What we learnt from SaaStr Conference - and how to prepare for a SaaS conference to make most of it

What we learnt from SaaStr Conference – and how to prepare for a SaaS conference to make most of it

Missed SaaStr Conference in Paris last week? No worries, we have you covered ;) Team Postfity went so you didn’t have to ;) Simply read on for the biggest takeaways, insights and tips how to prepare to make most out of SaaStr* Conference (without getting a liver transplant) next time!

*[Disclaimer: this post isn’t sponsored by SaaStr. We didn’t (and don’t) get any discounts or free tickets for writing this post either (but of course, we wish! Wink wink Jason Lemkin ;)) simply sharing what we learnt.]

Contents:

  1. What is SaaStr Conference? 
  2. 10 reasons why you should go to SaaStr Conference
  3. How to prepare (and make most of) SaaStr Conference? 
  4. What we liked most about SaaStr Europa 2019
  5. What we didn’t like about the SaaStr Conference
  6. Our “results” from attending SaaStr
  7. Best quotes from the conference
  8. Would I go again?
  9. What to do after the conference
  10. Conclusions


SaaStr Conference SaaStr Europa 2019

What is SaaStr Conference?SaaStr Conference Attendee Badge

SaaStr Conference is a two-day conference organised by SaaStr “a social community of 500,000+ SaaS founders and executives sharing the best learnings, insights and 

practices around building and scaling SaaS businesses. From nothing, to Initial Traction, to Initial Scale, and beyond. Paying back and sharing key learnings from going from $0 to $100m in SaaS.

The conference consists of:

  • presentations by company executives that ‘walked the walk’
  • panel discussions (podcast-like)
  • “brain dates” – seminars in small groups and 1:1 with experts in particular fields

Why should you go to SaaStr Conference?

If you’re a SaaS business founder sooner or later you will feel like ‘nobody gets you’ and you will want to go to a SaaS conference to rub your shoulders with other SaaS business founders, get some inspiration on how to scale, and learn from growth success stories. And, of course,  hopefully find someone who will fund you. Or someone you can do a profitable joint venture with. Or learn about some new marketing strategies and new tools you can add to your marketing stack. There are plenty of good reasons (I came up with 10!) why you should go to SaaStr Conference as a SaaS business. Whatever you do, you should know your whyHaving clear objectives and KPIs will allow you to make most out of the conference and achieve your goals – so pick your top-3 before you go: 

  1. Inspiration – go to presentations and panels in the theatre to:
    1.  Listen to success stories by people who scaled their business fast  – e.g. the CEO of Podium (an app for local businesses) who went from 0 to $60 million (!) in 4 years – note how they started, did it, what they struggled with, what motivated them, how they overcame problems:

Lucidchart inspiring us with how you can promote a relatively unsexy product in a sexy way ;) 

    1.  Listen to best practices –  hear speakers sharing the sales, marketing and growth hacks, watch ads that went viral – learn what worked, and what not
    2. Conclusions drawn from practical experience: “The biggest churn happens at the first few months after the sale because you didn’t deliver on the value promise, because you didn’t fulfil your value contract”
  1. Learning about scaling, marketing strategies etc. – reserve your seat at more ‘subject-specific’ panel discussions, brain dates and network to learn about particular tools you can apply to your business. SaaStr Europa
  2. Networking – I know everybody hates networking (#metoo!) but try to talk to as many people as possible to find marketing joint venture partners, guest post swaps, and potential clients – make sure you take plenty of business cards and wear your company T-shirt! (even if it’s orange and you look sh*te in orange like me, yesss…)
  3.  
  4. Joint Ventures / Partnerships – as above, you should look for complementary services to:
    1. do a product bundle
    2. broaden your reach by cross-selling (e.g. offering discount vouchers to your respective audiences
  5. Funding – if you’re looking for funding, there are plenty of VCs prowling the expo floor for the next Facebook. If you’re a baby unicorn, put on a'[YOUR COMPANY NAME] is awesome and looking for funding’ T-Shirt or something to make it easier for them to target you.
  6. Promoting your business, PR, free publicity – don your company swag to promote your business to potential customers for free, hand out as many business cards as possible, get featured by the organisers: 
  7. New tools SaaS business – learn what you can add to your e.g. marketing stack
  8. New services for your SaaS business – find contractors to help you with e.g. getting funding, development etc.
  9. Produce fresh content for your social media channels – there’s nothing better than a (slightly tipsy) video report for your FB page/ insta stories. A good conference with easily supply you with several dozen pieces of content for your blog and social media: videos, photos, microblogs etc. – try to post live from the conference as much as you can, and take notes to follow up later.
  10. FUN ;) – Because I mean…it’s Paris. There’s wine. Lots of good wine (included in the price – good it’s only two days, ’cause liver transplants are expensive, I’ve heard). There are amazeballs baguettes, which are amazeballs because they are French.SaaStr Conference wine glasses

How to prepare for (and make most of) the SaaStr Conference?

Going to SaaStr Conference unprepared is a mortal sin in my humble opinion. SaaStr has a free app you can use to check who else is going to the conference – both the speakers and attendees are listed in the app.

  1. Do background check (cyberstalking needn’t be that creepy) on the people who are speaking and attending the SaaStr conference

Of course, it won’t be possible with over 1000 attendees, so select those that are relevant for you – they work in the same industry, are your competitors or potential partners:

  • check what businesses they work for/on
    • similar businesses to yours (including direct competitors) to find inspiration/ growth/ sales/ marketing hacks you could implement in your business (sneaky!)
    • complementary businesses (offering complementary products or services that you don’t offer, but targeting the same persona): e.g. social media scheduling > social media listening > email marketing 
  • check what audience they are targeting
  • think how you/ your company can benefit them – prepare a small gift (not physical! E.g. an interesting article on your blog that will catch their attention!)  for them
  • send them a personal message inviting to connect/ talk during the networking event. This is what I sent shortly before the event:

SaaStr Conference

This can potentially get you not only a meeting but also a profitable joint venture.

  • Print zillion business cards, get some company swag to wear – don’t miss this free PR opportunity, if you ‘go creative’ with your T-Shirts it’s a sure way to get some eyeballs (and it’s a great conversation starter).
  • Have your elevator pitch ready – prepare an engaging story about your business, what you do in it, and the benefits it gives to its customers – basically, your why.
  • Have a WHY for each session you’re attending – check the speaker of each session you booked seats for, prepare a few questions you can ask them in advance – it’s not only a perfect way to learn but also to stand out and make meaningful connections with high-profile people.
  • Take loads of notes, short videos, and photos – so you can not only revise the content of the conference (don’t rely on your memory) but also have plenty of authentic content to post on your social media.

What we liked most about SaaStr Europa 2019

  • Presentations (as opposed to panel discussions!) especially the Lucidchart presentation. A brilliant, engaging story on how you should test different things (like landing page design, best call to action on your pricing page) and how  you can market an intrinsically ‘unsexy’ topic in a sexy way:

Biggest takeaway?

Don’t use the freemium model unless you can somehow help the ‘free users’ to ‘graduate’ while getting benefits from it as well – go for a free trial instead:

Highlight ‘try’ or ‘buy’ – don’t emphasize free – ‘free’ causes a spike in signups but a drop in conversion. ‘Free trial’ may cause a drop in signups but results in rapid growth in conversion – and you should focus on quality rather than quantity as a small SaaS business with limited resources. 

Try to de-risk your experiments by changing only a small element at a time, and keep testing until you hit the sweet spot:

  • Brain date with Deborah Findling from SaaStr on “How to scale your content with a lean team”. Biggest takeaway? To scale your content operations, you need to automate as much as you can. Also: “consistency is the only way to scale” – you need to be very consistent with when you post what. If you usually post a new blog on Monday, and a new podcast episode on Wednesday – your audience expects that. Once you stop – they will stop following you (read how you can boost consistency with content creating using a social media scheduler here.)

What we didn’t like about the SaaStr Conference

Too many panel discussions vs. presentations. I felt that the ‘spontaneous’ interview model in the panel made it hard for me to focus on the content of the discussion. I preferred the ‘classic’ presentation with slides that helped to walk the audience through the speech – which was well-structured and had a clear introduction, arguments and conclusion. So – if you have an attention span of a goldfish like me – it may be a problem.

And…not enough coffee!!! ;)

Our “results” from attending SaaStr

We managed to glean interesting insights regarding:

  • our pricing model and the language we use on the pricing page  – gotta get rid of the word ‘free‘ in our calls to action to improve the quality of our leads – fewer signups, but more conversions and customers.
  • our FB ads campaigns – that we either do something creative and fun or not at all
  • our content calendar – that we need a lot more consistency and predictability in what and where we post to build real connections with our audience;
  • our marketing stack – that we need to implement better in-app communication tools asap (considering intercom, user.com)

We also managed to secure three marketing joint ventures – the first coming up with userpilot.

SaaStr Conference Postfity and Userpilot

Favourite quotes:

SaaStr Europa 2019

“If you’re below $100 mln ARR you should think CAC Payback, not LTV”

“Don’t worry about your competition – have a vision – don’t copy – there is no conclusion”

“Consistency is the only way to scale”

“Have a clear content schedule so your audience knows what to expect”

“Don’t fuck up your culture – hire based on your values”

“The biggest churn happens at the first few months after the sale because you didn’t deliver on the value promise, because you didn’t fulfil your value contract” – this is actually a pivotal quote that really resonated with us.

Your marketing as a SaaS business needs to center on the value you are going to give – and then your retention efforts need to focus on actually delivering on this promise (= fulfilling your value contract).

Would I go again?

Yes! Mostly for the behind-the-scenes opportunities though ;)

What to do after the conference

Obviously, follow up on the contacts you made. And keep following up until you get what you want from the people you want ;)  make sure you schedule some calls as with valuable contacts you want to exchange information with/ hire as soon as possible.

Conclusions

SaaStr Conference is a great place to be for an early-stage SaaS business if you’re prepared to do your homework before and after the event, and have an excellent attention span to follow all the panel discussions ;)

See you at the next event!