5 Hacks to Brainstorm Your Best SaaS Marketing Ideas

by Katy French

Coming up with good SaaS marketing ideas is increasingly taxing. With so many things to think about and so many demands on your time, it’s easy to feel completely drained. (We know this all too well.) We also know that when you’re feeling stagnant or disinterested in the content you’re creating, sometimes you just need a quick hit of inspiration to reignite your enthusiasm. But when you’re feeling tapped out, where can you find that inspiration? Right here.

5 Ways to Find SaaS Marketing Ideas

Today, we’re sharing some of our favorite hacks to get your inspiration fix quickly. Some are tried-and-true brainstorming techniques—and some may be new to you. Either way, we hope this helps you come up with fresh campaign ideas that get bragworthy results. 

1) Think about the proxy brands you admire. 

Everyone and their mom is always going to point to Nike or Apple as the titans of branding and marketing. But unless they are direct competitors, they should not be your guiding light. Instead, look at brands that also serve your audience and are doing something unique, interesting, or just exceedingly effective.

For example, when Devin Zimmerman, VP of Brand at Greenlight, joined us on our Best Story Wins podcast, she said that her team looks to Pixar as a major inspiration. Greenlight is a financial literacy platform for kids—not an entertainment studio—but their audience is the same, so Pixar is a perfect proxy brand to look to. 

As Pixar has mastered the art of visual storytelling to kids (and parents), Greenlight aims to emulate the studio by creating playful visuals and telling emotional stories that connect with their audience.

Similarly, here at Column Five, we absolutely adore pretty much everything Mailchimp does. Although we are a marketing agency and they are a marketing platform, they are a great proxy brand to glean inspiration from.

Tip: If you can’t think of any proxy brands off the top of your head, take a look at these smart SaaS campaigns to get your inspiration fix. You can also listen to our full episode with Zimmerman to hear more about how the Greenlight team gleans inspiration from proxy brands. 

2) Emulate brands that are pushing boundaries. 

There are two big myths that plague SaaS marketing.

  1. It isn’t emotional.
  2. It has to be boring. 

Neither of these things could be further from the truth. But because these widely held beliefs are so pervasive, SaaS marketers have a huge opportunity to stand out by pushing the envelope (and maybe even a few buttons). 

This is why we love to look to those rogue brands that take big risks and get a big payoff. For example, during our podcast conversation, Zimmerman also mentioned that Greenlight looked to Billie, the women’s razor company, for their voice and visual presence and Tushy, the bidet company, for their out-of-the-box marketing. (For the record, Tushy’s Twitter feed is one of the most edgy branded social accounts of all time. Take a look, but don’t say we didn’t warn you.)

How can you come up with SaaS marketing ideas that “stop the scroll”? Think of the brands that may have taken a strong stance on a topic, or pushed out a shocking campaign, or made you repost a hilarious video. You don’t necessarily have to copy them. But think critically about what made them stand out compared to their competitors. How can you do the same?

Tip: There are all sorts of ways to add more sass to your SaaS marketing ideas (see what we did there?). Start with our tips to brainstorm ideas that push the envelope, and try these ideas to create B2B content that doesn’t bore your audience.

3) Think about what inspires you

We often remind marketers that marketing is not about them; it’s about their audience. But when you’re looking for fresh SaaS marketing ideas, sometimes it’s helpful to look at the things that excite and interest you. 

What type of content stops your scroll? What types of entertainment are you drawn to? What publications or influencers do you enjoy, and why? Even if you’re not talking about, say, home renovation or cooking shows, take a step back and think about why the content you like resonates with you. If you like home improvement shows, you may be drawn to the power of a strong before and after. If you like food influencers, you may be delighted by their tantalizing culinary visuals. 

For example, Drew Hoffman of SentinelOne told us he doesn’t search for marketing inspiration from fellow marketers or Pinterest, as he feels it can be too self-referential. (We have to agree that this is a big reason why so many brands tend to look alike.) Instead, he finds inspiration from film directors. (In fact, B2B marketers can learn a lot from film directors.) So think about the things that interest you, that excite you, that grab your attention. How can you create something similar?

Tip: We’re always impressed by brands that create great marketing yet sell fairly boring or tame products. See this roundup of clever marketing content examples to see how much you can do—even if you don’t have a very exciting brand story to tell.

4) Look at what your audience looks at. 

Sometimes marketers get serious tunnel vision, focusing only on what they do (or what their competitors are doing). But remember you’re serving your audience’s needs, so you need to understand the type of content they prefer to consume.

For example, to connect with their teen and tween audience, Greenlight examined Pew research about youth fashion trends, media consumption, preferred communication methods, forms of self-expression, etc. to understand what their audience gravitates toward. Interestingly, the insights from this research actually inspired Greenlight to age their content up a bit (as teens consider themselves to be more mature).

For SaaS marketers, this type of research is a great way to really get inside your audience’s mind and tailor messages accordingly.

  • What content do they like to consume?
  • What brands do they like to interact with?
  • What content formats do they enjoy (e.g., video)?

Analyzing what they consume is a great way to get fresh inspiration since it makes you look at content from a wide range of sources—not just brands in your market.

Tip: One of the best things about marketing in this day and age is the fact that there is more audience data available than ever before. Take a look at relevant research to understand consumer behavior, where they spend their time, etc. (If you’re not sure where to find it, here are 100+ free sources of data.) Once you do that, you can create clear marketing personas and ideal customer profiles to segment your audience.

5) Creep on the award winners. 

When we’re looking for inspiring examples, we often look to award winners and nominees in our field. That may be the Shorty Awards, The Webbys, the Content Marketing Institute’s Content Marketing Awards, etc. Whatever industry you’re in, there are probably awards given for marketing in some capacity.

Tip: No matter your industry, everyone looks forward to the Cannes Lions Awards, which celebrate top-tier Advertising creatives each year. It’s always a delight to see the nominees and winners (especially if you are looking to push your own creative envelope). While you shouldn’t copy them, you can deconstruct why a particular piece of creative work and apply it to your own marketing campaigns. 

Where to Find More SaaS Marketing Ideas

We find that one of the best ways to stay inspired is to keep up with what the best SaaS marketers are doing. Here are a few easy ways to do that.

  • Subscribe to our Best Story Wins podcast. In each episode, we interview marketing pros to find out how they’re building brands and connecting with their audiences. 
  • Keep up on research. We’re huge fans of the Content Marketing Institute’s reports (especially their annual B2B marketing reports) to get insight into what’s happening across industries. 
  • Learn more about SaaS marketing. If you want to create strong marketing, it needs to be grounded in strong brand storytelling. See our full library of tips and tricks to help you connect with your audience

But if your results have flatlined and you’re struggling to make headway with your content strategy, some outside perspective can always help you work more effectively. Find out how to find a SaaS agency with the right expertise for you, take a look at our FAQs, or reach out. We’ve got the team, expertise, and ideas you need on tap.

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