by Michoel Ogince | Mashable
It’s typical to see hundreds of startups competing for a share in brand media campaigns. Entrepreneurs are constantly pitching a diverse range of platforms but they all want the same thing: some of those brand and agency dollars.
The problem is that even though startups solve important social business problems, agencies or brands can’t use them because implementation of the platform is not practical or the sales strategy leaves much to be desired.
So here’s the deal: If you want a brand or agency to leverage your startup then you need to focus on specific product criteria and certain business development techniques.
Software as a service (SaaS) is a software delivery model in which software and associated data are centrally hosted in the cloud. SaaS is typically accessed by users via a web browser.
In comparison, the hybrid SaaS model often needs integration with in-house technology, APIs, or significant input from creative teams. The hybrid model creates a barrier to entry by taxing the brand and agency for additional resources, which is why it’s not always the best option.
The SaaS model is essentially “plug and play” because it makes it easy for agencies and brands to deploy. It’s simple. You undergo a training course, receive a username, and login and away you go.
There are many pure SaaS social technologies. Leading examples include Vitrue, Buddy Media, and Radian6.
Focus on UX
It’s impossible to emphasize enough the importance of user experience (UX), which is the interface, graphics and workflow. In the brand and agency world a platform is often deployed across multiple teams like analytics and community management. Analysts and community managers have different ways of understanding the world and user experience needs to work for everyone. Let’s just say there are major challenges to trying to deploy a platform agency wide when the UX looks like the cockpit of a Boeing 747!
UX needs to be intuitive, slick, and clean. A good example is Brandwatch, a social media monitoring and analytics platform. Check out the screenshot below:
Have an Analytics Dashboard
For the brand, everything boils down to ROI. Every platform, whether it’s a social media management system, social TV application, or influencer tool, needs a dashboard that proves ROI. Relevant key performance indicators (KPI’s) must be present with a focus on engagement metrics.
Dashboards must be intuitive and well polished. Outstanding features include dashboard customization, different user permissions, and customizable PDF exports. These features increase platform efficiency and save the brand and agency time and effort.
Develop Business Development Technique
Once your product is agency ready, it’s time to make the pitch. Before you take out your best suit make sure you cover these bases:
- Target Your Pitch: When pitching a brand or agency, do a little research to find the best person or team to contact. Sending a message to tens of agency or brand managers via email or Linkedin will only make you look bad. So do your homework first. Search on Linkedin or ask colleagues to point you in the right direction.
- Keep It Short:Vendor meetings are often too long. Keep the pitch to 30 minutes, and be sure to get across immediately what the platform does, the value proposition, and unique selling point.To make an impression, do something different. At the end of a recent vendor meeting I asked for a product deck to share with relevant team members. The presenter pulled out a laminated one-sheet. It was simple and to the point. That’s not something most people will forget.
- Follow Up: The goal here is to avoid annoying the brand or agency manager. Your best bet is to ask how often they want to be contacted and what information they would like in follow-up meetings or emails. One suggestion is to inform them of any significant product updates and to keep agencies in the loop on the short and long term product roadmap.
- Consider the Pricing Model: Platforms that only have an annual license model are digging their own grave. Often, brand campaigns run for a short period of time or around a tent pole event (e.g. Super Bowl or the Olympics). Enable your technology to be leveraged in this way by having a utility fee. This can be per month or per campaign. Finally, remember that any hidden costs are a big red flag!
- Offer A Free Trial: To get your foot in the door offer a free trial with product training. You will have a chance to prove the product value and demonstrate your top-notch support services.