VIDEO: Seven Marketing Lessons Learned From Building Two Successful SaaS Startups – Lidia Lüttin

As VP of Marketing at Happeo, Lidia Lüttin is helping the company scale marketing and expand internationally. It’s not the first time she has done that. She did the exact same thing at Bynder where she built the marketing team from scratch, figured out how to look at ROI rather than vanity and helped the company pass $10M in ARR.

“Marketing can be one of the main drivers of growth in your company” says Lidia. In this keynote talk Lidia presents “Seven Marketing Lessons for SaaS startups” – and gives a very clear overview of what “revenue driven marketing” actually means: i.e. measuring the ROI of your different marketing channels, prioritizing those channels, putting the resources and the money into those that actually drive revenue, and growth.

In this video you will learn:

  • How to create a “value messaging map” – who is your buyer persona, who are the stakeholders in the buying process, and who’s the decision maker?
  • Why your sales and marketing team, and your CEO should “speak a common language” – and it should be the language of your clients
  • How to Grab the low hanging leads first
  • Why you should Focus on the high intent buyer
  • Why you should talk only to your main buyer persona (When starting out don’t make the mistake of ‘trying to talk to everyone’)
  • The three pillars of a content marketing strategy – Demand generation, Sales enablement, and Thought leadership
  • and Lidia’s favourite topic: why you should “make your marketing measurable” + why brand is the most powerful marketing tool (and it’s free)
  • Lidia also talks about, What skills your first marketing hire should have? and why you should have a very clear content marketing strategy from day one

It’s a fascinating talk, click play below to hear more.


* This keynote was presented at SaaStock18 in Dublin. If you are a Startup based in the West Coast wanting to change the SaaS world as we know it, Our Startup Program is for you 🚀. Don’t miss out – applications close next Friday, 23rd August.

Seven Marketing Lessons for SaaS

– Hi, everybody. My name is Lidia Luttin and I’m the VP of Marketing at Happeo and today I’d love to share with you the seven marketing lessons I’ve learned from my past experience. And I wish I would have known them if when I first started at marketing.

Lidia Luttin

So a little bit about me so you know who am I to tell you about marketing. I gained most of my experience in the Dutch now scale up Bynder where I got the lucky chance to join on really, really early on as employee number four and got the chance to build up marketing there. And I’d like to say we’ve done it quite successful.

About Happeo

As we went very early on for an inbound driven strategy and over the course of five years actually sourced 80% of total revenue via inbound marketing. So now since May I joined Happeo. For those who don’t know it yet, it’s a sit stage startup and we’re developing a social intranet platform for internal communications to communicate company updates better in an organization and create a top-notch employee experience.

So I joined Happeo to basically do the same thing again, start-up marketing from scratch and that got me thinking. You know, which steps did I take at Bynder that led to success. What to repeat and what not to repeat. So I’m actually applying the seven lessons I’m talking about today right now at Happeo myself. And so far they are working because since we started up our demand gen campaigns in July, we already managed to increase pipeline by 100%. And one more thing about me personally, I’d like to call myself a “revenue driven marketer.” Meaning I believe that marketing can be the main driver of growth in your company. I’ll talk about that a little bit later.

So what you’ll learn today, you’ll learn what to focus on and what not to focus on when you get started with marketing, how to start up demand generation, how to make your marketing measurable and contribute to revenue, and what qualities to look for in your first marketing hire and what team to start with. And we only have 20 minutes together so there’s not much time to go as depth into specific topics as I would like to, so I prepared some resources and articles for you to take home which you can download on the website written on the slides. They will be on every slide, so go check it out. Leave your email and I will follow up in person afterwards.

SaaS Marketing Lesson One

So let’s get started. Marketing lesson one: craft your messaging inspired by your best customers. So, many of you maybe hopefully already have found product market fit. That’s great; so you have found, so your product solves successfully a pain of your existing, of one of, of your clients. So now the next step is to find something I call messaging customer fit. This means you’re solving successfully a problem, now you have to find the right words to explain the value your product delivers to your clients.

Your Marketing Team, Sales team and CEO Should Speak a Common Language

And why is this important? Everybody in your organization should speak the same language. So if you get into the situation, and I was like that often in the past, that marketing is telling A on the website and in the marketing materials; and Sales is telling B in their sales conversations and, you know, your CEO is telling something completely different, then that can slow down your growth.
You should speak one common language, and it should be the language of your clients.

Creating a Value Messaging Map

So how do you approach this the best? When you start up marketing in your organization, then start with this. Start with creating a value messaging map. A value messaging map is a basic overview of, you know, who is your buyer persona, who are the stakeholders in the buying process, and who’s the decision maker. Also, it specifies who’s your target client and who is not your target client. So, you know, what company size are you focusing on? Which industry and so on? And, most importantly, it also contains value propositions for each of these buyer persona and stakeholder in the process.

The Happeo Value Messaging Map

So you can see for Happeo, our main buyer persona is internal communications. IT is a stakeholder in the process, and we have leadership, who is the ultimate economic buyer and the decision maker. Once you have created this, make sure that everybody in your organization knows this by heart. So now you might wonder, where do I get all this information from? Don’t make the mistake to make this up in a room with your team by yourself. Get actually out there and talk to your clients.

Talk to your Clients

So first thing I did, very, very first thing I did when I started at Happeo is scheduling interviews with five different clients; and I ask each of them more than 30 questions. Half of the questions were about their jobs, you know, how does your career path look like, what are your challenges, how does your day-to-day look like? The other half was about the product. You know, how looked life before and after Happeo, what’s the biggest benefit we bring you, and so on. I also recorded and later transcribed those conversations because I wanted to memorize the exact words our clients were using to express the value we’re bringing to them because we want to speak the language of our clients. So we’re speaking to them as we would be their peers and not just some vendor who tries to sell them something. I’ve attached a value messaging map, the questions I’ve asked the clients, and some more materials on the website for you to download. Okay, let’s move on.

How to Grab the Low Hanging Leads First

Grab the low hanging leads first. So this one is about demand generation. So once you’ve found messaging customer fit and you found the right language to communicate value to your clients, you should start, get started with demand generation. But not all leads are created equally.

Marketing Funnel: Raising Awareness

So this is the marketing funnel. Most likely nothing new to all of you, but let me just quickly go through to make sure that we’re all on the same page. So this is how we map an individual’s buying process into a funnel. The first stage is the awareness stage where your potential buyer has a specific problem and starts doing educational research to find a solution to their problem. So for example, for us, our main target persona is internal communications, so that person would go and start googling, yeah, how do I, how do I make sure that everybody in the organization is reading my updates?

Marketing Funnel: Demand Generation

So now moving onto the mid of the funnel, the consideration stage, she actually has found possible solutions to her problem. So she knows now that a social intranet tool, like Happeo, might be a solution to her problem. And then moving on into the decision stage, she’s actually shortlisting different vendors and, you know, signing up for trials, signing up for demos. So the thing is, when you get started with demand generation, it’s all about focus. You have limited resources, so don’t try to target the whole funnel.

Moving people through the funnel is costing a lot of time and effort and money. So at the beginning, focus on the decision stage only. Focus on the high intent buyer. Make sure that the people who are currently looking for a tool like yours are finding you. So how do you do that? Starting up demand gen is not very difficult. There’s some basic steps you have to do to get ready. So one of them is, of course, get your website ready. So add some basic call to actions to the website. Ideally they provide value to your target client in the end stage of the funnel. Think of a trial, a demo, a basic content download. Also, talk only to your main buyer persona.

Find the Right Buyer

I made this mistake often in the past that, you know, on one page I tried to speak to the IT person, the decision maker, and the internal communications person. And, you know, you will confuse messaging and you won’t be appealing to anyone. So talk only to your main buyer persona and that’s the person who does the research and is having the problem and is going on your website in the end to sign up.

Creating Evergreen Marketing Content

Then produce one evergreen kind of piece of content that’s helpful to your buyer persona at that end stage of the funnel. For example, a feature overview that helps them comparing different tools, different features. And, last but not least, put your company, or advertise your company and your content on platforms like Google AdWords and Capterra. And, yeah, it’s worth to pay for those leads because they are high intent, so they have a higher probability to buy than all those other leads in the funnel.

Marketing example: Our Call to actions, Channels and the Conversion Rates

Okay, these ones are some call to actions and channels and the conversion rates I have achieved with them. I won’t go through it through the time issues, but I have attached those for you in the resources so you can download them too if you want a benchmark of it. Next, nobody cares about your blog posts. This one is about content marketing. I’ve put that in here because I have done that wrong for a long time in my past marketing experience and I see it, I see a lot of startups also doing this wrong. So if you’re not belonging to the 1% of startups who actually manages to pull up a good blog and, you know, that drives traffic, that drives needs, and that actually drives revenue, then it might not be worth at the beginning to spend too much time setting yourself a target, you know, let’s publish two blog posts a week. Don’t publish for the sake of publishing. There is more to content marketing than just writing blog posts. You actually need a content marketing strategy.

3 x pillars of a Content Marketing Strategy: Demand generation, Sales enablement, and Thought leadership

So this is a slide from my content marketing strategy. You see how we split it into three main pillars: Demand generation, Sales enablement, and Thought leadership. So the closer each of those activities is to revenue, the more time we spend on it. And we have different goals with each of those.

Example: Demand Generation

For example, demand generation, the goal is to push organic to the second strongest lead channel so we’re creating a lot of SEO content, which we’re promoting so we can get links back to our website and increase our organic rankings.

Example: Sales Enablement

Sales enablement, the goal is to help Sales close deals and increase new business win rates, so we’re creating content that helps them to prove value to other people in the buying cycle. So for example, a security white paper or an ROI calculator.

Example: Thought Leadership

And third, thought leadership, we want to position Happeo as the category thought leader so we’re working together with industry thought leaders, you know, to produce podcasts or get article placed in industry relevant publications. I’ve attached my contact strategy template and some example content also for you on that site.

Make your Marketing Measurable

Next, make your marketing measurable. This is my favorite one because I’m a really data driven person. So, believe it or not, but a lot of founders I talked to, they initially don’t believe in marketing. They think marketing is all about branding and making things pretty, but that’s not true. Marketing can be one of the main drivers of growth in your company if you don’t let it be a black box. So this is about setting up your CRM in a way so you gain visibility at each of the steps, to each, into each of the steps of the buying process.

Our Lead and Sales Process

So this is our lead and sales process. You can see there, you know, which qualification is necessary to each of the step, how we map those into the system, which data we gather, and so on. I’m not gonna go through, but you can also download the whole flow. So what I wanna say is, if you manage to map this correctly in the CRM, you can actually obtain a lot of data.

Marketing Reporting Template

This is my marketing reporting template, so for some of you this might be actually a little bit of overkill, so no worries. But the point is, if you are setting up your CRM in the right way, you can obtain this data whenever you need it and it actually helps you to answer very business critical questions for your organization. So, for example, should I hire an additional SDR or rather an additional marketing person? If I wanna grow 200% next year, how much do I have to invest and how much leads do I need? What’s my payback period and why does my growth slow down and, also, how do I fix it? That template you can also download on my website.

What does Revenue Driven Marketing actually mean?

Next, this one is about marketing target setting. So as I mentioned before, I call myself a revenue driven marketer and I believe that marketing can be the main driver of growth in your company. So but what does revenue driven marketing actually mean? It means that marketing is attributing their activities to real sales numbers and not to vanity metrics such as awareness, lead velocity, or engagement.

So why is this important? You know, if you give marketing a target of increasing leads by 10% month over month, that’s really, really easy for them to do. We’ve seen earlier taking a look at the funnel so, you know, not all leads are created equally. Not all of leads generated are converting at the same rate into sales, so 10% more in leads does not mean 10% more in sales. And if you don’t know that, that can bring you into trouble. Practically, revenue driven marketing also means measuring the ROI of different channels and prioritizing those channels, putting the resources and the money into those that actually drive revenue.

Convert your Marketing Team into a Revenue Driven One

So how should you convert your marketing organization into a revenue driven one? Well, it starts with target setting. Have marketing share targets with sales. Have marketing source a percentage of revenue, and this, so this is an example of how my my objective and key results, my OKR, look like. Those are not my actual ones, but that’s how they’re structured. And I’ll also attach the full template for you in the resources.

Q. What Skills Should Your First Marketing Hire Have?

Okay, next. I talk to a lot of company, and many of them ask me the same questions. So my first marketing hire, like, who’s the perfect person, which qualities should the person have and how do I know if that’s the right person? And, unfortunately, the answer to that is not as straightforward as I wish it to be. Just from my experience and what I see other companies hiring and when it goes good and when it doesn’t go good, your first marketing hire is neither the 20-year-old graduate with a growth course. Neither is it, you know, the marketing manager from Microsoft with 20 years of experience. It lies somewhere in the middle. The easy answer is your first marketing hire ideally knows everything I showed you today, and you’re looking for someone with a T-shaped skillset. So that means someone, this is kind of similar to mine. This means someone with, you know, a broad set of skillset who’s able to get all the marketing started.

So, for example, I know about SEO. I can write a white paper and I know how to set up AdWords campaigns and I know how to set up our CRM. However, I’m not a specialist. So if we wanna bring AdWords to the next level, I have to hire a specialist. But I have enough knowledge in the topic so I know who to recruit and find out if the person actually is a good job or not. So the next question they always ask me is, so how does the team look like?

The Creative, the Growth Marketer and the Content Marketer

So this is my current team at Happeo. I was the first hire and I straightaway recruited two people, so our creative lead and a growth marketer. So the creative lead is developing and designing all our marketing creative. So think of website, banners, and so on. For me, that’s really important because I don’t wanna compete with product and our clients to get, you know, development resources and have a good website. The second person was a growth marketer. Basically similar skill set than I have, a mini-me so to say. But two brains work better than one brain. And I just recruited our content writer. After I have created the content strategy, so I knew what we wanna focus on and what skills I wanna look at. And just yesterday, three amazing interns started and they are gonna help us to localize our English speaking content into their respective languages because one of our targets this year is to grow into new regions.

Invest in your brand

Last but not least, brand is the most powerful marketing tool and it’s free. So, you know, everything I showed you today, it’s the basics, you know, you have to get that right. But it’s not very unique, so your competitors can copy that. So, you know, you might come up with the best white paper in the world, best converting, but it will take no longer than three months, six months, depending how sharp your competitors are until they have copied it. So don’t forget about your brand, and don’t think branding is expensive. You know, the most important thing in branding when you get started is, you know, become clear about who are you and what are you standing for and, yeah, be authentic and let your target audience, let your clients know who you are and what you stand for. And it’s possible to, well, run internal workshops and, again, talk to your clients to find out, you know, what should be your mission, what’s your vision, who are you? Okay, the time’s up. Sorry, I was already a little bit confused by the clock. Thank you. I hope it was helpful.

If you are a Startup based in the West Coast wanting to change the SaaS world as we know it, Our Startup Program is for you 🚀. Don’t miss out – applications close next Friday, 23rd August.