Random Bytes

All Things Internet™ since 1999


My customers, not your eyeballs

SaaS is a great model and I especially like how it can solve small business problems very quickly. Using a web service instead of developing custom code in-house can really decrease the amount of time it takes to develop a new idea and launch it into the market.

One of my requirements for web services is that my brand takes prominence over theirs. Some services are better at this than others, and I’m fairly forgiving on this point – sometimes the URLs aren’t as clean as I would like or our ability to brand the service is limited, but generally SaaS providers understand the importance of helping us put our brand in front of our customers.

Most SaaS providers offer this enhanced branding as an upsell from their free offer. No cash mean no branding – this makes total sense to me. This arrangement is essentially an advertising relationship where I let the SaaS provider advertise their brand to my customers in exchange for free use of their service. In some cases, I’m also really cool with this arrangement but for the most part, I prefer to just pay up and take advantage of the branding for my benefit.

I ran across one provider this week that seems to want the best of both worlds. They want me to pay for their service (no free option) and their solution is heavily branded with links and logos to entice my customers to use their service. Thinking that I must have missed something, I sent an email to their customer support team asking how I can turn off their branding.

Their response was that they had no plans to offer this feature in the near future. I wasn’t really surprised at the response, but I was definitely taken aback by the temerity of their strategy. Do they really think this is a sustainable way to grow their business?

In essence, their business model presumes that I will pay them money so that they can advertise to my customers.

Screw that. My relationship with my customers is important and precious – there’s no way that I’m going to distract them with someone else’s corporate messaging in this way.

We’ll be moving to a new solution soon.