Great marketing comes down to telling the most compelling story, in the least amount of words.
The problem most SaaS companies face in their marketing is not their design, or features, or pricing. It’s copywriting.
You’ve got to be remarkable. And to be remarkable, you have to tell your customers why you’re remarkable, and you have to be convincing.
This rings especially true in the world of SaaS, where products don’t have a physical form that passerby’s can stare at, in awe of it’s beauty, size, or material. Getting someone to sign up for your product comes down to the words that you use.
And the words you use must be remarkable.
What happens is that bad copywriting results in using too many words that aren’t compelling and that don’t support a single story, so users either 1) have to spend way too long reading through everything to understand what you do and why they should care or 2) they bounce off the page.
It’s what I call the TL;DR (Too Long; Didn’t Read) epidemic because people start reading a webpage and if things aren’t clicking right away, they think “too long, don’t care that much.” Even though you might have the perfect product for someone, they might not be able to clearly understand that and not take any action with you.
This is where you must refine and optimize your tagline, elevator pitch, and benefit statements to position your product as the best solution for your target customers.
What we’re doing essentially is called positioning. Positioning is clearly communicating to your target customers that you are the best solution for them. If you can gain traction with your product to a particular market, you’ve achieved what investors have coined as “product/market fit.” As Devesh Khanal of Grow & Convert says, positioning is the “market fit” part of “product market fit” and it’s likely the part you are ignoring.
Everything that you create here will be used on your website, in your outbound emails, on your social profiles, pitches to journalists, posts to Product Hunt, what you submit to startup directories, etc. Needless to say, it’s important to nail down.
We are emotional creatures more than we are rational. While we like to think that we’re rational decision makers, the reality is that we’re much more emotional decision makers than we think. Making a rational decision based on objective facts, data, and logical outputs isn’t as common as we think. To be completely rational decision makers, we should, in theory, make the same decisions that a robot or computer would. But this isn’t how we work.
In the 1970s, psychologists Daniel Kahneman and Amos Tversky discovered “cognitive biases,” showing that that humans systematically make choices that defy clear logic. We definitely make better decisions using objective facts and logic, but we still make decisions based on instinct. We don’t have the time or ability to make the calculations and run the scenarios necessary to be completely rational, so look to our gut, the emotions that indicate the right decision. We make decisions based on emotions, but we justify them with our rationale. It’s the reason why we smoke, drink sugar-filled soda, jump off cliffs for fun, buy lottery tickets, and eat pizza for dinner… again.
Now, I’m not saying that humans are completely emotional decision makers, and neither is right or wrong, but I want to point out that emotion is naturally the primary factor in making a decision.
So if decisions are emotional, why are so many marketers still using logic-driven, feature-focused language to appeal to our rationale?
The answer: they’re still not thinking customer-driven. As a marketer, you have to constantly check yourself. It’s easy to think that people will choose your product because it’s technically better than every other product, but it’s not a perfect world.
If you already have customers, I highly recommend that you go back to them and ask them the following questions to inform the rest of this exercise:
If you don’t already have customers, ask yourself these same questions and write down 10 different variations of your answers. Yes, 10. It’s not supposed to be easy or straightforward.
Some of the keys to remember are:
Describe things using the words and phrases that they would. Go back to conversations with prospects, study how people talk about related issues on the internet, look at the way your customers talk about SaaS products.
It’s important to include and ideally use the exact words and language that your future customers would. There’s nothing more boring than reading a bunch of clinical, bland, and vague language.
When people hear copywriting, they often think about using big fancy words in long, complex sentences. The opposite is true. Good copywriting makes it seem like the marketers aren’t trying at all, using the same simple language they would.
This is a big one. You’re never going to find the silver bullet for your messaging (the way you talk about your products, e.g. a combination of your tagline, elevator pitch, and benefit statements). A rule I follow is to take something 80% to being “perfect” and then call it a day.
Expecting to get to 100% perfect is ignorant and a waste of time. Get it to 80%, call it day, and be open to changing it later on. As your products change, grow, and get better, so will their messaging. For now, you just need to come up with the best you can that will make sense to your potential customers and get them to sign up.
If you asked your customers how they would describe your product to their mom, now is the time to use their advice. Use them to come up with ideas for your tagline. They might even make one up for you.
The first step in creating a great tagline is to write 2-3 sentences to describe what abilities your product gives customers, the outcomes your customers achieve, and the pains your product solves.
For example, you could start with something like this:
“<your product> allows anyone to rent out the homes of every-day people around the world. This allows them to experience the world in a new, refreshing, and affordable way. The days of having to stay in boring, over-priced hotels are over.”
Step two is to whittle it down to a single sentence with a couple clauses:
“<your product> allows everyone to be anywhere, stay anywhere, and belong anywhere, by renting out the homes of people just like you.”
Step three is to trim it down even further into just several words:
“<your product>, belong anywhere.”
Your tagline could also take a different direction and be descriptive of the product itself.
A common format to use is:
“The <product category> for <niche market>”
“A <adjective> way to <action>.”
“The easiest way to <action>.”
“The <marketing analytics dashboard> for <SaaS businesses>”
“A <smarter> way to <track your marketing analytics>.”
“The easiest way to <track your most important marketing metrics>.”
Your tagline could also take another format and be descriptive of the problem you solve.
“Never have to <pain> again.”
“A better way to <pain>.”
“Never have to manually export your marketing data again.”
“A better way to pull your marketing data.”
If your customers gave you good answers as to how to best summarize your product to someone they just met, now let those answers help you form your pitch.
The elevator pitch is a crucial part of EVERY business. It’s a literal representation of what you will tell people in person or over the phone. This is the one piece that you need to memorize and practice over and over and over again. It needs to be exactly how you would say it in person without sounding scripted or robotic.
Your elevator pitch is going to be a combination of:
Your genesis story is a very condensed version of how you found or experienced the problem that inspired you to create a product to solve it.
You could use this template as a starting point:
“<your product> is <tagline>. We kept meeting people who all experienced <pain> and so we decided to create a solution for it. <USP>. It’s our mission to <mission statement>”
“<your product> is a <marketing analytics dashboard for SaaS>. I kept meeting people who all <hated manually exporting their marketing data into spreadsheets because it took too much work> and so I decided to create a solution for it. <You can aggregate all your marketing data in one place so that you can automatically generate real-time reports on all the metrics you want to track every day>. It’s our mission to <empower marketers to find a gem of insight every day>.”
Now it’s time to answer why customers would pay for your product in a couple bullet points. Again, let your customers’ answers inform your pitch.
Your benefit statements are going to be your go-to answers to questions like “what makes you different than another solution?” or “what does your product do?” or “why do I need this?”
Essentially, you want to come up with 3-4 clear points that clearly describe the value of your product.
Now, again, the mistake that most people make is they think “well that's easy, we’ll just tell them our amazing features x, y, and z.”
Wrong. No one cares about the features. They only care about abilities and outcomes.
They’re called benefit statements because they clearly articulate how the product benefits them, not what the product can do.
Step 1 to creating great benefit statements is to list out your main features. Then, follow each one with “which means that you can…” Once you’ve done that, don’t do any more yet.
You should come up with something like:
Step 2 is to think about the value that each feature provides in terms of the emotion it will give them, money they will save, time they will save, or more money they will make.
For example, a lock’s features might include heavy-duty steel, proprietary mechanics, and award-winning design. But the value it gives, and in turn, the benefit it provides, are peace of mind, safety, and protecting your valuable possessions.
As another example, a car’s features might include a new advancement in engine efficiency, surround sound system, and 5 star collision rating. The benefits these features provide are saving money on gas, having fun with your passengers, and keeping your kids safe in case of an accident.
So take each feature followed by “which means that you can…” and finish the sentence with the value that the feature provides. It would look like this: “<feature> which means that you can <value>.” Create three different variations for each feature. Don’t try to get it right on the first try. Just keep working through it until you have something simple and compelling.
Let’s take my example again. Here’s how I would finish these sentences:
Take your time on these. Again, they don’t need to be perfect, but you do need to fiddle with them until they are short, compelling, and clear enough.
Replace some of the “which means that you can” with language that flows better such as “so you can…,” “making you…,” or “allowing you to…”
At the end of all this, you will have the three most important brand messaging pieces that you need: tagline, elevator pitch, and benefit statements.
Put them all together in a couple paragraphs and you will have a very defined framework of explaining to everyone why you are remarkable, and essentially, why they should care about you and your product.
For example, using the examples I gave, my brand messaging framework would look like this:
“A smarter way to track your marketing analytics.
<your product> is a marketing analytics dashboard for SaaS businesses. I kept meeting people who all hated manually exporting their marketing data into spreadsheets because it took too much work and so I decided to create a solution for it. With my product you can aggregate all your marketing data in one place so that you can automatically generate real-time reports on all the metrics you want to track every day. It’s our mission to empower marketers to find a gem of insight every day.”
Our dashboard updates in real-time with only the information you need so you can reduce the noise and clutter of analytics and have more focus and clarity.
The ‘Insights’ tab picks out interesting correlations in the data, making you look like a genius to your boss and make the company more money with actionable insights.”
We have one-click integrations with all the tools you already use, allowing you to easily get set up in minutes without having to worry about touching code or API keys.”
Nailing down your brand messaging may not seem like such a big deal, but it’s so important to tell a consistent story and have a strong message to use. Being able to articulate your products and make a compelling argument will pay dividends as time goes on. Taking the time now to hash it out and come up with a strong brand messaging framework will make your job endlessly easier writing ads, blog posts, website copy, webinars, and everything else you decide to do.
In the next chapter, we’ll explore how the brand messaging framework will level up to building a lasting, memorable brand.