My First Day in the SaaS Marketing World

Mike McGrail
5 min readJan 5, 2016

January. The natural time in any year for a new start. A time where people have incredible intentions for self-improvement, a new body and many other things that for many, ultimately will fail. It’s the truth and you know it!

January 2016 has brought about a huge new start for me

And it’s something far too big to allow to slip by the wayside alongside running, salads and French lessons. Today I started a new role as Marketing Director at e-learning startup, Administrate.

For the past 3.5 years I’d been running my own marketing consultancy (Velocity Digital) and was very happy doing just that. Then, the opportunity to join Administrate came my way and it put my head into a pretty sizeable spin.

Do I leave behind what I’ve built and head down a different road?

That was the over-riding question I needed to answer. Key considerations:

  • I’ve worked damn hard to make my consultancy successful — is it nuts to stop now?
  • Can I transition from being my own boss to being an employee?
  • I’ve got a tonne of marketing experience, but not solely in a SaaS environment — can I do the job?

After a lot of internal consideration, chats with many people and a definite reduction in sleep, I decided yes. Yes, I bloody well can. Why?

It was far too amazing an opportunity not to grasp with both hands

  • Administrate is a superb business, with a dedicated, clever team behind it. I wanted to be a part of that. See the latest media coverage for the business here
  • I don’t think I’d been honest enough with myself for the past 12–18 months — I was ready for a new challenge and was perhaps stagnating. Dangerous!
  • The role is phenomenal. Remit — guide a team and the business towards being a marketing powerhouse, backed up by a really special product. Yes please thank you very much!

The fact is that I’m delighted to have taken up this role and now I’ve experienced my first day as Marketing Director in a SaaS business.

A slice of my new colleagues…

Stop Mike, what the blazes does SaaS mean?!?

Software as a service (SaaS; pronounced /sæs/ or /sɑːs/) is a software licensing and delivery model in which software is licensed on a subscription basis and is centrally hosted. It is sometimes referred to as “on-demand software”.

I just wanted to clear that up in case anyone was wondering!

How’s it been?

‘Fascinating’ would be a great starting point. I’ve spent time with the CEO, John Peebles looking at the priorities across not just marketing, but other areas of the business. It’s really important that I have a consistently strong view of the key activities and needs within each department.

Albeit I’m just in the door, I get a sense that the marketing department in a SaaS business is far more of a centre-point than in those of a different ilk. The sales team needs the leads that my team will supply. The business of course relies on those leads and then the stellar work of the sales team in converting them.

The product\dev team produces features that our customers and prospects need to find out about. My team handles that. If we don’t all have very open channels of communication, then things could easily fall apart. If a new feature isn’t quite ready to be promoted, and my department jump the gun, we can all look very silly. Silos are nasty in any organisation, but I feel that they could easily play a major role in the demise of a SaaS business. A challenge for sure.

My team

Of course, I’ve spent time with my team today, learning more about their roles, what they like, dislike and where they want to be as marketers. Kate and Ashton work with me in Edinburgh, and Egle working from Melbourne, Australia. I’m going to write more soon about how I see myself working with the team, but learning and sharing of knowledge among us all will be key to it.

Learning and self-education is a key value within Administrate. Upon sitting at my new desk today I discovered the books in the image above waiting for me. I’m a mass-consumer of information and being a part of a culture that not only demands that its people are constantly learning, but actively supports it with resources was a huge draw for me.

The task at hand

One of my key aims from day one was to head home with a solid idea of what needs to be achieved and as I sit here writing this post I’m happy to say I feel like I achieved that, at least at a high-level.

The leadership team are the first to admit that the marketing function has lacked a rudder and strong direction in the past and that means that there must be a period of establishing the systems and processes before we can make the magic happen. It will happen and I’m bursting at the seams to really get the show on the road.

Sleep required

I really must go and rest my brain — there’s a lot of fresh information currently creating proteins in my grey matter and that flow isn’t going to slow down any time soon.

Day one down and I already feel like that big decision I made before Christmas will truly be the right one. Thanks very much to my new colleagues for all their help so far!

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Mike McGrail

Marketing consultant with 12+ years in the game. I work in whisky and gin marketing. It’s great. Writing about many things.