Ep. #969 - Startup Messaging and Positioning
Today’s episode of Startup Hustle is all about startup messaging and positioning. Matt Watson is here with Brendan Dell, president of Brendan Dell and B2H Agency. Together, they spill the tea on companies’ common challenges when building their brand message. And reveal how brands can position themselves to acquire the right customer.
Covered In This Episode
How can you differentiate yourself from your competition? Is your startup messaging and positioning right for your brand? What potential problems should you prepare for at this point?
All these questions are answered with practical tips throughout Matt and Brendan’s conversation. Remember, proper messaging and positioning make all the difference in branding and marketing.
Make sure to listen to this Startup Hustle episode now.
- Brendal Dell’s background and entrepreneurial journey (01:27)
- Clarity on understanding the problems to be solved (07:33)
- Details on creating customers (12:00)
- On becoming a brand (16:10)
- Selling as a startup company (19:53)
- Brendan’s experience in consulting (24:05)
- Struggles in growing the company (28:58)
- Common challenges faced by companies (31:20)
- Getting too close to problems and solutions with no clarity (33:58)
- Creating meaning for brand names (35:50)
- Matt’s most significant challenge with Stackify (41:59)
- How to get in touch with B2H Agency (43:04)
People are entering into these buying decisions with a field of reference . . . The number one question people ask when they get on a call is: what makes you different?– Brendan Dell
There are three core things that you have to think about at a strategic level that you have to define. And we’ve talked about the first a lot, which is clarity of buyer. That means who are you uniquely designed to help? What are the jobs that they’re trying to accomplish? Where do they go for influence?– Brendan Dell
One of the traps that a lot of early startups fall into is they see some early success with growth. But it’s mostly like friends and family and referrals. As you mentioned earlier, referrals are one of the best types of leads. You get a lot of customers from referrals. But it’s like once you get past that network, you hit that valley where it’s like you haven’t really hit market acceptance and market awareness yet.– Matt Watson
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Following is an auto-generated text transcript of this episode. Apologies for any errors!
Matt Watson 00:00
And we’re back for another episode of the Startup Hustle. This is your host today, Matt Watson. Today, I’m excited to be joined by Brendan Dell with the B2H Agency. He is a sales and marketing consultant and is going to give us some tips about how we can improve our business. And we’re going to talk to you about how to survive this economy we’re in. In this down market. This bear market. So, before we get started, I do want to remind everybody that today’s episode of Startup Hustle is powered by FullScale.io. Hiring software developers is difficult. Full Scale can help you build a software team quickly and affordably. And has the platform to help you manage that team. Visit FullScale.io to learn more. Brendan, welcome to the show, man.
Brendan Dell 00:40
Cheers. Thanks for having me, man.
Matt Watson 00:43
Well, I hope I have introduced you well. Love to kind of get your background before we start here. You said you’ve got a lot of experience in helping other companies with their sales and marketing strategies. And I’m hoping you can teach me some things today and everybody else.
Brendan Dell 00:58
We’ll try. So the background, I’ll give you the three-minute, you know, history of my career. So I started in real estate. I was living in LA at the time. And if you work in real estate, basically what that means early on, I was doing tenant rep on the west side of LA And what that means is you gotta go find, you know, the big mucky-muck folks business, when you’re young. So the way they told me to do that was to walk up and down office buildings on the west side of LA and knock on doors, basically. Like you want to lease space. You want to get space. And so I spent like a year and a half getting thrown out of office buildings trying to sell this service. Till I had, like, there’s got to be a better way moment. I don’t think it’s an uncommon thing for entrepreneurs who are saying things as they go out, they cold call, they try to network, and maybe they aren’t getting the traction or the scale that they want. And it was around this time that I stumbled across a book on copywriting, which is where all this started. And so, I took this together with a couple of direct mail promotions at the time. That’s what was going on. And fast forward to those couple of labels. One was a FedEx package, and one was a handwritten letter. I did end up netting like $50 million. I can never remember the exact number. But it was a ridiculous amount of listings for this, or I guess engagements for this team, of which I ended up earning very little money, full disclosure. But from that, I started walking that skillset around into tech. Over the years, I’ve now worked with 100 and some odd tech companies, Expedia, SAP, non-united startups, portfolio companies, Y Combinator, etc., and helped them grow. And the big lever that we’re leaning on right now, in the modern economy, is positioning and messaging because they’re just the fundamental growth levers for companies right now.
Matt Watson 02:49
Well, I always find it interesting when I meet other startups, and they struggle to clearly explain what it is they do and why they’re different. So I think you nail a common problem that a lot of people have.
Brendan Dell 03:02
Yep, yeah. 100%. It’s what, it’s what keeps us busy. And it’s, it’s complicated. And it’s difficult to articulate in a way that’s clear, concise, and meaningful to, you know, an audience what’s different, especially for a lot of companies today, where they are selling things that maybe are a lot like what other people do. And so it becomes, you know, difficult to create that differentiation.
Matt Watson 03:28
So I’d love to hear. Do you have any specific stories of things that you’ve done that were super interesting? Are there things that you learned a lot from?
Brendan Dell 03:37
Sure. So I think we can do that. I think maybe taking a step back. One of the cons with the topics we were talking about was how you know how to grow in this current economy. And I think it’s useful to provide some context to your audiences, entrepreneurs, which means you’re talking about starting and scaling businesses and a little context about the environment we operate in and how they can think about positioning themselves. And then we can talk about some examples of this. But something that I think about a lot is that as of the US in August, the last data I saw, there’s $122 billion in venture capital raised, meaning venture funds raised $122 billion to put into companies. If you rewind 10 years, the number was 20 billion. Now you have a fraction of the number of people starting companies back then. And you can see that not only in software but in a variety of spaces, right? Like nowadays, being an entrepreneur is a cool new thing. 30 years ago, venture capital was barely even a business, right? It really started in the 60s. So just the volume of competition that people are dealing with these crazy and gone, which is a software company is talked about in the modern selling context, about 50% of open opportunities for companies. So you get a lead, you have a discovery call, you get someone who’s interested, and you give them a proposal, right? So you and you open that opportunity to say there’s a pipeline associated, those deals never close, you had somebody who took all this time, and they never actually write you a check. And so people are getting at-bats, but they’re not able to close deals. So why? One, you haven’t convinced somebody that what you’re doing is an imperative right now, modern content, right? Like what we’re dealing with right now, the people are going to be tighter and tighter on budgets, or two, they don’t trust that you can deliver the outcomes. And so building a story, and that’s one of the key takeaways I would communicate to people, is they need to be thinking about how they can tell a story about their business and not just tell features and benefits, but building a story that bridges that gap of why does this matter right now? And do I trust this person that this company can deliver? Is this where effective selling begins in a modern context? Well, I think you said, you said one and two.
Matt Watson 05:59
And then you mentioned, I think, which I would actually consider being the third thing, and maybe most important, is the timing. Right? Like, you know, whether you trust they can do it or not, it’s Is this a priority for me, right, like, I have a bunch of other things that are really important. Like, that sounds great. But it’s not the top three, you know, things I need to solve right now. And I think that’s a problem that a lot of people have. It’s like, even if you built a better mousetrap, or whatever it is, like, it’s got to be, like, 10 times better than whatever somebody’s doing today. Or it’s got to be a problem. They have like an urgent issue they’re trying to solve. Otherwise, it’s like they got other things that are urgent issues. And I think people always struggle with remembering that.
Brendan Dell 06:44
Yeah, and I think a lot of people have solutions looking for problems instead of starting the other way around, which is like, how do you start with the problem and solve, and making sure that you have clarity of who that person is, have clarity around the jobs to be done, which, you know, there’s a framework basically, of thinking about how people prioritize, like, try to accomplish tasks, tasks in their life, everything’s a job to be done. And clarity around how those priorities stack rank and how important it is, then you’re, you know, you’re not, you’re not gonna be able to position your company to effectively solve for those things.
Matt Watson 07:19
Yeah, I think that these are the common mistakes a lot of startups make is they don’t understand the persona, that they’re trying to reach the problem that they’re trying to solve, you know, the other issues that they have going on in the industry, that might be way more important. But more than all, those are like the go-to-market strategy. It’s like, how do I even reach these people? How do I connect to these people? And I would guess you’ve got a lot of experience and all of these things that we just described based on your experience.
Brendan Dell 07:46
Yeah. 100%. And I will say that I found, so I host a podcast called billion-dollar tech. And we speak with, with, you know, they’re not all billion-dollar founders, but there many of them are. And many of them are, you know, 100 million dollar founders and so forth. And one of the commonalities that I hear from people in terms of, like, what did I get wrong in the beginning, is lack of focus. And I could tell there’s Okay, so there’s a software company called Smarsh, the guy who founded Steve Marsh, and he’s, I think now he’s just like the chairman of the board or something, but an incredibly bright guy. Very, very successful. And he talked about his company. I won’t even get into the weeds of what it does because it’s complicated. But basically, they sold financial services. And they realized that this software had all these other use cases, well, it could work for the government, it could work for education. And this is a company that had raised millions and millions of dollars, had, I think, at that time, they were a few 100 people. And so they started to branch out to try to go, and you know, sell and all these other use cases. It’s like Apple when they started doing any products, right? Like, basically, the company started to fold in on itself because it realized it needed all these different go-to-market teams to support these different verticals. And when he went, Okay, no, we’re focusing on our key niche, or cutting all this down or doubling down on financial services. That’s when they really saw exponential growth. And so I say all that saying, If Apple has to cut their product lines down to just a few to get focused, right. That’s the first thing Steve Jobs did after he got fired and came back. And if companies like that, you know, this, where they raised millions and millions of dollars, and they have hundreds of people, then for the average company, where it’s, you know, small team or 50 people or whatever, certainly you need to have that clarity of focus on who you’re targeting.
Matt Watson 09:39
Well, and that was actually one of the major problems that hurt my last startup, is we tried to have all these different things. We tried to build a platform that had a lot of different features. Where if we had just picked one of those products that were on the platform and just focused on that one plot, that one product, we ultimately probably would have been a lot more successful. We really do. Tried to have like five different products at one time. And it was just really difficult to compete.
Brendan Dell 10:06
I see that a lot, and it’s for good and compelling reasons in terms of people trying to reduce the risk they’re trying to mitigate, right? They’re trying to say, Okay, well, can we serve people in a variety of different ways. And you can find broad exams, you can find popular broad examples of where people went wide and had success. But those are by far the exceptions and not the rule. And it’s just you if you look at a company like ITT Tech, right, like rippling is a company that’s going wide across the Braves like $150 million, something like you know what I mean, that does the burn, really being able to do that is so tremendous.
Matt Watson 10:47
And I think, more importantly, from my experience, it also makes the sales cycle that much more complicated and turns into more of an enterprise sale, right? Like we’re, instead of having a simple product that one stakeholder can make the decision on. Now all of a sudden, you’ve got a product that touches multiple people. And it’s more complex, it’s harder to understand the pricing, and it’s harder to do pricing. And it takes more people to come to an agreement on making the decision. Like it just turns everything into more of an enterprise kind of sale.
Brendan Dell 11:17
100% 100%. And if you know, the old Peter Drucker quote about like, what’s the purpose of business is to create a customer if you’re trying to create a customer right in which is so if you look at there was a study done years ago by these guys named Les, les field and something Binay you can look it up. It’s called the long and the short of it. I think they looked at what’s actually effective in b2b in b2b advertising, like what drives the outcome b2b is the space that I primarily play in. It was fame, essentially, optimizing your advertising for fame, and by fame, it means your target audience knows you as the core solution for x. Right? And so companies, how can you not be famous? Like, it’s really hard to be famous for being good at five things. Most people, it’s hard enough to be known for one thing, let alone five things and so how do you? How do you create that? It’s like nobody got fired for buying IBM things? You know? Yeah. How are you? How do you create that trust upstream? And its focus?
Matt Watson 12:21
Yeah, it’s like whatever problem you have, there’s, you know, one or maybe two vendors, or like, those are the only options you would consider. Like, if you need a way to chat with your employees, like you would use Slack. What the hell else would you use? That’s like, that’s the only thing you would think of right? Like, yeah, getting to that fame, right, as you describe, is the goal where if you’re not like, Slack, or you know, maybe Microsoft Teams are like, you know, two or three things like you’re like, basically, not even on the list, it’s like, doesn’t even matter, that’s so difficult to compete.
Brendan Dell 12:51
It’s 100% Correct. And then, you know, depending on how deep we want to go in the weeds on, on the messaging side of things, the, you know, there’s a lot of what’s the best way to articulate essentially, people are entering into these buying decisions with a field of reference. And, like, I’ve sat on 1000s of sales calls over the years, and looked at them, you know, recordings via Gong, and so forth. The number one question that people ask when they get on a call is what makes you different? Like, that’s one of them because everybody comes with this context of what you just said, Okay, I’m thinking about chat tools. Like what, okay, what’s this chat tool do that this one doesn’t. And so they come with this landscape in their mind. And there’s another, there’s a psychological thing called anchoring bias, which basically means when somebody has made up their mind on an idea, even in the face of overwhelming evidence, there’s tons of research around that people don’t change their minds. Like if you think that, you know, I don’t know, like red caught a coffee cup over here. Red coffee cups, like coffee, taste the best set of red coffee cups. Even if I show you like research that says no accurate blue, like subscribed, every Apple customer.
Matt Watson 14:05
That their own bias will not allow them to buy anything else. It doesn’t matter how terrible Apple devices might be.
Brendan Dell 14:16
That’s, that’s 100%. It isn’t.
Matt Watson 14:20
Yeah, that’s exactly $1,700 new phones so you can use Facebook and Instagram. We realize that we have old phones and you can buy Android phones for like $100. But no, you have to buy the $1,700 Yeah, okay. Yeah, I’ll buy one for my spouse, yes, thank you.
Brendan Dell 14:37
Well, you can see this with politics all the time, right. Like people will have a conversation and like if you have a particular point of view on a political issue. Yeah, I’m not gonna get into politics, but I, you know, I remember like, anyway, I won’t even go into the weeds of it. But basically, somebody was talking about a very contentious issue and somebody, a friend of mine, and somebody showed them a study that showed contrary opinion to their position, they didn’t even acknowledge they just glanced right off. And we’re like, no, but this is the reason why that’s wrong. And it’s like, you know, so this is how people, this is how all of our minds work my mind your mind, you know, and we don’t even realize all these biases. So that coming back to what this means is, how do you then become known to a particular group for delivering an outcome that’s otherwise hard for them to reach without your help? That’s like, that’s the game and that requires focus.
Matt Watson 15:31
Okay, so you got to tell us how to do this. How do we do it? How do you solve that problem? Yeah, that’s spending a whole lot of money and like having a billboard, on every street and Superbowl commercials and everything else? Like, how do you become that? That brand and that person, you know, that company?
Brendan Dell 15:48
Yeah, so first of all, the, you know, the trying to think about how to answer concisely, there’s three core things that you have to think about at a strategic level, right, that you have to define. And we’ve talked about the first a lot, which is clarity of buyer. And that means Who are you uniquely designed to help? What are the jobs that they’re trying to accomplish? And then where do they go for influence? Do you know where they go for information? What platforms are they on? What podcasts do they listen to? What conferences did they go to, like, whatever that field of influences for them in the world is very sub-niche now, like you even look at, like, let’s take mountain biking, for example. Because I happen to own a mountain bike, that already sounds like a sub niche, right? But then you pull out mountain biking and you go okay, well, within mountain biking, there’s cross country riding, there’s single speed riding, there’s enduro riding, there’s downhill riding, and you can suddenly shout those right, even in a niche niche. So how do you figure out as if you’re, if you’re resource constrained? How do you get deeper, not wider at the beginning? The second piece of this is, what’s the thing that you are uniquely qualified to help these people achieve? And then why is it imperative that you do that? Right now? Like, how do you position against change? I’ll give an example from a tech company called grin. What they do, they have an influencer marketing platform, and their whole pitch when you sit on a pitch with them, they start by saying we’ve entered the Creator economy, okay, people used to turn to mass media for information. But now they turned to individual influencers. So if you want to be relevant in a modern context, as a brand, you need to figure out who are the influencers in your space. How can you get them on board with what you’re doing? Right? That’s very different from saying, Hey, we’re an influencer marketing platform. And we have more influencers here than anyone else. Right, like a feature like we’re the easiest to use platform of anyone else. They change that to say, No, you need to be doing influencer marketing, and then the anchoring bias kicks in where you’ve educated them. So they believe you’re the best choice.
Matt Watson 18:04
And then, sorry, go ahead. No, no, no, go ahead. Go ahead. Go ahead.
Brendan Dell 18:07
The third piece of that is just creating the trust and the results, right? The anchoring bias is that Seth Godin has a quote that people like us do things like this, which is basically like people, you know, they prescribe they follow the tribe. So can you show in an authentic way that other people that feel real and like part of this peer group to this person, are getting results from this, and that comes from authentically presenting social proof, that doesn’t feel like you know, everybody’s seen the corporate testimonial of somebody like looking off camera than being Yeah, you know, the stuff that nobody believes.
Matt Watson 18:42
So I have a little bit of experience with this, my last company I will talk about before we do, but before we do that, I do remind everybody that today’s episode of the Startup Hustle is sponsored by FullScale.io. Finding expert software developers doesn’t have to be difficult, especially when you visit FullScale.io, where you can build a software team quickly and affordably. Use the Full Scale platform to define your technical needs, and then see what available developers, testers, and leaders are ready to join your team visit FullScale.io to learn more. You know, I think you bring up as we’ve been talking about that the hardest part is a start up as if you’re trying to sell to everybody you’re really trying to sell to nobody, right? And that was probably one of the problems I had in my last company. We were selling to other software developers. Well, there are millions of software developers, and they’re all over the world and every country. And it’s trying to figure out like, you know, as a specific industry, company size, computer programming language, and all these all these different, like kind of sub-niches like as you described. And, you know, one thing that that we talked a lot about, and I don’t remember where we got some of this guidance, I’m sure it was from some amazing books that our CEO had read and stuff like that, but was trying to get it down to, you know, the smallest niche you can get even if it is, you know, based on geography, right? It’s like, okay, how do we focus just on I’m in Kansas City, like software developers in Kansas City because you know what the They talk to other software developers in Kansas City. So how do we get to a point where everybody in Kansas City knows who we are. And if anybody has this problem, they would all talk amongst each other. And like, well, you need to check out this product, because clearly they can help you with this, right? Like, trying to, to do your point. Like, even if you have to shrink that audience down by geography, at least, you know, you focus on the subset, and they all talk to each other within that group, even if it’s within that geography and help spread. You know, what, you’re what you’re trying to sell, right?
Brendan Dell 20:32
Yeah, I think that’s really smart. And another piece of advice that was given to me by a gal who I won’t mention her name, but she recently had an exit with her company that was north of 100 million. And she, she, she’s just this extraordinarily bright woman, and she was talking about, you have to think of your company in chapters. So you know, and what people want to do, because we’re all impatient. And we want to get to the end, right? And so we go, Okay, we have to go wide, right, we have to get to everybody, because we can help everybody. And we don’t want to miss someone who might buy. But this is actually an element of progress. And so what you just said, of how you can niche it down? And that doesn’t mean you have to stay with developers in Kansas City. But it means like, where do people hear about stuff, right?
Matt Watson 21:22
Like realistically, peers, social media, like that, they love to tell somebody else about the cool thing that they found, right?
Brendan Dell 21:26
100%. But then incestuous ecosystem is another term that somebody is used on me before, to to drive that word of mouth, if you have one customer and you know, X niche, and another and Y and and one in Dallas, Vancouver, and other Mumbai, they can’t talk to each other. And its geography is one way you may niche it, but there’s a variety of ways that you can issue.
Matt Watson 21:51
Well, on the flip side, imagine me and Kansas City, and I’ve had three friends all tell me about this cool thing, because the opposite of what you describe, right? It’s like, well, no, I’ve had three people tell me about this thing, I better check it out, where if those three were in totally different cities, like they would have never told the same person. Right. So it’s, the more you can concentrate into a smaller group that all of a sudden, you know, it continues to re-emphasize.
Brendan Dell 22:17
So two things to add on to that. One is that I don’t know what the number is. But hundreds of CEOs that I’ve talked with, and founders, I have never heard someone say, ever, man, we just you know, we were too niche. When we got started, we were too deeply focused. And we should have gone wider earlier. Not once have I heard people say I started too wide, and I tried to boil the ocean, and it really slowed us down. The second piece of it is if you do close one analysis, close loss analysis on a lot of deal flow, which we’ve done many times. And again, I come from a software lens, but this applies if you look at what is actually trailing revenue, right? Like where did the money actually come from versus like what was the lead that we talked with, but didn’t go anywhere. And this is an obvious statement. But referrals are always the best source, right? If people already have the trust. So how do you develop that word of mouth from being memorable comes from making it easy for other people to say what you do and pass it on? And so forth.
Matt Watson 23:27
So as you mentioned before, you’ve done a lot of consulting for a lot of a lot of brands and companies that we know, but do you primarily focus on smaller companies and startups or, or bigger companies or you kind of go all across the board?
Brendan Dell 23:41
So my Yeah, so I work with companies generally who are at inflection points. And what they’re trying, they’re at some place where they have tried to go to market, they have gotten some success, but they’re trying to figure out how to unlock that next level of growth. And that can be product teams, big companies, it can be mid market companies who have hit like, a lot of times people will get to these points, like 10 million in revenue for whatever is a place where people get where they’re like, Okay, we’ve basically you you can muscle, oh, you know, some of that early stage off like founder-led sales. But to scale it past there becomes problematic. And so that’s a common inflection point. And then early stage seed companies that are trying to figure out, hey, we’ve got this thing, and how do we tell the story in a more effective way? Those are the three groups that we typically work with?
Matt Watson 24:30
Well, I think one of the traps that a lot of early startups fall into is they see some early success with growth, but it’s mostly like friends and family and referrals. Right. So as you mentioned earlier, referrals are one of the best types of leads and you get a lot of customers from referrals. But it’s like once you kind of get past that network, you kind of hit that, you know, your product-market fit you kind of hit that valley where it’s like you haven’t really hit like market except and market awareness yet, right? Like, just because you were successful selling to your friends and some other local people down the street, you aren’t going global with this thing. And that’s a whole different problem to solve. Right?
Brendan Dell 25:10
Yeah. 100%. And that is a super common thing that I see is like people will get early stage traction, because let’s say you came out of a functional area in a business, like you were a finance executive, you know, for technology companies. And so you built a finance tool. And so you can call the people you know, in finance and show them this thing. And they want to help you out. And the tool is, like, generally good, and there’s nothing wrong with it. Right? But like it, maybe not, you said it well, like, you really need a 10x improvement to have a big scalable company, you know, like, what’s 10x better, you’re gonna get? Actually, you know, Frank’s Luqman is the he’s the, the say, pronounce his name. Anyway, he’s the CFO, CEO at Snowflake, which is like the biggest software IPO ever. And he talks about how basically customers won’t change for the incremental incremental improvement they want now with the 10x improvement you’re gonna give them. And if you can’t message that, if you can’t tell that story, you may get people to adopt your tool because they like you, and they know you, and they want to support you and the tools, okay? But you’re not going to get to that big, geometric thing that you’re looking for?
Matt Watson 26:22
Well, and that’s so our company Full Scale. That’s a lot of how it started early on, as you know, we started the company, and we had like, friends and people we knew, they were like, Hey, if you’re doing this, and this is successful for you, like, can you help us right, and so we grow a lot early on that the way we had just described to our network early on. But then once you kind of grow past your network, it’s a whole different, different phase. And, and for Full Scale. For us, it was resources like this blog, this podcast, and our blogging and other things that we’ve done that have helped us continue to grow. But yeah, we grew extremely rapidly for the first few months, because it was our network of people that we knew. And then we kind of want you then we hit a plateau. Right, we hit a plateau, kind of once we burned through the local people in the network that we knew.
Brendan Dell 27:09
Yeah, that’s it, it’s a super common and difficult thing. And it is also you know, it’s a decision basically, that companies have to make, you know, do you because it so I was talking to the CEO yesterday, this episode will come out to blockchain comm that’s accom, you know, they’re there, right? Now they have a $14 million value. Or at least that’s what they were marked out for potential IPO. And this guy is pretty young, you know, he’s like, in his, I think he’s about my age, late 30s. Anyhow, he was like, he’s talking about, you know, people think it gets easier, people think you’re gonna get to this stage, and then maybe you’re gonna, like, hire executives, and they’re gonna basically run it for you. But he’s like, man, it doesn’t get any easier. Like, it’s all fucking hard. I was just, and I hear that again, and again, that people think they’re gonna get like, and I think there are, there are points, right? And, you know, you obviously, when you get to take some money off the table, but I say all this to say that, like, the growth is a decision because it’s going to be cut, you’re gonna have problems, right?
Matt Watson 28:13
It’s gonna require talent. At the end of the day, it all requires talent. And the company I work for today, that’s one of our struggles, right? Like, has grown about missing key talent missing people with experience, like, it’s struggling to grow and get to the next level, because missing, you know, really key talent and in different places. And, you know, as the entrepreneur, the founder, you know, you’re able to cover some of those gaps, right? But eventually, you can’t scale and you can’t, you can’t do all the things. And until you find the right talent, only then do you have a chance of getting to the next level. And a lot of people just can’t do it, or they don’t want to grow to be that big. They don’t want to manage that many employees or they’re not good at managing employees, they’re good at, you know, certain parts of being an entrepreneur, but operations is not one of them. Right? And that’s always a struggle as an entrepreneur.
Brendan Dell 29:03
Totally. I mean, people are always the hardest part, right? Like, I mean, do a split, like if you think about a company like cheese financing, it is an example like doing a variance analysis is something you have to learn how to do. But you can learn how to do that. But like how to manage a team against a goal and a set of objectives and keep them moving in the same direction and keep them focused and not overwhelmed and all that right. That’s the really hard part. That’s one of the additional benefits of clarity of messaging, which is why I focus so much on this right now is that if you have a clear story, if you can’t communicate to your employees, where you’re going, if you can’t communicate to investors, where you’re going, what this world is that you’re creating, if you can’t communicate to customers, all the other shit doesn’t matter, right? Because nobody understands what you’re doing and so you’re just transacting instead of investing. And that’s why I’m such an advocate of new willingness right now. There’s a quote from Ben Horowitz, who’s like a very famous venture capitalist, and so forth. And he said, years ago, the company story is the company strategy. And I firmly believe that the clarity of story creates clarity of purpose amongst your people. And once the customers investors, yeah.
Matt Watson 30:19
Yeah, and, you know, not to bring it full sail again. But that’s been a big key to our success has been our story, like, you know, my success and, you know, success of our other founder and, and people like this story, right. They’re like, you know, what we trust you, you know, based on your background, we liked the story, blah, blah, blah, it works. It works. So I have a question for you. So for a lot of these companies that you come into, and they’re struggling with, they’re getting their product to the next level or messaging, and all of these things are a lot of it is it competition? That is their problem of like, you know, what, we’re struggling to differentiate ourselves? Or is it they they just, they don’t have the product feature set the right way? What are the most common things that you run into?
Brendan Dell 31:05
So lack of clarity of benefit, and lack of must haves versus nice to have is the thing that happens again, and again. And the competition is tangential to that issue, but it’s not core to the issue, because it’s, it’s a lack of understanding, again, like, Who are you for? What are you uniquely qualified to help them achieve? And then why should they believe you that you can help them achieve that thing. And so the, like, one, like, one thing I’ll say is that if you if you have to default to worrying about how to be different and worrying about how to be clear, like, you know, take something as simple as painting a house, like, we’re a painting technicians that optimize the aesthetics of your, you know, personal residence with next generation, you know, whatever, right, instead of just saying, like, we make your house, you know, we paint beautiful houses, like just say something clear. So people know what you do, and can buy the thing. versus, you know, trying to get too cute and too different. And then nobody has any idea what you’re talking about.
Matt Watson 32:13
Well, and so we, the company I work at now, are going to call camp digital, and we do digital marketing, basically for home services. So he plumbers, electricians, and, and my job is to try and help us take this kind of boutique product and make it a product that will be available for smaller kinds of mid market electricians and plumbers and stuff like that. And I had the same conversation with the rest of our executive team. It’s like, you know, what, if they don’t buy our product, what else do they buy? What are the other options? And like, just because we think we have the world’s greatest products, like, so what? Who cares? What, what, maybe they don’t care about us at all? Like, you know, how do we dramatically help them? And, you know, I think even sometimes, like, our other executives, and founders and stuff, they may have it in their head of like, well, we have the best product in the world. Why wouldn’t they sign up for love, but what if they don’t like to live without it? Like, so what just because you think it’s the best thing in the world? And I feel like as, as founders, and this is my question for you, I feel like as founders, and you know, any kind of executive, we become too close to the problem, and too close to what we think the solution is that we don’t have very good clarity of what it is that we actually do. And that’s why I think somebody like you probably is very helpful to come in with an outside perspective.
Brendan Dell 33:35
Yeah, I completely agree. And I have people come in for my business as well, right? Because I think it is really easy to get sucked in. And to be too close to the problem. And especially in tech, you get a lot of people you know, who have the idea of like, build it, and they will come right, like you build them and they don’t come and they I was just telling you, I found out the other day, he’s got a bunch of patent pending on this tool they built and he’s you know, he’s talking about the technical prowess. And that stuff is cool and hugely valuable if like, Google has a lot of technical stuff behind it. But it’s the simplest thing to interact with. Right? Like right, go to this little box and it’s like you can find out the answer to any question that you have. Nowhere do they talk about the algorithm that creates it nowhere do they talk about machine learning and nobody autocomplete nobody gives a shit. Yeah, nobody cares. But a lot of early stage founders will over-index on that stuff on this like, beautiful, unique thing that they created. And that’s awesome. But it’s if it doesn’t create something that’s 10x Better to use your right and don’t give them that 10x If they can’t just see it and go Holy shit, that is metadata has a tool for b2b buyers right now that like if you run advertising, you know how time consuming it is to like run different iterations of ads, right like to come up with different concepts and test them on different platforms to tone in the time are getting, and then your track that they automate this whole process. It’s like a 100x leap. If you’re somebody who’s in charge of managing marketing, and the company is, you know, making huge leaps as a result of it, what company is that called metadata.io.
Matt Watson 35:19
I think the URL seems like a terrible name for a company because it’s such a generic word.
Brendan Dell 35:22
I think, you know, they’re doing, they’re doing very well there.
Matt Watson 35:28
That makes sense, because they use metadata to do marketing and stuff.
Brendan Dell 35:32
Yeah, names are funny, right? Like, I think, yeah, it’s something that people can over index I use. People used to ask me to help them come up with names, and I stopped doing it because I, because my honest opinion on a lot of that stuff is that it basically doesn’t matter. Like, you just I think there’s use cases where maybe it does, but it’s so much more about like, what you make it. I mean, Amazon doesn’t mean anything, like when they made it mean something.
Matt Watson 35:59
When you’re small, I think it helps if it’s if the name is somewhat relative to the problem that you solve, you know, and it’s easy to relate to the problem, then then it helps but yeah, yeah, at some point, you get to be a big brand, and it really doesn’t matter at all. Yep. Yep. But some things are interesting, like Slack, like, almost reminds me of like slacking off and like chatting with coworkers. Right. So it’s like, some of them are interesting, you know, play on words.
Brendan Dell 36:25
So here’s an interesting messaging like anecdote for what you bring up slack. So a lot of people know that slack is an acronym. Slack stands for Simple log of all communication and knowledge is what the wow, that actually means. Yeah. And so that’s an example of like, if you look at how they could have gone to market, right, like Slack is a simple org about communication and knowledge. It streamlines efficiency in bulk, right, like boring stuff. But what they did, and this is like a tip that people can use in their messaging is they picked a villain, and they said, Slack kills email. And that was the headline all over when they launched it. People get it. You don’t have to explain the thing, right? I don’t like email, it’s a pain, I get too much of it. Most of it’s irrelevant. So that got headlines and attention. It’s not a huge download of all the features their product does. And it doesn’t explain what a simple log of all communication or single log or whatever.
Matt Watson 37:22
Well, we all can immediately relate to the fact that we hate email. Totally. Right. So it’s, you know, and that but to your point earlier about copywriting and messaging and everything, like the right messaging can make all the difference because yeah, your your other example of like some marketing mumbo jumbo technical speak, like doesn’t relate like, I don’t relate to that, but I relate to killing email.
Brendan Dell 37:42
Totally. And you can see that tactic. So Salesforce, this is more obscure, probably to people, but Salesforce did this with no software.
Matt Watson 37:54
And yes, people, right, these companies stole that 15 years ago.
Brendan Dell 37:58
Nice. So you guys didn’t know something?
Matt Watson 38:02
Well, because we were a SAS, we were. So I’m going to a company called VinSolutions, which is an automotive CRM company. And so we were also a CRM company, and we were one of the very first SAAS based CRM companies. And so we did the same thing, which was like, because back then a lot of our competitors, you had to have a server and install a server, and it was, you know, old school stuff. And so yeah, we actually, it’s funny, you mentioned that because yeah, we actually use the same little logo, and it said no, software.
Brendan Dell 38:27
Yeah. You can see a lot. So det. Frank’s Luqman, who is the snowflake guy? I think that’s how you say his last name. He did a company before that called Data Domain, which is an obscure company, but as a multibillion dollar exit. And he didn’t know any tape, which is because they did backup backup for data previously. And again, it’s super niche, right? Like, that doesn’t mean anything to me. Maybe not to you. But to those people who had to deal with that they totally under you know, and this is where it’s like a clarity buyer, right? Good to them.
Matt Watson 38:59
My first job was loading those damn tapes and micro mainframes. That was my job. That’s brutal. Oh, I get it. I was the guy.
Brendan Dell 39:11
When I heard it, I was like, no tape is so fucking boring.
Matt Watson 39:15
This was like 2001. Like, I worked in an insurance company, and I worked evenings loading up putting tapes in the Yeah, the mainframes and stuff to backup stuff and do everything. Yep, that was my job. So I relate to that.
Brendan Dell 39:27
Totally. And that’s a great like, what can you think of for, you know, your buyer who’s ever listening? Yeah. What’s the thing that stands in the way that you can just create? We’ve done lots of testing around like, so there’s a company called su Gozi that I’m advising that does they have a finance product again, I won’t get into the weeds, but we did some some testing around the tool like with messaging, if we say, hey, it’s going to help you help your company save money, or, Hey, we’re going to help you eliminate brain drain manual work. Like does the personal benefit resonate or does The economic company benefit resume in the personal benefit, like a way of saving money.
Matt Watson 40:05
It’s not my money. Yeah, it’s my money. Right that, and that’s the thing. It’s like when you work in the corporate world, it’s not your money anyways. Yeah. I mean, it’s important. And you may have a budget and all that stuff. But at the end of the day, like, it’s not your money.
Brendan Dell 40:18
Yep, totally. And there, when you look at it, there was a study years ago about what people’s biggest fear at work is. It wasn’t getting fired. It was making a mistake. And like, if you break that out, it’s like people, basically, they don’t want to look bad in front of people. And so, like, when you can appeal to people, and that’s why trust why fame, right? Because it’s like, I don’t want to buy the wrong thing. And if people think I’m young, and like, whatever, so if you’re buying the leader in the category, nobody, you know, I do it with Salesforce.
Matt Watson 40:51
Yeah, you don’t get fired for buying IBM or Cisco. Yeah, but you also won’t get fired for hiring Full Scale. If you need to hire software engineers, testers, or leaders, Full Scale can help. We have people on the platform to help you build and manage a team of experts. I promise you won’t get fired. We are the experts, and we can help you. So visit FullScale.io. Like I work there. So I think there’s been a great episode talking about marketing and messaging. And I feel like early-stage startups, it’s one of the biggest challenges. And I know my last company, which was called stack phi, had a lot of struggles with this. And have we, you know, there are millions of software developers, you know, how do we market to them? We were trying to market to them a product that they weren’t used to using. It’s like, they should be using it. But they weren’t necessarily looking for the product either. And, like, we were going up, and you can’t market to software developers if you’ve ever marketed anything to software developers before? Totally, that’s the fucking worst. Yeah, yeah. They don’t like spam. They don’t like phone calls. They don’t even have phones. You know, like, they’re the worst marketers. So we pick the worst of the worst of everything.
Brendan Dell 41:59
And then we had to accomplish Purity. Like, try to sell the CISOs, like said chief information, you know, chief security officers that big companies, oh, my God, they hate.
Matt Watson 42:07
Oh, yeah. So my last company was a big struggle. I got a lot of battle scars from marketing and messaging and stuff from that. But I really appreciate having you on the show today. If somebody’s listening, and they need the help of somebody like you, what would be the best way to get a hold of you?
Brendan Dell 42:27
Sure, they can go if they know, my company’s name is B2H Agency. The letter B and the number two, the actual number, and H agency.com. They can find me at BrendanDell.com. And then they can also find, if they just want to learn more, they can sort of getting more and more stories. Billion Dollar Tech is my podcast, and they can find that on Apple, Spotify, and all the other places, including YouTube.
Matt Watson 42:51
I will check that out. Yeah, I will check that out.
Brendan Dell 42:53
Matt Watson 42:55
Well, thank you so much for being on the show today. And I hope everybody learns from this. And thank you for being on the show.
Brendan Dell 43:02
Hey, cheers, man. Thanks for having me. It’s fun. All right. Take care.