📕 Avoiding measurability bias; The Shape-Up method; The power of Pre-Suasion...

December 18, 2020
The SaaS Playbook

Happy Friday folks. This is our last Playbook before Christmas, so we’ll wish you an early happy holidays now! It’s been an eventful year to say the least, here’s to hoping 2021 brings brighter days (we’re optimistic). Cheers!


💰 Customer LTV shouldn’t be a big focus in the early days of your startup – you’re still figuring out PMF and the best channels to attract and convert leads. But soon enough it will become one of the most important metrics you track. The simple LTV calculation is ARPA multiplied by gross margin, divided by churn. Christopher Janz suggests a few ways to tighten up that calculation and make sure you aren’t over-reporting LTV. For example, lots of companies use logo churn as their denominator, but switching to revenue churn will incorporate expansions and contractions (and be more accurate). This SaaS LTV Calculator includes all of his suggested amendments to the calculation – have at it.


🚙 You can’t define marketing success without measurement, which is why we all track simple metrics like engagements, clickthroughs, conversion rates, etc. We tend to give those easily trackable metrics a disproportionate amount of attention because simply put, we are too lazy to explore new and more challenging ones. That’s called the measurability bias, and it occurs in a wide range of areas that extend far beyond marketing and SaaS. So what can you do about it? Try to have an open mind towards less familiar metrics. They could end up being key to unlocking a new level of effectiveness in your marketing.


⛴ The Shape Up method is a product development technique created by the masters of “work smarter not harder,” Basecamp. Following an eight-week cycle, the Shape Up allows engineering teams to quickly and autonomously develop new products/features. Yes, you read that right, autonomously – if you truly adhere to the process, your engineering teams should work in complete solitude for eight weeks. It’s a big commitment, so the creative folks at SearchSpring found a way to incorporate the Shape Up method's best parts without neglecting daily ops. They found the result was still the same – by cutting down on distractions, they could dive deeper into their problems and create more valuable solutions.


⏰ When we get bored of Friends reruns, we like to flip on legendary founder and investor Bill T. Gross’ TedTalk on why startups fail. He points to timing as the most critical piece of your strategy because you’re really trying to shoot the gap – you need to get in early enough to where the space isn’t oversaturated, but not so early to where you’re spending too much time educating your audience about why they need you. Our current environment changes at what feels like lightspeed, so you need to be realistic about how your product fits into the market and (as always) be able to anticipate how your customer needs will evolve.


🤯 Of course, marketers and sales leaders want to be persuasive, but maybe it’s time to think about being pre-suasive? In Robert Cialdini’s Pre-suasion: a revolutionary way to influence and persuade, he pushes that in order to be able to change minds, we need to be able to change mindsets. Building off the thesis that the most valuable commodity of the 21st century is attention, Cialdini focuses on using two main ideas: anchoring and priming (see below). Our big takeaway – making ideas stick means aiming to change what people think about, not how they think.

  • Anchoring - attentional bias, rooted in the idea people use the first piece of information offered when making decisions.
  • Priming - our responses are systematically biased to the most recent stimuli.

Previous Weekly Playbooks

March 5, 2021
📕 Why it’s time to retire the MQL; Board meetings for beginners; Expert outbound sales sequences...

Welcome to the end of the week. We’ve got some big news, as we’ve just launched a brand new website featuring a SaaS Playbook library! Now if you’re looking for great B2B SaaS content in a specific area, you can filter through our historical playbook features by topic to quickly find the best of the best. Historical features are being added as we speak so you should have access to the full library soon... excited to see what you think!

February 26, 2021
📕 The weighted Rule of 40; Navigating SaaS loan interest rates; F#ck Content Marketing

Happy Friday everyone. The job market has been slower than usual for obvious reasons, but we do have some open roles here at Scaleworks which we’re looking to fill. Namely, we’re searching for a Corporate Development Associate to help us find great products to invest in and awesome B2B SaaS content to share with you all. Give us a shout if you think you or anyone in your network might be a fit… Referral fees included!

February 19, 2021
📕 Get smart with sales intelligence; Hubspot hits $1B; Simple email marketing optimizations...

Morning folks, hope all our readers facing these winter storms are staying warm and safe right now. We’ll get to the newsletter shortly, but first we’d like to highlight a few organizations which are working to support Texans in need right now. There are links with information on how you can donate or help if you’re interested. 

  1. Feeding Texas 
  2. Crowdsource Rescue
  3. The Salvation Army
January 15, 2021
📕 Pricing as a growth lever; 10x approach to content marketing; How to scale customer segments...

Two weeks into the year is a bit early to identify any real 2021 SaaS trends, but that doesn’t mean we can’t take out our crystal ball and at least try. Onetool CEO Gordian Braun thinks the increasing number of SaaS tools will create chaos for end-users – more options and new, super niche verticals could result in overlapping features for products in different categories, making buying decisions more difficult. No-code tools (like Notion and Airtable) and workflow automation tools should also be on the rise as both are “simplifiers” that address the issue of having too many tools to handle. Let’s see how his predictions shake out...

January 22, 2021
📕 Customer-Led growth FTW; Breaking a billion; Solving product problems…

It seems like every year, there’s a debate on if Silicon Valley is the best place to launch your startup. In 2020, this conversation picked up even more steam because, well, we don’t need to get back into those details. We recently stumbled across this LinkedIn thread that gives some great arguments for both sides of the table. We’ve always been partial to building new tech ecosystems outside the Valley, but would love to hear what you think.

Alright, now for this week’s Playbook!

January 29, 2021
📕 How to measure your Power User Curve; Solving product backlogs; The Chief Customer Officer 2.0...

Howdy folks, and welcome to the end of the week! Today’s playbook takes a focus on customer-centric strategies, from unique methods to measure user engagement, to the best ways to gather and prioritize customer feedback. We also managed to wrap in not one, but two corny car analogies. Please forgive us, it’s the end of the month and we’re behind quota.

Have a great weekend.

January 8, 2021
📕 Amplifying content via thought leaders; The Adjacent Customer; “Obviously awesome” product positioning…

Happy Friday folks. We can’t be the only ones a bit behind on our 2021 business planning, so we thought you all might get some use out of this template from our very own Ed Byrne, which will help you review last year’s progress and set thoughtful 2021 goals. It’s a roughly two-day process that requires some buy-in from your team and serious self-awareness... let us know what you think!

November 20, 2020
📕 The rise of the pod people; Self-caring your way to effective leadership; Simplifying revenue attribution...

Tech startup culture is known for two things: brooding dev teams and amazing office snacks. Kidding (sort of). What’s actually at the heart of startup culture is breaking down norms and creating new solutions to perennial problems.

Speaking of problem-solving – we’ve got some great content this week on solving the internal struggles most startups face, from team structure to leadership burnout and revenue attribution.

November 27, 2020
📕 SaaS Black Friday deals; How Typeform built an A+ brand, Why you shouldn’t “just ship it”…

Good morning to those just waking up from a turkey coma, it’s time for your weekly serving of SaaS news. And, because we love a good deal, we suggest you check out the B2B SaaS blog’s 2020 Black Friday deal list. We know everyone is in 2021 planning mode, so hopefully, the ~200 discounted SaaS deals save you some dollars.

Enjoy the rest of the holiday weekend.

December 4, 2020
📕 Avoiding the SaaS Valley of Death; Hiring “scrappers”; How to become a trusted advisor...

With the new year on the horizon it’s time to start thinking about that 2021 hiring plan. It’s hard not to focus on a candidate’s resume when making hiring decisions, but remember, an impressive resume doesn’t tell the whole story. More companies are foregoing those with “expert credentials” in favor of teachable hires who are willing to take risks. An openness to risk is especially important to surviving in B2B SaaS, so our advice is to always look for scrappers.

December 11, 2020
📕 Flywheels over funnels; How to measure SaaS operating leverage; Nailing your value prop...

In just 5 years, The Morning Brew has emerged as one of the GOAT newsletters. Their growth to stardom is in large part thanks to their referral marketing mastery – 30% of their 2.5m million subscribers came through the channel. We aren’t saying that a referral program will work quite as well for your B2B SaaS product (newsletters charge time, SaaS products charge money) but if it can work even just 1/10th as well, it could be worth testing...

December 18, 2020
📕 Avoiding measurability bias; The Shape-Up method; The power of Pre-Suasion...

Happy Friday folks. This is our last Playbook before Christmas, so we’ll wish you an early happy holidays now! It’s been an eventful year to say the least, here’s to hoping 2021 brings brighter days (we’re optimistic). Cheers!

January 1, 2021
📕 Your intro to cognitive marketing; A SaaS growth simulator; Boosting retention with intent data...

Happy New Year folks! Can’t believe we actually made it to 2021, we hope you have a great start to the year. We’ve been working on some of our new year’s resolutions and have a couple nailed down: to better understand our customers and thoroughly testing our acquisition channels. We’re touching on both (plus more) today, hope you enjoy!