Marketing: More Questions Than Answers with Tyler King (LessAnnoyingCRM)

Tyler King joins me to commiserate on why marketing a SaaS is so damn hard in 2022.
“It's exactly the problem you just said, it's like, we put effort into it. We tried to make it good, but we were doing what we wanted. We haven't given anyone anything they wanted" - Tyler King

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Tyler King:
Tyler's company, Less Annoying CRM
Tyler on Twitter: @TylerMKing

Brian Casel:
Brian’s company, ZipMessage
Brian on Twitter: @casjam

Thanks to ZipMessage

ZipMessage (today’s sponsor) is the video messaging tool that replaces live calls with asynchronous conversations.  Use it free or tune into the episode for an exclusive coupon for Open Threads listeners.

Quotes from this episode:

Quote 01:

Brian Casel: When it comes to hiring people to work on marketing stuff. What's been your approach to that? Like, are were you or are you ever like like you're going to be hands-on in it or I'm going to hire like a head of marketing to figure it out and run with it or outsource to an agency. What are your thoughts on this?

Tyler King: That kind of. Yeah, I'm happy to share. But let me preface this by saying, like, I'm this is my greatest weakness or like the thing that we've probably done worse the like just a terrible job in the early days. Like, For I did most of the marketing for a long time myself. My brother, who's the other co-founder, did some as well. We kind of like. So one of my weaknesses is outsourcing. I'm just like terrible at quick transactional relationships. So I've basically never effectively hired anyone that's not a full-time employee, which is I think, the opposite of most people in our space. The good side of this is like I think we've got a really good culture and all this, but the bad side is like it's not. I've never been in a situation where it's like, Oh, we need some quick copywriting. Let me pay someone for $20 to do some copyright I just would do it myself and I'm okay at it. But I'm not an expert on any of this stuff. We didn't have a real marketing person until two years ago.

Brian Casel: So like, no, the person who was working on any sort of marketing.

Tyler King: I mean, me, me. And then so our customer, the biggest team of the company is CRM coaches. Which is basically customer service. They get 20% time, so one day a week they can do other stuff. So we've had a lot of CRM coaches like enjoying writing is a common characteristic of people who like customer service. So a lot of them have chosen to write help articles, write blog posts, to create content like that, but not necessarily.

Brian Casel: that model of content marketing essentially. Right. Like having your, your, your subject matter experts, you know?

Tyler King: Yeah.

Brian Casel: Some kind of.

Tyler King: The problem is we're not subject matter experts like, you know, close the CRM where that's "stellies". Yeah. So "stellies" is like this Uber sales guy, right? He knows everything about sales. And that's why CRM"s are consumed by salespeople. I look at his content, and I'm like, wow, I wish anyone at LessAnnoyingCRM had that kind of understanding of how like we have no salespeople, none of us have ever done sales before. We're selling to salespeople. We're experts on how to build software and how to provide customer service, which is not what our customers want to know.

Brian Casel: Hmm.

Tyler King: So I agree with you. That would be a great model, but this is one of our great struggles, is the thing like we can write interesting content, but it is interesting to people who would never use LessAnnoyingCRM.

Quote 02:

Tyler King: I feel like most marketing attempts in my experience have failed, like, at the end of the day, you could look back on it and it's exactly the problem you just said. It's like we put effort into it. We try to make it good, but we were doing what we wanted. We weren't giving anyone anything they wanted.

And it really sucks when you have to market your marketing, like you make an e-book and then you're like, Okay, now I have to okay. How does anyone hear about this e-book? And it's like, if they're not already looking for it, like, this is just in Jackson Hole thing about like writing an existing wave, right? You're putting something out there even if it's good.

But if nobody wants it now, you've got a second marketing challenge of getting people to the top of your main marketing funnel.

Quote 03:

Brian Casel: You're over ten years in now in this business.
Tyler King: Mm hmm. Mm-hmm.
Brian Casel: We talked about how you have the "LessAnnoyingCRM" brands. Well, like, have you thought about just firing up a new product?

Tyler King: Yes, we have had a few misadventures in this in the past.

Brian Casel: Like, less annoying invoicing and less annoying Yeah.

Tyler King: So our name as a company is actually "LessAnnoying Software LLC" because this has been kind of the idea. Like, no one grows up and dreams of starting a CRM company. Like, it's a pretty boring thing to make. But the idea was like, let's, like, what is the core thing that everything else would build off of? And so, yeah, that has been the plan. And we've every once in a while, we start going down that path. And then coincidentally, the main business, like, starts doing better And we're like, it's hard to justify putting resources into this side thing when, you know, you could put the same resources into like you've just got a lot more leverage focusing, I think. But I'm conflicted about that.

Brian Casel: One argument to make for it, I think, is that you already have a huge customer base and an even larger audience like an email list. Right. Or at least people who have tried it in the past maybe didn't fully convert. But then you still have all these paying customers. Right. So you instantly have an audience to, you know, like like whatever new product you launch, as long as it's in the same set of needs, you know, you can instantly launch two over 10k MMR, right?

Tyler King: Like yeah, I think you're absolute.

Brian Casel: Right of launching it, you know, and that like you're at a huge head start against every other new SaaS startup, you know.

Tyler King: Yeah. So how do you decide whether to build it as a new product versus build it into the existing one? Is one question. I've struggled with What you're saying makes absolute sense from like our revenue. Like, if we build it into our existing product and it's like providing value to people and it gets a lot of usages, but you don't make any money off of it.

Brian Casel: Yeah, sort of depends on what kind of product it is, I would think. Yeah, the breakdown there would be it goes in and we're about to build a bunch of new features, which maybe should be their own product, but I don't, I don't know it, but the breakdown I would think is like if it's still in CRM land, but just bigger, more powerful CRM land or maybe like a super automated CRM, like that, 's like a new, more expensive plan on the existing product. But if it's an adjacent product, that some customers might find valuable and useful and other customers might not be interested at all, you know, then spin off a separate product. But I really do think that, like, you also have the branding advantage to like, you know, you could literally call your line of products like less annoying this, less annoying that, you know.

Tyler King: Yeah, I think it's a good idea.

Marketing: More Questions Than Answers with Tyler King (LessAnnoyingCRM)
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