Messaging & positioning insights & exercises

Quick Tips: Is the heart of your story buried?

Quick Tips: Is the heart of your story buried?

Quick Tips: Is the heart of your story buried?Every founder I work with tells me it takes waaay too long to explain their business to people. How do you turn something so big into a concise story that gets people interested? Journalists face this challenge with every...

Quick Tips: The Beginner’s Mind

Quick Tips: The Beginner’s Mind

Quick Tips: The Beginner’s MindAlways approach new messaging with a beginner’s mind. Why? Because when you know a lot about your customer, it’s easy to go on auto-pilot and make assumptions about what matters to them. It’s internal bias. As a consultant, I work with...

Quick Tips: A branding lesson from the Fab 5

Quick Tips: A branding lesson from the Fab 5

Quick Tips: A branding lesson from the Fab 5I’m a big fan of Queer Eye on Netflix. (I love the deeply emotional angle on makeovers. I love the transformations. I love Jonathan and Tan and…anyway…) There was an episode with a young doctor who was about to start her...

Quick Tips: Are your prospects befuddled?

Quick Tips: Are your prospects befuddled?

Quick Tips: Are your prospects befuddled?A CEO of a growing SaaS company told me that he still gets blank stares from people during sales pitches. He said: “I can tell they’re thinking: what the hell is this guy talking about?!” This bothered him. But what REALLY kept...

Quick Tips: Ask the million dollar question

Quick Tips: Ask the million dollar question

Quick Tips: Ask the million dollar questionIf you had the magical power to convince prospects of one thing about your product, what would it be? This is one of my favorite questions to ask during team workshops and stakeholder interviews. Especially if their product...

Quick Tips:  On sitting with the pain

Quick Tips: On sitting with the pain

Quick Tips On sitting with the painMy 5 year-old daughter’s fish died yesterday. It was her first experience with death (something I’d been dreading). As she sobbed, I felt the parental urge to make her pain disappear. I wanted to offer an instant solution – a new,...

Quick Tips: Would your customer seriously ever say that?

Quick Tips: Would your customer seriously ever say that?

Quick Tips: Would your customer seriously ever say that?Want a lighthearted sense check for your messaging? Give it the “Would-My-Customer-Seriously-Ever-Say-That?” Test. Think of one of your customers. Now read your copy, line by line, and imagine those words coming...

Quick Tips: Redefining what?

Quick Tips: Redefining what?

Quick Tips: Redefining what?When it comes to messaging, please don’t say you’re “redefining” anything…even if you are. I know, it sounds SO good. Especially when your product is *actually* going to shake up the market. It feels like innovation personified. But here’s...

Quick Tips: “Why you?”

Quick Tips: “Why you?”

Quick Tips: “Why you?”When it comes to messaging, please don’t say you’re “redefining” anything…even if you are. It’s something I ask founders when we’re working on their company’s origin story. But when a friend pushed me on the same question a while back, I wasn’t...

Quick Tips: Go wide on your competition

Quick Tips: Go wide on your competition

Quick Tips: Go wide on your competitionDo you know who your real competitors are? [Spoiler alert] It’s not just that other company selling the same thing as you. It may also be a spreadsheet. Or a manual process. Or just good old fashioned inertia. And if you don’t...

Quick Tips: Messaging a new-to-world product

Quick Tips: Messaging a new-to-world product

Quick Tips : Messaging a new-to-world productAre you creating or launching a new product? Is it really new…like, never really been seen before? One of the toughest challenges when positioning and messaging a new product can be that your prospects don’t even know that...

Quick Tips: Stop swirling with your messaging

Quick Tips: Stop swirling with your messaging

Quick Tips : Stop swirling with your messagingMany startup founders that I speak to describe “swirling” with their messaging. You know that feeling, when you’re going around in circles and not sure where to land. You’re in a holding pattern and it’s frustrating. But...

Quick Tips: Messaging for different audiences

Quick Tips: Messaging for different audiences

Quick Tips: Messaging for different audiences“Our product means so many different things to different audiences. How are we gonna find the right message that works for everyone?” This is something I hear a lot from founders and marketers. And it can be daunting. It...

Striking the right tone in extraordinary times

Striking the right tone in extraordinary times

Striking the right tone in extraordinary timesHow to approach your company’s messaging during the COVID-19 pandemic Over the last few weeks, companies have reached out to me to help them urgently address their messaging. COVID-19 has rocked every aspect of life and...

Quick Tips: “Drunk at the Party” Exercise

Quick Tips: “Drunk at the Party” Exercise

Quick Tips: "Drunk at the Party" ExerciseWhat if you could say it like it is? What would you say? What would you say to your competitors, your customers and your prospects? The “Drunk at the Party” exercise that I share in the video below gives you permission to be...

Quick Tips: The “Mom Pitch” Exercise

Quick Tips: The “Mom Pitch” Exercise

Quick Tips: The "Mom Pitch" ExerciseDoes your product messaging feel rambling or too complicated? Try the Mom Pitch. Pitching your mom is an effective shortcut to simpler messaging. And it’s not about dumbing down your technology – it’s about empathizing with your...

Quick Tips: “Smack in the Face Challenges” Exercise

Quick Tips: “Smack in the Face Challenges” Exercise

Quick Tips: "Smack in the Face Challenges" ExerciseBarfing technical features with your product messaging? You need to get out of your head and into the mind of your customer. You won’t find features or functionality there. You’ll find benefit statements and value...

Why your company needs Meaningful Messaging

Why your company needs Meaningful Messaging

Why your company needs Meaningful Messaging“How do we differentiate our messaging when everyone in our space says the same thing?” It’s a question that every product marketer has asked at some point. And with good reason. There’s so much competition. So much noise. It...

The secret to great B2B messaging? Customer interviews!

The secret to great B2B messaging? Customer interviews!

The secret to great B2B messaging? Customer interviews!I recently helped a startup in the HR tech space with their messaging. In our strategy session, the team told me that “ease” was the core value of their product. They had built the platform to be easier to...

How to write B2B messaging that connects with customers

How to write B2B messaging that connects with customers

How to write B2B messaging that connects with customersThere are only two types of messaging: the kind that gets read and the kind that gets ignored. There’s really no in-between. That’s why it’s critical to create a messaging strategy that resonates with your target...

How to simplify your B2B product messaging

How to simplify your B2B product messaging

How to simplify your B2B product messagingHow do you simplify complex technology, so anyone can understand it? You may think it’s about dumbing down your technology so a 4th grader could grasp it. Or finding the perfect 3 words that sum up everything. You can spend...

Does simplifying your tech feel scary?

Does simplifying your tech feel scary?

Does simplifying your tech feel scary?I work with tech founders launching brilliant products into the world. They all struggle with one thing: simplifying their technology. We all know simple is better. Apple effectively taught that to the entire world through their...

Forget about explaining the tech…it can wait

Forget about explaining the tech…it can wait

Forget about explaining the tech...it can waitI met a founder who told me prospects didn’t understand how his product could help their business until the 3rd meeting, at best. Needless to say, he didn’t get to the 3rd meeting very often. Most founders tell me it’s...

Good intentions holding back your startup story

Good intentions holding back your startup story

Good intentions holding back your startup story“Storytelling” may sound fluffy, but it’s a cunning tool for startups. We humans have been telling them since our knuckles dragged along the cave floor. Our brains are hardwired for them. Stories help us understand...

Please don’t be “the Uber of” anything

Please don’t be “the Uber of” anything

Please don’t be “the Uber of" anythingWhen you’re creating something new that didn’t exist before, it’s tough finding the right words to explain it. If you’re a founder of an innovative product or business, you’ve probably explained it to people 10, 50, 100 different...

Scrap the pitch deck template

Scrap the pitch deck template

Scrap the pitch deck templateI recently met a founder who was tearing his hair out after a string of unsuccessful meetings with investors. For privacy, I’ll call him Jim. “They’re not getting it,” he told me. “The opportunity is so [bleep]-ing obvious and I can’t make...

Even robo-investing can be human with a good story

Even robo-investing can be human with a good story

Even robo-investing can be human with a good storyI’ll admit it: every now and then, I come across messaging on a website that makes me jealous I didn’t write it myself. Like this about page from Wealthfront, a leader in robo-investing and financial planning. Despite...

Want to write a mission statement worth shouting about? Try this

Want to write a mission statement worth shouting about? Try this

Want to write a mission statement worth shouting about? Try thisWhen was the last time you got excited by a company mission statement? Maybe never, when so many look like this: We deliver innovative technology and services that make businesses better through a...

A fast & simple product positioning exercise

A fast & simple product positioning exercise

A fast & simple product positioning exerciseSimplicity is the key to effective messaging. But that doesn’t mean it’s easy to achieve. Especially when your product has so many direct competitors breathing down your neck. The natural impulse is to quickly talk about as...

5 ways to differentiate your SaaS product messaging

5 ways to differentiate your SaaS product messaging

5 ways to differentiate your SaaS product messagingYou know exactly how your product features stack up to the competition. But do you have a clear read on how your competitors are positioning their solution through messaging? If you want to sound different, first you...

6 fun brand workshop exercises that deliver the goods

6 fun brand workshop exercises that deliver the goods

6 fun brand workshop exercises that deliver the goodsA crucial element to any brand workshop is fun. (Twizzlers are a close second.) The goal of a brand workshop is to get under the hood of your company’s beliefs, purpose, vision, values and personality. And that’s...

A messaging cheatsheet to make your brand more consistent

A messaging cheatsheet to make your brand more consistent

A messaging cheat sheet to make your brand more consistentThe secret to effective messaging is simple: consistency. That’s hard to pull off with so many channels and marketing initiatives out there. When business is growing fast, you’re just trying to get stuff out...

5 common naming mistakes (& how to avoid them)

5 common naming mistakes (& how to avoid them)

5 common naming mistakes (& how to avoid them)Coming up with your next great company or product name can be hard. Especially when you embark on the journey with a group of colleagues who care deeply about it. That’s because the naming process is only partly about...

3 essential ingredients of a punchy brand message

3 essential ingredients of a punchy brand message

3 essential ingredients of a punchy brand messageThere’s nothing deadlier to your marketing than a weak brand message. Product features all over the place, no clear customer benefit, buzz words a-go-go…this is the recipe for disappearing in a crowded market. Yet so...