Write marketing copy about the customer benefits

As an early-stage tech startup founder you will often have to write your own startup’s marketing copy, and you may find it difficult if the brand’s tag line is the first line of marketing copy you’ve ever written.

Because you spend so much time with your head focused on how to solve the customer problem using technology, when someone asks you what your product or service is, you’re likely to describe it in terms of features and functionality. When trying to write marketing copy, you’ll usually do the same.

It seems logical, and that’s why it’s a mistake.

Marketing (and sales) requires an appeal to the emotional part of the customer’s brain, rather than the rational part.

After all, if your product or service is functionally adequate, appropriately priced and the customer is aware of it, they will surely buy it – it doesn’t require marketing, all it needs is great customer experience and support.

Perhaps a real-world example will illustrate this best.

Think about all the many automotive brands that offer a compact four door car. Now think about the vast difference in price between a compact four door car wearing, say, Hyundai, and one from, say, Mercedes Benz.

Across a long list of features, the Merc’s features are better. Yet both cars will fit roughly the same number of people and bags, both have aircon and a sound system, and both will get you from one set of lights to the next in about the same amount of time. Yet one costs at least four times as much as the other.

Buyers choosing a compact four door car on functionality and price should choose a cheaper brand than Mercedes Benz every time, and yet, Mercedes Benz still sells a lot of compact four door cars every year.

Those Mercedes Benz owners have a set of emotions associated with Mercedes Benz. For most of them, those emotions were there before they’d driven a Mercedes Benz. Owning a Merc makes them feel differently about who they are. How did those emotions get there? Smart marketing put them there.

When you’re writing your startup’s first tagline, don’t write about its features and functionality. Don’t write about what it does. If you have competitors, their competing product also does what your product does, or near enough.

Coke’s tagline isn’t “Carbonated water with caramel, food acid, sugar and caffeine” – it’s “Taste the feeling” and previous tag lines have included “Coke adds life”, “The pause that refreshes” and “Open happiness”.

Think less about what your product is; think more about how it will make your customer feel. Will you make them feel safe? Successful? Sexy? Satiated? Super-powered? Smart?

I’m Alan Jones, an EiR for startup accelerators, GP at M8 Ventures. Previously investor, founder, and early Yahoo PM. Opinions mine (but should also be yours).

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