I position your startup's product (for free, of course)

(Derek Frome) #1

This sounds like a fun idea. You post your product and why you think it’s great. Include your website.

I reply back with some product positioning for you to take, leave, or edit. For free, of course.

Why? Just giving back to the community.

Background: I run product marketing for PubNub, and before that was a product marketer for (unicorn) Medallia. I also have a background in political communication.


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(Dennis Meng) #2

Working on a startup called User Interviews (http://userinterviews.co)

We think of ourselves as a “market research participant” recruiting platform. If you’re looking for people to participate in customer development interviews or user experience tests, you come onto our site, choose a target audience, and set your schedule. We’ll recruit participants from our database who fit your criteria and we’ll schedule them for you.

Saves market researchers & UX researchers from having to recruit participants for their studies themselves.

(Derek Frome) #3

Hey Dennis - Cool product. I gather you have comparative differentiators vs traditional market research in that you (1) have a database of willing participants that is easily segmented, (2) you automate / offload lots of time-consuming scheduling work. You also have a business model that scales for any size company. Those 3 things should come through loud and clear on your homepage.

Some homepage thoughts:

“Your participants are waiting…”

User Interviews is the easiest way to get feedback from real people to test your product or marketing campaign.

Next I would illustrate the process - 3 steps if possible. Sum “how it works” up in 3 words. Help people understand exactly what they’re getting into.

I would think about whether you can put some slider bars / pick boxes right on your homepage to drive growth. Maybe you could have basic demographic info to select, with a “submit” button that prompts an account signup.

Hope that helps.

(Praval Singh) #4

That’s a great initiative, Derek. Appreciate that!

I can think of this as a platform to bounce off positioning ideas / thought process amongst other members of the community.

I lead marketing for Zoho Social - a social media marketing software for growing businesses (http://zoho.com/social) I’ll give you some background about the company (Zoho) and the product (Social).

Zoho offers a suite of 30+ products for businesses and we think of it as an “operating system for businesses”.

Zoho Social: Most social media tools are standalone tools with the near-zero possibility to integrate with CRM, Email Campaign tool and the Support tool - together. At Zoho, we belive in the power of integration and Zoho Social is being built keeping that on mind. We’re coming out with an integration for CRM very soon, and other integrations would follow.

We believe in offering better value for money than most tools, and one can see that at even at our $10 plan. For eg. we don’t believe in charging a customer for every report they create or save. There aren’t too many tools which offer publishing, scheduling, monitoring and reports (analytics) for $10.

Curious to know : How would you try and position it, if you were to? Thanks in advance.

(Dennis Meng) #5

Awesome, thanks for the ideas, Derek!

(Alexander Lau) #6

Awesome, I’ll be in touch.

(Derek Frome) #7

Praval -

A couple questions to ask yourself, and don’t spin the answers - be honest:

  1. Would anyone buy your product as a standalone? I.e. is it good enough to stand on its own legs?
  2. How useful would your product be if it wasn’t integrated into the rest of Zoho?
  3. Is this product mostly a value-add for current customers, or does it have a strong enough pull on its own to be the beachhead for selling other products?

I suspect you are sitting on a unique differentiator in the interconnectedness of your product with other tools that the customer is already using. You may have comparative differentiators vs other social tools, but your unique diff should be your lead. I suspect that not too many people come to Zoho for social first then expand to more products - it more happens the other way around. So you’re positioning an add-on product, not a standalone product. This is fine, you just have to be clear about what you’re aiming at.

If I’m right about that, then your key value points would be:

  1. Integrate social media marketing with your other marketing programs
  2. Leverage social data for more sophisticated segmentation & targeting
  3. Full suite of social tools at a nominal cost

I see a lot of your messaging is currently built around presence building. Although your customers probably think that’s important, they can build their presence with any tool, and it doesn’t really speak to your tool’s uniqueness.

Instead, I’d focus on the (1) synergy of having your social tools hooked up to your CRM and (2) any functional differentiators you have, like your prediction engine.

Hope that helps!

(Derek Frome) #8

Sounds good, happy to help!

(Justine Clement) #9

Hi Derek, thanks for your kind offer. I’m based in London, hope that’s ok?

I’ve set up learnshedlive.com. I’d prefer if you just take a look and give me your thoughts rather than me going into detail.

One thing I will mention is that we began life as a consumer proposition, which is where the site still sits, but are now looking at the corporate market because (a) I think we can solve some of their problems and (b) it will help to fund the business going forward as I’ve not gone out to raise funding. Because the video workshop content is still limited (the vision for the corporate side of the business is to be a lynda.com for corporate wellness), we’ll need act more like a wellness consultancy, offering both on and offline workshops in order to provide a more rounded offering until there is enough online workshop content to be a standalone solution for organisations (we’re a long way off lynda.com’s 6000!).

The rest I will leave you to look around and I very much look forward to hearing back from you.

Thanks so much

(Derek Frome) #10

Hi Justine,

Below are some thoughts on your site and overall positioning. Before taking any of this though, I’d encourage you to think hard about: (1) who your target buyer is, (2) what you offer uniquely or comparatively better than your competition, and (3) your business model / monetization strategy. You should be able to provide answers to each of those in 1-2 sentences or you probably haven’t nailed it yet.

Anyway, on to my thoughts…

  • I don’t get your name - why a shed? What is this supposed to convey to me, if anything? I pronounced “learnshedwell” in my head several times before I got “learn shed well” which again, doesn’t really mean anything.
  • In order to understand what you actually do, I have to read 10 pt font below your H1. “Video workshops on emotional wellbeing” ahh - I get it now.
  • What if your H1 was “Quiet your mind” with H2 “Video workshops to enhance your employees’ well-being”
  • Why is your front and center CTA “How it works” and not “sign up” or “Start Free Trial”?
  • “On the Shelf” top bar doesn’t make sense - I don’t know what I’m getting if I click on that
  • “Business” should probably read “For Businesses”
  • Consider a transparent grey overlay on your banner image to provide more contrast w/ your H1 and enhance readability
  • Second section probably has too much text. “Why we exist” sections titled as such always sound like you’re trying to justify it to yourself and make you look too much like a startup in the customer’s eyes
  • Instead of text, shoot for 3 titles w/ 3 bullet points each, max. If you cant’ distill the message to that length, you don’t know what your message is.
  • Third section doesn’t have any real calls to action. Perhaps this would be better with 3 of your most popular “free” classes with CTAs to watch now, but put behind a signup wall for lead gen. Make sense?
  • I take it view from the shed is your blog and you think content will drive business for you. If that’s the case, why not put that on the top bar?
  • “Want to know more” at the bottom is a smorgasbord of links. Probably worth trying to remove several. Tag cloud probably doesn’t belong at the bottom.

All that said, answering those 3 questions above is the most important thing you can do as far as your positioning goes. I can give you all the tactics and suggestions in the world, but if you don’t know your buyer and why you’re special… you’re going to have a tough time!

Hope that helps!

(Stephen Willis) #11

Hey Derek. Thank you for your kindness. Working on start-up, still in dev…
Problem: E-card industry is dying. Most people don’t have the right words to say when it comes to greetings.
Company Name: MeMakeMistake
Slogan: Greetings with a response.
Link: http://www.memakemistake.com/
1900 pre-written greetings categorized by eight segments: Fix Mistake, Holidays, Thinking of You, Couples, Hat’s Off, Celebrate, For Fun, and Over Coffee
Each category has sub categories. Every sub-category has at least three pre-written responses receiver can respond with. Or can be custom for greeting and response.
Process: 1. Send Greeting 2. Get a Response 3. Keep Track
Greeting link can be sent via sms (texting) or email.
Greetings can be shared with social media channels to engage and convert (optional)
Tones are funny, serious, and various others.
Subscription: 7-day free trial, $10 monthly, $84 yearly
User can view greetings if not subscribed, but not send.
Real-time notifications online

I need your help in the areas of pricing strategies for my SaaS. I feel like I am undervaluing my product. My target market is not everyone, but I want to add value, target higher paying prospects, and keep a customer for life. Any other advice would be much appreciated.

(Justine Clement) #12

Yes that is magnificent, thank you Derek, really good points and I’ve already begun making some of those changes. One final question - did you not find it unique?

(Derek Frome) #13

“Unique” is a product question, not a look and feel question. Unique is rare, and often requires clever positioning. To answer your question candidly, no - I did not see anything that really jumped out at me that you were positioning yourself based on some unique differentiation. Unless you’re the only company out there doing corporate wellness videos, which you may be but I kind of doubt.

FWIW, most differentiation in any market is comparative - you’re marginally better on some axis than your competition. You don’t have to be uniquely better to win, but it helps.

The last thing I would mention is that when searching for differentiation to base positioning on, you’ve GOT to be clear-headed about where you sit. Optimism is not allowed. We’re going for dispassionate analysis.

(Derek Frome) #14

Hi Stephen,

A few thoughts:

  • I don’t think your product is undervalued. I think it is drastically overvalued. Just being honest.
  • You’re saying the right words about target markets, adding value, etc - but I’m not sure you have thought completely through how these actually apply to your business.
  • Your business is ephemeral - people just aren’t sending ecards all that often no matter how well written they are - but your pricing is SaaS. Why? I see a round peg and a square hole.
  • How many cards do you actually imagine even highly engaged users sending per month? 10? That’s one every few days… at $1 per card? Yikes.
  • Your positioning (via your company name) is completely around apologies. Me make a Mistake. Me fix Mistake with ecard. What if you limited your product to the best pre-written apology emails on the market? Your first one is free, then you can sign up for $5 and access additional sample messages for $1 each? That’s real value add.
  • There’s a reason someecards started and still is ad-supported.
  • The workflow looks complicated, with many steps from the screenshots you posted. I’d challenge you to simplify as much as possible for your MVP.

Hope that’s helpful…

(Stephen Willis) #15

I really appreciate your advice and time. It is helpful. I understand the real value add pricing strategy by what you suggested so the user feels in charge and not obligated…
I will work on simplifying the steps. Thanks

(Tarik Kurspahic) #16

Hi Derek.

I like a lot of insight you have into the other products posted here. Would you take a look at https://personal.com for me?

We provide a cloud-based tool that lets teams share and create important data together. In its simplest form, think a marketing team sharing social media / marketing passwords that everyone needs access to.

The thing that really differentiates it is that in real life each of us is on many teams or works with many teams including across company boundaries, and then you have the other half of your life (the personal stuff) with family, etc. and this tool supports all of that collaboration from 1 account.

In addition, it supports data like travel info, payment info, financial, insurance, home, kids, health and so on, so it’s way more than a collaborative password manager.

Really curious to hear what you think.


(Simon Quick) #17

Hi @derekfrome, appreciate your initiative.

I’m working on https://www.soundshelter.net
I refer most traffic to https://www.soundshelter.net/land.html

Sound Shelter is a place to discover new electronic music on vinyl. Users can save records they like and we calculate personalised recommendations based upon their saves.

It’s focused on relatively niche electronic music but it’s a big industry with leading sites such as http://www.residentadvisor.net claiming ~8MM visits per month. Sound Shelter has a group of pretty hardcore users but I would like to improve retention before working on traffic.

Thanks for any insights you or others can give.

(Derek Frome) #18


What an awesome positioning challenge! This is a great product you have and I immediately see the value. Your challenge is that people think they have to put MASSIVE trust in you in order to get value out of your product - they have to share some of the most sensitive information they have. You have to flip this around and make them want to do it.

A few thoughts:

  • You have basically 3 value propositions. (1) Store all your sensitive data in one place. (2) Share sensitive data in ways that make sense for different groups. (3) Keep all your sensitive data secure from both outsiders (hackers) and insiders (i.e. you have full control over who sees what)
  • Most of your positioning is around point (2)
  • Most of your messaging is accurate but less compelling than it could be. Just sounds like it was written by engineers, not product marketers
  • Instead of your current H1, I’d say something like “Store, Share, and Manage Your Most Important Information” with the subhead “Maximum security meets time-saving collaboration”
  • I would move the security banner up and make it even clearer what you are doing to secure their data
  • Good use of CTA buttons but I would make them larger and centered
  • The video is OK not great
  • “Bundles” is a less than inspiring product name. Consider rebranding
  • Having an empty top bar is unusual. I assume this is intentional to drive you down the page toward the messaging. Not a bad idea, but I’d be interested to A/B test putting Learn More and Pricing at the top and see what effect it has on bounce rates
  • I don’t think I would call it “Personal for Business premium solutions” - premium makes it sound expensive. People get that they’ll be paying, so why not just “Personal for Business”. The * is cute, I’d keep it.
  • Don’t put news logos at the bottom unless they link to the article they wrote about you.
  • “Cloud” positioning is very 2009. Consider removing - people understand it’s in the cloud

I probably have lots more but those are my initial thoughts.

Oh - one final thought. You are not really a password manager in the Lastpass sense, so make sure your branding and positioning don’t confuse people.

(Derek Frome) #19

Hi Simon,

Well the good news is that residentadvisor.net’s website is a god-awful piece of cluttered shit, so you’ve got that going for you. If you can really nail the positioning for a niche audience like electronic music on vinyl, you’ve got the makings of a solid lifestyle business.

I’d suggest positioning like “Where Vinyl Electronica Lives” or “Where Vinyl Electronic Music Gets Discovered”. Subtext “Join thousands of committed music lovers and discover the best emerging music customized for your unique tastes.” I suspect your audience highly values being first, being on the cutting edge of this particular niche of music discovery - so make them feel that way and make joining your site feel like joining an exclusive club.

A few more notes:

  • Join with Facebook button should be one of the FB buttons. Weird to see it not be a facebook login button.
  • On the site itself, button text really needs to be vertically centered within the button. Looks amateurish otherwise.
  • Pick a different font - something unique that is in line with your brand. It’s a very heavy font that doesn’t feel “cutting edge”
  • Remove the counter from the social share buttons. Only add it back once it gets high.
  • “Listen” buttons should not launch a new window. Should play on the page itself. Big UX issue there.
  • Top banner should be much shorter and should shrink away when I scroll down. It takes up a lot of screen real estate.
  • Sorting by “Recommended for me” breaks the site if you’re not logged in!

So, by now you should hopefully see that I think you have a great opportunity with some good positioning, but you’re in real need of a UI/UX overhaul to the site. I’d throw down for that if you can - it will make you look much larger than you are!

Best of luck to you - hope this helps!

(Simon Quick) #20

Awesome - thanks so much @derekfrome

I’ve already implemented a few of the minor changes and fully agree on the UI upgrade that’s needed. This will come with time (Sound Shelter is a fun side project of mine rather than a full time job).

Thanks again. Great to see the community helping out like this.