Learn tips on creating relevant content for impactful messaging for your target audience throughout the customer journey to drive B2B SaaS growth.
Targeted Go-To-Market B2B SaaS Content Strategy using Wow-How-Now
Learn how to create targeted messaging with my tested B2B SaaS content strategy. This three-part model zeros in directly on your Ideal Customer’s needs.
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Now that we’ve established our SaaS ICP (Ideal Customer Profile), the key buyer personas and our go-to-market strategy, let’s explore the next step on our journey. We need to create the right messaging and content to help our audience start on their journey to become “engaged advocates”. Customers (or users) who like and tell others about our product.
We’ve already introduced the Pain-Claim-Gain framework as a model to put ourselves in the shoes of our audience as they travel through the buyer’s journey. We are now going to connect this to actual messaging and content using the Wow-How-Now model.
In our messaging framework of communication, we always try to answer three questions:
- Why should someone change? (PAIN)
- Why should they engage (or change) with you? (CLAIM)
- Why should they do something now vs. postponing their action till tomorrow? (GAIN)
Let's review how we can implement messaging for all these parts of the journey.
Why Change? WOW them.
Marketing attempts to convince people to believe something new, or to believe in you. You help others see what you see. To acknowledge they have PAIN or a need that needs solving. You cause people to believe in what you believe in. Your goal is for people to opt in, to sign up. Before you can talk about “Why You?” you need to answer your audience’s question “Why Change?”.
People do not like change. Someone only acts if they see a need to act. If you want people to click on your email, engage with your content, or stay on the phone when you call, you have to instantly convince them to get out of their natural state of inertia. To convince your audience to act, you must connect with either their fears or dreams. What are their pain points? What do they worry about? What keeps them up at night? What would they like to do and what stands in the way of achieving that?
Before you can convince people, they should change, and act, you need to get their attention. You need to “Wow” them with something that piques their interest. This can be the subject line of an email, a title of an article, the copy in an ad or the name of your company or product.
If people are not interested or intrigued by your email or call to action, they’ll never click on it. Think about how you can WOW someone, so they’ll notice. Stand out from the crowd with the language you choose. Use contrast in language. Be personal. Take a stand. Tell a story.
We mentioned earlier that we’ve seen success using the Maslow “Hierarchy of Needs” Pyramid to identify things your personas personally care about and to find everyone’s emotional “button”. In short, we want to make messaging personalized, talking about their interests and connecting with what’s important to them, or with something that gets their attention. To find what will move your audience, go to what people care most about. I like to work my way up from the bottom of the pyramid:
- Physiological: Feed your family, work-life balance, employment benefits, minimize job stress, make more money.
- Safety: Job security, safe work environment, no risky projects, do not rock the boat, limit change, keep the order, follow the rules.
- Self-Actualization: Learn something new, leave something meaningful behind, surpass your own expectations, become more productive, make your job easier, reach your potential, help others.
- Esteem: Be seen as a change agent, people will follow your lead, your reputation as an expert, community contribution, be given greater responsibilities, status in your role/title/function, respected by others. What would give them a sense of accomplishment? How could they be seen as the hero or change agent?
- Belonging: Be a valued member of a group, people like you, harmony, make/keep friends.
Work down the above list and find pain points, fears, and dreams that go to the core of what your audience cares about. This will not only make them take notice, but they will also recognize you as someone who knows them and cares about the same things.
How to wow each type of persona
A lot of these WOW examples apply to P1, the user of the value proposition you offer. For P2 it might be more about making a safe investment decision, being seen by their team as the hero who brings in the right tools and advocates for their needs. A P2 Supervisor needs to look good in front of their bosses, and of course, wants his/her team’s approval. P3 often has pain related to ROI, meeting company security standards, risk mitigation and making sure the P2 who works for them is seen as a great contributor to the company’s strategic goals. They don’t have a lot of technical knowledge about the solution, but they still need to understand how their investment decisions will impact the overarching organization and impact the company.
These form the first part of messaging, around "pain, fears, and dreams", to be communicated to each of these three personas. Here they are laid out by persona tier, for the WOW part of messaging focused on understanding their PAIN and meeting them where they are:
Persona 1 – The User
- Improve personal productivity
- Learn a skill needed for the job
- Increase role safety and security
- Confirm reputation
- Protect the company from risk
- Recognition / being a champion
- Solve an important problem
- Achievement on a personal level
- Be proud of one’s own work
- Learn something new
- Make their family proud
- Job security
- Do interesting work
Persona 2 – The Decision Maker
- Do more with less
- Cost reduction
- Timely delivery of solution
- Optimize use of resources
- Fulfill business requirements
- Deliver ROI
- Be seen as innovator/leader
- Build reputation for good procurement hygiene
- Help team achieve their goals
- Make their boss look good
- Make good decisions
- Get buy-in from leadership
- Get applause from stakeholders
- Drive change and adoption
- Limit risk of bad decision
Persona 3 – The Sponsor (or Blocker)
- Stay within budget
- Follow procurement guidelines
- Fit into IT/Legal/Standard policy
- Please all stakeholders
- Minimize risk vs. outcomes
- Recognition for being supportive
- Fulfill fiduciary responsibilities
- Encourage cross organization collaboration
- Add value vs. being a blocker
- Support the P2 as a valuable mentor
- Low risk support of the decision
- Get buy-in from peers
- Feel proud for the company moving forward with a solution
Why you? Show them HOW.
Now that your audience has decided they want to do something about their pain, they are open to getting some help. It then becomes your job to show them why they should pick you. What do you bring to the table that nobody else does? You got their attention, and they clicked on your email, came to your event, or opened your content, you now must show them why they should follow you? After they've decided they have enough pain to engage or join, why should that be with you?
Trust and empathy
We are one of a kind. Show your audience that at your company they will find people like themselves, who speak their language. To show your prospects you can be their trusted guide they need to trust you. That can be helped by speaking their language, or better, using their own words.
The first step is to establish yourself as someone they want to engage with. Meet them where they are. Use terms that are used in their industry. Reflect how they would describe their needs. This is all about becoming a Trusted Guide. You need to “earn” the right to talk about yourself. Any testimonials from others will help. People like to follow others who have gone before them or peers they can trust.
You are the expert
After your audience has chosen to engage and decided they have a need worth solving, you can now talk about your company, product, or service. Now the time has come to share the tremendous value of your superpowers.
These are the things that you are best at, everything you’re better at than others, and ideally things only you can do. Make sure to stress benefits over features if you describe your product or service. You need to establish credibility through your claims. You cannot just proclaim to be their best partner. Your audience will make up their mind based on what you can demonstrably show.
Bring a plan
The best way to show your expertise is to answer questions like “Where do we start?” and “How can you help us?” If you can share best practices, templates, examples of an approach or framework—and of course tell stories about others you’ve helped go before them—you can establish yourself as a trusted guide who comes with a plan to solve their problem.
On T2D3 you can get an example of a lead magnet like this that can help you establish this credibility. When I started working with B2B SaaS Founders and Investors my “Trello playbook” was what got them to really lean in and listen to what I had to say. It was the difference between being seen as someone with some interesting ideas, and someone who they thought could really help them.
By showing them your plan, you show them how they can move forward. You take them by the hand on the journey to solve their challenge. Your plan is both a map to describe the next step, and a way to proof your credibility.
Time to show your superpowers
In the “How” stage of the funnel it’s ok to show them how special you are. This uses the CLAIM part of your Value Prop and is critical to get through the consideration phase of the funnel. Your claims should always be communicated with benefits (not features) of what your solution brings. Your goal is for them to trust you as their guide. Try to use the words that they would use, while you also establish credibility by demonstrating your superpowers and sharing how you can "take them to the promised land.". Here are some starting points to communicate your value proposition to each of the persona tiers:
- Easy to learn. Easy to use.
- Empowers you vs. replaces you
- Innovative solution
- More meaningful work
- Access leading technology
- Share customer success stories
- Show them your market share and leadership in your niche
- Help them compare alternatives and make an informed decision
- Provide value-based pricing
- Familiar brand with low risk.
- Easy to understand ROI.
- Show you’ve worked with similar customers in similar industries with similar requirements.
After your audience has agreed they have a need, and even decided that you can help them, there are many reasons for them still not to act: We do not have a budget this year. My manager is not going to support this. I do not have time.
Why should they not postpone the decision till tomorrow or until they have the budget next year? What will give them the confidence they need to convince their boss and other stakeholders?
In a B2B Sale there are usually multiple people involved in the buyer’s journey. The challenge is that only a few of these are empowered, or tasked, to say YES. This is typically P2, the decision maker. Many others though can say NO, or at least have the power to delay the process. So, your last job is to get your solution up high on their priority list.
To equip the advocate P2 in the buyer’s journey with the content to convince others we need to communicate what they stand to gain and provide a compelling Call-To-Action (CTA). We do this using content and messaging that’s driving your audience to act NOW. There are four distinct ways to communicate gains:
Customers - “Let others do the talking.” - Develop testimonials, customer quotes, logos, and other ways to show who relies on your solution. Be known for the companies you keep. Use stories of people or customers who've gone before them. These examples help see the forest through the trees. It helps your decision maker show others that it can be done, and it’s clear what the next steps are.
Demonstrate - “Talk is cheap. Show me.” - Help them envision the future state by showing vs. talking about your solution. Use images instead of words and use video instead of images. Animated video GIFs of your solution in action on your product page are a great example of this. Showing the actual product adds a lot of credibility to your message and content. It makes what you have to say very real and increases the “fear of not being a part of this”.
Data - “Numbers are more credible than words.” - Make the outcomes desirable by sharing data and tangible results. Create a "Fear of Missing Out" effect if they don't act. Numbers are far more compelling than words. Graphs and diagrams help people see the impact vs. writer data. Show them what the stand to gain in actual numbers. For example, “Seven out of ten XYZ who have done ABC were able to grow 30% or more in the first year.” Or “83% of all ABC are now using XYZ. Can you afford to fall behind?”
Vision - “Assert yourself. Take a stand. Have an opinion now and on what’s next.” - You want to be seen as the guide to "take them to the promised land" and it's key that they feel very excited about their destination.
Finally, getting your audience to act now can also be helped by a time-based, unique opportunity. Can you create scarcity? Limited time offers? How do you add urgency after creating “Fear of Missing Out”? Challenge your audience to act. Make it easy to get started. Make it compelling to start. Lower the bar by helping them take small steps.
The following list shows an example of content that communicates what your prospects stand to GAIN from acting NOW by persona tier with specific outcomes that you can show:
Persona 1 – The user
- This solution saves me time and money
- This tool makes my job easier.
- Quotes from individual users sharing their excitement.
- Testimonials from people in the same role as your target persona.
- Using this tool makes me the hero in our team/my community.
- Reduced stress over outcomes, safety, security, and productivity
- Peers' colleagues being heroes
- The reporting is done so much faster.
- Show the product in a “live” setting, that matches the use-case.
- Show that the product provides a great experience through videos, webinars.
- Live trial of your training academy.
- Trial of your software service.
- Show how easy something is to use.
- Proof of individual productivity gains.
- Average time saved on individual tasks, shown with real numbers, graphs.
- Turn the data backing up the value proposition targeted at the persona instead of the company.
- Show personal opportunity for impacted people, vs potential loss of relevance.
- Have an opinion on tackling tool and process deficiencies that impart the individual users.
- Be an advocate for innovation with users at the center of the value prop.
- Case studies showing time/money saved, clear ROI, implementation, and adoption success.
- Customer quotes about ROI.
- Research studies from third parties comparing price, total cost of ownership and impact.
- Customer interview video testimonials.
- This solution saves the company time and money.
- Provide peer-to-peer reference calls.
- Things are done cheaper, on-time and more accurate.
- Terms and conditions that shows real commitment to the Service Level Agreement.
- Quality of your proposal, materials, and follow-up during the sales process.
- Use charts and graphs to communicate numbers. Compare them to benchmarks.
- Drive credibility that the product does what you say it does through a demo.
- Show proof of your claims (i.e., productivity gains, output, time of implementation, uptime).
- Show accurate, real numbers vs. estimates (i.e., from “Many customers have done XYZ.” to “73 customers have done XYZ at least two times.”).
- Benchmark your performance and show it relative to competitors, the market, over time etc.
- Show data that uncovers the cost/pain of inertia and staying in current state.
- Use value-based pricing. Don’t follow the competition.
- Drive innovation and leadership in your pricing and business model.
- Drive coverage in industry publications and by influential media and analysts. Get into the Gartner Magic Quadrant, Forester Wave, or similar publications.
- Don’t be shy about raising prices.
- Testimonials specific to your customer’s industry and/or job-to-be-done.
- Provide testimonials that speak towards stakeholder needs (procurement, legal, IT, Board)
- I have a competitive advantage by using these tools.
- Logos on your website showing momentum and category leadership. Customers and partners.
- Analyst endorsement (Gartner Magic Quadrant etc.) making you a safe bet.
- Show your product roadmap. Make it real with timelines, video, and pictures.
- Demonstrate your long-term partner program in action.
- Content on your website that shows your mastery of the solution category (blogs, insights).
- Show onboarding speed, and solution adoption success stories.
- Make it easy to do Proof of Concept or Pilot projects.
- Provide choice in your proposal with various price/performance options, demonstrating your understanding of the needs of various customers.
- Proof of security of the solution.
- Credentials of the cloud platform your solution runs on
- (availability, security, privacy).
- ISO and other certifications.
- Your financials, public record as a stable, well-run company.
- Predict the future savings that will be possible by using your solution, and the innovations you are working on.
- Show how analysts are using your product and innovation to analyze the category.
- Case studies, testimonial write-ups
- Blog post/content comments by others
- Social media endorsements
Let others do the talking for you
Where and when you can, let others do the talking for you. Include a testimonial quote in an email. Provide a short customer video in a blog or on a website. Such communications are much more powerful and believable. Especially your first impression in a piece of campaign content, or the homepage of your website, should feature others presenting you on your behalf.
If you’re able, showcase the logos of current customers, awards you’ve earned, or media coverage you’ve received. Nothing makes prospects take notice than to see that a company they respect—or a competitor they fear—relies on your solution. Tailor communications by industry if you can. Examples of third-party content that qualifies are:
- Video Testimonials
- Quotes from influencers and customers
- Logos (customers, partners, awards, publications)
- Media coverage (print/online, podcast, vlog)
- Market research by independent parties