There’s no denying that making, well, just about everything a service these days is a “thing.” From productivity and platforms to identify and infrastructure, XaaS (affectionately dubbed—you guessed it—everything-as-a-service) is a market that’s expanding rapidly.
Gartner predicts that public cloud services worldwide will grow by as much as 17% this year. That means numbers growth from $227.8 billion to $266.4 billion overall, with cloud app services and SaaS brands accounting for $116 billion of that number all on their own.
So, how does one position their SaaS brand pull in the revenues needed each year (ARR), to drive the kind of growth they can count on, in an industry that’s growing at such phenomenal speeds? Good question, friends. We propose that SaaS brands must come up with ideas to put themselves on the proverbial map, in ways that turn heads and sparks conversations. SaaS brands have to push the envelope a bit, and not be afraid to try innovative methods to get their message in front of their target audience. That can be intimidating if you’re a brand that’s always played it safe.
What Does It Mean to Push the Envelope?
There are a variety of definitions for this little idiom. Merriam Webster states that pushing the envelope means “to go beyond the usual or normal limits by doing something new, dangerous, etc.” Urban Dictionary defines this saying as pushing something to the limit and seeing how far you can go with it.
Intriguingly, the saying actually originates from mathematics and engineering and was made popular by test pilots. An envelope was a boundary that defined a set of limitations regarding the performance safety of aircraft. Test pilots would test these limits (i.e. push the envelope) to see how far they could go beyond said limits successfully.
Thankfully, there is no aircraft testing required to mine actionable intel from this concept of pushing the envelope.
Tips for Making Your SaaS Brand Stand Out
Making a SaaS brand relevant isn’t that different from the process of making other brands relevant. Similar tactics and strategies apply, the only caveat is nailing your target market and revamping the language you use to speak to them. Keep in mind you aren’t always communicating with just an IT audience.
Define Your Position
Take a page from the B2C playbook when it comes to marketing and branding strategies. It’s important to clearly define your desired position in any market you’re entering and determine how you want your target audience to view your brand. Get really clear on what makes your brand unique and use that like it’s a last man’s dying wish, to help your brand stand out.
Messaging matters. Your brand needs to communicate what you do, how you do it, and why the heck anyone should care. The monkey wrench in that tactic is that you need to do it in a way that speaks not just to IT professionals, but laymen as well. You can’t get overly technical in your messaging, or you may scare away customers that need your services, but don’t fully understand the how’s and why’s. They just want a solution.
Hit All the Touchpoints
Again, this is taking a page from the B2C playbook. Your messaging needs to hit on all the touchpoints to create the best customer experience possible. This means paying attention to everything from the sales process itself to your product’s functionality and usability. You can’t just wing it and hope for the best, every customer interaction has to drive your customer forward and reinforce connections to your brand and products.
It’s Not All Rational
While it’s true that customers may initially make a purchase based on rationale, to create stickiness within a brand you have to foster an emotional connection. It is emotional connections to brands that keep consumers coming back, again and again.
Invest in Design
To differentiate yourself from a crowd isn’t just about your message it’s about the visual aesthetic as well. Invest in design help to construct a visual identity that’s distinctive and immediately recognizable to your audience. You should also ensure that your UX and product design is smooth and streamlined so that your customers stay engaged and keep renewing. A clunky product design or clunky website is an immediate turnoff, especially when there are so many brands that are rocking it in the design department. Don’t skimp because this is a make it or break it kind of investment.
Remember, because the SaaS market is so crowded, it’s easy for customers to experience “buyer fatigue.” There are just so many choices and those choices are not going to diminish, only increase. It’s up to you to brand your business in a way that sets you apart from the pack and offers buyers a sweet experience. It’s your job to help them understand that by choosing your company, they are making the best choice possible.