If you’re looking to create your go to market strategy before your SaaS is fully developed then you’ve already made smarter choices than so many other founders.
But no matter where you’re at in the launching process, these tips, common failures, and examples will help you learn what to do and what not to do when going to market with a new SaaS product.
In this post, we’re covering:
- Go to market strategy for B2B SaaS
- Tips and best practices
- Common go to market failures
- SaaS go to market strategy template
- Go to market strategy examples from 6 different SaaS companies
Go to market strategy for B2B SaaS
Since the vast majority of our readers are building B2B SaaS companies, that’s what we’re going to focus on here.
B2B SaaS is a different environment because…
- You’re marketing to companies, not people: This makes the go to market strategy very different, because you not only need to identify the best type of company to approach first, but also the role or title of the people who will buy your product. You might also have different people who are buyers, champions, users, decision makers, etc.
- You can more easily utilize certain outbound methods: While outbound marketing is still a thing in B2C (think direct mail and cold calling), in the B2B world you also have cold email at your disposal, and outbound in general can be more effective.
- The company size you target greatly affects your go to market strategy: It’s not just about selling to companies, but the right size companies. Whether you target really small businesses, SMBs, or enterprises will have a huge affect on your strategy.
That’s just an overview of what makes the B2B market different.
Let’s dive into the best way to develop your go to market strategy.
Tips and best practices
Before we dive into the template and examples, let’s first take a look at some of the best practices for developing a go to market strategy as a SaaS business.
Keep it simple
Allan Dib’s 1-Page Marketing Plan can work for any type of business, and he’s done a podcast interview about how it applies to SaaS.
The thing is your SaaS go to market strategy should fit on a single page. Contrary to popular belief, it is not a long term, far ranging plan. It is simply how you are going to gain your first $10k or $100k in MRR, depending on your goals.
You can find a picture of the actual 1-page marketing plan here, but the idea is that you have:
- For prospects: One target market, one message, and one channel to reach prospects
- For leads: One lead capturing method, one lead nurturing method, and one sales conversion strategy or channel
- For customers: One core strategy for delivering a great experience, one core strategy for increasing LTV, and one core strategy for increasing customer referrals
Build your go to market strategy while building your product
The second-most important tip is that you should be building your go to market strategy at the same time or before your product. You should never build something and then wonder who to sell it to.
These things should go hand in hand.
- Use market research to inform how you will market your product as well as how you build it.
- Start selling your product (or at least collecting leads) before your product is fully built.
- Experiment with different audiences (selling, collecting leads, interviews, surveys) to discover who has the greatest need for your product and then build it for them and build your marketing channel around them
Stick to one market, one audience, and one acquisition channel at a time
This is a difficult one for entrepreneurs. You think that by narrowing it down to business size, you’ve done enough. Or that by narrowing it down to role, that’s good enough.
In the long run, your SaaS product might be used by companies in different niches and all over the world, but for now you need just one geographical region, one target persona, and one channel you will use to reach them.
If that’s working, do it until you’ve exhausted it. If not, tweak just one element at a time until you find the combination that you should exhaust.
Common go to market failures to avoid
Related to the above, these are the mistakes that SaaS entrepreneurs should do their best to avoid.
Using too many marketing strategies
Don’t be everywhere. Don’t do all of the things. Stick to one core channel to begin with, whether that’s cold email, cold calling, or SEO. If you feel it’s necessary to start building up some social media presence to show you’re alive, then pick just one platform to start.
Targeting too many markets at once
SaaS companies fail when they don’t stick to one geographical region. This might be the US or it might be Western Europe. It doesn’t have to be a tiny region, it just needs to be specific.
The reason is two-fold:
- There are so many opportunities, your team will get confused by not narrowing things down.
- Customers in the geographical region will recognize your customer logos or relate to your marketing better so that you can more quickly establish authority than you would if you were spreading yourself too thin.
Going to market to enterprises without cause or connections
Targeting enterprise companies first isn’t proven to bring in more revenue for early stage SaaS companies, even if the deal sizes are bigger.
Enterprise companies have longer sales cycles and more decision makers. They are harder to sell to, and they are typically not early adopters. They want proven solutions.
Only target enterprise if your solution is something they are desperately asking for and if you also have some connections. You need a sure-fire way to get your first customer, so then you can create a case study and leverage that success to sell to other enterprises.
Not using outbound when it makes sense to do so
Because inbound is so hot, SaaS companies tend to neglect outbound. While outbound methods aren’t necessarily the best go to market strategy, there’s a good chance they are.
If there’s not a huge need for quality content in your niche or lots of low-hanging SEO fruit, then 9 times out of 10, outbound is what you should focus on as a very early stage SaaS.
SaaS go to market strategy template
What do SaaS companies need to decide on? Even if you don’t think your product has a niche, you still identify the best niche to start marketing your product too. Later, you can go wide, but in the beginning it’s all about going deep and narrow.
Copy this down and fill it out.
When you change it, put it in a new doc or section of your doc, and then date that new version. This will help you keep track of your pivots.
Try not to change multiple items at once unless you’ve really gotten it wrong. Otherwise you’ll be in danger of making it difficult to test the results your changes.
- The core result of the SaaS product:
- The most important 2 or 3 features:
- The aha moment:
- The secondary 4 – 7 features:
- The end user:
- The buyer (if different):
- The market:
- The niche:
- The marketing acquisition channel:
- The customer conversion channel:
- The customer retention / onboarding strategy:
- The core brand message:
For the core brand message, we recommend you use the brand script template by StoryBrand. You can create your own free account here.
Examples of SaaS companies’ go to market strategies
Loom’s viral sharing
Loom’s screen recording Chrome extension became really popular really quickly. Why? It’s all thanks to the virality of the product. Users typically share their screen recorded videos with others, who then sign up for the free version of the platform.
Snappa’s SEO play
Snappa has positioned their website for thousands of high value keyphrases, and this was their go to market strategy as a fledgling SaaS. You can hear their founder talk more about how they find SEO opportunities here.
Adya’s referral strategy
Before their acquisition, Adya gained enterprise customers through their own personal connections and their referral program. The commission they gave to channel partners was 20% of the customer revenue for life. Learn more about their go to market strategy here.
Privy’s freemium model
Privy’s freemium model is a huge part of their success. That lets them gain new subscribers without the common objection of cost, and then to gradually grow their LTV as their customers get even more successful as ecommerce entrepreneurs. This also lets them grow via word of mouth. Learn more about their go to market freemium strategy.
TaxJar’s much-needed content
When TaxJar started out, there just wasn’t much content on sales tax for different states in the new world of ecommerce and digital sales. Even years later, there’s still a huge need for their authoritative content on topics that few expertly understand. Learn more about their go to market content strategy, and be sure to use a fully-featured lead capture tool when going the inbound route.
Brightwheel’s PR meets outbound strategy
Brightwheel’s founder appeared on Shark Tank in 2016 and did a deal with Mark Cuban to help bring his SaaS app to more daycare centers and preschools. The product helps streamline enrollment, attendance and parent communication. They put their Shark Tank infamy to good use by including mentions of it in their cold emails and direct mail to daycare center owners.