Providing the best solution isn’t enough. That is the truth regarding today’s competitive SaaS and software environment in relation to your brand differentiation efforts.
We’re not suggesting that you don’t have to be really good at what you do, that’s still hugely important. We’re saying that finding what makes your brand unique, provides your potential customers with something more salient, more memorable, more personalized- and it makes it more difficult to compare or confuse your brand with others.
So, your brand needs to be differentiated and in ways that are relevant to your core target audience. And when your digital marketing is merely about provoking a response, or capturing some “look at me” attention, you might generate short-term interest, but it won’t be sustainable. Raising brand awareness needs to be ongoing and requires differentiation, messaging and positioning that resonates with your audience.
4 Steps to Differentiating Your Brand in the Software / SaaS Industry
Focusing on your target audience’s unique business outcomes and how your solutions help them to achieve those business goals, enables you to establish differentiation and set yourself apart as an ideal solution. As digital marketing strategies go, focusing on being ‘the ideal solution’ is a great starting point.
Here are 4 steps to help you differentiate your brand in the very noisy and crowded tech industry.
1. Examine the Competitive Landscape
True brand differentiation begins with understanding how what you offer is different from your competitors. The more competition there is in a given industry, the stronger the commitment you should make toward very specific and targeted differentiation.
Performing a competitive market analysis can offer some great insight into what your competition is doing and how you can differentiate your brand. This analysis involves researching major competitors to better analyze their offerings and how their marketing efforts address your audience’s pain points. This helps you to identify opportunities where you can out-perform them.
While it’s important to know what your competitors are doing, you most certainly don’t want to copy them. Unfortunately in the software-as-a-service space, we see so many companies focus far too much on the competition and not enough on original thinking and how best to serve and engage their target audience. Focus on what you are doing differently to alleviate your audience’s pain points and ensure that your messaging presents this in a very direct way.
2. Discover What Differentiates Your Brand
There are undoubtedly other brands out there that are offering very similar solutions to yours. This can make it a bit difficult, but hugely important, to differentiate your offerings from the competition.
In the SaaS industry, the business landscape is constantly changing. Your clients’ needs will change. Your competitors’ strategies will change. Thus, you need to change. That competitive advantage you discovered at the beginning of the year might be gone tomorrow. And it’s that competitive advantage that was differentiating your brand this entire year.
Differentiation isn’t a one time effort, it’s a continuous process – a matter of evaluating the marketplace and evaluating your place in it, to ensure that you’re always positioned for success.
In addition to setting firms apart from their competition, a differentiation strategy allows a company to be more focused in their operational marketing efforts, speaking directly and succinctly to their target audience via blogs, email campaigns and advertising.
You don’t ever want to be left competing on price, and that’s where you’ll be left if you don’t have a strong differentiator. When you’re down to competing on price you have entered a race to the bottom.
Highlighted correctly, your differentiators are among your most important assets. They are attention grabbers and they facilitate your relationship to buyers and influencers. When you properly express your differentiators, they ultimately drive your reputation, your growth and your success.
3. Establish a Strong Brand Voice
When people think about brands, they often picture their visual identity. However, there’s another element that often gets overlooked: brand voice.
The most enduring brands always have a strong personality and clear sense of purpose. Their message is delivered consistently everywhere they have a presence with an established and memorable brand voice.
Clear, honest, inspiring, and fun, that defines what Slack has created with their brand voice. The company, a collaboration hub app for businesses, has taken the breezy tone of Silicon Valley and developed a witty, conversational voice for their app. As the company explains, they are trying to encourage people to embrace that tone, to feel easier talking to each other at work.
The cheeky tone that is apparent when using Slack works as an ice breaker for work communication, that can sometimes feel stuffy or limiting in a business context. It’s apparently working as 43% of Fortune 100 businesses now pay to use Slack.
Every brand has a story to tell and telling yours in an engaging manner is crucial. While this may seem difficult for a technology company, you must create a compelling and relatable narrative that speaks to your brand’s purpose, vision and values. This will allow you to grab the attention of your target audience and truly differentiate your brand.
4. Create Simple and Direct Messaging
Creating brand messaging is very different from creating marketing or advertising copy. Your brand’s message is an overarching theme that conveys both your purpose and your brand identity. A compelling brand message tells your audience what your solutions are all about and should differentiate you from your competitors.
Your brand message should be simple and direct because when you deliver a good one, it should never change, as brand messages that remain consistent have the greatest impact. Think Microsoft’s “Be What’s Next.” or 3M’s “Science. Applied to life.” – both are simple, direct and, have been successful.
To create a brand message that resonates with your target audience, you must examine every angle. You must think about what you want to say and how your target audience might receive it.
A common mistake we see many software companies make when creating their messaging, is putting the focus on how great their solutions are . Instead it’s imperative that you focus on how your solution helps your customers achieve crucial business outcomes. This will help you to communicate the clear benefits of your brand to your target audience.
Your brand message is essentially your calling card for your like-minded potential customers. Your brand message should help you differentiate your brand and position your technology as the ideal solution for their problem.