Why Hidden Pricing is Enemy #1, with Allyson Havener, TrustRadius


Despite data supporting the case for creating a more self-serve buying process, many SaaS revenue teams still operate in a way that is legit the opposite of what today’s buyer wants. New report data from more than 2,000 B2B tech buyers reveals what self-serve looks like in practice — and it’s transparent pricing, free demos and no freakin’ cold calls.  

Listen as Lindsey speaks with Allyson Havener, VP of Marketing at TrustRadius, about the report’s results and how it’s changing the course for SaaS go-to-market teams.

B2B buyers want the royal treatment (AKA, a B2C experience)

TrustRadius’ 2022 B2B buying trends report has an intriguing title: “The Age of the Self-Serve Buyer.” The report suggests B2B buyers crave consumer experiences, even when shopping for organizational expenditures like software.

In other words, according to Allyson and TrustRadius data, buyers want B2B brands to court them in a different (albeit familiar) way. They want to feel like they’re sitting at home in their pajamas and impulse-buying a Stanley cup. But why is that, exactly?

“More and more millennials and Gen Z are joining the buying committee. They’re coming into places of leadership, and they’re digital natives,” said Allyson. “In B2C [interactions], you have all this product information and customer feedback at your fingertips. You don’t have to interact with people to interact with a brand. And so that’s transcending into B2B.”

In fact, Allyson said 100% of respondents indicated that they prefer self-service B2B buying platforms (up from 80% last year). And that’s not the only wild stat Allyson and Lindsey discussed…

Hidden fees are out, transparency is in

In other instances, it may be wise for marketers to act as not-so-mysterious shoppers themselves. After all, to sell like a B2B pro, marketers must first buy like a B2B pro. And when marketers put themselves in the buyer’s seat, they’re more likely to keep pace with rapidly changing consumer standards.

“We can pretend, and we can research, but you have to feel the pain, and you have to feel what it’s like to have a deadline and jump through the hoops to get these demos and make a business case internally,” said Gracey. “You need real skin in the game to feel what your buyers are feeling.”

Allyson’s trick to getting organizational buy-in for direct, pricing-first structures? Discuss the approach’s benefits with your entire go-to-market team, including sales and customer success.

“It’s not fun to be sold to”

TrustRadius’ report detailed the top five resources buyers rely on through the sales funnel — and for the first time in seven years, vendor sales representatives weren’t one of them. Allyson said this is a significant trend away from traditional sales tactics like the dreaded cold call.

“As a marketer, everybody’s dodging calls and emails all day. So… if you think about the sales role in that perspective, and you think about your end customer… and what they really want, well, they want someone that really understands their problem and their use case,” said Allyson. “So, I think it’s much more of this consultative [relationship] versus trying to shove a product down someone’s throat, right?”

Listen to Episode 344 of SaaS Half Full for more of Allyson’s insights.

What You Can Learn From a B2B Mystery Shopper, with Gracey Cantalupo, MentorcliQ


Who here is guilty of building and running a marketing and sales playbook, then delaying any changes because it took so damn long to implement? Often, that paralysis comes from not knowing where to start. Gracey Cantalupo, CMO at MentorcliQ, says to begin with being a good buyer and then return to the start — a process you can complete in a couple of not-so-time-intensive steps. In this episode, listen as Gracey and host Lindsey Groepper discuss how hiring someone to walk your virtual storefront (yes, a mystery shopper!) and actually being on a software buying committee can be worth its weight in gold.

An unbiased third party will (and should!) poke holes in UX

According to Gracey, marketers should involve a fresh pair of eyes when assessing their digital presence. A third party or freelancer is likelier to identify issues because they’re new to the site’s layout and won’t get caught in a familiarity loop. (And, bonus: hiring a digital mystery shopper is relatively inexpensive.)

“You need a stranger to [find cracks in your B2B presence],” said Gracey. “They will click on something, and it will be broken, and you will be mortified — and that’s exactly what you want.” Once the mortification wears off, B2B marketers can address their site’s issues expediently, improving their web presence. 

Gracey provided an example of how this process has worked at MentorcliQ. Not so long ago, she hired a freelancer to comb their website, and the freelancer discovered native videos were offline due to a codec error. Luckily, the team addressed the issue immediately and instantly improved the workability of MentorcliQ’s website.

Gracey has also used this process to advocate for something extremely exciting: a better ad budget.

“This was a few years back… paid [ads were] really great for us at the time, and we were paying the bills with the paid side of inbound, right? And I was like, ‘We can’t do this forever, and I’ve gotta prove it,’” said Gracey. “So, I actually… [made] the business case to my CEO that we need to invest in SEO because the researchers didn’t click on paid ads. They went to organic search first. So…I spent a little bit of money and got a lot more budget.”

“Buy better, sell better”

In other instances, it may be wise for marketers to act as not-so-mysterious shoppers themselves. After all, to sell like a B2B pro, marketers must first buy like a B2B pro. And when marketers put themselves in the buyer’s seat, they’re more likely to keep pace with rapidly changing consumer standards.

“We can pretend, and we can research, but you have to feel the pain, and you have to feel what it’s like to have a deadline and jump through the hoops to get these demos and make a business case internally,” said Gracey. “You need real skin in the game to feel what your buyers are feeling.”

Plus, temporarily acting as a buyer can improve sales pitches, encourage marketing innovation and promote visibility into buyer-specific challenges — such as the fact that, paradoxically, buying will often not be a buyer’s #1 priority. That’s especially true if the sales process is unnecessarily complicated or includes unclear next steps.

“[When acting as a buyer], I write ten things down every day that I will try to get done.

And [the next step in the sales funnel] would be on the list. But because… sometimes I don’t have my next actions for that, it moves to the bottom. And it keeps moving. There goes your sales time — that really extends your sales cycle if you can’t make that easier,” said Gracey.

To listen to more of Gracey’s insights, listen to Episode 343 of SaaS Half Full.

Investment Vibe Check: Two VCs Discuss

Investment Vibe Check: Two VCs Discuss ft. Sara Omohundro and David Kerr


This special edition of SaaS Half Full features a fireside chat between two SaaS VCs discussing the vibe of our current investment landscape. Our guests tackle everything from the technologies they’re bullish about to the importance of burn efficiency in defining financial health. According to our experts, it’s healthy to be conservative — but optimistic — about the current investing sitch.

Sara Omohundro, Principal at Elevate Ventures, and David Kerr, Managing Director of Allos Ventures, are experienced SaaS investors who joined host Lindsey Groepper in the BLASTmedia office for an all-agency discussion. Tune in to hear the unscripted conversation from boots on the ground in SaaS investing.

Welcome back to runway season

In 2021, SaaS startup valuations boomed. According to David, many publicly traded SaaS companies traded at a whopping 15x their top-line figures like revenue and sales. Although this created an exciting investing environment, it ultimately proved unsustainable.

“Now, [the investment markup is] below five times — it’s about four. So ’21 was manic; everybody was getting markups and every VC was feeling great, and it was a great time to go raise money,” said David. “[Then in 2022], you… had companies that had a really difficult time raising money, and you had very few that were the highest performing that could raise money and were still getting higher valuations. But 2022 was when you realized you were human again.”

And for founders, “being human” meant returning to fundamental business metrics like revenue and burn rate. Sara said a crucial part of that equation was — and remains — maintaining a solid cash runway.

“If [a founder or company is] looking to raise, they need to think about having enough capital to get them through up to 24 months,” said Sara. “Similarly with burn efficiency, [they must] think through if or when they need to make cuts… But ultimately, you know, when it comes to investing, a good company is a good company.”

“Never waste a good crisis”

Are we nearing a recession? Have we avoided one? Are we already in one? The pendulum continues to swing back and forth. Still, with rising inflation, a tumultuous stock market and increasing layoffs, one fact remains clear: Economic uncertainties have taken a toll on Tech.

But that doesn’t mean SaaS companies are in dire straits. Many have flourished over the past year, meeting and exceeding revenue goals — while others have benefited from a more metrics-driven environment.

“For existing SaaS businesses, it becomes a lot easier to acquire great tech talent in the changing economic and job environment. Another positive change we see… is people have to be a lot more resourceful,” said Sara. “And ultimately, we get to a place where we have more efficient and profitable solutions and products.”

“It’s easy to get sloppy and lazy sometimes if you’re not having your feet held to the fire by certain… metrics. So to me, [this economic environment] forces discipline,” said David.

So, where does that leave SaaS PR?

Marketing and PR departments often bear the brunt of early budget cuts and layoffs. David said this likely stems from a fundamental misunderstanding about how to achieve growth and revenue goals.

“We see more of this (a lack of understanding about PR) in the founder archetype. [They think,] ‘I’m an engineer, I’m gonna protect Product,'” said David. “I think technical founders truly believe that the product will sell itself… And, at least so far in my career, I’ve never come across the greatest product ever…But I think that’s [the misconception] you run into.”

Similarly, the timing of PR can impact the success of marketing metrics and campaigns. Sara suggested that founders wait for brand to become a priority before starting a full-scale PR campaign.

“If the founder has started building that brand on their own, then the PR company can help them expand and grow that brand and refine it. If a founder hasn’t been thinking about that, then it’s probably not the right time yet,” said Sara.

To listen to more of Sara and David’s insights, listen to Episode 342 of SaaS Half Full.

What Marketers Can Learn From Netflix, with Jennifer Griffin Smith, Brightcove


Media companies like Netflix create content to make money, plain and simple. If it doesn’t perform, it isn’t renewed or promoted. With this idea in mind, why are B2B marketers creating video content without expecting performance? 

Jennifer Griffin Smith, CMO of Brightcove, wants marketers to think and act more like a media company. In this episode, Jennifer explains how a successful video strategy isn’t contained to large companies with high-production capabilities, the role of user (customer) generated content and why she believes B2B has a place on TikTok. Are you ready to think more like Netflix? Press play.

Video content is a team effort (in more ways than one)

Lack of access to an in-house videography or creative team may seem like a barrier to creating high-performing video content. According to Jennifer, there are many ways to create relevant content for your audience — with or without these resources.

For example, user-generated content has become crucial, especially since the rise of influencer platforms like Instagram and TikTok. Although marketers may question the value proposition of these platforms to B2B sales, Jennifer encouraged open-mindedness. After all, you never know what content may take off. Still, marketers should ensure they’re creating (and, in the case of user-generated content, distributing) relevant and engaging videos.

The secret to nailing that process may be surprising.

“You can’t just be creating things and throwing them at the wall and hoping that it works — it’s a waste of money,” said Jennifer. “I think it comes down to the relationship [between marketing and sales] rather than who owns the actual creation. To me, marketing leads that go-to-market process; part of that is determining value, determining audience and having the team work together.”

According to Jennifer, when the sales and marketing departments align on a single goal, content is created strategically and used more frequently. In the case of content creation, the ideal destination should be customer interest and, ultimately, satisfaction.

Plus, better alignment equals more sales and happier clients. And smarketing cohesion means fewer pieces of content slip through the cracks during the lead hand-off. But interestingly, Jennifer also cautioned that the lead process has altered significantly in the age of digital-first marketing.

The marketing funnel has flipped

Typically, Netflix users will find the series or film they want to watch within seconds of opening the platform. This is because intent data like viewing history and profile information provides Netflix’s algorithm with enough information to predict what a user is interested in watching.

Similarly, Jennifer said high-performing marketing outreach has become more relevant and targeted. Of course, this is a reversal of the traditional marketing funnel, wherein awareness starts broad before becoming more personalized based on ideal customer profiles (ICPs) and first-party data. Now, Jennifer said customers are more interested in being wooed by a library of relevant, engaging content at the outset.

But doesn’t that go against prevailing knowledge about society’s increasing attention deficit? According to Jennifer, it’s not about buyers’ lack of attention but their distaste for non-relevant content.

“There isn’t a deficit to go and sit and watch a three-hour movie… so it’s not really an attention deficit. I think it’s a time deficit,” said Jennifer. “It’s more about how you engage with [your audience]. And so if we’re thinking about B2B buyers, [content] doesn’t need to be short. It can be a product demo, but it’s something that’s actually giving tailored, personalized and valuable information. So maybe it’s a product update, but what does that mean?… Can you have a customer come in and talk about it? Can you add interactivity into the video?”

To listen to more of Jennifer’s insights, listen to Episode 341 of SaaS Half Full.

The Subjectivity of SaaS M&A, with Thomas Smale, FE International


When looking to exit through acquisition, what makes one SaaS company stand out from the others? The answer is… nothing definitively. It’s all subjective, according to Thomas Smale, CEO and Founder of FE International, an M&A advisory firm.

In this episode, Thomas and Lindsey discuss the benefits and drawbacks of a strong founder brand, common mistakes he sees companies make when positioning for an exit (like cutting the wrong expenses) and the “analysis paralysis” that prevents buyers from making an offer.

No two buyers are the same

When considering which organizational strengths to tout, Thomas said it’s important to remember different buyers will have various perspectives on the same information. Even objectively positive metrics — like a low churn rate — may negatively impact a company’s purchasing chances, depending on the buyer’s preferences.

“Generally, buyers are all the same. But at the same time, they’re all different. So, everyone wants to buy a successful business that will do well,” said Thomas. “If you showed 100 people exactly the same business… you’re going to get 30 people that hate it, 30 people that love it [and] 40 people who are somewhat indifferent. Everyone will spot different things.”

For example, a strong founder brand can be a boon or detriment during the M&A process. Some buyers may view strong founder association as a positive because it suggests that loyal consumers appreciate the brand’s image. However, other possible buyers will see a strong founder brand as a crutch that prevents company success without a specific individual’s presence.

That being said, Thomas cautioned it’s still important to foster pro-founder sentiment, especially in the age of social media. After all, founder exposure = brand exposure.

The real takeaway? When eyeing exit or acquisition, it’s vital to prioritize volume over direct targeting initiatives. It’s not about finding 50 buyers who want to purchase your company for $50 million; it’s about finding the one buyer who will give you $60 million.

Approaching exit? Keep your foot on the gas

It’s a story founders know well: earnings season is coming, but revenue is down. To drum up “operational efficiency,” many companies turn to layoffs, often in essential departments like operations, development and marketing. But these cost-cutting measures often backfire — and in the long run, they’ll bite your company in the S(aaS).

According to Thomas, companies should keep their momentum while eyeing exit or purchase. That means keeping essential product development and sales initiatives intact. Otherwise, buyers may view the company as non-operational, which hurts valuations.

“In almost any SaaS or software company, if you’re not continuously developing your software, you will fall behind. There’ll be someone new that comes along, and they will just beat you. So you might… look better for a few months, but medium-term, [excessive budget cuts] are not going to work,” said Thomas.

Buyers, don’t get caught in a decision loop

Generally speaking, buyers shouldn’t purchase the first company they come across. But Thomas mentioned many first-time buyers dread miscalculating so much that they spend years assessing their options and inevitably getting “analysis paralysis.”

Thomas reminded listeners that a perfectly operating but underpriced company is hard to come by. Buyers should consider the mathematical justification of buying a company they’re excited about, even if the price isn’t ultimately right.

“[You could] find a business you like and slightly overpay for it — or pay more than you wanted — but buy it today. Or, [you could] wait an entire year with that money just sitting in the bank and buy a business below market value. By the time you’ve owned that first business for a year, you’ve probably made more than enough money to offset what you overpaid in the first place,” said Thomas.

To listen to more of Thomas’ insights, listen to Episode 340 of SaaS Half Full.

SaaS Half Full Wrapped: Best of 2022

SaaS Half Full Wrapped: Best of 2022 with Saas Half Full and BLASTmedia branding


You didn’t expect us to skip an opportunity to do a SaaS Half Full Wrapped, right? From Mom Water to margaritas, our host, Lindsey Groepper, sat down and shared a drink with 16 guests in 2022 to discuss topics that impact B2B SaaS marketers – like marketing’s role in risk and compliance and achieving CMO and CFO alignment. 

Here we break down the top five most downloaded episodes of 2022. So grab a drink, sit back and relax as we take a trip down memory lane. 

#5 Achieving CMO and CFO Alignment with Avnita Gulati, Visa

On the show, we talked with Avnita Gulati, senior director of global marketing strategy and operations at Visa, who explained how the relationship between a CMO and CFO is about educating them on how marketing functions and creating a common vocabulary with your CFO for success. 

#4 Marketing’s Role in Risk and Compliance with Gina Hortatsos, LogicGate

Discussing a topic that marketers often overlook, Gina Hortatsos, CMO at LogicGate, came on the show to discuss why risk and compliance should be an organization-wide initiative. Instead of having this discussion once a year, Gina makes the case of why risk and compliance need to be proactive conversations with marketers at the table.

#3 Getting the Most Out of Your PR Agency Relationship with Kimberly Jefferson, BLASTmedia

Ever felt ‘meh’ or OK about the relationship between you and your PR agency? Connecting with one of our very own, Kimberly Jefferson, executive vice president at BLASTmedia, shared what it takes for a PR agency relationship to go from good to great and what to consider when working with a PR agency.

#2 Your First 30 Days as CMO with Rashmi Vittal, Productiv

Go on a podcast in your first 60 days as a CMO? While that may seem daunting, that’s exactly what Rashmi Vittal, CMO at Productiv, did on SaaS Half Full to discuss her first 30 days at Productiv. She goes into detail about what are the things CMOs should do immediately when joining a new company.

#1 Breaking Up with B2B Marketing Strategies with Justin Keller, Drift

*Insert air horns here* Coming in at #1 for 2022 is Justin Keller, vice president of revenue marketing at Drift. In our top episode of the year, Justin threw shade at B2B marketers; say what? Yes, he came on the show to challenge B2B marketers to go from boring and traditional to think more like a consumer marketers to switch things up for success. 

Whew, we made it. Thanks again to all of our guests and listeners. Whether you like cocktails or mocktails, if you’d like to try any of our guests’ drinks featured on the podcast, visit Shaker and Spoon.

Interested in being on the show? Drop us a line here. Otherwise, keep an eye out for the new season of SaaS Half Full, dropping in January 2023.

What’s Up, 2023? MarTech Predictions, with Kaz Ohta, Treasure Data


It’s that time of year again! Marketing industry predictions are one of our favorite topics, and we’re sticking with the tradition. To share 2023 B2B SaaS marketing predictions, we have Kazuki Ohta, CEO and Co-founder of Treasure Data, a leading customer data platform. In this episode, Kaz and Lindsey discuss predictions like the rise of Chief Customer Officers, what will replace cookie-driven strategies, and the trend of proactive data governance.

Chief customer officers will be all the rage

Marketing has evolved tremendously over the past decade. According to Kaz, what was previously a single-channel initiative has become an all-consuming omnichannel effort. Many executives — including CEOs — are getting involved to reflect this change, and an executive role has emerged: the chief customer officer. The chief customer officer ensures success across all virtual touchpoints, placing the customer experience (CX) as the top priority.

“Within the next five to ten years, people will figure out… digital strategy [should be] the central function of a company. And when it comes to digital… it’s all about customer centricity,” said Kaz. Relatedly, Kaz mentioned that data analytics spending has skyrocketed in the past few years and will likely increase next year. This is interesting because marketing budgets are tightening in many other areas. According to Kaz, the explanation for this dichotomy is more straightforward than it may seem. As more executives and stakeholders invest in marketing, they need more data to verify that CX is prioritized.

Deprecation of third-party cookies will lead to inventive retail methods

Reports of the third-party cookie’s death have been greatly exaggerated because third-party cookie deprecation has been delayed several times. Despite these delays, Kaz said several organizations have already moved away from relying on third-party cookies. Why? iOS blocks cookies by default, so it’s economical to create experiences that conveniently (and compliantly) collect consumer information in other ways.

According to Kaz, the method through which organizations collect consumer data will be influenced by (1) legal requirements and (2) transparency.

“As a consumer, you want more transparency from brands. And for marketers, once you get trust, there are more people who give you more information. And by using that information, you can make your marketing campaign more efficient,” said Kaz. “So, the legal portion, customer experience portion and marketing campaign portion has to come together.”

The good news is that new methods of cookie-collecting have resulted in innovative retail campaigns. For example, retailers that track consumers’ purchase histories natively can use that information to stock physical shelves properly. Do consumers in Indiana buy more of a specific product than consumers in Kentucky? If so, that will be reflected in physical inventory systems, decreasing product churn across the board.

Data governance will become top of mind

As part and parcel of new consumer tracking methods, Kaz predicted that companies will increasingly seek data governance and compliance help. After all, improper tracking can lead to costly lawsuits and millions in lost consumer trust.

“Marketing became single-channel, omnichannel and [then] omni-departmental. When that customer data gets used across the organization, you have to think more holistically,” said Kaz. “And your trust is everything, right? So you have to treat your customer in a different way.”

To listen to more of Kaz’s insights, listen to Episode 339 of SaaS Half Full.

3 Reasons ABM for Enterprise Fails, with Alberto Cantor, ArisGlobal


If you sell into the enterprise or are thinking of swimming upstream, this is the episode for you.

Alberto Cantor is the Senior Director of Demand Generation and Corporate Marketing at ArisGlobal, and its SaaS product is sold to big-honkin’ pharmaceutical companies. Yes, large, conservative buying teams in a super-regulated industry with long sales cycles. Can account-based marketing (ABM) work in this environment?

Yes, but not if you give up easily. In this episode, Alberto talks about the three pillars he had to master before he got ABM for enterprise right (after two failed attempts) and how to set expectations for ABM performance across the entire organization.

The secret sauce to successful enterprise ABM

Alberto cited three building blocks to success that early ABM adopters should review when preparing to launch their enterprise-level strategy.

1. Integrated infrastructure

Stellar ABM starts with a robust pipeline of generalized marketing initiatives. Alberto mentioned that automation, analytics and an established digital presence — including email marketing efforts and a good website — are all important to cinch before implementing ABM.

Why? Well, it’s right there in Alberto’s title: demand generation and marketing go hand in hand. Generating positive brand awareness and association is critical for ABM, particularly on a larger scale.

“Think about branding and how your brand marketing and brand efforts integrate within [ABM] campaigns. Brand should be — ideally — omnipresent,” said Alberto. And in the virtual age, building omnipresence starts with a tactical digital footprint. Alberto suggests investing in web analytics software and marketing automation tools to build a preliminary tech stack. These technologies allow marketers to hone in on who exactly is viewing and interacting with their content.

2. Internal alignment

ABM may include “marketing” in its acronym, but its most successful iterations require inter-team effort that extends far beyond the marketing department. To properly invest in ABM, sales, marketing, brand and events teams must work in lock-step. Essentially, according to Alberto, if a team’s daily work impacts the health of an account, they’re partially responsible for ABM’s success.

“All fronts need to work together to really try to penetrate and engage that account or the individuals within that account that we’re targeting,” said Alberto. He also clarified that this building block is often the most difficult to nail. But when proper alignment comes to fruition, the dividends are immense.

3. Intentional (and frequent) level-setting

The final element of a killer ABM strategy requires the involvement of high-level executives and stakeholders. Alberto said that marketers deploying ABM must communicate clearly with leaders about the expectations surrounding the strategy. For example, what is the expected timeline associated with ABM? How soon can executives expect to see results, and how will the team communicate those results?

When leaders understand the upfront costs associated with ABM, they’re far more likely to appreciate the brand and demand progression that these strategies ultimately create. That’s a win-win for everyone involved.

It’s only natural that ABM success — particularly enterprise-level ABM — requires several parties to participate. After all, ABM threads a delicate needle to identify key targets among an enormous haystack of accounts and stakeholders. In other words, it’s all hands on deck.

“It’s not just marketing [building ABM], the SDR team doing it, or the sales team doing it. It has to be everyone doing it at the same time at different levels, different tactics, different content, different strategies, but everyone sort of pointing towards the North Star within that account,” Alberto said.

To listen to more of Alberto’s insights, listen to Episode 338 of SaaS Half Full.

Effective Story Mining with SMEs

It’s no secret that thought leadership is vital for SaaS companies. B2B marketers need to build credibility for their companies, establish trust with customers and potential leads, and create brand value. The inevitable question for many SaaS marketers though is how to get started. 

When it comes to thought leadership, marketers naturally turn to their founders and their chief executive officers. They are, after all, the traditional thought leaders at most companies and the background, context and vision they provide is particularly useful for developing SaaS thought leadership.

Marketers who rely on the top brass alone to ideate thought leadership are missing out. That’s because the subject matter experts (SMEs) who work in the nitty-gritty often have a better pulse on the day-to-day business. And SMEs with industry-specific expertise (e.g., chief marketing officers, chief compliance officers, chief security officers) are particular gold mines of information. Marketers can learn how to leverage the experience and insights of these SMEs through effective story mining.     

Uncovering Pitchable Topics

Story mining sessions are informal interviews designed to uncover pitchable topics that marketers can use to develop SaaS thought leadership. A story mining session should be a casual, free-flowing conversation but marketers should still prepare questions to ensure they uncover solid ideas. 

Story mining sessions at BLASTmedia typically run 30-45 minutes and cover 4-6 questions. Because their time is valuable, marketers should think through a handful of strategic, open-ended questions that help an industry-specific SME to open up. Consider the following questions to get you started: 

Question #1: What drew you to the company?

One of the best ways to get to know SMEs is to learn about their career journeys. For those who recently joined the team, questions might center around their current roles. If the SME is a longtime company employee, there’s likely a story there as well.

Question #2: How did you get into your job function? What intrigues you about it?

Marketers should also learn how an SME became an expert. An SME might be the vice president of product now but might have started their career as a trained engineer. With this knowledge, a marketer can more effectively mine for thought leadership ideas.

Question #3: What is the competition getting wrong?

Once a marketer has a feel for an SME’s background, it’s time to flesh out differentiators and unique or timely positions. Consider asking SMEs for their opinions or hot takes on their job functions, other industry players or the direction of the industry overall.

Question #4: What trends are you following?

Finally, don’t forget that work is just one aspect of any SME’s life. What does the SME like to do outside of work for fun? Any cool hobbies? What topics interest the SME personally and what trends are they following? A lot of evergreen topics are applicable to SaaS (e.g., innovation, future of work, entrepreneurship, leadership) but not the SME’s day-to-day work. If marketers can identify an SME’s areas of interest, they can pursue thought leadership on those topics. Marketers won’t know what they don’t ask.

Again, story minings should be conversations. Pick and choose questions from the buckets above but be prepared to pivot and follow up as the conversation evolves.

Need more help developing SMEs as thought leaders? Reach out to Lindsey Groepper to see how BLASTmedia can implement effective story mining and position your company for SaaS thought leadership.