The ultimate demand generation guide for SaaS
SaaS companies are often leaders of disruptive change, transformation, and radical new solutions and methods that other industries adopt as the market changes as a result. This industry-leading position is wonderful for SaaS companies in the long run but as a transformational leader, you often have to generate demand for a solution customers may not know they need yet. Because of this, demand generation for SaaS goes beyond just sourcing leads. Demand generation for SaaS includes the process of carving out a new niche by making your target market aware of a problem and positioning your product as the solution.
When we created Beamer, we created a solution that we needed and we then generated demand by making others aware of the problem we were facing and presenting our solution. It’s a process that includes many different elements and activities working together to generate demand from the right customers.
Here is a quick, comprehensive guide to SaaS demand generation:
The difference between demand generation and lead generation: what is demand generation?
Lead generation and demand generation can easily be confused with each other. They are two entirely different actions. Here’s a little more on the differences between the two:
- Lead generation is the process of finding prospects, attracting prospects and getting them to give your team their information so that you can begin the sales process. Some examples of lead generation can be using ads to bring leads to your site and offering a piece of content like an eBook in exchange for an email.
- Demand generation is focused on shining light on a problem or pain point your target customers currently have in order to create or inspire a need for your product as a solution. Your team is educating your target customers on your product and its value. It’s a proactive approach to sales.
Making customers aware of the problem:
For SaaS, there is often a gap in the market between your solution and the understanding that there is a problem. Very often, products come to market and customers aren’t aware of the problem they solve for them. This is described as being “too early” to market but SaaS companies can actually take advantage of this to create a new niche by educating customers on a way to do things better. This requires some creativity and understanding of your customers current processes and pain points. You need to frame your solution in context of your customers’ current processes. For example, when we created Beamer we knew that the current pain point of potential customers was creating a changelog that users actually engaged with. Though Beamer and it’s engagement-boosting features are much more than a changelog, it was important to use the context the customers were currently within to communicate our solution to them. But to really carve out a niche, you need to go even deeper. Take a look at what the end goal is for your customers. For Beamer customers, we knew they were trying to better communicate and engage with customers within their app and website. We needed to show customers that update emails, blog posts, and social posts are not working – they needed an entirely new solution. Your messaging, content, and sales process should focus on showing customers that there is a problem with the status quo and there needs to be a better solution than what is currently available.
Positioning your product as the solution for your customers:
Once you’ve shown customers that the current solutions available are not enough, you can position your product as the next best solution. This is where having a specific niche and a market position is really important. The market positioning of your product is the narrowing down of what your niche is in terms of the problem you’re solving for which customer segment. Specific market positioning is necessary for demand generation; positioning your product too vaguely won’t result in a strong demand from the right customers and open up the door to too much competition. It’s easier to cover the bases in terms of creating a product that truly solves the most critical pain points of customers if your target customer is specific and well defined. For example, again, if you’re a generic CRM and you try to create all the features any customer will need, you will likely fall short for the vast majority of customers and blend into the sea of other similar solutions. It’s also hard to compete with bigger products that have much more capability to support a wider range of customers. But if you focus on solving the major pain points for a niche customer like a “CRM for financial firms” for example, you can create features that address the specific problems of financial firms and better position your product as the ideal solution. Of course, addressing these pain points and demonstrating how your product solves them is the foundation to your messaging and content.
Reaching the right audience:
Demand generation does include sourcing and attracting leads, of course. Once you’ve really established your niche and positioned your product as the solution and your brand as authoritative, attracting the right leads is easier. Gathering leads from the organic traffic you generate from content and any paid traffic to continue to engage them is key. Being aware of who your ideal customers are in the form of buyer personas, where your ideal customers are online, what they’re searching for, what terms they’re using, etc. is important for generating the right traffic to your site. SEO and creating content is a huge part of this. Using the right keywords and content structure to appear where your audience is searching for a solution is a fool proof strategy for generating organic traffic and leads long term. If you’re going to have a paid traffic strategy, understanding where your audience is online and using the right messaging for your niche helps to better convert. Once on your site, finding creative ways to get leads’ emails like free demos, eBooks, etc. and reengaging them with informative and helpful information to nurture the sales process helps keep leads engaged and part of your sales process.
Providing helpful resources:
A big part of educating customers about a problem and generating demand for your product is providing content and resources that are useful. The vast majority of B2B sales start with research. Your customers will be searching for information on how to solve problems and improve their processes. If you help them in providing expert resources and truly helpful information, it helps to position your product and brand where customers are already looking. Guides, case studies, expert tips from your team that directly address the top problems and questions of your customers are great for building authority and trust. Case studies are particularly great because they really qualify your new niche and solution for customers. Many B2B SaaS customers will be looking for this kind of information to make an informed decision, giving them this information speeds up the sales process and qualifies your product.
Becoming a leading authority in your niche:
Beyond just providing resources and content, a big part of creating demand is positioning your brand as the authority in your niche so that customers have trust in your solution and team. This is particularly important when you’re creating a new niche and solving a new problem. Your brand has the opportunity to become educational and authoritative in a new space. This is the best way to build trust and loyalty with potential customers. It eases the sales process and positions your product as the natural solution. You do this through content development, providing expert resources, coming out first with crucial data and studies around your niche, and also leveraging your team members’ expertise. Hubspot is an exceptional example of this. They have an entire learning center with pages of content and resources for customers to learn how to better manage and automate their sales process with data and guides from Hubspot. Another great example is Shopify which has positioned itself as the ultimate guide for small businesses and entrepreneurs looking to sell online. They provide plenty of case studies from customers of all types who have used Shopify to meet their needs.
Collaborating to reach the right audience:
Building organic traffic and finding the right ad strategy takes a long time. It helps in the meantime to leverage existing networks that have the attention of your target audiences. This can be through guest blogging, social media networks and forums, podcasts, events and conferences, and PR opportunities. The added benefit is that there is often great SEO value in working on building these links. Backlinks, especially from larger sources, can really help boost your rank, boost your authority, and drive relevant, long term traffic.
Demand generation for SaaS is really about being a leader in seeing a better way forward for customers and taking the authority. SaaS companies have a unique opportunity in that they can create and take advantage of brand new niches that can be very profitable. Understanding your customer’s pain points, real end goals, and how your product can help them get there is the foundation. With a focus on that, demand will come. For a better way to engage with customers on your site and within your product, try Beamer today.