5 Steps to Great Startup Messaging

Jun. 4, 2021
Otto Pohl

5 Steps to great startup messaging


Photo by Elle Hughes from Pexels

You’re ready to sell or already have your first customers. You have funding, a team, and a product. Now you might be thinking, “hey, we need some PR!” Let me stop you right there. You don’t need PR. What you need is more customers. PR can be a powerful tool to help get those customers, but it’s important to realize it’s just one means to get to the real end goal.

Step one is to get your messaging straight. You can’t ramp up sales to reach beyond your beta customers if you’re not making a cohesive, crisp pitch of your product. And the place to perfect that messaging is your website. The great news is that all of the work you do on your website messaging is the foundation of any future marketing, sales, or public relations effort.

So let’s make sure your website messaging is tuned up. Here’s the roadmap.

Step 1: Identify the Audience(s)

You might have just one customer group, but often there’s more than one. I once advised a company that makes high-tech shower heads and they had two clear customer groups, homeowners and hotel owners. You might also be targeting other audiences, like investors, potential employees, or partners—they’re “customers” of your company too. For example, I worked with a drug development company whose audience is research labs, investors, and prospective employees. No matter what your situation, you want to be very clear about the audience or audiences you’re trying to reach.

Step 2: Identify the key benefits for each audience

Working with each of your target groups separately, create a list of everything they need to know that convinces them to become a customer. It often takes a surprisingly long path to get to a good description of what the benefits are. Take the time to list everything out, and then boil the list down & prioritize. Don’t forget the “why”—founder backstories or company missions are often powerful motivators for customers.

Step 3: identify key blockers or objections for each audience

Each audience is going to have questions or objections. A typical one for an early- stage company is that no one wants to be the first customer. They’re looking for social validation. Case studies, testimonials, reviews, or quotes can address that concern. Other common objections might be upfront costs, contractual commitments, or competitor offerings. Think through all the good reasons potential customers have for walking away, and address them.

Step 4: Sketch out the sales process

Your website is a sales tool. Be clear where in the sales funnel they will likely visit your site for the first time, what information they’ll already have, and what they’ll be looking for. Decide what you want them to do after they get there and are interested—do you want them to get a demo? Book a call? Purchase the product? That next step determines your Call To Action (CTA). You should have your CTA in lots of accessible places on your site. Get them to take the next step.

Step 5: Write your website

You’ve got all the pieces together! Now it’s time to write it up. Easier said than done. Coming up with the headlines, the page and section breakdowns, and the actual text is as much art as it is science. But if you’ve done your prep work, you’ll be in a much stronger position. Spend the most time on the top of the home page. You want to hit the viewer as hard as you can with the key benefits, how you deliver them, show social proof (reviews/testimonials etc), and then give them a clear action to take (your CTA).

What your website should have after you’re done

Each website is different because every company is different. But all websites are there to shepherd visitors along in the customer journey. In order to do that, you need the following:

  1. Explain the value you’ll provide (ie the benefits) and how you provide them
  2. Address potential objections or blockers
  3. Add social proof that others are already using & loving your solution
  4. Make it easy to take the next step


It’s always easier said than done, but hopefully this framework sets you up for success!