SaaS Breakthrough – Featuring Anthony Payne

demio saas breakthrough featuring anthony payne About Anthony Payne:
Anthony Payne is the VP of Global Marketing at Brightpearl, a retail operations platform for retailers and wholesales, with the mission of automating the back office so merchants can spend their time and money growing their businesses.

Anthony joined Brightpearl in early 2017 with more than 15 years of experience in B2B technology marketing and is responsible for demand generation, branding, positioning and PR.

He has held marketing and product management leadership positions at General Electric, GXS and BlackBerry and for the last four years has been building marketing, demand generation and product marketing teams at PE-backed B2B SaaS start-ups including Netbiscuits and Socialbakers. Anthony holds a master’s degree in history from King’s College, London.



Show Notes:
02:40
Created to Fix Founder's Own Problem
04:30
Automation in the Back Office
06:10
The Phases of Finding Product Market Fit
08:50
Joining and Focusing on Core Standard Marketing Pieces
13:55
Moving from Startup Mode to Scale Mode
17:00
Creating Big Thought Leadership Pieces
20:50
Measuring Content Marketing Initiatives
24:15
Repurposing Big Content Into Smaller Pieces
28:00
Creating Partnerships Opportunities
31:40
Delivering Huge Value Via a Marketing Program
37:30
Learning From Failure: Stay Closely Aligned and Flexible
40:00
Looking Forward to in 2019
41:15
Lightning Questions
Transcript:

DA:
Hey! Thank you so much for joining me today on the SaaS breakthrough podcast, I'm so glad to have you here at BrightPearl on the podcast what an honor, how you doing today?
AP:
Great! Thanks, delighted to be hear. Thanks David
DA:
Yeah, really-really excited, it's going to be a great episode, some really good topics to talk about from content marketing to text acts, all kinds of good stuff but Before we jump into the tactical, why don't you give us a quick roundup about BrightPearl, when it was found and maybe who the customers are and what you guys are doing uniquely in the marketplace?
AP:
Sure, I 'm happy to. So, we were founded back in 2007, so about twelve years ago, like a lot of great SaaS businesses by a practitioner that was struggling with a problem and figured out that the software was needed to fix it so by a retailer, so set up a retail business to sell skateboards which is his passion but found that the software needed to run the business just wasn't there, or they're very limited in building needed or it was ERP which was frightened out of his league. So, being a sort of bright sparking and a techie at heart he figured out he could ride his own so he went and did that.
DA:
Wow
AP:
So, yeah in terms of customers, we sell to quite a narrow which I think is important and is part of our success, we've got a quite an arrow so I'll get profile so we only sell to merchants to direct to consumer brands to retailers and wholesalers only and we focus on what you'd probably call the small or mid-market segment, so between around a million to hundred million dollar revenue clients.
And the perfect line for ourselves on multiple channels, they have an e-commerce store they sell at market places that maybe I have a couple of stores or their I own physical stores and then maybe do some b2b as well and we've around about a thousand customers in the UK
DA:
Nice! That's fantastic. What are you guy specifically trying to do with the product?
AP:
Sure. So, I guess there's sort of two ways you could look at sort of the positioning or why we think we're different or special. One is by looking at the alternatives so we basically think of ourselves as an alternative to ERP but without the pain, so we implement in about a third at a time for about a third of the cost and unlike a lot of ERP solutions we're only focused on retail, which means we have a direct model we do all our implementations ourselves, we don't have a third party sales channel, we sell directly and all that kind of adds up to a service which we think merchants rather at this end of the market in particular really value which is pretty cool.
If you look at the product angle I'd say it's all about automation, so I think if you a lot of people think about automation and retail their mind immediately drifts to sort of robots in the warehouse or checking out using an automated tool or even you know an Amazon go store where there are no staff at all but actually in our mind automation is there's a lot of automation of opportunity in the back office, so from that we like to think of it as after the client it's the buy button to make a purchase a lot of what goes on after that is routine it's frankly quite boring, repeatable it's essential like if you're not doing you don't fill up fulfilling in order then it not in retail you're not in business but you kind of want to automate as much as that as possible and that the idea is take as much cost out of that back-office, refocus your resources into growth, so acquiring new customers new products new channels and what have you so for us is about automation in the back office that we really think is special
DA:
That's fantastic, that's really exciting too, it's always, it’s kind of quote unquote like the boring stuff of business but the critically parts of any business right all those fulfillment processes systems and automations back there.
So, you talked about having a very specific target market and a specific customer base how'd you guys initially find that, how'd you fall into that product market fit or was it something that evolved over time?
AP:
Yeah, so I think we've had a couple of phases, so the first phase was as I touched on earlier which was a practitioner like someone in the role feeling pain and facing it himself, so we definitely sort of stumbled into it and you know he suddenly realized there was more money in software than skateboards and so transition you know essentially founded a software business to deliver on that.
We evolved then I guess partly organically, so one of the benefits of using all the I guess the primary benefit using BrightPearl is it helps you grow, it removes obvious growth which means a lot of our customers grew and obviously riding a wave of e-commerce as well over the last ten years then growing causes us to grow up the market with them as it were partly because we we've to serve those customers, now they have greater demand in terms of platform, functionality and service level
But it also then has a knock-on effect which means that we're able to attract larger businesses, so to some extent it's a little bit by accident but actually I'd save probably about three years ago, two and a half years ago, just before I joined the team did a really-really good job of refocusing the business so we did have a period of which I think a lot of stuff our companies have which is to build you know we can build it, so let's say let's do so and try to broaden the market because you know growing the pie seems like a good idea to increase the opportunity but I think lost our way a little bit, so we're trying to sort of moving out into other sectors.
So, what we did about three years ago was refocus back to that ICP I talked about earlier, one million retail even within that actually we're focused on finished goods only so we don't without generally work with fresh food for example or manufacturing we tell us that manufacturer as well
It was nice and tight and then the move up market the other thing we've done is I guess a sad reality or harsh reality of retail dad a lot of very small retail and particularly commerce businesses don't last very long some of them are kind of lifestyle or hobby businesses that you know run their natural course, so we've deliberately targeted now above a million dollars because once a company reaches that kind of level they've been trading for two three years they're filing accounts freeze up in the UK, then the chance of them surviving and therefore not churning because at the end of the day were SaaS business chum as you knows must be important, that every significantly so with that we're definitely moving up the stack like a lot of SaaS business do I think
DA:
Yeah, it's such a good conversation because I love this part of this this podcast, this question just because it's so interesting to hear like so many companies you want to expand and then you kind of have that awareness moment of like shoot we kind of broke out of like the product market fit that worked for us and why we were so narrow and it's more just like staying in that same segment but kind of stepping up the requirements a little bit but really interesting to hear that, what did you actually join the team, you join us the VP of Marketing and what are you first doing when you're coming into a company like this?
AP:
Yeah, so I joined beginning of 2017, so about two and a half years ago and I joined at a stage like the word turnaround is a little too strong I feel a little harsh on the team but it's definitely the case that we lost focus a little bit and so new CEO joined about three years ago, Derek O'Carroll he'd focus the business, he was a professional sort of, he wasn't the founder, he wasn't a sort of first time sort of entrepreneur CEO, he was a kind of more seasoned guy basically. Embarked on this project to refocus the business and my part of that was to do the same for marketing
So, they'd already done the hard bit I think which was reestablish product market fit, focus on the ideal customer profile as we discussed, so really what my piece was about was okay how does marketing become a pipeline generator and what's our also go to market model how are we going to grow this business, so that's really what I was hired to do
In terms of where I focused a lot of it, I think honestly is kind of found what I would call foundational and sort of basic core standard not basic but standard stuff for a lot of business at this time. So, first thing was focusing the team on pipelines had a great team young team doing a lot of really cool stuff, really interesting really creative but it but it was a little bit a little bit poorly measured a real structure, it was just stuff and I don't mean that unkindly but that lack of structure probably reflected the sort of maturity of the organization at the time.
So, focused, like we're here to do deliver pipeline this phase in our development if we're not delivering pipeline then we seriously question what it is, why we're doing that particular project.
The second thing I did was kind of part of that was just rebuild the reporting analytics model again quite a dry subject but hopefully as marketers know you can't measure it you don't know what's going on you don't know what's working, so just built rebuilt a model around reporting and analytics, so we knew what we were what we were achieving or what was working what was not.
The other thing I'd say there was a clear remit from our investors and boredom from the management team that we were brewery in growth mode but we didn't have deep pockets one of the challenges of being a business that's around 10/12-years old (inaudible) probably actually backed, is we're not and there's gone through a kind of rocky phases you get a lot more scrutiny I think in terms of investing to grow than you might if you're just kind of a rocky ship there's just heading up in you know up into the right continuously, so CAC was a big deal for me from day one like measuring patent payback and I had a clear target to reduce that
So, that's reporting analytics, I guess the third area was just restructuring the team and it wasn't about removing people actually add a great team no one left but there are a couple of areas where I felt that we needed to professionalize or just bring in talent and those who were in PPC and PR. And I think one of the things interesting about that is you know both of those functions are things that you could instinctively outsource you could bring agency into did support advertising and we did have agency for PPC and you could rely heavily on agency if you think they are as important and I took a different view which is both those things need to be in-house
If we're going on the PR side, we're going to do any PR at all, then you know just appointing an agency and expecting them to figure out your business and come back with great story arcs and campaigns and what-have-you, is just unrealistic. I think you need someone in-house who can live and breathe the business and then work with agency on the distribution and creative site, so we did that and then the other part was PPC and this is a funny one because a lot of our business at the time and still to a great extent relies on paid search we get a lot of pipeline from paid search for taking the US
And my experience with PPC is in the B2B world which is where most agencies of strength, there's an expectation that you can you can experiment and fail and improve and kind of cycle very quickly, try something and see what works what doesn't work but that relies on a certain volume and we're in quite a small market, quite a niche market, the search volumes you start there you can't just try something and then three days later figure out you know you can't a be test you'd have to wait three months to get a meaningful result and that's obviously not good, so I wanted someone in-house as well to run that to learn our business yes I needed a PPC expert, so I could run all the campaign's knows Google ads inside out center et cetera but I wouldn't somebody could also learn the business and we did that and actually both those have been really successful, so it's pleased with that
So, jolly long answer but yeah focus the team around pipeline, get the reporting analytics tray and then restructure the team a little bit but bringing a couple of key hires which I think for growth
DA:
That's fantastic, really-really good answer, it just back to your kind of first point in there, I think for most SaaS company especially early-stage you're kind of experimenting with these different initiatives, what's going to work and you're kind of throwing things against the wall and just trying to see what sticks, so there is just kind of a lack of organization to start with because you don't know what's going to work, maybe you have some KPI's but you're not totally structured for you guys it was now, like okay we need to be structured we need to know our goals we need to have our KPIs and we need to just focus on those things anything outside of that is just distraction right now. When do you think is the appropriate time to make that shift from like everything is kind of an experiment where we're just going to figure this out to a we need to be completely focused on this one thing and that's it have to be very-very structured or is there a time, it's a kind of startup mode to maybe scale mode?
AP:
Yeah, I'm not sure there's if there is a distinction actually, so if I understand the question right, I think firstly experimentation should never stop I also kind of glib answer but yeah that's why I'm asking, it's fun right and trying new stuff it was just rinse and repeat we'd all go and do something else, so I think the experimentation piece is critical and as a market moves, I mean in the end what you're trying to do is find my view is find like if you agree on a particular target audience and that stays static for a period of time.
You're trying to understand where do they go for influence you know buying advice, perhaps even buying although in our world it's all direct and what kind of content do we need in order to attract them to cause an outcome and you'll continuously experimenting on that because a particular channel might run out of gas or you might run out of money in a particular you know in PPC for example, so don't think that start, I think you it's more a question you can just get away with it in the very early days, because some marketing in inverted commas is better than no marketing and you're often relying realistically on founder energy, those kind of early sales and this sort of natural goodness of SaaS, you know second order revenue customers recommending customers all that kind of good stuff and marketing is kind of unless marketing is the center of it which occasionally it is if the founder as a marketing background but usually not
Marx is kind of dragged along for the ride with sort of you know junior but enthusiastic people. So, I don't think there's a there's a hard point, my experience I've actually joined three I think for SaaS businesses just after a significant investment a cache of caches series Super Series B, and I think so and I've you know it's different for each business but it was their first big investment and that was the point when the investors said you also could put a mark effect you're obviously getting traction you're doing stuff in marketing which is great but you won't get the next phase of growth without it and if you've got all our money you sure as hell better get that thanks phase of growth, so investing in structured marketing, so maybe it's lightly roundabout question but never stop experimenting but maybe it's that kind of first time you get big boxes when you start to you really want to put in that's what a professional structure
DA:
Yeah, it really makes sense, it's a good answer and enduring that you kind of talked about some of the initiatives that are important and I think you mentioned content marketing and really also thought leadership, right? Like getting natural attention trust from your marketplace.
I know you guys do quarterly campaigns where you do these things, you do these big thought leadership pieces. My question to you would be how do you find topics for these big quarterly campaigns; how do you know what's the right thing to dial down on for thought leadership is there criteria that you're using?
AP:
Yeah, definitely it's a big part for us, I love… part of that one of things I wanted to sort of evolve when I joined was from doing this kind of random walk to a structure and quarterly was well let's just pick something, it kind of doesn't matter we could have done two or three or five year, it was just have this sort of this um these sort of this structure again to work around.
So, yeah so we do have criteria, funny enough I think the ideas I almost don't care whether I certainly don't care where they come from I don't worry about it ever because there's always there's always stuff there's always something in the mix right and so we never sit down think holy cow what are we doing in six months for the you know the key three campaign or whatever.
So, the ideas aren't the challenge but the obviously is doing something with it so we do have criteria, so the first thing we always try and do because you know we're in in this game to sell stuff so obviously a good campaign provides value to the customer but for our old to the prospect audience but for us it's in the end its pipeline.
So, we try and take something which we think is consumer centric or consumer type interesting, so something that that you or I or anybody retail explore otherwise can kind of relate to then directly links back to what we do and as you said at the start we're operate or I said and you can for them we're in the operations part the business was not necessarily the most exciting, so as an example we've a warehouse management solution you're on the details it's all about efficiency and ensuring the right stuff goes out the door you know where everything is but in the consumer one I don't care whether you run a warehouse where everything's drop what they care about is the right thing arriving at the right time and for example if they want to return it that process works efficiently.
So, one of the first major campaigns we did was around returns and so the consumer story was you know returns on the ARP try before you buy is kind of driving up returns customers expect a free and super-efficient yada yada.
For us the lead-in was then well actually if you follow that requirement back to your back-office you're going to need an efficient operation in the back-office otherwise you'll drowned of this this flood of returns
So again, something this front of mine for our audience that relates to their end customer, the consumer, and which then drives back to our product is sort of the first part and the second and third would be shorter would be like the world doesn't need another white paper right, there's a lot of content being produced, so what we try and hold ourselves to standard that we are filling a gap in knowledge like so we have a hypothesis that we test a little bit with a couple of customers knowledgeable people within the business and then we do try and fill a gap in knowledge with it with the original research.
We generally try and do consumer research, so we'll interview ideally around 2,000 consumers, couple hundred retailers because we like to get that sort of juxtaposition between the two if there is one, so it's genuine original research and then the third is something, that's interesting like we are we always have an eye for press we always look for stuff that we think will get us onto event agendas we try and do stuff that we know partners will take an interest in so genuine thought leadership and interesting stuff those are the sort of criteria which I appreciate is quite open but actually love that right, means we can do some quite some quite varied subjects and have success accordingly
DA:
That's awesome is there specific impact that you guys are measuring from that are you looking for a specific KPI results, you mentioned pipeline but maybe it's also general generating awareness or education what kind of wins do you see when you release these set of things?
AP:
Yeah, so obviously as much as possible we measure, so there's the direct impact so we particularly out on publication we get we get a nice bump in in just classic content marketing, you know content publish promote capture lead ii nitrate etcetera so that that cycle serves as well, in the end those these are generally or the first part of it is just one document, so you're going to get so much out of it but so we will get a nice little bump there but then we get the classic ever or the classic sort of content marketing inbound flow which those that core content stays live and just provide sort of steady flow of I've lead to them cured or MCO as I say.
We then do what I think is becoming normal now, which is just take that core content that pillar content as it were and break it up into other pieces that then obviously serves our various inbound channels so absolutely that's a core part of what we do but I think it's also these ones it's kind of indirect impact we you know I sell this back into my peer group management team and the CEO that my boss in the end is this stuff feeds everything else we do so even if even if some any one of these didn't have an immediate was sort of bump on pipeline in in a given quarter, this will feed the rest of what marketing does for six months.
So, you know returns is a really nice example the reader returns report eighty months ago now we're still getting occasional pieces of coverage from a report that's now eighteen months old because we just hit the nail on the head in terms of a subject matter, that in been in turn gives us credibility with press who think well that was cool stuff, maybe these guys have got something to say on subject XYZ.
So, that's on the PR side it also really feeds the partner channel too so it's perhaps something will come to him presently but partners as a source of demand is really important for us and our partner channel is off to or the most important one to us is e-commerce agencies although they may sell marketing services that oddly they actually don't have their own marketing departments typically and so they value our content as something that they can then share with their audiences, so that kind of syndication helps with our brand, helps with that relationship with the partner so that works well and even those partners that do have their own marketing team may know how hard it is to build this stuff, so they they're quite happy to repurpose or republish rather.
I think I alluded to this already we do use it a lot of events, so anything from kind of beer and pizza type meetups or to some major trade shows, we we're doing a lot of pitching in to get onto an agenda and as you know organizers are much generally a lot more interested in either what a customer has to say or an original research than they are on a product pitch, so these generally do pretty well for us in that sense.
So, yeah so there is the direct value of inbound and they et cetera but that kind of feed the way I term it is simply it feeds the rest of what we do is really important, actually I might add the other thing it does is it it's very useful than our outbound so we've about six months ago now, we started to double down on outbound particularly the US where I think it works better and informing our (inaudible) on a particular subject that is front of mine for the person they're calling in to is just valuable even if it isn't in the cool script it's just providing that little bit of context which I think is really important
DA:
So, my follow-up question has or is going to ask again some of the stuff you just covered but I'm only asking because I want to get a little bit deeper into it I'm just really interested in this it's so excited because we're kind of working on a foundational piece like this and so make sure that you know I'm understanding correctly.
So, you put in the time and effort you do the original research you have a really nice piece put together, you put the piece out there on your blog, you make a PDF out of it, you have an e-book. How are how are you then distributing? You talk about some PR you're reaching out and getting on to some different PR websites or release ideas maybe you're going to an event like you said and going on stage turning that piece into maybe some slides but what else do you doing, how else are you distributing that content, how are you not making sure you don't have duplicate content on different sites.
You talked about you know your partnership agencies syndicating it but like are you breaking it down is there like a strategy of how you're breaking that content into different pieces, how do you do that so it seems still organic and the value is still there in the content?
AP:
Yeah, I know that's a great question I think this is where the we kind of earned the benefit by putting in the hard yards up front in terms of research, so this is why, you know we also put in produce we produce white papers on various subjects and guides and that kind of stuff you know how to buy an XYZ solution, that stuff performs well, top of final stuff really-really good stuff ,so it's all high quality
But these campaigns the original research piece really pays off, it's harder takes longer but it pays off so for example we probably use somewhere in the order of forty percent forty to fifty percent of the usable as an interesting valuable quotable content that comes out of that research in the final piece of Pillar content, those and these are substantial pieces this would be a page piece of content will produce but still we've only used 40, 50-percent of the content.
So, we will often you know pick out I don't know just an interesting stat not enough for a guide but you know we'll twit your stat that's nice and easy but we might do a sort of secondary infographic on a particular element, we divide regionally so our two core two big focus markets of the US and the UK, we always ensure to have the data to support both markets because although, you know they're very similar it's you know two nations divided by language is the same in our market right there's a lot similar but there are key differences, so we'll have data to support both which means we can kind of spin off different versions and sometimes the data actually supports a kind of a sub report, so a nice example again would be the returns report, so we had a ton of data left over around the sort of behavior of consumers and their expectations and how retailers dealing with serial returners.
And around the time we felt that the returns report was kind of fading out and was kind of we'd probably sweat sweated that beast for as much as we're going to get from it. Amazon announced that it was Oracle covered, they didn't announce it but it got covered that they were banning serial return it and company in the UK a sauce did the same and we were sitting there on a goldmine of data that supported the consumer view of that, so we did a little bit of extra research we did some primary interviews with some consumers and a couple of retail experts and we had 80% of the content we needed and we repurposed that, so that it kind of gave it a new Philip and then in the end we actually did another full campaign on that because it got enough interest got as a ton of coverage in some big pub speak it publications because we're talking about something that you know Joe consumer understands and feels
So, that's a big part of it, there's a lot in this research and we can it can run for a long time in a way that I think is sort of you know a valuable and worthy white paper perhaps doesn't have because you know in the end there's only kind of one story of usually in most white papers, does that make sense?
DA:
It definitely makes sense and I love that you guys put in so much time and for to do this research and I also like that you're really kind of playing off what's happening in the market so there it's not just research for research sake, it's legitimately hitting topics that consumers care about which ultimately is the companies that you care about and so that really all makes sense.
You also talked about partnerships as being one of your kind of key channels that that's worked. As you guys have kind of moved up market how have you kept your partnerships a big part of that process and how do you reach out to these new agencies, how are you getting them to come to you guys?
AP:
Yeah, funnily enough the answer is kind of in your question actually, it was mostly driven or the sea-change was because we've gone upmarket you know put bluntly because our average order value is now significantly higher than it was even when I joined, I mean it's 3x what it was when I joined.
Immediately were just more relevant to an e-commerce agency right there, so that's a kind of a start-up then. I think the other thing we do which is important is we provide, we're no way competitor to an e-commerce agency but even better we're sorry I should just provide a tiny bit of context, the channel we're talking about isn't a channel we don't sell through agencies but we partner with them long and get a lot of pipeline or demand leads basically and the reason being; your average merch and typical merchants will have an e-commerce agency build that their storefront on Magento or be Commerce or Shopify and it's those agencies that then see the problems that BrightPearl fixes in in their clients and so that's why we're so interested in them
So, from the agency perspective you've built a cracking, you know website it's increased you know customer acquisition, it's increased revenue and commercial rates and basket size all that good stuff that the merchant cares about at the front and it almost then can create a problem, is like holy cow we've now got all these orders and we can't fulfill them help, you know that the spreadsheets we were relying on just can't cut it anymore.
So, they actually have a vested interest in those problems being fixed barley because they want a smooth and happy customer even if it's slightly out of their own remit as an agency but also and this is part of our pitch into those agencies to answer body your question is.
The last thing if you're an e-commerce agency quite honestly once you've built that website, you're looking for further revenue opportunities from that same client, maybe it's additional subside and other brand, some additional tech that needs to be implemented or creative campaigns if you that's also part of your offer.
The last thing you want is all the cash spare cash that merchant has being sucked into this black hole of poor operations and inefficient order processing or worse being sucked into a two-year ERP implementation which has a 60% chance of failing anyway that you don't want that so if BrightPearl is able which we have been able to prove that A with very modestly priced in comparison B we deliver consistently and very quickly and C once is implemented the savings or the you know can be realized very-very quickly and therefore freeing up cash for that front end, so they like that a lot and actually kind of a natural question is you know what else is in it for them?
Most of them don't really expect very much else, you know you might think they'd come knocking on the door for some nice MRR as is a professional services business they are, they might like to look at that recurring revenue but they just want that relationship with the client and that freeing up of cash. So, that's been really pleasing and that's been a key part of our I'm about pipeline build over the last two years
DA:
Definitely, if they can keep the relationship with their customers happy, it along gates their relationship with them when they get to do more work together, so that makes total sense totally. Awesome!
You're also personally focusing on a lot of stuff product marketing obviously when you're going a market like you guys have kind of building that new, I’ll say new product market fit but the bigger product market that you have, you have to prioritize a lot of what's coming in the feedback and stuff like that how has the prioritization and the initiatives you worked on helped you to create this sort of tech stack for e-commerce businesses?
AP:
Yeah, my background is promoting, I love it, the thing that I you know I'm always most excited about is you know value delivered to customer and how we can articulate that through marketing and sales channels so it's always my first love. I think as you say is we've gone up the stack we have you know simplistically you know five tips for keeping you know for making your store look bright for summer, isn't going to cut it if you're pitching to a 50-million dollar or 100-million dollar retailer just isn't working it may work at the bottom end and the business the pro was four years ago, you need to be delivering like real value in the content.
So, that in turn me means you need expertise and so one of the things that we've done is we've sort of said well we're not actually, we're not retail experts we're not retailers most people at BrightPearl, apart from summer jobs when they were teen, probably haven't run retail business we've got one or two like people you have but mostly we're not, what we are is retail operations experts and the distinctions importantly, the PS professional, services team, the CS team, the product teams know very well what an efficient merchant looks like and so that expertise is really valuable.
My trick, or my goal in marketing has been to take that kind of real retail operations knowledge bring that into the marketing function in the form of chronic marketing and then get that push back out through our content channels like we have to be expert we have to be credible as we as we go up that sort of to sell to larger audiences
And one of the big initiatives and it's the kind of a next big thing from us and we're just kicking this off at the moment is what we're calling this retail text tag and the background for this took me sort of thirty Seconds but I'm a is I suspect quite a lot of the B2B SaaS businesses you speak to and you know I've worked in and we're all familiar with, if you were to ask them right think about you're at your whole business what technology used to run your business, you'd get about an 80% commonality, like 80% hit rate in terms of the tech and I'll drop a few brands are all familiar with them right, they all you sell suppose they use market or herbs but they use water if they're doing subscription billing they probably all use slack, they probably use Google for office yada-yada. You could go through a list and you know the whole to Atlassian suite and the product teams, you know through a list and it's about 80-percent the same and so any one of us moving from role to role you just have an expectation well that's what you buy and it's like the 1960s IBM reference, nobody gets fired by an IBM right, it's similar nobody would have their VC raise an eyebrow if they invest in that set of tech
So, that kind of sort of situation is established in B2B technology companies in SaaS, I don't think it does exist in retail and it's a much more fragmented much less mature market at the upper end you've got some very well-established at a retail platform plays but at this SMB and mid-market or as you don't and that so there is no kind of a media that you must buy this piece of software to fix this particular problem, perhaps in the e-commerce storefront you're choosing from you know a choice of two or three perhaps.
But everywhere else I don't think you have that and so this is further compounded by the fact that a lot of these businesses don't have an IT department right, because they're either small or have grown very-very fast and be because this whole thing called the consumerization of IT happened back in their you know early 2000, where you know business line buyers me and marketing so intone sales and so in engineering bought their own tech to fix their own problems and the IT department wasn't even consulted, you know that's part of the SaaS wave right.
So, retailers basically have a bewildering array of technology to choose from they have no IT department quite often they'd lack expertise on how to choose because they're brilliant as entrepreneurs and as founders of retail businesses but their frame of reference for tech is perhaps a little bit weak, so I think there's a huge opportunity for us to help sort of inform the market. Obviously, we're going to sound a little bit biased because we saw software into them, we want them to buy ours and they and I get that.
But actually I don't see there's any harm in as long as we're clear about that we're not going to hide any branding, any bright pop ramming and as long as we're clear, I think we can add a lot of value particularly if we get our customers and other merchants talking about their choices and how they pick particular technology and it's less about vendor selection right, there's G2 Crowd and the Internet to help you choose between vendor A and vendor B. I think it's more interesting to think about the workflows within a merchant and how technology can help improve those workflows make them more efficient automated, you know deliver more and how different pieces of software can integrate with one another because there's a great deal of overlap, every vendor says we do everything right and clearly they don't most offenders are expert in one or two areas and then have plugin for the rest.
So, if you're a merchant how do you, how do you navigate that I think it's a really interesting project, so we've already kicked that off from we're likely to be doing a book us there what happened initially with customers talking about how they addressed those problems and then I think there's a what I know there's a huge content marketing player to that because it's just a ton of value but it all comes out of where are we expert, where are we credible to be expert and one of the problems our customers are they are our prospects market is facing that we think we can contribute to, in the end of course to build brand and ultimately grow our business but there's this huge value to be delivered via our marketing program. That makes sense?
DA:
It does, it's actually a brilliant idea, I can totally mentally see how you could do infographics or large form content around this really just showing the benefits of how different ecommerce tools kind of integrate together and ultimately these days for us mature SaaS people we know that integrations mean everything but people just coming in if it's a very bewildering moment of what works with what and how am I going to do this and how I'm going to do that so I think that's just a fantastic thing
And again, the big thing is you said you focused on like what you're great at what the consumers need and how you can kind of fill that void in the middle, so that's fantastic.
So, excited to see you guys continue to build it out it'll be really cool to see looking back over the past year, are there any other ideas or experiments that maybe you're building off of that maybe didn't work out as well that kind of led you to this decision or new ideas?
AP:
Yeah there's a couple of things I… you know as I said earlier experimentation is everything so I don't think we regret anything at all but we did rerun a project fairly soon after I joined which was a kind of video channel, the fact that was video I think mattered one way or the other the we just pitched it wrong to the audience, I think we had we actually had quite nice content at production but it was really high I was really pleased with that and team did a great job of establishing everything that goes into you know running a channel some you know about and field but we actually would just behind the time it took to deliver on it then our audience had shifted too fast, so we ended up going to market or launching this thing and we almost knew this this this was lasting solution you know we're fixing last year's problem for BrightPearl in terms of audience attraction and it just it was really frustrating because everything about the project was really sweet but it ended up being for the wrong company almost or another company and that was a source of frustration.
So, the lesson was I guess stay more closely aligned and maybe my bad from being you in or recognized that those long-term projects need to be flexible enough because stuff changes quick sticky in the water SaaS, so that was a frustration but we learn a ton from it which is good .
And I think if we sort of broaden my remit slightly because I look after the whole of pipeline and go to market you know, not sales but the sort of model and we should have we should have got stuck into our band lot sooner, I think particular in the US where whether that model works better I think than in the UK there are some structural reasons why it was a bit of a challenge for us to do it sooner but probably we should have been bolder um because we've had some really-really nice success early on
DA:
Is that what you're looking forward to for the rest of 2019 is to getting to the outbound .
AP:
Yeah, so partner is there's a big uplift available for us in partner, although we've had a lot of success I think there's the detail right now but there's a lot of upside to be had in in the partner community particularly in US but yeah how bad this just you know I having been kind of marketing brought up on the inbound cooley, it kind of initially sounds like oh so s but it really isn't like it's there's just this you know you need multiple routes to market some of your audience are just not going to be doing appease you know a keyword search for image for management so you go find them I see you happens really important for us
DA:
Yeah, makes sense, we just started our kind of outbound process to and it's a totally different campaign it's a cold campaign versus you know the inbound of a PPC and stuff like that, so it's just another experiment you good to play with and figure out and unlock the challenges of but you know wish you guys the best as you get into that
AP:
Thank you,
DA:
No problem. Well, what I want to do now is I want to flip over to our lightning round questions, five quick questions that I'll ask you, you can respond with the first best thought that comes to mind, you want to get started?
AP:
Yep
DA:
All right, let's do this. What advice would you give for early stage SaaS companies starting marketing today?
AP:
I would, I put the customer at the center like it's a glib and easy thing to say but you just never ever depart from the customer in the middle of something, I had a really cool thing I forget the name of the business now but I spoke to you not very long ago and they exposed all good and bad feedback that comes into the business to everyone in the business, so everyone knows the pain but everyone sees the positive, so literally everybody in the business Caesar and is expected to understand it so just never depart from keeping the customer at the center
DA:
That's great advice in you mentioned before you love providing value to your customers so that makes sense.
What skill do you think is vital for marketing teams to improve and build on today?
AP:
Well, like guess if I was following your rules, I probably say data because that's the first thing that came to my head but I'm going to change and say product marketing, again and the reason is marketing not hard right intellectually, it's not difficult, in the end is know your customer, you know segmentation and targeting is the first page of the book right and so product marketing it amazes me I guess not very articulate but it amazes me how businesses take businesses get grow and get to a point without product marketing and then but don't realize the value of it until they have it right, but I guess what I'm saying is they had product modestly too late or later than they should, if I started a new team tomorrow's the first hire so just nail product Marketing, that's what matters
DA:
I think that was a fantastic answer, and I think a lot of times when you when you do it too late you have to play a lot of catch-up and then you kind of really slow down lose opportunity so it's a really great answer
What about a best educational resource you'd recommend for learning about marketing your growth?
AP:
The stuff I love is SaaS specific actually. I like a lot of people, I guess I love Jason Lemke and it's SaaS
DA:
It's awesome yeah
AP:
And Tom Tangos, I think those two because they will they bring I think is a really nice sales angle to marketing, you don't read marketing, yes you don't mean read sort of this sort of creative in the program side of it there's a ton of resource at there to tell you how to do that stuff and is valuable but what they'd link is great marketing to support a sales engine to grow a SaaS business and that's where I've got a lot of value over the last four five years
DA:
Love it. What about a favorite tool you can't live without?
AP:
How to not be boring. I have to be boring slack in Salesforce
DA:
Yeah, it’s a good one
We're a remote business, so we couldn't run without slack, so we absolutely need it. What about a brand business or team that you admire today?
AP:
I guess there's two units bring to mind within our market, that is big Commerce, I love… big commerce got a really nice sort of challenger positioning against Shopify, Shopify, you know pound gorilla in their market, they're very clear about what they are and how they think they're better than Shopify and I really love that, they kind of bold and confident about that position which I think is really cool
And if I if I'm allowed another, I take Klarna, I love… Klarna as a business that enables you to try before you buy so you as a consumer you basically buy on credit without paying for that credit
DA:
What was it called?
AP:
It’s called Klarna K.L.A.R.N.A, so they provide e-commerce merchants, the facility to let their consumers buy something not pay for it and then only pay for stuff they keep, so you might buy you know five colors of the same shirts and back before you don't like and then only pay for the fifth one, so it's a cool offer, cool products offer.
But what I think they do really nice is and they've advanced they have is they sell to they appeal to consumers to create pool and then sell to b2b businesses to get money but it means their marketing is a really nice blend and they've just got some really cool sort of creative positioning around the consumer story which just creates great demand in b2b, is all about these payments, I just love what they do, I think is very strong.
DA:
That is really interesting, that kind of goes back to some of the things we're talking about before with return policies and how consumers are looking at that stuff, so that's really interesting to see.
AP:
Yeah, definitely now they have a great model, a really cool company
DA:
Well, that's fantastic. Well. anything I just want to say thank you so much for jumping on the podcast, you gave some amazing answers super transparent and very helpful and a lot of the different marketing initiatives that you guys are working on. So, thanks again for jumping on
AP:
Not at all, my pleasure, thanks very much for having me
DA:
It was real pleasure and I'll talk to you soon.
AP:
Thanks very much
DA:
Thank you so much for listening to episode number 73 today with Anthony Payne from BrightPearl. A big thank you to the BrightPearl team and Anthony for coming on and sharing so much with us.

Resources:
Learn More About BrightPearl:
https://www.brightpearl.com/
Connect With Anthony:
https://www.linkedin.com/in/anthony-payne-3343b01
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