Money-Making Brand Messaging For Your Startup

Nothing can undermine a go-to-market strategy like bad brand messaging.

There’s a reason it’s become one of the top 3 pain points startups come to us with. When something touches every faucet of your business – from your fundraising, go-to-market, sales collateral, content strategy, customer success – it’s important to get it right.

So this week we’re diving into:

  • 4 rules for money-making brand messaging

  • What to do when your audience has the attention span of a goldfish

  • How to avoid your marketing turning into a money pit

Let’s dive in ⬇️

Are you flushing thousands of dollars down the drain?

Your marketing message – whether it’s in your pitch deck, the headline on your website, or words in an ad – is usually the first impression someone has with your brand. (And we all know how big of a deal first impressions are.)

Yet when it comes to copy, startups make painfully expensive, could-have-been-avoided mistakes all the time. The most common we see are -

Mistake #1: It’s too technical

Technical, long-winded, uninspired… it all falls in this category. This is often the default for startup founders who are experts in their industry and are used to getting into the weeds of the ‘how’ of their product.

Explanations are important but they have their shortcomings...

- They often lack emotion. (AKA the real reason anyone buys anything from you).

- They are confusing and require too many energy points. (AKA the mental calories someone has to burn to process or understand something that’s in front of them)

Mistake #2: It’s too fluffy

On the polar opposite side of the clarity spectrum from ‘too technical’ is ‘too fluffy’.

Messaging that is overly vague or leans too much on brand mission and story rather than product outcomes falls into this category.

Getting a customer or investor to buy into your brand mission and story is paramount, but at the end of the day, they still need to be able to quickly understand what your business actually does.

Mistake #3: It’s too broad

The faster you can embrace the notion that your product or service is not for everyone, the faster you can tell a better story to the people it is for.

Messaging that works is messaging that is specific. When your audience is too broad, you’ll never get the chance to hit specific desires, pain points, emotions and needs that make people feel seen, heard and understood.

Struggling with one of these issues? They can be fixed! Keep reading to find out how.

Build a Brand with Powerful Words

We’ll +1 to anyone who acknowledges that crafting copy is both an art and science that pulls from psychology, strategy, creativity and more. But to keep it super simple, here are four hacks to craft a powerful brand message:

1. Tap into the power of story.

As Donald Miller points out in Building a Storybrand, a story has the ability to capture attention for hours on end. Despite how many people say your audience has the attention span of a goldfish, think of how you can get lost in a good book or binge watch a Top 10 Netflix show…

Your attention span is way more than 5 seconds… if the story is good.

Use your brand messaging to tell a story that features your customer as the main character. Make them feel seen and heard by highlighting their desires, the things that get in their way, and offer them a path to becoming the hero they want to be.

We promise they’ll be hooked.

2. Write a great story, not a boring story.

Great stories aren’t mediocre stories. There are two guaranteed ways to be mediocre:

- Use words your audience has heard a thousand times and lack ~flavor~. 🧂 John Carlton, a legendary copywriter, talks extensively about having a love affair with the English language because it gives your words some spice. (In his ebook, Power Words, you can get over 20 pages of words that can help shake up your copy — you’re welcome).

Finding a handful of words or phrases your brand uses in place of common words like “easy”, “simple” or “great” is a quick way to give your brand a personality.

- Leave all form of human emotion out of your story. 💀 There’s a big difference between saying something like this:

“Increase your productivity with our SaaS platform that makes managing all of your tasks and projects easy.” And something like this: “The app for people who get. sh*t. done.”

Obviously brand voice is one of them! But you get the point.

Your words should make someone feel something. Explosive, powerful, in control, brave, self assured…

Reread your copy and see if it gives you a visceral reaction.

3. Determine what lane you’re in.

The types of brand messaging you can play with also depends on where you are in your startup journey.

  • Are you a new company creating a brand new category? If so, you may need to err on the side of using more explanatory copy so people can better comprehend your innovative solution.

  • Do you benefit from high levels of brand recognition? Is your category commonly understood and accepted? If so, you can be like Nike and Just Do It and start creating taglines that are more brand focused.

4. Let your customers write your copy.

We often joke around and say great copywriters are actually great copy-and-pasters.

This is because no one knows how to say what’s on your customers mind better than your customers! Host customer research interviews and let your customers give you pieces of marketing cold.

Pro tip for hosting customer research interviews:

Avoid asking questions that start with “why”. This word immediately puts people into justification mode which closes off room for exploratory conversation.

Ask questions that start with “what”.

  • What made you interested…

  • What made you decide…

  • What were some things you were thinking

  • What were you hoping to achieve

Need help crafting your brand messaging? Whether you’re trying to create a powerful pitch deck for your next round of fundraising or you’re trying to craft a content strategy that converts, our team is here to help. Tell us about your business and your biggest marketing goals and we’ll set up a time to chat!

Modern Marketing Moments


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