Peter Peter - Founder, UserActive

How To Build A SaaS Go-To-Market Strategy

TK Kader - Go-to-market strategy

This week, Peter sat down with TK Kader, a well-known face in the SaaS world. He’s the founder of Unstoppable and has 50K+ subscribers on his YouTube channel where he helps SaaS Founders build a scalable go-to-market strategy.

In this interview he shares:

  • The 3 pillars of a go-to-market strategy
  • Where SaaS founders usually go wrong
  • Why “Founder-Led Go-To-Market” is crucial (and what it actually means!)

Introduction

[00:00:01.450] – Peter

Here we are live. I’m talking today with TK Kader, who’s a coach in the SaaS space. A lot of SaaS founders are familiar with TK, so I’d like to welcome you, TK, and ask you to just introduce yourself. Tell us a bit about who you are and what you do.

[00:00:14.370] – TK Kader

First of all, thanks for having me, Peter. Really excited to be here, everybody. I’m TK Kader. I run a company called Unstoppable. We are a YouTube channel that helps SaaS Founders build a scalable go-to-market strategy. I work with about 250 plus SaaS founders globally in my SaaS go-to-market coaching programme. And I also run two SaaS companies right now as well. All around go-to-market. And prior to all of this, I started a company called ToutApp. It was a pioneer in the sales engagement space. We were backed by Andreessen Horowitz. We sold it to a company called Marketo. I worked on Marketo as VP of Strategy. We did a two year turnaround and we sold it to Adobe. So that’s my story.

Where it all began

[00:00:53.650] – Peter

Fantastic. TK, what made you begin the unstoppable journey where you help other SaaS founders?

[00:01:01.650] – TK Kader

Yeah, after we exited Marketo, I took some time off. That was like the first time I had took some time off in like ten years. And the last thing I wanted to do was anything with SaaS. I just wanted to take a break, and so I wanted to get a creative outlet going. So I started a YouTube channel. And actually, I didn’t do videos on SaaS or go-to-market. I started doing videos on burnout.

[00:01:28.480] – TK Kader

I noticed that a lot of founders burnout, it’s just the nature of the game. And so I started sharing a whole bunch of videos on, hey, if you’re running a company, here’s how to run your personal life at high performance. So that’s kind of how it started. And then people kept following, but then I kept getting messages in my DMs questions around, like, hey, this is cool, I love it, but can you talk about how I can fix this problem in my business? And they’re all go-to-market. So I started to do a video. One of my first SaaS videos was about ideal customer profile. And I did that and I recorded it, and then my team published it, and I was like, that felt really good.

[00:02:06.180] – TK Kader

I really like doing that. So we started doing more of those, and then it kind of just took off from there. It turns out there’s a lot of founders sitting in a room alone, even if they have great investors. They’re sitting in a room alone, staring at a spreadsheet, trying to figure out how do I grow my company. And that’s when they find our videos.

Free Resources on Youtube

[00:02:23.950] – Peter

Great. Yeah, you’ve been really prolific on YouTube, so you’ve got some great content. What’s the name of your channel? Is it just under your name? TK?

[00:02:33.710] – TK Kader

Yeah, it’s just under my name. TK Kader. If you search for TK Kader Unstoppable, you get all 300 plus of our episodes on growing SaaS companies. So it’s pretty straightforward.

[00:02:44.590] – Peter

Yeah, that’s a great resource. There’s so much knowledge and so much to learn for SaaS founders there. TK, you focused on go-to-market most of all. Can you tell us a bit about what you teach and how you help founders with finding their go-to-market fit?

Finding Go-To-Market Fit

[00:02:57.610] – TK Kader

Yeah, absolutely. So some context here. I come from an engineering background. So I started as an engineer and a product manager and I had to get good at this go-to-market stuff and I went through the same trials and tribulations where I was building a product and then I’m like, okay, we should figure out sales and marketing. And then we didn’t really know how to do it.

[00:03:21.180] – TK Kader

I did the lifetime Appsumo deal, which gets you a bunch of really shitty users that you’re stuck with for life. So that’s not a go-to-market strategy.

[00:03:29.810] – TK Kader

I then convinced myself like, oh, I just need that one more feature, and if I just build that one more feature, then everyone’s going to love my products. I fell into the one more feature trap, so I kind of made all those mistakes and then finally I bit the bullet and I started really saying, I’m going to learn sales and I’m going to learn marketing. And one of the biggest reasons I call it go-to-market versus sales and marketing is because a lot of times founders also tell themselves like, oh, I’m product-led, I must not need go-to-market or I must not need sales and marketing.

[00:03:59.790] – TK Kader

But the reality is no one’s going to discover your product unless you do marketing, even if you’re product-led. I operate two companies. Over the last twelve months we’ve taken them from pre revenue to revenue and one is product-led and the other is sales-led. Either way, you still need marketing. So this is why I always talk about go-to-market with founders, because like, look, in the early stages, you can’t hire someone, you can’t outsource it, you can’t hire an agency, you can’t go get an ex pizza boy that will figure this out for you. You need to figure it out. You need to embrace founder led go-to-market.

Three Pillars Of A Go-To-Market Strategy

[00:04:32.540] – TK Kader

The way you embrace it is there’s three core pillars that I talk about in every video on my channel, and I go deeper into it in my channel as well. In order to build a scalable go-to-market strategy that helps people discover you every single day is the first pillar is you need to build an ideal customer profile. A lot of people confuse their total addressable market with their ideal customer profile. But really, your total addressable market is everyone that’s going to buy you, that could buy you till then end of time.

[00:05:00.700] – TK Kader

But your ideal customer profile is, if you’re $0 in revenue, your ideal customer profile is who’s most likely to buy from you to get for you to $1,000 a month. If you’re at a million in revenue, who’s the most likely for you to get you to $3 million a month. And so your ideal customer profile is the first pillar of a go-to-market strategy.

[00:05:19.450] – TK Kader

Once you have that, then the second pillar comes in. That’s what I call your manifesto. Your manifesto is your positioning. It’s your messaging, it’s your strategic nARRative. It’s how you position yourself in the market and how you differentiate from everyone else in the market. And we do a lot of work with founders to really flesh out their manifesto, to really structure what is the messaging and positioning and the nARRative going to be.

[00:05:43.070] – TK Kader

Once you have those two pieces, then you have a strategy. What ends up happening is a lot of times, people skip those first two pieces and start doing the third pillar. The third pillar is execution. The third pillar is what we call your Broadway show. Your Broadway show is a consistent set of sales and marketing activities that brings your manifesto to your ICP on a consistent basis.

Where Founders Go Wrong With Go-To-Market

[00:06:05.770] – TK Kader

Now, a lot of times, founders will skip number one, and number two, they won’t do the ICP, they won’t do the manifesto. They’ll start saying, we’re going to do content marketing, and I’m going to build my brand. So you post out a bunch of tweets, you do hashtag building in public, maybe you’ll post on LinkedIn, you’ll do a bunch of blog posts, but then you won’t get anywhere because it’s not tethered to a proper message, a proper target market. So we always follow this three step process with everyone that I work with. I talk about it on my channel. ICP, Manifesto, Broadway show. That helps you build a strategy, execute on it, and then iterate on it over time as you continue to scale the company.

[00:06:47.330] – Peter

Okay, that’s great. What do founders struggle with most? What do you find? Because you’re speaking with a lot of founders. So I’m wondering two things. What kind of stage are they at and what are they struggling with most? Your audience.

[00:07:00.190] – TK Kader

Yeah, typically, the founders that I work with inside of my coaching programme have some revenues and are looking to get to that next stage of growth. We work with companies anywhere from  10K in MRR and they’re like, look, I know this is a thing. We want to actually build a proper go-to-market strategy and scale. And we work with companies upwards of 122,000,000 in AR. And so either they’re starting to get things going and really want to scale the business, or two, they have hit some sort of an inflexion point where they’re like, look, whatever got us here isn’t going to get us to the next stage. We need to reboot our go-to-market strategy and that’s when they work with.

[00:07:36.610] – Peter

Okay, okay, so do you find that they have different struggles depending on where they are with their revenue and size of their company?

[00:07:45.970] – TK Kader

Yeah, there’s a couple of different things that we see. I think the first thing that we see is SaaS is very competitive. So one of the biggest things that they are struggling with is like, how do we differentiate ourselves in a very noisy space? And that’s where a lot of go-to-market work really goes in. And that’s the thing of it’s not necessarily the one more feature. It’s really more about where do you target, who do you target and where do you focus. So that’s definitely, number one, how to differentiate yourself.

[00:08:14.860] – TK Kader

I think the second thing is where do you reach your target market? When you get very specific about your ideal customer, what channel do you go to? Do you start a YouTube channel? Do you do Twitter? Do you do Linkedin? Do you do ads? Do you do organic? Do you do SEO? Do you go to events? Do you do outbound? There’s so many different channels that you can have. And so picking the right channel mix for your ideal customers and actually knowing how to achieve channel mastery in each of those channels is one of the big things that I work with founders on.

[00:08:44.440] – TK Kader

Also, I think the third thing is, even if you have a tonne of capital, you actually cannot recruit a great marketer to come work for you. So the marketers are just not going to do it, mainly because you don’t have anything proven. So these people are not going to bet their careers on you. There’s plenty of agencies that will take your money if you have a lot of capital, but most agencies absolutely suck. They’re run by ex pizza boys that have never started SaaS companies, never gone from zero to one, and so they just don’t know what to do.

SaaS Sales & Marketing

[00:09:14.310] – TK Kader

The third thing I think founders struggle with is embracing sales and marketing. I think they don’t realise it’s like no one else is coming for you. You’re it. You got to figure this out. And just like how you got to check and code for that next feature, you have to cheque in code for that next marketing flow. And I think that’s one of the things that some founders struggle with, but the ones that do embrace it do phenomenally well. It’s the founders that embrace go-to-market and founder stage go-to-market, they end up getting more revenues, they get to park market fit faster, and also they’re able to attract more capital and they’re able to recruit better marketers because they can go to the market and say, hey, look, I barely know anything.

[00:09:51.980] – TK Kader

Here’s what we have going. I bet you can do ten X better. And they’re like, oh my God, this is great. I can do ten times better than this. And then they jump in and so they tend to do better. It’s a self-fulfilling thing.

What is Founder-Led Go-To-Market?

[00:10:02.450] – Peter

Yeah, I really like this term, founder led go-to-market. Is that something that you came up with? Because I hadn’t heard it before you talking about it. And then that concept started to make sense and it seems like it’s because the responsibility lies on the founder. No one else is going to do it for you. You’re probably going to do it better than anyone because you’ve got so much invested in it. And then also, once you do get, you strike onto something that works, then you can start to scale it and you have the culture and you have the strategy and you can hire people and start to delegate that out to a team. Is that how you see it and how you coach people to approach it?

[00:10:38.490] – TK Kader

Yeah, that’s 100%. And I think there’s a million service, there’s like fractional CMOs that can’t get a normal job. There’s ex pizza boy agency owners that are all convincing the founder that you don’t need to do anything. You can just let me do it. And it’s like, bro, you never did it. And so I think I’m the only person out there that has nothing to gain from that. I’m like, no, I’m a founder. I’m in the trenches. I’ve made the wrong hires. I’ve hired the agencies. It’s just you, bro. This is it.

[00:11:12.150] – TK Kader

Founder-led go-to-market is something I just started calling it. I’d never heard of it anywhere else. I’m sure there’s someone that maybe wrote it at some point before. I don’t know, but it’s a thing for me. It’s something I really believe in. For every SaaS business, for every founder that I work with and every SaaS business that I run, embracing the founder led go-to-market journey is what leads to more success.

[00:11:34.750] – Peter

Yeah, that’s really great. I like it because it came from your own story, too, and then you can help other people achieve the same. 

[00:11:42.220] – TK Kader

Yeah, I think that’s one of the biggest things about the channel, why people watch it. It’s not just theory. I’m like, hey, I started a SaaS company twelve months ago. I got it to initial revenues. Here’s all the tough stuff I did, or I did it before, I raised from the best metric. It’s like me just documenting my story, and I think people want that versus someone that’s talking theory.

Connect with TK Kader

[00:12:01.230] – Peter

Yeah, that’s awesome. Hey, TK, how can people check out the unstoppable community that you run? How can people join?

[00:12:09.570] – TK Kader

Yeah, absolutely. Just go to getunstoppable.com and over there, you’ll get all the details of how you can work with me, and you can go to getunstoppable.com YouTube. You’ll get over 300 episodes about how to grow your SaaS business. In each episode, they’re anywhere from 15 minutes to 45 minutes. I go in depth, literally, from the trenches of the 250 plus founders I’m working with and my own SaaS companies on how we’re driving growth. And then for those of you that want to work one on one with me, you can sign up for my go-to-market programme. Just go to get unstoppable.com and you can get all the details.

[00:12:49.030] – Peter

Fantastic. Okay. Thanks so much for joining me, TK. It’s been a great pleasure to chat with you today.

Extra Surprise

[00:12:53.770] – TK Kader

Can I show you one last thing before we sign up? Okay, so I didn’t plan this, but this just happens to be here and I can’t not show it.

[00:13:00.110] – Peter

Yes, please.

[00:13:03.450] – TK Kader

When you hit revenue milestones, you’re just like, oh, my God. I’ve worked on it for so long. One of the things I hate is we don’t get trophies. So I’m going to show you this. It’s on my desk right now. We did a trophy for every company that I worked with that got to a million ARR, and a trophy for every company that I worked with that got to 3 million ARR. This is not even all of them. So we’re actually shipping these out right now, and I’m super excited about these. Yeah, so that’s one of the things that I think we’re going to be doing more of. For the founders that work through it and get to a million ARR, there is a reward. You get a better team, you get more revenues, you get a bigger business, but you also get a trophy.

[00:13:48.390] – Peter

And, yeah, it’s great to celebrate those with the founders.

[00:13:50.230] – TK Kader

Yeah, people don’t celebrate. We just move to, like, you get to a million. Only 4% of SaaS companies get to a million. The rest don’t, which is wild. And so our data showed, like, you’re three times more likely when you embrace founder-led and follow our process. And so we’re like, we should give them trophies because these guys worked so hard. They got to a million. Like, all right, I get to 3 million. It’s like, whoa, hang on. We should celebrate. So we’re going to be sending out all these trophies. I’m super excited!

[00:14:17.170] – Peter

Hey, congrats. Keep up all the great work, TK. It’s good to see you.

[00:14:20.520] – TK Kader

Good to see you, Peter. Have a good one.

[00:14:22.560] – Peter

Take care.

SaaS Go-To-Market Strategy Program

Inside TK’s SaaS GTM Program, he works directly with you to revamp your GTM Strategy and accelerate your path to the next stage of growth.

His program is for SaaS Founders who have proven product market fit and are now looking to scale their Go-To-Market motions. 
Learn more and apply to join here.

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