Many of my clients ask the golden recipé for releasing their first, successful SaaS/Cloud service. As with everything else, there’s no golden rule here, but there are a few points worth mentioning.
Number One: Are you the best on the market? First, do the homework, analyse your competition and make sure that you are really the best player in the market among your competition. If your current product, service or idea is not the best one on the market, SaaS/Cloud/Online Marketing won’t help much. Look at all those worthless phone apps – those without a unique idea and professional implementation won’t get purchased.
Number Two: Is your organisation ready to delivering SaaS? In the old world of product sales, salesmen did everything necessary for a client to purchase a product. Once the decision is made, contract is signed and the transaction is done, they shook hands and – in most of the time – they never ever saw each other again. In contrast, in the world of SaaS, clients make decisions on a month-by-month basis – every time they see your invoice, they ask themselves: do I really need this? Does it worth the cost? In order to make your client say YES month-by-month, your organisation has to accept this new model and support it from the CEO down to the doorman. Typical factors that can contribute to influencing this decision:
- Support – i.e. “If I purchase a 24/7 service, I expect to be supported 24/7 if I’m in trouble … but at least be as good as my internet service provider”;
- Availability – i.e. “If I purchase a 24/7 service, I expect it to be available 24/7”;
- New releases – i.e. “I expect a little bit more functionality every time I look at the bill” … Constantly develop and polish your service and don’t wait for months or years to release a big bang upgrade. Give updates to them nicely, one by one and allow them to opt out of updates or make it manual if you can;
- Listen to me – i.e. “If this is a service, do it my way” … listen to your clients, constantly seek their advice and follow up – you run this service for them and you have a unique opportunity to speak to them and improve their experience every day. Treat every client as a VIP – it’s time to use your waiter self …
Number Three: How do you rate your service’s User Experience? When you go to SaaS/Cloud, you go big. A well-designed UX, which is based on user research, with professional interaction designer and information architects involved and finished by a super cool designer is expected. Or you can go super simple, like Google does, but I have to tell ya – that’s also a nice piece of UX work … making something simple is difficult. Also keep in mind that UX is not only User Interface – UX is everything, from your business model, to your marketing, through the interaction and ergonomics of the UI, interaction with your support and sales, the billing experience and the graphical representation of your UI.
Number Four: Do you only deliver a service or are you the service itself? Online Marketing helps you demonstrate that you know more than what your service does … you are the master of the topic, so your client-to-be can feel being in the right hands. One one of the first discovery workshops, I facilitate brainstorming sessions to help my clients understand “what’s their pearl” and how can they get that pearl up to the surface and attract significantly more clients by delivering valuable information to the world for free using their staff publishing valuable information on your website or on other media. If you’d like to read more on this, grab David Meerman Scott’s book, The New Rules of Marketing and PR: How to Use News Releases, Blogs, Podcasting, Viral Marketing and Online Media to Reach Buyers Directly or have a look at his blog. This initiative is something that’s best brought forward with a SEO expert supporting, who can advise how to pick the best keywords, where to publish and in what format – in order to resonate with all those search queries which are flying on the web millions a second, as you read this post. Some of my clients even seek their customers’ advice to make sure that their list of articles for next month is fully relevant to them – Customers love to feel being special … because they are special.
So, this is it in a nutshell … If you consider and tick all these four main points, you have a good chance that you’ll attract and keep a lot of users and leverage the power of internet, Online Media and all the magic brought by Software-as-a-Service and Cloud. Let me know your thoughts, struggles or success!
David Szabo, Cloud Strategy Advisor, Firestarter and Rulebreaker at Microsoft. Startup-addict, SaaS & Cloud consultant, blogger at http://cloudstrategyblog.com and LEGO serious play facilitator. Follow me on Twitter!