Every SaaS entrepreneur knows it can be difficult to execute a significant business pivot. Yet the reward may be worth it. Vimeo CEO Anjali Sud shares how a pivot from targeting B2C creators to the B2B market put the company on the path to success. Read on for advice and lessons Vimeo learned along the way.
Why the Shift to B2B?
When Sud took the CEO position in 2017, Vimeo was targeting consumers and creators. It was known as the “indie YouTube.” However, that space was too difficult to dominate, and customer feedback and behavior signals indicated that the B2B market would be the better path. Leadership at Vimeo began to observe that the users coming to the platforms weren’t the creators and artists they initially targeted –– there was a notable increase in small businesses and marketers using the platform.
Further, the content upload to Vimeo grew shorter. Less frequent were the long documentary and film-length features appearing. Instead, shorter, business-driven videos became the norm. And finally, speaking directly to customers, Sud learned of the massive need that could be met with Vimeo: “You were starting to see these signals that businesses were looking to use video. It wasn’t happening at scale because it was too hard, but there was a real desire. Ultimately, it was those signals that led Vimeo to double down on the [B2B] strategy.”
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Lessons Learned During a Business Pivot
- Don’t underestimate the amount of work, determination, and momentum you will need to execute the shift in strategy. You will need patience, dedication, and speed. If you are moving upmarket, you will need more thought, work, and commitment to achieve your desired results. “For anyone thinking of moving upmarket toward the enterprise…you and your team have to wake up with deep empathy and passion for serving customers in the enterprise. It’s hard to change that at a company at scale.” So continue to cheer your team on during the tough transition.
- The power of focus will take you far. The world has remained in flux since the start of the pandemic, and that means new opportunities for market disruption. However, Sud cautions against getting distracted by too many new ideas or projects. Getting pulled in several new directions can dilute the progress of your primary business goals.
- Remain devoted to your vision, even through setbacks. Hiccups, hurdles, and failures should be expected when changing your company’s focus, but you should stay true to the end goal. As Sud says, “The mantra I use a lot is that we need to have patience on vision, but impatience on execution.” This means that you stay the course toward your vision, but you can be flexible in how to get there. Sud advises a fluid approach and a willingness to adapt the execution.
- Keep an open mind when pursuing enterprise. Currently, 75% of Vimeo’s customer base is self-serve, and 25% is enterprise. Yet Sud points out that a majority of their enterprise customers came from the self-serve freemium side. Your answer to attracting large clients may be less traditional than you think. Focus on delivering product value, invest in top-notch onboarding and CX, and look for the patterns in your typical enterprise buyer journey.
- Listen to customers, observe usage patterns, review market research, and stay open-minded to recognize the potential for a pivot opportunity.
- To move upmarket, you and your team will need to shift your mentality and keep the passion alive during the hard work to capture that business.
- Avoid the temptation to get pulled into too many directions ––keep your primary mission top-of-mind at all times.
- Remain unwavering in the vision and flexible in your execution.
And a related deep dive postcast with Sud and SaaStr’s Jason Lemkin here: