gtmPRO

Positioning in the Lower Middle Market with Anthony Pierri

March 22, 2024 Gary, Andy & Tiana Season 1 Episode 16
gtmPRO
Positioning in the Lower Middle Market with Anthony Pierri
Show Notes Transcript Chapter Markers

Happy Friday PROs!

Welcome to one of our favorite episodes yet, accompanied by the positioning master, Anthony Pierri.

In this episode, Anthony reveals the alchemy of positioning and messaging that transforms Lower Middle Market companies into market contenders. He schools us in the mastery of anchoring—using tools, product categories, and conceptual reference points to cement a company's position in a volatile market.

Fletch
Where to find Anthony
More on gtmPRO



Gary:

Anthony.

Anthony Pierri:

Hello, good to see you all, good to see you.

Gary:

We were just making light of your note taker beating you to the meeting. We wondered if that was going to soon be an avatar. That was like hello. I'm Anthony's note taker. Please ask your question.

Anthony Pierri:

I was. I always joke around. I can't wait until the note takers can take the meetings for us. They just meet with each other and ask y'all whatever details and say well, how to go. And they're like well, we landed on this. They didn't want that, so I'm like all right, great.

Tiana:

No human interaction at all.

Anthony Pierri:

No human interaction.

Gary:

Welcome to the GTM Pro podcast, your essential audio resource for mastering go to market discussions in the boardroom. Here we share insights for revenue leaders at B2B software and services companies, especially those with less than 50 million in revenue. Why? Because the challenges faced by companies of this size are unique. They are too big to be small and too small to be big. This dynamic pushes revenue leaders into executive leadership without a lot of help or support. We are here to provide that support. Your journey to boardroom excellence starts now.

Gary:

Okay, we are really excited today to have our friend, Anthony from Fletch PMM product marketing management. How did you come up with the PMM? That'll be an interesting story. Let's get that in a second. But we've had the pleasure of working with Anthony and his partner Rob actually on an engagement and looked at a couple of engagements and really really love their approach. It's just frankly, just so practical, so pragmatic. It's perfectly with our bio led growth perspective and so we're here to talk shop a little bit today with Anthony. So welcome, Anthony. Thanks so much for having me. Super excited to be here.

Anthony Pierri:

So PMM, fill us in. Yeah, I mean, it's funny. Product managers they got the PM first and then product marketing managers. They got stuck with two M's and then the field became abbreviated. Product marketing field became abbreviated as PMM, which doesn't really make any sense because there's only one M.

Gary:

But you know, we got the leftovers from the cooler product that resonates in the field, so let's run with it For sure. Yeah, awesome. Well, speaking of Fletch, let I think it'd be really helpful just to provide some context quickly about yourself and really go back to the origin story of Fletch and start there and the relationship with you and Rob and just how you kicked off, just to provide context for everybody.

Anthony Pierri:

Yeah, absolutely so. Me and my partner, rob Kaminski. The two of us run Fletch PMM. It's a product marketing consultancy primarily focused on helping early stage B2B SaaS companies fix their positioning, their messaging and then ultimately translate all those things to a really clear and compelling homepage. So the bulk of the people that we work with they might be around seed funded, maybe series A, and usually they have a website that's been left over since the early days. So the first version and the product has changed a bunch since they made that first version, and the target segments that they're going after probably has broadened a lot, and so when they raise the next round of capital, they're like all right, we should probably refresh the brand, refresh the messaging, refresh the website. And then ultimately they realize, hmm, this is a lot harder than I thought it was going to be, and it's for reasons that are nothing to be related to copywriting or design choices. It truly is product marketing choices that they need to make. How do we want to position ourselves in the market and for whom? And then what value propositions do we want to put in front of these people to actually get them excited about our products and wanting to work with us?

Anthony Pierri:

And so we have built this process kind of from the ground up. It's very first principles oriented. Me and Rob are not long term product marketers by trade, and so we kind of came at this from a different angle and so we were like all right, well, let's look around, how do people do positioning today? And we looked at a lot of the frameworks and approaches that were on the market and what we realized is most of them are built for later stage companies, so they kind of assume that you have all the data that you can look through 100 different gong customer recordings and basically, like through a more quantitative approach, answer this question of who should we position for and how? And early stage companies usually don't have the benefit of that. Likely they're more having to shoot from the hip, but they still need to make all those same positioning and messaging decisions. It's just a very low data, high risk environment which is fraught with all sorts of complications and, you know, fear and all sorts of things like that. So we come in and our process is really designed for that environment and it's very. You don't need to have everything filled out, you don't need to have answers to every one of these questions. Let's take what you do know and get it into the clearest thing that we can today, given what you know about your product, about the market and how you're going to go to market, and then let's try to get you the most clear version possible today.

Anthony Pierri:

So we came out of an agency that did long term custom services projects and they'd be multiple months, lots of people, mostly for larger companies, and we really wanted to work with early stage and so we were kind of pricing ourselves out of the market. So we kind of changed the business model and we said, all right, why don't we do shorter term engagements? Don't pay us to do the research, because that's what we were doing at the last company. We would do the all on the ground research. But it really didn't make sense for the early stage to outsource talking to the customers and you probably shouldn't be outsourcing that anyways. That's like the most important thing you should be doing as an early stage founder is talking to the customers. So we were like let's shrink it and then, instead of doing different custom work, let's just focus on this one specific problem and try to do it as many times as possible.

Anthony Pierri:

And with the rise of LLMs, it's created this great parallel. It's like an LLM, like the more companies we work with, the more data we can feed into our own process and algorithm, whatever the better that the framework is going to get. So our goal is to work with as many companies as possible, because every single company we work with is a new iteration. So we've gotten to work with close to probably 150, 160 different startups at this point and I can tell you that the projects one through five are 1,100th or 1,000th of the quality of projects 150, because we're 1 through five.

Gary:

Appreciate your support.

Anthony Pierri:

We charged a lot less for one through five and they kind of knew what they were going to get to at that point.

Anthony Pierri:

But yeah, so it's gotten better and we're just way more dialed in. We've seen so much more of the pattern matching, of being able to see, and it's even funny too. Now we're getting repeat companies Not the same company, but I've worked with five different versions of your startup in your exact space and I know exactly what challenges you're about to run into. That's kind of the value where we bring, as we can say. We've sort of seen all the slices of complicated positioning, complicated go-to-market strategy and kind of cut through the noise really quickly and then ultimately, the reason that we landed on doing a homepage in the first place was that when you work with a larger positioning expert, a lot of times they'll give you a really, really nice PowerPoint. And if you're a big company, that's great.

Anthony Pierri:

You take that PowerPoint, you give it to all your teams, they go out and cascade the changes throughout all the different departments and get these things up and running in all the different places.

Anthony Pierri:

If you're early stage, you're like I can't be spending money on PowerPoints. I got to get a big item off my to-do list checked if I'm going to work with an outside expert of some kind. So we're like let's help you get the positioning, get the messaging down and then get it into a usable asset that isn't hidden away in a Google Drive somewhere for everyone to forget, but it's living on the most public part of your whole company, which is usually the homepage, and so customers can see it, internal employees can see it, investors can see it, and it creates this sort of everyone's on the same page without being sales like. Oh yeah, didn't marketing do some sort of project? And I feel like they had some document that I was supposed to be referencing, but I can't find it. I'm about to get on this call Like now. It's like no, it literally lives on the website and it's, you know, one URL click away.

Gary:

Right. So there's so much in there that we appreciate, I think, first and foremost as you mentioned not being tenured product marketing professionals but I think that's actually part of the value proposition that you provide and here's why we've seen it firsthand is that you actually approach positioning through the eyes of the buyer, which we advocate all the time as buyer led growth is. It doesn't matter what you think. You have to go into your buyer's universe and and look at the category that into which you're trying to sell through their eyes, and I think you guys do an excellent job of that, which is challenging a lot of the assumptions that the organization may have around how they think they need to position and, frankly, this is true at earlier stages. Well, it is for the sector on which we focus, which is lower middle market, which is still going to be, you know, five to 50 million in revenue, we say, but more often, 10 to 30 million in revenue, working towards 50. Is, there's a little bit. There's more data, there's more information, but there's still.

Gary:

All of the reference points on how to do this are, to your point, for larger companies that have more risk in making positioning changes like this. They have more products, they have more markets, they serve, they have all these things, and so they can't just make a change on the fly. But so much of that advice. The smaller companies, earlier stage and even the lower middle market companies they take that and they assume that it's gospel and they so over complicated, right the? We've lived this.

Gary:

We have the product marketing person saying no, no, no, we have. Look at all this stuff that we can do. We can't narrow this in. And we have the CEO saying we can't do that. I'm telling the board that we're focused on this market. So we have the website has to. We try to have the website be this portal into so many different messages it needs to communicate. When we forget the point like this is the first page of your e-commerce store yeah, what is it you sell? So? So let's talk a little bit about this. Let's talk about a little bit the evolution of the process, because you talked about that. Every rep got you to further improve that process. So let's talk a little bit about how that process evolved. And then, now that you're here and as you start to work with companies, what are the core ingredients that you think they need to have for them to be successful with a project like this.

Anthony Pierri:

Yeah.

Anthony Pierri:

So we spent the beginning of our lifecycle as a company trying to create just a language that was logically coherent and consistent, related to what actually makes up a product marketing message. So we spent a ton of time auditing people's websites and we would have legitimately dozens, if not hundreds, of hours of debate between the two of us of what is a feature, what is a benefit? Right, is there a difference? Because we would see people online saying, well, this feature I mean it really can be a benefit. And I'm like if all these words are so amorphous that you can just swap them, then this whole language it's a house of cards. This is useless.

Anthony Pierri:

So we were like we need to first just get to the point where we're literally all speaking the same language, where every one of the phrases is logically coherent with each other and they're mutually exclusive. One thing cannot be the other, and if you can't get to that point, you can't really build anything on top of it. So the whole first part of our process was just trying to get a qualitative understanding of how do you find what's a use case, how is a use case different than a product capability? Where does jobs to be done fit in? And so we were working from standing, standing on the shoulders of giants and all these theories that existed before, but how did they all fit together in one sort of coherent system?

Anthony Pierri:

And now we actually have, very like, when we look back and we'll reread books about jobs to be done. I'm like, oh, that's exactly this part of our framework and this part, and that's why that makes sense in this, and this is why some people need to do it that way, and so it, like it, gave us extra a vision to understand why certain things seemed like they worked and certain things didn't. So we kept doing that and then eventually we started building on top of it and so started like creating our own approach to how would you write a value proposition, how do you actually do positioning and things like that. So my latest thinking on this and Rob and I actually I don't even know if we've come to agreement on this, but I actually-.

Gary:

Ooh, this is hot off the press. I love it.

Anthony Pierri:

Yeah right, the latest thing that I have leaned into, and this is so like semantics and almost borderline philosophical, but I actually think that the selection of a target is a precursor to positioning, not necessarily the same part of positioning. Do we have agreement there?

Gary:

For those that are listening to this and will not see any video both Andy and I simultaneously put our hands up like touchdown. You are speaking our love language, brother.

Anthony Pierri:

Keep going preach For sure. So what we realized is we were like, once you've chosen a target and I don't know what you call that like business strategy, I don't know. It's like some sort of higher level decision that you're gonna make as a company you then say how do we want to position for them, how do we wanna explain ourselves to them? So they're necessarily linked. You kinda need one. You can't have one without the other. But they are two distinct activities and so for us, the latest kind of breakthrough that we had is there are really three types of positioning. We would call them anchors, and positioning for us is essentially if you just think about the word, you're positioning yourself in relation to something else, so you're choosing a reference point to compare yourself to. So when you used to hear those things, we're the Uber for dog walking right, like these are all positioning reference points to help just quickly explain what the heck is this thing, what realm am I even thinking about when I'm talking about your company? So the three reference points there's three types of them and we've got sort of some loose names, but these aren't even the best names. But in general, you can position relative to a we would call it like a current way or a tool, and it's effectively like you're picking a tool to position against and tool we're using it like. Conceptually it could be a literal named company right, we're the better, more modern Salesforce right, you could pick the company. But you could also position against a product category right, where the modern CRM would be at a relative way, cause now you're providing a context where people are like interesting, I know what a CRM is and now I have loosely, I know that you're in some way related to the CRM category. You also have things like these reference points that are not necessarily identical. Even products or product categories like loom, the video recording software, position themselves against meetings and they said don't have a meeting, send a video instead. So this is like we would call this more of a competitive positioning, where you're picking something and saying don't do this thing, use us instead. And it really is like a tool that you're positioned against Slack early days.

Anthony Pierri:

Positioned against email right, we are the email replacement for your company, because you know what email is used for and email within itself has thousands of different use cases. But you know what email is and so your brain's going to fill in whichever use case is most relevant to you. So it's kind of like a positioning shortcut to get some clarity without having to say you use us specifically for these five use cases On the flip side. So that's the first reference point is positioning against a pool. We call it competitive positioning.

Anthony Pierri:

The second one is we would call contextual positioning, which is effectively saying the reference point is a use case, it's a process, it's a workflow, it's something that people do that is named and understood in the same way by everyone. So like if I was saying you know, we use this for cracking deal flow, like that's a use case. And now I might accomplish that use case with whatever tool I'm using, but I understand the process so much that it helps. So, for example, calendly, they position against or not against. But for the use case of scheduling meetings. So they say we're the easiest way to schedule meetings. There isn't really a named competitor, there's no like we're the replacement for your admin or we're the replacement for your Google Calendar. They're just saying we help with this use case, it's just a painful use case and we remove the problems, make it easier. So you've got competitive positioning against a tool, contextual positioning for a use case. And then the third one is when you're truly doing like category creation, where you're like there's no comparative tool and there's really no well-known use case that we can compare ourselves to. So the reference point can't be taken for either of those things. And in those cases, the only reference point you can pick is what we would say is like a desired outcome. So we've called this like the visionary positioning or the category position positioning. We haven't, like named it great yet, but like here's an example If you were one of the first companies to try to sell ice baths as a like health enrichment tool, that's, it's gained all this popularity in the last five years but let's imagine it's five, seven years ago and no one has any concept of why you would buy an ice bath you can't say here's the use case for an ice bath.

Anthony Pierri:

You put yourself in it for five minutes. Why would I do that, right? And you can't say, oh, our ice bath is way better than a frozen lake that you'd have to jump into and they're like well, why would I jump in the frozen lake? So you can't choose a tool, you can't choose a use case, you can only pick a desired outcome. So this is actually how these people did it.

Anthony Pierri:

They got like the Andrew Huberman's of the world, the neuroscientists, to go on Joe Rogan's podcast and say, if you want to get better sleep and you've tried Medication, you've tried exercise and nothing's working you should try cold water immersion. And so effectively, what they do is they first pitch the desired outcome To get you in the right frame of mind for people who are trying to get better sleep, and then they have to convince you of the use Case before they can convince you to buy the product. So the first win you over on the use case that it's like you should be doing cold water immersion. And then you might say, interesting, and you try it at home. You turn your shower all the way as cold as it can possibly go and you're like well, this is kind of annoying, like it's not cold enough, it doesn't really feel like ice water. And then you come along.

Anthony Pierri:

If you've convinced them on the use case, Then you could come along and say, hey, I actually have this, this ice pod. That's like a thing that goes in your backyard, it gets your hose and we're actually the best solution for cold water immersion. But if you haven't sold them on the use case first, they're not gonna care about the product. So that's like kind of our biggest latest innovation is really these three reference point and we've been dancing around with them for the last you know year and a half and different versions of it, but that's kind of like the most cohesive way we've thought about it recently.

Gary:

Yep, I love it. So Let me, let me, because you I'm gonna go back to the touchdown moment. Right, you're not segmentation, so back one about picking one of those.

Gary:

If you as a company, that again, this is especially true for the lower middle market where, as Andy said before, they have product market fit, they just don't know why sometimes, or with whom or what those pieces are. So part of our violet growth. The very first thing is market and customer segmentation. Do you actually know the segment for whom you are? You actually provide the best solution, and not guessing at that, not having it be aspirational, but understanding Exactly where it is. And if it's not where you want to be, then now we're in a position to understand that and be able to build a Bridge to where we want to be. But that's the first place to start. Yeah, you can be very specific on one of those, those three pieces.

Gary:

The other thing I loved about that approach is that in every case there is a jobs to be done component to it. Right, and Unfortunately, jobs to be done is a fantastic, powerful tool. I'm sure you would agree it's also so butchered and and amorphous and hard to understand and but the reality is you're just trying to go in and understand what is, what is the outcome that a company desires? What is it about their structure or dynamics or Flow operational flow that they have used as a various solutions like how do we have, what are the steps through the process to get from point a to point b and Then in? Certainly in the first two cases whether because when we say that we are X for Y, everybody knows what X is and we're just saying we're a better way to do that same thing, or if we're not comparing to a specific but it's for a use case we're talking about this is a problem you have today here all the Selection landscape that you have to solve it, and then here's what we can do. But in every case, I think what, what, what?

Gary:

Why I personally believe that your help is so valuable to companies is that the need for Intense specificity has never been greater, because even what we call it frequencies right, if you're even one frequency off, one click off of the frequency of your buyer, you're, you are just contributing to the noise, and so what we've experienced firsthand with Fletch is the ability to really force them to hone in on. Well, what do you mean by that? Well, many me by that, because you're doing it through the eye of the eyes of the buyer and All of the ways that they would view. They don't want to buy software, they just want the outcome. Right, it just happens that they have to buy software to get the outcome. Maybe, maybe not, so I love that approach yeah definitely even.

Anthony Pierri:

It's funny too when you talk about jobs to be done. One of the early things that we struggled with is we were aware that there's these two different approaches to jobs to be done and they fall loosely. Maybe this will be too nerdy of a side tangent, but go for it. There's the guy, bob Mesta, and his camp, which is more talking about desired outcome view of jobs to be done. Right, it's I want to get like to get better sleep. Example, that's my desired outcome. And then you have the Tony Olwick Approach, which is on the other end, which is more like the functional use case method, where it's basically saying I'm trying to. You know, I think one of the ones from his book is listen to music like listen to songs in a specific order, and so that's not like a desired outcome.

Anthony Pierri:

I want to get better sleep. It's like a functional set of prop like processes and steps, and he, his whole thing is he's like you could look across time and that's been fulfilled. You know, early days you'd hire a jazz quartet or something and they'd play the songs in order, and then we got to record players that could do it, and then we got to mp3 players and then eventually streaming. So the same functional use case has been addressed through all these years and so for us, we're like you actually kind of need both and they both just play different roles in the overall message. You really do need to talk about what's the use case, specifically, like the Tony Olwick side, and you really also need to talk about the end desired outcome.

Anthony Pierri:

That could be achieved through lots of different use cases. And so, like bringing both those things in, we just, from the beginning, we were like should we use the jobs we've done language in our framework? And we didn't, because people are always thinking two different things. It's a polluted term, yeah, and then the. But on the back end we feel like we're actually just including both of them. We just call them two different boxes. We call the Tony one the use case box and we call the Bob one the desired outcome box. Yep, yep, that's fantastic, okay.

Gary:

So let's go to. Let's talk a little bit about the process, just for so people can understand. You know, and I think some of that is going to come then into the ingredients question, which is when you start to work with a firm, now that you've had a bunch of reps, and they start telling you their desired outcome and what you have to work with, what do you like to hear in terms of who's involved, what they have to work with, and it's going to be a little bit different, if they're true, like either seed or pre seed stage versus closer to series a. But you know those kinds of things and and, frankly, where have you seen red flags like you probably shouldn't go down this path of these conditions exist? Yeah, so we usually tell people to get the best outcome of our process.

Anthony Pierri:

You should bring whoever is closest to the product, closest to the market and understands like the go between the go to market connective tissue, and so some companies that ends up looking like they're not going to be able to go to market connective tissue, and so some companies that ends up looking like the CEO or the founder of CMO or the head of marketing, depending on the stage. But sometimes it's product people, it sales people, it's customer success, and we're not overly prescriptive, that's the heuristic we use is just bring the people who really can answer all the questions about the product, all the questions about the market, and then how are you actually getting the two together?

Gary:

and how many in the kitchen is is good and how many is too many?

Anthony Pierri:

Yeah, great question. So we usually say no more than five or six ideally from their side, the last number of people we can have, the easier it becomes because there's less cooks in the kitchen. But we also say bring the people who will need to be on board with this by the end for this to actually work. Because we're not in the business of change management, of organizational politics, and sometimes we've had people say I'm literally bringing you guys in to try to convince my founder to not make a dumb decision and I'm like this is probably not going to go very well and usually doesn't. We give them recommendations, they give it to the founder, the founder just Access it and it's like, well, kind of a waste of your money to work with us, but you know, maybe it was worthwhile somewhat. What so, in general, those like the people we say to have in the process?

Anthony Pierri:

Red flags is when people come to us and they are trying to enlarge the picture of themselves. So we've distinguished between product marketing and brand marketing as two opposite ends of a spectrum. Brand marketing is saying let me take the product and the company and make it something much larger. I'm trying to build a movement I want. We're not selling shoes. We're selling just do it. We're selling this giant vision of like athletic persona and you know this aspiring like you want to be like these athletes and greater than yourself, and vision and stuff like that. That's amazing, super powerful. But three product market fit companies cannot afford to spend their time there, because the only way Nike can do stuff like that is on the back of years, decades even, of really great products. And so for us, we're like what's the greatest way to build a great brand, make a product that people really love and the brand will follow along with it.

Anthony Pierri:

So we really see red flags when the founders say things like you know, we want to seem like come across a lot bigger than we are. We want to be like one of the big guys or like they start talking vision. You know we're going to dominate this industry, this industry, and we're like listen, read this post, and I'll usually send it. If I get that hint in the sales calls, I'll send them like a series of posts and I'll say read these and then come back and if you still, if you believe them, then I think we can start this project. And the one post, the first sentence, says if you're having trouble explaining your product or, like, if you're, if your product marketing is not as good as it can be. There is literally only one place that you should look in the mirror, because you, the founder, are the source of all of your company's problems.

Anthony Pierri:

And I would say, effectively, what we're trying to do is take your vision and shrink it. We want to take the grand thing that you sold the investors and literally remove all the BS and the fluff and the spin until all that's left is a product that people really want to buy. Because ultimately that's the exercise. It's taking the giant vision, getting rid of all the stuff, shrinking it down to just the things that the customers would care about. So that's like kind of the gauge is, if they're willing to get on board with that, the project will usually be pretty successful. And so part of the reason we post so much on LinkedIn is because we're trying to have those arguments for the months and months and months before someone ever reaches out to us, because ideally they get on the call and like, we'll even hear them say you know, I'm reforming.

Anthony Pierri:

I used to be like this giant visionary, like, and now I, like you guys have convinced me, I really need to shrink it to be able to get some traction. And there's just so many funny examples of this happening. Like there's a new browser that's gaining a lot of traction and they're taking on Chrome, google right, the most used browser in the world. How could you ever compete against Chrome? And I watched this happen on Twitter. Someone tweeted they were like who else has to do this every day? And it was a video of them closing hundreds and hundreds of tabs on Chrome because they had opened so many tabs.

Anthony Pierri:

Someone else commented and said hey, did you know Arc browser, which is the competitor? They have a feature that automatically closes the tabs for you after a certain amount of time. The guy tweets back oh my gosh, I'm going to switch right now. So, like that's not. I guarantee that the founders of Arc have a giant vision of how they're going to redefine the world and change the way that people consume the web, and I've seen some of the language where they talk about it. They're like we're literally building, you know, web browsing from the ground up. It's completely different In reality. What made someone switch? You could automatically close the tabs.

Gary:

Yeah.

Anthony Pierri:

And that's often the case with so many companies. We switch as consumers from one thing to another, sometimes for the dumbest reasons, but because we hate the annoyance so much, like we were using a hello sign or Dropbox sign what are the contract signature things? And what would happen was every time we would update the contract, we had to download the PDF, change it again and then re upload it and move the little boxes around. We switched to Panda doc, which we've used ever since, because you could create the contract in Panda doc from. So then all you're like oh, I need it, I can just edit it like a word doc. That one change switched us and we've been paying them for for two years every month, right, and so this podcast sponsored by pod.

Gary:

I know if they want to hit me up with a discount or something you know, even a lot of free people.

Tiana:

It's not it's not actually sponsored, what you said but I feel like that's the point, Like actually know, your know your customers so well to actually understand the stupid things which are the reasons why they actually would switch to you, Like so well that you know they don't care about all these other big things, all these other big features. They know the stupid things they care about and talk strictly to those things.

Gary:

For them to actually yeah, that's a great point. So, speaking of ingredients, is there? Do you guys start with some form of an assessment on how well do you know your customer or do you your your? Even in a precede stage? There is, there's, there's. Typically, the founder has some founder or founders has some experience with the problem they seek to solve in the industry and what have you? They themselves are the buyer actually in many cases, right, so Do you? Are you assessing that based on their stage in terms of what work have you done? Have you talked to customers? Have you talked to prospects? Have you been out of the industry? Like what? What is it? Are we just working on intuition here? Do we actually have some qualitative input or even quantitative input?

Anthony Pierri:

It's really a sliding scale and we will often say in the sales process this project is going to go as well or as poorly as you can answer the questions about your customers. And we've had some people say we're not going to start yet because we don't, we're not going to be able to answer these questions. We need to go actually and figure them out. But we usually will work with whatever amount they have and sometimes you can see it in their eyes oh shoot, we actually have have really no idea. And we're like you know well, you probably should get out there and start asking these questions because we'll say, like, why do people buy you and what are they doing in your product? And some of them can give us amazing answers right off the cuff because they're talking customer all the time. And then the other people like, huh, that's a great question. The best was I was on with. We worked with this company I won't say their name, but they were a publicly traded company and I was on with one of their many directors of product marketing and we were talking about this feature set and I was trying to understand why anyone would use it, what they do with it. So I was like can you tell me about? Like, what are people doing with this? And she was like well, I mean, it increases the efficiency, it decreases the amount of time in, like manual. And I was like no, no, not the outcomes. What are they doing with the tool? When they open it, they're looking at the screen. What are they clicking and why? You know what are they trying to accomplish. And she stopped at your say that's a really good question. And I was like you're the director of product market, product and you can't even answer the question about the product. Like so I think that the there's this giant movie right now. I did a post about it the other day. I called it the cult of outcomes and I made this chat GPT image generator of all these Like SAS executives and Patagonia vests, but like at a cult gathering and it was all chanting you know, outcomes, outcomes, out. So like there is this, this giant.

Anthony Pierri:

I think it was a reaction to like the early 2000s way of building software where everything was like Feature overload and really technical names and nobody knew what the point of anything was, and this is even matter. And so there was a big shift on both the product marketing and product management side where it was like stop shipping features Just because they're on the roadmap, right, start focusing on shipping outcomes that matter. And same thing with with marketing. They're like nobody cares about your list of all these technical features, you should sell them on the outcome. And the funny thing is it would. They did such a good job that they moved the whole Market to the other end of the spectrum.

Anthony Pierri:

And now you would be hard-pressed to find a single startup that's venture backed, that even explains what the product is. And they're like look, nobody cares about products, they just care about outcomes. And I'm like they're not gonna believe your outcome if they don't even know what they're buying. Yeah, people literally are not shopping for well, you know this. This I'm looking for the increased revenue outcome. These guys say they can do it 5x and these guys say 2x. I don't even know what they are and I'm gonna swipe my credit card for the 5x guys because clearly that's better than that. That's not how it works. People think of problems, they see them and then they say we need probably get a tool to solve that problem. And then they start shopping. And when the problem is something specific, like you know my contracts, you have to keep taking them down and reuploading and I land on the website and it says increase revenue.

Anthony Pierri:

I'm like this is what I'm looking for. I'm not looking for my contract tool to increase my revenue. I'm looking for it to help me send contracts better. You know right right.

Gary:

So one question that popped in first comment, one of the things we passed over quickly was your decision to only focus on the homepage, and one of the things that we appreciate about that is that it is the window to the soul, right, it is the thing around which the whole company can gravitate and it, in a way, it becomes the that positioning PowerPoint, it becomes the positioning Document, because that's the way that we are publicly going out into the world and it can feed. Then, you know, borrowing April Dunford, sales pitch. Right, it's like we're gonna take this, then we're gonna turn it into something like okay, now how do we go deeper with this? So what are the other questions that we need to answer? So I thought that was great.

Gary:

When have you worked, or what is this? Have you worked in situations where two companies are coming together and In an acquisition, or maybe they're buying another product or, frankly, launching a new brand, new platform or feature or whatever that Is gonna somewhat change the direction of the company? Have you, have you worked in those situations and what have you found to be helpful as companies are going through that?

Anthony Pierri:

Yeah, I mean we have done a couple projects like that and it usually is trying to just remind everyone that we're trying to. We're trying to make more money At the end of the day, like we all want to grow the business and so people bring in a lot of baggage from Past products that they've shipped and the vision that they've seen. But it's really trying to align us all around the idea that we really want this thing to grow and be as simple and easy as possible For people to buy. And so we've done a lot of work to try to say like, if you want to try to, if you take the homepage as a Wikipedia page, like if I go to a Wikipedia page about, I don't know, world War two or something, it's literally endless. Like there's section, section, section, like it's it's, it's aiming for Comprehensiveness. It's like we want to tell everything that we do when we're. Like the homepage is not a Wikipedia page. It's similar to a storefront. To get you to come in to the store and come into the store might be a free trial if you're more PLG, or it might be having a sales meeting, or it could even be just going in and looking at subpages to find more information. So for us we're like what goes in the storefront and what is the best thing to lead with and, counterintuitively, the things you lead with aren't always where the deepest value comes in Because, like, we'll take a product like notion.

Anthony Pierri:

The true value of a product like notion is it really can become your second brain, either as a person or as a company. Everything can live in it with all these linked databases and stuff like that. But that's not how people adopt notion. For the most case, like in most cases, I was originally in a Notion adopter and I came from Evernote and someone said, hey, there's this new note taker called Notion and handles note taking a little bit differently. You kind of like can write in these, these bullet points and stuff, but you they're like blocks, you can change them to other things and they start explaining like the modularity of it and I was like that's pretty cool and I looked and I saw my friend using it. He showed me and you could have these drop-downs and all sorts of fun little things. I was like I should try that. Then I adopt the product and then over the course of the next several years it becomes the single source of truth and you start getting everything in it and it's you're building the moat and the you know the customer is getting more locked in and it's you're finding all this value.

Anthony Pierri:

So the problem becomes then when you especially when people do like voice of the customer research, they'll ask customers who are fully bought in and understand the end-to-end value of something and they can describe at more of a comprehend like this is truly my second brain, right, like this is. And they start talking about all the stuff that the person coming to the site is not actually looking for. And we've used the metaphor of like a dating profile, like on hinge or whatever it's like putting on the dating profile I want to be the husband of your children. I want to love you when you grow old. I want to be, you know I'm gonna be an amazing partner when we're 60 and you know I'm gonna, I'm gonna replace you know, all sorts of stuff like that. And it's like whoa, I am not looking for that yet I don't even know you Versus. The better thing would be like I'm a good cook, I like rock climbing, you know, and that would be like I want to learn more.

Anthony Pierri:

So when we see these acquisitions or complicated mergers or just even complicated companies. It's like this goal is not to summarize all possible value you can provide, it's to give the smallest amount of information and value to get them to take the next step, to let them kind of self-serve to go deeper if they want and not overload them with information. And so just hit the highlights and those highlights. Sometimes you're wanting to pick the ones that are the easiest to understand in a scan, because that's the other thing. Yeah, you don't read websites, they scan them.

Anthony Pierri:

And I was showing my friend sometimes we'll work with like DevTools companies and he's a developer at Microsoft and I'll ask him I'll be like what do you think about this company and what do you think of this messaging that we did for them?

Anthony Pierri:

And he literally will get on and he's scrolling like this. He's like interesting, and I'm like you didn't even read anything we wrote. And he's like I get the gist of it and that's how everyone consumes websites. And so if you have some amazing feature and functionality but it's kind of hard to explain, it's not homepage material, right? They're not going to sit and read it. Like your homepage is not a good sales rep, it's not going to be able to sit and give it down over 30 minutes Like it's just not going to do that. It's trying to hit the highlights to get them to take a next step. So when you're working with these acquisitions and things like that, it really becomes a prioritization exercise of what are the easiest to understand things, the highest value, the quickest comprehension and what's the minimal amount of things we can get away with to get someone to take a next step.

Gary:

Yep, yep, totally agree, all right. Well, we could go on for hours. Honestly, I'm sure talking shop. So let's probably not do that. Let's.

Tiana:

I actually wanted to say that I really picked up from Anthony. I really love that he said, because you constantly say them and while I learned from them every day, is that two things? First of all, I love when you talked about making the person that you want to talk through, like your target market, your ICP, uncomfortably small. Because you said you said yourself, and Gary and Andy said it all, say it all the time Make it uncomfortably small, reduce them and you did that yourself with Fletch and you reduce them. And you do that with the founders that you work, that you reduce what you want to target in order for them to understand it clearly and for them to know exactly what you're saying to them. You reduce it so much that you can know every little thing that they want from you so that you can speak directly to it through your messaging. And that's how you positioned yourself.

Tiana:

But I thought that was golden, that was amazing and well. One more thing about like to poorly decide, like just a metaphor for it. But to poorly define your ICP is an expecting to get like a capital, efficient revenue engine from it is basically like not buying the lottery ticket and expecting to win it. It's like. You will never get that because you haven't done the first step to actually get there.

Tiana:

And those are just two things that I thought was truly amazing. Well, and also about the storefront is like I don't know. Another little analogy, just like putting I don't know, like say you're selling fast food burgers and just featuring the lettuce and the tomato and then the sauce and then the salt, instead of just showing the burger in the storefront. That's how I interpreted it, but well, thank you so much for being here, anthony. I really enjoyed you speaking.

Gary:

That sounds like a good meme. The burger meme. I love it.

Anthony Pierri:

Yeah, yeah, absolutely. It's like putting the whole menu in the window, right, like pictures of every single item on the menu, versus like let's just leave it with the Big Mac, let's put that in the center so people can be like, oh, I want to see what's inside. You know, I bet that looks good. I bet they have other good stuff.

Gary:

Yeah, totally All right, anthony. Where can people find you, rob and Fletch?

Anthony Pierri:

Yeah, best way to connect with us is on LinkedIn my profile, rob's profile. We pretty much accept everybody. We'll probably shoot you a DM, you know. Hey, thanks for connecting. You know what are you looking for. I need help with anything. And if you want to work with us directly, you can go to FletchPMMcom and we walk through the entire process. We talk about the exact pricing. Nothing's hidden. It's the same process pricing essentially for everyone. We do give, like really early stage companies, a discount, but yeah, you can basically self serve your way to your heart, content to understand what we do and how to work with us.

Gary:

Awesome. And from us go to GTMPROco. You'll find this episode. You'll find it also on your favorite podcast platform, and then we'll also be putting together a little short GTM short. We call it on this episode, with Anthony's help as well, and we'll put that out there as well. So really appreciate you being here, anthony, always a pleasure. Don't actually leave, because we'll still pick your brain, but for us till next week, bye.

Anthony Pierri:

Love it.

Gary:

Thank you for tuning in to GTMPRO, where you become the pro. We're here to foster your growth as revenue leader, offering insights you need to thrive. For further guidance, visit GTMPROco and continue your path to becoming board ready with us For this journey. Subscribe, engage and elevate your go to market skills. Until next time, go be a pro.

Positioning & Messaging for B2B SaaS
Positioning Strategies for Small Companies
Market Segmentation and Customer Jobs
Product and Market Fit Strategy
Focus on Customer Outcomes and Positioning
Navigating Acquisitions and Company Growth