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Is your SaaS product ready to be a platform? With David Burnand

By Jodi Norris

Marketing & Community Manager

Clarity & FINITE

With a career spanning companies like Adobe and Veeva Systems, now, as CMO at Staffbase, David Burnand knows a thing or two about the journey from SaaS product to platform. 

As sponsors of the FINITE Podcast we were proud to hear one of our clients share his insights into a key experience in SaaS. David knows if and when to start expanding a tool into a platform, the strategy behind it and how to use marketing to make it a success. We’ve outlined the key takeaways from the episode because they’re just too good to miss. 

Listen to the episode here

If you’re short on time, we’ve summarized its key points for you to read here: 

1. Transitioning from SaaS Tool to Platform: The First Decision

The first step in this journey is recognizing whether your product has the potential to evolve into a platform. Depending on the answer this could be the last step too! On the podcast, David emphasized the importance of understanding the complexity of the problems your product can solve and whether there is sufficient business value in expanding its capabilities. 

Not every SaaS tool can make this transition, as some might remain niche features or apps within a larger ecosystem. You also should have a moderate amount of demand from your audience, who might already be asking you to solve more of their problems than your tool does. 

2. Targeting a Diverse Audience: A Shift in Strategy

As your product transforms into a platform, your target audience will expand beyond individual users or specific business units. This shift demands a comprehensive understanding of various customer segments, including C-suite executives, IT professionals, and more. Use deep research to learn more about these new segments, their demands, challenges and how best to resonate with them. 

3. Evolving Messaging and Branding: Consistency Amid Expansion

Expanding your product's capabilities and targeting multiple audiences requires a thoughtful approach to messaging and branding. You must ensure that your brand retains its core identity while effectively addressing the unique needs and concerns of new target audience segments. Creating distinct messaging for each audience ensures that your platform resonates with a diverse range of users, but make sure your core brand values are fed through, communicating your overall purpose and values. These might shift as your strategy changes. 

4. Community Building: The Power of Ecosystems

Community-building plays a pivotal role in the success of SaaS platforms. During the podcast David highlighted the significance of creating a space where users can learn from one another and discover new ways to address their challenges. Peer-led communities provide an opportunity for users to find solutions collaboratively, fostering a sense of belonging within the platform's ecosystem. It builds trust with your brand and also helps you learn more about your audience and get a behind-the-scenes look at how to meet them where they are. 

5. Continuous Innovation: Staying Ahead with your Platform 

Once your product has transformed into a platform, the journey doesn't end. SaaS platforms must continuously innovate and evolve to meet the changing needs of their customers. This includes staying alert to industry trends, delivering fresh ideas to users, and demonstrating how your platform consistently provides value.

In conclusion, the journey from a SaaS tool to a platform is a multifaceted one, filled with challenges and opportunities. Marketers must navigate this transition with a keen understanding of their product's potential, a laser focus on new audiences, and a commitment to delivering value and innovation to their users. By doing so, SaaS platforms can position themselves as leaders in their respective industries and remain adaptable in a rapidly evolving landscape.

If you’d like to join the FINITE community, you can do so for free here:  

You’ll gain access to an exclusive Slack community with peer support and a jobs board, FINITE Times emails with industry news, and more! 

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