what Starbucks and enterprise SaaS have in common

Now 16 years since its inception, LinkedIn remains the number one used professional networking tool. However, if you’re team LinkedIn, there are reasons to be concerned. 75% of revenue comes from recruiters, and it shows. The typical user experience has become deleting endless “InMail” messages from sales reps and recruiters instead of creating and maintaining real work relationships, what it was built to do.

We think there's real opportunity for platforms that provide a deeper connection than the resume-esque format of LinkedIn. Ones like Substack which enables people to share and discuss their ideas via newsletters, and Dribbble, a platform which helps designers do the same for their work. We’re excited to see what happens. 


☕ When you think of Starbucks, you probably think of slightly overpriced (yet delicious) coffee, not enterprise SaaS. Yet they embody many characteristics that software startups should strive for. For one, they have incredible ease of access, with what seems like a Starbucks on every corner (just look at the map below). The law of induced demand explains that your ability to find a pumpkin spice latte anywhere you turn actually makes it more enjoyable. Starbucks also upsells clients in a similar way to many B2B startups: free trials. A barista offering a sample of new treats is no different than your sales rep offering a free month of a newly launched feature—both attempt to get a customer hooked and back for the return buy.

🍧 B2B marketing case studies are few and far between, so while not all of these featured in Sujan Patel’s list are SaaS, there are a couple of great examples. Drift showed they practice what they preach, and got a 63% message response rate by ditching lead forms and instead relying on bot messaging. Patel’s company, Mailshake, also proved that long-form content reigns supreme. They spent 6 months creating a cold email outreach playbook, which has since generated over 50k views and brought in 590+ customers. Dropbox’s marketing was the most creative—to get in front of a new audience, marketers, they built a microsite with an assessment tool that showed visitors what kind of marketer they were. The results: an ROI of 25:1.

📏 Monitoring your company’s CAC across different marketing channels is table stakes for SaaS marketers. The core formula (pictured) is relatively straightforward, but you’ll often see people take salaries or overhead out to show favorable results, which just isn’t your real CAC. It’s actually another variation of the metric that there is value in measuring, as long as you know what you’re trying to track and when to use it. These are the most common variations we measure:

  • Direct CAC: specifically looks at what is spent on marketing campaigns, so leave marketing salaries overhead, and everything related to sales out of the equation.

  • Fully Loaded CAC: the total cost to acquire a customer. Sales and marketing staff, overhead, and all of the tools used by those teams should be included. 

  • Campaign CAC: you can go in either direction of fully loaded or direct here, but in this case you should look at one campaign to measure it against all others.


Google Venture’s Three-Hour Brand Sprint isn’t really a book, but it’s almost long and information-dense enough to qualify! Jake Knapp explains that the goal of the exercise is to make the abstract idea of your brand into something more concrete, so when all is said and done, your team has a common language to describe what your company is about. There are six exercises in the sprint. 

  1. 20-Year Roadmap - For companies to succeed, their brand has to last, so write down how your brand will look in 5, 10, 15, and 20 years. 

  2. What, How, Why - Based on Simon Sinek’s TED talk, work your way down from what your company does, to how you do it, and ultimately, why you do it. The “Why” should be at the center of your brand.

  3. Top 3 Values - Make your “Why” more specific by ranking the values most important to your company. It sounds corny, but your top 3 values will say a lot about your business.

  4. Top 3 Audiences - Now turn the focus to who your brand should be speaking to, and write out the top three audiences. You can go broad or narrow with the categories.

  5. Personality Sliders - Position opposite extremes like “Young & Innovative” and “Mature and Classic” on the two ends of a sliding scale, and see where your brand falls.

  6. Competitive Landscape - Use a 2x2 matrix with “Classic” to “Modern” on the x-axis and “Expressive” to “Reserved” on the y-axis. Map where you and your competitors land.

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