B2B SaaS Marketing Isn't Broken, It Was Built This Way: Part 2
Updated: Mar 10
Why privilege leads to bad marketing.
Many software companies are a solution in search of a problem. As a result, no other industry struggles with marketing and positioning like B2B SaaS.
Tech cracked the supply code (build once, sell a million times) but they forgot one minor detail: demand.
Who needs the most basic of business principles when you can get funding with mere product-market fit?
I grew up in the Bay Area in the ‘90’s and 00’s. I majored in comp sci because I drank the tech Kool-Aid and bought the lie that starting a tech company was a foolproof way to make a lot of money.
(It's possible. But most startups are really bad at it.)
I now own a B2B cleaning business outside of consulting and writing.
Here’s an example of the supply part of the equation I’m speaking to:
Even if every single property management company in Arizona wanted to hire my business tomorrow, they couldn’t. Why? Labor.
Say I made the steamer my contractors use and every single cleaning company in Arizona wanted to buy one tomorrow. They couldn’t. Why? Manufacturing. Logistics. Labor.
Supply obstacles keep businesses humble and prevent them from scaling too fast.
Similarly, most industries require revenue (read: customers) to get access to capital. I couldn’t even get a tiny line of credit for my business unless I could prove that I had cash flow.
The nature of funding in tech fools companies, not investors – they know what’s going on, they made the rules – into thinking they have a business before they actually do.
And this is why marketing is so hard for many B2B SaaS companies. Because many have no one to actually market to.
Even if they do, many refuse to talk to their customers – a separate but equally perfect demonstration of B2B SaaS’s hubris and entitlement.
Now we’ve got “demand gen”.
On the one hand, it’s what B2B SaaS marketers should have been doing in the first place.
On the other, is the issue right there in the name? After all, only things that don’t exist must be generated. The name can now be found in B2B manufacturing manufacturing, but it started in B2B SaaS. (But maybe it's nothing.)
B2B SaaS marketing isn’t bad because it’s boring, it's bad because it never had to be good.
There were no “easier” days of B2B SaaS marketing, there were just consequence-less ones.
“Growth at all costs” never worked, its negative effects were merely delayed.
Marketing has never been fun or easy, and it never will be.
Why would it?
Marketers are investors. You’re taking someone else’s money and spending it with the expectation that you will make them more. That’s a serious responsibility.
Yet marketers just continue with their endless game of “shift the blame.” For 2022, we’ve got “boring marketing” and “CEO’s that don’t get marketing” tied for Villain of The Year.
B2B SaaS suffers from terminally unique syndrome. It is unique, but not in a good way.
It’s unique in that its problems are of its own making.
Supply chain issues, labor shortages, actually getting fired if you don’t deliver – B2B SaaS would be eaten alive in the real world.
B2B SaaS companies, founders, and marketers: unless you learn to respect the fundamentals of commerce and marketing (i.e. your customers call the shots, not your opinions), your business’s days are numbered.