Hey everyone! I’m here again with our new guest for the interview series.
About Pierre Lechelle:
Pierre Lechelle is an entrepreneur, a consultant and an SaaS marketing expert. He’s been an entrepreneur since over 6 years and loves to share his passion with others via his personal blog.
In his daily life, he helps companies design and implement successful innovative marketing strategies. His main goal is to help achieveorganic growth, resulting in bigger exponential growth.
You can follow him on Twitter @pierrelechelle.
Here we go…
Q) Tell us about your journey as an entrepreneur and helping SaaS Companies grow and reach their goals.
A: I’ve always been an entrepreneur. I built my first company when I was 16 and I never stopped ever since. I’m currently helping other businesses with everything related to customer acquisition and retention. I basically do marketing and growth hacking for them.
I’ve started helping SaaS B2B companies slightly more than a year ago. I started out by writing about my knowledge as a way to transfer it back to the world. I now receive a lot of project request from people who want me to help them better reach their marketing goals.
It has been an incredible journey from the beginning. I love building businesses and helping others is also very interesting. I’m never bored.
What I like the most is that I’m able to work on completely different businesses in the same day. It’s incredibly interesting as I get to learn about many different industries and to target different consumers.
Q) What is your secret sauce (marketing strategies) to acquire and retain customers for your SaaS clients?
A: My secret sauce comes from the process that we are implementing during the mission. The main idea is to experiment with various ideas and to implement them with pace. At the end of each iteration, we measure what worked and what didn’t. We then construct a playbook of ideas that work for a particular business.
Unfortunately, there is no silver bullet of things that could work across all industries and all consumers. Before testing, the only thing that we can do is assume that something is going to work.
Data-driven testing with pace is therefore the only thing that can work. We ensure the creation of a repeatable and sustainable business model without endangering operations.
Q) How can an early stage SaaS company manage to drive both revenue and profitability?
A: Early stage companies should always focus on their product. Profitability will come in later. It has been said as a “general rule of thumb” that entrepreneurs should at least give 24 months to their company before thinking about dumping it. There is a great reason for this.
From the nature of a SaaS business and because the sales process generally includes a free trial, you’ll always need to wait for some time before making money out of each user. This graph sums up the situation very well:
Young startups should focus on Doing Things That Don’t Scale and Free Acquisition. I advise all of my early stage companies to start by talking directly to their prospects. At that point, your goal is to build something valuable. Acquiring users by yourself is perfect because you’re at the front line. You can, therefore, hear the feedback directly and avoid distortion. If you’re really on to something, these people will pay for the service and will offset the acquisition of new users.
Most startups will start with a free beta in order to try the product with real consumers. It’s a great way to gather feedback on the product. However, most interesting feedback will come from paid customers. They’ll be more engaged, give more constructive feedback and avoid leading you into features aimed at “free users”.
Don’t expect to be profitable in a few months. It takes plenty of time to get the product right and even more to get the customer acquisition right. Plenty of companies delay their profitability because they invest massively in customer acquisition.
If funding rounds are so common in the industry, there is a very good reason. Acquiring customers and getting your investment back will take plenty of time. If you want to speed things up, you raise funds. However, you shouldn’t raise funds too early. You should wait until you really need the money. Otherwise you will be giving away some precious equity at a lower capitalization.
Being profitable shouldn’t be your primary goal. Your main goal, as an early-stage startup, should be to build something worth shouting about. Once you achieve this, reaching profitability is an “easy task”.
Q) What are the best blogs or resources to follow on SaaS start-ups and marketing?
A: There are a lot of blogs and resources to follow on marketing and growth hacking. I’d say the best ones are GrowthHackers.com and Inbound.org. As syndication tools, they allow you to read the most interesting content that has been upvoted by the community.
Here are some other blogs definitelly worth reading:
Since I’m writing it, I’d also advise you to read my blog)!
Q) How will the SaaS market evolve over the coming years? What are your view on this?
A: I’m guessing that the market will become crowded. More and more solutions will see the light and consumers will become overwhelmed. Right now, if you look at Task Manager app, so many choices are available that it becomes difficult to find a good solution.
Marketing & growth hacking will become even more important and the companies will make use of creative techniques in order to better reach consumers. Innovative startups will win over bigger players who lack agility and open-mindness.
I’m thinking that job-specific application will become more and more mainstream. If you’re a hairdresser, you’ll have the perfect solution for your needs which will integrate perfectly within your environment.
Another guess, which I dislike very much, is that SaaS will get crowded by big enterprises who release software once or twice a year. Most enterprises will adopt a wait and see strategy. When they’ll understand that they can achieve greater profitability with a recurring business model, they’ll develop more solutions and invest massively in marketing. Since their investment capacity is so massive, they’ll outpace startups and it’s going to become hard to keep up. Launching a startup will become harder.
The market is passionating and interesting days are ahead. Marketing is evolving at a higher pace than ever before and it’s becoming a very technical job around creativity & analytical mindset. It’s probably the best time to launch your startup before too many players get into the industry.
Thanks for sharing deep insights on SaaS marketing, Pierre!