StartUp Connect Summary, Part 2

(This is a continuation from Part 1. Originally published 12/19/13. )

I only attended the Saas/e-commerce breakouts since tech marketing is more my thing.  Here are my rough and random notes, with commentary.

Brad Jannenga of WebPT and Bob La Loggia of Appointment-Plus had an amusing session addressing life as an entrepreneur.  No slide deck, just a background of changing images with their heads on bodies of animals, icons like Jules and Vincent, and even inanimate objects like jet fighters.

In terms of challenges, they noted execution (Bob) and prioritization (Brad).  Basic as it sounds, it obviously was important to state that “the right product and demand for it is required” for success.  (In my mind, when marketing is an integral part in product development instead of being brought in as sales support after the fact, success can be assured. But, I’m biased of course!)

Metrics and measurement was also covered, with monthly recurring revenue (MRR) a key for SaaS companies.  Other measurements include churn, customer acquiring cost, and LTV (which should be 3x the acquisition costs).

Trends identified included “platform as a service, portability aka ” How is my data formatted and how do I get it out of there?” (Brad), and enterprise service bus (Bob).

Brad  had some great points around content marketing, such as “Be a voice in the industry,” and he noted how marketing has changed and is “no longer about tradeshows and ads but is science now.” I think it has always been thought of as (at least part-) science, just in larger organizations.  Now small businesses and startups are getting more savvy and adoption of testing and measurement is more commonplace (and in part because tools are more affordable).

Other panelists addressed marketing in interesting ways as follows:

  • Carlos Roman from Insight highlighted the shift that has happened since the 1990s in solution marketing, which is from a scarcity of information (from the buyer’s perspective) to abundance via the Internet.  The content provided allows you to be found at the right time. Now, when an enterprise client calls, he says,  the sale is 60-80% completed.
  • Alan Lobock, co-founder of SkyMall and now Worthworm, raised the point about investors needing to know what the sales cycle is like and that entrepreneurs should be prepared to provide that information because “a higher marketing budget is required for products that need more client education.”  This is a critical point in my line of work because oftentimes prospects don’t know that their messaging is “off” or limited (it makes perfect sense to THEM) and sometimes they haven’t considered the various segments or prepared the necessary materials for client education–which means more expense.  I help them understand their prospective market/audience and how to educate them.  The messages will actually change depending on the buyer personas (which I also define for clients).  I see too many companies seeking funding at pitching events who don’t have a strong message, in part because they don’t know who their market is (yet).  This is symptomatic of bringing marketing in too late in my opinion, as alluded to earlier.

And I guess no summary of a tech event would be complete without mention of “the cloud,” that buzzword we love to hate. So there, I said it.