Episode 129: Marketing a SaaS product, with Mark Evans

Marketing a SaaS Product

Let me run a scenario by you: I want you to have something I’m not finished making, and I’m not going to let you buy it, but I will let you pay to use it. and you will continue to pay me over time to use this thing that I continue to work on. And while you use it, I will get to see what you’re doing with my product. And I’ll use that information to figure out how I can sell you new things.

It doesn’t sound like a very good deal for you as a buyer,  does it? But this is exactly how SaaS works, and most of the software in B2B and the world for that matter is now bought & sold this way, marketers don’t skip a beat explaining this aspect of their product. But surprisingly, some things about SaaS products do trip them up. And today we’re going to talk with someone who’s seen almost everything that can go wrong in marketing SaaS.

Mark Evans has worked in & written about the SaaS space for his whole career.  He began as a technology journalist for the Globe & Mail, National Post, and Bloomberg News. Moving on from there, he co-founded what ended up being a wildly unsuccessful startup. Some of the mistakes you’ll hear are ones that he himself has made.

He now helps B2B SaaS companies accelerate growth with rock-solid marketing foundations underpinned by positioning, messaging, brand storytelling, and go-to-market plans. 

Through his consultancy Marketing Spark he works with B2B SaaS companies as a fractional CMO, strategic advisor, brand strategist and coach.

he spends a lot of time focused on positioning, strategy, and systems that drive consistent and successful marketing, 

We spoke to him in his hometown of Toronto, where in off-hours you can find him playing hockey and tennis.

People/Products/Concepts Mentioned in Show

Mark on TikTok

Mark on Twitter

Mark’s Marketing Spark podcast

Mark’s book: “Marketing Spark”

Eric Ries, author of “Lean Startup”

Rand Fishkin

Episode 128: High Tech Marketing Simplified, with Ted Marena

High Tech Marketing Simplified, Ted Marena

This is the last episode we’re covering in our series around product marketing books. The books in the three previous shows gave foundational advice that would benefit any product manager or  product marketing manager in their career. But there’s a single vertical that has idiosyncrasies setting it apart from other industries, and you should know about them if you’re going to market these kind of products. 

The industry that does things differently is High tech – and today’s book not only explains how to market these products, it boils it down into simple steps that you can apply on the job.  

Ted Marena has been in the tech sector for  over 25 years, working his way from engineering to sales and onto marketing roles.

Marena came out with the book “High-Tech Marketing Simplified” in 2022. It builds upon his initial book “Marketing Simplified.” He earned a BSEE from the University of Connecticut and a MBA from Bentley University. I caught up with him in the High Tech mecca of Silicon Valley where he lives with his wife & sons. 

People/Products/Concepts Mentioned in Show

Ted’s email: ted.marena@gmail.com

Get EducaTed by Ted – YouTube channel

Moore’s Law” coined by Gordon Moore of Intel

Raspberry Pi

Avoid the problem of marketing “Trombone Oil” or a product with too small a niche audience (illustration used with permission).

Episode 127: The Launch with Yasmeen Turayhi

The Launch with Yasmeen Turayhi

Product Marketing Managers go through trying times, but possibly the moments where these stresses are most concentrated are when their function is initially being formed, and of course when a new product is being launched. Key decisions are made at these times, and they are extra stressful when you have to make those decisions in a vacuum, without a formulated strategy to guide its development.  

Our guest’s book takes you through a dry run of this whole process. It gives you questions that begin at the genesis of a product, following through topics that you ought to readily answer at that particular stage. 

By testing how well you’re able to answer those questions, you can catch any gaps before they turn into stress-inducing all-night work marathons.

Yasmeen Turayhi is an authority on  product management. She’s taught Bootcamps and workshops for Global companies and universities such as Harvard and MIT, and been a mentor at Founders Institute.

In addition to her three books on this subject,  she has also written dramatic screenplays, one of which was feted at International Film Festivals in Beirut and Hollywood. She is the host of “Gateways to Awakening” a podcast dealing with wellness, personal development, and higher consciousness.

People/Products/Concepts Mentioned in Show

Yasmeen’s twitter profile

Yasmeen’s LinkedIn profile

Yasmeen’s Instagram profile

Yasmeen’s Medium profile

Yasmeen’s book “The Launch”

Yasmeen’s Latest book, “Breaking into Product Marketing”

Jobs To Be Done framework

Ed Catmull’s book Creativity, Inc.

Evelyn Watts

Episode 126: Lean B2B, with Etienne Garbugli

Lean B2B Etienne Garbugli

Unicorn, Incubator, Angel, Seed round, Pitch deck, CAC & CLV. These are all buzzwords used by startups. 

There is one word that’s used in startup culture which, unlike the buzzwords, is grounded in reality. Its methodology nudges them to design products that fit the dire needs of the early adopters, and then ride a wave of growth as the wider mainstream market adopts it. 

We call this methodology Lean and from Eric Ries on down, there have been some great founders who have taken time  out and written down how they have implemented lean.  Today’s guest is one of those people. He thought there ought to be a book explaining the differences in the lean approach when you’re in B2B. 

The resulting book,  “Lean B2B: Build Products Businesses Want”, guides those of us in these kinds of startup companies just as well as direct to consumer folks are helped by the best lean books out there that revolve around B2C. I know that B2B product Marketers, especially those trying to  generate demand for new products, will be keen to hear the methods in this book.

Etienne Garbugli is a five-time entrepreneur and in three of those, he was a Founder. Feeling he should help  other entrepreneurs and innovators build products for this market, he released Lean B2B initially in 2014 and the second edition in 2022. He is also the author of the books: Find Your Market, The SaaS Email Marketing Playbook, and Solving Product.

People/Products/Concepts Mentioned in Show

Etienne’s Twitter profile

Etienne’s LinkedIn page

Etienne’s Medium page

Lean B2B Book website

LeanB2B podcast

Dixon & Adamson’s ‘The Challenger Sale’

Sean Ellis PMF survey

John Cutler, creator of ‘Your Customer’s World’ Venn diagram:

Episode 125: Loved, with Martina Lauchengco

Loved, with Martina Lauchengco

This episode is the first in a series on product marketing. In my opinion, this is one of the toughest roles someone can have in a company. As its two-word name suggests, it sits in no-mans land between other well entrenched corporate functions. Yet, to get external clients to fall in love with what you make, you’ve got to have good product marketing. 

As squishy as the concept of Love is, it’s what today’s guest chose as the theme for her book on Product Marketing, which came out in 2022.   

Martina Lauchengco is the product marketing partner at SVPG (Silicon Valley Product Group) and a partner at Costanoa Ventures, a boutique early-stage venture capital firm. Those positions combined have her advising Fortune 500 companies and early-stage startups on product marketing.  Her writing has been featured in TechCrunch and VentureBeat. Prior to this Martina worked at Microsoft and Netscape after receiving her BA and MA from Stanford.

She lives in San Francisco with her husband and two kids, and lectures at nearby Berkeley in their engineering graduate program.  

People/Products/Concepts Mentioned in Show

Pocket vs Instapaper

Questions Product Marketing Managers should ask about users:

  • What are they trying to do?
  • Do they recognize and prioritize this problem?
  • What is motivating them to solve the problem?
  • What compels them to take action?
  • What in this product delivers the most value?
  • Who is most likely to value and buy this product?
  • What starts the journey toward acquiring the product?
  • How might a product get discovered and become more desired over the entire journey?
  • How might we reduce friction in acquiring the product?

Malcolm Gladwell

HEART metrics: 

  • Happiness 
  • Engagement 
  • Acquisition 
  • Retention 
  • Task Success 

The book’s Amazon page: “Loved: How to Rethink Marketing for Tech Products”

Martina on LinkedIn

Episode 124: The Year 2022 in Review

Guests from 2022 review the year gone by

Here is a look back at marketing trends, as seen by 19 of this past year’s guests. What they feel is most important in marketing and where they think we’re going next.

Five key themes of 2022 that will carry into 2023:

  • Analytics is Everywhere
  • Translating data into revenue dollars
  • Recasted relationship with Sales
  • Doing More with Knowing Less (privacy concerns)
  • Things made possible by AI

Here are the people you will hear on this episode:

Gary Amaral

Eric Boissonneault

Jodi Daniels

Kevin Dieny

Janet Driscoll Miller

Rick Endrulat

Amanda Farley

Richard Fergie

Kevin Hartman

Jon Hinderliter

Leona Hobbs

John Jantsch

Ameet Khabra

Cathy McPhillips

Drew Neisser

Keith Perhac

Paul Roetzer

Brett Serjeantson

Julia Vyse

Thanks to them and all of the guests featured on shows throughout 2022!

Episode 123: PPC Health Check, with Amalia Fowler

My guest, after receiving a degree in psychology, worked as a barista at Starbucks and a local high-end hotel. In a conversation about career paths with the hotel’s HR manager, she heard about the British Columbia Institute of Technology‘s two-year co-op and classroom-based marketing communications programme. She enrolled.  Her first co-op internship was with a start-up automotive marketing company, where she was supposed to shadow their Pay-Per-Click campaign manager. After her first week, the supervisor resigned, and an executive asked her to take over, and right after getting her marcomm certificate she worked there full-time,  growing out their PPC team. That led to working as a PPC expert at an agency, and within three and a half years she rose to a director-level position there.

In 2021 she went on her own, founding Good AF Consulting which focuses on helping find and fix issues within a brand’s PPC and SEO efforts. Wanting to exercise her passion for sharing time and knowledge with new marketers, she has also gone back to BCIT but as an instructor in the very marketing programme she graduated from. In addition to teaching, she mentors new marketers, writes and works hard to leave the industry in a better state than the way she found it. 

Please welcome someone who’s been named to  PPC Hero’s list of the Top 25 people in PPC, Amalia Fowler.

People/Products/Concepts Mentioned in Show

Episode Reboot.

Episode 122: Evolving Social Tools, with Darryl Praill

Darryl Praill is the CMO at Agorapulse where he leads a global team of 40. Prior to that, he held executive roles with companies like SAP, IBM, Kinaxis, Airbus and VanillaSoft. He has consulted for AC Nielsen, Salesforce.com, UBM and Tweed. He is also a speaker at keynotes and on podcasts (which at last count runs into the hundreds). 

You become convinced after hearing Darryl, he has a commanding grasp of how the social media game is played. He got onto social platforms earlier than anyone I know. He was posting audio & video content as soon as they’d let him, and his posts were from eyebrow-raising locales such as on top of parking garages, to the middle of a golf course fairway to the Arc de Triomph in Paris. The comments and engagement he generates must be seen to be believed. Where did he get this sixth sense on using social media? I think he learned to think strategically growing up in Chatham Ontario, where he played chess and became one of the highest-ranked high school students in his region.

Yet, to play the social media game in the 2020s takes not just posting strategies but also sophisticated listening, triaging and interacting with our audience. And in his day-job marketing a social media management tool, he has a birds-eye view of how tools have evolved to help us play this game. 

He is one of the only people to have appeared twice on this podcast, and he joins me today from his home office in Ottawa. My friend, Darryl Praill.

People/Products/Concepts Mentioned in Show

  • Darryl’s Inside Inside Sales podcast (which is one of two podcasts that he hosts)
  • Darryl’s been on LinkedIn since 2004
  • Darryl’s been on Twitter since 2008
  • Darryl works at the Social Media Management software company Agorapulse
  • Other S.M. Mgmt tools: Hootsuite
  • Recent survey of social media campaigns, showing 1.8% of links contained UTM parameters.

Episode Reboot. 

Go listen to the other talk I had with Darryl back in Episode 28: Thought-Leading Content on LinkedIn

Episode 121: Looker Studio 101, with JJ Reynolds

No about analytics is complete without talking about how to visualize data. A picture’s worth a thousand words, right? In the past, when data was in a spreadsheet, it only took hitting that ‘chart’ button to render some numbers visually. But for many of us, this experience has moved to a browser where we build our own report, either in an interface like GA or in a standalone visualization tool. 

I’m talking with someone who’s really good at a visualization tool, but came by his power-user status in a roundabout way. My guest was born and raised in Hawaii.  After he got his Marketing degree, he worked at an ad agency where he did everything from videography to FB and G-ads writing. That, and also building a few websites, stoked his curiosity for how the tagging and the analytics behind all these things worked. He didn’t just want to get at raw data, he wanted actionable data.  He felt that to optimize his marketing, if he only knew how to present visitor behaviour data visually, the answer would be apparent – even obvious.  

He went down YouTube rabbit holes, asked around at conferences, and eventually landed on the beta of Google Data Studio, now called Looker Studio.  And that’s the Data Visualization tool we’re talking about with JJ Reynolds, who joins us from Reno NV.

People/Products/Concepts Mentioned in Show

You may want to check out these related episodes:

Episode 120: The Analyst’s Role in Marketing, with Tim Wilson

We had to see it coming. We marketers have been getting more and more data. From on-premise CRMs and site logs in the early days, then marketing SaaS products and API calls that pipe data in all directions, there’s data everywhere. It goes without saying that we need help making sense of all this data. Most marketers wouldn’t consider themselves natural statisticians. Enter the analyst, who knows how to wrangle, normalize and visualize those data points, and maybe even get it cleaned and dressed for dinner. 

There are marketing teams who’ve got analysts onboard, but it isn’t an industry-standard practice just yet. Some leaders in the analytics community make the case elegantly of how this role helps marketers. And I’d count my guest today as being a vocal advocate for why we need analysts.  

In his day job, he is Senior Director of Analytics at Search Discovery. But that only scratches the surface of all that he does. He’s also a perennial  conference speaker and writer on many topics in analytics.  To me, he typifies how one can be a digital analyst despite having a non-analytics background. In his case, he obtained an Architecture degree before entering the field.

Joining me from Columbus, Ohio, let’s hear from a man who some call the quintessential analyst, Tim Wilson

People/Products/Concepts Mentioned in Show

Episode Reboot:

Check out the podcast which Tim co-hosts, Analytics Power Hour