After months of development and platform changes on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn, our company is finally preparing to launch a social lead generation tool called LeadFamous. Having consulted with dozens of popular and successful SaaS companies over the years, I’ve discovered it can be quite challenging to successfully launch a software product in today’s hyper-competitive digital landscape.
As both media and tech evolve, it’s simply not enough to market your product via one or two channels, like Facebook Ads or Google Ads — especially if it’s a bootstrapped startup. If you want to get traction early, you need to have an orchestrated plan of attack that includes outreach, social media engagement, and a public relations (PR) strategy that can help build credibility.
The world of PR is changing too. It now expands beyond traditional press releases into ecosystems like podcasting, influencer marketing, and community platforms. Some recent B2B trends to support the launch of a SaaS product include raising capital via crowdfunding sites like Kickstarter and getting featured on a trusted industry site like Product Hunt.
While these channels can be very effective at getting attention and press, they don’t always translate into instant sales or the capital infusion that most startups are seeking for fast growth, which is why our company is exploring additional options to launch LeadFamous.
During my research, I wanted to connect with other experts who have a track record of B2B success, which is why I interviewed Udit Goenka. Goenka is the co-founder and CEO of PitchGround, a company that specializes in helping B2B startups launch successfully.
“There are so many B2B products coming on the market every day, you have to know how to stand out, and how to build a message that circulates itself,” said Goenka, who’s built and sold a SaaS startup of his own prior to PitchGround.
Based on the interview and my research, here are five strategies to introduce your B2B product to the world using current PR and marketing trends to your advantage:
1. Use social channels as your press release outlet.
A survey by digital media agency 10Yetis found that over two-thirds of journalists go to Twitter to find stories, and nearly three-quarters conduct Twitter-based research.
However, only 14 percent of those journalists will go to a company blog. So don’t let your press releases gather dust on your website. Get them out there publicly and consider direct communication with the journalists you believe might genuinely like your product, both on Twitter and on relevant industry websites.
Additionally, it’s a good idea to start social media conversations with your target demographic by asking questions. Social media conversations engage your public, and if sparks fly, they may also catch the attention of journalists.
2. Host a social media contest.
Another potentially powerful strategy to launch a SaaS product is to host a social media contest that rewards people for sharing your product socially and referring visitors (leads, really) to your website.
A few years ago, Hotjar launched its SaaS offering using a viral social media giveaway that offered beta access to their product and gave away additional prizes. The contest was ultimately responsible for 60 percent of the 60,000 beta signups that Hotjar earned over its first six months of business.
Similarly, BrandMentions launched a contest and a post announcing the winners generated nearly 12,000 new leads for their product in less than five weeks. CEO Razvan Gavrilas explained via Skype chat, “The contest helped put BrandMentions on the map, and it was a good organic driver of new leads. Many of the leads converted into customers after the contest ended. Overall, it was a good strategic decision for the product launch.”
The opportunity to win something for free is a compelling way to get social PR for your new product. These contests caught my attention and I participated in them, as well, which is why we will host a social media giveaway for our LeadFamous software, too.
3. Price higher (not lower) using the 3X formula.
A critical component to launching and scaling a startup is price elasticity. In short, you must price your product for the buyers you want to attract. Steli Efti, CEO and co-founder of Close.io, contradicts conventional wisdom by suggesting that SaaS companies should hike their prices instead of minimizing them in a recent blog post.
Efti claims cheap prices can lead to lower retention, higher churn rates, and price wars that doom you in the long run. “Most startups take the easy route,” he writes, “lowering their price to match their value. But a smart startup does the opposite: They increase the value to match their price.”
Efti suggests increasing value by adding features, streamlining your interface, and ramping up customer support. “If you constantly strive to create a more valuable product, you could charge practically anything and your customers will pay it.”
Based on his formula, you should calculate the value of your service — then triple it.
4. Offer a freemium or lifetime deal to early adopters.
As you grow your SaaS offering, of course, you should increase the value of your product so you can raise your rates. However, “Not so fast,” cautions Goenka, whose approach to pricing adds another layer of nuance. In the very early stages, Goenka has found success by offering a lifetime deal to stimulate early adopters, which can quickly raise capital to fund future growth.
“Developing an expensive service and then marketing it cheaply for early adopters will produce a flash of FOMO (Fear Of Missing Out) that translates into a wave of new signups, word-of-mouth wildfire, and a financial windfall to help bridge the development gap,” Goenka says.
This was the case for Customerly.io, who generated $65,000 of revenue in under a month by offering new users a one-time LTD — a LifeTime Deal that gave the buyer a software license for only a one-time signup fee, according to a post from CEO Luca Micheli.
5. Structure “talk triggers” into your customer experience.
If you want word of mouth, people need a reason to talk.
Stories sell, and memorable experiences will prompt customers to share their stories and do your PR work for you. Jay Baer calls these prompts Talk Triggers, which is also the title of his book. The classic example he uses is Doubletree Hotels’ practice of giving customers a cookie at check-in. According to Baer’s findings, 34 percent of Doubletree customers talked about the cookie within 60 days of their experience.
A good SaaS example of a talk trigger is the simple referral program that took Dropbox from 100,000 users to over 4 million in 15 months. Instead of a cookie, they offered 500MB of free space to any customer who referred a friend. The friend got 500MB, too. People talked.
Dropbox shows these techniques works in B2B, as well as B2C.
“Differentiating is important, but a lot of companies still overlook the effective simplicity of giving people a great deal,” says Goenka. Launching your B2B with stellar PR and social buzz is a matter of starting conversations in the right places, prompting others to start conversations for you, and welcoming newcomers with once-in-a-lifetime access to an otherwise expensive product.