📕 SaaS pricing experimentations; Conquering one vertical at a time; What you should be asking your co-founder...

Welcome back to The SaaS Playbook, a bi-weekly rundown of the top articles, tactics, and thought leadership in B2B SaaS. Not a subscriber yet?

🩺 ARX (one of the first electronic signature businesses) isn’t a classic success story – only four years after being acquired for 100m, their buyer, Cylink, was ready to pull the plug on them. ARX’s team rallied to buy the business back, using a hefty amount of debt which they were able to pay off in a few years, setting them up for a fresh start. Boaz Lantsman, who joined their team after ARX regained control, explained how they turned the business around by conquering one niche at a time. The niche that really set them off was clinical trials, a category which a few of their existing customers already fell into. Realizing that electronic signatures could save clinics significant dollars, they poured half their budget into that target market. The end result – another nearly 100m acquisition, this time from DocuSign.

✍️ It doesn’t always take a 400 page marketing book to improve your game, sometimes a simple thought can help you reset and make you think twice about what you are doing, or what you could potentially do! This was a fun list of one sentence marketing tips which we liked, and hopefully can have provide a jolt of inspiration for you or your team. Some of our favorites included “you can buy exposure, but you can’t buy attention” (big ad budgets aren’t enough!) and “the more your marketing sounds like marketing, the worse it will perform”. Using simple language and writing as you actually speak always wins.

🛣️ The startup journey can be a long and lonely road, which is why it’s no surprise that many people elect to work with a co-founder. This is a person who you will be spending the majority of your day with for a (hopefully!) very long time, so conflict is inevitable and natural in many cases. That said, you should still rigorously vet your potential co-founders and ask the tough questions early on to make sure you are really compatible. This list from Philip Camilleri outlines some of the important areas you can dig into, such as how they handle conflict resolution, decision making, stress, and financial goals. A surprising number of co-founders kick these conversations down the road, but you will do yourself a favor by understanding where they land on these points upfront.

🍜 We consistently beat the drum for pricing as one of the biggest levers your company has to pull around revenue, but it’s rare to find good writing on the specific tactics you can experiment with. Stripe’s Growth lead Julian Lehr laid out more than a few pricing strategies which are worth noodling over, starting with the basic idea that founders can likely charge more than they think. He also covers some great examples of “the illusion of choice”, in which companies provide one pricing package that clearly makes the most sense for the user – as well as themselves – which the visitor is funneled towards. This usually includes some social validation (like highlighting the price point as the most popular choice) and a direct comparison to other plans to show how much users are saving. 

🚘 The subscription economy was already in full swing before COVID kicked it into overdrive, putting customer retention at the forefront of many people’s minds. It makes Retention Point, by Robert Skrob, a timely read, as it hammers the idea home that maintaining your existing customers and promoting their growth should always take a front seat to new customer acquisition. He poses some interesting points, like the idea that many companies try to deliver too much value upfront, which can hurt more than help with adoption. Having a limited set of resources available to them that are specific to their goals (asking what those are upon signup helps) will keep them on the tracks and prevent them from getting overwhelmed.