If a visitor can’t tell what your startup does in 5 seconds, you’ve probably lost them.
I look at lots of startup websites each week.
Often, I come away confused.
These sites have weak positioning.
Honestly, I didn’t know what positioning was for a long time. I thought it had to do with the brand.
To have clear positioning, you must quickly articulate a couple of these:
- What your product does
- Who it’s for
- What problem it solves
- What it’s different
For startups, you communicate your positioning on your website.
More specifically: the top half of the page which we call "Above the Fold".
If you don’t nail this section, you will confuse potential customers and your conversion will be lower than it should be.
Here’s my simple approach to creating clear positioning for your product:
1) Speak to a target audience
Good messaging speaks to specific segments.
These segments generally have similar pains and goals.
When you’re looking for a solution, you want to know that the product serves you.
So you can quickly help people decide whether the product is for them just by calling out this segment.
This removes confusion.
eToro is an example of a company who does this well.
They position the product for serious investors.
Within seconds, I know who the product is for.
Being specific to an audience allows them to use language and action-based CTAs that connects directly to your audience's goals.
E.g. "advanced tools"
It can be a little scary to speak to one audience and sometimes teams resist it so they don’t lose out on potential other segments.
Understandable - but the effect of this is your website isn’t as clear and so people leave.
It pays to be specific.
2) Make it clear what category your product is in
Say what your product is.
This is the simplest way to position a product. Give it a category so people know what it is.
Doing this means your visitors aren't confused and can quickly figure out what it is you do.
Wise are very clear that their product is an international business account.
I would know if I was looking for personal banking, that this isn't for me.
Putting the product in an obvious category means that visitors didn’t have to guess whether it was right for them.
Clarity is powerful.
3) Focus on the problem
Sometimes you don’t know who your audience is.
Or what category your product sits in.
So instead don’t focus on this - especially if your product is in a new area without a clear category.
Instead, address the problem.
People connect with that.
Cleo addresses the pain of money stresses
Even if a visitor doesn't know exactly what Cleo does, they would be able to connect with that problem.
That would be enough for them to realise this product might be for them.
4) Have a unique functional benefit
Your product needs to be different in some way to stand out.
The best way to do this is to take a specific feature or attribute of your product and tie it to a benefit.
I call this a “functional benefit”.
A functional benefit works because features by themselves don’t help.
Benefits by themselves are too fluffy.
The functional benefit leverages both to make a realistic claim based on what your product really offers.
Here Coinbase outlines at you can do with the product (feature) and how trusted the platform is (benefit).
The websites with the clearest positioning will use a number of these elements together.
Here’s an example of Mercury - who leverages 3 out 4 of these elements Above the Fold.
(Below the fold they mention the problem too)
Stripe are another great example of this.
Early-stage companies won’t have all 4. But as you get to product/market fit and beyond, you will.
Before then, your goal is to figure out the elements you have a good grasp on.
When you're thinking about your positioning, it doesn't need to be complex.
But it does need to be clear.
So before being clever, be clear.
Resources on Positioning:
April Dunford’s Introduction to Positioning (Get her book Obviously Awesome for a more detailed look into positioning)
Minimum Viable Positioning by Anthony Pierri