red-26545_640

4 Signs You Shouldn’t Hire a Web Designer or Developer

The days of spending lavishly on your first/second/tenth website are doomed. For a host of reasons, it doesn’t make sense. It’s like buying a factory before you have seed money or your first customers.

If you’re in the early stages of growing your business or even your idea, save your marketing spend for experimentation and business modeling, not creative design firms who will give you a “corporate identity.”

All the effort that pre-IPO company spent with that sexy downtown design firm for a $100K, 3-month website project is being copied by a bunch of Eastern Block kids with immaculate PHP/CSS skills

That’s not to say you shouldn’t have a sharp logo/name/tagline. By all means, you have to be memorable.

But as for your website? Take a long, deep breath should anyone tell you to hire a web designer/developer. You may need to, but here are four signs that maybe it’s not the best strategy. Read more

totally-useless-invention

5 Marketing Wastes of Time and Money

There is good marketing out there, but there is also a ton of marketing waste. Yet businesses continue to throw time, effort and money away attempting to move the needle simply because everyone else does it. So in no particular order, here are 5 marketing efforts B2B companies do that are completely and utterly useless like the ice cream cone that spins itself. Read more

adobe-creative-cloud-post

How Adobe Could Take Over Design (Again)

Adobe’s Creative Cloud is an ecosystem waiting to rain on everyone.

Designers (and pigeonholing them into a single group is already tantamount to imprisoning them in Abu Ghraib) are a notoriously cliquish bunch who have a guttural reaction to  LinkedIn, Facebook, etc. where their 7AM lattes come back up their throats. Pinterest (for inspiration) and Deviantart (for gloating) are okay. But their activities around the “job” of design can’t be socialized as easily to pull faithful creative types away from their Photoshop layers and Bezier curves. Cat videos are an exception. Read more

software_end_of_life_2048_1536.JPG

Killing Your Darlings

The picture above is of our street during Santa Clara’s annual cleanup week where residents have the opportunity to chuck all their once good ideas.

Software, unlike a material product, has the ability to linger. It’s a strange phenomenon if you think about it. Software is a piece of intellectual property rather than an actual product. It’s more like content, where it can sit perpetually, even if there’s no one using it. Read more

25 Questions to Assess Your SaaS Marketing Strategy

  1. Have you explored your business model? Is it set?
  2. What is your current cost per acquisition and what should it be?
  3. What is the most valuable thing your company provides its customers? (Try not to answer with a feature, but a human benefit)
  4. Why is your solution the best choice over other choices?
  5. What are those other choices?
  6. True/False: When most people try your solution, they want to use it, but do not want to pay.
  7. If you offer a trial, how many days from trial do you see abandonment?
  8. Do you have a nurturing system in place for trial and paid users? How is it implemented?
  9. Do you have a marketing automation system?
  10. Do you have a CRM?
  11. How large is your current user base?
  12. How much revenue do you have in a month?
  13. What is more important: Adding users or adding usage?
  14. Who is your biggest customer and how do they use it?
  15. Do you have writers on staff?
  16. Do you have designers on staff?
  17. Do you have social marketers on staff?
  18. What campaigns have worked for you in the past? Do they have a shelf life?
  19. Are there any interesting use cases (either by current users or yourself)?
  20. Of paying customers, what is the churn rate?
  21. What are the main reasons people leave even after paying?
  22. How many new visitors do you get each month to your website?
  23. What is your visit-to-trial rate?
  24. Does your company have character?
  25. Are your customers willing to go on record to support you?

Based on these answers, you can start to formulate a strategy and plan. Without this information, the idea of coming up with any kind of marketing plan becomes problematic. The reason is that every plan should fit the scalability of an organization. You can say all you want that you need/expect explosive growth, but there has to be a basis for what that means.

Now you might get lucky and simply “get” your market and customers and don’t need to do this level of marketing to understand how to grow your business. But then everything should be great, right?

Marketing Is Sales En Masse

Most companies separate the sales team from marketing. Operationally, it is okay to do so, particularly since most salespeople have big, big egos and most marketing people would rather not deal with both the individual minutiae of a customer relationship or the hounding pressure of sales quotas.

But today’s web-based world is changing this dynamic and it’s a good thing. For one, it makes the marketer pay less attention to stupid marketing tactics that don’t bear fruit. It makes the marketing effort accountable to some level. There really is no room in an organization for under-performance. It’s not fair to those who work hard or find creative solutions.

For software, depending on the customer, you may need salespeople, who can consult from a one-to-one perspective. They take the middleware marketing materials and convey them to every unique enterprise they encounter. They are also required for negotiations, or “the deal,” if your product can be priced as such or involves additional services.

Marketing can also learn a lot from the sales effort. What pitches work well? What stories resonate? Who are qualified buyers? These questions give a marketer information to hone the marketing toolset and do what they do best: refine/craft messages, identify the channels to communicate those messages, and repeat, repeat, repeat.

This effort increases the propensity of someone finding out about you, hopefully cutting through all the noise, and identifying a person in need.