So it turns out Box is pretty good at marketing. They took something pretty unsexy and (for the time) hard to understand, and made it into a rallying cry. In this panel, two former Box employees – Anthony Kennada, VP of marketing at Gainsight, and Menaka Shroff, head of marketing at BetterWorks – join Aaron Levie, CEO of Box, to discuss the unconventional and sometimes decidedly un-digital tactics that make their companies succeed.
DataFox provides summaries of every single panel at SaaStr 2016, all published within a day of the panel itself. If you miss the tactical theater or strategy stage, are networking on the ground, or didn’t get a chance to attend this great conference, we’ve got you covered.
Special thanks to Jason Lemkin of SaaStr for putting on this conference and giving us the chance to publish these summaries.
In a nutshell:
- Turn your customers into evangelists.
- Invest in building brand awareness early; it’ll save marketing dollars down the line.
- Test out different entry points – Box, for example, tested hands-off trial signups for end users as well as enterprise sales.
Lesson one: Go big with brand and messaging
Building a brand saves quite a bit of money on demand generation later on. The team recommended billboards as an often-overlooked messaging method – set up a billboard with a bold claim (“GainSight will reduce your churn by 5-10%”) and place it such that people have a long, straight path to see it.
Lesson two: Create a movement
Find something simple, powerful and resonant that goes beyond what you’re selling (for Box, that was the move toward the cloud). You don’t necessarily need a PR machine, but you do need a brand purpose. Creating a movement, Shroff says, and sticking to it has enormous potential for getting traction in social channels. Kennada recommends helping prospects to build their strategy, and using content and social media to share your message. Levie further suggests finding a demographic and customer profile that’s currently being ignored by the rest of the industry.
Lesson three: Iterate on different entry points
There’s no one-size-fits-all entry point. If your tool only works at an individual or team level, a self-service trial is best. If it only works company-wide, then you’ll need a sales team. Ideally, though, you’ll be able to hit multiple entry points.
Sometimes, you can separate enterprise product from something end user can get value from. If you can modularize your product such that individual users can derive value without a lengthy sales process, you’ll have a groundswell of support.
Lesson four: use events to spread the word
According to Tien Tzuo of Zuora, if you’re in enterprise, you have to hold an event. You just have to. This helps stake your claim as a thought leader, and serves as a physical manifestation of the statement you’re making online.
When BetterWorks had just 50 customers, Shroff put together a “Goal Summit” that focused less on product and more on goals and alignment.There were no demos, just thought leadership - a powerful option if you're too small to host an event based on your product itself. She recommended doing smaller events to see if you’re hitting the right message, then scaling up once you’ve nailed it.
Lesson five: Build customers and a community
Levie says that getting your customers to evangelize is pretty much the best marketing you can do. Under Kennada, GainSight created an online certification program for people who are new to customer success or people who wanted a refresh, and facilitated 25 chapters in the US and Canada that meet quarterly. That’s an easy way to keep customers engaged and talking about your product.
Early on, no one was following customer programs. Gainsight recognized a lack of conversation in that area and positioned itself as a thought leader. They focused on diversity of case studies, but deep-dives in each one.
Bonus lesson: Market your iconic CEO
Case in point: Levie!