SaaS-y Marketing with Nuns — How We Used Guerilla Marketing to Promote an Unsexy B2B Product

Chargebee
Chargebee
Feb 26, 2016 · 5 min read

This is the story of how we spiced up our marketing campaign, brought a lot of smiles and drew attention in the recent SaaStr Annual event.

Background

When doing your job right involves going unnoticed, how do people find out about your product? Managing subscriptions and recurring billing for Software as a Service (SaaS) companies places us in this category. This is the story of our latest efforts to get the word out about Chargebee.


“This is a revolution, there will be a Before Chargebee (B.C.) and an After Disruption (A.D.), in the industry!”

“O.K. but how do we get people’s attention?”

“We play on the B.C. and A.D. theme; this is year 0 for subscription management.”

“O.K. but HOW do we get people’s attention?”

“Let’s have people dressed as evangelists hand-out flyers.”

“Why not sexy nuns?”

“Hmm, na, company image? We’re a billing company, we must stay somewhat serious. “

“OK, regular nuns? Nuns handing out the 10 Commandments of SaaS?”

“Might work! But how do we go about it?”

Guerilla Marketing Nuns

SaaStr annual would be full of attendees from our target audience; it was approaching fast. We had just a couple weeks to write out the 10 Commandments of SaaS, get our design team to run its magic, print the mini tablets, and find the nuns!

On opening day, we were struck by divine luck, the SaaStr Annual was being held across the street from a Cathedral!! It was meant to be.

Our plan was to distribute the “10 Commandments of SaaS” as flyers. We included the hashtag #SaaS10 hoping this would become a little social media event. As it turned out, we were violating the event regulations by distributing marketing materials without sponsoring the event. We were gently warned by SaaStr folks to keep it out of the venue. In all fairness, they were right and we moved to the corner of the street to distribute.

But we then ran into another problem; the building’s agreement with the city forbids distribution of materials in front of the venue. We were, however, told that the sister could stand in the area in front of the conference entrance if we weren’t distributing anything. We had to regroup.

“Let’s print this tablet size?”

“You mean like the actual 10 Commandments?”

On the second day, the sisters were holding tablet sized commandments. And the result was surprising!

When the sisters had been trying to distribute flyers, people thought they were authentic nuns protesting the conference.

By having them hold big tablet sized SaaS Commandments, people realized this was just good fun, and started asking the nuns to take pictures with them. The social media fall-out was much stronger than the first day!

We brought a lot of smiles. More pictures, and even more Tweets.

Plus we landed a 90-second interview. :)

Prior to the event, we were a bit worried that doing something edgy to spread the word about us might affect our corporate image.

As it turns out, this had a hugely positive impact and we had a lot of fun doing it. Your smiles and pictures made us so happy! Thank You!

Here is a quick run-down of the operation:

  • $400 number of dollars spent for the costume, printing.
  • A few hours of planning, design & execution.
  • Finding people for the sister act
  • 5000 SaaStr attendees.
  • 3–4 hours of exposure when most folks are walking in.
  • 2000 views. 100 likes. 25 retweets.

And the 10 Commandments:

Be My Valentine

Feeling the buzz from this event’s success, we had 24 hours to complete another marketing tactic if we were to be in time for Valentine’s Day.

Earlier in the month, we had decided we wanted to occupy mind-space. We decided to send a Valentine’s Day card (yes, an actual paper card) to 200 start-up C.E.O.s, to grab their attention, and hopefully make them smile.

We created this:

We spent the better part of the afternoon stuffing envelopes, finding mailing addresses, licking stamps, and placing a heart sticker on the back so these wouldn’t be considered “junk mail”.

We managed to ship them all out in time…the only problem is that we have no way to trace the effectiveness of this method. No “open, click-through” stats for snail-mail.

Our next step is to reach out to the 200 people via an email about this blog post to see what the response is. Fingers crossed!

We’re happy to share our tactics but remember the 10th Commandment of SaaS: “Thou shalt not covet thy neighbor’s growth hacks.” ;-)


If you think managing recurring revenue, subscriptions and invoicing is a pain in the SaaS, let us help you

Starting-up ? Check out our Launch Plan!


Germain Brion is the V.P. Customer Success & Partnerships at Chargebee. You’ll find him writing about the lessons, observations, and stories on the business of SaaS on the Chargebee blog.

The SaaS Dispatch

Lessons, observations, and stories on the business of SaaS from the crew at Chargebee. https://www.chargebee.com/

Chargebee

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Chargebee

The smartest way to set up your subscription billing and to deliver recurring happiness to your customers.

The SaaS Dispatch

Lessons, observations, and stories on the business of SaaS from the crew at Chargebee. https://www.chargebee.com/

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