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To stay ahead of your competitors, start building your narrative on day one – TechCrunch



With a unique product, you get at least a few months lead time over other players, but the benefits seem to be less and less important. Think about how Twitter Spaces managed it. Land on Android in front of Clubhouse.

In this context, how do you stay ahead of your competition when they know it’s only a matter of time before they copy your best features?

The solution is messaging, says conversion optimization experts Peep Raja.. Unlike the ability to copy and commoditize, strategic explanations can be a long-term benefit. In the interview below, he explains why and how startups should tackle this very early on.

(TechCrunch tells its founders who have worked with growth marketers This survey.. We will use your answers to find more experts to interview. )

Laja is the founder of several marketing and optimization businesses. CXL, Speero And Winter..recently Twitter threadHe emphasizes common stories and stories that startups can use, such as “challenge the way things are always done” and “profane”, and come up with examples of companies adopting these tactics. I did. We asked him to extend some of his thoughts and recommendations for the founders of startups.

(This interview has been edited for length and clarity.)

The tagline on your site tells startups that “product-based differentiation is disappearing” and that they should “win in messaging.” Can you explain the rationale behind this?

Drift CEO David Cancel made it famous in 2017.

Broadly speaking, every startup is competing for innovation, messaging, and ideally both. Usually you want to start with innovation — do something new or better. However, competing for features is a temporary advantage. Doing what no one else is doing doesn’t last long. Sooner or later you will be imitated by big companies and other startups, so innovation alone is not enough. The feature is a temporary benefit, probably lasting two years, but rarely longer. On the other hand, with proper explanations and messages, you can get long-term benefits.

Large companies optimize safety, so story-competitive startups have great benefits if they are bold. That often means very boring, but no one wants it. In contrast, startups can be brave and deliberately polarized.

Ideally, start with innovation and at the same time start building your brand. When competition achieves functional equivalence, you let people choose you for your brand. It’s harder to be objectively and lastingly better than others, but it’s never objectively worse.

You help startups conduct research to find and validate strategic stories. Can you explain this concept?

As startups grow larger, they realize that they need to tell more about the story, not about the features. Their story needs to be a strategic story, tied to a larger concept. “It used to be a world like this, but it has changed. Our startup will help you in this new situation.”

A fictitious example is selling AI courses to marketers. Ideally, instead of talking about AI, we lead with a story that explains that AI and machine learning are all changing and unstoppable. The future is already here, but it is not yet evenly distributed. This train will not stop. You can ride it or be left behind. Companies that adopt AI will overtake other companies, and marketers will need to learn AI to adapt. This makes the product more attractive than selling it through features. “AI course for marketers. 7 hours video. Top instructor.”

This is also what I do with my company, Winter. Looking at SaaS, there are 53 times as many companies as they were 10 years ago, and hundreds of tools are available in a particular category. For example, consider email marketing. And the amazing thing about the competitors in each category is their identity. They provide almost the same functionality. In other words, feature-based differentiation no longer works. Most companies look the same and say the same thing. Identity is the default for most businesses today. Identity is the combined effect of corporate offers being too similar, brand differentiation being inadequate, and communication obscure. Companies these days will think that differentiation is everything. Curiously, the opposite is true.

Given that feature-based differentiation is a momentary advantage, companies need to compete for their brand. That is our new world. To win, you need to know what your viewers want and what they are telling them. … This is what my company is doing and that’s how I market it. As you can see, this follows the story explained earlier. It shows how the world has changed and explains that what used to work is no longer adapting to the new reality that is emerging.

How do founders recommend fixing startups to success stories?

Bring the best evidence that the world has changed (along with the data to back you up) and insist that you need a new strategy to win. Then show the winners and losers based on the strategy they are using and use it as new evidence that it is best suited for this new world. For example, when marketing product-driven growth, you can show that your customers are living in a new world where they want to start using their products right away, which is acting as a market development strategy. You can connect startups to them with examples that show how this works.

As another example, you can see what HubSpot CTO Dharmesh Shah is doing with community-driven growth.

There is also this startup that ships hardware to a remote worker, Firstbase. CEO’s Twitter timeline, Chris Hard, This is a good example of what I’m saying. See how he sells the story, not his company.

So, first and foremost, you sell the story, the perspective of the world. And much later, I’ll explain how your company can use this new strategy to help customers win. A story is a context such as a function.

How can a startup make sure it is correct?

Your story is if it’s not about changes in the outside world, but only inside the company, or if you’re investing in changes that aren’t happening that are failing to make the sound credible. , You may miss the mark. To win a brand, you need to measure the effectiveness of the story.

How do you test it? If you sell directly, it’s very easy to get feedback. In my sales demo, I’ll tell the story before going into the demo. If people ask for a copy of my deck, I know it’s coming home. We also ask for feedback and observe if people are nodding. If you haven’t gone through this sales process, for example if you’re doing product-driven growth, you should do message testing. This can be one-on-one or qualitative research, but in both cases you need to make sure you’re testing with a real target audience.

We do it in winter — you can do message testing and customer surveys, so you can survey people not only about your message, but also about their perceptions of the world. This will help you discover what your website’s marketing is coming home, what’s leveling off, how it’s compared to your competitors, and more. ..

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When should startups start working on messaging?

Innovation is temporary, so companies need to be obsessed with the story from day one. It is very rare to stay ahead of the competition forever through innovation. Winning a brand is more accessible. Therefore, message and market compatibility is required before product and market compatibility can be obtained. Potential customers will see this. It can even be a moat: Instead of positioning yourself as a product (when you sell yourself through non-innovative features, you are a product), you develop a story that connects people emotionally. .. If you can charge more than your competitors, you know it’s a moat. This does not happen with the feature. Eventually it will be commoditized and expected. This is much less of an issue when you have a brand.

How does the story, if any, need to evolve over time?

Your story also needs to evolve as the world evolves. You need to constantly scan what is happening and the broader context. The rise of remotes is one example. For example, see how Lattice, an HR company, connected to a feature as it extended to a wider range of products.

This leads to a broader point of moving from the mass market to smaller clusters. For example, in contrast to all the niche content that came out today, we were all watching the same show. In most cases, this can be good for startups, as they can’t afford to aim for mass market appeal from the beginning anyway. But as they grow, their story may have to evolve. There can also be a brand story and a strategic story at the same time, the latter evolving over time.

When it comes to stories, some of the ones mentioned in the Twitter thread are timeless, but even some of these may not work forever. For example, the story of “David vs Goliath” may not sound real once it reaches a certain stage. He also gave an example of Wise focusing on “standing up for people” and the turmoil in bank charges, but now that it’s confusing in itself, it may need to change that story. .. Some companies don’t have to leave the original story, but others do.

To stay ahead of your competitors, start building your narrative on day one – TechCrunch Source link To stay ahead of your competitors, start building your narrative on day one – TechCrunch

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