Ep. 102 – Develop the Right Strategic Narrative for B2B Marketing w/ Andrew Davies

How to Develop the Right Strategic Narrative for B2B Marketing

The great storytellers have a better competitive advantage, and this is highly relevant in the world of B2B marketing. They’re able to recruit better, get more coverage, raise money more easily, close deals, and have better returns. This begs the question: How does one develop a better strategic narrative to position your B2B company more uniquely?

In this recent episode, marketing expert Andrew Davies (CMO, Paddle) explains the importance of a strategic narrative for B2B. Andrew talks about why it’s crucial to start with conducting research and a strategy as well as some common mistakes that he sees marketers make, and how to avoid them. He also elaborates on the five main narrative approaches to consider when crafting a message and how B2B marketing approaches should evolve as a company scales.

Play Video about Andrew Davies on B2B Marketers on a Mission Podcast

Topics discussed in this episode:

  • Some of the common mistakes that SaaS marketers make when it comes to developing strategic narratives, and what should be done to address them [5:14]
  • Andrew shares an example of how they’ve used research to answer the question behind the question, and to come up with messaging that resonates with their customers [7:21]
  • The 5 main narrative approaches to consider when crafting a new message: [13:17]
    • Playing to Win
    • Hero’s Journey
    • Challenger Sale
    • Tim Riesterer: Corporate Visions
    • Andy Raskin’s Greatest Sales Deck
  • How B2B marketing approaches should evolve as the company scales [23:59]
  • Metrics that B2B marketers need to be paying attention to regarding strategic narratives and messaging [26:13]
    • Press coverage & social mention
    • First call success
    • Deal velocity
  • Andrew talks about why he disagrees with the category creation framework [29:05]

Companies & links mentioned:



Christian Klepp, Andrew Davies

Christian Klepp  00:00

Welcome to B2B Marketers on a Mission, a podcast for B2B marketers that helps you to question the conventional, think differently, disrupt your industry, and take your marketing to new heights. Each week, we talk to B2B marketing experts who share inspirational stories, discuss our thoughts and trending topics, and provide useful marketing tips and recommendations. And now, here’s your host and co-founder of EINBLICK Consulting, Christian Klepp. All right, welcome, everyone to this episode of the B2B Marketers on a Mission podcast where you get your weekly dose of B2B marketing insights. This is your host Christian Klepp. And today I’m joined by someone on a mission to develop leading go-to-market SaaS strategies to generate demand, build an un-ignorable brand and win customers at scale. So coming to us from what I would imagine is the beautiful countryside of Devonshire in the UK, Mr. Andrew Davies, welcome to the show, sir.

Andrew Davies  00:56

Thank you so much, Christian. Thanks for having me.

Christian Klepp  00:59

Great to be connected Andrew. And I’m really looking forward to this conversation. And I say a beautiful countryside because I’ve never been there but I’ve imagined it is.

Andrew Davies  01:08

It is beautiful. I can see cows and sheep from my office here. I’m just looking over my window here. So it is beautiful.

Christian Klepp  01:16

Perfect. And that’s a first for this show. Okay, so let’s get started. So, Andrew, you’re no stranger when it comes to the world of B2B SaaS marketing and building brands so that they are in your own words un-ignorable. But for the sake of this conversation, let’s focus on a topic that you’re clearly passionate about. And that is the importance of a strategic narrative. So in your experience, why do you think that B2B SaaS marketing teams or the team in general, you know, they’re not very good at thinking about messaging?

Andrew Davies  01:49

Great question. So I know when we talk about a strategic narrative, what I’m meaning is the fundamental story, the insight, the thesis that sits behind a business. And you know, Bill Gurley says the great storytellers have an unfair competitive advantage, they’re going to recruit better, have better coverage, raise money more easily, close amazing business, deliver better returns, have better culture. And, and so it doesn’t often start with a marketing team. It starts with the founder, what’s the founding story? And so you know, I really look for really simple stories, story, storytelling, a sense making. It makes things simple, that the customer, the partner, the viewer, the audience doesn’t have to sift through a pile of messages and rubbish in order to find what’s going on. But it, it makes sense of the company, why it exists, and what is there to do. And so yeah, I think that often, we don’t have time to slow down in order to be able to speed up later. It’s hard, it does take the time to stand back, it takes lots of listening to the market, and understanding of the context of what’s going on in the buyers world. And so all of those things contribute to why we just want to rush on and talk about features, and talk about the sales process and talk about why what we’ve got is better than what someone has already got inside their organization, rather than reducing things down to that core reason for being.

Christian Klepp  03:11

That’s a great way to kick off this conversation. So I’ve got two things to say about that. So first of all, the point of sensemaking. So I don’t know if you’ve read this book, it’s called Building your story brand by Donald Miller. So it’s all about brand storytelling. And so there’s many great quotes and excerpts in the book, but one that really stood out is going back to your point, he says, if you’re making the reader burn calories, to understand what it is you’re doing, yeah, then you’re, you’ve clearly gone off, you know, off the path a little bit there. Right. And that’s the first one. The second one is, and I think, correct me if I’m wrong, but SaaS seems to be a repeat offender of this, focusing on the product features and the processes. Why do you think that is? Like, why? Why is it so hard for these teams to actually look at it through the lens of a customer? Like if I’m a customer going to your platform, to your website to try to understand what is it that you do?

Andrew Davies  04:09

Yeah, I think we tend to get into detail too fast. We forget that people don’t buy features. We, you know, keep iterating to find what works and forget the overall you know, framework in the overall story we’re trying to tell – what caused the initiation of the business in the first place. But I think underlying all of those is and you know, I’ve been guilty of this many times, is wanting to you’re forgetting the why and skipping the why and running to the how. And I think as B2B marketers, we’ve just got to constantly portion ourselves and our teams to not skip past the why and just run to the how because the how is a bit easier. The how, you know, has a real concrete competitive differentiation. And the why actually sits behind that and often I think that’s what a customer is genuinely interested in.

Christian Klepp  04:59

Absolutely, absolutely. And you touched on this a little bit already before, but like, what are some of the common mistakes that you see SaaS marketers make when it comes to developing strategic narratives? And what should be done to address those?

Andrew Davies  05:13

Yeah, I know, you know, as part of this discussion, you know, we’re gonna dig into some of the frameworks to follow and some way the scaffolding you can put in place around a story, I think, one of the first things is that when you’re launching a new product, and then you’re building a marketing function, you are by nature on the attack, you’re attacking a new market, trying to win market share, trying to win hearts and minds, often, in the demand gen process, you’re just trying to win attention, you’re trying to win the right to speak in a in a discovery call or at an event. And all of those things put a huge pressure on us to try and be in that attack mode of you know, here’s why we’re different. Here’s what we can do for you here is how we’re going to produce some ROI, here is the 54 things we’ve just released over the last 21 days that will help your life become better. And I do think in the fast moving world of SaaS, there’s a special place reserved for people who are able to be very sit back in those engagements to listen first. And yeah, we talked about sense making at the very beginning, who were able to help their customers make sense of the problems, they face, the problems behind those problems, rather than just rushing to diagnose the fix of what’s presenting itself at the surface level. And so yeah, for me, I think one of those… the challenge in the rush of B2B marketing is that we try and answer the question that’s right in front of us, rather than the question that sits behind that question.

Christian Klepp  06:41

That’s absolutely right. That’s absolutely right. I’m not sure if this is something that’s prevalent in SaaS, but at least what I’ve observed is that many times the marketing teams don’t necessarily always base their feedback or base their strategies or base their approach on actual research that they’ve conducted by talking to customers. It seems like sometimes they tend to skip that. That process. Why do you think that is? Is it going back to like what you were saying earlier that, you know, it’s just things tend to get moving so quickly in SaaS, that sometimes they feel like it’s a time issue?

Andrew Davies  07:19

It’s a time issue. It’s hard. It’s hard to, it’s hard to be told your ideas are wrong, it’s hard, should you put in a situation where you recognize that you’ve got to change things in your product or your messaging to meet a market need. So I think, yes, it takes time. Yes, it’s hard. It’s painful. Sometimes. I also just think that, you know, there is there is always a balance to be struck here of listening to what people believe and say in the market and how they talk about their problems and opportunities, and defining your version of the ideal future. And, you know, if we just, you know, maybe use an example to bring to life the question behind the question that sits behind the question. And this idea of market research. In the business, I co-founded Idio as personalization software company. So we were deploying personalization software for the websites and email programs of very large tech enterprises, Salesforce, IBM, etc. And what we were doing was it was a personalization engine. But we found the question that was sitting behind the question, it wasn’t just about improving conversion rates on your site, it was that we had a new way of giving you data to make better personalization decisions. We were building, you’re predicting the topics of every user on your website, every user email program, in order to better personalize so the question behind the question wasn’t about personalization and improving your conversion rates and click through rates. The question behind the question was, we’ve tried personalization before but you know, whatever engine you use to make a decision in a personalized experience, is wholly reliant on the data you’re giving it. And if you don’t have the data, you can’t it doesn’t matter how good your personalization is, engineer is not going to make good decisions. So that’s an example of digging into the question behind the question. And then listening to the customer, we found that they described that in very unique ways that we did not come up with. We called this interest data. We call this differently, we took a whole bunch of stuff around MR, AI and ML in terms of the cleverness of this. And then I think it was an Intel, we found that they were, you know, running an RFP and working on an internal project around what they called topic of interest data to TOI data, you know, independent from funnel stage data or other things. And this was inferred data about the topics of interest and when someone wants to read more about and when we changed our marketing, changed our sales messaging to include the actual customer words they were using, that we never came up with, we thought was a bit clunky. Suddenly it started resonating with other customers too. And so yeah, that’s about answering the question behind the question, digging into the need they’re facing, the kind of unquantified need that sits behind their issue, and also making sure you use their word in how you’re describing it.

Christian Klepp  10:02

Absolutely, absolutely. And, you know, you touched on a really important point, which was actually my next question about the importance of conducting market research and developing that strategy before you jump right into like, like things like developing the strategic narrative and the marketing campaigns and the initiatives that are correlated with that approach. Right.

Andrew Davies  10:21

Yeah. I mean, if you if you have a compelling view of a different future, but no market context, there’s you build something crazy. And if you’ve got a great market context, but no compelling vision of the future, you build something really boring, something really incremental. And so it’s that blend, the magic happens in understanding a market context. And having some unique view of this this ideal future you can build.

Christian Klepp  10:45

Absolutely, absolutely. Or the analogy that I always love to use. When people ask me about the importance of strategy for marketing, it’s like, just imagine using the real estate of the property analogy, imagine building a house, and you don’t have an architect’s blueprint? What’s the house gonna look like when you finish it? Right. Okay, next question. Um, in your professional opinion, how do you think CMOs should be making the right decision about what strategy to follow? Because that can be tricky.

Andrew Davies  11:18

At its core, strategy is about choices. It’s about saying no, in order to say yes to things that are more important. And there are a bunch of frameworks you can think about through this, I love the book Playing to Win, some great frameworks within that. I think it’s Lafley and Martin, the authors. And they talk about how… I follow this several times in marketing, but also company’s strategy. You know, you’ve got to define a winning aspiration, then where do we play? And then how will we win, and therefore what capabilities must be in place to win? And what systems are required for those capabilities to help us win in the place we play to achieve our winning aspiration and that cascade of decisions. At every stage of those of that cascade, there’s choices to make. And choice, you know, focus is only focused when you’re saying no to things that you really find valuable that painful to say no to. So yeah, at its essence, strategy, that choice, and CMOs need to, they make the right decision, and business leaders make the right decision about what strategy to follow by considering that view of the future where you can play, how you’ll win what capabilities you need, and looking at the various options, and specifically discounting many options in order to say yes to the one that you think will help you win.

Christian Klepp  12:32

Absolutely, absolutely. And if I may throw in one more is, and I’m sure this happens a lot in SaaS, it’s that constant monitoring iterating. You look to see what works and what doesn’t work and adjusting as you go along.

Andrew Davies  12:46

Yeah, absolutely. And you know, even in that process, that play to win book uses every one of those, it is an iterative process, where you then might update your winning aspiration, or where you play or how you win, based on understanding other elements of choices you’ve made.

Christian Klepp  13:03

Absolutely, absolutely. So the next question, this is something you’ve talked about very passionately, the five main narrative approaches to consider when crafting a new message, what are they?

Andrew Davies  13:17

So you know, I love using frameworks to help. You know… standing on the shoulders of giants is, you know, often our danger in high growth SaaS is that we think that we’ve got to reinvent every wheel. And we really don’t, you know, so these might not be the main frameworks, but they’re certainly ones that I lean on. And I point other people to, in the businesses I work in, so you know, some of the frameworks I’d look at, and you know, we can drop some links to people to read more about these, if that’s helpful. I definitely want to read a bit more about the hero’s journey. You know, hero’s journey, it’s comes from comes from the book, The Hero with 1000 faces. It talks about, you know, this call to adventure and some trials and the meeting with a god or goddess and, you know, this whole circle, you go through going from the known to the unknown, and back again, that’s an interesting framework for talking about for discussing storytelling. I love the challenger sale. And that process. Now, that’s a sales methodology. But what it is, is it’s a story framework, because what you’re doing within that challenger sale is going from moving people from kind of being overwhelmed to excited and then you go through this kind of rational drowning and emotional impact, where they’re overwhelmed again, and then solve it for them. It’s a story framework, you’re producing some kind of…. there’s weight to what’s being discussed, as you know, there’s… with the Challenger sale, you know, you’re moving people from overwhelmed to excited to overwhelmed again, and then resolving it. It’s a story framework. And as consequence of the story you’re telling. And so I love using that and that’s got the stage two and the challenge of sale is this, this reframe where you’re reframing the customer’s problem. And then there’s others you know, Corporate visions talks about the three why’s – Why change? why now? why us? They talk about unconsidered needs, which is an interesting framework to use. And then finally, I love Andy Raskin and his work on he calls it the greatest sales deck, which is all about the undeniable shift you see in the marketplace. So all five of those have got some kind of journey framework, some kind of story that you take people on, and they’re really good scaffolding to start, you know, start using to build your story for your company.

Christian Klepp  15:27

I love them. I love them. Definitely. I mean, these I mean, all of these resonated with me, especially the first one. Because if I remember correctly, I think that was a framework that was actually created by a professor of mythology, Joseph Campbell. Right? Yep. And I remember the steps because I’ve mentioned that more times on this podcast than I care to count. But basically, it’s a hero has a problem, meets a guide, who gives him or her a plan, prompts them to take action, so that they are successful, and they avoid failure. Right. And if you look at any, you know, to your point, it’s, you look at you watch any movie, you read any book, you look at any marketing campaign, they’re using that same framework, and it’s incredible. All that transcends across different facets of our, of our of our working life, or even loving my working life just life in general.

Andrew Davies  16:25

Yep, absolutely, absolutely. And one of those might fit better with, you know, each company has context or their situation, or who’s telling the story. But I think, you know, learning those are really helpful. And then it’s, you know, I really love using a framework. Because once you’ve got a framework that everyone knows you’re using, then people can give feedback with the same vocabulary, and then give feedback and iterate on the stages of the framework. Rather than kind of people copy editing from the from the very beginning of saying, I don’t like this, I do this, you can argue discuss the specific points of the journey you’re taking people through.

Christian Klepp  17:00

That’s very interesting. So just going back to what you were saying a couple of minutes ago, because you know, you gave us these five, these five frameworks. So these approaches like, is there any one that you recommend? Or would it really depends on the situation?

Andrew Davies  17:14

Yeah, it really depends on the situation. I do think that the ones I find myself going back to most often. You know, Andy Raskin’s sales deck process, which is naming an undeniable shift in the market, showing winners and losers, teasing some Promised Land and then showing the the kind of magic you’ve gotten the evidence for it, I think it’s, that’s pretty universally applicable. But people can do it in a… people can follow that process in a very weak way. If they aren’t able to name an undeniable shift, something that has happened in the market that goes from light today, dark tonight, red to blue, that everybody can see. And that it causes winners and losers. And so I love that kind of sell the change narrative that he talks about. The other one that I do keep coming back to outside of Challenger sale, which I often see in organizations and find super useful, particularly sales teams, is this corporate visions framework, Tim Riesterer and the corporate visions team, which is around unrecognized needs. And basically what they’re saying there is that many, many people sell into identified needs, unspecified capabilities, you’ve got a problem on the surface, I can solve it with these features. And the more you talk about kind of what they’ve already identified, you kind of become a bit me too things, everyone else is talking about the same problems. And as much as you talk about your specified capabilities, the things that are obvious, it just gives the impression of cost and complexity, the more of them you add in. But what you’ve got to ask is, what are the unconsidered needs that sit behind these identified needs? What’s the problem behind the problem? And you know, what are the unknown strengths that no one else is talking about? That we are uniquely positioned to solve? And if we can quantify this unconsidered need, we’re in a very strong situation to shift that status quo. So that example I used for a personalization business we built was a good example of this, you know, people were, if we just stayed in the battleground of better personalization engines, things would have got complex, expensive, we’d have lost, but we actually went to the unconsidered need, which is you haven’t actually built a better data set in order to drive better personalization. And by reframing that solution, we were solving the unconsidered need with something that other people weren’t able to argue with us and differentiate against us for.

Christian Klepp  19:28

That sounds like the path that requires a bit more effort on your side.

Andrew Davies  19:36

Yeah, absolutely. Yeah. And if we just take other example that… let’s take paddle, you know, we’re in a situation where we’re solving a range of different problems, or for companies, for software companies, whether it’s their subscriptions, and whether it’s their payment acceptance in lots of different territories and currencies, whether it’s tax compliance and all these territories. Now, we could talk on and on about all of the many, many, many different features, and complex features we built to solve those challenges. But fundamentally, at its core, we’re serving product led businesses, that because they’re selling something reasonably cheap, therefore to a very large market, they internationalize early, they sell to lots of territories. And if you want to sell to lots of territories, there’s a huge amount of complexity and tax and currency management. And we just take that that all away. And so by reducing the story down to the simplicity of… if you’re selling International, actually, there’s a way of solving all of this that absolves you of all of the responsibility, all of the risk, all of the complexity in one fell swoop, it becomes a much more interesting conversation.

Christian Klepp  20:41

Absolutely. And you will probably have no problem answering this next question. But if you could provide an example, ideally, from your own professional experience, of a great strategy narrative and B2B SaaS.

Andrew Davies  20:54

Yeah, absolutely. So let’s look outside of the businesses I’ve been involved with, you know, some real simple ones that people will remember, you know, Salesforce trying to move people to a cloud CRM, talked about no software, you can remember that cloud, the cloud that they put up there. And then the no software with the with no entry sign, really simple, reducing the entire strategy, the entire shift in the market down to an icon, an emoji that they could kind of print out and give out at conferences. I think drift did a great job with conversational marketing, they were trying to get people to move away from complicated forms where you had to fill in lots of fields, and move towards giving people value and then speaking with them automatically, but through the drip bot. And that conversational marketing kind of theme and movement was formed out of that. Zora did a great job with a subscription economy, not just talking about what they did. But talking about the fact that everybody is starting to subscribe to things. People want to rent and hire, not own. Ownership is gone, we’re now in a subscription economy. And that, that means there’s a unique set of capabilities you’ve got to build, in order for you to be able to serve that need of a customer, not by selling them something, but by renting them something, whether that’s software, or music, or whatever it might be. So those will be three, you know, easy ones to point out, the many people here will remember.

Christian Klepp  22:12

Fantastic, fantastic. I’m gonna throw a wild card out there. You just made me think of something as you were answering that question. And I think this is very pertinent to, well, the current state of affairs, I mean, you know, with everything that’s going on in the world, from an economic standpoint, and SaaS businesses and companies are big tech up, you know, with the market shifting and all the dynamics there. How does that impact the storytelling and this strategic narrative that we’ve been talking about?

Andrew Davies  22:47

Yeah, I think there’s lots of businesses that are starting to or have tried to reinvent their narrative to match a new market context. And sometimes I think this can be really inauthentic. There’s a lot of tools that are made for this new environment, where post COVID in potentially a recession, economy with capital, capital, minimal capital available, and difficult to raise, where they’re well suited to have a very authentic narrative. I think the challenge here is about making sure that what you’re saying is authentic to your core product value, because if it’s not, then things get unhinged pretty fast. But yeah, I’ve seen lots of boardrooms want to try and find a cost saving or runway extension, or efficient type of message in this new world. And I think some of the some of those have come off better than others.

Christian Klepp  23:40

Yes, no doubt about that. Um, yeah. And just kind of correlated to what I was asking earlier about, like, how do you think B2B marketing approaches should evolve as the company scales, right, and that’s something that I think is very characteristic of SaaS.

Andrew Davies  23:58

So as a company scales, the B2B marketing process has to evolve. Because marketing in general, is often about finding the next ceiling, you’ve got something that works as a tactic, and it works up until the point and then it either becomes too expensive, or it hits the threshold of the number of people that can be reached through that tactic, or for some other reason, you’ve got to invent a new layer to put on top of it. And so some businesses have a very high ceiling on their first tactic. They grow to 2 3 4 5 10 million ARR before maxing out that first tactic or a couple of couple of first tactics. And so yeah, B2B marketing has got to keep evolving to find the next ceiling. And so that means a different channels. That means different tactic mix, it means increased clarity, it means making sure your team are now working in parallel across lots of different activities rather than just doing one thing at a time, which then means you’ve got to talk in informatics rather than specific approaches or campaigns. And it often means that you start serving multiple personas, which adds extra complexity. But yeah, I think that the biggest thing here is, is that shift of making sure you’re finding that next ceiling as you go. And that becomes ever more critical as you scale. Because often the velocity increases. And so you’re running out of the ceiling you’re in faster than you were previously. And so always making sure there’s been a budget and time for experimentation. And so you’re trying something new, a new market, a new channel, a new approach, and doing that ahead of time. So you’ve got some lift coming in the next few quarters.

Christian Klepp  25:33

And a continuous conversation with your customers.

Andrew Davies  25:36

Absolutely. I mean, that conversation, you know, in marketing is about, you know, what works and what doesn’t work, what they want, and what they don’t want, you know, what they’re facing and what they’re not facing. It’s also just the response you get to the different tactics you’re using, that adds velocity and deal size into your pipeline or doesn’t.

Christian Klepp  25:53

Absolutely, absolutely. Hmm. Well, the next question, love it or hate it. Metrics. So talk to us about some metrics that B2B marketers need to be paying attention to with reference to strategic narratives and messaging, because we know that that’s sometimes it’s difficult to quantify.

Andrew Davies  26:13

Yeah, so one metric I look at, or one way of measuring this is, you know, press coverage and social mentions, are they repeating back to you the core story in a way in their own words, but in a way that’s, you know, authentic to what you’re trying to say, then that’s a really good way of understanding whether it’s resonating. So recently, we acquired a business called profit well, and one of the core themes behind the acquisition, a thesis of it was that both us and profit well, both paddle and profit, well have a do it for you belief or do it for you thesis about how we built software, we wanted to build better software to handle all your payments, we want to take that risk and responsibility completely away from you. So you can focus on product and customer. And, you know, we believe that that was the core story behind the acquisition. But what was great to see is that was played back to us in you know, people commenting, and customers referencing it, and press covering us using those words or words like it, which is a great way of kind of measuring that this had found some resonance. Other ways I like to look at it are, you know, look at looking at first call success, you know, when you get into that onto that first call, does it lead to something else, which is usually, you know, a measure of two things. Number one, are you in front of the right person, so you know, targeting, and then second messaging, is the message actually landing, you can dig into that to become a bit more metrics driven. If you’ve got something like Gong, we use gong to record all of our sales, people’s calls. And you can do keyword searches there. So keyword searches are around aspects of that story, or that message or pulling up the specific call recordings from certain phrases that people are using, and seeing how often those phrases are used by the customer or by our sales reps. That’s another great way of doing it. And then, you know, a more leading indicator, and all of this that we bake into all of our, our message testing ahead of time when it before ever reaches out prospects is using tools like Wynter, wynter, Pep and the team, they’ve done a great job of building panels of really good for both tech, tech personas, who give good feedback on messages on our homepage and on copy. And so getting that ahead of time, so those are all some metrics. And fundamentally, you know, the product marketing team often carries this message, and then the narrative as it scales with it within the commercial environment. And, you know, deal velocity ends up being something that they should be impacting, you know, when people start to talk to us, are more of those faster turning into closed one business? And that’s the fundamental measure in a commercial environment.

Christian Klepp  28:46

Yes, those are certainly good points of reference. Right. So specifically on the topic of strategic narrative, and messaging, get up on your soapbox now, what is a status quo that you passionately disagree with? And why?

Andrew Davies  29:05

Great question. So I disagree with how the category creation framework is often used. It feels to me like every B2B marketer, is desperate to create a new category, that they can be the leader in the category, sometimes of one. And in the rush to create this new category in order to impress investors and differentiate and show that they’re going to be the market leader in a new disruptive portion of the market. We end up making things number one very difficult for customers, because they’re now .. you know, struggling to compare vendors that look similar to each other because every one of them are proclaiming a new category where they’re there on their own. It often makes it difficult for ourselves as companies, because the conversation we want to be in is often in the competitive set. We want to be positioned amongst the other alternatives, otherwise we won’t be brought into other decisions that we’re not part of right now. And fundamentally, it can actually reduce rather than increase potential, you know, size of that business by artificially making small at the market we play in. So yeah, that’s something that, you know, there’s lots of books written about it, I have great respect for some of the people who’ve created really compelling categories, and I’ve written about them. But I disagree that that should be the strategy that every B2B marketer or founder seeks.

Christian Klepp  30:22

That’s incredibly interesting, because I’ve seen a lot of chatter about that on LinkedIn, where people are also like, in your camp, where they disagree with this whole, like, well, for lack of a better description, creating a category for the sake of trying to, you know, communicate some kind of competitive advantage. So it’s almost like, you know, going back to the point that you made early on of the conversation about reinventing the wheel, right, yeah. Yeah.

Andrew Davies  30:47

And if we just tie back to, you know, the gong call recordings. Yeah, you know, we did some analysis of kind of the previous messaging we were using a paddle, and then the new messaging we’re using. And, you know, I see a very clear, I’ve seen this shown up in multiple businesses, where there’s a desire to create a unique category where you’re the leader, often the response from the customer is, what does that mean? And then you’ve got to go into a secondary explanation about what it really means. Whereas, you know, the response we get now is, how do you compare with, and we’re really comfortable having the comparison conversation and helping the customer understand why, you know, in certain situations, we will be the best vendor, and in other situations, other people will be the best vendor. And we can talk through that context. But it’s a much better response is, how do you compare with than can you tell me again what that means?

Christian Klepp  31:36

Yes, and then you spend all this time explaining it, and the more time you spend explaining that you realize, okay, maybe that doesn’t actually make that much sense.

Andrew Davies  31:46


Christian Klepp  31:48

Fantastic. Andrew, thank you so much for coming on the show and for sharing your expertise and experience with the audience. So, quick introduction to yourself and how people out there can get in touch with you.

Andrew Davies  32:00

Thanks so much, Christian. Yeah, so Andrew Davies living down in Devon in the southwest, built a…. I was co-founder of a software company called Idio personalization business that we sold in 2019, then became part of a roll up funded by Insight Venture Partners, we bought four or five other businesses, the biggest of which was Optimizely. So I was running the global corporate marketing demand function for Optimizely. And then have leapt back earlier stage, a CMO of paddle paddle.com as well as helping a bunch of other SaaS businesses in series A B C, mostly in the UK. And we’d love to connect with people on LinkedIn or on Twitter. And yeah, those are good places to find me as well as any local SaaS conferences towards you.

Christian Klepp  32:42

Fantastic, fantastic. Andrew, as expected, this was an incredible session. So thanks again for your time. Take care, stay safe, and I’ll talk to you soon.

Andrew Davies  32:50

Thanks so much, Christian. Appreciate the time.

Christian Klepp  32:52

Bye for now.


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