Jennifer Lim Lund
In my 20+ years of marketing for B2B tech, one lesson stands out: Labeling your product as “easy, fast, and simple” won't make you stand out.
“Easy” for most is a few taps to download an app, miles from the B2B tech experience.
Your internal perception of “easy” may not match your customers'.
I once met a CRM, CEO and CPO aiming to revamp their website. They touted being the best at "finding, catching, and keeping customers" and making the complex simple.
Positioning their CRM as "Easy to use, easy to start, easy to implement" attracted the wrong customers - students and small businesses. "Easy" proved too generic; customers couldn't grasp what made it unique.
Before logo or website changes, nail your positioning - the bedrock of marketing, sales, and strategy.
It's not guesswork; there's a structured approach.
To walk you through the process, let’s take a look at how we helped Reprice with their positioning strategy.
How the project started
Before delving into our project with Reprice, let's introduce them.
Founded in 2020, Reprice stands out as a tech startup with a mission. Software engineer Anders Åhberg, driven by real-world problem-solving, created Reprice to address outdated pricing models plaguing e-commerce.
However, INEVO took a different approach.
Steven Macdonald, INEVO Partner and Head of Content, emphasized the need for meaningful work.
Without nailing down positioning, a redesign could risk make Reprice just another player in the booming MarTech sector, which saw a 5,233% increase in SaaS companies between 2011 and 2020 and boasted 9,932 vendors across 49 categories in 2022.
And if you're thinking Europe is a quieter battleground—think again.
European SaaS solutions experienced a 50% growth between 2020 and 2021, launching 1,220 new solutions. This growth also affects pricing optimization software vendors like Reprice, making positioning even more important.
You might argue, "Well, our solution is simpler and easier to use." The issue? Virtually every company is singing the same tune. From a customer's perspective, distinguishing the better solution becomes next to impossible.
This is why positioning is pivotal.
In the words of positioning expert April Dunford, "Positioning defines how your product is a leader at delivering something that a well-defined set of customers cares deeply about."
Positioning answers critical questions:
- How do you stand out from your competitors?
- What unique benefits can you provide?
- What problems can you solve that others can't?
Now, let's dive into the process.
Our positioning process
The positioning process consists of 5 steps.
Here's a brief overview:
- Discovery - Used to map your ideal customer and business goals for strategic growth.
- Competitive Research - Used to find hidden advantages.
- Customer Interviews - Includes stakeholder interviews. Used to find perspectives for positioning and messaging.
- Findings & Opportunities - Used for strategic alignment and ensures everyone understands the 'whys'.
- Positioning/Messaging Doc - Includes your story/POV, category & positioning, messaging framework, and copy examples.
We use a blend of market research, business analysis, and direct customer feedback to hone in on your ideal positioning.
Let's dive into how we executed our plan for Reprice, starting with understanding the market landscape and competition.
Navigating the market landscape and competition
Understanding the market landscape and navigating competition are essential facets of Reprice's strategy.
This comprehensive analysis achieves several key objectives:
- Offers a snapshot of the market and your position within it.
- Identifies emerging trends.
- Reveals untapped opportunities.
Our analysis for Reprice yielded valuable insights, including:
- The fastest-growing international e-commerce markets.
- Varied popular product categories in different countries.
- Six distinct e-commerce pricing models, mostly unaddressed by competitors.
- Five diverse e-commerce revenue models, where pricing is just one facet.
These insights provided a deep understanding of the market landscape, shaping our positioning and go-to-market strategy.
Importantly, they're actionable and accessible without a massive budget, thanks to online resources.
But, underestimating the competition can be perilous, as the story of the Tortoise and the Hare illustrates. Dismissing competitors can lead to competing solely on price and brand recognition.
Awareness of competition is crucial, but it's not about mirroring their every move. Michael Porter's wisdom rings true: "Strategy is about being different at what you do."
For Reprice, we conducted a methodical competitive analysis, considering categories, points of view, target customers, key messages, and product positioning. We also compared main features and scrutinized customer reviews on G2 and Capterra.
This deep dive allowed us to understand not just how competitors positioned themselves in the marketplace but, more importantly, in the minds of customers. The next step involved pinpointing Reprice's Ideal Customer Profile (ICP).
Zeroing in on the ideal customer profile
Companies often fear narrowing their target audience, but trying to appeal to everyone is ineffective. It leads to:
- Wasting resources on ineffective sales and marketing
- Attracting less-than-ideal customers
- Struggling to increase revenue
The Pareto Principle, or 80/20 rule, highlights that roughly 80% of revenue often comes from 20% of customers. Identifying this segment through a clear ICP allows wiser resource allocation, maximizing returns.
Here's how we helped Reprice find their ICP:
Step 1: Identify Your best customers
Start by understanding what "best" means for your business.
It could be the customer's lifetime value, the average deal size, or even the speed of conversion.
In a B2B context, long-term contracts might be the focal point, whereas a retail business might prioritize frequent, smaller purchases.
Step 2: Uncover common characteristics
Once you've identified your best customers, sift through the data to find common characteristics.
This could range from the size and type of the company to their geographic location.
For instance, if you find that your most profitable customers are medium-sized tech companies based in Sweden and the UK, that's a valuable insight.
Step 3: Define your sweet spot
Your "sweet spot" is the market segment where your offerings are a perfect fit.
It's not solely about identifying buyers. It's about finding those who gain the most from what you offer.
For Reprice, this might mean e-commerce businesses with specific product ranges and revenue levels.
Step 4: Evaluate market potential
Ensure that your identified sweet spot has enough market potential.
There are different sources of information depending upon which country you’re in. You can utilize reputable data sources like IDC market data, D&B Hoovers, or Vainu to calculate your Total Addressable Market (TAM).
This is key for shaping your sales and marketing strategies.
Step 5: Document and Share Your ICP
Collate all this data into an easily digestible format.
It could be a slide deck or a more comprehensive report, but it should be accessible to your entire team.
For Reprice, we summarized everything into two succinct slides that served as a strategic guide.
Once we agreed upon the ICP, it was crucial to identify the problems they face that Reprice could uniquely solve.
This is where customer interviews became invaluable.
Getting to know customers that match the ICP
I can’t stress enough the importance of speaking to customers.
Relying solely on assumptions or second-hand information from sales teams is risky.
Sales often focuses on quantifiable aspects, potentially missing deeper customer needs.
To master positioning, hear directly from customers. Surveys may provide data - but they lack depth and nuance.
April Dunford, goes deep into this issue in her podcast episode "Understanding the Distinction Between Competitors and Competitive Alternatives." She explains why surveys often miss the mark.
For Reprice, we scheduled interviews with a select group of customers that fit our Ideal Customer Profile.
We specifically targeted new customers, assuming their experiences were fresh. Armed with a comprehensive list of questions, we probed for insights:
- What prompted your search for a new solution?
- What alternatives did you consider?
- How do you address the problem now?
- What would you use if Reprice didn't exist?
- Why did Reprice stand out among alternatives?
These insights were eye-opening.
Customers valued locality, prioritized essential features, and sought a trusted advisor. These revelations influenced Reprice's positioning significantly.
Fresh customer insights set the boundaries for our journey ahead, defining our 'guardrails.'
Getting everyone on the same page
Before getting into the details, I normally like to set up some guardrails with stakeholders.
Guardrails, just like guardrails on a baby crib, keep you on track and prevent you from veering off-course by every shiny object that comes along.
The Guardrails We Set:
- We are committed to differentiation. We're not looking to blend in with the myriad of "me-too" competitors.
- We acknowledge that many so-called "Unique Selling Points", are industry standards now. The real question then is: What's our X factor?
A Quick Detour: Positioning vs. Messaging
I often find that everyone always wants to jump to the website copy. It’s important to say that positioning and messaging are two different things.
Positioning outlines our strategic vision, answering crucial questions like, "What market can we own?" and "Why are we uniquely suited to own that market?"
It serves as the sheet music for both our product roadmap and our go-to-market strategy.
Messaging, on the other hand, translates this strategic vision into relatable language that lets potential customers know they've landed in the right place.
The first step is positioning.
Positioning - the moment of truth
This is where things get real.
We're moving from a lot of facts and data points to something far more compelling: a resonating message that says, "Hey, we understand you and here's how we can make your business better."
The method I used is inspired by April Dunford's book, Obviously Awesome, and serves as a cornerstone for our approach:
- Competitive alternatives - If you didn’t exist, what would customers use?
- Unique attributes - What features/ capabilities do you have that alternatives do not?
- Value (and proof) - what value do the attributes enable for customers?
- Target market characteristics - Who cares a lot about that value?
- Market category - What context makes our value obvious for these target customers?
- Trends - What trends make your product relevant right now?
These aren't standalone steps. Think of them like interlocking puzzle pieces.
I mapped all the information into a template that looked like this:
We created two positioning hypotheses.
Having multiple perspectives in the mix not only enriched the conversation with Anders and Robin, but also helped us fine-tune our strategy.
We discussed everything—from market analysis and ICP to customer interviews—and finally landed on our recommended approach to enter the market.
Once we were all on the same page, we hit the ground running.
With a positioning strategy in hand, the logical next step was to translate this into customer-facing elements—starting with our website.
We crafted messaging and copy for the website
Websites can either be digital window dressing or a real connection point with your customers.
We opted for the latter.
We’re not about listing features and calling it a day.
Every sentence on the Reprice website has a job: to reassure our visitors they're in the right place.
- Is there a clear and compelling value proposition?
- What unique benefits can Reprice provide?
- What problems can Reprice solve that others can't?
It's about answering questions, alleviating concerns, and above all, making your potential customers feel like they're understood.
We created a new content strategy
Research shows us that good content triggers sales calls.
- “Uses data and research to support claims”
- “Tells a strong story that resonates with my buying committee”
- “Is packed with shareable stats and quick-hitting insights”
- “Is research-based”
- “Appeals to our values”
I see a lot of “me-too” content out there these days. It lacks personality, value and a clear message. A lot of times, the content is extremely difficult to read and understand.
I think that’s a shame and a wasted opportunity.
We didn’t want that for Reprice.
So we built a content strategy that would help them build trust and authority with their audience and become the “go-to” expert in their niche.
Here are some samples of the content:
Our plan is to continue building out their content strategy to deepen customer engagement, reinforce their position as thought leaders in the industry, and ultimately drive meaningful conversations that convert into sales.
We updated the brand look/ feel
People are usually passionate about a brand’s logos and colors.
We went through a sea of ideas, tweaks, and overhauls before landing on the logo that just clicked.
For Reprice, the aim was straightforward: Upgrade from what they had and create something built to last.
So our focus was twofold—design a logo that not only separates Reprice from the herd but also stays true to its roots.
After putting all these pieces together, it's time to reflect on the key takeaways from our positioning journey with Reprice.
5 Key Takeaways
1. Positioning Requires CEO Engagement: Positioning isn't a one-and-done task; it's an evolving strategy requiring top-level commitment. CEOs shouldn't merely observe but actively participate. In Reprice's case, CEO involvement was pivotal, helping crystallize a compelling strategy in just four weeks.
2. Product-Centric Positioning Is Essential: Positioning should be integral to the exercise itself, not an afterthought. Retrofitting your product into a pre-made positioning narrative leads to inauthenticity and a gap between promises and delivery.
3. Broaden Your Competitive Horizon: Challenging competitors may not resemble you. They can be traditional systems, in-house solutions, or even a simple email process. Recognizing this broad landscape refines positioning and aids in anticipating market dynamics.
4. Customer-Centric Language Is Vital: The language you use is a potent positioning tool. It goes beyond buzzwords, involving mirroring your ideal customers' concerns, questions, and vocabulary. For Reprice, insights and phrases from customer interviews were directly integrated into messaging, enhancing relatability.
5. Consistency Across Channels Is Key: Positioning extends beyond your website or brochures; it thrives when consistent across all touchpoints. Social media, customer service interactions, and content strategy should reflect the same core values and benefits. In Reprice's case, the content strategy reinforced the brand's positioning as a trustworthy authority in its niche.
There you have it, a behind-the-scenes look at how we helped Reprice not only find its voice but amplify it in a crowded marketplace.
From those initial conversations with Anders and Robin to meticulously plotting out our positioning strategy, the process was nothing short of exhilarating.
Because, let's be honest, there's something incredibly satisfying about seeing a brand truly come into its own.
But beyond the euphoria of a job well done, what excites me the most is how this exercise has set Reprice up for sustained success. We've laid a foundation that doesn't just look good on paper. It's already resonating with customers.
I couldn't be prouder of what we've built together. But as with any meaningful undertaking, this isn't the end of the road. It's just a promising beginning.
For Reprice, the real magic lies in what comes next: leveraging this robust positioning to grow, adapt, and continually meet their customers right where they are.
Thank you for taking this journey with me.
If you find yourself navigating the intricate maze of positioning, I hope our experience can serve as both inspiration and roadmap.
Want to take the next step?
If you'd like hands-on help with your positioning, brand, and content strategy, or if you have any questions, don't hesitate to contact us.