Oftentimes, when leadership teams are workshopping their new product messaging and positioning, it’s done in a somewhat siloed fashion. For example, when developing their go-to-market strategy, a company’s leadership team typically goes over their business's strengths and weaknesses, selecting their key differentiators, without a great deal of exterior information on which to base these assumptions. The problem with this approach is because it’s done with internal team members of a company, there is going to be a natural bias attributed to a lack of external input in the decision-making process.
That’s why one of the most important things to do once a leadership team has completed the internal planning and created a GTM strategy is to put those positioning vectors and messaging copy to the test.
Here are a few exercises to help you either confirm your positioning is on the right track or find out that it might need a bit of reworking:
Keep a close eye on your competition
Conducting competitive research is one of the most foundational exercises when building out your product’s positioning and messaging. It’s important to know where you sit in comparison to your competitors in order to make you stand out instead of fading into the noise.
A few key areas to track in your competitive research are:
- Tag lines
- Mission statement
- Notable customers
- Social proof
- Review site ratings
Comparing your B2B SaaS product’s positioning and offerings side-by-side with your competition will help you view yourself as your audience does when doing their research. What you’ll likely notice when doing this exercise is that most of your competitors will be saying the same things in slightly different ways and essentially all sounding the same. Take this as an opportunity to take a risk, be bold, and stand out from the pack.
Pro Tip: To take your competitive research even further, conducting some mystery shopping will help you add that extra bit of detail to your findings. A great way to do some mystery shopping while staying under the radar is to get a team member to reach out as a student doing some research.
Get feedback from your customers
No one will say it better than your customers. Not even your marketing team. Interviewing your customers to get their perspectives on what strengths and weaknesses they see with the product will help you confirm whether you are on the right track in your positioning and messaging. Many times, what the internal team sees as valuable versus what their customers find useful can be significantly different.
In your customer interviews, you should have quite direct and pointed questions. Let them know that you are working on positioning your product and the following capabilities are the areas you are hoping to highlight. Additionally, spend some time asking open-ended questions to get a feel for how they use the product and how it has helped them the most in their day-to-day.
Of course, these interviews are easier to have with your happy customers. But it’s crucial that you also interview customers that might not be your biggest advocates. Interviewing customers for whom you are unsure where they stand or that may have had an issue in the past are equally as important. They are less likely to hold back in their feedback and might help you really understand where your weaknesses lie. Knowing your weaknesses is just as important—if not more so—than knowing your strengths.
Test your B2B SaaS positioning and messaging with sales
Getting your sales team to test out your positioning and messaging in sales calls, cold outreach, and their own materials is another great way to get unbiased feedback. If possible, have the sales team record these interactions for the marketing and product teams to gain insight into the live reactions.
When doing this, make sure the sales team is using specific tag lines or phrases that will directly align with the positioning vectors you are testing so that there is nothing lost in translation. Keeping track of the questions asked and responses given is also going to be very important so you can measure trends and ultimately decide how successful each call was.
This is probably one of the most effective ways to put your product messaging to the test and gain real-time feedback.
Pro Tip: Use the most common questions asked during these calls as the basis of your content for your sales materials.
Conduct market research
If you’ve done all of the above exercises but still feel unclear or would like stronger confirmation, then conducting formal market research will be a great next step. Perhaps the most prominent method of conducting this sort of research is through surveys. There are a couple of ways you can tackle the survey method.
One is to conduct the marketing research yourself by creating or purchasing a list of your ideal customer profile and personas, building out the survey, and reaching out to each contact. Keep in mind that many people are being bombarded with messages and surveys daily in their inboxes, so offering them a small gift card in return for their time might improve your chances of a response.
Another way to go about it is to have a specialist, or even a survey platform, conduct the survey for you. If hiring a specialist is outside of your budget, there are cost-effective platforms such as Pollfish that you can utilize to run your surveys.
Structuring your survey questions and keeping them as pointed as possible is going to be key to their success. Creating generic surveys that are trying to cover too much ground will only bring you more questions than answers. Websites are a good asset to structure your survey around; it is the most comprehensive place where your positioning, messaging, and overall branding are rolled up into one.
B2B SaaS positioning and messaging are living and breathing assets
Realistically, your positioning and messaging documentation are never complete. The B2B SaaS industry is constantly evolving, new players are entering the market daily, and your product will also be changing. So that means your positioning and messaging will always be a project in progress.
That doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t aim to get it to a place where you can confirm that it is resonating with your audience. It just means that you should never put it away in a closet and shut the door for good. Keep that document in the back of your mind always. Make sure your team is always making changes whenever learning something new or launching a new major feature. Your positioning and messaging document is a great way to ensure you're keeping your team on their toes and staying ahead of your competitors.
To help refine your strategy and learn more about positioning and messaging, check out these Kalungi resources: