You want your prospects to be able to easily recognize the value you bring over your key competitors. How can you make this happen? First, your startup needs to do the hard work of defining your product positioning and then refine that positioning into messages that will resonate with targeted audiences.
If this seems daunting, think of the messaging process in three steps (outlined below), and take them one at a time.
1. Product-Market FitMarc Andreessen changed The Valley forever in 2007 when he drew a simple Venn diagram. In one circle, he wrote the word “Product” and in the other “Market.” He labeled the overlap between the circles “Fit” and proclaimed that “fit” was “the only thing that matters for a new startup.”
So we know that Product-Market Fit is important, but how do we achieve it? First, we need to know what it looks like. There are many ways to determine this, but our favorite process is the Bootstrap Product Market Fit Analysis™. This is a data-driven process that enables marketers to find the market segment where your product has the greatest advantage. It can also help determine which messages are most likely to drive sales in those segments.
2. PositioningNow that you know where your product fits in the market, you can write your positioning statement--this is your internal guide to how you want customers to see you. While undertaking this challenge, have your team keep the following in mind:
– Don’t create a category (customers create, and influencers name categories) – Don’t confuse positioning with messaging or go-to-market tactics – Don’t explain everything – Lead with the problem you solve, category, differentiating features or benefits – Make a provocative claim
For writing positioning statements, we like to use Geoffrey Moore’s template (below). For more background on the template, check this out.
3. MessagingYou’ve arrived at the moment you’ve been waiting for. It’s time to hash out those customer-facing messages. The ones that are going to separate you from the pack and leave a lasting impression. With all of the ground work you’ve done, this process will be relatively simple. Sit down with small group of people who are knowledgeable about your business and create one-sentence pitches for your key customer groups. There. You did it.
We know. This seems like a lot of work for a sentence that you could probably bang out in a few minutes. But consider if that five-minute message is truly informed. In a few minutes, can you say that you’ve looked at the data and the competitors and know you’re talking to the right customer? Can you be sure you’re hitting the key differentiators? Probably not.
Getting your startup messaging right means consistency across platforms. Your employees will describe your company the same way your website does, and your social media and collateral will echo those same messages. It’s important and worth the time to do it right.
Martyn Crew is the CEO and founder of Bootstrap Marketing, a San Carlos-based digital marketing agency. Bootstrap works with industry leaders like SAP, high-growth companies like Pentaho and startups like Yeti Data to help them position their solutions with content and campaigns that help them get to market fast and stay ahead of their competition.