BGV/Arka recently hosted a 9-Day Interactive Workshop Series with an audience joining us from across the world – India, Israel, France, Singapore, and the United States. What started as a cross-learning opportunity for our portfolio companies as well as a way for them to interact with industry experts, led us to some great discussions and insights that we’d love to share with you all. We’ve tried our best to summarize these discussions.
This workshop series has been hosted by June Bower. June Bower is a seasoned marketing professional with over three decades of experience in the industry, June began her career with marketing at Apple, working alongside Steve Jobs as one of the company’s first 300 employees. She has also served as Head of Brand Marketing at Adobe, Cisco (WebEx) and Alcatel to name a few. Over the last five years, she has focused on working with start-ups and venture capital firms, most recently Lightspeed Ventures, where she served as a Partner for marketing, helping them navigate the complex world of marketing and overcoming their unique challenges.
The key theme and takeaway from the first session was that a company’s messaging is crucial to its success in marketing. Without a powerful and persuasive message, any marketing efforts and money spent will not yield the desired results. Good messaging is not about the founder or the product, good messaging is about one’s prospects and customers.
To create a persuasive message, the following components need to be in place:
- A company must first own the problem, or “own the playing field”, by choosing a customer problem they can solve in a way that provides them a competitive advantage. A problem that none of their competitors can credibly claim to solve. This is a simple but powerful concept. Typically, founders are driven to talk about everything they do diluting the one that gives them that advantage over their competitors.
- A company must also know who its target audience is – identify who cares about the problem the most. Tailoring the message to a specific, narrow audience is crucial to the success of any marketing campaign. A great example is Nike’s ad campaign from 2020 starring Collin Kaepernick – “Believe in something, even if it means sacrificing everything.” A perfect example of provocative messaging only intended for the target audience – the athlete. Nike emphasizes the fact that they only care about their target audience and neglect the remaining opinions. They received a lot of publicity and PR at the time of launch of this ad campaign, turning out positively for their business.
- The third component is to create a sense of urgency by shaping evidence to make them believe it is the most important problem. When the company is in its pre-seed stages, the founders may have a strong hypothesis on this evidence (manufactured evidence to begin with) that they can work with their design partners to validate.
- Finally, the company must present its solution in a clear and effective way, crafting a compelling and influential story. A company’s story needs to be embraced by everyone in the team as a shared responsibility, including senior staff and sales representatives. This also has a multiplicative on your marketing operations with network effects. While it is crucial to listen to everyone’s feedback, the story should not lose its impact. The primary focus should be on the customer’s narrative, and then tweak for other target audiences.
The best message
- Tells a story,
- Is targeted,
- Is emotional,
- Is Persuasive – not descriptive,
- Is evergreen – not constantly changing to avoid losing sense of identity,
- Is specific
- Is difficult for competitors to credibly claim, and
- Is urgent.
- While marketing and sales go hand in hand, they are different. You can target one market but sell to everybody. Messaging also ties product decisions to marketing.
In conclusion, a company’s messaging should focus on the problem it solves and the target audience it serves, rather than just its product or service. A persuasive message has a significant impact on business, and companies should focus on creating a compelling story that is targeted, emotional, and persuasive.
Here are some good resources on this topic: