The Power of SaaS Storytelling Versus Storymaking
By Katie Burns
Jul 18 2019
A lot of SaaS marketing is made up. The best marketing is not. And the reasons for that may be way deeper than you think.
Yes, this is another post espousing the value of authenticity in SaaS marketing. But it’s much more than that. Storytelling in tech marketing is critical because what we’re marketing is often obtuse, complex, and conceptually new. All of that is challenging to communicate in compelling, spread-like-wildfire ways. But the story of why is much easier, much more emotional, and holds the gravitas of 1,000 esoteric facts. And when that SaaS storytelling is real, original, authentic and impassioned, it’s even more powerful.
When SaaS storytelling is real, original, authentic and impassioned, it’s even more powerful.
SaaS Storytelling is Far More than Marketing
But I want to take a step back and speak to something even more powerful. And that’s the power of real storytelling as told by far more than the marketing team. When the entire organization believes in the story, it’s infinitely more powerful. Everyone talks about it. Every department contributes to message momentum. Every task is executed within a single worldview. And yes, this does track back to having a rock-solid point of view. But more than anything, it’s about always remembering the why and making that the guiding storyline.
SaaS Storytelling Builds a Tribe
Not only do employees want to believe, so do buyers. Believing in something makes it easier to buy. And more forgiving to keep, despite inevitable shortcomings. Anna loves to talk about building a tribe, and the fact of the matter is that tribes churn less because they believe in something greater than the sum of its features.
The fact of the matter is that tribes churn less because they believe in something greater than the sum of its features.
Many SaaS companies, and brands in general, lose site of their authentic story. It often gets lost in marketing spin that is, and is often sniffed out as, hollow. That inauthentic messaging may bring campaign success, but it’s far less likely to bring enduring growth that comes from a believing tribe. Spin is not storytelling, it’s storymaking, and I hate it.
Growth-stage SaaS founders usually started out with a pretty solid reason why. It’s often a pain that we see or experience and one we believe we can solve. When we have a strong addressable market, it’s then a pain we believe many people or organizations need to solve. Wrapped up in that mission is the authentic story that people can believe in. And that’s the story that will make it easier to recruit top talent, attract impassioned customers, build organic traffic, acquire customers less expensively, and keep churn in check.
Of course it’s not quite that simple, but it is in one sense. We all have the choice to build on a foundation of authenticity or to execute short-term spin campaigns. You can smell the latter a mile away. If you’re chasing your competitor’s story instead of your own, you’ll end up chasing them to the bottom. If feature or price parity is all you worry about, you’ll seldom leap forward with true innovation.
Your authentic story can and should guide the entire organization to continuously innovate and elevate as a leader rather than a follower. Let everyone else spin and chase you and your innovations. Let everyone else spend more to get less passionate customers. When you tell the real story instead of making up a fake one, you set a line of differentiation that no one can cross. It’s your story. Authentic storytelling is a differentiator that defines momentum both inside and outside the organization.