I prefer the ones in which the host chef measures ingredients in "handfuls of this" and "dashes of that." They pay most attention to the ingredients, and give only a rough approximation of proportions.
The more precise chefs I don't enjoy nearly as much, especially those that bake. Baking is a more exact science - chemistry actually - and it requires precise measurements. Most recipes for cakes are not very forgiving... something I learned from a tragic experience with a marble cake.
My approach to the marketing mix for software-as-a-service (SaaS) companies follows this same predilection. I tend to focus first on ensuring that companies are using the right ingredients in approximately the right proportions, before they get fixated on the precise measures.
Before a marketing executive at a SaaS company delves into exactly how much to spend on the assortment of tactical marketing programs - webinars, collateral, search engine optimization, etc. - it's usually best to ensure that they first have the basic ingredients on hand.
- Several generous handfuls of activity targeting existing customers. Customer retention is essential to your business.
- An ample dose of messages and materials addressing the concerns of IT professionals. You'll need to satisfy their appetite for information about security, reliability, performance and integration.
- A hefty dollop of brand awareness activity to go along with your lead generation efforts. With SaaS, customers are buying into your promise, not just your product. You need to win their trust.
- A thick slice of product roadmap, NDA's removed. Before a customer goes along for a ride, they usually need to know where you're going to take them.
- A few shakes of education for procurement professionals. They may not be familiar with the terms and conditions of SaaS contracts, so you'll need to provide an explanation.
And of course, the marketing mix needs to be kept within a budget that fits the SaaS business model. Customer acquisition costs can't exceed lifetime customer revenues.
So before you start measuring and calculating down to the final dollar, make sure you've got the right ingredients in the kitchen.