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Learn how to create powerful messaging for your startup

Positioning your tech company’s brand is one of the most important elements impacting your ability to build revenue, grow, and scale. Despite this, it’s often one of the most common things to get wrong in business, which can have lasting consequences. Business owners and founders are digging deep into their business’ branding strategy to promote recession resiliency in 2022. Are you? 

Will Scott is a renowned B2B marketing strategist that with over twenty years of experience offering fractional CMO services to some of the top names in tech. Now, he dissects and attempts to define the intangible, turning brand stories and business positioning into tangible revenue-based results for his clients. Will continues to help business owners and founders identify their brand’s unique voice, value propositions, and growth strategy across hundreds of companies, and also teaches brand positioning at Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management for digital marketing and product strategy sections. 

In this video, Will explains the foundation of a business’s brand strategy and evaluates the key points that you have to hit with your brand positioning in order to connect with your customers. He also covers foolproof strategic elements that you can incorporate today to make your business more resilient.

Read on to watch the video replay, or see below for the key takeaways from Will’s session. 

If you’d like to connect with Will directly, you can do so via his GrowthMatch profile.


Key Takeaways

  • Messaging answers a fundamental question of “why.” Why should anyone care about what your business is and what it offers? Answering this question is the first step to triggering the purchase decision for your prospect. 
  • Every element of your branding should establish yourself or your brand as a credible “guide” that will help your customer solve a problem or enhance their experience. 
  • No matter what you’re selling, you have to (quickly) address the burning question in every prospect: “What’s in it for me?” 
  • Avoid copying or being too heavily influenced by competition. Your brand needs to be authentic to your unique voice and requires differentiation in order to survive in the industry.
  • Remember: It’s easier for many to criticize rather than synthesize your brand’s story and what you’re offering. Don’t be afraid to go back to the drawing board and try new things with your messaging, especially in the startup phase. 
  • Your biggest competitor is the “status quo.” People are naturally averse to change. Build-in opportunities for excitement and empowerment in your messaging and brand strategy. 
  • The entire goal of brand strategy is not to present yourself as “different” or “new.” Your goal is to put your offer into the context of your prospect’s everyday experience and to continue to prove your relevance there. 

What are the steps for successful startup brand positioning?

    • There are four main steps that are considered necessary for successful startup branding. You can reference these steps in the context of your startup and determine where you’re doing well and where there might be areas to improve:
  • Step 1: Setting the Context: This step helps you to determine how you can prove your credibility in their current customer landscape, as well as prepare you to articulate what the brand is doing against the broader global landscape. 
        • You’ll want to take the time to collaborate and “sit” with your strategy around this, as this usually covers your first customer-facing elements in an outreach initiative or campaign. Your customers will know this as your brand’s tone and mission. Be sure to keep it succinct and effective. 
        • This step will generally inspire your customer to “care” about what your business is doing, and give them the buy-in they need for a potential purchase trigger. 
        • In any of your messaging materials, you’ll want to cover the shift you’re making (against the global state of affairs), acknowledging the customer’s current state, and showing them the challenge that could potentially be present if they don’t opt-in to your offer.
  • Step 2: Dialing In Your Brand Positioning: In this step, you’ll be asking yourself a series of questions (organized below, see the next section of this post) that will help you to refine who you are, what you do, and what makes you purchase-worthy. 
        • Avoid the temptation to lean in too much to differentiation, here. You want to be better than the competition — but not necessarily different. Put your offer into the context of what your customer both needs, wants, and expects for best results. 
  • Step 3: Experimenting With Brand Messaging: 
        • There are three key elements that you need to include in your brand messaging. 
          • 1. Umbrella Summary: This is a 2-3 sentence summary about who you are and what you do. It’s important to keep this short, as people often have a 3-second-or-less attention span. Hook, engage, and prove your relevancy. 
          • 2. X3 Value Propositions: There is a science to only choosing three! The brain recognizes these patterns more easily, and processes the information quickly. It also helps to ensure that your value propositions align with the shortened nature of your umbrella summary. 
          • 3. Foundation, Evidence, or Proof: You’ll want to circle back to these elements with every outreach effort, blog, or customer-facing element. 
  • Step 4: Telling a Great Story is Critical to Your Brand Positioning 
      • It’s important to put your customer’s experience into a “storyline” with them as the hero and your service or product as the “guide” that can lead them to their next level of success. 
      • This can be more effective than a logical approach (i.e. A is better than B, so buy A) because that isn’t how a purchase decision flows. Purchase decisions are emotionally influenced. Why? 
      • This step requires customers to put their ego and credibility on the line in an investment for a desired result. They purchase, hoping that the solution will create the result they’re envisioning. 
      • Your storyline should be engaging and empower your prospect to solve the problem by investing in your service. 
      • Incorporating elements of ethos, logos, and pathos into your storyline can appeal to all different buyer personality types and preferences.

What brand positioning questions should you ask yourself throughout the refinement process?

  • Who are you targeting? This question helps you to niche down and avoid the trap of “selling to anyone that will buy.” Ultimately, this type of strategy will dilute your prospect base and limit your success over time. 
  • What do they want? This informs your marketing and storyline strategy. 
  • What is the name of your offer? This is a logistical question, but should also align with what your buyer expects, wants, or needs. 
  • What is the category of the offer? This should align with who you are targeting and what they want. Make sure to niche down as much as possible. Don’t be afraid to attempt to appeal to different categories or audiences at different times. 
  • What is the offer? This should clearly define the product or service that you are selling. 
  • Why are you different? Avoid falling into the trap of being TOO different, though. Customers want to buy something that they can relate to.
  • What benefits does your solution offer? This should help you to identify clear enhancements that your customers can enjoy by investing in your product.

On behalf of the team and community at GrowthMatch, we want to send Will a huge THANK YOU for sharing his knowledge with us. If you want to work with Will, you can visit his profile here.