Successful technology startups know that the right messaging gets you everywhere - it drives capital investment, lead generation, partnerships, press coverage and acquisition opportunities. On the flip side, the wrong messaging can cost you everything. If you waste time and money on messaging that falls flat, you’ve not only depleted your resources for no gain but also opened the gate for competitors to beat you to market. 

Here are the 4 critical steps for messaging success:

Industry Analysis 

A thorough and timely industry analysis serves as the backbone for messaging development. The industry analysis identifies trends, drivers, influencers, innovation, and growth areas. If you’re targeting specific verticals in a B2B playyou should be conducting the same due diligence to understand the dynamics, pain points and opportunities within your customer base.

Competitive Research

The competitive audit takes a deep dive into not only how competitors are marketing their products and services across channels but also how they are positioned, differentiated, and communicating their value proposition. The point of this exercise is to identify a hole in the market that you can fill with a fresh, compelling and original value proposition. 

Audience Definition

It’s impossible to create effective messaging if you don’t know who you’re targeting. However, for startups playing in emerging markets, audience definition can be both tricky and daunting. I advise startup clients to avoid getting bogged down with specifically who they’re targeting and focus more broadly on what they’re targeting. Here’s an example of the difference:

A mid-sized data security company might define its audience as Fortune 500 CIOs in financial services, health care, government, and insurance. By contrast, a startup data security company could define its audience as mid-market solution seekers in verticals with stringent data security requirements. This approach affords startups the flexibility to move with the market while keeping aligned with the value proposition. 

Positioning and Differentiation

It’s not enough to offer up a new twist on what already exists, nor is enough to talk about a “different way of thinking” about things. When investors, partners, acquirers, and media sense squishiness, they pass. Instead, they’re looking for solid differentiators that mesh with market opportunities and unaddressed pain points. Here’s an example of squishy v. solid:

Squishy: ABC is an elegantly designed, agile, and scalable customer experience management platform that delivers an end-to-end view of the customer journey, identifies at-risk customers in real-time, and closes the loop around issue resolution to optimize the customer experience. 

Solid: ABC is an elegantly designed, agile, and scalable customer experience management platform that uses streaming analytics to deliver an end-to-end view of the customer journey, identify at risk customers in real-time, and close the loop around issue resolution to reduce churn.

The nuance may seem subtlebut it’s critical. In this case, “reducing churn” identifies a clear and measurable benefit against an important KPI while “streaming analytics” delineates how you do it. For technology startups, it’s all about specificity and tangibility – this is how you win with messaging.