Getting ready to sell: SaaS Product value propositions, positioning and messaging

June 21, 2017 Saas & Platforms
By Owen Linderholm, Senior Content Strategist
By Owen Linderholm, Senior Content Strategist

message

You’ve got your SaaS business sorted out, figured out the product, figured out the market fit and you are ready to go. You’ve even got some test customers and everything’s going well. But you’ve exhausted your personal network of potential customers who might actually use your product. It’s time to hit the wider market and that means getting some marketing ready to start feeding some leads to your brand new sales team.

The basics are clear: take everything you have learned from your early stage customers who were your guinea pigs, and distill down the key reasons your SaaS product works to apply those insights to future customers. Discard your initial direction and just follow what you are actually doing that they like. Use that and your identified product-market fit to build out a value proposition – a clear statement of who your SaaS solution would benefit and why they would find value in it. Layer in the current state of the market, any competition and refine out some positioning that clearly lays out more exactly who should choose your product and why. Then tell that story clearly and succinctly. Sounds simple. Unfortunately it isn’t. For any kind of business, getting messaging right can be a challenge but SaaS businesses have additional layers of difficulty and complexity to unpack for their prospective customers.

We’ve collected some of the best advice for SaaS businesses on honing their marketing and messaging.

Value Props

Let’s start with some examples. Hubspot pulled together ten examples of value propositions it thinks most SaaS companies would kill to have. These companies are mostly very established names that got an early run into a new market or that have succeeded really well in their respective markets. So these are companies that got it right.

Tomasz Tunguz, a venture capitalist with Redpoint, writes frequently on SaaS issues and penned a blog post about three different kinds of SaaS value props: software that increases revenue, software that reduces cost, and software that promises improved productivity. He distills out the essence of these three approaches so you can base your value prop on one of them.

SaaS Foundry takes a more traditional approach to how to create a value proposition and breaks it down into all the decision points you will need to follow and then walks you through building your value prop back out of them. They throw in an analysis of several real value propositions for good measure.

In a post on LinkedIn, Yvan Cognasse takes a look at the value prop of one specific case, the platform as a service, and why that can be a valuable approach to building a SaaS business.

Positioning

Myk Pono over at Startup Grind has a very concrete strategic messaging map to use when developing your positioning. He accompanies it with a basic guide to how to go about developing strategic messaging and positioning.

The PM Vision blog, by John Peltier, has a great piece specifically about developing SaaS product positioning. He covers some of the core issues you will have to face around clarity, and even pivoting and dealing with change.

Ryan Battles covers benefits, attributes, use cases, the competition, market positioning and a lot more in a post about how to do SaaS product positioning.

In contrast, Richard Felix takes an in depth look at SaaS positioning through the lens of brand in a post on Medium.

Switching to a more competitive focus, Sixteen Ventures looks at creating SaaS product positioning in a highly competitive market and has been updating the post for a couple of years to keep it current.

Messaging

Messaging is where you put it all together. You can see some results from 7 leading SaaS companies in this Hubspot blog post where they look at leading examples of SaaS marketing.

Chargebee has a great blog post about the implementation of messaging in a content marketing strategy. It covers how some top SaaS companies implement their messaging through content marketing.

Inturact has a lengthy post that culminates in some good advice on messaging but actually covers the whole marketing journey from start to finish.

Aaron Beashel has a great post about branding messaging for SaaS companies that goes further than basic messaging and looks at the longer term approach to building a brand over time.

Hopefully this collection of articles will give you a good foundation for building out the value proposition, positioning and messaging for your upcoming SaaS business.

About the author

Owen Linderholm, Senior Content Strategist

Owen Linderholm is Senior Content Strategist at WePay. He has previously held content and editorial roles at Yahoo, Microsoft, IDG and the BBC.

More blog posts by Owen Linderholm