By Ankur Tiwari on 17-02-2023Follow @Ankurt04
Today, I am sharing about high-output actions.
Ones that truly deliver asymmetric results.
This post is a part of the Organic SaaS Growth newsletter. Subscribe here.
To win, you can either spend more resources than anybody else in the market or innovate and discover high-output actions.
And then execute them relentlessly.
In this post, I am discussing nine such actions for asymmetric business growth.
Let’s dive right in.
Over the years, more than a few SaaS founders have told me that “they do not know why their business is not growing.”
It is one of the most alarming growth challenges to have for any business.
And, it is very different from having an “our lead magnet pdf is not generating any interest from blog readers who come via Facebook ads.” kind of problem.
You tend to shoot in the dark when you do not know the problem.
Think about how good doctors work.
A good doctor will carry out all kinds of tests and diagnoses to clearly define the problem and only then pen down the prescription.
Will you ever rely on a doctor who gives you a prescription without clearly understanding the problems? This one can do it within two minutes and saves you a lot of time.
The truth is, unless you know the exact problem, you can not solve it.
Find and define growth problems your SaaS business is facing. Ask specific questions and look for their answers.
If you are not acquiring new users, is it because of low traffic or low conversions?
If new signups are not activating, is it because of poor onboarding flow or wrong product positioning?
If you have high churn, is it because of a bad product, bad support, or market-product misfit?
If you have low LTV, is it because of a non-optimized pricing structure or something else?
Define the problem first. Search for solutions later.
Every action you take has an opportunity cost and multi-directional consequences. Correcting a wrong is a tedious and costly affair. So dig deep, define the problems, and only then, take action.
Most software products have multiple use cases for different customer profiles.
But when you are new and have resource constraints, it's not effective to promote them all.
Instead, identify your 'easiest-to-acquire' customer profile, build a use case, and run with it.
Publish white papers, blogs, and video case studies around it.
The capabilities of a solid use case to influence prospects greatly exceeds that of many run-of-the-mill contents.
Promote it on cold emails, social media, the homepage, and everywhere possible.
Do everything to bring it in front of the people you want to target.
Focusing your energies on one particular use case will result in far bigger returns than targeting many at once.
What is SaaS growth anyways?
Is it the acquisition of new users?
Or activation of free-trial users?
Or conversion of users from the free plan to paid plan?
Or, avoiding user churn, at least for the payback period plus a few months?
Or upgrading paid users to a higher plan?
Or reducing acquisition costs by improving referrals?
The truth is SaaS growth is the sum of all of the above.
You want to acquire new users, delight them with your product, keep them for as long as possible and generate referrals.
Thus there are four pillars of SaaS growth:
You have to find the best fit of these four pillars for your business.
And the only way to do it is to interact with your prospects and customers as much as possible.
Thus high-touch organic strategies are your best bet.
High-touch activities will keep you sensitized about your market's needs, pains, and aspirations. They will force you to do everything you can to lower your churn rate before you can think about expansion.
And high-touch organic strategies perform even in an economic downturn.
Later-stage large SaaS businesses use paid ads at the high-growth stage. By that time, they have figured out their market, product, messaging, and channels. They are simply looking for scale.
But in the case of early-stage businesses, they have, at best, a vague idea about their market, message, and channels. And have a product that is far from the best.
No paid ads can deliver growth to early-stage SaaS businesses.
If you are curious, here is my playbook for organic SaaS growth.
Unlike e-commerce, SaaS is not a transactional business. You do not make money on a one-time purchase. Rather, you make money on long-term product usage.
And to keep users engaged for the long term, you must deliver value every time they use your product.
Thus SaaS growth depends on continued value delivery.
Discover what is valuable for your customers at each stage of their lifecycle and adopt it in your offering.
An excellent tool to unearth such stage-wise value is Value Matrix.
It is a two-column matrix where I map the top-priority value users desire at each stage - from new signup to onboarding to activation all the way to the last stage of the user lifecycle.
Attempt to discover their desires and challenges at each stage as they move from being interested prospects to curious free users to hooked paying customers.
How do you discover those values?
From extensive customer development interviews, user research, and data analysis.
Ask, study, and analyze.
But beware of the differentiation between ‘needs’ and ‘desires’. People love to talk about their desires but they pay for their needs.
Nothing matters but the continued creation and the delivery of value for customers.
When you deliver value every time, you set the stage for high product engagement, low churn, high net promoter score, and high customer lifetime value.
When users achieve their goals, your business invariably achieves its goals.
When SaaS founders complain about stagnant growth, I ask them about their daily marketing activities.
More often than not, they only do a little.
When you look at big corporations, they have huge sales and marketing teams and put effort every day.
If you want results, you have to market your business every day.
It can be anything from ABM-style direct outreach to social media posts, but it has to be every single day.
Sounds too plain to be true?
Consistency and momentum are competitive advantages that many overlook in their search for complicated 'strategies.'
There should be no shame in offering value.
Create an extensive content and outreach plan and try to stick to it.
At the least, it should have day and week-wise content that you will publish, channels that you will use, and the outreach targets.
Here is an example:
and so on.
Create a plan in a spreadsheet for the next 12 weeks and stick to it. Start small and keep things manageable.
You do not have to do ten different things at a time.
Do whatever is possible, but do it consistently and with high quality.
As a founder, you have a lot to manage on a day-to-day basis.
Decision-making demands critical thinking, and you can only make a few good decisions daily.
Do it more; it will tire you out. Do it less and risk creating a mess.
A good approach is automating repeated tasks and focusing on high-impact areas.
If you have ten decisions to make in a day, which ones of them will have the highest impact on the growth of your business?
Do not do something because ten other people are doing it.
Observe, analyze, and decide what works for you and what does not.
Fads are all around. They come and go fast.
Businesses built on fads shut shops as often as they get launched.
But when they have their run, fads are good, they help attract eyeballs.
So, fads are good as accelerators.
Ride the waves, get discovered, get new attention but build something everlasting.
People distrust anything that comes across as 'salesy'.
In fact, they will trust the casual advice of an acquaintance more than any expensive advertisement.
Use the power of being ordinary and scrappy for the growth of your business.
Forget about state-of-art designs and production.
Record selfie videos and product tours over Loom.
Write semi-casual emails while still being respectful.
Zoom’s founder Eric Yuan once replied to my scrappy email that talked about something valuable to him.
Focus more on sharing your point-of-view, capabilities of your product, and engaging with your users.
That’s all I wanted to discuss today on growth strategies for asymmetric returns. I welcome your suggestions, questions and feedback. Leave a quick comment below.
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