In any successful marketing plan, you have to start with a deep understanding of your target audience and your unique value prop.
Before any good marketer can develop a campaign or plan, we have to start there. And to get that information, we could ask things like, “who is your primary and secondary target audience?” or “what is your key value proposition?.” Or best yet, “tell me about your market position map and key differentiators.”
BUT, what we’ve found is that those marketing-first questions elicit a little too much “fluff.”
Instead, we use a couple of prompts to get to the bread and butter of your product offering, while keeping it straightforward and to the point.
This exercise is great for new companies, or organizations trying to define their core audience and messaging.
But even beyond new companies, we find this exercise especially beneficial for established tech companies and marketing departments. When you have a technical and sophisticated software offering, it’s not uncommon to rattle off all of the technical steps or algorithms “behind the curtain”; you are your own product expert, afterall.
As the saying goes, you may not be able to see the forest for the trees.
So roll up your sleeves, grab a pen and let’s dig in.
Prompt #1 - Imagine you're at a cocktail party...
It's Saturday evening and you're at a cocktail party for your best friend's cousin's engagement celebration. You're dressed up and enjoying your 2nd mojito when everyone around you parts, and you're now left talking to your best friend's great aunt. She asks, "what do you do for work?"
Here’s why this question works so well:
- More often than not, it forces you to position your company in the context of how you help your target audience.
Meaning, instead of saying something like, “Utilizing our core competency in SaaS market research, we leverage best practices to empower our clients to analyze and select a variety of sophisticated software solutions,” you probably have to explain it to Aunt Susan like this:
“We help tech companies find the right SaaS solutions to grow their business.”
Keep it audience-first, and think about how you help your clients or users.
- It removes the industry jargon. Now don’t get me wrong here… there is a place for talking in the same language as your peers.
But if you’re selling a SaaS solution to help small businesses better manage an area of their business, they don’t care about the inner workings of the software—they care about how it actually benefits them.
Prompt #2 - Imagine you're at your industry's best trade show...
It's the night before the trade show starts, and all of the industry leaders are congregated in the hotel lobby. You run into the woman who runs the entire industry networking group. She knows the industry players and pain points. But she hasn't heard of you, so you start to tell her a little about what you do.
She says, "ok, but isn't that like what so-and-so does?"
What do you tell her about what truly makes you different?
Here’s why this question works so well:
It gets right to the point, and it forces you to be concise in how you really are different than your competition.
If you’re really feeling ambitious, try lining up your key differences with your target audience. For example…
You may conclude that your software solution is relatively similar to most others out there. It does everything the same as your competition, but the one key difference is that your solution delivers results twice as fast as the competition. But does your target audience need or want the results twice as fast? Maybe they are already getting the results in less than 10 minutes, and it’s a fairly passive task, so you delivering results in 5 minutes won’t really impact their bottom line.
It’s not uncommon for this exercise to drive discussion surrounding the core product offering in total—and that’s OK! One of the marketing P’s we learn in marketing 101 is “product,” afterall.
Put it into practice
If you haven’t done an exercise like this, throw the two prompts into a Google survey and poll a few different people in your organization. You might be surprised to see just how differently two people working for the same company will answer.