SaaStr Annual Day #3: Building a Brand, Getting More Leads and Doing PR the Right Way

Hi we’re Point Nine Capital and here is our SaaStr annual recap for day #3. To be kept informed of our following posts follow us on Medium.

Building an Epic Brand

Jeff Yoshimura — Elastic VP Marketing Worldwide

Jeff Yoshimura has worked for several successful startups building their brand. Here are some of his key learnings.

Building the AppExchange brand

  • AppExchange (SalesForce) started as a marketplace (2005) before marketplaces were really ubiquitous on the internet.
  • It was not a non existing brand and they had to build it under the umbrella of SalesForce.
  • Didn’t do one big launch but several ones (as the number of partners on the platform increased: 10 partners first, then 100 then 1000 etc…)
  • A tactic that worked well was to ask all the partners to do a press release when they launched their app on the platform.

Building Zuora brand

  • In 2007–2008 subscription businesses were still new.
  • Elevate the message: they coined the term “Subscription Economy” that lots of journalists / media re-used.
  • News / event hijacking can have a big impact. They did a stunt at the Apple conference and got a lot of media coverage thanks to that.
  • Name does matter. Zuora was a very hard name to market.

Building Ayasdi brand (big data analytics)

  • The main challenge here was to look different that most other big data companies.
  • Expert aren’t always right: an agency did a rebranding that proved to be a mistake. They had to go back to the original approach and keep the same name.
  • Simplify complexity: if what you do is complex it’s a good opportunity to simplify it for the masses.

Building Elastic brand

Elastic is an open source product, so it’s less about pushing the brand to the community but more about encouraging the community to speak about the brand.

  • Leverage your community to build awareness. Ex: meetups operated by the community itself and not by sales or marketing people.
  • In the wild stories: get users to tell real-world stories about your product.
  • Don’t be afraid to be different: avoid sounding like everyone else.


  • Each company is different. You cannot apply the same playbook from startup to startup.
  • Brand building take time (ex: AppExchange took 10 years)
  • Have the right team, keep iterating.

How The Hell Do You Get More Leads?

Meagen Eisenberg — MongoDB CMO

People: what do you need in your team to be successful?

  • A good combo to start is: a marketing person + a developer + and a creative profile.
  • It’s key to clearly understand which users your marketing should attract. For instance at Mongodb they talk to and attract many kinds of developers but the sales team only wants businesses with large enough budget.
  • It’s also important to build relationships and leverage “outside” people like analysts and influencers.
  • Focus on test and speed if you are on a low budget;

Homepage and form optimization

  • Over 90% of Mongodb leads comes from their homepage, so optimizing this landing page to convert the relevant users (see above) is obviously a “must do”.
  • Thought leadership content is key for mongodb
  • Form optimization


  • For marketing automation and targeting & personalisation: Eloqua, Marketo, Hubspot, Insideview…
  • Close the loop with CRM (Salesforce, sugar crm etc…)
  • Standardize your pipeline to communicate it to the whole team (from marketing to sales and support team)

Lead scoring

  • The sales and marketing teams must discuss and agree on how to score leads.
  • Share a weekly dashboard to the sales team with the leads that hey haven’t touched yet. It calms them down when they say they don’t have enough leads.

Optimize middle of the funnel with nurturing

PR Playbook: The Real Truth. How to Get It. What It Means

Ed Ziton — Founder EZ-PR, Erica Lee — CEO StrategicLee, Sarah Frier — Bloomberg reporter, Colleen Taylor — YCombinator editorial editor, Matt Weinberger — Business Insider

Which metrics matter to journalists?

  • Obviously metrics like revenue, profitability and users are the best metrics to share.
  • A very common mistake startups do is to communicate on growth % without mentioning absolute figures (ex: we grew 5000% the past year).
  • if you cant tell any real numbers, at least give some great customer names.

What do you do if your founders lack charisma?

  • Find something that is interesting in your story (can be the raising money process or anything else)
  • Push on what your are passionate about and not on the personality side.
  • You need to build long term relationships and “be around”.

Some common mistakes when contacting journalists

  • Don’t say “we have been covered by X, Y and Z” if it’s for the same story. it’s like “Do you want me to repeat what my colleagues just said?”
  • Exclusives are good but offer a “real exclusive”. Very often the exclusive is a minor information in a larger pitch, which is not good. “We are raising X$ and have released a new Z feature” where the exclusive is the feature and the funding is not.
  • Don’t come to pitch if you are not ready a.k.a avoid asking a delay when the journalist is ready to publish the article.
  • Timing: be aware of other big announcements / events that happen at the same time as your coverage.