Why You Have To Start With A Clear Brand Story (And How To)

Startup marketing is a beast. There are a zillion schools of thought about the best way to approach marketing for a product-led business.

Product marketing, growth marketing, branding, digital marketing, lifecycle marketing. You Heads of Marketing out there have a lot to take on. And it can be challenging to ensure your marketing efforts- and marketing team- are aligned. Identifying how to write a clear brand story is key.

The number one thing you can do to help ensure your marketing efforts, and the rockstars on your team, are aligned and moving in the right direction is to start with a clear brand story.

This might sound simple. But having worked with dozens and dozens of venture-backed SaaS companies, nearly everyone gets it wrong. I’m going to highlight 3 common Saas marketing pitfalls, and share my tips and best practices to help avoid getting stuck in these traps and instead align your team around the same clear, compelling message.

Copy of Add a heading
Number 1
Cute, clever and captivating copy

I mean, come on… that’s some pretty great alliteration there, right? Who doesn’t love that moment when you come up with the best, most clever idea for a cool marketing line. 

The issue is, more often than not, when you prioritize cleverness over clarity, you’re going to miss the point of your marketing copy: to invite your customers into a story where you are primed to help solve one of their core problems. And since that story should always be focused on your customer, you need to write copy they’ll care about. And honestly… the only person who cares about cute, clever copy is, well, the person who wrote it. 

My brilliant business partner, Kristin, uses a phrase that I’ve grown to love, and use as a copywriting mantra: “Kill your darlings.”

If you feel super attached to some copy and really proud of putting together a real zinger- but it doesn’t land well with anyone else… it’s time to kill your darling. Figuring out how to tell a clear brand story that's engaging and captivating- while also being clear- is going to be crucial for your company growth.

Number 2
Leading with a super cute one-liner that sounds awesome, but doesn’t mean anything.

“ABC Company: where now meets the future.”
“ABC Company: revolutionizing sales ops”
“Dunder Mifflin: People person’s paper people”

Once again, it’s easy to get really connected to marketing copy that sounds really cool. An awesome turn of phrase, or a sweet double entendre. Or that sick alliteration Darryl put together for the Dunder Mifflin commercial. 

But if you lead your copy (and this primarily goes for website headers) with a cool-sounding one-liner that lacks clarity around exactly what your product does, you’re going to lose sales. 

I’ve spent hours and hours in rooms with tech executives obsessing over finding THE PERFECT 5-word tagline that feels visionary, cool, “unicorn-esque.” But ultimately, using a one-liner to portray coolness of a company isn’t going to get you very far. 

At Decoded Strategies, we love writing one-liners because it’s such a challenge to have a little tiny package pack such a big punch. When you’ve only got a few words or sentences, every single letter counts for something. 

When writing your one-liner, focus on answering these three questions:

  1. What problem is your product solving?
  2. How is your product the solution?
  3. How will your product make your customers’ lives better?

Focusing on your customer, and their success with your product is going to create a much more compelling one-liner than trying reallllllly hard to come across as super-smart or clever.

Here are a few one-liners that do this well:

“Everyday businesses are decimated by cybercriminals. We are a team of elite cybersecurity specialists dedicated to your defense, so you can confidently lead your business into the future”

“Too many business leaders spend their time reacting to what’s going on today rather than planning for tomorrow. We get you the right tech that empowers your people, so you can plan strategically for the future.”

Also- they totally don’t have to be only one line. A few lines is ok. As long as it’s memorable, clearly communicates the problem you solve, and how it will make your customers’ lives better.

Number 3
Overloading your marketing with feature lists

Product-led companies are usually REALLY good about articulating the many many problems their product solves. These days, you can JTBD just about anything and can help provide deep insights into the problems your product helps solve across a lot of use cases. 

The thing is, focusing exclusively on “jobs” or feature lists in your marketing is going to take customers down a rabbit hole they'll have a hard time digging out of. As soon as you introduce a feature list front and center of your marketing, you’re inevitably opening the door for your prospects to start comparing your product to similar products, and start nit-picking on each and every feature they think they need. 

Look, features are cool. And obviously important in a Saas business. But all too often- again, mostly on websites- we see tech companies really lead heavily with all the super cool and flashy features available in the product. Which can often lead to information overload, and doesn’t really invite your clients into a story of how you can help make their world better.

Features are only important if there is a problem the tech is helping to solve. Lead with the problem. Then make it clear how your product helps solve that problem. 

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Decoded Strategies

A Fresh Perspective

Kristin Spiotto and Annie Mosbacher are dedicated to helping promising, but stuck, tech companies implement marketing and retention strategies that lead to long-term success. 

Get more customers and keep the ones you have.