Marketing your SaaS business during the Coronavirus Pandemic
16th March 2020
Without wanting to jump on the bandwagon this isn’t a blog we particularly wanted to write yet some clients are asking pertinent questions and others will likely have the same questions.
We started in the midst of a recession in 2009 and being based in the UK have spent the last few years with Brexit uncertainty and the impact that’s had on business. We’re not experts at this but can give our take on marketing your SaaS business in this difficult time.
Be helpful in your marketing around Coronavirus
If you can genuinely offer helpful advice for your clients linked to Coronavirus then please do, but don’t just dress something up to hijack a news story.
We were speaking to someone last week who has software for event and conference organisers. This is an industry which is being hit hard and a lot of companies will have important questions: Should we still organise an event in 2020? How do we deal with refunds? And so on. So, they have an opportunity to provide very helpful advice to their customers.
Stories on remote working can be helpful to businesses or people embracing it for the first time.
But don’t pretend your solution is the answer to Coronavirus if it’s not.
Help your customers but don’t look to profit from this
This is a fine line. Offering 50% off your product for the next 6 months may be seen as helpful, but it could also be seen as just another sales offer trying to profit from what’s going on.
If you know your customers are likely to struggle and consider cutting back on your software product you could pre-empt this. A lot will depend on the product and industries your customers are in.
If you have a low-cost product for a large audience the price is unlikely to be a big issue. However, if you have a mid to enterprise product, say for the travel industry anything you can do to help your customer’s save costs at this time will be helpful.
You may also need to consider more paused contracts and shorter contracts.
They’ll thank you afterwards.
Don’t do anything controversial or funny
Whilst you may have a creative idea for a fun campaign around Coronavirus – our advice is ‘don’t do it’! Yes, we need to keep spirits high at this time but you don’t know who will see your marketing – if its someone currently affected by Coronavirus (either directly or people they know) this is not going to go down well and could have long term damage on your brand.
Be realistic in your growth expectations
We were all excited in early January – a new decade, a new year and most SaaS businesses will have put ambitious growth targets for 2020 in place. However, an unprecedented event like this is going to impact the majority of businesses:
- Businesses will struggle and this will trickle through the supply chain
- Staff will be off sick more than usual and others will need to fill gaps
- At the same time many organisations will look to cut expenses (and those suppliers may want to cut expenses of their suppliers)
Priorities will shift both in business and also people’s personal priorities and you have to accept your SaaS product may not be top of everyone’s agenda right now! Many projects may go on pause or hold and have an impact on your lead and customer numbers.
This is not saying everyone won’t need new business, just a reduction. On the flip side people may have more time at home or in quieter offices to research or try out that software they’ve been waiting for a quiet moment to test.
Be there for customers and prospects who need you but think twice about that fifth chaser email and go easy on your marketing team or agency.
Assuming you can, carry on marketing
A key point we’re making here is on marketing related to Coronavirus as a topic. The rest of your marketing strategy should largely be unaffected, and you should continue.
We covered this in a blog last year: How to adapt SaaS marketing for tougher times. Read the blog for the full detail but a key point is:
“Don’t stop marketing! A recession is an opportunity. Continuing marketing investment makes it an excellent time to aim for growth as competitors make cutbacks. Across acquisition and retention, at a minimum, there is a need to maintain the budget. If you want to continue to power growth, then you are going to need to increase the level of investment.”
Whilst we’re not in a recession yet, the world is likely to be in one later in 2020 and official recession or not we are in ‘recession mode’.
Many studies show those businesses that keep marketing during a recession can gain big growth over their competitors that slow down or go out of business and can come out the other side a lot stronger.
Be careful when scheduling updates or emails
At the time of writing this article the situation is fast moving and changing every day. If you have email campaigns scheduled or social updates that may cause difficulty going out a later date, consider this when scheduling them.
Use the quieter time to do more marketing
If things get quieter on the client front and you suddenly have more time from the lack of travel you are doing or more home working you could use this time to do marketing. This could be creating strategies and plans, writing content, learning a new skill or any other marketing you can think of.
Carrying on through the uncertainty
We’re all in for a tough time now in business, and in our personal lives. Experience from previous recessions shows this uncertain time now can be the most scary – it’s unpredictable and sometimes businesses think the best answer is to do nothing.
We will get through this first stage and will still be in the pandemic. So a degree of certainty will come back, albeit it may be unpleasant and unprecedented.
And then we will come out the other side.
Keep well, be safe and let us know if we can help.
Xander Marketing information
Xander Marketing has helped over 175 B2B SaaS businesses succeed in achieving their business objectives with high quality strategic and tactical marketing expertise.
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