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

January 1, 2021
The SaaS Playbook

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!

Marketing

🧪  The New Year is a great time to revisit your acquisition channels and see if there are more cost-effective options available. There are of course loads to pick from (we like Traction’s bullseye framework which offers 19 key channels), and we encourage you to not be afraid of retest channels that previously didn’t work – different tactics can be more or less effective based on your current stage. For those looking for some channel testing help, GoPractice’s growth simulator might be a good way to gain experience without testing your own business! Their 12-week simulator assigns you a hypothetical VC backed startup and forces you to make some tough product and growth decisions based on historical data they provide.

Marketing

🔮  There’s a misconception that B2B customers are rational, probably because we assume professionals are logical. But it’s people that the decision to buy your product (about 7 are involved in the process on average) not entities, so a large portion of that decision making takes place in their subconscious minds. It’s why customer psychology has long been a part of the SaaS marketer’s repertoire, and we expect the best will take an even deeper dive into what many are calling cognitive marketing. Cognitive marketing aims to do more than just understand your audience’s pain points and what they value – it delves into their prejudicial, contextual, and experimental biases and explores how you can leverage them. We’re excited to up our game.

Marketing

📊 When thinking about data-driven growth in 2021 and beyond, your goal should be to build out an infrastructure that allows you to create narratives behind your audience’s online behavior. This is where intent data can be helpful, which is the layering of first, second, and third-party data points to truly understand your audience’s motivations. Let’s use retention as an example. Your customer’s NPS scores and product usage data (first-party data) gives you a pulse of your customer, but tracking which competitors your customers are using via G2Crowd (second-party data) and monitoring which are engaging with their social channels (third-party data) gives you a clear picture of who is most at risk to churn.

Strategy

🤑 When it comes to SaaS margins, the 40/40/20 is often used as a solid reference point (40% R&D, 40% S&M, and 20% G&A). Our friends at Blossom Street Ventures took a deep dive into 28 SaaS companies that went public from 2018 to 2020, and found that the 40/40/20 might not be the best target anymore. On average, these co’s spent 50% of their OpEx on sales and marketing due and less on their product and development. We aren’t saying to blindly dump dollars into GTM as this will vary from company to company, but it’s a good reminder that even the best products out there are focusing more of their dollars on selling and building.

Listens

💕 Value propositions are one of our favorite subjects, so we were excited when Hiten Shah sat down with Louis Grenier to discuss how to know when you’ve got the right value propositions on Everybody Hates Marketers. One great reminder discussed was that your value proposition is something your customers determine, not you! Especially when you’re just starting to validate your product and gain traction, you’re likely to have an automatic bias on the value your product provides. If this doesn’t match customer feedback, you could be killing growth or even targeting the wrong customer altogether. Another good one –  value proposition is just one thing and one thing only – it’s how you get your customers in the door. Once you’ve lived up to the initial value proposition, you can then expand your product portfolio.

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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!