What is market positioning and how to apply it to your SaaS
Your potential customers have an endless amount of options as emerging SaaS products and alternatives seem to never end. There are over 10,000 private SaaS companies in addition to the larger private ones that are accumulating billions in revenue. How does one SaaS company stand out? What makes customers choose one product over another? Your market positioning is a key factor.
Marketing, branding, and particularly, messaging help customers find the right product. SaaS marketing and branding is much more complex than other products and requires different skill sets and techniques by your team.
Why SaaS marketing is different:
SaaS marketing goes beyond just a conversion for a few different reasons. You’re selling your product as a service that is integrated into your customers’ current processes. It’s a longer sales process to find the right fit. Additionally, you’re never done selling your product. Your customers are on a subscription plan. You have to continue to deliver over time and meet their needs to keep them happy and keep them engaged with your product. These factors make SaaS marketing and sales heavily reliant on reaching the right customer with the right messaging and continuing to deliver the right product for that customers. Market positioning helps SaaS teams do that effectively and stand out as the right solution for their target customers among the endless options.
What is Market Positioning?
Market positioning is a marketing technique that aims to create an idea and brand for the right audience around a product. A big brand example: Nike has positioned themselves as the shoe and athletic wear brand for athletes who also value style. A SaaS example: Hubspot has positioned themselves as the ultimate, easy-to-use sales and marketing suite for creative teams. Market positioning is the process of finding the right niche for your product and branding your product for the right customer through all your various marketing and sales efforts. Your positioning is reflected in your messaging, pricing, marketing collateral, content, and even the design of your product itself. A good example is a CRM. If you just say CRM, it’s way too broad. But, with product positioning, you can narrow down to something more specific like: the best CRM for healthcare institutions in the US. Now your team can focus your product design, roadmap, messaging, and content around this and own the niche.
Here’s a great summary from B2B SaaS expert April Dunford:
“Market Positioning makes why you’re special obvious to the customers who are most likely to buy from you.”
How do you find your product’s market positioning?
Finding your product’s market positioning starts with asking the right questions about your niche. Your niche is the basis for your marketing position. Your niche is the specific area of the market your team has determined you’re most capable of owning and what makes most sense for your product. Taking a customer-centric perspective is the most effective. Firstly, your team needs to decide on who your target personas are. Your personas are a complete description of your ideal customer: their demographic, their needs, their buying process, niche, location, etc. Your product will likely have multiple personas that you want to target but it’s still good to be niche and specific. Learn more about identifying your SaaS personas.
Start with the right questions:
Once you’ve identified your target personas, start with asking the right questions from your customers’ perspective around your product, design, messaging, and brand to help identify what exactly your position looks like from a customer point of view.
For example, ask these from the perspective of each of your personas:
- Is this product for me?
- What pain points does this problem alleviate for me?
- What features are most important to me?
- How often and when would I use this product?
- How does this product fit into my current processes?
- What does this product replace?
- Who else will use this product with me?
- Does the pricing make sense?
- What competitors and alternatives exist?
- Why is it better than what else is out there?
- Does customer service meet my needs?
Look at real data:
The best way to be sure about your positioning is to get real data on what customers are looking for a product like yours and the effectiveness of your design, messaging, and branding. There is plenty of market data available and other companies similar to yours you can use as case studies. Once you identify your personas, you can better select a similar company to yours and learn from what they’ve done. Market positioning is not just a pre-launch activity. You can collect data from your own product and communications with customers and leads to better determine your product positioning. Using heatmaps to better understand what interests your customers and leads on your website is a great way to clear up your focus. Data from interactions with your product are key to understanding what is important to your customers and what is not resonating with them. It’s almost important to look at direct forms of feedback like support emails, social media, and surveys. Your customers can tell you the most about your current and potential market positioning.
As your product’s design and features evolves, it’s important to watch how your customers react. You can collect important data during this process with Beamer. Beamer is an in-app changelog that opens up when customers click an icon in your interface or “What’s New” tab in the navigation. You can announce new features, updates, fixes, and company news in an interactive and in-context way. You can include photos, videos, GIFs, and CTA links to your updates to keep users clicking through and engaging in with your new design changes and features. On the backend, Beamer collects data on users’ interactions with your updates including open and click through rates. Users can also leave reactions and comments on updates that allow your team to see what hits the mark and what doesn’t. Direct feedback like this is valuable as you continue to evolve and position your product.
To position yourself as the best product for your target audience, you have to be better positioned than your competition. You have to effectively resonate with customers first. It’s good practice to look at your competitors and the changes they make in their design, features, messaging, and branding and take note. There’s a lot to learn from what others observe and try!
Be able to describe your market position briefly and clearly:
It helps internally to better align all efforts your team is working on to be able to describe your position in a few sentences. Who are you for and why? Having a clear, simple statement helps you streamline your decision making to strengthen your market positioning.
For example, “Beamer helps SaaS companies and other online businesses better update and engage with users.”
How do you position your product?
Once you understand and are clear on your market positioning, you can carry it out in all your activities from design, new feature development, content, sales, etc.
Your messaging and your context should clearly explain the value to the customers who most need it and will pay for it. Sometimes, it requires that you be sacrificial and limiting in your language because you can’t be too broad and expect to resonate fully with the right customers. The way you present your product as a solution should be highly relevant to your target personas first. You should address specific problems and pain points in relation to your product to better resonate with your target audience. If there is specific language or niche jargon that applies to your niche in the market, apply that. If there are specific positions or roles that your product best fits, speak to them specifically in your messaging.
Your content should address your target audience’s biggest questions, concerns, and pain points specifically and position your product as the solution and your team as an expert in your niche. Your content should incorporate the top keywords and phrases searched by your target audience to better position you online where they are searching. As you build on relevant, informative, specific content, the more authoritative your brand becomes in the market position you’ve decided to focus in. Sharing your content in the right places based on your buyer persona is key to reaching the right audience. Online forums, social media, other blogs and websites, etc. are good places to get in front of the right eyes.
For example, our focus is SaaS:
Product and feature design:
Likely the strongest way you can solidify your market position is in the evolution of your product. The features and changes you make to your product should reflect the needs of your target audience. Your team should be closely watching and listening to your ideal customers’ needs in order to continue to make your product the perfect solution. You should create and release features that are not generic solutions but specific to your best customers. For example, if you’re a CRM yet your market position is a small marketing team CRM, the features should be exactly what marketing teams are looking for – not just anyone who needs a CRM. The way you announce products can really help boost engagement and keep customers on board. With Beamer, you can announce your new features and updates in context on your homepage and within your product. On your homepage, your updates can act as a sales tool, showing leads how your product is improving.
When your product is positioned correctly and your best customers clearly see the value, leads will be knocking on your door day and night. If you’re not there yet, some slight tweaks and a shift in market positioning can make a huge difference in the response you get. For an easy way to engage leads and your current users, try Beamer today.