How to Find Your True Brand Differentiator, with Carly Brantz, DigitalOcean


How well do you know your brand differentiators? No, not your product features, but the secret sauce of why your customers love you. In this episode, Carly Brantz, CMO of DigitalOcean, discusses how to find your true brand differentiators and what needs to be done across the entire organization (yes, outside of marketing!) to reach its full potential. Carly shares best practices for uncovering the unique fabric of your SaaS business, how experimentation can be your greatest ally and how to maximize your differentiator across all channels.

Striking gold with your differentiators

It’s one thing to brainstorm your brand differentiators and another to genuinely know them. According to Carly, tracking campaign-related metrics is the first step to nailing differentiators that resonate with your audience. But a truly foolproof method to uncover key differentiators?

“Survey your customer base. Ask them what they love about your product or your company. Ask them the value that they’re getting,” said Carly. “When we’re talking to customers, they will say all of our key differentiators. Very commonly. So that’s sort of when you know you’ve hit the sweet spot.”

Carly mentioned brands that successfully identify and communicate their differentiators often see an uptick in customer interactions on social media, among other mission-critical benefits. That’s a win-win scenario for customers and the organization at large.

Never stop testing

Most products and services go through about twenty iterations before hitting their stride. But no matter how thoroughly tested, no differentiator is forever, especially in a turbulent marketing environment. Customer sentiment can change on a dime — or, in some cases, the platform they choose may naturally evolve.

For example, Carly discussed a DigitalOcean campaign conducted over Twitch. Just five years ago, the campaign may have floundered. But developer attitudes and platforms of interest have changed significantly over the past few years. As such, using the new medium made the campaign a significant success.

Of course, the DigitalOcean marketing team may have never known that if they didn’t prioritize customer re-testing.

“As soon as you start to see a decline — and I would say much sooner than that — you need to start testing and experimenting and trying new things,” said Carly. “Are there new channels that we haven’t thought about? Is there new messaging? And sometimes it’s a crash and burn, but other times it’s a huge success. And that [constant experimentation is] my favorite part of being in marketing.”

When a company adds a new offering, they also open the door for an entirely new audience. As such, marketers must stay frosty and test, test, test to ensure they’re still hitting the mark.

Not all ROI is created equally

Before moving forward with a differentiator, marketers must get buy-in from executives and other departments. That’s because a brand’s strengths don’t just impact marketing language — they also reflect a product’s UI and the sales process holistically.

But to get the C-suite on board and set up a campaign for long-term success, marketers must set expectations.

“Some channels are meant to drive more traffic and lower conversion, and some channels are less traffic and higher conversion. And so making sure to communicate that…one channel [may have] a faster ROI than this other one…is really, really important,” said Carly.

To listen to more of Carly’s insights, listen to Episode 335 of SaaS Half Full.

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