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A Product-as-a-Service (PaaS) subscription business is one where customers pay recurrent fees (pay-per-use or pay-per-performance) to access a product they can’t buy upfront. This type of subscription model continues growing in popularity because of its connection with the Circular Economy and the potential for businesses to receive recurring revenue from customers.
Promoting your PaaS business comes with some work for your company to convince and communicate to customers why to get your product as a subscription. The same happens if you have an established customer base, you need to make sure that your team helps your business achieve sustainable growth over time, otherwise referred to as customer success.
If your Product-as-a-Service is not performing well, here are 7 marketing tips to grow it:
- Set the right goals
- Improve your customer experience
- Explain the benefits, not the features
- Don't underestimate your marketing efforts
- Ensure customers don't leave
- Be transparent about what you offer
- Free trials
1. Set the right goals
If you are heading towards promoting your Product-as-a-Service (PaaS) business better, you need to know what your goals are and what you are trying to achieve with your marketing efforts. Besides defining your goal(s), you also need to set some KPIs (Key Performance Indicators) to evaluate success.
Ask yourself or your team:
- What is the goal we are trying to achieve? Do we want to generate more awareness? Or do we want more customer engagement? Or having less churn? Whatever your goal is, it needs to be defined from the beginning so you (and your team) can define better how to accomplish this.
- When is the pilot successful and how do we measure what success is?
- What resources do you really need to accomplish your goal?
- How do you measure what success is?
- How many customers do we need to have a sustainable business?
- Which channels do we need to use to better engage with customers?
Keeping your goal(s) in mind will be a good starting point to determine how to better market and scale your PaaS proposition.
2. Improve your customer experience
Make every interaction with your customer count.
Customer experience (CX) is about all the interactions that your customer has with your Product-as-a-Service business. CX has increased its importance in the past years because companies are looking for ways to improve their customer relationships. Now more than ever, customer experience will be a key differentiator point for many PaaS companies.
When improving your Customer Experience keep in mind to:
- Create your customer journey map and buyer personas for your products.
- Connect with customers and improve your PaaS service.
- Offer remarkable packaging that makes people experience your product at a different level.
- Ask your customers for feedback.
Before growing your customer base, think of how you can make a better experience on your product and website, for the people that you already have. Understand their needs, customer journeys, what are they looking for in your product to pay it on a recurring basis, optimize processes, and recognize possible improvements that would benefit your customers.
3. Explain the benefits, not the features
Why would customers buy your product? What benefits are attached by paying a recurring payment instead of paying the full price?
One of the common mistakes when talking to customers is mentioning all the product features (when they don't understand half of them). Next time when talking to a customer, communicate your value, and explain the benefits of your Product-as-a-Service offering instead of showing features that they might not need to know. Keep your communication simple and concise without overwhelming customers with too much information.
Reflower is a great example of this. This Dutch startup clearly shows the benefits of buying their product with a subscription proposition, explaining clearly why to buy from them. Most exotic flowers are grown and harvested under really bad conditions. With Reflower, customers can access every month to fake flowers that are more sustainable with less CO2 emissions and that are insensitive to environmental conditions. Fake flowers last for at least 20 years instead of 2 weeks, contributing to a more sustainable planet.
Create a list of the benefits (not features) that your customer will receive by affiliating to your PaaS proposition. If you clarify your messaging by showing your benefits and value, customers will better understand what you have to offer them.
4. Don't underestimate your marketing efforts
After you have settled on some goals, and understand your customers better, you can start defining a marketing strategy. In the beginning, it might be challenging, or you might not see the results upfront, but that's why it is crucial to be consistent with your marketing efforts to either grow or maintain your customer base.
Keep your messaging consistent through your social media, website, and other channels you have. Beside this, it is crucial to track the data you have. Set some Google Analytics for your website, get a better idea of who is visiting your website so you can better re-target your ads, or re-focus your marketing efforts.
5. Ensure customers don't leave (focus on retention)
A reliable, satisfied customer base is essential for you to promote your business.
One of the challenges of PaaS is to make customers stick with you, to become loyal, on the long-haul so they keep buying from you. Losing customers is really bad, you'll most probably never recover them, and they will no longer refer you to anyone else.
Strong customer relationships are crucial for a good subscription model; without this, there's no space for sustainable growth. Your subscribers will become advocates of your PaaS business and will come back for more or to refer you with someone else. They will become a living promotion for your brand.
Monitor your customer usage and try to reduce any churn you might have. Collecting data is becoming so much easier right now, so make better usage of this data to strengthen your customer relationship with the users that you already have.
6. Be transparent about what you offer
Make it very clear from the beginning. People have the misconception that if they subscribe to recurring payments, that they won't be able to change it or cancel their subscription.
Having your terms clear and understandable for your customers. Showing the terms of your membership up front is good for people to have the pace and flexibility to understand how your PaaS works. Firmhouse helps you with any operational challenges you might have and make the process smoother for you.
7. Free trials
Customers love free trials, but from a business perspective, this isn't a sustainable way to grow in the long term. What you can do is determine if you can offer one extra month of your product for free if they pay the annuity, or if they pay monthly, they can get a discount.
It's harder to let go of something we have already experienced rather than haven't experienced it at all.
Another good option is to offer just two weeks for free (first months for free or less price and after that time come back to basics. Remember that this should be aligned with your goals and marketing strategy. Educate your customers on how to use your product so they can get the most out of it.
When promoting your PaaS business it is important to start by defining your goal(s), then making sure to use the data you have to improve your customer experience. Don’t underestimate your marketing efforts and communicate clearly your product benefits while keeping a consistent and transparent messaging about your PaaS model from the beginning. Offer something extra (if you can) that brings value to your customers.
Product-as-a-Service subscription models are increasing in popularity. If you are offering PaaS, then you can follow some of the tips outlined above to better market your PaaS Business.
In Firmhouse, we help you to scale your Product-as-a-Service business. Contact us if you want to learn more about how we can do this for you. If you are still considering PaaS propositions, then read more here about our platform.