Today, the marketplace is filled with providers selling much the same thing. There is no shortage of providers for hosted email, backup, hosted VoIP, and other manner of SaaS (News - Alert) offerings. How can a service provider cut through the noise and differentiate its services?
One way, which most providers shy away from, is to go niche. It doesn’t have to be just one niche or vertical; it can be a couple. Yet each company wants to be all things to all people, which doesn’t work in a world that requires millions of dollars for mass marketing.
Even word of mouth works better in a silo than across the whole landscape. Since we are moving toward an integrated IT infrastructure, verticals will work better. Integrating your services to the software vendors of a vertical is simpler than randomly picking software to work with.
The other way is stop thinking that growth hacking and other tricks are going to make you the next Uber. Network effect aside, your SaaS play is not the next Uber. (Uber wasn’t even first, more like twelfth, but it out-spent everyone – to the tune of losing $1 billion in the first half of 2016.)
Outcomes beat features any day. Uber only has very few features, but it has one outcome. UberEATS is another outcome. Most providers do an awful job of storytelling. Think about Kickstarter: The video is the most important component. Why? Effective videos provide a good story, connection, and emotional response – a clear, concise story that is repeatable and remarkable gets repeated.
How do you decide on a movie? You decide by which stars are in it and the movie trailer! Where’s the movie trailer about your business? Movie trailers have a formula that allows for the story to be told and the listener to be intrigued. No one gets intrigued by a features list, a one-pager, or pdf. People get gripped by solutions to problems, outcomes, and results.
Think about Uber. Does it talk about the tech? No. Dropbox (News - Alert) grew with a growth hack trick that increased your storage size when you got people to sign up. It was all about file sharing – big files.
Now to do that you would need to talk to customers about their experiences and results. Have you done that? It’s unlikely.
Back to Dropbox, which has a simple UX and is stupid easy to use, I like to call that frictionless. The user experience matters. Amazon continues to grow because it makes it absolutely frictionless to buy in a number of ways. There are no obstacles to the sales process. That is a differentiator.
For all the people who idolize Steve Jobs (News - Alert), very few of them take any of their business cues from him other than to wear dark clothes.
Peter Radizeski is president of Tampa, Fla.-based telecommunications consulting firm RAD-INFO Inc.
Edited by Alicia Young