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In Episode 18 of the podcast I found myself chatting with Peter Whent. He’s a genuinely lovely guy, really knows his stuff about Positioning and Messaging, and is absolutely worth following on LinkedIn, his content is fantastic.
Every year hundreds of businesses go bust because they don’t understand their audience, they don’t fully understand the value of their product or service, so they can’t put themselves in front of their ideal customer, and so they go bust.
Now, just because youre not necessarily about to go busy, you might even be doing hundreds of thousands, or millions in revenue every month. But you can always do better, and a really key way to helping you do that is establishing your position in the market, and really understanding your customers.
A problem Peter has witnessed consistently for several decades is brilliant founders who produce genius products, but don’t know how to explain them to their target audience in a way that makes them listen. For the last few years he’s worked with startups teaching them how to build a compelling proposition that will make people listen and act. He’s spent most of his working life as an entrepreneur working in startups, and has built and sold several scale businesses of his own, so he’s seen the problem first hand.
05:09 - 08:07 - What is positioning, and Why is it Important? - There are so many amazing businesses and products out there, but the people who build them tend not to be marketers, or salespeople (which is kind of an important skill!), so they inevitably struggle to explain what their product is and why it’s a benefit to their audience. LinkedIn shows 80,000 life coaches in the UK alone, some of them are amazing at what they do and have loads of experience, but they can’t present themselves properly, and so don’t have a business.
08:14 - 10:44 - How does Peter kick things off with a client - The key thing is to identify the problem they are trying to solve. A lot of these products sound fantastic, use the latest technology and will solve all your problems, but when you dig into things a bit you discover either there is no need for it, or the problem is actually solved by something already out there. A huge company built what they described as a private blockchain, but really...it’s just a database, there was nothing special about it.
11:19 - 26:00 - Misconceptions about Positioning - The biggest is that you need to tell your customers who you are, what you do, the media coverage or awards that you’ve won. But really, nobody cares. People care about themselves, and the problems they need solving. Social proof (media, testimonials, sometimes awards) have their place in the process, but it’s a much later consideration, almost a final checklist point ‘is this actually a reputable company I want to hand my money over to?’.
26:23 - 31:28 - What are the First Things You Need To consider? - Firstly, are you solving a problem? And are you solving a problem that exists now and can be fixed now, or will be a problem in a few years? Secondly, why would someone choose your business over a competitor? What makes you different and unique? Thirdly, is there a big enough market for your business? And finally, can you build a financially viable business?
31:55 - 34:48 - The Biggest Mistakes People Make - The main one again is that people talk about themselves instead of what they can do for the audience and customers. Then there is overcomplicating your proposition, which tends to happen when people view their products as the expert, but it means the language they use tends to be expert language as well; jargon and acronyms, which is particularly a problem in SaaS where a product may need to be explained to a marketer and a technical person for example.
35:54 - 43:33 - What will be the Big Trends? - Personal branding will get bigger and bigger. You’ll struggle to find someone who knows the founder of IBM, Cisco, or Tesco, but everyone knows the founders of Facebook, Amazon, Twitter and many other businesses, because these people put themselves on the front of it. So if you can build your personal brand with a good backstory, you’ll stand out.
43:44 - 47:04 - Peter’s Pet Peeves - People who put these ads out promising you the solution to all your problems with a magic formula.
47:17 - 52:21 - Which Tactic Would Peter Kill Off? - People spamming LinkedIn DMs. While it can be done well, most people use poor messaging (talking about themselves obviously), and automation which means their targeting isnt that great either.
If you’d like to hear more from Peter you can contact him via his website www.peterwhent.com or find him on LinkedIn!