positioned to win. navigating product positioning

Known for his Hot Takes (or perhaps we should say, Point of View), Anthony Pierri stands out as arguably the best hook writer on all of LinkedIn.

In this week’s episode of Digital Banter LIVE, we’re thrilled to welcome Anthony to the show as we delve into his thoughts on a subject where he confidently asserts a very strong stance: product positioning for early-stage startups.

Get ready to glean insights from a true expert as we pick Anthony’s brain on this crucial aspect of startup strategy.

Podcast Transcript

You’re listening to the Digital Banter Podcast, the show where we tackle the challenges of B2B marketing head on and aren’t afraid to tell it like it is. Join us weekly as we talk to industry leaders, explore opportunities that impact the bottom line, and rev your company’s marketing engine with actionable insights and tips.

It’s time to burn the old B2B playbook and build something that makes an impact. Here are your hosts, Andy and James.

Andy: What’s up, everybody. Welcome back to digital banter. Happy 2024 to everyone out there. First episode of the new year. And we’re kicking off with a bang by having Anthony Pieri on Anthony.

Anthony: Welcome to the show. Thanks for having me. Super

Andy: excited to be here. So you are the co founder at Fletch PMM, which focuses on product [00:01:00] marketing for early stage startups among.

Andy: Other verticals and businesses, right? Correct. All right. So when we talk about positioning and things like that, I would love to get a little bit. of the backstory around why you co founded

Anthony: Fletch PMM. Yeah, so my partner and I, we were part of an agency that did a lot of different things. And I actually was sort of sitting on the bench and wasn’t being put on any real projects.

Anthony: So, our founder had been talking to us about, well, what if we tried to do something else that was a little bit more repeatable because we had been doing custom services for lots of different people for lots of different reasons. It’s like, what if we could find something that was repeatable? And I was just sort of sitting on the bench.

Anthony: So I started posting on LinkedIn and started getting some traction and we had a hypothesis that maybe we could do something around positioning. For startups. And that was about as specific as we got, which is really broad in the grand scheme of things. What does that mean? What does a startup, right?

Anthony: Like a two people in a garage, or are we talking to a company [00:02:00] that’s about to IPO with, you know, 5, 000 or 500 employees, so. We, we started posting on LinkedIn and we’re trying to figure out like, what’s a way to get people interacting. And we started doing these teardowns of people’s homepages. So we would basically say, can we reverse engineer the positioning from what you’ve written on your website?

Anthony: And what we discovered is. The answer in most cases is no, because website pages are extremely vague, broad, they’re ambiguous. They’re very aspirational, vision oriented. And most of the time they don’t really give you anything to anchor on. We think about positioning as giving people a reference point of like comparing, well, we’re kind of like that, but we’re a little different.

Anthony: You’re, you’re positioning it. In relation to other things that exist. And most of the products didn’t really give you any anchor points at all. So we would post these teardowns and then people started requesting the teardowns. Can you do this for me? So we started charging like a very modest amount of money.

Anthony: It was a couple hundred bucks for each one of these [00:03:00] audits. And we’d give them, you know, in a big figment file, we’d have all these. Broken down pieces. Here’s what we think is confusing. And, and we started developing the system of how to categorize the language. So we would say, and it’s very similar to like when people use the Mad Libs, you know, we’re for this target segment and stuff, but even there, we start getting tripped up because we’re like, is this a feature?

Anthony: Or is this a benefit? And we start asking, like looking around, how do other people categorize these things? And there really was no standard for some people. Features were benefits and benefits were features and everything was interchangeable. And so if I was like, if we, if these words don’t mean anything, then this whole system breaks down.

Anthony: So we spent a ton of time, like hundreds of hours. Trying to just get definitions that were mutually exclusive, that didn’t break, that we could throw anything at it. And in the process of doing that, we realized there was this missing element in between feature and benefit of what we call a capability.

Anthony: Which is like a feature is the part of the product that I’m looking at, like notifications are a feature. You know, chat is a feature that the capabilities, what do I [00:04:00] do with the feature? Right? Send messages to my coworkers as a capability. And then the benefit is like the outcome of using that capability.

Anthony: It’s like, what? What’s the state change? That’s you know, you’ll you’ll never with notifications, right? If the capability is get alerted when someone messages you, the benefit might be, you’ll never miss another message again, something like that. So we start building this system that’s very rudimentary and You know, kind of like held together with duct tape and whatever, but we keep doing it and we keep doing more of these audits and we keep trying to make the system better and we’re spending a lot of time and then eventually started people asking, could you actually just help us fix the website, like fix the homepage?

Anthony: And so then we, we keep following where we feel like the market is telling us and we start doing rewrites of homepages and we’re coming at it from the product marketing angle, not from the copywriting angle, not from the conversion rate optimization angle. And so over time we start getting clients from big companies, small companies, and we’re trying to understand like, where is there a good fit of our skillset and where’s the pain the biggest.

Anthony: And, and [00:05:00] so we find our way into earlier stage companies, not like really early stage, but seed funded, maybe series a at the, at the larger end, because that really is when everything starts to break. You can, you can kind of get through with a wonky website up to that point, but a lot of times that’s when you raise a significant chunk of money and then event, you start pulling in all this, we would call it messaging debt where people are like trying to target more target segments.

Anthony: They have more parts of the product that they’ve built, so they’ve accumulated all this messaging bloat and then they no longer have a easy, succinct way to explain it. The story at the beginning might’ve been really clear, but by the time they get there, it is no longer clear. And so we realized there’s this giant problem and all the other positioning experts out there, the April Dunford’s of the world, they mostly work with post product market fit companies.

Anthony: So they’re like. I don’t want to touch a, a pre product market fit company, help them position because they don’t even know, but it’s like they need to [00:06:00] position even in the early stage, it’s just going to be more of a positioning hypothesis than a fully fleshed out back by data we’ve looked through, you know, a thousand gong sales calls and here’s where we land at this empirical, you know, that’s not the world we’re living in with early stage.

Anthony: They’re more taking a stab in the dark, kind of how we did. We think it’s going to be positioning help for startups. That was our hypothesis. And so we, we kind of kept focusing, focusing, focusing, and we ended up in this really specific place where we have this productized service, where we do the same process with everyone.

Anthony: And it’s, it’s primarily helping early stage companies figure out their positioning. The key value propositions, and then taking all that strategic input, getting it into a homepage that really kind of aligns everybody internally around. This really is what we’re offering. This is the hypothesis of the world and then getting that out into the world.

Anthony: And so we were still part of the agency on the early days of that. And eventually it was just too confusing. Like people would come looking for us on their website and they were talking about software development and design. And also, wait, I thought you guys were like [00:07:00] positioning. This doesn’t look like anything like that.

Anthony: And then we made a website. And then people looking for the agency would come to us, like, wait, where’s all this stuff about software development? And, you know, I thought you guys, and so eventually we were like, it probably just makes sense for us to, to split, but you know, we were on good terms with them.

Anthony: We were in active projects. We do some projects with them on like bigger stuff. But the bulk of the company really is just doing the same process. That has now been iterated on like over a hundred times. Like we’ve, we’ve worked with, I think close to 125, maybe 130 different startups just being my partner.

Anthony: So, we’re iterating, we, we treat the framework and the process like it’s a product we’re launching updates. You know, if we work with a company in the morning, we got a session with a different company in the afternoon, what didn’t work, why did that break? And we’ll make adjustments. So. We, everything we, we, all the updates we post on LinkedIn, the frameworks and stuff becomes the fuel, the content, you know, fly wheel to, to, to keep getting more clients and making the framework better.

Anthony: And we, we give it all away pretty much for free. You know, trying to build that trust ahead of time. So that’s probably a longer answer than you were looking for, but [00:08:00] that’s kind of the,

Andy: no, that’s good because I think it seeds kind of where I would love to understand like process wise. Right. So There’s the marketing side of things from the homepage perspective, like

Andy: you were just talking about Anthony. But like where we typically see things, not fall apart, but like challenges and barriers become an obstacle is like… the dissemination of that information and that positioning into other areas of the business, right? Whether that’s sales, whether that’s customer success.

Andy: Any, any other departments that exist. And I think obviously early stage startups, there’s a lot of differences there when you compare that to even, you know, private equity firm that might be a little bit larger. But like when you look at your process like how do you ensure that that positioning and all of those insights disseminate throughout the rest of the organization?

Andy: So that way the growth naturally happens, you know, beyond the homepage and beyond kind of those

Anthony: initial learnings. Short answer, we don’t. And [00:09:00] that’s kind of, that’s kind of part of it. So we are aggressively honest about the service we are providing. And we think that there’s a lot of BS, especially in consulting and agencies where agencies say like, work with us, we’re going to redesign your logo and your colors or whatever. And you’re going to see a 20 to 30 percent conversion rate. When something like conversion rate is actually the result of

Anthony: hundreds of different factors that the agency is not going to touch. And so you, it’s not a science experiment, right? You can’t isolate the logo. Here’s what the logo did versus what the sales people are saying on sales calls, what you’re running in your marketing campaigns, et cetera. So when people come to us and say, we’re looking for a conversion rate bump.

Anthony: Right. That’s why we want to work with you. We tell them, listen, at the end of this process, you actually might see your conversion rate go down. Because conversion rate, it’s like a systems thing, right? If you’re sending bad fit customers to an [00:10:00] unclear homepage and for whatever reason you lured them in and they’re like, I don’t really understand what this company does. I’m just going to get into the product to figure it out.

Anthony: They might convert or jump on a sales call, but they’ll get on that call and go, I don’t know what the heck you guys do. I keep seeing your ads, so I took the call. We don’t think that’s good. We want them to get on the call, excited about the product. So depending on who they’ve sent to the page, when we rewrite it and make it 10 times clearer. Those bad fit customers might see and go like this, Oh, this is not actually for me.

Anthony: I didn’t know what it was. I actually get it now. And this is now what I’m looking for. And what we’ve just done is prevented filling up their sales pipeline with all these bad fit people that they have to talk to who would never buy in the end. So we’re like just isolating one variable about conversion or whatever it is.

Anthony: It’s futile. And it’s, we think it’s fake. So when people say we, we worked with this company and they boosted our… I’m like, no, they didn’t. Unless you gave them the reins of your product, your go to [00:11:00] market strategy, and your company, for a six to 12 month period. Then you can say, yeah, they boosted my conversion rate. But unless, you know, in the rest of the world, especially startups, that’s not really true.

Anthony: So the only thing we say we’re providing is clarity. We’re going to make it unclear to clear. When people read it they don’t get it today when they read it after we’re done… they do get it. You can imagine like we’re taking a blanket off of a, off of the product. When the blanket comes off, if you made a cool product, people are going to love it.

Anthony: If you actually made a not so cool product. You take the blanket off people see the ugly baby. They’re like, I actually don’t want this. But we’re not going to change your product, all that stuff. So, and then also

Anthony: In terms of dissemination, the reason we picked homepage as an asset to anchor on… what we realized is that when you work with Series B, Series C,

Anthony: beyond. Bigger startups, higher growth. They’ll pay for pure strategy work, right? They’re fine with getting a PowerPoint as a [00:12:00] deliverable that then they do all sorts of stuff with. That’s not the people we are trying to work with we’re trying to work with the early stage. And they need to get stuff done. They’re like I have a list of 50 things they need to do. And if you guys can knock off at least one of those… we’ll be more likely to work with you. So we say even in sales calls we say you’re paying us to help you solve these strategic problems.

Anthony: And then we throw in the rewrite for free because you’re really not paying for the rewritten homepage. That’s not really the problem we’re solving. We’re solving the problems upstream of why it’s so hard for you to rewrite your homepage. Which is you haven’t positioned the product. You haven’t chosen a target segment.

Anthony: You haven’t chosen specific use cases. And you don’t know how to talk about the product in general. So again, Long answer. I don’t know if even if I even answered your question or

Andy: not. You did. I mean, it almost sounds like you’re saving them time and

Anthony: money, one would say, right? Great. Yeah. Love that. 100 percent ROI.

Anthony: I’ve got, I got,

James: I’ve got a pretty specific question here. How do you,

James: You mentioned, talked a lot about clarity, which I [00:13:00] think is really important for an early stage startup. I know after following you what a lot of your pet peeves are, and most of them seem to be around clarity. But how do you balance in positioning on a homepage, for example, clarity and your differentiated value.

James: I’ve seen a lot of websites I go to their page and I’m like, I have no idea what these people do. That’s like certainly the biggest problem to me. But then it’s like, okay, now I know what they do, what makes them different from somebody else?

James: And on the early stage, I feel like that part might

Anthony: even be harder. Yeah. So we choose one of two anchor points for everyone we work with. And we would call them a competitive positioning anchor point or contextual positioning anchor point. And so you, if you watch, if you’re on Instagram or TikTok or whatever… watch the ads that come up on your, on your feed and you’re scrolling through. They’re always

Anthony: one of two [00:14:00] things… one of them will show people trying to do something and getting stopped by all these obstacles. And then they’ll say, we have a new product that removes those obstacles to let you accomplish this task easier. So we would call that contextual positioning. It’s like someone gets a flat tire and they’re trying to figure out what to do

Anthony: and here’s this new product that blows up the tire in five seconds. Right. What are you doing? Right. There isn’t really an alternative product in the contextual positioning that even comes into the picture because you’re in a more immature market and people are more wondering, not why you over alternatives, they’re more arguing when would I use you?

Anthony: So like, if I say I have this air pump, you should buy it. When would I use that? Well, you know, when you’re on the side of the road and the tire pops, that’s when you would use it. In that moment you’re not like, well, what’s different? Or this air pump versus the… you know what I mean? It’s just, it’s the context that it’s living in is [00:15:00] the value proposition.

Anthony: That’s the differentiated value is when you’re on the road and your tire breaks and you have nothing to do… now you have a tool that can solve that. Versus a competitive positioning is where you say… I just saw one this morning. It shows a door opening and it says, does your rug bunch up when you open the door and he shows the door opening and there’s a floor rug and it

Anthony: bunches up because it’s too big. And then it’s like we have these super flat rugs that go under any door no matter how low. Competitive positioning is basically saying here’s why we’re better than the alternatives. Because they’re selling a rug. Everyone knows what a rug is. Why would I buy this rug over that rug?

Anthony: Well, it’s super, super thin. And if the door’s really low, you need it to be really thin. So you should buy our rug. And competitive positioning doesn’t always have to be directly against a product. It could also be against like a concept. Loom… great example. The screen recorder, we use it 10 times a day.

Anthony: They positioned against meetings. They said, don’t have a [00:16:00] meeting to update your team, send a video instead. So it was like, they, they had found a way to do this competitive positioning to show the differentiated value versus meetings. They weren’t ever actually positioned against screen recorders, which is why so many people just got loom because they had, it almost had jumped over like, well, why would I pick this screen recorder over the other one?

Anthony: Because none of the other screen recorders were even positioning in that way. They were all like, you know, here’s how you can record your screen and like different features and functionality. But Loom, by doing this competitive angle, was able to show this differentiated value against the alternatives, which was not actually another product in that instance.

Anthony: It was a, a concept. So it’s, it’s usually going to be one of those two things. Do you have to answer the question, When would I use this? Or do you have to answer the question of why would I use this over the other options? And it’s usually one of those two framings that showed you the real differentiation.

Anthony: So

James: it was a good question in the chat. And I know, I know you are a product person and specialize more in SAS, but the question that. I tell [00:17:00] you, I have, like I said, you made me read a four hour book, listen to a four

Andy: hour. I was just going to say, don’t say you read it like you listened to it. Don’t

James: start.

James: That’s what smart people say. They say they read stuff, even though they saw it on tick tock. Anyways, I listened to a four hour book the other day because of you around. Agency positioning and service based business positioning. How do you, do you think that this is different for a service based business?

James: Or I guess my question is, I want to get your opinion on positioning for a service based business and if that is different than how you position for a product

Anthony: based business. So, you guys familiar with the. The guym, I’m blanking on his name. He runs the 2020 Minute VC podcast,

James: so he’s, I have listened to it, but I don’t remember

Anthony: his name in a while.

Anthony: He’s, he’s a, he’s a big name guy. I can’t think of his name right now, , so it’s clearly not that big in my mind. But he, he says, almost identical of what we’re [00:18:00] saying, and he’s talking to SaaS companies. The big pushback we get when we give this advice to SaaS companies is they’re like, you’re shrinking the venture scale of my company.

Anthony: Right. Like I raised X amount of money and I’m supposed to deliver a billion dollar outcome. And you’re talking about focusing down to specific use cases, talking about the product, shrinking it. How am I going to ever get to a billion? And so the message is actually harder to convince them sometimes. And this, this 20 minute VC guy, again, blanking on his name.

Anthony: He says the same thing. He’s like, even venture scale companies. They still need to get their first thousand customers and they should be doing it from one specific segment, probably using one specific channel. And he said, I think like in a post, you can get to like, you know, you should be able to get to 20 million ARR from one segment on like one use case.

Anthony: And like, that’s really like the, the, the scaling piece

Anthony: When you switch over to service based companies, it’s even more [00:19:00] obvious. Because you aren’t a product. You can’t service hundreds of thousands, millions of customers. So for us, we’re like aggressively shrinking the message niching down is only more prevalent for a service based company than it is for a software company.

Anthony: No one’s looking for the agency to be venture scale, right? Like even me and Rob. My partner have worked with a hundred something companies in the last year. We can’t, we couldn’t have done a thousand, but there’s probably even in our hyper specific niche, there’s probably 50, 000 companies at least, right?

Anthony: Across all startups, across all of the world. Cause we’re not landlocked to just us or something. So we work with people from every country on the planet. And so there are so many people in these companies that need help and maybe we can serve as a hundred of them. And so the smaller we shrink the niche.

Anthony: The more likely we are to actually win over these customers. And so these things are all connected, right? Like we’re, we’re talking positioning and stuff like that, but

Anthony: What we always say is, [00:20:00] especially if you’re early stage or if you’re a service company, you should aggressively shrink the niche that you’re positioned around.

Anthony: Like when we say we do homepages for horizontal B2B SaaS companies that have raised seed to Series A, maybe have one marketing person, one or two salespeople. And are struggling because of X problem, Y problem, and Z problem. And we solve it in such and such a way. There isn’t competition for us. Like the whole category creation thing.

Anthony: It’s kind of a joke in some ways, but in some ways it’s not a joke. Like we’ve created this category of homepage messaging. That’s not a thing, but we we’ve shrunk it so far down that when people are in that spot, we’re the only names that will come up. And when we go against big agencies, we always win because they’re like, well, this agency said they could do positioning, but they also do 50 other things.

Anthony: And we really just need the positioning. So should we go with them? And I’m like, I mean, you could, if you want all those 50 things. But if you just are looking for this [00:21:00] problem, there is no one else who’s done it as many times as us for this specific segment, for this specific reason.

Anthony: So picking a specificity, doing the same thing over and over again. Positioned around it, servicing that niche. Is how you create the special, the specialization that’s needed to actually get that flywheel going. And, and we, all of our clients come inbound. Everyone just comes from LinkedIn. We’re not doing any outbound stuff.

Anthony: And most people who come on the calls with us, they say because we apply all of our own principles to our own business. And if you read our homepage it’s following our whole framework. And we got there from all the positioning stuff that we do. We just applied it to ourselves. When people get on the calls, they’re like, I’ve been reading your stuff for the last six months, and I’m already totally bought in.

Anthony: And so those sales calls are unbelievably easy, obviously.

James: All right. So I’m going to do a little segue here and then my, my end goal here, just so you know, is to get your rant on outcomes versus how you got there. So. [00:22:00] Andy and I back in early days of this agency used to ask this interview question. And it’s kind of like one of those corny ones that you used to get from Google, similar to like the, why is a tennis ball fuzzy type thing.

James: So we used to ask five questions on what you can do with a pencil besides write with it. And then step two was sell us the pencil. I’ll tell you the little bit of the methodology there. The questions was just to kind of get creative juices flowing. And honestly, Be an icebreaker. And then the cell, the pencil thing was more around positioning, differentiation outcomes, right?

James: Because what I always looked for as the wrong answer to that question, I’ll tell you what the wrong answer was right ahead of time. And then maybe you can see if you can spin it a different way was the person who would describe to me, the pencil. This thing is yellow. It has an eraser. It’s metal. It says this on it.

James: Like, okay, yeah, that’s great. That’s very cool. But like, why do I need it? What’s the value for me? So [00:23:00] I guess let’s, let’s do the full thing. I want, give me three to five things you can do without a pencil. And then I want to hear how you would approach that using your

Anthony: methodology. Yeah, so things you could do with a pencil that don’t include writing.

Anthony: Don’t include writing. Regular number two, yep. You could use it as a drumstick that you can tap out a beat. You could use it as a measuring tool if you wanted to show the rough length of something. It’s five pencils long. You could check the level of something. You could balance it on a, you know, does it, does it look like it’s balancing?

Anthony: Does it rolling? You could use it to launch rubber bands across the room with your pencil. What does that mean? Maybe I have four therefore you could also use it as a bookmark

James: for the record. This is probably how most startup founders think that they have this thing and that they can use it for all of these different reasons [00:24:00] besides the intended purpose.

James: And that’s how they come up with their valuations.

Anthony: Step two. Now sell it. So, yeah, so if I was going to sell a pencil and I was like, I really want to sell this, I would look for a specific, I would probably take one of those two positioning framings. And so for me, I would probably find like an enemy, like how Loom did with the meetings.

Anthony: And I think I would sell the pencil around, and this is just off the top of my head right now. I think I would try to sell it to people as a memory device, because when you take notes. On the computer, it doesn’t actually factor into your brain versus taking notes with a pencil. It actually helps you retain it better.

Anthony: So I might sell the pencil that way. I would attach it to a specific use case and all my go to market content and thought leadership would be about why note taking is broken and typing is terrible and everyone, no one can retain anything and you actually really need [00:25:00] a pencil. And then I would talk about things like, you know, this pencil is very reliable.

Anthony: Like it actually will last the whole time of the video. You’re trying to take notes on and stuff like that. But I think I would, I would try to hyper focus on a use case. Figure out what’s like the main alternative. I probably would do more of the competitive positioning, but it wouldn’t be against another pencil.

Anthony: It would likely be against no taking with another tool. Like, like typing.

James: Interesting. All right. So now I’m diving in. No, it’s good. It’s Hey, have we ever heard that?

Andy: No. No, we usually get, Oh yeah, well you break it apart. You use it for this, this, and this. There’s obviously two or three ways to murder somebody usually involved.

James: So always, I love that. I was, I would probably say 90 percent of interviews. Somebody said

Anthony: that they could stick somebody with it. I love that.

James: All right. So now I want to hear your outcomes verse. What’s the problem with selling

Anthony: outcomes. So let’s talk about an [00:26:00] example where outcomes works.

James: I want to maybe like also maybe we’re an agency.

James: We sell outcomes. Love that’s kind of like in the back of my head. And I, I maybe spin that into your

Anthony: examples. Yeah.

Anthony: So where do outcomes work? Talking about outcomes. They work in environments where there’s no question of what the product is. Everyone can look at it. And they get it. And they never had to ask, what is it?

Anthony: So examples where it could work. Let’s talk about like liquid death. Everyone loves the brand of liquid death. The whole thing about liquid death is like, if you’re, I think the original story was around people who didn’t drink alcohol. But still wanted to not look like a loser. Like when they’re out at a concert, they want to have some sort of cool looking thing that’s like a beer can.

Anthony: But they don’t want to drink and the [00:27:00] stigmas around not drinking. You could fact check me on that, but I feel like I remember reading that somewhere. So for them. What are they selling? They’re selling water. You drink water when you’re thirsty. That’s the dawn of time. We’ve, we’ve known that no one’s wondering what is water.

Anthony: So they can talk about like this outcome of like looking cool at a party, not feeling like an idiot, right? All these outcome related things for us who mainly work with early stage SaaS startups. It is almost never apparent what the product is or does, because most people don’t set out to say, I’m going to remake Google calendar.

Anthony: Here’s a new calendar. It’s way better. They sometimes do that, but those companies don’t often get off the ground. Cause it’s like, well, what would be the competitive advantage of remaking a calendar? Everyone, everyone has to counter most of the time in 2024, people are bundling multiple features and [00:28:00] functionality from different product categories and almost all the companies that we work with when we get to that box in our framework of like, what’s the product category, it’s always pretty difficult to figure out because it doesn’t really ever fit.

Anthony: So you’re starting from a point. Of zero clarity of what the thing is, what it does, when I would use it, who would use it, how would they use it? Why would they use it? So

Anthony: If I come to at you and let’s say I’m running an outbound email campaign for one of these companies. And I’ve been trained sell outcomes. Not, you know, product features. Not functionality.

Anthony: I want to talk about the outcomes. What would I put in that email? I would put the same content that ends up in the cold emails that fill up your entire inbox that you automatically send to spam. I would say, Hey, are you looking to improve your business operations? You’re looking to increase your revenue this quarter?

Anthony: You’re trying to hit some goals. I would list all these outcomes and I would say you should totally buy our product. Or you should get on a sales call to hear more. And you look at that, [00:29:00] and the first thing you say is…. I don’t believe any of this. If you even read it. If you do read it, you say, I don’t believe, I don’t know who you are. I don’t know what you do.

Anthony: I don’t know what this thing is. So I just had a pure basic level. I don’t believe the outcome. Versus let’s say that that person actually led with a use case. And let’s say, for example, I get hit up when we were first using them for our e signature, our documents that we would send for contracts and stuff.

Anthony: We were using, Hello sign or something. I can’t remember which one it was. Our biggest gripe was be that we create the contracts, we upload them in hello sign, and then in hello sign, when you need to adjust something, well, first of all, to have all the little fields filled out, when you send the contract, you have to drag these boxes all on the screen, right?

Anthony: So there you drag them around and then you go. We could get back from our lawyer, Hey, we actually, you guys should update this thing in the contract. Okay. So we got to take the new one, [00:30:00] re add it, and then add all the little boxes. And we’re doing this multiple times per week. We didn’t, I found out about this at a different way, but imagine that I got hit with a, with a cold email from someone at PandaDoc, which is the company we now use and why we switched.

Anthony: And they said, you know how annoying it is to have to constantly re upload the contracts and drag those little boxes. It’s so annoying. Panda doc, you can actually just make the contract in panda doc. So it has a document creator, which allows you to make edits whenever you want without having to reassign every single field, every single time.

Anthony: Would you like to see a demo or how about a call in that moment? I’m like, I deal with that pain every single day. I would love to take the call and I likely would switch because we actually did switch for that exact reason. If Panda doc had instead cold emailed me with what is currently on their homepage.

Anthony: Which is optimize agreement workflows and maximize [00:31:00] revenue, save time and minimize risk with the all in one tool for creating, managing, tracking e sign documents. So if they said, Hey, are you trying to optimize your agreement workflows? Are you looking to maximize revenue? What about save time? Maybe you want to minimize risk.

Anthony: You

Andy: should hop on a call. All day, every day,

Anthony: baby. Exactly. Like, I’d like I don’t have any interest in taking a call with you. You clearly don’t understand my world. You don’t understand what my pain points are. You’re speaking in the vaguest possible generalities that any business could say. Right? Any company, ultimately you could tie to how it increases revenue, saves you time or minimizes risk.

Anthony: Obviously some of those stories are more believable than other ones, but most of them you could maybe with a really talented salesperson, you could walk out how one password eventually minimizes your risk as a company. Fine, but that’s not what the first message the person needs to hear you. We did a post the other day basically where

Anthony: You [00:32:00] have to actually start at the features and capabilities level to earn the trust to talk about benefits. Which then earns you the trust to talk about these higher level business outcomes. And everybody does it the other way around. But then no one will ever read it the same way you just send that cold email to the trash.

Anthony: No one will ever keep reading to find the functionality of the features because their BS meter is through the roof. Especially when you’re an early stage company who has 15 employees. Right. And you’re telling me you’re going to double my enterprise revenue of a company of 10,000 people if I buy your widget. They’re just not buying it.

Anthony: So for us, we’re like, how have products been sold since the invention of currency 5,000 years ago or whatever it was. People sell a product .And you buy it when you need that product. I need to get these nails into the ground, I’m going to buy a hammer. And then we get to B2B and they’re like, no, no, no. 5,000 years is wrong.

Anthony: [00:33:00] We actually don’t even sell products. We just sell outcomes. And it’s like, man, mate, I mean, maybe. Maybe there’s also a reason that, you know, 95 percent of all startups fail. Maybe there’s something around the way that we talk about those products that’s making them fail, or they can’t actually get it off the ground.

Anthony: So is

James: it about the features or is it about like how

Anthony: the story of how the features achieve the outcomes? So it depends what you mean by all those words, right? Cause people, they don’t define those concepts.

Anthony: We see features as parts of the product that I can like look at and interact with. And usually if you have created a compelling product, the capability, the functionality of it will be such an eye opening experience that they’ll fill in the blank of those outcomes.

Anthony: They’ll fill in the blank of the benefits without you having to spell it out. Like my brother was a account executive for this med tech company. And they sold these cables that plug, [00:34:00] basically, they’re magnetic cables from the bed that the patients would lay into the wall. So there was this problem where the cables are really expensive, they’re large because these are fancy beds, but they would just, every time you’d have to move a bed, these nurses would be in a hurry, someone’s coding out, whatever, and they’d rip the cable, and the cable would get ripped out of the wall.

Anthony: And so they would constantly have to replace these cables. So they made a magnetic cable, like mag safe on your, on your computer, where you could pull as hard as you want. It’ll just pop off and disengage. So when my brother would sell this, he would just take the magnetic cable out and he’d say, look at it, and he just demonstrate the capability it’s magnet.

Anthony: Their minds went through the roof. Like, Oh my gosh, you need to talk to my boss. We need to get this for every room in the hospital because it was such an obvious benefit that he didn’t have to be like. Could you imagine a world where you could save X amount of money on replacement? He could just show the cable and they get it because they’re actually not children.

Anthony: They’re not toddlers and who need to be [00:35:00] spoon fed the outcomes. So like in that example, he wasn’t even saying benefits or outcomes at all. And he’s getting meetings with these top people because the product itself. Was so clear what it did and why it worked.

James: So here’s this one. I think probably resonates with a lot of people.

James: What if you are not, everybody has a drift differentiated value or is, is differentiated that much? Like there’s a lot of businesses that compete against each other, paid media agencies, I’ll use kind of us as an example. Is our process slightly different than somebody else’s? Yes. Is it somewhat a commodity?

James: Yes. How does that change for something that’s a commodity? I mean, you could even dumb it down even more like toilet paper. There’s like 10 different brands. Like there’s lots of pencils in the world. There’s a lot of pencils. Like, how does that change for something that [00:36:00] is, I don’t want to say, cause everything should be differentiated to some extent or else it’s a product problem, but for things that are not as differentiated as.

James: You know, Hey, we’re the only person who does this cable that

Anthony: is magnetic. Yeah. So I did a, a big post, a long time ago, like probably maybe a year ago where I was basically saying that

Anthony: Startups have these four different ways that they can fight the market leader. That they can come out of the scene and say here’s how we’re going to stand out.

Anthony: They can be cheaper than the market leader. That was one of them. They can compete on price. Gong is like the expensive market leader recording software for your sales teams, does a bunch of stuff.

Anthony: Fathom is what we use and we use it cause it’s like Gong, but way cheaper and way simpler. They can compete on some huge product advantage. So price product is the second one that could be like product advantage.

Anthony: Like Adobe was single player design tools, right? You [00:37:00] had to log into the computer. It wasn’t cloud based. Figma comes along. It’s like, we’re cloud based, you can have multiple people in the file at the same time. Sometimes people compete on just better distribution.

Anthony: The fourth last lever is aggressive segmentation. Another form of the argument that I say of niching down. By saying we’re the water for people who want to look cool because they’re not drinking around other people who are drinking and we’ve created a product for that specific use case. That’s how liquid death becomes a multi hundred million dollar company.

Anthony: Stanley, Stanley mug, the, the, I’m drinking one right now, not for the reason that they say, but these Stanley cups, they were selling them to outdoorsy people and they didn’t do well. And they were like, it was kind of a flop. They pivoted the positioning and said, this is the perfect cup for, for like nurses and teachers, people on their feet all day who need to have a ton of water and don’t have time in between their busy hectic schedule to go and refill.

Anthony: So Stanley carves out a spot in the [00:38:00] market by positioning around a specific segment and use case. There’s another company called you can book me. It’s a Calendly competitor. How can you compete with Calendly? Right. They’re the biggest, everyone loves them, right? They’re market leader. They’ve carved out a niche because they have this feature where they can basically translate, I think it’s like, it’s like if you need to have people booking calls from your site in all these different languages, and it has some sort of translation feature that Calendly doesn’t do because Calendly doesn’t really care about making this weird niche happy, but that niche is pretty big.

Anthony: And there are, I think they’re bootstrapped and I think they’re doing like five to 10 million ARR or something as a, as an early stage company. So they’re killing it, carving out this niche. So what we see is like,

Anthony: If you’re an agency… you can stay generic and do a bunch of things, but then you’re a commodity. Or you can carve out a specific position for a group of people that’s underserved.

Anthony: Like for us saying we only are going to [00:39:00] do homepage messaging for B2B start all that stuff like the 10 different criteria. We’ve carved out a niche for ourselves. And have now a very thriving and profitable high margin business that doesn’t require us to be, you know, dealing with all those same problems that we did in the custom agencies world.

Andy: So we get positioning in place. We got the homepage up and running, et cetera. How often

Anthony: do we revisit it? Yeah, so we revisit our homepage a couple of times a year. But we revisit our positioning every day. When you’re early stage, you’re kind of constantly adjusting. And that’s kind of the fun of it.

Anthony: But it’s also kind of the stressful part about it. Like when you’re a big company and you’re like, we’re going to do this big, giant, positioning effort. And this is going to guide us for the next three. Like we’re, we’re always kind of tweaking it a little and saying, is it a little more of this?

Anthony: Is it a little more of that? And it’s a lot of like listening to the market, really trying to dial it in. And then when it’s like, it gets so far from where we [00:40:00] were… then we’re like, all right, we really have to update the homepage. Because now we’re saying stuff that’s fundamentally different than what we were saying before we probably need to do an update.

Andy: Yeah. How do you know when you hit that point then, like

Andy: What are some of the triggering events that make you realize like, yeah, we’ve moved past this

Anthony: positioning statement now. I think it’s when you start seeing big discrepancies on the sales calls of like wait you’re pitching me this thing, but I was on your homepage and it looks very different.

Anthony: Like, I thought you guys were doing it like, wow, we don’t really do that anymore. We’re, we changed, like we’re actually doing this for now. And then they’re like, oh. And so once you start seeing visible confusion from the people around you. That’s usually time that it’s like, we really need to probably update this.

Anthony: All right.

Andy: So I know we’re kind of running up time here. I have one last question for you. We’ve got our magic wand here, which we ask all our guests. So if you can wave this sucker. And solve one of B2B’s biggest

Anthony: problems. What would it be and why?

Anthony: If I could wave my wand and all of a [00:41:00] sudden every startup or every new tech company would lead their messaging with the key product capabilities and use cases.

Anthony: That’s what I would probably do. Because then I just can’t even imagine the world and like I came from a non tech background. And when I would read websites of paid, of like, you know, products and stuff that people would talk about. I was like, I can’t wait till I know this industry better enough that I can actually understand what these products do.

Anthony: And then after a while I was like, Oh, wait a minute. It’s not me. It’s them. They’re not actually saying what they do. Right. So I’m like, I would love to live in a world where at any point you hear people talk about a company and you could just pull up the website and say, Oh, that’s so cool. I love that they do X, Y, and Z.

Anthony: That’s not the world we live in now, for a ton of those different reasons. I actually have a post that I’m working on now, and it’s going to be sort of embarrassing, but I’m going to, it’s like a top 10 list of my, my favorite companies that I still have no [00:42:00] idea what they do, but I, you know, I interact with people who work with them, they get shared and I have, who do I have on there?

Anthony: I have a Clary. They do something with sales. Klaviyo, something with marketing. Not really sure. Chili Piper, I think they’re like Calendly, but like somehow fancier in some way. Paddle, I think is Stripe, but not Stripe. Something like that. Refine Labs, you know, Chris Walker. I think they do paid ads. I have no way of knowing for sure.

Anthony: Cause there’s a lot of other language on the page that I don’t understand. So. If I could just know what all the companies do by reading their homepage, it would just be a great, a great life to

Andy: live. Okay. So I’m going to, I’m going to take the step here in the plunge. James is kind of already thinking where I’m going here.

Andy: What does dragon 360 do

Anthony: based off of our homepage? Okay. And let me pull it up.

Andy: I may regret this. However,

Anthony: I’m going for it. [00:43:00] Dragon 360. So let’s look at the H one. We spark growth, great start growth driven strategies that deliver bottom line results. We aren’t just another digital agency. We are passionate about driving growth for brands, igniting success from the ground up.

Anthony: So. If I stop there, I have no idea. I could keep reading, but I probably wouldn’t if I was a that’s

Andy: okay. And, and full transparency. We’re going through our own positioning exercise right now. So I wanted to use this as an opportunity to basically back up why we’re doing the process that we’re going through.

Anthony: Yeah, for sure. And, and here’s the thing people underestimate. The power of owning one thing in the minds of customers. Like when I say to you guys, what does Stripe do? What do you say? If you had to say it in one word? Payment [00:44:00] processing. Payment, yeah, right? Payment processing. Stripe has 19 different products.

Anthony: You didn’t list all 19. You just listed the one that everyone knows. And Stripe is worth 50 billion dollars. Because of that fact that you can just say, Stripe, payments. Everyone else is afraid to do that, to have one thing that associates with their name, but that is the thing that makes people think of you when to use you.

Anthony: So for example, if I see you guys and you say growth driven strategies at what point of the day. Tuesday at 2 PM. I’m really looking for someone who can sell me a growth driven strategy, right? That never comes up in anyone’s life. It’s too high level. It’s outcomes, all that stuff, things that do come up are, and like, if I scroll down, you say inspiring ad campaigns, that’s like the first really clear thing you say.

Anthony: It’s like, Hey, we [00:45:00] LinkedIn ad campaign we ran and it was horrible. No one clicked. Do you know anyone who does LinkedIn ads? If. Dragon 360 said, we’re the LinkedIn ad. I don’t even know if you guys do LinkedIn. But if it was like, we’re the LinkedIn ads. We’re the place to go. The likelihood that I’m thinking of you in that moment versus if it just says growth driven strategies.

Anthony: Right. It’s, it’s 10 X might be 20 X if, if I, if you guys have been aggressively positioned around ads for this specific reason and I, for a specific group, I’m probably going to think of you right away and we’re, we’re booking a call.

Andy: All right, cool. Fair enough. All right. So we like to give our guests an opportunity to give us three actionable takeaways for our listeners at the end of each show.

Andy: What do you got for us

Anthony: Lead with capabilities and use cases, right? And those things kind of blend together, depending on how you do it. I would say the problems you talk about should not be root cause problems. [00:46:00] They should be surface level problems. So rather than saying your data is siloed, which is like a root cause problem that leads to all these specific problems that people encounter in the day to day. Try to pick struggling moments

Anthony: that people can point to like at 2 PM, this thing happened… that’s the problem that you should lead with. And then I think the third one I would say would be, do not be afraid, especially if you’re a service based company to aggressively shrink your niche. Because we say this a lot, every like couple months, we try to shrink it a little more. And every notch of the bell that we go tighter, the revenue goes up, the margins get higher,

Anthony: the love of the clients gets better. Our expertise builds. The renown, like the people, word of mouth goes up. So you, like I said this the other day on a, in a post… I was like, you can’t niche down too far, like you [00:47:00] can theoretically, but you never will. No one will ever actually get to a point because people, all these people comment, they’re like,

Anthony: well, what if you pick a market of one? I’m like, no one’s doing that. No one is picking a market of one. There is, I don’t even know if there is a market of one. There’s so many people on this dang planet that I don’t even know if there is a market of one. But you will never get to the level where it’s too small.

Anthony: And every time you shrink it, you’re all those good things will go up. And I think that’s true of startups and SaaS too, but people are less likely to believe me. They’re more likely to believe it in the service

Andy: side. Awesome. All right, Anthony, how can people learn more about Fletch PMM? How can they connect with you?

Andy: What’s the best methods for reaching out to you?

Anthony: Yeah. If you want to work with us directly on your company’s homepage, there’s a form on our website and it’s just Fletch PMM. com. That would be the easiest way or connect with us and either me or my partner, Rob Kaminski. On LinkedIn, shoot us a DM. We usually connect with everyone unless you’re like, obviously trying to sell us something we’re not interested in, but if you send us connect requests, we’ll respond to you.

Anthony: Most likely we’ll message you. I messaged people like right when they [00:48:00] add me and I almost always get accused of being a bot, which I’m like, Ooh, you added me. And then I ended you a nice message. You’re like, is this automated bot? So I might just start like blocking people if they say that, but I will message you and it’ll be very quick because I’m on this dang platform.

Andy: Awesome. All right, man. Thank you so much for joining us. Like subscribe to digital banter, check out flesh PMM and we’ll catch you guys next time.

Thanks for listening to the Digital Vanter podcast. Make sure to subscribe wherever you get your podcasts so you don’t miss an episode. For more resources and to keep up with the show, visit dragon360. com. Until next time.

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