Sales and marketing of software has been my thing for 10+ years. Mostly sales. Content Marketing has been a totally new concept for me since February 2015 and the launch of SaaScribe. I wrote my first blog post on February 8th, a day after the birth of my daughter, veins full of Red Bull and adrenaline, and i’ve published 90 articles since then, without the Red Bull, at varying levels of bad to good to great. Some with over 600 Shares, many around 300 shares mark (before twitter removed share counts). Some so bad that I’ve buried them, but if you look hard enough you’ll find them.
I’m learning all the time. As the founder of SaaScribe, my role is multifaceted. I’ve got a lot of hats. And I guess the hat i’m wearing the most during the week looks a bit like this
I’m learning this craft on the job. By doing. Succeeding sometimes. Failing other times. learning lots from others…
I can see the progress i’m making and also enjoyment in what i’m doing. And i’ve learnt that Content Marketing is so much more than just writing blog posts. There’s so much that you can be doing, both online and offline that when pieced together, and done right, earns you the true hat of the content marketer and gets results for your startup.
As I accelerate my learning and craft, i’ve been ‘trying’ to read a lot. Two of my favourite books this year that have helped me understand more about content marketing and trying to grow a startup are:
Dan Norris, Content Machine
Gabriel Weinberg’s – Traction
One thing they have in common, whilst only a very small part in each book, is the importance of building a community both online and offline. Buy the books. Read them. I implore you.
You can connect with people online sure. I’ve connected with a ton this year. You can build a community online. Absolutely. I’m trying to do that on Slack right now. But a true community to me, to Dan Norris, to Gabriel Weinberg has parts in the online and offline world.
Why do it though?
- It gives an unfair advantage to your startup. Connecting with people that care about your company, your product, the topic you write about. It helps you get feedback. I’ve had some great feedback from running meetups from people far smarter than me,
- It helps with initial traction. SaaScribe is still at initial traction stage and by organising community events, The SaaS Meetup series, i’ve had at least 240 people from 2 events that had never heard of SaaScribe before now know what SaaScribe is.
- It can position you as an authority within your domain, and that’s paying off in spades for those listed below and hopefully will for SaaScribe and for you if you try.
Here’s a list of those building world class communities that I hope to learn from and if you’re building a SaaS company or are in marketing, you could learn from these communities too:
Jason Lemkin has built the leading global community of SaaS Founders with SaaStr. An epic resource about sales, revenue and scaling SaaS companies. Lemkin writes pretty much all the content. Almost daily Quora answers or the twice a week in depth posts that come from Lemkins encyclopedic knowledge of SaaS, having founded Echosign and since it’s acquisition by Adobe, joined the VC world with daily exposure to so many great SaaS founders and companies that his powers grow stronger by the day. But SaaStr wouldnt be a community just with the blog. SaaStr throws summer and winter Soirees, even coming to the UK and having 400 founders fly in from across Europe to attend. And SaaStr Annual, launched earlier this year, will return in 2016 in February, with 5000 Founders, execs, VCs. A global SaaS community going from strength to strength.
Sales Hacker is the community to join if you want to learn about sales automation, the burgeoning tech sales stack industry and building a Sales machine. Max Altschuler is the driving force behind Sales Hacker, which executes the online/offline model of community to perfection. Asides from the community driven blog, theres a Linkedin community of almost 5000 members, Sales Hacker workshops and the recent sold out SalesStack conference with an A+ lineup including Tomasz Tunguz, Jason Greene, Jason Lemkin, Jill Rowley and more.
The leading community for inbound marketers created by the folks at HubSpot. A staggering 140,395 members of inbound.org, the online community, where the worlds inbound marketers and startup founders (often wearing content marketing hats like me) gather to take part in AMAs with the likes of Rand Fishkin and post articles for upvotes, normally with shouty loud titles such as How to get 10,000 followers fast and easy. There are also Inbound meetups and of course an Annual conference, called, Inbound. 15,000 inbound marketers/disciples/HubSpot advocates attended the conference this year where you could hear from the likes of Aziz Anzari, Chelsea Clinton and Marc Maron….and some marketing folk too.
Pulse is a major driving force behind The customer success movement. The movement has really exploded this year and the conference, brought to you by Anthony Kennada and his team at Gainsight is growing as fast as Dreamforce in it’s first 3 years. Pulse is largely an offline community via the Pulse Conferences in the US and Europe, with PulseLocal events springing up across the globe from Barcelona to Pittsburgh. The next Pulse Conference is in May 2016, in oakland California and expect 6000+ customer success community members to join. You can get early bird tickets now btw
Read my review of Pulse Europe here
Slack communities – The new newsletter?
Slack communities are the new, er, Slack communities….
Actually, the new newsletter someone said to me recently. Slack Communities are often small niche communities that have been springing up a lot this year as the leading content marketers test this channel out to support their business for online community building. I’ve read about the death of the forum, and whilst not entirely convinced, I can see the argument that they are a little out of date and stagnating. Personally, I have not participated in any LinkedIN groups since 1984….Well, even if I exaggerate you get my point.
Slack however has a million and one use cases outside of team communication and being a channel for real time community is fast climbing as the most popular use case, that i’ve seen. I’ve given it a go and started my own SaaS community, The SaaS Founders Club which currently has 90 members, all founders of SaaS Startups, discussing pricing, marketing, product, customer success and more.
I’ve also joined by invitation:
SaaS Meetup Series and SaaStock 2016
Using my motto of 2015, #JFDI, and learning from amongst others, those listed above, I helped organise the SaaS Meetup series for SaaS Founders and professionals to come together, network, learn from each other and hear some awesome talks from experienced entrepreneurs and leaders in the SaaS industry. We had 121 people sign up for the London Meetup with about 40% attrition rate on the night and some amazing talks from Duane Jackson, Janna Bastow, Paul Joyce and John Ndege. Then I brought the series to Dublin. 135 signed up and about 85 turned up on the night to network and hear great talks from Connor Keppel, Liam Corcoran, Des Martin, John Collins and Ed Shelley. It was an amazing evening and I’ve got 3 more planned already for 2016 in London, Dublin and Berlin. It takes some effort but probably a lot less than you think. Your SaaS Startup could be doing something similar. Most of the 135 people that signed up for the Dublin meetup had never heard of SaaScribe before. So that helped with SaaScribe build some brand awareness and credibility. It helped those that attended more though. As the quality of the talks, available to view now, were like gold dust for content marketers at SaaS Startups. Free gold dust! From the meetups, to something bigger. Next Week I plan to bring you some news on Europe’s first SaaS Conference, SaaStock 2016.
What are you doing?
If you’re a SaaS Startup founder or marketer. What is your involvement in community? What plans have you for 2016? I say to you that you should embrace both offline and online channels as communities. Build your own. Gainsight held their first event after they had just 60 customers. Join existing communities and grow your business, network and knowledge base. Dont sit at home watching netflix, as building a community is the new black, not orange.
It’d be great to hear what you think about community building in the comments section below