I mentioned that many enterprise customers are loathe to talk about the products and solutions they use unless they have approval from their corporate PR team. In many cases they consider early stage startup products as a “competitive differentiation”.
Still, there are many companies (such as #Slack, Cloudera) that have done a great job in getting many customers to share their screen shots online and also blog / tweet about their usage of the product.
What makes enterprise customers want to share why they are working with a product or using it?
The 3 main reasons seem to be
a) Perception that the solution is associated with being leading edge, innovative or cool
b) Acceptance by peers and industry experts that the use of that product is a “safe choice” and
c) Incentives provided by the startup to talk about the usage of the product which leads to others in the peer group acknowledging the company as a thought leader.
If those are the 3 most important reasons why customers do share their usage of your SaaS product with others, how do you go about helping create a perception that being associated with your product or company is cool, safe or innovative?
I have seen many good SaaS company entrepreneurs starting to form an influencer advisory list, which is a private group of very interested, engaged and empowered influential community members – potential investors, industry analysts and a few potential customers.
This list of influencers is formed even before the product is ready and their inputs are sought before your product is ready or your messaging is clear. When these folks have the opportunity to shape your message and positioning in the market, they have more “vested” in your company and are likely to share your news and information.
Typically the influencer advisory list has between 7-10 folks and getting them to know each other (if they already dont) is a great idea. They can network and learn from each other and also help understand the other people’s perspectives.
In return for their time, some folks have given some of their folks the opportunity to invest early, still others have offered advisory shares and others have just paid for the regular meetups.