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Hiring a SaaS Content Agency? Read This Checklist First

By Ryan Law on Tue, Nov 15, 2016

Whether you're generating leads with blog posts and eGuides, nurturing prospects with personalised sales sequences, or guiding customers through the first five crucial minutes of using your product, content has a wide-reaching impact.

If you're looking to scale up your content creation and fuel growth, but you lack the in-house resources to do so, you might seek the help of a content agency. But how can you tell a true SaaS-specialist from a content-creating generalist? And what are characteristics of an effective SaaS content agency?

1) True SaaS Specialisation 

The easiest way to create a mismatch between your SaaS company and your content agency is to choose a partner that isn't truly SaaS-specialised.

From an agency's perspective, there are lots of benefits to touting a particular specialisation: you can market your services to a burgeoning new audience of would-be customers.

But it's one thing to offer "SaaS content services" - and another to understand the ins-and-outs of the recurring revenue model, the relationship between monthly and annual customer churn, and the pros and cons of bootstrapping vs funding.

Before you commit, get a feel for the extent of your chosen agency's knowledge - and make sure their specialisation is more than skin deep.

2) Real-World SaaS Experience

There's no substitute for practical, hands-on experience in the SaaS industry.

No matter how smooth the patter or how slick the sales presentation, it's important to dig down into any agency's real-world experience: whether they work exclusively with software-as-a-service companies, have hired former SaaS employees, or even have experience building, scaling and selling a SaaS company.

3) Full-Funnel Content Creation

For the average SaaS content agency, the buck stops with lead generation. All of their time and energy goes into marketing content, using blog posts and eGuides to fill the top of the funnel with leads.

Great! But what use are leads without the resources to close them? What good are customers if they cancel their subscription a month into your relationship?

Content has a vital role to play throughout the sales funnel, from acquisition to retention, and it's essential that your SaaS content agency can improve performance across Marketing, Sales and Customer Success.

Want to learn more about the role content plays throughout the entire funnel? Click the links below to learn more:

The_SaaS_Growth_Funnel.png

4) Agile/Lean Processes 

Many SaaS companies build their business around the Agile methodology, and the principles of Eric Ries' Lean Startup. And while there's no need for your SaaS content agency to operate in the same way (agencies don't - normally - develop software), it can be incredibly helpful to partner with somebody that speaks the same language.

In practical terms, this might look like a backlog of growth ideas, versus a rigid plan, or prioritising experimentation and customer development over relentless customer acquisition. In other words, you need an agency that's as responsive and flexible as you are, and able to change to suit the needs of your developing business.

5) Understanding of Product/Market Fit 

On the topic of your developing business: almost every SaaS company goes through a critical phase of growth, where they try to find Product/Market Fit.

Product/Market Fit (PMF) represents a tipping point, the first time when you're satisfied that:

  • Your disruptive new product solves an important problem in an effective way.
  • Your chosen market is able to sustain a profitable, growing business.

And far from being an abstract concept, PMF directly impacts the type of content (and growth strategy) your business needs.

Pre-Product/Market Fit, content is a tool to generate interviews, fuel discussion and educate website visitors: you're trying to validate your idea before doubling down on growth.

Post-Product/Market Fit, your priority needs to shift, using content to fuel long-term growth and creating a scalable, predictable sales funnel.

CSteve Blank"..most startups fail not because they don’t manage to develop and deliver a product to the market; they fail because they develop and deliver a product that no customers want or need.

Steve Blank

6) Realistic Target Setting 

This goes hand-in-hand with my last point: if you haven't hit Product/Market Fit, there's no way a SaaS content agency (or any agency for that matter) can guarantee your fledgling startup 100 customers.

With even world-beating content at your disposal, without PMF, there's no guarantee that your product is worth anything to anyone.

Instead, you need to look for realistic targets that reflect your goals and current stage of growth - whether that's generating qualified leads, securing persona interviews or (eventually) closing fully-fledged customers.

7) Strategy and Action

It may seem obvious, but action without strategy leads to an expensive mess of tactics, churning out purposeless content without any real direction.

But strategy without action also poses its own problems: the world's greatest growth strategy is useless without skilled, experienced people to action, optimise and analyse it.

When you're setting out to partner with a SaaS content agency, you need to find the perfect combination of strategic expertise and practical experience: an agency that slots seamlessly in to your business and provides the missing skills you need to grow.

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