Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Startup Marketing: The Two Word Test to Slay a Marketing Message

Originally posted by Matthew Davis  in a series titled "Startup Marketing" on The Expert Generalist

So what?

That’s the punchline.

You’ve spent months speaking with customers, building your product, and you’re ready to start writing/updating your website, sales collateral, PPTs, and blog posts. Unfortunately this is where most startups fail miserably when crafting their startup marketing messaging.

We describe this phenomenon as “show up and throw up”. The instant you get someone’s attention, you start talking about all of your features, your product, how great it is, etc.

Reminder – no one cares about you or your product.  They care about themselves and finding a solution to their needs. If you begin speaking about nothing but yourself, YOU HAVE FAILED.

Your mission with startup marketing is to force the connection with your customer how your product improves their life, makes them more money, saves them money, or reduces their risk.  Don’t leave it up to a stranger to take a list of features and translate it to benefits in their life.

A simple way to do this?  Ask yourself “So what?” after every statement until you arrive at the true value for your customer.

Here are a few examples:

Our product is integrated with the major providers. So what?

  • Does my customer really care about integration?
  • How does integration make things easier, better, faster, cheaper, simpler?
Easy to use reporting dashboards.  So what?
  • Is reporting actually the problem you’re solving, or does that only take 1 hour a month of your customer’s time?
  • What could they do with that new found time no longer spent reporting?
Great Customer Service.  So what?
  • Of all the marketing spin, this is perhaps the spinniest. Everybody says it. Nobody believes it.  You’d better be ready to back this up with customer quotes, video testimonials, and other 3rd party validation.
  • Do they care about customer service or do they prefer hands-off, set-it-and-forget-it?
Here are these same three ideas forcing the connection to the value for your customer.
  • With our plug-and-play integration to all major providers, your team will be up and running in 2 days instead of 2 months.  Quick launch, quick return on investment.
  • Stop sifting through spreadsheets to assess your company’s trends. A quick glance at our reporting dashboards give you instant and actionable insight on the health of your business.
  • Curious to know what it’s like working with our team? Hear what our customers have to say in these case studies/video testimonials/quotes.
Asking yourself “so what?” will force you to write better messaging.  Before we dive into the pieces the actual pieces of marketing content that you will need, we’ll apply a dash of marketing theory to the conversation.  That’s the next post.


  1. Great article. Perhaps internalizing the "so what?" test is as easy as recalling the "why?" test we used as children to challenge the world we encountered, especially when that world came packaged in directives given to us by our parents.

    Don't run with scissors.
    Because it's dangerous.

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