your solution in your go-to-market strategy.
To create a value proposition, first answer this question: Is there a need for your business? If you see a distinct gap in the market that needs filling, then there's an opportunity for your product. If not, then it may be time to reevaluate your approach.
In my experience, people tend to have difficulty creating clear and concise value propositions. A lot of people find themselves using phrases like "the best way to solve X problem is with Y tool" and "you won't get Z results with Z methodology" as their hot button phrases without really offering anything new or valuable about those problems or approaches that haven't been covered before. The first step in creating a winning SaaS go-to-market plan is to strip everything extra away. The focus should not be on what the product can do for you but on what you can do with the product—and make sure that you can describe exactly what sets yours apart from all others.
Choose your marketing channels.
When choosing your marketing channels, you need to make sure they fit your target audience. The channel you select needs to be where your prospects spend the most time and what they will respond to best. You don't have to use every marketing channel, only the ones that work for you and fit into your budget.
Each channel has its own benefits as well that you should understand before you start using them:
- Email marketing - Emails are a direct way of getting in touch with your prospects. With a 91% return on investment, email is still one of the most cost-effective ways to reach them.
- Content Marketing - This can be helpful for those clients who may take a while before they decide to buy from you. Providing high-quality content on your website and blogs will help establish credibility and authority in your industry.
- Organic Social Media - Facebook especially allows businesses to connect with fans of their brand by offering insights into their organization's mission, culture, and products.
Understand your pricing strategy.
Understand your pricing strategy.
The most straightforward pricing strategy is to use a fixed price for all customers. This can be adjusted to a tiered pricing structure based on the package size and then adjusted further to reflect the value the customer receives from your product. Your goal should be to prevent any "hidden" costs, or your customers could end up with an unexpected bill later.
Educate your sales team.
It's important that everyone in your company understands the value of your product and what it takes for a customer to get up and running, but it's even more critical that your sales team is well-versed in these topics so they can answer questions from potential customers during their pitch process and throughout the onboarding period. The last thing you want is for one of your sales reps to make promises that you cannot fulfill (or don't want) because it could lead to client churn before they even get started using your SaaS solution properly!
Crunch the numbers.
Another critical step in creating a SaaS go-to-market strategy is considering the key metrics and performance factors that will determine success. Whether you're focusing on user engagement, activation rate, or revenue per customer, it's essential to identify the goals and drivers of your business.
In general, you should focus on a few key metrics. The specific metrics you choose will depend on your product's business model and how it serves your customers. For example, when Buffer built their social media analytics platform, they were focused on user engagement—the number of customers who used their product every day—and activation rate (the percentage of people who signed up for free trials and began using the product). They calculated these metrics by tracking weekly active users (WAUs) and daily active users (DAUs) for each cohort of customers that signed up for trial accounts during a given time period. These numbers demonstrated which products and marketing channels worked best to convert new customers into long-term users.
Tweak your SaaS go-to-market plan as needed.
The go-to-market plan you create should be seen as a living document. The best way to ensure it stays relevant is to update the plan regularly as you learn more about your customers, product, and market. After all, the goal of this plan is to make sure that everyone in your organization is on the same page in terms of which markets you will be targeting, how you will reach those markets and what actions your teams will take within each market.
As such, if any of the assumptions made at the start of this process are found to be incorrect, then they should be changed immediately. If new information comes out that changes any part of your marketing strategy or sales approach then make sure everyone else knows about it so that they can adapt their own plans accordingly.
By following our tips, you can create a winning software as a service go-to-market plan to help your startup get off the ground and grow its customer base.
- Determine your value proposition
- Think of customer pain points and how your product solves them
- Make a list of all the different groups who might use and need your product
- Choose one or two target customers and focus on them exclusively
- Figure out what your competitors do, what they don't do, and how you can differentiate yourself from them
- Write down the ways that you'll spread the word about your product (website, social media, ads)
- Draw up a timeline to keep you on schedule
If you want some help with your SaaS product launch, email us at email@example.com. We're experts in helping SaaS companies like yours find success!