Archive for August, 2009

What’s More Important: Marketing Process or Marketing Plan?

7-Step Marketing Strategy Process

7-Step Marketing Strategy Process

Too many leaders of small technology businesses think of marketing as either an afterthought (“Got the product ready… now I have to go market it!”) or a forethought (“Got to put together my marketing plan up front… then I’ll have my plan all ready to go when I launch!”).

The fact is neither approach is optimal. I really think marketing must be an integral part of the product or service development process in order to be as impactful as possible.

There’s just too much focus on putting together a marketing plan (whether before or after product development) as a “thing” that must be created. When in fact what’s needed is a marketing strategy process that is integrated with the product or service development process.

For example, here’s a good, simple summary of the marketing strategy process that could be adopted for any technology venture.

Some things to think about:

  • how does this tie in with your product definition and product development process?
  • where is the tie-in with sales?
  • how can the marketing function be as integrated as possible with the rest of the business?
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Procrastinating Your SaaS Business Plan? Five Reasons to Get It Done!

Our latest article, “SaaS Business Plan Tips,” on Software Marketing Advisor is about SaaS business planning… how critically important having a solid business plan is for software-as-a-service providers.

You may ask: why should I write down a lengthy business plan? Sure, there are too many things to do already when you’re trying to start or grow a business, and often business planning does not seem as critical as the other urgent calls on your time.

SaaS companies should not make that mistake… Here’s a quick summary of the top 5 reasons why you need to write that SaaS business plan now:

  1. SaaS involves selling and delivering a standardized solution that solves a customer need broadly without too much expensive customization. Getting that right requires up-front planning: there’s little opportunity to customize during the sales cycle or during installation and still make money.
  2. SaaS usually requires more up-front capital than a more traditional software startup. That means investors are going to be looking more closely at that SaaS business plan and financial projections.
  3. Because it is newer, the SaaS business model is less proven, requiring more ongoing analysis and adjustment as the industry matures. It’s hard to determine which assumptions worked and which didn’t if you don’t write it down.
  4. One of the most important SaaS metrics is low customer acquisition costs. Without a SaaS business plan, it is too easy to over-invest in lead generation or focus on the wrong leads, leading to unsustainable marketing and sales costs.
  5. There is additional complexity to SaaS business metrics that necessitates an ongoing plan to forecast and track them reliably. It is not sufficient to simply forecast and track quarterly bookings, as with licensed software.

So stop procrastinating… and start writing your business plan! This SaaS business plan template can be a useful place to start.

Interview with David Taber, Author of Salesforce.com Secrets of Success

This interview with David Taber, Author of “Salesforce.com Secrets of Success” on the Marketo blog is a worthwhile read for any software marketer, especially those in the CRM space or those who wish to more effectively utilize their own CRM systems.

Key takeaways? They may not be new, but they’re important enough to deserve repeating:

  • Focus on lead quality, not lead quantity
  • Have a clear process to drive the sales cycle, and make sure everyone from marketing to sales understands their role in the process
  • Figure out and track meaningful, quantifiable measures of marketing success

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