All B2B SaaS Startups need three things: Speed, Skills & Scale. Address these SaaS marketing challenges and create a plan to scale up and down as you...
B2B SaaS marketing plan template to scale
Scaling growth after reaching PMF is like timing your broadside. Here’s a B2B SaaS marketing plan template and playbook for software companies.
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In the Napoleonic Wars, the British navy was known for various strengths that allowed them to rule the seas. One specific element to their approach was empowering the sailors who operated the guns so that they could time the firing of their guns individually, based on movement of the ship, readiness of the gun, and sights on the target. However, when a ship first approached an enemy vessel, the first firing of all the guns together (aka the “broadside”) was timed perfectly and done in sequence. This initial engagement of the enemy was crucial in gaining a sustainable advantage.
I liken the lessons of this historic example about getting a substantial advantage early, to the sequence and timing of a B2B SaaS startup that starts executing its first deliberate sales and marketing actions. You only get one shot at pouring the money you raised from investors into high-speed growth resources. Right after you hit Product Market Fit (PMF), it’s time to scale your marketing and sales.
It’s critical that you execute fewer tactics well and in the right order, rather than many haphazardly. Here are just a couple of timing examples that can easily go wrong and waste the one shot you get:
- Pricing your product based on the value you think it delivers, without having proof of this by actual customers who have paid and stayed.
- Hire an agency to build your website before you have a positioning and messaging framework.
- Start building content before having your ICP defined.
- Spending money on advertising without a good set of metrics and analytics to measure impact and learn.
- Hire a marketing team member without understanding what success in that role will look like.
- Building a marketing dashboard while your google analytics account, and other data sources have not yet been correctly configured.
- Hiring sales team members before you have a sales playbook with qualification criteria, objection handling, a list of (types of) prospects to pursue, and a demo to give.
- Create messaging before you have buyer personas.
Committing to an Ideal Customer Profile (ICP) before reaching PMF can be fatal, since you can only fire one “broadside”. Here are a couple of signals to watch out for, that could indicate you are not in the right market, and it might be time to either adjust your market focus or value proposition, or pivot into a complete different strategy, while still building on your strengths:
- Most of your beta/trial/free users don’t convert
- The majority of your paying customers don’t renew
- Paying users don’t login on a regular basis (make sure to build usage telemetry into your SaaS solution)
- Messaging and content targeted at your users and paying customers has low engagement (i.e., high bounce rates, low attendance to webinars)
Now that you’ve confirmed PMF, and you’re ready to start sprinting, let’s talk about what you need to do, and in what order. In my experience, I’ve found that 80 percent of all B2B SaaS companies need the same foundational marketing building blocks. This holds true whether you’re marketing to large, enterprise firms or small- to medium-size businesses.
The playbook you use to build your first marketing function is like the timing belt to a sophisticated racing car engine. All tactics have to fire at the right time to have maximum impact.
Here are examples of the marketing building blocks that are covered in this blog series and more deeply in the go-to-market plan template provided in the T2D3 playbook:
- Clear value proposition pillars based on the positioning that differentiates you in the market you plan to dominate.
- Deep understanding of where the expected ARR growth is most likely to come from.
- Market sizing and segmentation: Target market segment definition, prioritization, and focus.
- Your defined target audience, with a well-documented ICP and supporting Personas.
- Messaging and Content: A messaging framework that maps the value proposition to the things your personas care about, mapped to the main stages of the customer journey. Content to support the journey and the questions your personas have, to support conversion optimization, campaign execution, search engine optimization and audience engagement.
- Your brand voice and brand visuals to articulate what you stand for, what you promise your audience, and look credible and instill trust.
- Marketing tools to automate communication, measuring- and analyzing data, and managing your online presence.
- An operational weekly dashboard with KPIs that can be translated in the OKR framework to drive team execution.
- Your marketing team, either in-house or (partly) outsourced, to deliver the OKR outcomes, and a framework to manage the team and outside resources.
- Budget guidance to allow you to plan your resources to have maximum impact.
- Your first campaign plan. There are a specific set of campaigns every B2B SaaS Company needs, ranging from lead nurture, to onboarding and retention.
- Account-based marketing – While technically a campaign type, we like to dedicate a complete section to ABM given the importance for a B2B SaaS Company trying to get to PMF fast.
Enjoy using the strategic marketing plan template and let us know what you think!