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  • Lairs Johnston

Rebranding a $20 Million Software Company to Appeal to 5 Different Demographics

Updated: Jun 5

Motivating people working at a non-profit organization is vastly different from motivating people working at a for-profit corporation. Those who work at non-profits are typically driven by serving others, and have chosen their non-profit based on a personal cause that they believe in supporting. Whereas those working at a for-profit corporation are drawn to their work with completely different motivators. For me, leading people is a challenge, and my motivation comes from figuring out what drives others to become motivated, and how I can use that to benefit employees and the company's overall return on investment. For me, leading people is a challenge of finding out what A type employees are motivated by and how I cannot only provide that but use it to challenge them to benefit them and the company's ROI.


Please Everyone to Please No One


So many brands lose their demographic by being greedy. Often when I ask an organization who is your main customer they reply with, “everyone.” Every company wants every person buying their product, but if you think about successful brands with established demographics they all have a specific targeted audience. For instance, Audi didn’t build a brand by appealing to the lower class and Walmart didn’t become who they are by advertising to millionaires. In other words, by owning your brand demographic you can optimize and target your customers.


The whole, ‘rather have half of something than all of nothing’ mentality.


So for the software, we have half a dozen different personalities and demographics using it so figuring out who to target was the first challenge. To figure this out we went to the drawing board.


This is where the entire C suite and all of leadership got in a room for me to lead a 3 hour exercise to figure out who we are as an organization. No pressure.


The process was actually phenomenal, every time I engage in these high risk high rewards that are impossible to prepare for things come out well. We landed on a brand persona, someone who was the main influencer in purchasing the software. Maybe not the purchaser or user themselves, but the ones who would ultimately determine which software to go with.


It was a beautiful moment of clarity.


What to Track


The next step after figuring out who your buyer/brand persona is was to determine what we were going to track. In today’s day and age it’s easy for leadership to love what I call vanity metrics. I once had someone ask why we weren’t on the first page for certain search words. SEO is a vital strategy for some companies and completely useless for others, in our case it was the latter.


I spent $9,000 with an agency and 3 months building up our site to rank for management software. Well, we got there, from the top of the fourth page to the bottom of the first. Quite the accomplishment only, the change in ranking only brought us an extra 150 page views a month...at the cost of $9,000…


This means I was spending $60 for a single click...this is insane…


Our focus needed to be on taking care of our current traffic vs abusing the site to simply rank higher, a metric that actually did more harm than good when it came to ROI.


Another big problem we had was figuring out why did people buy our software? Sure we could look at page views on our different features but again, vanity metrics. Some of our features got a lot of page views because we ASSUMED that’s what our demo wanted therefore we advertised them the most. From featuring them in emails to running ads specifically to those pages. Not the whole story.


This is why we simplified our features into a single page application where you could browse our features without leaving but still giving us the data for time on page and page views per feature. This helped us know what people actually cared about and what we should be focusing our messaging on.


Why the Website?


It’s funny, I hear that really bad marketers always suggest changing the website first and while this was probably true, I had a different reason for my direction. We were getting 200,000 visitors per month but our CTA’s rarely lead to accurate places, we had 100 landing pages doing the work of 3, and a process that frustrated our current customers while misguiding prospects. I simply looked at this as, “if we had a conference where 200,000 people came to hear about our product would we want to give them this experience?”


It was a massive missed opportunity.


I wanted the challenge of a 3 page experience, if I didn’t know my demographic well enough and what problem the software solved for them well enough to explain it all in 3 pages I needed to just go home. So that started the 3 page experience.


(This is all how the branding process unfolded and went on to determine the rest of the organization's brand)


We boiled the company down into 3 words:


Powerful, relational servants.


Powerful was what set us apart, we did way more than our competitors. Relational because that’s the foundation of our demographic and servants because that positioned us in the market space. We lived to serve our demographic, while we were powerful we were not the center of attention, our customers were the real MVP’s.


This mentality went on to redesign the website along with everything else.


Brand That’s Not Just a Pretty Face


This is the first step for me. In this phase you learn what I do and a statement that, if you’re a prospect, you agree with. The first homepage, in this funnel, needed to be all about the feels. Making statements that show you understand their pain points therefore paving the way for you to understand the solution.


I worked with the Harmon Brothers, brains behind the squatty potty pooping unicorn and they articulated what I’ve been doing for years better than I could have. The funnel needs to have a hook, show the problem and how you’re the solution, offer credibility (testimonials), and ultimately then a conversion point. If you look at the home page we built it offers all of this for the main parts of our demographic that we were trying to reach. If you weren’t the decision maker I wanted you to be informed on the points the decision maker needed to be convinced on so you were not only sold on us but knew how to sell us to those who needed the info.


The home page started off with our differentiator in more ways than one. The slogan was, “Don’t just manage your people, engage them” explaining our how people management software was different, we built it to follow people not just measure them.


Then we follow it with a literal problem/solution for multiple positions that would be using the software. Again identifying with all of the potential demos and offering them talking points if they were to pitch to other decision makers.


Then credibility, someone using our software and showing the power and ease in which it solves their daily pain points. I chose to close out the first page with our integrations, while this doesn’t follow any direct strategy it was our fourth most visited page and also our most buried one. To me this meant people really cared about who we integrated with even though we hid it.


All throughout the home page is a CTA for an animated video on the story behind the company. It was an impromptu interview with the CEO that we narrated that came together really well. All the feels.


They Like You, Now Tell Them Why They’ll Love You


The second page in the 3 page funnel was meant to inform. Fall in love with us on the first page, now I need to teach you what we actually do. Enter part two of the funnel...inform.


This is where you could see our top 6 features (these features were picked based on our top viewed/engaged pages). These were written with the same intensity as the home page, why do people care about these features, what do they use them for, what problem do they solve, why are they different than everyone else.


Right below this is the customer support section. Throughout this experience I wanted to do small brand things that re-enforced what we were literally saying. As you click around on the customer support section the mascot’s eyes follow your mouse, showing we care about what you do. When you clicked on something the mascot would smile, showing joy you’re getting help. There are dozens of experiences like this all across the site. Animations to back up what we say. How can we say we’re the most powerful software if you don’t naturally feel that from the site? I didn’t want to say that our software was powerful and then market the software in a weak way, our marketing needed to back up our talk.


You’ve Moved Their Heart and Explained Your Product, Now Convert


So if you’ve properly branded your product, making people fall in love with you, and you’ve properly shared what you do, making people fall in love with your product, then people should be ready to convert.


This is the third page of the funnel.


Here you see the product actually being used, screen share of how modern day people use it to solve modern day problems. These videos are boring. They’re not meant to be flashy, the goal is at this point people are so invested that they are ready to research and learn. If they’re not, your branding failed.


It started out as a website with a nightmare of navigation, over 50 landing pages that were ‘important’, and a sales process with CTA’s that were wrongly linked and a conversion process that forced you to call to learn more. The finished product was designed for you to get to the pricing page and be surprised it was so low (even though it was the most expensive product on the market) because of how well you were branded and informed.


Just like all of my other successful campaigns, this all started with gathering the right people and determining the demographic. Our study went as deep as to what podcasts do they like? What brands do they hate? What does their yard look like? What show would they never watch? What singer is their favorite?


When you know your demographic better than they know themselves the branding process becomes a science instead of an opinion. Nothing is random, nothing is accident, and everything serves a purpose in the funnel of the product whether it’s a software, a service, or a nonprofit.


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