SaaS Breakthrough – Featuring Sid Bharath Take 2

demio discover sid bharathAbout Sid Bharath:

Sid Bharath specializes in growing SaaS companies and was previously the VP of Growth at Thinkific, an online course platform that he’s helped grow to the leader in the industry.
He’s also a marketing consultant who has worked with amazing companies in San Francisco like Gorgias, ShareDesk, Olark, LemonStand, CartHook, ReCharge and many more.


Show Notes:
04:05
Helping SaaS Grow and Scale
05:55
Big Wins Running Summits
07:25
Creating a Summit Playbook For The Team
07:40
Using a Partnership Model
09:40
The Planning Phase
11:00
Trying to Grow Quickly Without Product Market Fit
12.40
Finding Real Product Market Fit On Funded SaaS vs Bootstrapped SaaS
13:35
The Drawbacks of Pushing Customer Acquisition Before Product Market Fit
15:40
Different Types of Partnerships
18:05
Long Term vs Short Term Strategies Business Conversations
19:40
Mistake #1: Not Knowing Where Your Customers Are In The 1st Place
21:40
Mistake #2: Not Setting Up Analytics Upfront
22:10
Recommended KPIs and Tools
24:05
Advanced KIPs
25:20
Budgets and Value
27:30
Marketing Budgeting: Overall vs Per Item
28:40
Start Building Out Manually Then Automate
31:40
Hire Over vs Automated System
33:30
B2B SaaS In 2019: Better Alignment on How Marketing Is Generating Leads and Personalization
37:05
37:05 Lightning Questions
Transcript:

DA: 03:13
Hey, Sid, welcome back. It's absolutely fantastic to have you back on the SaaS Breakthrough podcast. Last time I had you on, we went through a ton of great information. Honestly, one of my favorite episodes. I've worked with you. I know you're a genius, it's pretty fantastic. But first of all, welcome back.

SB: 03:30
Thank you so much David. It's so good to be back on the show. And, I think you mentioned, it's been a year. I cannot believe how long, time flies.

DA: 03:37
Oh, absolutely. Time flies. I think you were part of a conversation we had when we even came up with the concept of this podcast. So it's pretty cool to see not only where you kind of around in that initial phase of setup to all the way a year later after launch, to see kind of how this podcast has grown.

SB: 03:54
Yeah, I was, I remember that and I love, I love how it's growing. I've been falling the updates obviously, and just get to see all the amazing guests you've had on the podcast too.

DA: 04:04
I love that. Well, why don't you start off, for those of our listeners who haven't heard your initial episode, which was I believe, episode number three on this podcast, why don't you give us a brief rundown on what you do and what's been going on since we last spoke?

SB: 04:20
Yeah. So what I do is I am a marketing consultant and growth consultant for SaaS companies. I work with SaaS startups like Demio and I have them identify their growth channels when they have reached product market fit already and figure out how to scale up those growth channels that could be most profitable. So I work in different ways. Sometimes it's just pure consultation when I'm working with the client for maybe a few hours a week and sort of guiding the strategy. And in other cases I work with some clients where I sort of come in as a interim, as head of marketing, head of growth role, help them in, in house, set up all the marketing systems and channels and acquisition strategies and even train the team up so that they can continue using my playbooks after I'm gone. So what I've been doing over the last year since we last spoke, I've continued to work with a number of companies, have actually sorted move to SF from Vancouver where you know, there's a, it's a great place for me to be cause there's tons of tech companies out there that I work with. And I've just been helping companies out there. Do, I mean, you know, with their marketing growth strategy,

DA: 05:35
Do you just stand on the corner with a sign that says will consult for SaaS company and just like thousands of people already to, to take you on.

SB: 05:43
I just, I posted into (inaudible) people already.

DA: 05:48
There you go. There you go. San Francisco just runs wild with SaaS companies on the street. Well that's awesome. So you know, coming in and you're starting to work with these SaaS companies in San Francisco in office areas. What's been a major win that you've had over the past year with a SaaS company you've been working with?

SB: 06:05
Yeah, just, it's been quite a few tons of great companies out there. Like you said that you just walked down the street then you have like, you see all these sign boards for different SaaS offices. One company I had a good win with was this company called Gorgias, it's a customer support software, kind of like Zendesk, but specifically for ecommerce stores on Shopify. And I kind of help them with some of the, like yes, early marketing stuff. They're, they're growing really fast right now. And hopefully, you know, maybe some of it is due to some of the systems that I've set up when I was there. One huge thing that we did was this, this summit, it was just a series of webinars really where we brought together a whole bunch of Shopify app partners and we created this, this series of talks just before black Friday, which is kind of like the biggest season for the Shopify ecosystem, right?

SB: 07:06
And so we had a whole bunch of amazing content and speakers talk about how to increase your conversions and your sales as an ecommerce store during the black Friday week. And that brought in a lot of good publicity leads and sales for Gorgias. And so now it's a fixture. So we, I built this playbook of how to run this summit and how to set up a summit, contact partners, promote all of that. And now they're doing it as a quarterly thing. So good to see some of my work still being used by these clients.

DA: 07:41
That's fantastic. And on this podcast we've had a couple of guests come on and talk about summits. I took some of those ideas and we ran a summit recently. The Content Career Day summit. We're planning another summit later this year. I think it's a fantastic strategy. Any specific strategies or tactics really stand out on how SaaS companies should go about creating these summits?

SB: 08:04
Yeah, I think, you know, like I'm, I'm a huge fan of, of partnership kind of stuff and the partnership model is, is really what makes summit work. So you know, you got to be picking your partners carefully. And then you've got to make sure that your partner is actually promoting cause that's when you actually get like a really good, show up and attendance for your summits. Another thing I like to do is I like to add a bit of a contest for summits. So when, when my partner start to promote it and sometimes I'll incentivize my partners. So there's, there's a competition on the partner side to promote by saying, Hey, if you send us x number of leads we'll give you this back so we, we set milestones for them to hit. But then there's on the other side of when someone signs up for a summit, having them get into a contest themselves to say, hey, have you shared the summit? You'll get, you know, some sort of price. So it's, it's, it's all about like trying to just increase the virality of the summit because, it's, it's an event. It's a thing that happens during a certain, a certain time and you know, you want to try and just create as much buzz as possible around it. Partnerships and referral contests are kind of like my two main strategies there. I do supplement the traffic with ads. I try to do a bit of PR stuff around it as well. So getting especially if you have like some really good speakers or it's a very hot topic, you can get some PR around it and that just adds more like publicity and lead gen for summit.

DA: 09:39
How early do you have to plan for an upcoming summit? It sounds like a ton of things that you're working on from the different referral campaigns to the virality aspects to lining up the speakers and getting partners promoting. Like how early are you trying to put it on the schedule?

SB: 09:53
Yeah, that's a good question. You know, and I think when you're doing a first summit it does take some time. So maybe it would probably take, when I did my first summit way back, I don't know, like it was a few years ago, maybe two years ago. I think we've got 10,000 people sign up for that summit. This was, it was called We Online, for women entrepreneurs when I was the VP of growth at Thinkific and the, I think we spend probably like maybe four months. So we started the prep and it was four months later that we launched the summit and it was a lot of work. But over the years I've become better at doing this. And so I think for the (inaudible) projects, I did it single handily in one month and now I did have some help with like using really good tools like you know, Segment and Demio and a bunch of other things. But I guess, you know, once you have, once you get the initial sort of playbook and systems down, it's easy to start repeating it on, with a rapid cadence.

DA: 10:48
Makes a lot of sense. Yeah, absolutely. And I just, you know, I liked that you said when you first get started, it might take more time, it might take, you know, three months prepare if it's your first one that you'll have to kind of learn through it or work with someone like you who's done it before and kind of guide you through those steps. So you're in these different SaaS companies, you're seeing a lot of things that are happening kind of in the state of SaaS Marketing. Are there any major concerns you're seeing when you're coming into to SaaS marketing teams? Things that maybe SaaS companies are overlooking in marketing?

SB: 11:20
Yeah, I mean, something I found in, I don't know if this is just a Silicon Valley thing, but I feel like the companies here are trying to get to like kind of grow really quickly without the product market fit. So they're, they're trying to, like without understanding who the customer is or whether there's like a product market fit they're hiring because they get funding, they just hiring like a sales and marketing team and just pushing it out.

DA: 11:45
Is it like force feeding acquisition?

SB: 11:48
It's like, oh, your job is just to go and start cold emailing, start dialing, start you know, running marketing campaigns. Just get as many people in and then just push, push, push to, you know, a demo call or a sales call or a signup. Right. And of course the, the sales and the marketing team are also under the gun to produce results in terms of revenue numbers. And so they jumped right into running all these campaigns and trying out different things without understanding who the customer is first. And you know, what is the problem that this product is solving? Is there, a real product market fit and how to like define the solution so the customer actually wants to try it out. Right. So I feel like they're jumping the gun a bit on on things and like I said, I'm not sure it was just a Silicon Valley thing, but that does seem to be this, this, this pressure of producing results right out of the gate from a marketing standpoint.

DA: 12:40
Well, let me ask this, does it seem to be more grouped in funded companies rather than bootstrapped?

SB: 12:47
I feel like it is. I don't have too many data points just because I've been working mostly with funded companies here in SF. You don't find bootstrap companies in SF because it's too expensive for a bootstrap company. The funding is, is just a way to subsidized paying your rent or something, I think in Silicon Valley. Cause yeah. You know, like when I have worked with bootstrap companies for example, Demio, Thinkific all of them are outside Silicon Valley. And it does seem to be that, you know, there's definitely more they're, they're okay with saying, you know, let's take a step back and start to understand who this customer is. What product do you need to be building, before we figured out what, how we want to market to them. Right? I mean but again it could just be like my personal experience.

DA: 13:36
Totally. But I think it's such a valuable piece of advice. I was just reading it on like Twitter the other day about like people hiring their first marketer often do it before they have product market fit before they have the understanding of who their customer is. And you're just bringing someone in to just push acquisition. But you don't know if you're acquiring the right customers. Are you keeping those customers? Is your product even valuable enough for those customers? So you're almost burning all those customers before they come in. And then you're also setting yourself up for a lot of failure and experiments because you're not doing your baseline, research and understanding of who those customers are, how you can serve them best, how you even talk to them. So I think for people listening, that's such a valuable thing, especially in the early days of your company is you know, crawl before you walk, walk before you run kind of thing there.

SB: 14:22
Yeah, you summed it up really well. Because then it is like a downside to trying to, you know, go too far too fast and try to acquire customers out of the gate aside from the wasted expense of just like hiring teams do this. And I've seen this with a couple companies where they had to lay off some of these people because they realize that they just over hired and there wasn't like, they just hadn't, still hadn't figured product market fit. Right. And the second thing is the, the other drawback is like you mentioned, you're burning some customers so they get to see this product and then they are disappointed with it. And so that leaves an impression on them. And you know, how did, how did they get them back after they've churn? Right. Especially if they moved to another product that's already further along.

SB: 15:03
Yeah. Yeah. I mean definitely, you know, if you're a startup right now first figure out that product market fit before you start hiring a lot and it's okay to hire maybe a marketer or sales person even in those early days, but at least, but you know, make sure that like, be okay with the fact that the marketer first job then is to kind of like do spend at least a month researching customers and talking to customers. Don't expect, you know, sales right from day one.

DA: 15:31
So proper expectations, understanding how to set up a department better, understand that you have to lay like early groundwork with research and foundations. That makes a ton of sense. But also, I guess when you're entering, or you're kind of viewing the SaaS industry and you're working in these different companies, what strategies have you seen kind of similarly working across the board? You talked already about partnerships and summit's, any other strategies that you're seeing really starting to take off in B2B?

SB: 15:57
Yeah, you know, I, like I said, partnerships has consistently been a very good channel across all companies. I can't think of one company I worked with it doesn't make sense. And partnerships could be a varied of types of partnerships. It could be other B2B companies serving a similar audience. It could be the kind of like the ecosystem around the service ecosystem around. So for example, Webflow, which is a, you guys use Webflow too, and they had this ecosystem, they work with a lot of agencies there, right? So like design agencies, (inaudible) agencies. So that's a service ecosystem. Then you have your affiliate partners, which are like in Thinkific we had a huge affiliate partner base. These were sort of bloggers, Youtubers, we had a lot of content. And then you have your influencers partners who are your sort of Instagram famous Gary V. type people. So there's different types of partners within the partnership ecosystem. And maybe, you know, some will work better for others, but in general, partnerships as a whole has always worked well. The other thing that, you know, I've seen, I mean, you know, in some cases, again, it depends company to company. Sometimes you know, you could get some really good traction with ads early on as well. I'm always a big fan of content, so doing like, like focusing on that SEO, those, those big content pillars that it does two things. One is it does get you a lot of, if you have a good content promotion plan around it, you can get a lot of traffic right up front with a good long content piece. But the content as well brings you traffic over the months because of the SEO value. So really good focus content is a way to go. But just know that it's not going to, you know, make right from day one. It does take some time to ramp up. But it's a good long term strategy. So, you know, a year from now if, if you haven't started content, well you should have started it a year ago. Right? So that's a, that's always a good one.

DA: 18:05
Well, I, I have a question for you for both partnerships and content, like you said, they're long term strategy. If you're coming into a company, let's say either as a consultant or maybe you're one of the early marketers at a company and you want to go with those approaches, how do you actually like talk about that realistically, partnerships take time, content takes time. How do you say, Hey, these are the KPIs that we want to look at for these things. But you know, it may be six months till we have three months before we have a partnership locked in six months before we see SEO taking off? How do you have those conversations?

SB: 18:39
Yeah, that's a good one. That's a good point. because you know, like I said, sometimes the companies and CEOs want to see results right away, right? I think there's what we would partnerships that you can get some results really quickly. So you know, just be good partners that are maybe and all of a, at a smaller stage and you may not get like huge volume of leads from, from those kinds of partnerships, but you'll start to see some results. So at least you have that channel running and getting you something. And so the way you can frame it is you can say, hey, maybe we'll start with some retargeting ads, we'll start with some partnerships. We will start by, you know, maybe we have an existing email base. You know, we start doing a bit of lifecycle marketing and nurturing that email base so you can get some quick wins early on. And then you balance that with the long term content and SEO. So you're not waiting for results, but you're also, you're covering your bases by doing some shopping and stuff, but also focusing on the long term.

DA: 19:33
So that makes a lot of sense. As far as, you know, talking about, you know, the balance between the short term and the long term. In our previous episode, episode I believe three with you, you talked about how you're actually weighing out different experiments and kind of the ice score that you use to outline which ones make sense and kind of outlined the hypothesis for your different experiments. So that sounds great. But now we're kind of talking about it from a high level point of view. Like when you're going into different SaaS companies, what are you seeing when you're talking with these companies and you're coming in and you're like, you're, you're offering them these ideas as a consultant, you're saying, hey, let's go, let's go partnership. Let's go content marketing. You know let's do a summit. Do you see those companies make any pitfalls? Are they approaching it incorrectly? How would marketers listening to this podcast if they want it to start doing some of these, they wanted to bring it to their managers or to their VP or CMO. What can they do to avoid some of the biggest things that you see most marketing teams hit?

SB: 20:36
Yeah, I think the biggest mistake is to not understand why you're doing a certain acquisition channel. Like, if you don't really understand the customer, you don't know your customer research and then you're not going to really know which marketing channels are going to work. And so you're just going to be trying a bunch of different things without knowing whether it's worth trying in the first place. Right? So you know, you take an example of let's say, the, budgets, right? The customer support software for Shopify stores. I know where Shopify stores go to find out for find out whether they, which apps they want to look at. It's a Shopify app store and therefore I know that the Shopify app store is a great channel to me to start as a, as a marketing campaign. So I'm going to do like an entire Shopify APP store optimization project around that, right?

SB: 21:27
So I understand already before I choose what I'm doing, whether that's going to work or I have like an idea or hypothesis based on my customer research. So that's the first mistake is not knowing where your customers are in the first place and just trying to budget things. I think the second thing is also not setting up the analytics to understand at the end of this project, whether it actually working or not. So you got to set up these analytics upfront. You've got to use, there are a ton of tools that make it so easy to set up analytics and track all the way from your traffic source to a sale. Right? Even no matter how long your sales cycle is. So you set that stuff up in advance. And then when you run these, these campaigns, experiments, projects at the end of it, you'll know whether they worked and whether they should be repeated.

SB: 22:12
Are there specific tools that you recommend and with that, are you setting up specific conversion values for key KPIs or are there unique KPIs for each individual like marketing initiative you take?

SB: 22:25
Yeah, there's, there's, it's a combination for KPIs, is a combination for tools. Segment, great tool to, to track your data, track events. So you set up these events for someone visiting the website, someone, you know signing up for something like a summit, someone watching the video or getting onto the Webinar. You know, someone opening up the email or getting into the app or you know using a certain feature. So you're tracking the journey of this customer all the way through from first visit to some engagement, getting some content, getting into the app, signing up, buying your software, using the software. And you can then say, you could see all the way from this channel brought this type of customer and this type of customer tends to not churn as much as this other channel that's bringing this type of customer right. Or campaign wise, you can segment by campaign or channel or whatever it is. Even by partner. So Segment is a great one and then Amplitude to visualize all of this stuff is another great tool. I've been using Webflow and HubSpot a lot as ways for like for, to help, you know, marketers build websites quickly and build like email automations and based on, on, on, on personas in HubSpot. So those are another couple of good tools that go into that foundational stack. As for KPI always you're looking at the revenue, but because sometimes in some B2B companies, the sales cycle is so long, you need some more, leading metrics to look at to see if you're, if you're going the right direction. And so that would just be, you know, signups, demo calls, you know, campaign signups.

SB: 24:05
And then sometimes you can even do some advanced, advanced sort of KPIs. So like you'd say, you'd have someone sign up for your, your Webinar and you could do a bit of a, like a Zapier flow with Clearbit to enrich the signup. And then you can trigger an event, to say, hey, this is a qualified sign up, or this is not a qualified sign up. So then you have qualified signups as a, as a new KPI that you can sort of create over that track. So those are kind of like the important metrics across globally. And any others maybe campaigns specific metrics or company specific metrics that matter more in some cases. Right. So maybe like in some companies a demo call matters a lot more, so you want to, you want to track the show up rate for a demo call as well as a KPI.

DA: 24:55
Makes Sense. And I do love the fact that you're talking about like per channel acquisition sources basically like so knowing like which channels contributed, which gen leads that convert to which amount of customers. And the key metric is like for how long? Like so it's not just how many customers but like the value of that customer by channel, which makes so much sense. And it's obviously something that I feel like we're missing a little bit here so I'll definitely have to check out Segment. So once you kind of have those KPIs locked in, you actually have to build out the analytics system behind it, do all that stuff. Is there a specific marketing budget that you're usually trying to run within? Are you going to the CMO? Are you going to the founder team and saying, hey listen, we need x amount of dollars to build out this stack. If you're early stage, are you able to get away with basic analytics systems? How do you kind of balance that? How do you have that conversation?

SB: 25:52
Yeah, I think like, you know, the analytics is so foundational that I don't think price could be something that stopped you from setting it up. And, and tools like Segment, Hubspot, they have these starters startup packages. So if you are really early stage and don't have funding then you get it for free, right. If you do have funding, you've got some money then you know that you can start paying for it and sure you it costs a bit, but you have the funding. So at that stage, if you're at that stage then it's usually shouldn't be an issue in terms of paying the price because the value you get out of it is so much more. Cause you understand so well like looking at, you get so much data around like customers or channels that are working, the traffic sources, partners, lead campaigns, and what the customer does in the app even so tracking how they use the app, it's great for like further product development too, right? So you can segment every like type of customer and the usage and then you'll understand, hey, turns out that, let's say take Demio, you know, hey, turns out that SaaS companies tend to stick around longer and use the features more often then infopreneurs and so now it makes more sense for you to focus in SaaS and build products for SaaS, Right? So, I think the ROI is huge. And so once you understand that there's kind of like the, it's not really, it's a no brainer to invest in these tools and set it up. That being said, like, you know, there are free alternatives and like I said, there's the free version of these tools or the free packages where if you are a startup, you do get, to use it for free.

DA: 27:30
Are there ever times when you have to go in and talk about marketing budget? Do people ever feel like they're not investing enough in marketing?

SB: 27:37
I think, you know, it's, it's the way people are seeing this or the way I seen CEOs think about this, cause I'm usually working directly with the CEO is they did not look at an overall marketing budget. Like they're not saying it once, here is a fixed marketing budget. Sometimes they do that, but what they are doing is, is per item. So they're looking at let's say, hey, we want to invest in, in Segment to track all of the events. Then you're looking at specific in Segment (inaudible) and saying is it worth it or not? We want to do, we want to run meetups and it's gonna be $1,000 to run a meetup each time and we're gonna do 10 meetups per quarter. Right? So then it's like the question specifically around the meetup, should we invest in meetups or not? And does the meetup itself as a solo object get us a return? Right. So this is what I'm seeing. The way I see CEOs think about it, at least the ones that I've worked with so far is that they are looking at it on a per item basis versus a holistic budget.

DA: 28:40
Okay. Makes a ton of sense. Absolutely. And to circle back a little bit to the conversation we had before about kind of setting up the systems, understanding your KPI, dialing in the channels and the acquisition sources. Once you have that stuff built out and you start these experiments and say you're doing a summit and it works well or you're doing a partnership and it works really well, are there new automations that you're starting to look at or do you kind of build these out manually until a certain level and then you automate things? How do you kind of take that to a scale?

SB: 29:11
Yeah, great question. I think it makes sense to build out stuff manually if it's the first time of doing it. And then as long as it's tracking everything, if you see that it's working well, then you start to automate things. And so as you're building out, you want to document all the steps that you're doing and everything you're doing? And of course while you're building up, you are probably also using tools that help you automate some part of it already. So you're using an email marketing tool. It's automating emails, right? but those like the basic automations. And then what you do is as you document the steps to set up a, say a partnership or a summit, then you look at each line item and you go, Hey, is this automateable? Like can I? And you can use tools like Coda or Bubble, which are like no code tools that allow you to build, and Zapier. And in combination they allow you to build and automate certain tasks. So let's say for example, you have this slight group of people, right? And one of the line items on promoting your summit is to throw it into a Slack group. You can actually set up a zap, a Coda, task, and then a button in Coda, which will trigger a zap, which will then trigger an automated Slack message to the group to promote the link. Right? So, so now you're just like sort of building out an app that just does it for you with a bunch of buttons. I don't know if I'm explaining this well enough. I mean it's, it's, it's just I've been playing around with these tools recently and it's just, it's fascinating what you can do with it.

SB: 30:49
But the core high level concept is, or the framework is let's start everything that you're doing to build a project or a campaign and then go through each item line by line, and then you see, can I automate this using some combination of tools that are already out there, Coda, Bubbles, Zapier, so on. And if not, then can I delegate this to someone on my team? And if not, then can I outsource this to someone else? Right? And so you go through that line by line and then you start to slowly either automate things away or delegate things to other people or than you know, hire someone, a freelancer or someone to do it or someone on Upwork to do certain line items and that's how you scale up and that then it allows you as a marketing leader to then repeat the same process for the next campaign or the next experiment.

DA: 31:39
When do you vote to hire over building an automated system? I know, at Thinkific in particular, I can remember multiple times you've talked about, you know you built out a specific system and you brought on someone to run it. Like when does it make sense for you to be like, okay, let's hire someone to actively work 100% be involved in this. You are now the head of partnerships. Your job is to go out and recruit partners and be involved in that. You're the head of affiliate marketing. You need to talk to our affiliates every day. Work with them. I mean, some of these things, obviously maybe you can't automate, but that's my question. Is there, is there a moment when you should feel one way or the other?

SB: 32:14
Yeah, I think what you should do is you first try to automate as much as possible and then when you get to a point where you say, all right, this is all this, everything that's left over after automations and it's still a lot of work for me to do. Like let's say it's taken up, you know, a good chunk of your time as a marketer, as a marketing leader, and you don't have time to dedicate to other types of, to create new campaigns. That's when you know, okay, I need them. I need to hire someone for this. Right? so first line of defense is automating and then the second line is, and, and you, you don't, you may not have to hire somebody who knows. You could use it, you could outsource it to someone. Right? So I know a lot of companies (inaudible) ad campaigns, which is not a critical core function of a, of a company, especially for a marketing team. You provide the branding to the ad agency or the consultant and they'll set up the ads for you. And there's, you know, like you can still do some automation with ads, but it's still not at a point where you can automate too much. So, so that's a good one to outsource. But for things like partnerships, where it's very like relationship centric and it's very brand centric, then you know, you want to like want to once you realize that it's taken up a lot of time, that's when you decide to hire someone for it.

DA: 33:28
Makes a ton of sense. And being so involved in these different SaaS companies and mostly B2B, where do you see the marketing landscape kind of shifting in 2019? Do you see any major changes coming?

SB: 33:45
Yeah. I, you know, I specifically for B2B SaaS. I think there's just a plethora of tools out there in the SaaS world that I, there's a couple of things I've seen. There's one, there's a, there's a set of tools that are very useful for startups that are like startup focused, you know, like the whole Brex (inaudible) is a credit card specifically for startups. Right? And, and maybe we could even say Demio is a good webinar tool for SaaS startups. So there's a whole bunch of these tools that are supporting startups and then there's the tools that are going like enterprise B2B, right? So there seems to be this lifecycle of SaaS that they start out maybe supporting startups and then try to go high price. Where I see that going. I think as you go higher price it, it becomes more important to, to build out like these sales relationships and have sales and marketing work a lot closer to each other. And so I think it's important to to have much better alignment on how marketing is generating leads and how they're passing those leads off onto sales. And, and also the, the personally, personally is, personalization of, of the way you communicate with these, with the people that, or the leads that you're bringing in. I think it's more and more important to, to have very focused and sort of almost one on one kind of personalization of your marketing. So this is the reason why you see companies like Drip, which is really just a chat bot, but it's, it's, it's doing so well as a company. It's one of the fastest growing SaaS companies. Why? Because they help you, they help enable you build out these highly specific workflows, using, and they do a lot of this cool stuff with. You go to the website or you go to any website, it has a Drift chat bot, you enter your email. It's enriching all of that data. It's got all this information about you, about your company, your location, blah, blah, blah. and then you create very specific flows for each type of sort of category that you have. And that flow seems to be super personalized. And then you build these one on one sort of conversation with relationships with people and, and that's how you get to, you get them to, you know, get on a demo call or the sale. And this is, this is different from the past where it was just like, you know, broad based, broadcast kind of marketing where you're just like one email to all, or one type of ad to all, you know.

DA: 36:21
Totally makes sense. I mean, we've had multiple people come on here and talk about personalization and I did like a state of the union kind of what to expect in 2019. And personalization was one of the biggest ones. So I think you're absolutely right. And it's very interesting to hear you talk about like the different landscapes and kind of where these companies that are going. So it's going to be an exciting year. I'm going to look back at the end of this year and kind of look again and see did all the things that we talk about actually changed. Have we got to do the new market, the new age of personalization is, I mean a lot of apps are coming out with personalization, but is that where we're actually at. Are people using it and expecting it now for B2B companies? I think it's absolutely, interesting to think about. What I want to do now is I want to get into the lightning round questions. You've gone through these questions before, you did it about a year ago. I want to hear how your advice has changed. Maybe it hasn't, but five simple questions we'll go through and you can answer with the first best thought that comes to mind. What advice would you give for early stage SaaS companies starting marketing today?

SB: 37:23
Yeah. My advice would be first understand the customer, understand how your product solves your problems, what, what the problem is. Understand where they are in, you know, on the Internet and how you can reach them and what kind of language to use and what kind of story do you tell them and based on that, decide what marketing channels to focus on and track everything.

DA: 37:45
Love it. What marketing skill do you think is vital for marketing teams to improve and build on today?

SB: 37:52
I think it's becoming more and more important for marketers and marketing teams to be able to code or have some working knowledge of code. Like there's a lot of tools that allow you to do no code right now in buildings thinks like Webflow for example. But you know, still understanding how CSS works in Webflow helps you become a much better user of Webflow, right? So understanding how code works and then also data, how to, how to work with data, how to get the best out of all the data that you're collecting from tracking.

DA: 38:24
Not just looking at numbers but understanding why you're looking at those numbers. Yeah, I love that. What about a best resource you recommend for marketing or growth?

SB: 38:31
Good question. You know, recently, like, I mean, I honestly, I haven't like, I don't read a lot of books specifically or listen to podcast specific about marketing. I try to, except for this one, SaaS Breakthrough. But, yeah, I mean like I, I typically kind of my source of information are just books that are more broader, high level strategy, and oftentimes also just like psychology. And I think psychology is hugely important, I think it's a core of marketing really. So you know, books in psychology, podcasts and books in business and podcast around that. But really the best way to improve as a marketer is to just do things, try things out, experiment. Yeah. Try, talk to other marketers and then hear what they're doing, listen to this podcast and hear what other marketers are doing and then, try work, try doing the same things and maybe, you know, add your little twist to it.

DA: 39:33
So don't get caught in information overload. Execute, implement, make mistakes, fail. Try it again. Test new strategies. Test new channels. I love it. How about a favorite marketing tool you can't live without?

SB: 39:48
Segment. That's a good one. Again, haven't used it. Definitely gonna have to check it out after this episode. Yeah. What about a brand business or team that you admire? Today?

SB: 39:56
There's this, this company called Lambda school that, I really like the way they're going about their, I don't know I just like the whole, the mission that they have is interesting cause they, and they have invented this new, I don't know if they haven't invented a new business model, but it's a, they're popularizing it right now. And it's just income share agreement model. So really what it is they train you on becoming a software engineer or data scientist or whatever. Right? So it's like a technical online technical training course. But instead of paying them upfront, you, they have an income share agreement. So you do the course for free and then they, they get you job as a web developer, software engineer, a data scientist and then you pay a percentage of your income back until you've paid, pay them the full fee for the course. So that's interesting and I like, I just liked the way that they've sort of branded themselves. They are sort of promoting themselves. They are using Twitter to really create, as a marketing channel and getting all of the students to talk about them a lot. And that's really good because you know, you start to, if you're, especially if you're in silicon valley, you just, you hear about them all the time so.

DA: 41:08
So they're using a lot of that referral network, kind of the virology of Twitter. Do you know if they're like profitable from that? Do they ever have like the negative downfall of just like, you know, because the jobs are dependent on the people themselves and if they come out of school and they get lazy, they don't get a job, they're just not getting paid or is this kind of been all positive outcomes?

SB: 41:29
Yeah, I mean, well I think what they do is they try to reduce their risk by selecting people. Yeah, yeah. But, but also, I mean it's Silicon Valley. I don't think profitable anyone cares what profitability will be.

DA: 41:41
It's a different culture. It's a different mindset. It's pretty crazy.

SB: 41:43
Yeah. Yeah. You get a higher valuation if you're making a loss, you know.

DA: 41:47
There you go. Just like Snapchat can go IPO and not making any money.

SB: 41:52
Uber, Lyft.

DA: 41:52
That's crazy. But awesome. Where can people find more information on, you know, the different strategies and tactics that you've been talking about today that you've been working with, with other Silicon Valley SaaS companies?

SB: 42:06
Yeah. You know, I wish I'd been publishing. that started, started publishing a lot more about this stuff online, but I am going to very soon, I'm also going to publish more on my blog, maybe on Techcrunch and a few other publications that I have some connections with. So, I guess the best place to go to my website SidBharath.com I do have some resources there that you can download to help you with some like the high level strategies I spoke about. So, you know, figuring out who this customer is, understanding where they are and how to reach them. And then like planning out based on that what, what, acquisition channels it should be focusing on. So I have all of that there. I'm also putting together a workshop on setting up tracking systems. So I'll be bringing in companies and I'll be helping them set up all of these tracking systems in one go and helping them understand all the data that comes from it. So visit my website and yeah, or email me my email and my contact info is on the website. It's just [inaudible] and I can, I can help you.

DA: 43:07
Awesome. I think we're going to have to sign up for that workshop because we use Heap analytics for awhile and now we're kind of in between Mixpanel and Segment and just we got to figure that stuff out. And like you said before, it is one of the baseline pieces of marketing you absolutely have to have. So, I really appreciate your time today. It's been fantastic to talk to you again. I love these episodes where we get to kind of check back in after some time has gone by so much changes so fast in SaaS marketing, in the industry of SaaS itself. So it's always good to hear from experts like yourself who are in the trenches. You're working with these companies you're day in, day out talking marketing. So I love these conversations and I just want to say thank you for spending some time with us and sharing these strategies and knowledge.

SB: 43:51
Yeah, thank you so much for having me back. You know, and I'm glad we, I did it the first time. It was episode three and I'm glad to do it again and then I'll keep coming back. Hopefully if you'll have me.

DA: 44:01
All right, we'll see you next year then. And really appreciate your time. Sid thank you so much.

SB: 44:06
Thanks David. Have a good day.

DA: 44:10
We truly hope you enjoy today's episode. It was a real pleasure to bring back, Sid be able to talk about some of these concepts, some of the ideas and strategies that are working in SaaS today. It's just crazy how fast SaaS moves where we're going. And every year something new is developing that we have to stay in tune with. But of course as we heard in this podcast, understanding the basics, understanding customer Avatar and being able to make the right experiments for them is still the number one item that we must understand. (...)

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