Top Ten Dos and Don'ts of SaaS

Build a successful software-as-a-service business

Copyright 2009 by Joel York at Chaotic Flow.

saas top ten dos and don'ts

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The Top Ten Dos of SaaS Success

SaaS Do #1 - Choose a Large Market

SaaS Do #2 - Create a Hub on the Web

SaaS Do #3 - Accelerate Organic Growth

SaaS Do #4 - Craft a Compelling Story

SaaS Do #5 - Build the Business into the Product

SaaS Do #6 - Reach across the Firewall

SaaS Do #7 - Monetize Creatively

SaaS Do #8 - Enable Mass Customization

SaaS Do #9 - Open Up to the Cloud

SaaS Do #10 - Leverage Your Community

The Top Ten Surefire Ways to Fail at SaaS

SaaS Don't #1 - Chase Elephants

SaaS Don't #2 - Waste Money Marketing Offline

SaaS Don't #3 - Launch without Online Trial

SaaS Don't #4 - Cover up Shortcomings with People

SaaS Don't #5 - Invest in Channel Partners too Early

SaaS Don't #6 - Bleed Cash Indefinitely

SaaS Don't #7 - Ignore the Long Tail

SaaS Don't #8 - Think You Can Control It

SaaS Don't #9 - Fail to be Creative

SaaS Don't #10 - Depend on Network Effects

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SaaS Do #4 Craft a Compelling Story

In his book All Marketers are Liars, Seth Godin asserts that people don’t buy products, they buy stories. Stories they tell themselves to rationalize the decision to buy, and stories they tell themselves after to feel good about their actions. There are few things scarier to a marketer than relying on organic growth and word-of-mouth to drive demand and inbound leads. Telling a great story is one of the few elements of online demand generation over which you can truly exercise a great deal of control. This opportunity should not be squandered. Great stories should be the foundation of your online marketing plan, because on the Web you have a) even less time to get people’s attention, b) tons of low cost, cool multi-media options to deliver dyour story and c) built-in automation to spread your content virally provided that it is genuinely interesting and entertaining. And, if you want your message to stick and fuel offline word-of-mouth once your prospect has closed her browser, it had better be a memorable one.

You might think that in this era of search ad headlines with 25 character limits that telling a story with many variations and nuances is both hard and irrelevant, but this is not true. Great stories have legs and can be recast, repurposed, reinterpreted and remembered—all while returning to a common theme that forms the essence of your brand. It is worth emphasizing here that your stories need to be great, not just good, and definitely not just good enough. Two strong examples from completely opposite ends of the Internet spectrum are Twitter and Both stories begin with a really simple idea “No software” and “What are you doing?” respectively. But, the variations on these simple themes are endless. For Twitter, the story unwinds like a fractal into an incredibly detailed tapestry spun by its own community of users all tweeting away about what they are doing. In the case of, the story was crafted and delivered with the consistency and skill of a presidential campaign directed squarely at the incumbent, enterprise software.

If you want to generate organic demand, site traffic and leads. If you want to create viral video that will get millions of hits on YouTube. Start by crafting a great story and the rest will follow with a lot less work and machination.

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