All Posts By

Nichole Elizabeth DeMeré

Quora Answers, SaaS

“How do I acquire SaaS customers?” Answer by @NikkiElizDemere

As with any customer acquisition, you first have to make sure you’ve got a solid foundation before you get into marketing efforts.

You have to understand your ideal customers and develop a compelling value proposition. Who are they? Where do they hang out? What are their desired outcomes? What words do they use to describe their problems and desired outcomes? What do they expect to get from you? What do they hope to get?

Don’t know? Don’t guess. Ask them.

Based on the qualitative data you gather and your product, the next challenge is to come up with a unique value proposition that establishes product-market fit – in the language with which your target market will identify. (Sometimes I refer to this as language-market fit.)

We’re doing some high-level English major work here. We’re talking diction: Word choice. And we’re using it to power your marketing so when a customer for your SaaS startup (or otherwise) hits on your value proposition, they’ll immediately know you are for them.


Image source: Image created by Yasmine Sedky (
@yazsedky) for Nichole.

A value proposition accomplishes four tasks:

  1. Defines who your ideal customer is
  2. States what your product does
  3. Establishes why you’re unique
  4. Shows the end benefit

Value propositions are complicated, but when you distill it down, the idea is really simple: To get customers, you have to tell them why they should work with you based on what you uniquely offer that is also important to them.

Now, once you have that foundation, the challenge becomes getting your product in front of your ideal customers.

Perhaps even more than other markets, SaaSpreneurs are looking for thought leaders to tell them how to do things just a bit better. So they’re here, on Quora. They’re on Medium. They’re on blogs like SEOMoz, and sites like Hacker News, ProductHunt, Growth Hackers, Reddit, and LinkedIn.

They’re everywhere.

Which isn’t to say you’ll get equal ROI from each of these outlets. You won’t. And you’ll spread yourself way too thin if you try to hit all of them.

Traction & Growth Channels

This is where “traction channels” come into play, and a very useful tool called the “Bullseye Framework.”

Image source: Strategize, Test, Measure: The Bullseye Framework by Brian Balfour (@bbalfour)

Traction channels are marketing and distribution channels that focus on customer acquisition.

They’re where you strategically choose to place your content to attract leads.

The secret to traction channels is that most startups use only a few – and there are hundreds (if not thousands).

Most businesses flood just a handful of channels and ignore the rest. They choose the ones they’re most familiar with, but you really can’t know what channel will work best for your product or service, and your audience, until you test.

That’s where the Bullseye Framework comes in – introduced in Gabriel Weinberg and Justin Mares’ e-book, Traction.

Weinberg and Mares identified 19 different traction channels in their e-book, Traction, including traditional media, social media and various types of marketing.

Here are a few channels from the e-book just to give you an idea:

  • Viral marketing – encouraging users to refer other users
  • Traditional media outlets & offline ads (tv, radio, print ads)
  • SEO / Inbound Marketing
  • Engineering as marketing – developing free tools, micro-sites and widgets to drive leads
  • Strategic partnerships with other companies
  • Existing platforms – i.e. using Facebook or Apple’s App Store, or even Medium to grow your audience
  • Speaking engagements
  • Community building

The Bullseye Framework is designed to whittle down the list into a few that have the best chance of maximizing your ROI. Because creating really great thought-leadery content requires a significant investment of time, if not money.

Bullseye in a Nutshell, According to Traction

Step 1: Brainstorm at least one idea for how you could use each type of traction channel.

Step 2: Rank your ideas according to which seem most promising, which could possibly work, and which seem unlikely. It might be helpful to give yourself a measurable goal, like which channels are most likely to yield 100,000 users in the first six months after launch (that, incidentally, was Mint’s lofty goal).

Step 3: Prioritize – Choose three channels that seem most promising.

Step 4: Test your three channels with the aim of finding out Cost to Acquire for each channel, how many customers are available through each channel, and whether the customers you are getting through each channel fit into your ideal customer profile.

[I’d watch out for Step 4 though, because some very important channels yield long-lasting, sustainable results, but don’t deliver quick wins. Yes, I’m talking about inbound marketing, content and SEO, as well as some others that can fly well under the radar.]

Step 5: Focus on the most promising channel. Weinberg and Mare recommend focusing on one traction channel at a time, the idea being “At any stage in a startup’s lifecycle, one traction channel dominates in terms of customer acquisition.” But again, they seem to ignore the long-term benefits of building solid content.

I would argue that startups should focus on one traction channel for quick wins, and another for long-term gains.

Here’s my list of traction and growth channels for the SaaS market to test, divided into quick wins and long-term gains.

These channels should be based on the customer.

Quick-win channels:

  • BetaList – Submit your startup on BetaList to find early adopters for your product and get valuable feedback.
  • Contests, giveaways – try Wishpond
  • Events – Launch parties, festivals, conferences – 32 examples of marketing using events
  • JustReachOut is a tool that was created specifically for startups to pitch journalists (though it is a paid resource)
  • Introduce your product on Medium – Examples: Welcome to Glitchand Introducing Yo Stories.
  • Paid Campaigns
  • Press / PR campaigns
    • For media coverage, you can use a website like Help A Reporter (HARO) to connect with journalists and bloggers needing sources for future articles. The daily HARO newsletters break down the source requests into categories, so scanning to see if your expertise is a fit is easy (plus, it is free!).
    • Mailroom Month teaches you how to get journalists to write about your business, product, startup or idea. They send a reporter to your e-mail with expert advice on how to pitch them — every day for a month.
  • Product Hunt – Is your product available (i.e. not just in test mode)? Launch it on Product Hunt, a community where product enthusiasts can easily discover new products.
  • Social media – Social media buzz is one of those things that is often more easily said than done. But, companies like InVision have used the simple tactic of giving away free company t-shirts to drive impressive customer acquisition. And even early stage SaaS companies can afford a few t-shirts. (This tip is from Kate Harvey, Content & Search Marketing Manager at Chargify.)
  • Zest.isA new-tab feed of content suggested by marketers, for marketers

Long-term gains, channels usually based on creating high quality, relevant content:

I’d recommend using the Bullseye Framework to narrow down this list and find a channel or two that work best for you for both the short and long-term. And try new channels when you’re initial channel stops working.

Ultimately, acquiring SaaS customers requires the same research and strategies as acquiring any other type of customer. The difference lies mostly in where to find them. The SaaS community is an especially active one on forums and online communities like Product Hunt, Growth Hackers, Medium, Quora, and private groups on Slack, Facebook and LinkedIn.

That’s good news, because knowing where to find your customers is half the battle.

The other half is proving your worth.

I originally answered this question on Quora.

Read Nichole Elizabeth DeMeré's answer to How do I acquire SaaS customers? on Quora


Let’s Get SaaSsy – I’m offering a limited number of SaaS consulting engagements.

Community, Product Management

“Nichole Elizabeth DeMeré on creating a customer-centric community for your product” ft. @Autopilotus

Building a community around your product can be both a quick win and longer term customer retention strategy.

They’re easy to create—as simple as a setting up a Slack channel or Facebook group. Plus, they’re a powerful asset not only for customers, but also for your marketing, support, success, and product teams.

Above all else, they’re a way to prove that you really are customer-centric—because the whole point is that you’re right there to answer their questions, share ideas with them, listen to their suggestions, and give them a place to communicate with each other about how they’re using your product.

ProdPad has been having great success with their Slack channel. Their UX team uses it to share mockups and sketches for things they’re working on, find suitable users for research and interviews, and collect voice-of-customer data. But that’s nothing compared to what it has done for their customer retention.

As ProdPad’s Head of Growth Nandini Jammi notes, “Slack has quietly become our strongest retention channel at ProdPad.”

“As time passed, we started seeing a pattern we really liked: Customers who join our Slack community were not cancelling their ProdPad plans at all. In fact, 99% of our cancellations were (and still are) coming from customers who weren’t part of our community.”

But they’re not seeing results because someone took 5 minutes to set up a Slack channel. They’re seeing results because of how they’re using it: They’re committed to transparency, have a policy of “never saying no” to a customer, and log every single conversation as customer feedback because it’s important to them.

“We can handle all kinds of feedback because we engage with it and actively work to find our solutions for our customers.”

How to create a customer-centric product community

1. Establish your philosophical framework

You need every member of your team to understand what your community is—and, just as importantly, what it isn’t. ProdPad’s community works because they’re 100% committed to transparency and welcome the customer into their process. Yes, you’re doing this to drive retention and referrals. But if you aren’t primarily doing this to help your customers succeed with your product, you won’t achieve either of those outcomes.

Another question to ask yourself is, what you want to accomplish with your community? Do you want to increase retention by supporting existing customers? Or, do you want to create a space that helps you attract and acquire ideal customers? For example, Pieter Levels, founder of NomadList, created a Slack community that was only loosely tied to NomadList, but cleverly targeted ideal users. It now has nearly 10,000 members, 3,000 of whom are active on a monthly basis.

Fun fact: Growth Hackers began as a community for Qualaroo, and Inbound.org began as a community for HubSpot. Don’t be surprised if your community takes on a life of its own!

2. Choose your platform

The type of community you choose depends on your intended users and your bandwidth. B2B SaaS companies might find that their target customers are already on Slack, making it a natural platform for their branded community. Other demographics barely know what Slack is, but are on Facebook all the time.

If it aligns with your goals and you’re able to allocate the resources, you can even develop your own community and give it a home on your website. If you go down that path, you’ll reap the rewards of increased brand awareness, SEO, and customer loyalty.

As with any kind of marketing, go where your target users already are.

3. Set up your community

To create a community on Slack or Facebook, follow these instructions:

If you plan to develop your own community, take inspiration from these DIY communities:

4. Set expectations

Part of customer success is setting expectations—and you’ll want to set expectations with your customers early on when creating a product community.

The expectations you’ll need to set will differ from platform to platform. For example, Facebook groups benefit from having a set of conduct rules pinned to the top of the page. That way people know what is and isn’t allowed. (Hint: Be prepared to enforce those rules by booting people out.)

Slack presents other challenges. Because Slack enables instant messaging, people tend to expect instant responses. If you have the bandwidth to respond right away, good for you! If you can’t, do like this company did and say so.

“To counter unrealistic availability expectations, we laid out a couple of ground rules together with our clients, such as nobody needs to always answer right away. Although more direct than email, everybody should see Slack as an asynchronous means of communication,” wrote Christian Weyer, Partner, Crispy Mountain.

5. Promote your community

Slack communities and Facebook groups both require users to be “invited” (or at least approved) by admins. The easiest way to discover users to invite is to promote a signup form.

Typeform is an easy, free service that creates simple forms. You’ll only need a few fields: name, email (so you can send the invite), links to online profiles, and why the person wants to join. Check out this guide to integrating Typeform and Slack.

This  is a segment from Autopilot’s blog, 11 Winning Retention Tactics from 11 Remarkable Marketers.

Read More on Autopilot


Let’s Get SaaSsy – I’m offering a limited number of SaaS consulting engagements.

Customer Success

Top 40 Customer Success Influencers via @tenfold

“As Software-as-a-Service becomes more and more commonplace throughout the world, it’s important to know who exactly is shaping the evolution of this space. In order to make this list, and evaluate everyone on a level playing field, our content team used a metric called True Reach, devised by clear, to rank all of our influencers. While that was our guiding metric, we also included their overall influencer rating (in terms of how influential they are to their own audience), total audience size, and engagement score to paint a full picture of each influencer. We hope you find this document useful, and learn whatever you can from this group of influencers.”

Read More on Tenfold


Let’s Get SaaSsy – I’m offering a limited number of SaaS consulting engagements.

Social Media

Mixing Lifestyle Photography & Business

Event planner Rachel Senner makes business personal by promoting her work and herself at the same time – through lifestyle photography. The result, an experience that looks like so much fun her followers can’t wait to work with her.

Vendors at a pop-up shop party seem to sprout overnight, like mushrooms. 🍄 It looks so simple. Name the date, find a place, then invite a bunch of shops to set up tables, tents and displays.

But when it’s the first event you’ve ever planned, and you have to convince those vendors that it will be worth their time to come?

As Rachel Senner remembers her first pop-up shop party, it was less fungi-like ease, and more like giving birth: “Hundreds of phone calls, elbow grease, blood, sweat, tears and prayers. I was ready to quit.”

Rachel had just opened the proverbial shutters of her event planning business, Senner of Attention, and took on the pop-up shop party with the help of friend and photographer Meghan of Chicka Artistica Photography.

“We found a venue (The Chase Center on the Riverfront) and immediately got to work. I created a logo on Canva (which, by the way, I use Canva for pretty much all the graphic designs I do for events; that website saved my life!) for the Pop-up Shop Party, which served as the face of our project. As we gained vendors we would post their logos with the event logo to gain momentum for the event.”

Like Rachel you can create your own event logo in Canva using templates like Script BluePeach Circle or the Snow Pink Flower Floral.


The event not only kicked off a partnership that would help build Rachel’s business grow, but it was also a landmark moment – it’s how she got her first 100 attendees.Rachel says, “I heard a lot of ‘No’ before I ever heard a ‘Yes’. Business owners are smart. They want a great return on investment, and to trust what seemed like a couple of newbie kids with their money and time took a big leap of faith.

When those vendors started showing up and setting up their products, and thanking us for allowing them to be there, I felt like I could do anything.

Those first vendors will always have a special place in my heart. They were the start of something really big.”

In this article, Rachel breaks down how she uses social media (and print media) to grow her business, why promoting yourself is key to promoting event planning, and her unique approach to event design.

Read More on Canva

Photo Friday

A Play in Three Acts by @NikkiElizDemere

A Play in Three Acts is now available as an art print, framed art print, canvas print, and more in my photography store.

Browse Nichole’s photography store

Photo Friday

Photo Friday: 8/18/17

Taking Instagram photos is my hobby. In this series, I post a few photos on Friday that I recently took.



+ collage: #150dayssober


Follow me on Instagram for more of my work. I also have prints for sale.

Customer Success, Product Management

Podcast: Nichole Elizabeth DeMeré Says PMs and CSMs Must Align On Customer Journeys

“Here’s the thing.

Most of us don’t want to admit it, but we work in silos. The product team is doing their thing and the customer success team is doing their thing. Most organizations (and most people) know this and work to some degree to minimize the separation, but it exists. These silos are evident between product teams and customer success teams. Both have good intentions and work hard to product something that a customer wants or otherwise finds useful, but in the end each team looks that what a customer needs through a different lens.

This is a problem that needs solving because customers don’t care about our lenses. They only care about their own thing…

This is why we wanted to talk to Nichole. She wrote an article, called Product Managers: Why You Should Include Customer Success Milestones In Your User Flows, in which she describes how product and customer success can work better together to be more customer-centric.

To do this, Nichole wants us to focus on helping customers achieve their desired outcomes because often times, even though our product is designed to help a customer achieve an outcome, the customer very often does at least some work outside of your product to achieve that outcomes and maybe your product only helps with some of that work (either by design or because the customer does not know they can use your product for that).”

Resources cited in the podcast:

Read more on Helping Sells Radio


Let’s Get SaaSsy – I’m offering a limited number of SaaS consulting engagements.

Customer Success, Onboarding, Product Management, SaaS, Startups

How to Create Customer-Centric (Not Product-Centric) User Onboarding Flows ft. @Appcues

Onboarding is a magical time—magic in the sense that if your users don’t find what they need and get the results they want, they will magically disappear. Also, magic because of its transformational power to turn tire-kickers into loyal users.

Will your onboarding process lead to a disappearing act? Or will it enable you to build a lasting customer relationship?

It all depends on how you build customer success into your user flows.

Many onboarding user flows are designed to help the user set up their accounts and learn how to use the product. That’s all very useful. But these user flows are missing a step.

Account setup and functional learning are important, but only as much as they help the user achieve their ideal outcomes.

Your user doesn’t care about your interface. They don’t really care about your tool either. They care about achieving their ideal outcome in the simplest, easiest, fastest way possible.

That’s what your product is designed to deliver, isn’t it?

Yet, too often, we fail to include the actions that mean success for the customer into the very user flows designed to get them there!

It’s time we re-think product-centric user flows—especially in onboarding.

Read More on Appcues


Let’s Get SaaSsy – I’m offering a limited number of SaaS consulting engagements.

Social Media

10 Tips on Building Your Community and Business at the Same Time

Paper Goat Post is a brick-and-mortar store that combines beautiful paper products with events, and is quickly growing through their out-of-the-gift-box strategy for growing a business through community, social media, and snail mail.

When most non-wedding invitations are sent online, letters devolve into emails, heart-to-heart conversations happen on Gchat, and gifts are sent straight from Amazon Prime – a business based on paper seems a bit old-fashioned – and optimistic.

But there is something about paper.

Reading the hand-written words of a loved one that has physically traveled from hand to hand.

Carefully disassembling a beautifully, thoughtfully wrapped gift.

Discovering an elegant invitation in the mailbox.

As Paper Goat Post’s co-founders (and twin sisters) Megan and Cedar will tell you, they consider it their mission to “promote togetherness through the lost art of snail mail, gathering in celebration, and the thoughtful art of giving.”

Our philosophies extend through our products, services and brand to enrich our local community.

In fact, Megan and Cedar’s philosophy and business plan is very much about building community – and growing through community – with the help of paper.

And social media.

Where the old-fashioned and modern marketing methods converge is in this unique, utterly delightful space Megan and Cedar have created, both in their brick-and-mortar shop in Ivanhoe Village in Orlando, and their online presence.

Read More on Canva

Social Media

How One Event Designer Used Styled Shoots to Establish Her Blog and Connect with National Brands

Twinkle Twinkle Little Party is a party blog that works with brands like Starbucks and TinyPrints, and has been featured on Style Me Pretty and 100 Layer Cake (to name but two). Blogger Andressa Hara’s secrets to success leverage social media and her own stunning styled shoots.

Bloggers who make a living from their blogs walk a delicate line between delivering engaging, original content to their audiences – and serving their advertisers. Go too far in one direction, and you look like a shill. Go too far the other way, and you’re back to applying for a 9-to-5 job.

Andressa Hara has successfully transitioned from event planner to event designer and full-time blogger at Twinkle Twinkle Little Party (TTLP). If you’ve ever tried to pay bills by blogging, you’ll understand just what a challenging transition that is. But it’s one she felt compelled to make in order to fulfill her creative vision.

“When I was building my event planning portfolio, I used to invite several vendors to collaborate with me. They would provide all the party décor and food necessary for the shoot, and I’d use a photographer as well.”

For Andressa, that was giving over a lot of creative control. Each styled shoot was the result of the team’s vision, rather than her own.

I found that I am happiest when I plan, design and execute my own vision from beginning to end. So I chose to rebrand from being an event planner to being a brand stylist only.

“Once I rebranded and became a party stylist/blogger, I was able to establish my own style and stick with it. I started to incorporate more DIY ideas rather than having vendors to provide everything. I also started to take my own pictures.

“Now I create content that is easy to recreate: parties my audience can get ideas from to host their own events rather than hiring someone to do it for them.” Andressa says that producing styled shoots for her readers has become her biggest passion, and her strongest content for building her business and brand.

When she agrees to a brand partnership, her audience – real people planning real parties – come first. If what she does helps them to throw an unforgettable, joyful event, she’s done her job well.

“When a brand contacts TTLP to promote a new product they are launching, we will only work on the campaign if the product is a good fit for our blog. Since TTLP is a party blog, I will only promote products that can be easily incorporated into celebrations.”

Her work has been featured on Style Me Pretty, Oh Lovely Day, 100 Layer Cake and Hostess with the Mostess, as well as nationwide magazines and brands like Coca-Cola, Starbucks, Nestle, Kate Aspen, Tiny Prints and Shutterfly.

Andressa’s blog, Twinkle Twinkle Little Party Magazine and Etsy store work together like gears in an engine to support and promote each other. But none of these became successful overnight.

Read More on Canva