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Marketing Your SaaS Business for Dirt Cheap

As an SaaS provider, there’s a strong likelihood that you may not have the same marketing budget as large competitors. Duh, right? Sound too good to be true? I assure you it isn't.

However, the good news is that you can successfully create a plan for marketing your SaaS business for under $250.

There are four areas that you can concentrate on that could help you take your SaaS over the top with very little expense:

  • Research Your Market – Invest time in identifying your target markets. Learn the characteristics of your ideal buyers. This allows you to tailor your efforts and messages to attract and retain new customers.
  • Create Monster Social Media Strategies – Unfortunately, social media is still strange to some marketers who view it as a nuisance that comes with a steep and complicated learning curve. To others, social media is the next best thing.
  • Hit a Home Run with Email – Email can be one of the most effective and affordable ways of marketing. Everyone opens their email. What makes email so effective is that it’s permission-based. Your email arrives in someone’s mailbox because they’ve given you permission to send an email. Stats indicate that email is the number-one activity for people with mobile devices. They’re always checking their emails, which means they’re always listening.
  • Boost Your Team’s Knowledge and Confidence – Building an effective team requires leadership. Leaders set the standard, make the difficult decisions, and have a strong understanding of what motivates team members.
The good news is that you can successfully create a plan for marketing your SaaS business for under $250

marketing your saas businessConducting Primary Research on a Shoestring Budget

Large companies aren't the only ones who can profit from conducting market research these days!

Even with a shoestring budget, there are two types of research that you can perform: primary and secondary.

Through primary research, you can analyze your current products or services and gauge the effectiveness of your current prices. Your primary research can also take into account how your competitors operate. You should always have a good understanding of what your competition is up to.

#1. Conduct Interviews.

There’s no reason why you can’t email and ask customers if you can interview them about your product or service. It doesn’t cost a dime and there’s a lot you can learn from one-on-one conversations.

When's the last time you have spoken to your customers about how they like your product or service?

Some of the most common and revealing questions to ask include:

  • What made you choose our product over a competitor's?
  • How did you hear about us?
  • Can you think of something that we should never stop doing?
  • Would you refer us to a friend?
  • What can we do to improve our service or product?
  • Is the product or service priced appropriately?
  • What would you type into Google or other search engines to find us?

#2. Conduct Surveys Online or Through Email.

The object of your survey is most important. It makes it easier to determine the best-suited questions. The length of your survey is equally important. People are on the move with little time to waste.

While there’s no single, right answer, you should mention the time commitment up front. Vary the types of questions and make sure you only ask critical questions.

That being said, keep your survey as short as possible while ensuring that you’ll gain the insights needed.

You’ve got a few questions in mind and a questionnaire can be a fast and inexpensive way to get answers.

The first and most important thing to do is to decide the objects of study. Every question answered should yield an answer that can be measured. If this is too difficult, it’s best to look at other ways of gathering information.

#3. Consider a Focus Group.

You can choose a specific number of customers and bestow the honor of conducting your research online with these folks. They’re likely to feel that they’re special in being chosen to conduct research that can help improve your product or service.

research on a shoestring budgetFocus groups can be helpful too because the participants can be probed for the reasoning behind their opinions. The information that they can impart is known as “rich data.”

A focus group can also help you identify new ideas for products or services. You have an existing product or service, and it’s amazing how others may be able to help you identify new uses for those products or services.

Your advertising is also an area where a fresh pair of eyes can be most helpful. A focus group can also be a good sounding board for testing alternative marketing for your SaaS business approaches. It can also help diagnose your competitor’s weaknesses or strengths.

It is possible to conduct your research on a shoestring budget. You just need to use all resources available.

Conducting Secondary Research on a Shoestring Budget

While the name secondary research may imply that it’s not as important as primary research, it’s where most market research usually takes off.

The great thing about secondary research is that it doesn’t have to cost a dime.

Relevant information can usually be found in published reports from trusted sources. Marketers can usually find out who makes up their target market, what those markets needs are, and the size of their potential market.

The information is free and available through Web-based directories and various media sources.

You’re also likely to find valuable information in pamphlets, magazines, newspaper, and newsletters. Your cost equals zero!

#1. Research Through Public Sources.

Public sources can be the cost-effective means of obtaining information. Typical public sources include governmental departments, public libraries, and business departments, etc.

Data sources include:

Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts

Agriculture/Rural Development

Commerce/Bureau of Economic Analysis

Commerce/Census

Commerce/International Trade/ Census/International Trade Administration

FFIEC

Federal Reserve Board

Health and Human Services

Labor/Bureau of Labor Statistics

Labor/Employee Benefits Sec. Administration

Securities and Exchange Commission

Small Business Administration

SBA Office of Advocacy

Social Security Administration

Treasury/IRS

SOI

Other government publications include the Statistical and Metropolitan Area Data Book where you’ll find data about metropolitan areas, counties, and central cities.

12Source the Statistical Abstract of the United States, which lists pertinent information from private and government sources.

The Statistical Abstract of the United States provides stats from private to government.

The U.S. Global Outlook traces the growth rate of 200 industries and offers forecasts for up to five years.

There’s a ton of research conducted by universities, colleges, and tech institutes. Take advantage of what they have to offer.

#2. Find Free Information Through Commercial Sources.

While commercial resources may involve a minimal subscription or association fee, they’re just as valuable as public sources.

You’ll find yourself spending a lot less than if you hired a research team to collect the same data. Check with organizations like the Society Corps of Retired Executives (SCORE), Dun & Bradstreet, financial institutions, banks, and publicly traded corporations.

#3. Find information through educational sources.

Believe it or not, educational institutions are often overlooked as a viable source of information for marketers.

The fact is there’s a ton of research conducted by universities, colleges, and tech institutes. More research comes from these sources than virtually any other sector of the SaaS community. The reason being is that the information is conducted so that everyone will have access.

Affordable Social Media Strategies That Win Big

The thing about social media is that it really doesn’t cost anything to get your message across to current and potential customers. However, it will require a little time on your behalf.

Venues like Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn are just several that can help grow your SaaS on shoestring budget.

Social media allows you to stay connected to customers. If your sales and customer engagement decline, the only direction your SaaS might take is downhill.

Keep in mind that it’s not about how many people follow you on Twitter or Facebook. It’s about quality over quantity. Thirty active followers are better than 10,000 bots who never interact with your SaaS business or your posts. It’s your true followers who tend to spread the word about your business.

112 Used correctly, social media can be an inexpensive way to market your SaaS business.

That being said, you should engage social media in ways that people can get to know you.

It’s a fact that people don’t follow companies on social media site to learn about and get the latest deal. They follow a provider to make a decision to give that company their business. Highlight information about your product or services. You may even want to highlight your employees. This gives a face to your SaaS that people can readily identify with.

Outsource your social media efforts. For a small fee, you can pay someone to Tweet and respond to your Facebook posts. Or, you can keep the efforts in-house and have an enthusiastic employee champion your cause.

You may also want to consider following other influencers on the social media circuit. It’s easy to get wrapped up in your own marketing efforts so much that you lose sight of what others are doing and saying.

Post videos online. It’s inexpensive and a powerful way to brand your company in the mind of customers. There’s a reason that videos are so powerful:

  • People naturally pay attention to faces. This is a “brain thing” and people are programmed to look at other faces to interpret information as being useful, good or bad. People simply respond better to a speaking face as opposed to watching text scroll by.
  • People respond to voices. Visual stimulation is powerful and works in tandem with voice stimulation. The voice is one the best ways to deliver a message because it turns text that might otherwise seem meaningless, into content that lives and breathes.
  • People respond to emotions. Emotions are somehow contagious. A message in a video can bring about the added excitement from having stirred emotions. When emotions are running high, video viewers can remain excited and stimulated throughout the video.
  • Movement tends to grab attention. When something is moving, people engage their attention and remain stimulated.

The reality is that video can transform the way that you communicate with your customers and other stakeholders.

13You can study the science all day long about whether to post videos. However, there are those who act and know that videos can get the job done. Nothing beats action and analysis.

Remember, social media is best accomplished when you can establish reachable goals, determine your marketing niche, create and implement your marketing plan, give social media the attention it needs, and engage your contacts in a most meaningful way.

Evaluate, analyze, and adapt to the changing world around you.

Email marketing is not dead. There are still cheap tactics you can use to increase your clients and keep the ones you already have.

Affordable Email Marketing Strategies for Pennies on the Dollar

The truth is, email marketing was already at a mature stage when social media came on the scene.

The fact that email marketing is still around and thriving is a testimony to the efficacy of this method. As such, it’s an important means of affordable marketing for millions of small businesses.

Email marketing lists are valuable. Some Businesses go to great lengths to develop and maintain them for sales purposes. Here’s what you can do with email marketing, even on a shoestring budget:

  • Make the sign-up process on the website easy for customers.
  • On your website, place a sign-up box on your website where it’s completely visible.
  • Add a link to your organization’s social media profiles.
  • Make sure that your offer is valid and informative enough to encourage customers to sign up.
  • Don’t violate the U.S.’s CAN-SPAM Act.

Here are some extra email marketing tips:

#1. Snag your reader’s attention.

Content is important and is still considered to be king by many. Grab the reader’s attention by posting informative and sharable information so that they read your content from beginning to end. What’s your proposition? Is it compelling?

#2. Keep your emails compliant.

There’s a right and wrong side to be on with respect to email service providers. Email providers usually offer excellent tools, resources, and learning opportunities. Learn what they are and use them.

#3. Clearly identify the email message that you’re sending.

The types of email messages include commercial and transactional. Commercial emails try to sell readers a product, while transactional emails elaborate on what the reader has already purchased.

While the law is somewhat vague on how to craft each email message so that the primary message stands out.

#4. Take care to develop your audience.

Pay close to attention to the email information that generates the most responses. Who’s opening, reading, and clicking on the links in your email newsletters? When you gain insights, work harder at building your email newsletter list.

Utilize a double opt-out process to ensure that subscribers really want to engage your content. This helps ensure that your emails are actually arriving at a working email address.

#5. Always use best practices.

Use effective calls-to-action and make sure that you place them above the fold.

Above the fold is the area on a computer screen where users don’t have to scroll down to see the message.

It has also been proven that emails with fewer images generate a higher rate of return.

Consider your audience and the browsers and devices that they may be using.

An appropriate subject line can work wonders and inspire your customers to open the email. The subject line should clearly reflect the contents of the email.

You should also be aware of using any language that might set off your customer’s email spam filters.

#6. Brevity is golden.

There’s no set formula, but your tone, format, and structure are all important elements.

It really is important and effective to learn how to say more with fewer words. Since readers scan emails, and most online content, write words that have a special meaning.

Use subheadings as well. Subheadings are effective because they help draw a person’s attention to a specific part of the email page.

Boosting Your Marketing Team’s Knowledge and Confidence for Free

How motivated is your team? Confidence always starts at the top.

Many things can affect a person’s motivation and behavior. Among these things include a person’s current situation, experience, how they’re rewarded, how they’re managed, good or bad relations, company culture, personal perceptions and personal values.

As a manager or SaaS owner, you wield a great deal of power in being able to motivate your employees without having to spend a single cent.

Positive Words Matter

Positive words help create positive thoughts. Recall in your own life the times when someone praised your work or accomplishments. It probably put a smile on your face and made you want to work even harder.

When a person enjoys what they do, they’ll likely more energetic and dedicated to the task at hand. There will be far less clock-watching and commitment to projects from beginning to end.

Motivation can make a person feel that they’re working for something. When there’s a personal benefit involved, a person feels motivated to accomplish even more.

Be the Role Model

11Act as a role model that your employees will want to emulate. This helps them identify what they’re passionate about. Happy employees are more productive employees.

Clearly define your company’s mission and strategies to reach your goals. When employees understand their role, they can more easily contribute to its success. Enlightened employees can become aligned with the company’s strategy and work far better as a team.

Follow up by helping each employee create their own personal development plan. Do they need to be coached or mentored? If so, provide it. Both their skills and confidence will increase.

People like to know that their efforts are appreciated. If you applaud their efforts and successes openly, they’ll appreciate it even more.

Applaud Your Team’s Efforts

If you want to be a great leader than can energize your team onward to success, you’ll also need to be a great follower. Contrary to popular belief, leaders switch from being a leader to a follower daily.

When someone does something worthwhile, applaud it. People like to know that their efforts are appreciated. If you applaud their efforts and successes openly, they’ll appreciate it even more.

Great leaders are also great communicators. They know their audience and always think about what their people need to hear and know. It’s not about telling people what they want to hear. Leaders will impart both the good and bad news.

True leaders are honest. They’ve learned to depart from spin and half-truths. They know these things breed anxiety and distrust. Their honesty builds trust in both good times and bad. If they make a mistake, they own up to it right away without waiting for someone else to discover it.

Everything I mentioned in this post can be done for under $250!

In today’s world, access to knowledge, technology, and the latest SaaS trends is always at your fingertips for free.

Even working with a mentor can be an inexpensive endeavor. There’s always someone with a little more knowledge and who’s willing to help you make it to the next level.

A mentor can also help you accelerate your goals. Remember, for pennies on the dollar and a strategic approach, you can skyrocket your profits in no time.

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Gene Krause

Gene has been consulting businesses of all sizes for 18 years and providing them with strategic payments and gateway integrations.

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