What I Learned From Developing Branding for Airbnb, Dropbox and Thumbtack
by Julie Supan/First Round
I highly suggest consuming the full piece here (20 min. read time)
Julie Supan has done positioning/GTM (go-to-market) strategy for companies such as Youtube, Airbnb, Dropbox, Reddit, Discord, and many others.
“Positioning is the big bet a company is making over the long term…It’s the strategy for building your business, product, and brand. It’s the clear action plan that will translate into positive revenue, happy customers and a great place to work.” — Julie Supan
Here are the 5 questions she asks founders when they begin their positioning work:
- Who is the customer that needs/wants your service or product most?
- Why does your product or service matter to them?
- How do they feel about your product or service?
- What is its true benefit to them?
- Will your product exceed their expectations?
“The high-expectation customer, or HXC, is the most discerning person within your target demographic. It’s someone who will acknowledge—and enjoy—your product or service for its greatest benefit.” — Julie Supan (HXC was coined by Julie)
Finding your HXC:
- Do your research/gather data: by targeting the full range of customers — happy, unhappy, recent, early, active, inactive — across geographies and through no fewer than five channels, including: general population or decision maker surveys, single-question and open-ended surveys, single questions embedded into sales or marketing calls, phone interviews, customer service channels, product intercept surveys, and app store reviews.
- “…if you can predict the answer to a question, don’t ask it. You shouldn’t cut your survey or interview short, but be mindful of people’s time, too. I recommend letting the customer know that you are doing a survey to better understand how they feel about the product and that their thoughts will go directly into the company’s strategy.” — Julie Supan
- Define your customer: “One of my favorite questions is ‘How would you define the kind of person that would benefit from this product most?’…When people answer, they usually describe themselves. It’s a great way to ask the ‘Who are you?’ question while making people feel like they are describing someone else.” — Julie Supan
“I’ve seen companies retool the entire company for a customer that they’re not excited about. Sometimes, I’ve talked to companies that don’t like or can’t relate to their high-expectation customer…That is really difficult. That affects the culture. That affects hiring. That affects the energy of people on the team—their focus and commitment.” — Julie Supan
My two cents: It’s crazy to see the science that goes into building successful companies. Gathering data, doing your research, interviewing users/customers, and then implementing that data to refine your positioning/target customer is a lot. It seems like the investment is worth it, though.
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