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In Demand: How to Grow Your SaaS to $100K MRR
28 minutes | 3 months ago
EP11: Why Every Founder Needs a Market Vision
We all start our businesses for different reasons. For some, it is a personal pain point--a problem that we want to solve for ourselves. For others, it is a person or group that we want to help. No matter how you start as a founder, it is crucial that you find the big why for your business--the reason your business exists.
29 minutes | 6 months ago
EP10: How to Compete in an Overcrowded Market
In this episode of In Demand, Asia Orangio, founder of DemandMaven, shares the principles for growing a SaaS company when you are competing in an overcrowded market. At DemandMaven, we just wrapped up a project for a client that was in one of the most competitive markets. While we had some incredible wins, we also had many lessons learned. We distilled those lessons into 6 principles for founders to apply when they are entering a highly competitive market. Dive deeper by reading the full article that inspired the episode: https://demandmaven.io/lessons-learned-from-competing-in-an-overcrowded-market/ TLDL: You’re going to need a clear, competitive differentiator. This differentiator is what makes you different, better, and special. It sets you apart from everyone else. Maybe you’re tackling a specific pain for a specific audience better than the other guys. It’s going to have to actually be better than all of the other competitors. “Better” is also not as cognitively clear because to almost every founder, their product already is “better”. But it has to be recognizably “better” to the customers as well. They’ve got to feel that “betterness”. If it’s not better, it’s going to have to be a little cheaper, although some would argue this would need to be the case regardless as a new player in a highly-competitive market. Have zero friction to signing up and becoming a paying customer. It needs to be pretty easy to make a decision about the product and actually sign-up. Some would argue that adding barriers to entry would increase demand, but that totally depends on how many competitors there are and how frictionless they appear to be. Time to value is also a critical component when weighing how to approach this. The longer time to value, the less friction you’ll need to have. Find a channel with the most opportunity. If you’re in an extremely crowded market, then it’s likely that most acquisition channels will be tapped (and maybe maxed out with extremely high CPLs). You’ll need to follow basic rules on ARPU and adjust CAC accordingly, but after that, prioritize the channels you can either beat the competition at, are totally untapped, or both! Lean into your strengths skill-wise and resource-wise. This one’s a tough one because they’re not always obvious and it seems like a weird thing to list. But knowing the competitive landscape, you’ll need to identify what you can provide that’s better and different from a marketing perspective. So if you’re good at speaking, networking, writing, building, whatever — leverage that because it (usually) can’t be copied. All of that, of course, within the context of what your buyers are most likely to do, consume, and care about. These 6 basic principles are really just the start. To stay competitive in a crowded market requires an ongoing commitment to improvement and innovation, but if you take care of these 6 principles you will be off to a great start.
31 minutes | 7 months ago
EP9: How to Know You Have Product-Market Fit
Product market fit is often talked about like it is a specific destination. A place you arrive at once and know that you’ve arrived. But the reality of growing a SaaS company is that you may not know if you have product-market fit or if you have it, you may not know how good the fit really is. In this episode of In Demand, Asia Orangio of DemandMaven shares the seven best indicators for when you’ve found product-market fit and how to take action if you haven’t reached them yet. TLDL: It feels like you are guiding a boulder down a mountain, not pushing it up the mountain. When customers are signing up despite some product issues and every new lead or customer doesn’t feel like a lot of work, that is an indicator that you’ve found product-market fit. Prospects are willing to pay right now and they don’t bat an eye about the price When you have customers finding you and signing up right away, that is a great sign of product-market fit. Retention and active users improve with every new cohort of paying customers If you look back 12 months (or 6 in case of being a new venture) and you have retained at least 50% of your customers and that rate is growing over time, that is a great sign of product-market fit. Running a product-market fit survey and getting 40% of your customers saying they would be very disappointed if your product disappeared Using the SuperHuman fit survey (https://firstround.com/review/how-superhuman-built-an-engine-to-find-product-market-fit/) and finding that at least 40% of your customers are every invested in your product shows that you have found product-market fit. To quickly recap the survey, ask “How would feel if you could no longer use the product?” With three options: Very Disappointed Somewhat disappointed Not disappointed at all When one new customer generates two or more customers When a customer generates two new customer without you having to do anything, you have a great indicator of product-market fit. Having this viral growth from word of mouth dramatically decreases your cost of acquisition and is a sign that you have a great segment and fit. Cost to acquire a customer is under a third of the lifetime value of a customer If the lifetime value of a customer is $3000 and your cost to acquire a customer is under $1000, then you have a great sign of product-market fit. You constantly hear about how great your product is When you have customers reaching out to your team and you to tell you how much they love the product, you’ve likely found product-market fit.
28 minutes | 7 months ago
EP8: The Biggest Growth Lessons I’ve Learned (the Hard Way)
Some lessons in marketing are easy to learn. You pick them up from a book, take a class, or hear a talk and get it immediately. Other lessons are harder to come by. They are the ones learned over time and through experience. The ones that we look back on and think about the head start we could have got from applying them earlier. In this episode of In Demand, Asia Orangio of DemandMaven shares the four biggest lessons that she learned the hard way. From customer journey’s to funnels and go to market strategy, you’ll learn growth lessons you can implement today to avoid learning them the hard way yourself in the future.
31 minutes | 7 months ago
EP7: How to choose the BEST acquisition channels
Understanding your acquisition channels is key to growing your business, but convoluted terminology, different strategies, and numerous channels it can be hard to know where to focus your efforts. In this episode of In Demand, Asia Orangio of DemandMaven breaks down the basics of acquisition channels, from overviewing different types of channels to general and specific strategy for maximizing your use of acquisition channels to grow your business!
35 minutes | 8 months ago
EP6: Top 8 Customer Research Mistakes
Customer research can be an absolute game changer. It gives you insight into not only what your current customers think of your product, but also who they are, what they want, and how you can better serve them and others in the future. But not every type of customer research is right. In this episode of In Demand, Asia Orangio of DemandMaven breaks down 8 ways that you might be doing your customer research wrong and how you can update your research to upgrade your results. TLDR; [1:20] - #1 You’re not doing customer research at all If you’re not doing research, you can be sure what you’re customers think about your product and business. You’re not only missing out on improving your product now, but you’re liking missing the big picture on where you should go in the future. [4:42] - #2 - You’re asking the wrong questions There are lots of resources outlining customer research questions to ask, but asking general questions won’t get you the information you need to solve your specific challenges. [7:26] - #3 You’re not digging deep enough In a research interview, you will often get vague answers like “It made my life easier”, as a founder you need to know the specifics of what you’re customers are thinking, so don’t be afraid to follow up and don’t just accept the first response you get if you don’t fully understand. [10:18] - #4 You’re answering questions for your customers When you’re doing a customer interview, it’s natural that some awkward moments come up. And it’s human nature to fill awkward moments with words. But when we do that in a customer interview we influence the responses we get back. [14:21] - #5 You’re not taking the feedback objectively If you built the product yourself, it’s easy to critical feedback personally. Instead, once you have the feedback you need to take a step back and put it into context. What are the patterns? Who are the outliers? Don’t let your prior viewpoint influence the answers you get back from customers. [ 21:14] - #6 - You’re the only one doing the interviewing At the end of the day a customer interview is a conversation, and the interviewer is one half of the conversation. So if you have one person doing all of the interviewers they will likely be missing information because they have the same blinds spots. A strong customer research process allows for this by having more than one person interviewing. [24:31] - #7 - You’re not recording or sharing your interviews When we recount an interview we filter out information. And when you do that you miss crucial details. If you have a team, more than one person should be watching an interview and even if you are a solo founder right now, if you expect to grow, start recording your interviews for the future. [28:00] - #8 - You stop after just a few interviews You can do a set of customer interviews, learn lots, implement it, but as you grow you inevitably attract new types of customers. So you need to be connecting with your customers frequently. Product market fit isn’t a state you enter, it’s an ongoing process, that means customer research should be too. [31:30] - Quick review Music Credit: Something Elated by Broke For Free https://freemusicarchive.org/music/Broke_For_Free/Something_EP/Broke_For_Free_-_Something_EP_-_05_Something_Elated
38 minutes | 8 months ago
EP5: Let's talk about FUNNELS
Funnels are a great thinking tool for founders. They help us clarify the journey our customers take and help us plan the steps needed to scale. But thinking in funnels can narrow our vision if we don’t truly understand the reality behind the tool. In this episode of In Demand, Asia Orangio of DemandMaven breaks down the basics of funnels. From the different types of funnels to common misconceptions and how marketers and founders can use them to maximize them to grow their business. TLDR; [1min] What actually is a funnel? It’s a simple way to visualize how a prospect becomes a customer. From the top were prospects/leads learn about a product, down to where they consider it, and finally become a customer. [2:50] The two funnels Sometimes talking about funnels can get confusing because there is an overall business funnel and then there is the marketing funnel. [6:00] The marketing funnel At the top of the marketing funnel are activities that help build awareness of your brand and product. As you move down the funnel, marketing focuses in on consideration -- teaching about the problem and your potential solution. Finally, at the bottom of the funnel, you get very specific about your product as the solution to the problem to help prospects make the decision to buy. [16:20] How to think about funnels in your business (and common misconceptions) The funnel isn’t a linear experience for your prospects and it isn’t the only experience. While you think of a customer moving from step to step and stage to stage they are often hopping around or doing things you can’t measure (like exploring competitors or chatting with friends). It is important to remember that a real customer journey is much more detailed and harder to track. [29:50] When you change the customer, you change the journey, and you change the funnel As your business grows and you start to focus on new segments, you always have to come back to your campaigns and think about if your funnel still matches your customer journey. Sometimes it will, but often it won’t and you will need to adjust, adapt, and expand your marketing. -------------------------- Times and Unedited draft notes for reference What actually is a funnel A simple way to visualize how a prospect becomes a customer A the top of the funnel we have people who are just aware of your product Lower down people who are considering it Lower yet is people who are considering it, maybe have done a free trial, or engaged in another way. And at the bottom we have our paying customers [2:50] The two parts of the funnel The overall business funnel The marketing funnel When we say “The Funnel” were talking about the overall business funnel You’re building systems to attract and acquire prospects You’re activating prospects into paying customers You’re working on retaining them [6:00] Marketing Funnels The Marketing Funnel Much more aligned with the stages of awareness Top of the funnel: Building awareness - focused more on the problem then our specific product Middle of the funnel: Consideration Bottom of the funnel: Creating content on how to solve a problem using your product specifically, webinars, etc. Basically anything on your website as a SAAS company will be bottom of the funnel activity Marketing traditionally focuses on the top of the funnel [11:30] Overviewing the traditional activities for each stage of the funnel Top of the funnel: Building any kind of awareness with less of an intent to get someone to buy. It’s much more about attraction not conversion. Middle of the funnel: Case studies, product pages, content related to a pain, but introducing the product. Bottom of the funnel: Extremely close to having prospect understanding that they have a problem and that they can solve it with your product. Freemium account, content about how to solve very specific problems with your product [15:04] A third way to think about funnels — when you design and build campaigns you’re essentially creating a funnel Whenever you design a campaign — You’re anticipating the steps that a prospect would take to becoming a paying customer You’ve gotten their attention from an ad, they signed up for a webinar, and then paid to sign up. [16:20] How to think about funnels The first common misconception is that they are a perfectly linear experience. What we think of a funnel contains a lot more interactions and steps When you design or troubleshoot a campaign you’ve got to remember to think about all the interactions and decisions that exist outside of your funnel steps So, in the first place you need to make sure that you are measuring the success of your funnel in the first place [19:30 to 19:59] is a great clip. Other misconceptions The funnel doesn’t actually exist in the way you think it does — did we build a funnel because it actually works or do we just think it works. [24:23] - Once we see the holes in the idea of funnels, how do we move forward as marketers We have to understand our customer journey as a whole. There are lots of funnels we will create, but three are a lot of funnels that exist that we didn’t create [29:50] - When you change the customer, you change the journey, and that means, you’ve got to build new funnels Example of how Asana has gotten bigger their marketing has become much more general Example of ConvertKit going from focusing just on food bloggers at the start to all sorts of creators Early on we might be focusing on one specific part of the funnel, but as you grow you need to keep examining and revising. Music Credit: Something Elated by Broke For Free https://freemusicarchive.org/music/Broke_For_Free/Something_EP/Broke_For_Free_-_Something_EP_-_05_Something_Elated
52 minutes | 8 months ago
EP4: The WORST Assumptions You Can Make as a SaaS Founder
In our personal lives we’ve learned that assumptions will often lead us astray. When it comes to an early stage SAAS startup, they can be the difference between success and failure. In this episode of In Demand, Asia Orangio of DemandMaven shares the six worst assumptions that you can make as a SAAS founder and how to reframe them for success. Extra Resources: Check out the Baremetrics blog post on SAAS milestones: https://baremetrics.com/blog/how-fast-saas-companies-hit-arr-milestones TLDR; The Worst Assumptions You Can Makes as a SAAS Founder 1. [1:29] “If you build it they will pay” It’s not “If you build it they will pay” it is much more like “If you build it, test it out, validate it, then they are much more likely to pay.” Most founders don’t believe the old idea “if you build it they will come.” They know they need to market their product, but today more than ever, many assume that when the time comes the paying customers will be there. If you expect to charge for the product in the future, it is crucial that you don’t just assume that customers will be willing to pay when you ask. “The best way to know if someone will pay for your product is to actually try and charge them for it.” If you’re early on and don’t have paying customers yet there are two directions you can go: You can create a group of beta users who get free access You can focus on finding your first ten paying customers 2. [16:00] “If it worked for them, it’s gonna work for me” It’s not really “if it worked for them, it will work for me”. It’s much more like “if it worked for them, in this market, in this industry, for these kinds of people, for this kind of software category, then it will probably work for me." It is great to listen to the stories of other founders, to learn from what they did, but the context for your business will always be different. If you find yourself doing research on others companies journeys, always remember that there is a specific context in which this strategy worked and compare it to the context you are operating in. 3. [24:00] “The first 100 customers is fast” It’s not “the first 100 customers is fast” or that it should be fast, if anything it is exactly correlated to you, your market, and your product. No matter the milestone, never assume that it will be fast or easy. As the saying goes, your first $100k will be much harder than the second $100K On average it takes 217 days from launch to get to $833 in MRR. To get to $8300 MRR it takes 400 days on average. To get to $1M in ARR it takes 700 days on average. 4. [31:21] “You can change a market's behavior" It is truly easier to use your product compared to a competitive alternative It is solving a problem better than the competitive alternative It’s not necessarily that “You can change a market's behaviour”, but you can put yourself in the right place at the right time and offer the market a different solution. You get product adoption when your product does two things: So first you have to understand the existing market behaviour and find creative solutions to meet the behaviour of the market where it is, and offer your solution there. 5. 40:52 - “The market moves as fast as you" It’s really not “The market moves as fast as you” it’s “the market moves as fast as it wants” and you have to find a way to match your cadence. Sometimes, with the marketing and growth activities we do, we expect overnight results. But, it’s important to remember that if we’re a little early, then we’re almost never likely to see instantaneous results. As a founder, your insight and ideas will almost always be a bit ahead of the market--especially if you are doing something innovative or different. You will sometimes have to wait for the market. 6. [45:36] “Others doing better than you or have it more figured out" It’s not “others are doing better than you”, it’s much more “others are doing them, and you should do you!” It is easy to look around at competitors Music Credit: Something Elated by Broke For Free https://freemusicarchive.org/music/Broke_For_Free/Something_EP/Broke_For_Free_-_Something_EP_-_05_Something_Elated
25 minutes | 8 months ago
EP3: What to Do When Your Growth is Stagnant
Growth suddenly going stagnant? Here's the top 3 strategic questions you need to answer in order to unpack and troubleshoot your stagnant growth.
36 minutes | 9 months ago
EP2: The PERFECT Time for Marketing
When it comes to early-stage SaaS founders trying to grow their businesses, there's a perfect time for marketing and there's less ideal times for marketing. Your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to time your marketing efforts for maximum impact and efficient investment. Asia Orangio of DemandMaven digs deep into what scenarios make sense for founders to invest in marketing, and what scenarios would warrant more customer discovery instead.
32 minutes | 9 months ago
EP1: Marketing in an Economic Downturn
We haven't even hit peak COVID-19 yet, but many SaaS companies are wondering: what in the heck do I do with go-to-market and marketing functions now that we're in an economic downturn? Here's how Asia Orangio of DemandMaven thinks we'll shift. Extra Reading Marketing and Growth for Uncertain Times on CXL.com
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