Cheap and proud: messaging strategy for being both good and affordable

A while back I was engaged to create a messaging strategy for a SaaS in the education space. Sales were flat and the brand, which had been one of the first to market, had been overtaken by newer competitors. Ownership wanted to update their messaging strategy to win in the current, more mature environment.

Internal discovery with the staff revealed that no one knew what made their SaaS different. This is not a big shocker. Differentiation is a higher and higher mountain to climb as more and more competitors clutter the market with their version of the same noise.  So it’s unrealistic to expect brands to know what makes them different, even though agencies still regularly ask their clients to do so. Often you need a messaging strategist to help figure that out.

I moved into the customer interview phase of with an open mind. One thing I’ve learned over the last decade of doing messaging strategy work is to trust my process. Eventually, the answers will surface. (Anyone who can tell you what your strategic differentiation is without doing the work is full of it.)

It was after about the fifth interview that a customer revealed to me something nobody else had told me – this product was less than half the price of the industry standard. Less than half! How can you leave that out of your messaging strategy? But there was not a mention of this anywhere on their website.

When I brought it up with the team, they were weary of using this information, fearful that it would make them look cheap. That is a legitimate concern, but so is having no strategic differentiation. The solution was a messaging strategy that not only promoted their affordability, but that also explained how their superior experience in education and real-time understanding of its challenges enabled them to charge less for a better SaaS.

This is a key for leveraging lower price in message strategy – tell your audiences how you pull it off. Think of brands like Trader Joe’s and Costco, which are known for both quality and money saving. How do they do it? By giving you a rationale to explain the lower cost. In their case, it’s cutting out the middle man. Just as luxury brands have to justify their higher pricing with the perception of higher value, cost saving brands can justify their lower prices with increased efficiency in some form or other.



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