By now, it’s simple and clear: disruption never stops. New startups arise every year to tackle challenges ranging from tech to travel. Existing businesses can either push themselves to innovate and explore new solutions or step aside as an upstart comes to take the crown.
Last year, businesses like Calm, Robinhood, Figma, and Patreon made headlines as they saw their valuations soar. The global pandemic struck fear in the hearts of many, but some startups saw demand for their services skyrocket during the worst of times. Doordash, for instance, briefly reached a $30 billion valuation after its IPO in December.
For every winner, though, several companies close shop. Investopedia reports that 11 out of 12 startups fail, confirming that startup success requires a combination of talent, determination, and more than a little luck.
Who will be the winners and losers of 2021? Hopefully, these businesses won’t have to contend with a situation as rocky as last year’s. The road to startup success is never easy, though. Pandemic or no pandemic, the top startups of 2021 will need to be clever, creative, and competitive to rise above the rest.
Here are some of the top trendy startups to watch this year:
All startups fill a specific need, and TeamSense solved a vital problem in 2020: Covid employee screening. This startup began as a tool to help companies discreetly ask their employees some simple screening questions to determine if they have COVID-19 symptoms. To stay competitive in the new year, the company has evolved its value proposition. The focus has broadened into an employee communication tool.
Many employees are hesitant to give employers any type of access to their phones, and that includes using their phones as a means to communicate with them about work. To change that perception and ensure quick, direct access between employee and employer — TeamSense came up with a non-invasive system that uses a text-like system to help companies better connect with their employees.
Using evaluations or daily check-ins, an employee communications tool is vital — especially for workforces that may not meet face to face every day. As Work-From-Home continues amid COVID, TeamSense will also be expanding into a text-based employee call system in the near future. When looking at startups making moves this year, TeamSense is one to watch as they continue to grow and innovate.
Emerging in May 2020, Topia has proved to be an essential communication tool for remote culture in work and personal use for today’s pandemic environment. Topia offers users an online community where they can build and join worlds, hop in and out of conversations, and build relationships and connections despite the restrictions and challenges of being apart.
Merging aspects of gaming, video communication, and online portals, users have the creative freedom to organize unique experiences, like attending and interacting in a virtual wedding. This startup has already stirred the pot, and offers a variety of alternatives for how we must interact now. They have opened the door to new social and cultural norms.
Initially developed to be a simple document generation tool for a small lender in 2013, Mortgage Automator officially launched in 2019 as a cloud-based loan origination and servicing platform. Two years later, Automator has grown its team from 5 to 35 people, with over 10 billion dollars worth of loans processed through the system.
Many private lenders struggle to keep their numerous files and clients organized, with paperwork taking up most of their time. Between compliance reports to title company documents, there are a lot of things a lender is balancing during the very important loan process.
Mortgage Automator stepped up to help solve that issue. Not only do they optimize the business processes for these private lenders, but they also automate some of the more tedious steps to save lenders time and increase efficiency. From simple paperwork to communication and payment processing, they are an end-to-end solution. In a market that’s moving towards automation, this new startup is one to watch as they grow in the coming year.
Online event software company Hopin had a wild year in 2020, raising three funding rounds and eclipsing $2 billion. As companies cautiously return to work in 2021, some might see a slowdown for Hopin on the horizon. The growth may not come quite as quickly as it did last year, but that’s no reason to believe Hopin won’t be impressive this year.
With all that funding, plenty of attention, and a growing user base, Hopin is primed for even more expansion. The company is already profitable, — and its leaders say, they always intended to push the limits of hybrid events with both online and in-person components. Plans for virtual reality tech, extensive integrations, and more make Hopin one to watch.
Zoom won the video conference war of 2020, but Whereby refuses to go away quietly. Competing with Zoom and Google Hangouts for users, Whereby has established itself as an easy, no-fuss video communications tool with a variety of helpful features. Users can pick personalized URLs and meet in their browsers on both desktop and mobile.
Whereby stands out in an increasingly crowded video space thanks to its ease of use and focus on privacy. While Zoom has made the news for the wrong reasons in the privacy space, Whereby champions its platform as the go-to video solution for privacy in online chats.
HackerOne takes the focus on privacy one step further. Promoting itself as a hacker-led startup, HackerOne provides hacking services to help businesses identify and patch their weak points. Who better to catch a thief than a thief?
HackerOne has raised several funding rounds, most recently a $40 million Series D round in 2019. The company has gained notoriety for its public hackathons, where white hat hackers attempt to gain access to secure systems at well-known brands for bounties.
Companies today fully recognize how dangerous security breaches can be, making HackerOne a top startup to watch this year.
B2B services? Check. Artificial intelligence? Check. Rabid demand? Yep.
Algolia provides smart search functionalities to help websites create better user experiences for their visitors and customers. Already serving more than 100 billion searches per month, Algolia now offers a whole host of search-related products for businesses.
While Algolia looks like a more mature business than some others on this list, don’t be fooled. The company is still hungry for growth, and its market penetration and a robust catalog of great services will make this company a force in 2021. When names like Stripe, Slack, and Intuit trust their search to Algolia, its success should come as no surprise.
These six startups are all poised for success in 2021, but only a few weeks have passed. Which other businesses will emerge from the unknown to become household names this year? It’s too early to tell for sure, but with names like these on the rise, startups looking to steal the spotlight have their work cut out.
Image Credit: ono kosuki; pexels
Retirement Planning Tips for the Self-Employed
For the self-employed, retirement planning can be a bit more complicated than for the rest of the population. They don’t have the benefit of an employer-sponsored plan and an HR department where they’ll find counseling and advice on planning for their retirement years. However, that doesn’t mean the self-employed can’t have a comfortable retirement or that they should work until they drop. With a little bit of planning and creativity, self-employed individuals can save enough for a laid-back retirement full of fun, travel, and well-earned rest. Here are eleven tips to get you started.
Tip #1: Start saving for retirement as much and as early as possible
When we’re young, it’s hard to focus on long-term goals like retirement, and we tend to focus much more on our immediate needs. This includes things like buying a house or a car, taking care of student debt, paying monthly bills, and more. If you’re a passionate entrepreneur running your own business, even things like housing and a car may come second in terms of priorities; you usually focus all of your time and energy on business management and growth, so retirement planning falls way behind.
However, if you want a comfortable retirement, the best time to start saving was yesterday; the next best time is today. At this point, what matters is not how much you save for retirement every month or year (we’ll cover that in a moment). What really matters is to get started.
However, if you want to retire comfortably, you must start saving as much as possible as early as possible. The sooner you start contributing to a retirement account, the more time your money has to grow through compound interest.
Why does this matter?
Most people don’t grasp just how much of an impact starting to save one, two, or three years earlier can have on the size of your nest egg by the time you retire.
Let’s run some simple numbers. Suppose you put $10,000 in a 401(k)when you’re 35. It will grow at a 5-8% interest rate. Taking the lower 5% as interest rate, by the time you reach retirement age, those $10,000 will have grown to $43,219. If you wait one year and deposit the money when you’re 36, after 29 years, your balance will be $41,161 instead. That’s $2,058 less you’ll have at your disposal for waiting just one year. Start saving when you turn 40, and you’ll end up with $33,864. That’s over $9,000 less, even though it’s the same $10,000 you started with.
Now imagine you don’t just save $10,000 in total, but save roughly that amount every year, which is what most people saving for retirement do. If you run the numbers, the difference can be tens of thousands of dollars for waiting a couple of years instead of starting to save right away.
Tip #2: Even if you’re your own boss, pay yourself a salary
Just because you don’t have an employer doesn’t mean you can’t pay yourself a salary. This is especially important if your business is doing well and you’re reinvesting most of the profits back into the company and forget to take some of them out as income. When it comes to retirement planning, you need to know how much you’re making every month so you can budget accordingly and set enough money aside for the future. The best way to ensure this is to pay yourself a salary.
How much should you pay yourself?
The answer to this question depends on several factors. The most important ones are:
- Your current expenses
- How well your business is doing
- The long-term financial goals for your business
- How much money you’ll need to live comfortably once you retire (more on this later).
Tip#3: Choose the right retirement account
When you’re employed by someone else, there’s a good chance your employer will offer you access to a 401(k) retirement account. If they don’t, other options are still available, like an IRA. For the self-employed, the options are a bit more limited, but there are still several retirement accounts you can choose from. The most common four are:
- One-participant 401(k): This is also known as a Solo 401(k), and it’s perfect for self-employed individuals or business owners with no employees. The contribution limit for 2022 is $20,500, but if you’re over 50, you can contribute an additional $6,500 as a catch-up contribution.
- Simplified Employee Pension Individual Retirement Account, or SEP-IRA: This account is another tax-deferred retirement account available to small business owners and the self-employed. The contribution limit in 2022 is the lesser of 25% of your net earnings from self-employment or $61,000.
- Savings Incentive Match Plan for Employees Individual Retirement Account, or SIMPLE IRA: This retirement account is available to small business owners with 100 or fewer employees. The contribution limit in 2022 is $14,000, but if you’re over 50, you can also contribute an additional $3,000 as a catch-up contribution to reach $17,000.
- Keogh plan: This account is also known as a qualified retirement plan, and it’s available to self-employed individuals or unincorporated businesses.
Each of these retirement accounts comes with its pros and cons, so you must do your research to find the best one for your specific situation. They all share one trait: they’re funded with pre-tax dollars, meaning you’ll be able to defer paying taxes on them until you retire.
However, if you expect to reach a higher income bracket as time passes, choosing a Roth IRA or a Roth 401(k) may be wiser. These accounts are funded with after-tax dollars, meaning you won’t get the tax break now but will when you retire and start withdrawing from the account.
After making your decision, though, the most important thing is to start contributing to one of these accounts as soon as possible.
Tip #4: Estimate how much you need to save for a comfortable lifestyle during retirement
When you start saving for retirement, what matters most is that you start early and save as much as possible without disrupting your short-term plans and lifestyle. But, eventually, you’ll want to begin crafting a real retirement plan. That means:
- Setting clear and ambitious yet achievable long-term goals and breaking them into smaller, more manageable ones.
- Drafting a clear strategy that’ll serve as a roadmap to achieve those goals
- Acting on that strategy and sticking to it as closely as possible
- Performing annual controls to see how far you have come, what you’ve accomplished, where you fell short, and what needs to change in the following year to get back on track or reach an even more ambitious goal.
When it comes to setting goals, these need to be specific and measurable. Therefore, you’ll have to define what you expect your retirement to be like so you can estimate how much income you’ll need to pay for that lifestyle without outliving your savings.
This estimate doesn’t have to be perfectly accurate, but rather an assessment that will help you see a ball-park figure of how much you should be saving every month from your income to enjoy the retirement you want.
Tip #5: Invest in a diversified mix of assets
When most people think about retirement, they picture themselves sitting on a beach sipping cocktails or playing golf. But to make that dream a reality, you need to have enough money to cover your living expenses for 20, 30, or even 40 years.
The previous tip was about determining how much your living expenses add up to. However, once you run the numbers, you’ll likely find that your current income isn’t enough to save the amount you need every month. If that’s the case, don’t despair. You can dramatically lower the money you’ll need to set aside every month if you manage to increase the return on your savings, even if only by a little.
This means investing your savings, not just leaving them to grow in a savings account. Regarding investing, stocks and bonds are the two most common asset classes. But there are also other options like real estate, mutual funds, exchange-traded funds (ETFs), and even NFTs and crypto trading. The key is to invest in a diversified mix of assets to minimize the risk of losing money while still giving yourself the chance to earn a higher return.
For example, let’s suppose you invest the same $10,000 as before when you’re 35, and you manage to get an average of 6% growth instead of 5%. In that case, instead of $43,219, you’ll have $57,435 when you retire. That’s a difference of over $14,000 for that extra 1% return, without saving a cent more than what you were saving in the first place!
Tip #6: Secure a minimum level of income
No matter how much money you have saved for retirement, it’s crucial to have a plan in place to ensure you’ll have a minimum income level every month. There are several ways to do this, but the most common is to purchase an annuity.
An annuity is a contract between you and an insurance company. In exchange for a lump-sum payment, the insurance company agrees to make regular payments to you for a set period of time or the rest of your life. There are different types of annuities, and you can customize contracts to your heart’s content by adding contract riders.
Annuities are a way to protect your nest egg and to make sure you have a minimum level of income every month, but they’re not without their drawbacks. For one, annuities are complex financial products, and it can be challenging to understand all the different features and benefits. Additionally, annuities come with fees and commissions that can eat into your investment returns, which is something you need to watch out for.
In any case, what matters most is that you set up a safety net you can fall back on in retirement, so you don’t have to worry about running out of money or outliving your savings.
Tip #7: Live a healthy lifestyle
No list of tips about preparing for old age would be complete without this important piece of advice. One of the best ways to reduce your medical expenses in retirement is to live a healthy lifestyle when you’re young. This means eating healthy food, exercising regularly, and getting regular check-ups. Of course, this isn’t always easy, but it’s worth it in the long run.
A healthy lifestyle will help you avoid costly medical bills down the road and help you feel better and enjoy your retirement more. After all, what’s the point of saving for retirement if you can’t enjoy it?
So make sure to take care of yourself now, and you’ll be thankful later.
The bottom line
There’s no one-size-fits-all answer regarding retirement planning, especially if you’re self-employed. However, following these tips should give you a good start. Remember to invest in a mix of assets, secure a minimum income level, and live a healthy lifestyle. And most importantly, don’t wait until the last minute to start planning and saving for your golden years.
Published First on Due. Read Here.
Featured Image Credit: Photo by SHVETS production; Pexels; Thank you!
Why is Artificial Intelligence Crucial for Biotechnology?
Biotechnology lies in the middle of biology and technology. Through modern technologies, it uses biological processes, organisms, cells, molecules, and systems to create new products for the benefit of humanity and the planet. In addition, it contains laboratory research and development through bioinformatics to explore and extract from biomass through biochemical engineering to develop high-value products. Biotechnology operates in various fields, such as agriculture, medical, animal, industrial, and others.
White biotechnology, related to creating products demanding chemical processes from biomass, can also be one of the solutions to the energy crisis by producing biofuel. The latter can be used for vehicles or heating.
Each organization working in the biotechnology sphere maintains voluminous sets of data stored in databases. This data must also be filtrated and analyzed to be valid and applicable. Such operations as drug manufacturing, chemical analysis, enzyme studies, and other biological processes should be backed by computerized solid tools for high performance and accuracy, as well as helps to reduce manual errors.
One of the most helpful technologies that help to manage the biological processes, drug production, supply chain, and deal with data within biotech is Artificial Intelligence.
It interacts with data received through scientific literature and clinical data trial. AI also manages incommensurable clinical trial datasets and enables virtual screening and analyze the high volume of data. As a result, it reduces clinical trial costs and results in discoveries and insights for any field in which biotech operates.
More predictable data makes it easier to build work processes and operations, enhances the speed of performance and the accuracy of the procedures, and makes decision-making more efficient. 79% claim that AI technology impacts workflows and becomes crucial to productivity.
All of these results are becoming more cost-effective solutions. The estimated revenue gained with the help of AI grew by $1.2 TN in the last three years.
Advantages of using artificial intelligence in biotechnology.
AI applies in various fields, but the most significant is the use of AI in medical care. Although such technology’s ability as data categorization and making predictive analyses are beneficial for any scientific sphere.
Managing and analyzing data
The scientific data is constantly expanding and has to be arranged in a meaningful way. This process is complicated and time-consuming: scientists must go through repetitive and heavy tasks, which must be performed with great attention.
The data they work with is a big part of the research process, which results in high cost and energy loss in case of failure. Moreover, many kinds of research don’t result in practical solutions, as they fail to be translated into human language. AI programs assist in the automation of data maintenance and analysis. Open source platforms empowered by artificial intelligence help reduce the repetitive, manual, and time-consuming duties lab workers have to perform, enabling them to focus on innovation-driven operations.
Gene modification, chemical compositions, pharmacologic investigations, and other critical informatics tasks are thoroughly examined for shorter and more reliable outcomes.
Effective data maintenance is indeed crucial to every scientific sector. However, the most significant advantage of AI is its ability to organize and systemize data into forms and make predictable outcomes.
Driving innovations in the medical sphere
Over the past ten years, we faced the urgent need for innovations in the manufacturing and deploying pharmaceuticals, industrial chemicals, food-grade chemicals, and other raw materials connected to biochemistry.
AI in Biotechnology is essential for fostering innovation throughout a drug’s or chemical compound’s lifecycle and in labs.
It assists in finding the right combination of chemicals through computing permutations and combinations of different compounds without manual lab testings. In addition, cloud computing makes the distribution of raw materials used within biotech more efficient.
In 2021 the research lab DeepMind developed the most comprehensive human protein map using AI. Proteins fulfill various tasks in the human organism – from building tissue to conquering diseases. Their molecular structure dictates their purpose, which can have thousands of iterations—knowing how protein folds help to understand its function so that scientists can figure out numerous biological processes, such as how the human body works or create new treatments and medicines.
Such platforms give access to data about discoveries for scientists all over the world.
The AI tools help decode data for uncovering the mechanisms of particular diseases in different regions and help make analytical models accurate for their geography. Before using AI, time-consuming and costly experiments were performed to determine the structure of the proteins. And now, about 180,000 protein structures made by the program are available through the Protein Data Bank for free to be used by scientists.
Machine Learning helps make lines diagnosis more accurate, using actual findings to enhance diagnostic tests. And the more tests are performed, the more precise results are generated.
AI is a great tool to enhance electronic health records with evidence-based medications and clinical decision support systems.
Artificial Intelligence is also frequently employed in genetic manipulation, radiology, customized medicine, medication management, and other fields. For example, according to the current study, AI improved breast cancer screening accuracy and efficiency compared to a standard breast radiologist. As well as another research claims that lung cancer can be spotted faster by neural networks than by trained radiologists. Another AI application is to detect diseases more accurately through X-rays, MRIs, and CT scans through AI-driven software.
Reduces time of research
New illnesses spread quickly across countries due to globalization. We witnessed it with COVID-2019; as a result, biotechnology has to speed up its production of necessary medications and vaccines to stand against such illnesses.
Artificial intelligence and machine learning maintain the process of detecting the proper compounds, assisting in their synthesis in labs, helping to analyze data for effectiveness, and supplying them to the market. The use of AI in biotech reduces the time in operations performance from 5-10 years to 2-3 years.
Boosting harvest production
Biotechnology is critical in genetically engineering plants to generate richer harvests. The role of AI-based technologies is increasing in studying crop characteristics, comparing qualities, and projecting realistic output. The agricultural biotech also uses robotics, a branch of artificial intelligence, for manufacturing, collecting, and other critical tasks.
By combining such data as weather forecasts, farming characteristics, and the accessibility of seeds, compost, and chemicals, AI aids in planning future patterns in material circulation.
AI in Industrial biotechnology
IoT and AI are widely used in producing vehicles, fuels, fibers, and chemicals. AI analyzes the data collected by IoT to transform it into valuable data for improving the production process and product quality by forecasting outcomes.
Computer simulations and AI come up with the expected molecular design. Strains are being produced through robotics and machine learning to test the accuracy of developing the desired molecule.
To sum up
Though this is just the start of using AI in biotech, many improvements can already be offered to various spheres. Moreover, the growing development of the software empowered by Artificial Intelligence in biotech demonstrates that it can be used for multiple processes, operations, and tactics to obtain a competitive advantage.
It can not only drive innovations but also be a valuable tool to reduce costs by making more accurate tests and predicting results without the actual performance of the experiments in the lab.
As well as find the future necessities of humanity in healthcare and agriculture, forecast potential losses, and make prognoses for companies where they should target their resources for more effective production and supply.
Featured Image Credit: Provided by the Author; Thank you!
A Beginner’s Guide to Understanding and Building a PaaS Marketing Strategy
It feels like yesterday when the first public PaaS (platform as a Service) named Zimki was launched at EuroOSCON in March 2006. Fontango launched the beta version after finishing its development in 2005. However, when PaaS was introduced to the masses — not many people understood its importance very well. Therein, defining a proper PaaS marketing strategy seemed unnecessary.
Even though the core marketing for every product will always remain the same — we sell, and market products, and clients buy them as they need them. The problem now is that while the initial intent of the service was to simplify code writing – its usage and benefits have grown by manifolds.
According to Financial News media, “the PaaS market size is expected to grow to $164.3 Billion by 2026.” This suggests that many more companies are looking into private & hybrid PaaS options to make the most of the cloud computing market. In addition, Statista’s report on worldwide PaaS shows that the market revenue will surpass $100 Billion in the US alone this year. Moreover, the global PaaS market will break records and exceed $400 Billion in 2022.
While these are all hypotheses until we see these numbers, the chances of these expert insights coming true are more than us expecting rain just because our nose tingled a bit when we woke up this morning. Thus, marketers must start by understanding PaaS basics and the key characteristics that will help them create a good PaaS marketing strategy.
Understanding PaaS — a brief guide for marketers
What is PaaS
The simplest way to define and describe PaaS is by first understanding that it is a form of cloud computing. Its progression has changed how business applications are built and run. With the help of PaaS, now a new application can be delivered within a web browser in lesser time. The developers can use a point-and-click interface or deploy it through a custom code.
How to use PaaS
PaaS allows businesses to:
- manage custom cloud application
Without introducing any complexities they faced before, building and maintaining the company’s servers and infrastructures. In short, it can be said that PaaS offers a time & cost-efficient solution to the business.
Differences between PaaS, SaaS, and IaaS
Cloud computing birthed more than just PaaS – it also gave us its siblings, IaaS and SaaS. While most companies like Netflix use SaaS, all 3 of these offer custom cloud computing solutions depending on the type a company requires.
IaaS (Infrastructure as a Service) allows organizations to manage their business resources on the cloud. These resources include their network, servers, and data storage. IaaS is a flexible category and offers a ‘pay-as-you-go’ option to add custom features.
PaaS helps businesses and developers host, build, and deploy agile & customer-facing applications by offering them a custom framework. PaaS management is somewhere between IaaS and SaaS in a way that lets you build upon the framework and manages most of the items for you.
SaaS (software as a service) needs the least amount of management from you and is the most commonly used cloud service. These products offer cloud-based tools and applications to both consumers and businesses.
“Companies in the industry are increasingly preferring hybrid cloud solutions to increase efficiency, innovation, and reduce costs. A hybrid cloud refers to a cloud infrastructure environment that is a mixture of private cloud, on-premises computing and public cloud solutions. Platform as a service providing companies in the industry are leveraging this technology to enhance their agility, capability, increase development & deployment speed, and reduce IT costs.”
– Quote from Research and Markets Report
Is salesforce SaaS or PaaS or IaaS?
Although many people argue that salesforce is either SaaS or a hybrid example of both SaaS and PaaS combined, the company says that Salesforce is a PaaS. The Salesforce platform is the world’s number 1 PaaS solution. Moreover, the SalesForce Lightning extension is considered the next-gen PaaS solution.
Examples of PaaS
Some other examples of PaaS include:
- SAP Cloud
- Microsoft Azure
- Apprenda Cloud Platform
- Google App Engine (from Gmail to Google Earth, everything is PaaS)
- AWS Lambda
- Pivotal Cloud Foundry
- IBM Cloud Foundry
- Oracle Cloud Platform
- Red Hat OpenShift
- Zoho Creator
Building a Proper PaaS Marketing Strategy
Let’s look at the steps necessary to consider when building a PaaS marketing strategy. Ironically, these steps will work for all kinds of cloud marketing strategies – be it IaaS marketing, SaaS marketing, or XaaS marketing.
Step 1 – Understanding the Product from a Marketer’s Perspective
When you are working on building a PaaS marketing strategy, it is essential first to understand the basics of PaaS (as I have explained above) and the features your product offers. No matter how technological your product is – if your team has no idea about it, they can’t help others think of it as a solution to anything as well.
Step 2 – Creating Custom Target Market Segments
Most tech companies target other businesses, but that is not all you need to know. For example, a company’s CEO or founder might not have enough time to read your inmails, emails, or your company page despite following it. The best target audience would be people who can quickly understand the importance of your product. Therefore, your target audience should always include a primary focus on the IT or Tech department heads, depending on the marketed product type.
Step 3 – Competitor Research
Your product needs to stay ahead for better revenue and sales generation. Doing thorough competitor research can help you discover the growth points they might be missing and offer you a case study of what worked for them and what didn’t. However, knowing what works for them doesn’t mean you just steal their ideas. If you do so – you might get a little attention from the target audience, but you will still be behind your competitor. Instead, discover the market gaps & target demographics and then work on a strategy to fill them in instead. Use their already workable strategy as garnishing to yours rather than making it a holy grail.
Step 4 – Prioritizing Marketing Types & Platforms
This is by far the most crucial point regarding your marketing strategy. While we all know digital marketing is the new gen marketing, no one marketer is a jack of all marketing types. So for step 4, you need to think about the marketing types that will help you with;
- Brand Visibility
- Brand Authority
- Lead Generation
- Revenue Generation
Before I tell the marketing types that I include in the strategies I build – it is essential to understand that they vary from business to business. If a company is just launching itself, it might not be able to do everything and anything. Therefore, always prioritize when building a strategy.
First, you need to pin down the growth points and then expand your strategy from there. Set reality-based KPIs and expectations for the team to ensure there’s no burnout or blame game, and take it six months at a time. My go-to PaaS marketing strategy always includes:
- Organic Marketing
- Inbound Marketing
- Content Marketing
- Voice Marketing (relatively new technique)
- Search Engine Marketing
- Product Marketing
- User-Generated Marketing.
- Acquisition & Retention Marketing
- Referral Marketing
- Brand Marketing
- Email Marketing
- Conversational & Word-of-Mouth Marketing
- Video Marketing
- Neuro-Marketing with a dash of Emotional Marketing
- Social Media Marketing (just because your product needs b2b marketing doesn’t mean Linkedin is the only social media solution)
You can also throw in influencer marketing to the mix – if your budget allows it. For me, the first influencers are always the clients themselves.
Key Points to keep in mind when building a Proper PaaS Marketing Strategy
1. Customer Experience
I once worked with a tech company that offered eLearning solutions to businesses. Yet, everyone in the leadership didn’t know how to log in to WordPress, download surveys from SurveyMonkey, etc. This helped the team understand the importance of customer experience, so they always worked extra hard to ensure their customers never faced an issue when using their services.
Likewise, designing an application or website is essential to keep the customer experience in mind. The idea is to make things easy for them. Don’t overcomplicate things by keeping the blogs tab just in the footer or hidden in a scroll-down tab. The easier and more functional your service is for the customers, the more word-of-mouth marketing you get.
From color psychology to the font type – you need to have a look at it all.
2. User Onboarding
When it comes to PaaS, first expressions are the last ones, and people mostly do judge a book by its cover. However, client experience is an integral part of any product marketing team when selling something technical because not all clients are equipped with the knowledge to understand technical jargon and processes. Therefore, user onboarding comes in handy and helps showcase your product’s total value.
A user onboarding benefits in not just customer acquisition or activation, but aims to build a retention level with upward growth in a way that also increases revenue. Moreover, if the user onboarding is done correctly, it can also lead a company to acquire new customers due to the word-of-mouth marketing done by the existing happy client.
With existing customers marketing for you by referring their peers and colleagues – your customer acquisition costs can reduce significantly, creating a snowball effect for the business growth. To conclude, user onboarding can help you win your customers over in the first few minutes and make them stay loyal to you for not just weeks but years!
3. Trial Periods
One of the best ways to convert a potential customer is by offering them a trial period of the product. This lets them test it just like they want to and gives them an illusion of getting something for free. Take Netflix, for example, they started with a 30-day free trial for their potential subscribers. Now when they have gained enough attention – they finish the trial periods.
You can drive a similar strategy as well.
4. Highlight Benefits rather than Features
Someone who’s not as technologically advanced as the developers of your product might not care about all the features it offers. Instead, they want to know why your product is best for them. Therefore, keeping the communication lines between you and your customer as clear and concise as possible is essential. Focus on how your product will add value to their costs, employees, and time.
This is where your competitor research will come in handy; if you know your customers’ pain points, you can offer them the solutions they want. However, in trying to do so, ensure you don’t overwhelm the prospects by giving them too much information.
An example is when an Eco-friendly alternative company offers solutions like bamboo straws or brushes. They don’t go into how sleek their product was because of some specific processing or ingredient – their main selling line is that this thing here you see will help the environment and decay faster in comparison to plastic. From their blogs to social media posts and podcasts, they focus on what their products offer in value rather than something else, and it works.
Another example of this is SalesForce – when talking about PaaS and why they are the number 1 solution for companies – they only talk about the benefits and pain points. They don’t go into details about the features. However, they created an infographic and added all the features to it rather than going into detail.
5. Set the Right Expectations
Never lie to the leadership that you can generate so and so revenue and little time. Long-term growth can NOT be achieved with black hat methods and techniques. A company’s growth takes time – no one will wake up, see your product, and think they should click buy because they saw an advert or because you sent them an email. Tofu, Mofu & Bofu exist for a reason in the sales funnel.
Similarly, don’t lie when marketing your product. There’s no point saying a train can fly to sell it only to end up with negative reviews on the internet. Today’s generation is savvy and knows when they are being marketed to. Hence, it is essential to be transparent about your product’s functionality rather than selling its subscription like a unicorn. You might get one-time payments, but they can be canceled too.
Bad reviews mean a reduction in customer acquisition and retention rates – directly impacting your sales and revenue.
Developing a marketing strategy will always focus on similar platforms and techniques — no matter which product or company. The only thing that adds-on to the value of a strategy is its execution per planning. Many tech companies have started to prefer hiring marketing and content teams with backgrounds in tech or software engineering because they feel it is easier than having employee integration or product training. But by doing so, they are missing out on the most important thing — a layman’s viewpoint. If everyone in the company understands the product without trying it — they can never market it to a non-technical person.
With a proper understanding and a good marketing strategy for SaaS, PaaS, IaaS, or XaaS, as discussed in this content piece, you can reach the right target audience and demographics per your requirements.
Featured Image Credit: Provided by the Author; Thank you!