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This is the second part of an article Are Sales People needed in Selling SaaS solutions written in response to conversations with three entrepreneurs who have created, or are creating SaaS solutions to serve very specific needs for a well-defined market opportunity. In conversation it emerged that none of them were planning on having any sales people in their business.

The next question I asked was, are you planning on having any marketing people in your business? The answer in each case was  either part time, or, we are not ready to hire yet. What is the role of marketing in a SaaS business? I offer the following definition of the role of marketing in a SaaS business,"Marketing identifies, attracts and incubates leads."

In the third step in this journey I went to each entrepreneurs Website and was not surprised to find highly product focused messages which were barely intelligible through the benefit statements and what David Meerman Scott calls product-speak gobbledygook; peppered with words like "next generation"Gobbledygook manifesto, flexible," "robust," "world class," "scalable," and "easy to use,", not forgeting "cutting edge," "mission critical," "market leading," "industry standard," "turnkey," and "groundbreaking," and the old favorites "best of breed," and "user friendly." 

The other problem with these sites was that they did not engage me around my issues and they did not encourage me to hang around.

So are marketers required in SaaS businesses? If you have gotten this far without reading the prior article, please stop now and read the prior article Are Sales People needed in Selling SaaS solutions, before reading on.

Marketing’s role in selling to the early market

To succeed in achieving early adoption of SaaS solutions, marketers must create mindshare at the individual level and establish thought leadership at the system level, by focusing on sector-based initiatives...when the World is a click away, focus is required.

To create awareness, interest and inbound inquiries, marketers need to incorporate "buyer-relevant" messaging focused on the persona's of the buyers in target sectors on the company's Internet site to garner mindshare in individuals and thought leadership at the system level, through a combination of the following content creation activities;-

  • Redeveloping Website messaging to be buyer-relevant, rather than product-focused,
  • Blogging regularly on topics of interest to buyer-persona,
  • Optimizing the Website and blog-posts for SEO,
  • Building inbound links with partners, interested visitors and industry thought leaders to increase Google rankings,
  • Creating and archiving Webinars, videos and podcasts, which are instantly playable or downloadable,
  • Creating e-books and white papers that pull prospects, which can be easily shared and which amplify your ideas through social networks. 
  • Reaching out to interested individuals via opt-in email and RSS subscriptions

In “Diffusion of Innovations”, Everett Rogers examines the role of individual thresholds of adoption and the role of social networks to achieve critical mass at a system level. As mentioned in the prior article, Social Networks are inside their own "hypergrowth Tornado" of adoption and are core to the marketing mix.

Inbound Marketing platforms such as HubSpot offer an ideal set of integrated marketing and social networking tools for the entrepreneur and marketer to systematically create mindshare and generate inbound leads from interested individuals. 

Using inbound marketing platforms like Hubspot, an entrepreneur may find that the combination of tools provided and the range of services available from the supporting Hubspot partner community can provide a low cost and highly effective alternative hiring marketers....at least until sufficient momentum and cash is available in the business to support a full time marketer.

For a more complete discussion on this topic, please download our free white paper - Convert Inbound Lead Generation into Better Sales Performance.

For specific recommendations in improving inbound marketing and sales performance, you could register to download our Guide to Better Sales Performance.