FISPAN’s Senior Marketing Manager, Janelle Carter, recently attended the Traction 2022 Conference in Vancouver, BC, Canada which brought together experts and leaders in entrepreneurship and innovation. The event focused on products, brands, and growth and featured new insights on how you can stand out in a busy marketplace. Read on to learn some key takeaways from this year’s conference.
Thursday Morning - 8 AM: The event kicked off with a shot of caffeine and a burst of adrenaline as hundreds of marketing, product, startup entrepreneurs, and seasoned financial professionals poured into the grand ballroom of the luxurious JW Marriott Hotel and Conference Center, hands tightly gripping mugs of freshly poured hot coffee. The event — Traction’s 2022 live conference, was their first post-pandemic large-scale gathering, and the crowds were eager for its triumphant return.
Hosted by startup supporters Boast.AI and Launch Academy, Traction’s conferences bring forth leaders behind some of the fastest-growing companies (Calendly, Expensify, and ZenDesk, to name a few) to share business advice on a variety of interesting topics for small, medium, and large enterprise businesses — many in the software as a service (SaaS) space.
FISPAN’s own Senior Marketing Manager, Janelle Carter, was also in attendance to learn and grow along with the others. The FISPAN team makes it a priority to attend and support local companies and the Traction Conference was also a great opportunity to connect with startups, small businesses, and big names all making disruptions in their various industries.
FISPAN began as a startup. Today, well entrenched in its 7th year, and with 6 of the top 10 US banks as key partners, FISPAN is positioned to move to the next level in business growth and expansion. FISPAN has a core product — a SaaS plugin only available through your commercial bank - and a largely untapped market of potential customers. Previously engrossed in brand awareness and gaining top tier 1 banks’ attention and consideration, the company is now increasing its focus on gaining attention and increasing awareness with another key target market — business clients — the end user of FISPAN’s product.
“I find these conferences to be an invaluable source of information as well as inspirational in terms of generating new ideas and piggy backing off the crowds’ raw energy.” Carter replied when asked about attendance benefits for FISPAN.
“For FISPAN," she continued, "we know our target market are accountants, treasury managers, and other finance professionals handling AR/AP functions. We know our solution automates previously manual processes for that target market and we know its key benefits are that it saves customers’ time, resources, money, and allows them to focus on higher value activities but what is the best way to get our value proposition and message across in today's market?”
Enter the Event
Featuring a mixture of fireside chats, panel discussions, and impassioned speakers, each presentation was informative, interesting, and high energy. After the boilerplate housekeeping and introductions were completed, the content could then move on to what everyone really wanted to learn — what's new, what's working, and what should NEVER be done again.
The root of most presentations? How can you do more with less. Budgets are limited, time is precious, and customers’ attention spans are fleeting. Businesses can’t do the same tactics as everyone else and expect different results.
In 2021 alone there were 25,000 SaaS companies worldwide. All vying for customers’ attention and wallets via great value propositions and business strategies. So how do you rise above the rest and stand out in a marketplace that gets more crowded every year? The experts at Traction were about to share with us their magic formulas.
Takeaway #1: Focus on Product-Led Growth
The adage “If you build it, they will come” does not apply in SaaS services. Companies need to focus on product-led growth and customer-driven innovation planning. Product-led growth is a business strategy that relies on using your product as the main vehicle to acquire, activate, and retain customers.
This means building out products that your customers actually want instead of building what you think they need. Empowering your customers and listening to them ahead of new product creation, in-house innovation and new feature rollouts. It entails a lot more work and alignment from all departments in the company to map the customer journey and aligning all teams to create lasting customer value. Sara Hicks, Mailchimp CPO, challenged companies to “do the hard work first” by defining the following (termed defining the opportunity):
Param Kahlon, UiPath CPO, encouraged companies to reach out to the customer to ask “What else can we do for you?” to help support the product’s growth. The benefits of this type of aligned work style with the client at the center, can result in a shorter sales cycle as well as lower customer acquisition costs. Certainly a technique worth trying.
Takeaway #2: Collaboration is Key
In order for product-led growth and customer-driven innovation to be successful, companies need to stop “operating in silos”. Startups, growth-stage businesses, and even long established companies can be guilty of this: departments segmented by their own goals, KPIs, and objectives to meet. The message from various presenters here was that you can go far alone but much further together. Marketing teams, Sales teams, Product Management teams, and Customer Focused teams need to work together to put the customer and the customer journey as the focus of their KPIs.
This was further discussed in a panel chat with Contentsquare CPO Lucie Buisson, Loom VP Anique Drumright, and Eventbrite CPO Casey Winters. They commented on the ‘Ready-Fire-Aim vs. Ready-Aim-Fire’ tactics of early-stage startups and that once you establish your product and find its market(s), next it's time to refine it for those markets. Your customer is no longer “everyone”. To successfully do this, they also emphasized that collaboration is key. Collaboration between departments and especially with the customer and product user. They relented that this collaborative process will no doubt slow down the product development process but that the resulting product will be much better in the end.
As a result, a better product, carefully aligned to your core customers' wants and needs, leads to loyal customers and much more importantly - happy customers.
Takeaway #3: Experiential is Where It's At
The previous takeaways focused on business processes and how departments should work together to extract information from our customer. Jonathan Yaffe, AnyRoad CEO, had us take a different approach - start to think as our customers. Yaffe encouraged the audience to envision how they would interact, relate, or experience our product and brand. Yaffe, a former marketer of Red Bull, a company well known for zany events and original customer experiences, emphatically stated “We’re moving to experiences”. Yaffe emphasized that brands need to create an emotional bond with their customers as well as create a branded experience customers will remember — even with SaaS products.
For a bond to occur, the experience must trigger at least 3 senses to be effective. He went on to encourage the audience to imagine their best experience with a brand and asked “How should people experience your brand?” Yaffe offered other key aspects to think about when tapping into your creativity to help you draft a memorable experience for your customers:
“Engagement is the new acquisition” stated Anna Griffin, CMO, Intercom. Clarifying that personalized engagement is key in attracting and retaining your customer. The takeaway here is if companies can create a unique, personalized experience tailored to their customers, they will have uncovered the secret to standing out in a crowded market.