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Create An Advantage With An Opinion
Don't Try To Please Everyone
Here's how you can create an advantage in your niche:
Have a strong opinion about your way of doing things. The worst place to be is in the middle with messaging that appeals to everyone.
You know those website headlines you have read and re-read until you kind of (you think?) understand what the company does.
"We provide digital solutions for the on-demand economy." That type of messaging.
It's hard to have a strong opinion. It requires saying no to certain people or audiences, inside and outside of the company.
It requires not speaking to certain verticals on your website.
But oftentimes - especially as companies grow - they get pulled toward this mushy messaging that falls somewhere in the middle and appeals to everyone (while at the same time saying nothing, really).
As you grow, you add more features, explore new markets to grow faster, and bring on more functional area VPs with different objectives. It’s easy for this process to ruin the message and lead to the safe space in the middle. It’s easy for that natural shift to result in a message that attempts to cater to every possible person in your TAM.
But you don't have to follow that path. You can fight it by having a strong point of view. Have a way of doing things that is different from the others in your industry. Be the contrarian. Be different. Be specific.
In order to do this, you have to conceptualize a small target market, to start.
Think of the audience where you know you can win...where you're a no brainer sale. It should feel very small.
Boil your ICP down to ~100 companies. The companies where you can solve their problem perfectly. It’s a one-call-close. Get incredibly tight.
Everyone will panic internally because that's too small a TAM. It will be hard to build a successful company and make investors happy with that tight of a target market.
Think of this as your Total Relevant Market. It’s not the TAM you’ll sell to one day when you have a full platform and ecosystem built around your company, it’s the people you can kick ass serving today.
Start by writing your messaging for them. Only them. I once advised a company who only served B2B SaaS companies in the seed-series A stage, with a specific job title, who didn’t have a lot of experience. Eventually they wanted to serve experts and larger companies and potentially expand beyond SaaS. But in the early days it was in their best interest to target all of the specifics: small team, limited expertise, wearing multiple hats, seed-A, venture backed, B2B SaaS specific stuff.
A message for this audience would not appeal to an enterprise CMO, or to a seasoned expert, but it spoke directly to the niche they served best.
There is a tactical way to expand beyond that.
You have a few options:
In all cases, it should be possible to keep the messaging incredibly tight, and have a strong POV for each new audience. Don’t let changes here dilute your message into a soup with a little ingredient for each buyer.
I’ve been in this position before, and I think it's very relatable, so keep an eye out for this.
You’re with the rest of the marketing or leadership team, talking about how you help customers, trying to land on a strong position.
You talk about the most important thing you do for customers, and most people actually agree on it. But then there’s this one other thing that you should throw in…and can’t forget this other benefit…and what about that metric that you can impact for sales teams even though they're not your target buyer?
Before you know it, your website has every single of these messages listed somewhere.
Maybe another way to think about it is: your website needs to get your champion to take a demo. Speak to them. Once they’re in the sales process you can share assets with them for other teams at their company. Or for their CFO.
Make sure you can deliver
Of your top ten-twenty customers, what is the outcome that they’re having with your product?
There’s a difference between aspirational messaging and stretching the truth so far that you feel, in your heart of hearts, guilty about what you’re saying.
I know marketers who don’t feel great about the product they’re marketing, maybe that would change if they felt the message reflected the real outcomes customers were driving.
Hope you are having a productive week.
🎧 Podcast #101: Creating a Value Prop, Fixing Your Website Messaging, and Positioning Lessons from 100 B2B SaaS Startups
Anthony Pierri is co-founder of Fletch PMM and helps startup founders with positioning, messaging, and website design.
He and his business partner have worked with over 100 companies, hands on, to help them update the messaging on their website in the most concise way possible.
Learn more about their framework for positioning, how they built an audience on LinkedIn, and more...
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