The main marketing challenge for a startup SaaS company

by Basiel

SaaS companies face a number of challenges when it comes to marketing. Nowadays, there are a lot of Saas brands around and the numbers keep growing. One of the greater challenges is to get noticed by potential clients. This is usually the first hurdle you’ll face when launching a company.

Granted, with SaaS there’s a chance you will be making your first steps into a novel market. Standing out could be not that big of a challenge, but even so, eventually you’ll face the rise of competition and you will have to start to defend your turf. That’s a given.

Once you’ve accomplished to build a brand that stands out, how do you convince a potential customer that your service is worth the price? After all, as you’re selling a service, you clients might not feel that approachability is your strong suit.

Stand out 


Don't rely on the same clichés and washed up stories your competitors are using. A lot of SaaS brands are defining themselves as innovators, committed to customer service, so don't just repeat what others have done before you. Be creative and look beyond what has already been done. As an entrepreneur, this should be second nature to you. (Re)inventing yourself is more than just developing a logo and a UI. Instead, ask yourself the following questions. What is your brand’s personality? What characteristics and values do you want to exhibit? What emotions do you want your customers to feel? Taking a look at your target audience is a great way to answer these questions.

When you’re still a startup, one of your main challenges is to get noticed. Live events are a real opportunity to showcase your product and its USPs. Focus on the “wow factors” of your solution, but also make sure to tell the history behind your company and its people. Simply get the word out there, so when potential customers pick up on your solutions and consider them, you’ll be in the running at least.

It might seem counterintuitive — especially for SaaS brands — but with the ubiquity of digital marketing nowadays, face-to-face interactions are really important and can play a key role in the deciding process of prospects. Many tech buyers still want to get to know their partners in person to separate contenders from pretenders. Of course, depending on where you stand in the market, you’ll have a different focus when attending live events. Either way, as more than 90% of B2B marketers invest in event marketing today, you won’t be the only one there. So the problem once again arises: how do you stand out?

Be approachable

One of the most important things when it comes to being approachable as a brand is the tone of voice you use to communicate with your (potential) customers. This can really set you apart from the competition as it can make the difference between reaching customers that want to engage with you and prospects that quickly forget you or never even notice you.

Achieving a convincing and approachable brand voice requires some distinct qualities and communication skills.
The first step to a personal experience for your customers is to make sure that your brand and your brand’s messages reflect your own personality. Show that there are real people working for your company, no robots. This makes your brand familiar and instantly more approachable.
People want to relate to you, so don’t take yourself too seriously (which can be alienating).
Don’t be afraid to use humor, as it’s a powerful human emotion that is capable to forge strong relationships. Don't overdo it, of course, and always keep it PC and clean. 
Avoid buzzwords and corporate speak. Try to keep your message as informal and casual as possible and turn your brand voice into something conversational. If you want people to communicate with you, don't make it too hard on them. 

Word of mouth

Word of mouth is a very effective way to grow your business. Not only is it extremely scalable, it’s also dirt cheap. In order to benefit from word of mouth, you first need to build a brand that people love and relate to. A brand is not just your slogan and it’s not just your logo. It’s the sum of every single touchpoint your (potential) customer has with you and your company. The greatest influence on your brand are your go-to-market “teams”: marketing, sales and yes, happy customers!

There are different ways to stand out and to optimize word of mouth advertising. Let’s focus on something that more and more SaaS companies are adding to their marketing mix: custom merchandise.

It’s not just a T-shirt with a logo printed on

Events and merchandise have always been rather inseparable. There's several reasons why. 

  • Custom merchandise (apparel) extends your event’s brand value. It’s a great way to drive brand awareness beyond the day of the event. Getting customers / attendees to wear your merchandise is a very powerful endorsement of your brand. Invest in quality merchandise that goes beyond just a logo on a t-shirt. Make it memorable, make it cool, make it stand out. That way there’s a big chance those same attendees will wear your — in this case — t-shirt beyond the event and your brand gets continued exposure.
  • Custom merchandise is a way to engage with your audience. Attendees show their support, approval and attendance. Or they take it home as something to commemorate the event. Make sure they are able to. Merch strengthens the connection between your brand and your customers / audience.
  • Custom merchandise can be a source of extra revenue. Integrate merchandise in your event strategy and you’ll be creating clothing people actually want to wear and keep wearing. And you’ll be earning some extra money in the process.


When it comes to brand awareness, nothing is as easy or practical as customised apparel. There are a lot of benefits:

  • Everybody wears clothes and knows how to put them on. They are familiar and need no introduction. They outlast any other type of marketing or advertisement. Just think about it. How long have you owned the oldest t-shirt in your closet? Exactly.
  • A shirt or sweater with your logo / design turns the people who wear them into walking billboards. They go places no other advertisement can go.
  • A nice, high-quality product tends to increase brand loyalty, especially when it’s given away for free — but not necessarily.
  • A print on a garment can always spark an interesting conversation. If that print includes your logo, all of a sudden people are talking about your brand, turning into brand evangelists.

    Meet our merchandise hero: the T-shirt


    It’s a no-brainer. Everybody owns T-shirts. They are easy to wear and their marketing possibilities are endless. Logo T-shirts have even been named one of the hottest fashion trends of 2017 ( Ever since the T-shirt became part of the everyday wardrobe in the sixties, it has never been out of style. In 50 years, it will still be cool.

    By now, everyone should acknowledge the power of branded apparel. Next time you’re at your local shopping center, out in town, at an event, … take a look around at what everybody is wearing. Just count how many clothes you see with a brand name on it. You’ve just been marketed to, many times over.

    At the end of the day, you and your employees have got to wear clothes. Why not market your product or service? During daily life, a T-shirt is the ideal garment, at more formal events, custom corporate clothing will help you stand out in a sea of suits.

    So … get out there, get noticed and get personal. Merchandise Essentials can help every step of the way. 

Topics:Merchandise MarketingEmployer Branding

About Merchandise Essentials

In 2015 Merchandise Essentials consisted out of two young guys with big dreams. Working out of their parents’ living room they started turning those dreams into goals.

The living room became a 600m2 office space with a showroom. The two man team turned into a workforce of more than 30 young and talented individuals who are now designing and producing merchandise for brands and businesses in 43 countries.


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