How To Build A Solid SaaS Product Marketing Plan
In one of his YouTube videos, entrepreneur and SaaS go-to-market (GTM) advisor TK Kader mentions how he worked with then one of Marketo‘s marketing heads Matt Zilli.
He narrates how Marketo acquired his young SaaS company ToutApp (now Marketo Sales Connect) and how he became the newest member of Marketo’s executive team.
At the same time, Marketo was undergoing a major transition, which meant it needed to revamp its messaging.
During that time, Kader had multiple responsibilities in rolling out this new messaging. And in the video, he tells how Matt Zilli’s small team of marketers was the go-to people when it came to getting things done in this area.
He also recounts wondering why the people in Marketo kept directing him to Zilli.
The answer? Zilli’s team specialized in product marketing.
In the video, Kader shares how product marketing is the pivotal factor that got Marketo through its global transitions and how it is the most important aspect of marketing for any SaaS business.
In this article, we will talk about product marketing, why it’s important, and how you can create a product marketing plan that sets up all of the other marketing programs you’re going to have for success.
What Is Product Marketing?
Product marketing is the process of bringing a new product to market. It includes everything from market research and target audience identification to product launch and post-launch analysis.
Traditional marketing techniques rely on building external factors like branding or hype. IN contrast to that, product marketing draws its strength from the product itself — its features, benefits, and how it addresses a pain point in its own way.
Why Is Product Marketing Important?
Product marketing is important for SaaS businesses because it provides the foundation for all other marketing strategies. A strong product marketing plan will help you determine your target audience, positioning, messaging, and GTM strategy.
Let’s look at some more specific reasons why it is important:
It Helps You Understand Your Potential Customers
In order to create a well-oiled SaaS marketing machine, you need to start with a solid understanding of your potential customers.
Product marketing helps you do just that.
Product marketing helps you determine your target audience, understand their needs, and develop a positioning and messaging strategy that resonates with them.
It Helps You Target Your Marketing Efforts More Effectively
Once you have a clear understanding of your target audience, you can start to develop targeted marketing programs that are more likely to resonate with them.
For example, if you know that your target audience is small businesses, you can create content and ads that focus on the needs of small businesses.
You can also target your marketing efforts to specific channels that are more likely to reach small businesses. These include search engines, social media, and blog sites.
It Bridges The Gap Between Marketing, Product, And Sales Teams
Product marketing is the glue that holds the product, marketing, and sales teams together.
In order to be successful, SaaS businesses need to have a close relationship all throughout these three teams. Product marketing helps these three departments be on the same page when it comes to product messaging and even branding.
Product marketing is responsible for ensuring that the product team understands the needs of the market and that the marketing team understands the features and benefits of the product.
It also works closely with the sales team to ensure that they have the tools and resources they need to sell the product effectively.
Now that we’ve defined product marketing and discussed why it is important, let’s move on to the “main event” of this article.
Let’s talk about how you can create a SaaS product marketing plan that will help you take your SaaS business to the next level.
1) Know Your Product Inside And Out
You need to be intimately familiar with three things about your SaaS product: its features, benefits, and how it is different from the competition
Features are the “what” of your product. They are the specific things that your product can do.
Benefits are the “why” of your product. They are the reasons that potential customers should be interested in your product.
Differentiation is what sets your product apart from all the other options out there.
You need to be able to articulate all three of these things in order to create a SaaS product marketing plan that will be successful.
2) Do Your Market Research
The next step is to do your market research. This will help you understand the needs of your target audience and develop a positioning and messaging strategy that resonates with them.
Here are some things you can do to learn more about your target market:
Interviews & Focus Groups
One of the best ways to learn about your target market is to talk to them directly.
You can conduct interviews or focus groups with potential customers to get insights into their needs and pain points.
What’s more, having a direct conversation with them gives you a chance to learn what they think about your SaaS platform. You can explain your product’s features and benefits and see what they have to say about it.
This will also verify if there is indeed a demand for your SaaS product.
Another great way to learn about your target market is to survey them.
You can use an online survey tool like SurveyMonkey or Google Forms to create a survey and send it out to your target audience.
This is a quick and easy way to get insights into the needs of your target market.
In addition to talking to your potential customers, you can also research your competitor’s users. You can look at user review sites like G2 and Capterra to see their customers’ feedback.
What do these customers find helpful? What do they find lacking? Is there a significant number of users who are looking for a particular feature or benefit?
This can give you useful insights into what features have high demand in the market.
Keyword research is another great way to understand the needs of your target market.
You can use a tool like Google Ads Keyword Planner or Ahrefs to research the keywords that potential customers are using to search for SaaS products like yours.
For example, if you’re offering a SaaS solution for marketing automation, you might find that potential customers are searching for keywords like “marketing automation software” or “best marketing software.”
Along with it, you will see other relevant keywords and how many people are looking them up on search engines.
This can give you insights into the needs of your target market and help you develop a messaging strategy.
Social listening is another great way to understand your target market.
You can use a tool like Hootsuite Insights or Sprout Social to track mentions of your SaaS product across social media.
This will help you understand how people are talking about your SaaS product and what they think about it.
You can also use social listening to research your competition. This will give you insights into their messaging strategy and how they are positioning their SaaS product in the market.
3) Know Your Audience
The next step is to segment your target market and narrow it down to your target audience.
This will help you develop a more targeted SaaS marketing strategy and messaging that resonates with each segment.
For example, if you’re offering a SaaS platform for project management, you might have two segments: small businesses and enterprise businesses.
Each of these segments has different needs and pain points. As such, you will need to develop different marketing strategies for each segment.
You can use demographic criteria like age, gender, location, and job title. You may also want to use psychographic criteria like interests, values, and lifestyle.
4) Develop Your ICP & Buyer Personas
The next step is to develop your Ideal Customer Profile (ICP) and buyer personas.
Ideal Customer Profile (ICP)
Your ICP is a description of your ideal customer. It includes criteria like company size, location, industry, and budget.
For example, if you sell a SaaS product for project management, your ICP might be a company with more than 50 employees in the IT industry with a budget of $5,000 per month.
Your buyer persona is a fictional character that represents your ideal customer. You can have multiple personas within an ICP. You can have one for the CEO, CTO, or even down to the end-user.
To develop your buyer persona, you will need to do some research. You can talk to your sales team, survey your customers, and research your competition’s customers.
From this research, you will be able to understand the needs, pain points, and challenges of each buyer persona.
You will also be able to understand their decision-making process and what factors influence their purchase decisions.
Armed with this information, you can now create a detailed buyer persona that includes information like their demographics, goals, challenges, and even their beliefs and motivations for buying.
5) Understand Your Competitive Landscape
The next step is to perform some competitive analysis. This will help you learn who your competitors are and how your SaaS product stacks against theirs.
To do this, you will need to do three things: identify your competitors, gather data about them, and analyze that data.
Identifying Your Competitors
There are a few ways to identify your competitors.
The first is to simply go to a search engine and type your SaaS product’s description. Chances are, the search results will show you your direct competitors.
For example, if you type “project management software”, the search results will show you a list of project management SaaS products.
Another way to identify your competitors is more from a digital marketing perspective. It would again involve using a keyword research tool like Google Ads or Ahrefs.
Just type in some relevant keywords and it will show you who is running ads or optimizing their content for those keywords.
Gathering Data About Your Competitors
Now that you know who your competitors are, you need to gather data about them.
But what kind of data should you gather?
Here are a few ideas:
Their Company Mission Statements: What is their mission? What are they trying to achieve with their SaaS product?
Their Value Propositions: What are they promising their customers? How are they positioning their SaaS product? How well are they delivering these promises?
Their SaaS Product’s Features: What features do they offer? How do their features compare to yours?
Their Pricing Model & Strategy: What pricing model do they use? How much do they charge for their SaaS product? Is it more expensive or cheaper than yours?
Their Marketing Programs: What kind of marketing are they doing? Are they doing inbound marketing, outbound marketing, or both? What kind of content are they publishing? How active are they on social media? How are they building their email lists?
To get this data, you can simply go to their website and look around
You can also sign up for their SaaS product (if possible) or take a look at their pricing page.
If you want to get even more detailed, you can try to find case studies or reviews of their SaaS product.
Analyzing Your Competitors’ Data
Now that you have all this data, it’s time to analyze it.
The first step to analyzing the data you just gathered is by doing a strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats (SWOT) analysis with it.
A SWOT analysis is a simple but powerful tool that can help you understand your competitors better. It will also help you identify any areas where you have an advantage or disadvantage against them.
Once you’ve done a SWOT analysis, the next step is to create a competitive matrix.
A competitive matrix is simply a way to compare and contrast your SaaS product with your competitors’ products.
To do this, you will need to create a table with two columns. In one column, list all the data about your SaaS product. In the other column, list all the corresponding data from your competitors.
Then, give each feature a rating from 1 to 5, with 1 being the worst and 5 being the best.
This will give you a good idea of how your SaaS product compares to your competitors’ products.
6) Set SMART Marketing Goals
The next step is to set some SMART goals.
SMART is an acronym that stands for Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-bound
It’s a simple but effective way to set goals that will help you measure your success.
Let’s talk about how your goals can pass the SMART criteria:
Your goals should be specific and clearly defined.
You can’t just tell your team “We need more traffic” or “Let’s get more leads.”
You have to be more detailed than that. A specific goal would be something like, “We need to increase our website traffic by 10% in the next month.”
You should be able to track your progress and see if you’re actually achieving your goals.
To make your goals measurable, you need to set KPIs (key performance indicators).
Some common SaaS marketing KPIs are monthly recurring revenue (MRR), customer acquisition costs (CAC), and customer lifetime value (CLV).
Your goals should also be realistic and attainable.
It’s important to set ambitious goals. But if your goal is too unrealistic, it can actually hurt your team’s morale when you inevitably fail at hitting it.
One good way to make sure that you have achievable goals is to look up benchmarks for SaaS companies in your industry.
What are the average CLVs and CACs? What are the standards in other metrics?
Your goals should be around those benchmarks.
Your goals should also align with your overall business strategy.
For example, let’s say that your initial product marketing strategy involves building an email list and getting your product messaging out to this list.
It wouldn’t make sense if you suddenly set a goal of increasing website traffic. But a relevant goal would be to increase your email open rate or click-through rate (CTR) by 10% this month.
Your goals should also have a time frame.
This means that you need to set a deadline for your goal.
If you don’t set a deadline, it’s easy to push your goal off indefinitely. But if you do set a deadline, it will help you stay focused and motivated to achieve your goal.
So what would an entirely SMART goal look like?
Let’s use the example where you’re working on your email marketing efforts. One of your goals could be to reach an email open rate of 30% by the end of the year. Another one could be to have a CTR of 3% by the end of the year.
Having SMART goals won’t only help you measure your success more accurately. It will also enable you to set the right benchmarks and milestones.
7) Create Your Core Product Messaging
Your core product messaging is the foundation of all your marketing strategies. It’s what will guide you in creating everything from your website copy to your social media posts.
And it should be based on a deep understanding of your target market and what they’re looking for.
To create your core product messaging, you need to answer four important questions:
- Who is your target market?
- What are their pain points?
- How does your SaaS product solve those pain points?
- How is it different from the existing SaaS products in the market?
You can communicate the answers to these questions using two statements: your value proposition and unique selling proposition (USP) statement.
You can also throw in a product story to give your target audience a deeper context as to why you created your SaaS solution.
Your value proposition is a one-sentence statement that communicates the main benefit of your SaaS product
It should be clear, concise, and to the point. It should also be based on a deep understanding of your target market’s needs.
In most cases, a SaaS product’s value proposition is the very first thing that a potential customer sees when they enter the SaaS company’s website.
Here are some examples of value propositions of SaaS products:
Slack: “Transform the way you work with one place for everyone and everything you need to get stuff done.”
Insightly CRM: “Go beyond transactions: better connect with your customers, create unforgettable experiences, and align teams with a CRM built with you in mind.”
Evernote: “Remember everything and tackle any project with your notes, tasks, and schedule all in one place.”
As you can see, each SaaS company’s value proposition is unique. But they all have one thing in common: they focus on the main benefit that their SaaS product offers.
Keep in mind that your SaaS product’s value proposition doesn’t only live on your website. It should also be present in all your marketing and sales collaterals.
This includes everything from your social media posts to your email newsletters.
Unique Selling Proposition (USP) Statement
Your USP statement is a statement that communicates what makes your SaaS product different from the rest of the competition.
Here are some examples of USP statements for SaaS products:
Pipedrive: “Pipedrive is the first CRM platform made for salespeople, by salespeople.”
Xero: “Beautiful cloud accounting making business more enjoyable.”
HubSpot: “HubSpot’s all-in-one marketing, sales, and service platform is built to help you implement inbound and grow better. It’s all powered by the same database, so everyone in your organization — Marketing, Sales, Services & IT — is working off the same system of record.”
Now, this messaging usually resides in your “About Us” page and maybe some emails. But it’s worth mentioning here because it can play a huge role in your SaaS product marketing efforts.
Your product story is an anecdote of how your SaaS product came to be. It’s usually told from the perspective of the SaaS company’s founder or CEO.
And it should answer three important questions:
- What was the problem that your SaaS product was created to solve?
- How did you come up with the idea for your SaaS product?
- What are your company’s values?
Your product story should be told in a way that’s relatable and easy to understand. It should also be free of industry jargon and technical terms.
This is because you want your target audience to be able to understand your story even if they’re not familiar with the technicals in the SaaS industry.
8) Create A SaaS Marketing Strategy
Now that you have your messaging down, it’s time to start thinking about how you’re going to reach your target market
This is where your SaaS product marketing strategy comes in.
Your strategy should be based on a deep understanding of your target market, as well as your SaaS product’s unique selling proposition (USP).
It should also take into account the different stages of the buyer’s journey: from awareness to advocacy.
And it should be tailored to the specific channels that your target market is using.
Some common SaaS product marketing channels include:
- Search engine optimization (SEO)
- Pay-per-click (PPC) advertising
- Social media marketing
- Content marketing
- Email marketing
- Event marketing
- Influencer marketing
9) Set A Budget
Setting a budget for your product marketing is crucial since it has a direct impact on how well you can execute your strategy.
This can be a tricky step because it’s hard to predict how much money you’ll need to effectively market your SaaS product.
A good rule of thumb is to start with a small budget and then increase it as you start to see results.
You can also use benchmarks to help you come up with a realistic budget.
For example, the average SaaS company spends 20% of its total revenue on marketing.
So if your SaaS product is generating $1 million in annual revenue, you should expect to spend at least $200,000 on marketing.
10) Track Your Progress And Optimize Your Product Marketing Processes
Once you’ve launched your SaaS product marketing efforts, it’s important to track your progress and optimize your processes accordingly.
This can be done by setting up tracking mechanisms — such as Google Analytics — and then measuring key metrics, such as website traffic, leads, customers, and revenue.
You should also set up a system for regularly testing different elements of your SaaS product marketing strategy.
This could involve A/B testing your website copy, email subject lines, or even pricing models.
By constantly tracking your progress and optimizing your processes, you’ll be able to fine-tune your SaaS product marketing strategy and ensure that it’s as effective as possible.
Product marketing is an essential part of any SaaS company’s growth strategy. It lays the foundation for all your other marketing efforts.
And if done correctly, you will have a solid brand identity and more cohesive relationships between the marketing, product, and sales departments.
But product marketing is also a complex process that requires careful planning and execution.
With the right approach, however, you can create a strategy that will help your SaaS company reach new heights.
If you’re looking for more guides to help you grow your SaaS business, visit our blog here.