How To Differentiate SaaS Business In a Crowded Marketplace
Differentiating your business in a crowded SaaS marketplace requires two-fold approach- Customer-led product centricity and a great marketing. Read this interview by Sujan Patel where he outlines his playbook.
In today’s competitive SaaS market, standing out and creating the right kind of impact is a huge challenge. It’s even harder to differentiate yourself from your competition. What throws a wrench in this even further is that the scope of business is disrupted, with the barrier to entry being very minimal. This only increases the competition, with every SaaS player fighting for a piece of the same pie.
So in this climate where there is a set market leader, there are established buying patterns, and change is something that most of the market may be resistant towards, how do you enable your SaaS business to beat the odds and stand out?
Customer-centricity is everything
“Try to be customer-centric, and uncomplicate that,” said Sujan Patel, co-founder of Mailshake and Ramp Ventures. To be customer-centric, he further explains, is to be able to create a simple version of whatever is available, and build core functionalities that users have been lacking.
Taking the example of Mailshake, Sujan tells us how they were 2-3 years late with arriving on the field and building a company in the outreach, sales prospecting space. But realizing that that was the advantage and not the problem, is what enabled them to change tracks in their initial stages.
“I went to G2, Capterra and the like, and I looked at all the reviews of my competitors.” The goal was to find out what was lacking from them and what they were missing out on, that the target audience was really searching for. What are the people looking for, right now, became the maxim that built Sujan’s foundation.
But of course, this is only the beginning. What needs to be built on this foundation that will put your product in the spotlight, suit it up appropriately, and help present the best foot forward?
Sujan firmly believes in going by a marketing playbook that borrows from the greats, but leaves enough room to improvise, innovate, and inspire. In order to dive through a crowded marketplace, Sujan swears by the following pillars that form a part of his marketing playbook.
Educate and build
“It's education first, so essentially it’s content, building up an audience, and building up a brand by educating the market. It’s a strong SEO play.” says Sujan. Education and SEO go hand-in-hand and in today’s active SEO space, there is more opportunity to diversify, gain more knowledge, and build a more engaged audience.
A lot of this relies on your content marketing strategy as well, which also has more scope nowadays than before.
Word of mouth
Well. Good old word of mouth! It’s good to know it hasn’t gone out of fashion, and in fact, more than half the growth for Ramp Ventures, has come through word of mouth. But what is crucial is that you generate the right kind of hype and it is a positive and impactful message that does the rounds.
So how do you go about injecting marketing into your product? What’s the ‘aha’ moment that keeps you in the forefront? The key to generating goodwill and such moments of wow, is pivotal to increasing your word of mouth.
Take a moment to think of all the products and services you are loyal to, without even needing to be convinced by their marketing collateral. Zoom, Slack, Netflix - I’m sure you can come up with quite a few. That’s because their marketing is injected right into the product, and there are standout moments that impress you enough to talk about it frequently.
Setting up your customer for success
What’s the likelihood of your customers coming back to your product if they churn? How likely are they going to recommend you to fellow marketers, salesfolks, or customer support folks? This will be directly proportional to how much you want your customers to succeed. Your product/company will be successful only if the personas your are targeting are successful at their job.
So get on the phone, get to meet them, do what it takes to help them be successful. Remember your tool is just a means for them to be successful, and you are helping them get closer to their bigger picture.
It comes full cycle, and lands back on remembering to be customer-centric from the get go!
I hope that's enough tips for anyone to nail their SaaS business from a product and marketing front :).