SaaS companies need to tell their creation story. Not because they’re storytellers, but because It can help them acquire customers.
Yes, I know this notion of a creation story might sound like something from ancient mythology. But there are plenty of examples of compelling creation stories from recent tech history:
- Bill Hewlett and Dave Packard inventing the audio oscillator in a Palo Alto garage.
- Bill Gates and Paul Allen writing MS-DOS for the IBM PC.
- Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak building their first personal computer for the Homebrew Computing Club.
For a few years, I worked at IDC where everyone knew the story of Pat McGovern’s founding his company in a small gray house in Newton, MA.
What’s in the story?
There’s usually nothing too complicated about the creation story. It explains two essential things about the company and the solution: Who built it and why?
The most effective creation stories talk about the background of the founder(s), how they came to know about the market they’re selling into, what problem they saw and set out to solve, and why they thought they could build something better than other solutions.
These stories might also spell out core principles that guide how they treat customers, employees, and other stakeholders. Google, for example, included “Don’t be evil” among its principles until it later dropped that line.
The more ambitious stories articulate a “mission.” Microsoft talked about a goal to put “a computer on every desk in every home,” though that too has morphed over time.
Here’s what creation stories are NOT about: the products and how they work. Instead they’re about the people and the thinking behind those products.
Why does this matter to SaaS companies?
I know, marketers have plenty of work on their plates already without adding “tell the creation story” to the list.
Of course, companies can get along without telling their creation story. They can confine themselves to cranking out the standard array of white papers, brochures, and other marketing material.
But creation stories can help attract new customers. And that’s especially true for companies selling software-as-a-service (SaaS) solutions.
For one, the people buying solutions are often the same people that will be using the solution. It’s the HR professional using the HR solution, the marketing manager using the marketing automation solution, or the sales manager using the CRM solution.
These prospective customers want to know if the people that have built the solution really understand their challenges. Do they actually know what their world is like?
Second, the prospects need to trust the company. Remember with a SaaS solution, they’re buying a promise, not a product. The customer needs to know that the SaaS provider will deliver the functionality and support as promised. A creation story can help build that trust. (See “SaaS Marketing is about promises, not products.”)
If you’re a SaaS marketer, I understand the urge to talk all about your solution’s features, benefits, and advantages. But besides talking about what your product can do, you should also talk about who built it and why.