On Building Messaging for AI-Native Software
by Mert Deveci
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Grieco vs Depp. Calendly vs ChiliPiper
"What is the moat?". Oh, the question. You start babbling about some ease-of-use, economies of scale and incumbent being antique.
Most founders have been through this phase in the early stages of the startup, particularly during fundraising. This leads investors to question how you are going to survive against the competition.
In reality, you don't have a moat in the beginning*. This is because moats are built over time with:
Data & walled garden
Talent and team
The first two options are difficult to execute on:
Data & walled gardens: A new startup hardly has access to data.
Talent: The level of talent you can attract is usually surpassed by incumbents all-in-all.
So how do you build moat in the early days?
Software is a Service (SiaS)
I'll bet you a drink at Coburg that you can find a software tool for any task you can think of. A tool for tasks. That's what you're selling. This means the user has to return to manage, clean, create, and integrate. This adds more work.
Work is key. All this software is used for specific tasks. The end goal and the jobs to be done are what matter.
What if software did the work? What if you did not really have to log into the tool? This would mean you do not need the services of a third-party to complete the work.
How we built our messaging?
We started GodmodeHQ in the realm of marketing. Particularly to drive organic traffic to your website using high quality and consistent social media posting.
At first look, this was already a crowded market filled with all the social media scheduling tools.
However upon talking to teams, we noticed that the pain points piled upon certain themes. Here are some quotes:
Hootsuite works well but I don't know what best works for us to attract engagement.
I spend half my day writing, getting inspired and looking for subjects to post about.
It is very difficult to stay consistent in social marketing and posting.
None of these were pain points pertaining to the software tool vendors out there. These were pain points regarding the task itself.
Small to medium sized businesses and startups were bored marketing their own product. They would rather build it.
We decided to build a concept around the work. Here is what it did (and still does) in a nutshell:
Upon signup, gets your website content automatically
Gets your Twitter and Linkedin content
Develops a thesis and strategy around your ICP
Starts offering posts based on posts that worked for engagement before (which we handpick)
We still built scheduling and editing functionality to give full control to the user. However our paying customers were paying us a lot more than a regular social media scheduling tool.
All of a sudden, your competitors become the service providers, rather than software providers.
Customers started comparing us against retaining an agency. This comes with higher responsibility built into product and our team but we are okay with that.
If you are looking for work to manage, go for software. If you are looking for work to be done, go for GodmodeHQ
That is our messaging.
(This all comes with immense technical and design challenges as LLMs are still quite limited in capabilities but that deserves its own post.)
*Note: You can have a moat starting up if you are in hard tech or hardware.
**Owing inspiration to Sarah Tavel's "Sell Work, Not Software"