How well has your SaaS assumed a position?
Are you attracting the clients you’d like and developing your own, unique audience?
Positioning is something that is often overlooked by SaaS brands, yet it is one of the most significant activities for any kind of product marketing. If you want people to pay attention and make the move to sign up with you, staking out your own unique piece of SaaS-land in an increasingly crowded market is vital.
What can you do to position your SaaS for attracting more clients? We’ve got a few ideas.
What Is Positioning?
John Peltier puts the answer to this question nice and succinctly:
“Positioning refers to the tactics used to establish a place in the mind of your prospects about what your product is, and how it fits into the world of products they’re already familiar with. To be heard, much less remembered, you need that place to be unique.”
Ryan Battles suggests that in SaaS, unique positioning can be identified in the answers to the following questions:
- Who is this product for? Is it for me?
- What does this product do?
- Why is this product helpful?
- Why should I pay X for it?
- When would I use this product?
- How is it different from product X?
- Who else is using this product?
So positioning is about branding a concept that is bigger than simply marketing because whereas marketing is largely tactical, branding is philosophical and identifies who you really are.
We all know that the SaaS market is becoming increasingly crowded, so clearly marking your own territory is an important reason to get brand positioning right. As Scott Mackin says in this Kompyte piece:
“Luckily, for most of your competitors ‘branding’ is what’s happening to their company while they’re too busy adding new features, raising money or “growth-hacking”.
Yep, a relatively scathing indication that most SaaS are not doing well with their positioning, so you’ve got a good chance if you put some focus on it.
Elements of Brand Positioning
In a crowded SaaS market, it’s about finding that unique space and creating your own category where you are the big fish.
[tweetthis]Brand positioning can be broken into 6 key components: how is your SaaS doing?[/tweetthis]
Why Are You Here?
No, we’re not talking about the deep contemplations of life, though it is about the deeper purpose of your SaaS. In a world where SaaS is now fairly mainstream, why does yours exist?
For most SaaS, you can easily point to a good handful of close competitors who offer a similar product, possibly even with similar pricing, so why are you here too? Importantly, why should your customer choose you over any of your close competitors?
If you’re another “me two” in a sea of “me three’s,” you’ve got a battle on your hands from the start. How are you solving a unique problem in a unique way that is better than the rest? Your brand heritage will play a big part in answering this question.
The “Why” question should also be answered in your value proposition—a short statement (usually ten words or less) that captures the overall value of your SaaS for customers. This should be prominent and memorable; for example, check out Evernote:
What’s Your Brand Personality?
If given multiple similar choices, people will tend to gravitate toward one that has a voice or personality that they resonate with. This means that bland and boring is unlikely to grow your SaaS.
AVC puts this well when they talk about “minimum viable personality”; their illustration is especially relevant to any SaaS competing in a crowded category:
Slack is a good example of brand voice in a SaaS category where there are a number of competitors. They’ve created an app that draws people in by having a slightly quirky, offbeat humor, kind of like the office joker you might find in a physical work environment. Every time you log into Slack, your “robot friend” offers you some random piece of advice or pithy observation.
What Are Your Values?
Values are another key basis of brand positioning and can be a way in which you are unique among your competitors. Your values should be sacred to your company in that they form the basis of everything that you do. They are lived out every day.
AVC further points out that values are part of having a “minimum viable personality.” They suggest that you answer these three questions for your business:
- How will you change your customer’s life? (This is part of your “why,” too.)
- What do you stand for?
- Who or what do you hate?
Answering these questions establishes a basis for values and voice (and even gives you an enemy).
What About Brand Reflection?
Brand reflection is how your brand relates to the self-identity of your customers. How do they feel as users of your product? How do they perceive themselves or feel that others perceive them?
Apple is a great example in technology. The Apple brand reflection tends to be one of personal enhancement, connectedness, tech-savvy and a kind of creative-cool. Owning Apple products often tends to be perceived with some level of prestige.
This is reflected in their brand assets (another basis for positioning), with clean imagery, simple copy and contemporary fonts and color schemes.
In general, your brand reflection should bring up positive feelings for the client. By using your service, they are only going with the best, or they will be seen as the most savvy.
Your Brand Domain
Brand domain is simply where you compete in the market. Who are your target customers? If you haven’t done a detailed analysis yet identifying your target clients, you probably missed SaaS 101, because doing so allows your messaging to be much more targeted and appropriate.
Segment your target market and develop very clear customer personas, including demographic, psychographic or geographic information. Yes, this has been talked about a lot in the last couple of years, particularly with reference to content marketing, but it is still an opportunity for you to do a better job of it than competitors.
Some will have done a good job of narrowing their target market, some will still be just a bit too broad, while others haven’t narrowed their personas at all. The significance of this is in how you will build a real connection with customers so that your brand feels like a natural fit to them. The deeper you can dig to produce an accurate persona, the easier it is to find the stories and messages that will appeal to them.
How your SaaS is positioned should be something that you work on, not just before you launch, but consistently throughout every phase of your business.
Positioning is what makes you stand out. It’s the difference between being the person who ran for president and won, and that guy who came second (who was he again?). The idea is that you want to occupy your own piece of territory that is clearly marked out from others.
Positioning well means working on the fundamental elements of personality, reflection, heritage, values, domain and assets. Everything you do should have consistent messaging that is reflective of those things.
Carve out your own unique space and you will soon find yourself with your own unique customers.
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