May 5, 2014

Five Questions That Drive Successful Startup Messaging

In many respects, messaging is a crucial part of how a startup operates.

As much as a good product is important, startups need strong messaging to convince key stakeholders that their product has value.


But many startups struggle with messaging for a variety of reasons:

1. Good messaging is customer-centric. It talks to a customer’s needs, desires and motivation. Most startups are product-centric. They’re obsessed with features rather than benefits. This creates a big disconnect between startups and customers.

2. Good messaging is inspirational, educational and engaging. It has to talk to the product rather than talk about the product. It needs to deliver so customers want to learn more. Messaging is not about the product’s bells and whistles.

3. Messaging requires perspective, which is something many startups lack. Entrepreneurs spend so much time in the product, it’s difficult to step away from the action. It means entrepreneurs struggle with biases and entrenched ideas of their product.

How should startups discovery effective messaging?

The best approach is asking for help? It could be a startup marketer such as myself, potential or existing customers, advisors, investors or employees. Whoever a startup selects, the value they’re delivering offers a different a view of world. People who aren’t intimately involved with a startup can offer new ideas and direction.

The biggest challenge is these ideas can strike an entrepreneur as going against the grain . This happens because an outside perspective can offer unconventional thinking.

The reality is they are not off-the-mark but a different and maybe better way to capture a startup’s value.

Smart entrepreneurs are willing to consider different ideas. Not every idea is  embraced but some of them resonate.

To get started with messaging, here are some questions that startups need to ask:

1. What does our product offer?

2. What are the benefits to customers? How does it make their lives easier, better, more profitable, etc.?

3. How is our product different or unique? This involves thing such as pricing, features, design, etc.

4. Who are the target audiences? Keep in mind, customers come in different shapes and sizes. And they have slightly different needs?

5. Who’s the competition? This involves looking at direct competitors and indirect rivals (think QuickBooks versus Excel).

By answering these questions, a startup is able to jump-start the messaging process.

For entrepreneurs, the key thing to remember about messaging is it plays a crucial role in a startup’s growth. Strong messaging makes a startup’s marketing and sales efforts more customer-centric, focused and effective. It also lets everyone sing from same page in the hymn book.

As important, messaging is a fluid, dynamic creature. It continues to change as a startup grows and the competitive landscape evolves. In many ways, messaging is always work in progress so a startup stays as vibrant and relevant as possible.

For startups looking to jump-start their marketing, I provide strategic and tactical services – core messaging, brand positioning, marketing strategies and content creation.

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