Hi, I’m James. Thanks for checking out Building Momentum: a newsletter to help startup founders and marketers accelerate SaaS growth through product marketing.
We’re all guilty of indulging in a little bit of fluffy marketing copy. “Enable teams to excel”, “be your customer’s hero”, and “personalize all your touchpoints” are all things I’ve written before.
But looking back, what did they mean? They were empty attempts to say something smart. Contrite. A waste of bits and bytes, crowding the internet, taking up much-needed space for more cat gifs.
And we see this all around the internet.
Nearly every B2B website – including yours, sorry – has some version of the same old tired cliches:
- Work faster, not smarter
- Save time and effort
- Grow revenue
- Scale with ease
- Connect with your customers
- Build stronger relationships
- Deliver a better customer experience
- Enable teams to collaborate
- Turn X into a strategic advantage
- … and many more.
And what surprises me is that these garbled monstrosities don’t come from a thousand monkeys banging on keyboards, or from fresh interns souped up on Red Bull.
They come from experienced people who care so much about what they’re trying to say. People with so much passion, insight, experience, and genuine love for the product and technology.
The thought process in people like this – speaking from personal experience – goes like this. We feel the overwhelming to say everything. We know that we’re too close to the metal, so we try to ‘dumb down’ language for the normies out there. We rely on cliches because everyone knows what they mean – they’re cliches for a reason!
But these attempts to say something, actually say nothing at all. Confusing, unreadable, and create more questions than they answer.
Your copy should never lead to this outcome.
The goal of product marketing copy, whether on your website or sales collateral or a video script, should never make prospects think. Cognition is a barrier, not an accelerant. Your prospects should nod along, embracing your proposition and adjusting their view of the world.
Start with the customer
Go back to that thought process: we try to dumb down language because we want to make it easier for people to understand what we really do.
This is the wrong approach. Rather than mangle the product to fit the customer’s world, can we understand our customers and create something that fits perfectly?
This means understanding the value that customers desire. The jobs they undertake, the pains to avoid, gains they want to achieve, and triggers that motivate them to search/switch/buy.
It can be tricky to convince product-/technology-first stakeholders that this is the way, but it’s not an either/or situation. You need to do both: customer discovery with technology innovation.
The ‘so what?’ antidote
When you find yourself reaching for a comfortable cliche, stop. Take a breath, and ask yourself “so what?”. Then write that!
What exactly does ‘saving time’ enable? What do customers gain when they can collaborate better? What outcomes are improved when the business grows and is successful?
These are often the hardest questions for CEOs, founders, and technologists to answer.
But levelling up your copy and answering ‘so what’ doesn’t just help customers understand what you do better. It helps you justify higher prices. Build stronger brand positioning. Build word of mouth. Build loyalty. Reduce sales objections and improve sales efficiency. These all lead to one thing: easier revenue generation.
Sometimes these will be obvious: reducing specific metrics or achieving a new status. Sometimes they’ll be more opaque: being seen as a leader, achieving a higher valuation, or helping the company embrace a new direction.
And you might wonder… can you say those out loud? Is it not a bit gauche or transactional to say exactly what we enable?
Absolutely not. B2B is rational. See a problem, solve a problem.
Don’t make them think ‘so what?’. Tell them.
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