Nisarg Shah of affable.ai on The Product Marketing Show
Wondering about the right time to launch a new product or service? Or how to take the business forward with limited marketing budgets, using influencers in the B2B space? Nisarg Shah, listed on Forbes 30 Under 30, co-founder and CEO at affable.ai, answers these questions in the podcast, The Product Marketing Show, hosted by Rishabh Bhandari, Founder & CEO of Content Beta.
Since 2020, Content Beta has been creating marketing videos and customer education content for software companies. Bhandari hosts podcasts with thought leaders and experts in the industry discussing how to strategize, scale, and grow with product marketing and customer education.
Rishabh Bhandari: Nisarg, because you are the founder of a startup, I'd like to hear your thoughts on how to launch a product. Not just a new product but also features that are important to the product?
Nisarg Shah: The crux is don’t wait too long to launch your product feature or product in general. No matter how scrappy it is or inefficient, give it in the hands of the people so that they can use it. That has been the guiding philosophy when we come up with a product launch.
We want to get it out as soon as possible rather than fixing everything. Once we decide to launch, we open it to specific beta customers, especially with major launches, to make it a bit exclusive. We work with many enterprises when launching a new feature. In SaaS, we want to give exclusive access to certain customers.
That way, they feel special and get good tests and validation from those launches.
Use all your channels to announce that launch, including intercom, emails, social media, and personal one-on-one calls between client success managers and clients. Make sure every communication channel you have with potential customers is leveraged to announce the launch itself.
Rishabh Bhandari: Being a data-driven influencer marketing platform, what is your take on how to use influencers during product launches?
Nisarg Shah: People typically think of B2C influencers, like fashion, lifestyle, and travel influencers. But B2B influencers are very common and very relevant to market channels. We are going to work with one YouTuber who talks a lot about Shopify businesses and apps that Shopify stores should use, and it is a part of our product launch that we are doing on Shopify business.
This could be relevant because of two reasons. First, it gives you validation. If some relevant personality is talking about your product, it gives validation to the person who listens to them.
And second, you get a massive reach. It takes care of your marketing initiative and helps you reach the niche community of your potential customers through these influencers and advocates. As part of the launch, engaging B2B influencers for SaaS businesses makes a lot of sense.
Rishabh Bhandari: What are your thoughts about what kind of content works for marketing? Which type of content and channel has worked for you?
Nisarg Shah: We have constantly been experimenting. In terms of what works best, there are various metrics you can analyze if something is working. For example, we wanted to increase usage of some of our features and new launches where we saw less traction from customers.
In that case, a personalized one-to-one approach worked well. In one scenario, where we launched a completely new feature where customers did not know a function existed within the product, email communication worked really well.
In another scenario, the navigation prompting someone to do an action has worked well. If we were to think about launching a new product itself, influencer shout-outs could work very well. Also, having a community of people, like Slack communities. You can create this group of people that care about the problem you are solving, and keeping them engaged and posting it there works very well.
Rishabh Bhandari: Have you tried video marketing?
Nisarg Shah: Yes, we have. What has worked well for us are explainer videos. So, not only for big, full-blown product launches but even for feature launches, a product explainer video has worked very well for us. We put these videos on our website, create loom videos and YouTube short videos and share them with customers over emails and within the product itself.
Rishabh Bhandari: Can you tell us what obstacles you face today in marketing and what are you doing to overcome them?
Nisarg Shah: There are a lot of obstacles in general. Like, we get a lot of leads on our website. There is a lot of qualification and disqualification of leads from SQL to MQL, inbound leads, and converting them. What we are currently trying is how do we give inbound leads a sandbox to play with without having to talk to the salesperson.
This is a growth function. If someone gets a quick value, a quick gratification of using the product without having to sign up, that would be a great boost for us as someone evaluating the product in the space. So if a lead comes in, giving them a quick experience of the product is what I am trying to solve.
Rishabh Bhandari: For new start-up founders, what are your top three pieces of advice? How can they start marketing without having big budgets?
Nisarg Shah: We struggled a bit in terms of starting marketing. More than advice, I can share mistakes we made that others can avoid. We tried to do everything with a very small team. I would recommend picking a channel, say SEO, video, community, or paid acquisition, deciding upon it, and doubling down on it. Put quick numbers around it based on what is successful and what is not successful and achieve that.
Secondly, work with experts. We struggled with SEO for a while, and then worked with an SEO expert. People tend to shy away from outsourcing marketing typically. But it helps a lot when you work with experts.
In general, founders have a lot of things on their plate. So rather than trying to do everything themselves, which is the typical founder’s mentality, try to bring in experts or outsource to scale the processes instead of trying to stitch and band-aid everything together.