7 brand + marketing hacks for SaaS start-ups pitching + presenting for the 1st time at SaaStock (+ other tech events)
Another great SaaStock has come and gone, with much attention focusing on the established SaaS companies. So instead, I’d like to share with you the brand and marketing challenges facing a newbie ‘boot-strapped’ start up — Eighty6 Software, in preparing for SaaStock19.
(8 minute read)
Eighty6 Software launched less than a year ago, and so when we wanted a mighty platform on which to showcase our awesome product — the choice was simple. We joined the SaaStock19 Startup Programme, which entailed our CEO David Bowe entering The Global Pitch Competition and us running a booth. To be deemed eligible there are 2 rounds of online applications and a vetting call with the sales team.
1) TIMELINE: 4 WEEKS
Be under no illusion — if you’re a start up with finite resources and a small team, and you want to crush it in SaaStock, then it’s going to take a lot of work!
Be prepared for long nights and tight deadlines, working cross functionally on — pitch writing, pitch deck design, the 1-minute pitch video shoot, pitch practising, graphic design, booth design, website landing pages, live demo templates, social copy + posting, photography — and don’t forget network planning!
The logistics may initially appear astounding — but the rewards are immense.
My Top Tips:
- This is on top of your regular workload — so prepare accordingly.
- If you have a significant other in your life — apologise profusely in advance for the next month of late nights, border line workaholic / SaaStock monomania behaviour, and book a date night with them when you resurface!
2) THE GLOBAL PITCH COMPETITION
“Tell me what you do — in 10 words or less.”
The opportunity to work on your companies ‘elevator pitch’ should never be turned down.
For any start-ups, continuously evolving its messaging, the chance to pitch for seasoned venture capitalist’s and marketing leaders is invaluable. The competition runs over 3 days and the criteria upon which you are judged is: Target Market | Identified Problem | Proposed Solution | Team Dynamics | Revenue Model | Traction + Development.
You must prepare a PowerPoint pitch deck and condensed 1 minute to camera video pitch in advance of the event.
- ROUND 1: (Pre-selection at Startup Day). 5-minute pitch & 5 min Q&A
- ROUND 2: (Semi-finals @ Startup Stage: SaaStock Day 1). 2-minute pitch
- ROUND 3: (Live Final @ Main Stage: SaaStock Day 2). 1-minute pitch
My Top Tips:
- Don’t forget to tell your story. Good branding + marketing has a narrative arc encompassing problem, solution and benefits. I spoke with a VC judge after the pitches, and they expressed disappointment that many presenters skipped their story — launching straight into the product.
- Don’t underestimate pitching. Writing killer condensed pitch copy is longer and harder than you think. Every word must have value.
- Practice in front of the mirror, record your performance on video and audio. Organise a ‘murder board’ session — with peers and in front of groups of people. Anticipate and script ‘land mine’ objections for the Q&A session.
3) LET’S BE SOCIAL
Companies dedicate lot of time and resources for events. Yet most are guilty of poor quality, rushed, or reactionary social posting at events.
Often because they’re absorbed with the event, in selling or with networking. What a lost opportunity! So get organised early. I like to create a mini tech-event social media campaign that blends seamlessly with my own planned campaign. By creating pre-branded templates in advance of the event, you can populate and post before, during, and after the event and posted across LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook and Instagram etc. Remember to be spontaneous and have some fun!
(See slideshow below for Eighty6 Software SaaStock Social Campaign)
My Top Tips:
- Huawei P30/iphone for nimble guerrilla marketing posts. Use DSLR for edited considered quality.
- Share the love. Don’t be all ME ME ME. Use audited #hashtags + tag @people + @companies for better social karma #obvs.
- Review, edit, post photos at the end of every day. Resist taking too many shots (ages to review).
- Post at least once a day! I prefer one quality post at the end of the days activities, when I’ve time to percolate my thoughts, write some thoughtful copy and run a nice image.
(See video below ‘120 secs of #SaaStock’ for Eighty6 Software Social Campaign)
4) HAVE 3x KILLER DEMOS READY TO DROP
Eighty6 Software has so many awesome features that it would be impossible to effectively demo them all in the limited time you have during a typical stall visit.
Create 3x killer 1–3 min demos, highlighting a key product function, ready to rock at the drop of a hat. Content will depend on:
1. What stage of development your product is at.
2. What solution you’re solving.
3. What vertical you’ve identified.
My Top Tips:
- People are visiting lots of stands, with limited time to process everything. Be kind, and don’t overwhelm them.
- Scan details and schedule a follow up discovery call and extended demo for when the madness is over. They’ll appreciate it.
5) THE STALL DESIGN
Have a visually strong call to action in your stall design, promoting what problem your product solves — and better still supporting your social media event campaign.
Stalls are automatically assigned, and the process is straight forward. You must supply artwork in advance for sign off in pdf. format with printer bleeds.
Don’t forget to scan visitors passes and be old school — with a pad and pencil to capture leads in case of digital blips.
My Top Tips:
- No budget for nice swag? Sugar treats and coffee are inexpensive ways to attract weary attendees and start a conversation.
- An unattended empty stall looks a little sad, and is a lost opportunity to connect. If you have to network or attend a talk — leave a wee personalised sign with your contact details letting people know: ‘Gone to make a million dollars — back in 20!”
6) GET TO SEE SOME GREAT SPEAKERS
There’s a wealth of great speakers at SaaStock. Some events need advance booking and fill up fast — so don’t wait too long.
Too many impactful speakers to mention — but I personally enjoyed Dan Martell from SaaS Academy’s Winning Webinar and Patrick Campbell’s from Profitwell’s, How SaaS companies fail in growth and scale.
My Top Tips:
- Be analogue — download + print the SaaStock Event pdf. It’s easier to read and highlight the best events, than constantly scrolling through your phone for the online version. That way you don’t miss out on what’s important to you.
7) GET IN SOME MEETINGS — YOU NEVER KNOW WHO YOU MIGHT MEET
Do yourself a favour and take the time to thoughtfully fill out your app profiles. Be clear in what value you bring and who you want to meet. Be respectful of people’s time. I met some amazing people — and some amazingly unfocused people!
I found time to chat and brainstorm with some genuine people — working hard in companies from those in beta stage to those live and offering global enterprise solutions.
Big Shout Out To:
If you haven’t come across these people yet, then I’d advise you to check out there products.
- Teemu — Sales Director at Leadoo, which was founded with a mission to make website content more personal, more engaging and more converting.
- Dirk — CEO of Algoly, who believes in empowering domain experts with no coding experience or access to data to still pursue business opportunities and solve their day-to-day data driven problems.
- Hartmut — CEO of Userlane, the navigation system for software that allows anybody to use any application instantly.
- John — CEO of TechIreland, which introduces the world to the companies and people leading innovation in Ireland.
- Vishnu — Founder of CustomerLabs, a digital marketing infrastructure for small marketing teams with big ambitions.
My Top Tips:
- Meeting tables are busy and can be loud, and 15 minutes is not much time for intros and solutions — before the next batch of meetings drop.
- Don’t over book yourself, avoid back to back meetings if possible. This allows for meetings to run long, or your contact to be running late.
- If there is someone that you really want to speak with, suggest connecting at the meeting space entrance, and go for a stroll around the event together — or find a quiet space in the canteen.
Thanks for reading — please feel free to share or comment below with any tips that any other newbies might find helpful, so they can hit the ground running!
Kudos to the #SaaStock Team:
And special thanks to the #SaaStock team Oscar, Radka, Claudia, Gabriel, Mary, Harriet, Tom, Mike and Alex for all their hard work, good-natured assistance and for taking it all in their stride!
Keith Bradshaw is a data driven storyteller, lead gen junkie, product evangelist, brand geek, campaign strategist and start-up veteran.
He helps talented B2B + B2C businesses and start-ups scale through creative brand + marketing growth strategies. He is responsible for working cross functionally on brand and marketing global road maps across sales, product, channels, partners and ISV markets.
He has a keen interest in social advocacy and is happiest when he’s resolving complex brand + marketing solutions, drinking good coffee + listening to Spotify.
David Bowe is CEO of Eighty6 Software, he is a second-generation wholesale and distribution entrepreneur, coding zealot and big data junkie — whose mission is to fix an industry in crisis.
About Eighty6 Software
Eighty6 Software is a B2B wholesale and distribution management saas product that identifies customer churn 6x faster than our nearest competitor.