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How would you allocate your SaaS marketing budget?


We're launching a new SaaS B2B software company and working through the best budget allocation and strategy. With an initial budget around $30-50K, I'm considering starting in just the local market where we will have better control of the sales process with a good understanding of the local market and ability to touch the customer. However, I'm concerned this strategy would enable a window for national/global competitors to enter the market.

Secondary to the geographic target, we're investing in website, landing pages, explainer videos, etc. What percentage would you put to ppc ads, blogs, seo, etc. I saw a recent study said tradeshows were making a comeback and were very strong, but booth creation and materials are not cheap and could eat budget quickly.

Any thoughts/comments welcome on all or parts of the above.

-Simon

27 Replies

Serge Jonnaert
1
0
Serge Jonnaert Entrepreneur
Technology Executive, Cloud & Interoperability Solutions for Regulated Industries
Unless you can combine it with a speaking engagement or panel participation, I wouldn't spend the money on a tradeshow.
Annette Tonti
3
0
Annette Tonti Advisor
Founder, President at The Start Exchange
Very much depends on what you are selling to whom. If it is to corp. people who you will buy from you because relationship is important than Tradeshow could work. If certain verticals would be a good 'go-to-market' (vs. the local area) than Tradeshow would work. My suggestion is always to do series of small budget tests across the digital landscape, see which gets you the KPIs closest to what you expect, then hit the best performers hard.
Sara Carlstead Brumfield
1
0
Lead Software Development Engineer at IBM
I would invest in and verify your customer onboarding process to confirm you aren't losing customers once you bring to your site. Once you have that tuned, then you can invest in getting people to your site.
Jesse Noyes
5
0
Jesse Noyes Advisor
Director of Product Marketing & Inbound at Kahuna
Hi Simon,

Having built budgets at multiple SaaS startups, the honest answer is there is no stock answer. What's guided me time and time again is this principle: Budgets are a reflection priorities. If you approach with priorities first, and back in with budgets, you're more likely to see short-term successes that can be benchmarked and used to guide future investments.

For example, let's say your priorities are primarily lead generation and customer acquisition at this point. Using a small budget you could look at a few different channels such as PPC, SEO, retargeting, events, etc. At first you'll have to look at industry benchmarks to set some expectations around costs and expected returns. (Knowing these are not likely to be 100% in line with what you see.) Aspects like landing pages, content and collateral, etc. should be in the budget, but they represent the support for your paid programs, not a paid program itself. (For instance, a landing page is used to capture the lead, but the lead could have been sent to the landing page from a LinkedIn ad.)

You'll likely want to try at least a couple different tactics, measure results, and then invest more in what's working in the short term. But you can't just spread the money around as you need dollars and time to accurately capture what's working and what's not. And when measuring results, you need to look at more than the acquisition costs and number of leads, but also the velocity and quality of those returns. PPC might deliver a ton of leads, but it turns out your redesigned website is driving better quality leads that are converting into customers at higher clip. This provides the best view of where budget should be allocated.

Again, it all comes down to priorities, which can and will change. But these must represent what goals you have for your dollars. Otherwise you'll be bobbing for apples.
Leyton Cleveley
3
0
Leyton Cleveley Advisor
Chief Software Engineer at Team Service (UK), Ltd.
'starting in just the local market where we will have better control of the sales process with a good understanding of the local market and ability to touch the customer'

This seems a good and fair idea, since you are launching a new service fast feedback and fast fixing of issues is going to be essential.

'However, I'm concerned this strategy would enable a window for national/global competitors to enter the market.'

This statement seems to make no sense... if your customers have google then they can easily search for alternate solutions, infact I suspect they will as you have no chosen track record. If you are worried about your product competing with them because lack of features or other tangible problem, then spend the money on getting them sorted. Nothing will make people move quicker than hassle.

Rolling out to people you have a relationship with is going to be the key to launch as they will stick though theinevitableissues, better to have a core of reliable custom that will provide good useage stats than 10,000 used for 15 seconds free accounts hanging around your servers.
Judith Hurwitz
1
0
Judith Hurwitz Entrepreneur
President & CEO Hurwitz & Associates
What is your differentiation in the market? Is there something that you are doing that your potential competitors aren't? What message to you want to bring to the market? I think that you need to start with setting up meetings/lunches/dinners with influencers who can help you get the word out. You want to create a discussion in the market before you spend a lot of money on marketing. I think that Salesforce.com is a great example of a company that marketed a new concept for SaaS "no software" and set up dinner meetings with influencers to begin to build momentum.
James Hipkin
1
0
James Hipkin Advisor
CEO, Managing Director at Red8 Interactive
Write this down, print it out, review it daily:

Water the flowers and prune the weeds.

With a tiny budget, it's imperative that you discover what works. That means testing. Test everything. But test big things. At this point blue vs green isn't a big thing. Depending on your product geography may not be either.

Think about where your target is likely looking for a solution to the problem you solve. Invest in these channels.

Don't try to do too much. Diversity was invented so that stock brokers could make more money. Pick a couple / few channels and determine what works for you.

And if you can't measure it, trade shows for example are hard to measure, then don't do it.

As has been mentioned, current relationships will be your first source of sales. Use these early sales to fine tune the on boarding process. Use them to get testimonials. They are your most powerful reason to believe.

Think about the sales funnel. Use your media channels and further refine your sales funnel.

Soon you will have enough budget to ratchet up your efforts but you will be doing this on a solid foundation built with testing.
Edward M. Yang
4
0
Edward M. Yang Entrepreneur
Managing Partner at Firecracker PR
One key question is, what is the price range of your SaaS offering?

Lower price points will be conducive towards tactics such as online advertising, email marketing.

Higher price points may require lead nurturing through content marketing.

Here's a good presentation that uses the concept of Unit of Value to determine pricing and GTM strategy:https://medium.com/greylock-perspectives/unit-of-value-a-framework-for-scaling-42c092fba887#.ul3z354iq

I found the points in this article immensely helpful:http://thenextweb.com/entrepreneur/2015/06/13/43-lessons-growing-from-0-to-1-million-in-revenue-twice/

This article is very long, but a worthwhile read:http://www.forentrepreneurs.com/saas-metrics-2/

Hope some of these help!
-- Edward Yang | Firecracker PR Managing Partner o: (888) 317-4687 ext. 702 c: (949) 500-6422 [removed to protect privacy] firecrackerpr.com Twitter: @firecrackerpr

Edward M. Yang
1
0
Edward M. Yang Entrepreneur
Managing Partner at Firecracker PR
Sorry for some reason it is formatted the links in my post in a weird way and won't allow me to edit them. You may have to copy and paste the URLs of the articles, ignoring the words before the : symbol.
Rene Joergensen
0
0
Rene Joergensen Advisor
Board Member
I think that with focus and going deep into your model, you can outrun most competitors. Focus is hard to beat if you are copying or trying to run after, and the big guys can be slow.

Always test and look at ROI in your marketing. If you get a good ROI from a trade show, then do it again. Online is letting you target very narrowly, so if you find a channel that gives you good ROI, invest there.
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