The Six Key Elements of Company or Product Message That People Actually Hear

I have worked with hundreds of software startup founders on their messaging and websites through the years–and watched the results.

Here are the simplest ways to improve conversion on your website and create momentum in your early startup. The order of importance varies.

For an early-stage software company, clarity and focus are more important than design to create results. If your message is confusing and unfocused, it doesn’t matter how great your design is.

Focus and clarity sound simple. But these are very hard when you are just starting out, learning what works, and doing something new.

Are your website homepage and navigation clear and focused enough for a busy visitor to quickly get to “Yes, this is what I was looking for. Let me take the next step here” with a CTA?

For serious buyers, this happens quickly, often in less than one minute at first, then maybe 5 or 10 minutes after that, when they are in buying mode.

There is a structure to the messaging clarity and focus that our brain requires. It has always been required and will in the future, fancy technology or not.

Like music, there is an underlying structure that can’t be defied, with endless variations.

Here are the 6 questions our brains ask when we get to your homepage:

  1.  What is this thing? What exactly do they sell? Is it what I’m looking for now? (CATEGORY and USE)
  2. Is it just for people like me or companies like mine? TARGET CUSTOMERS/ICP
  3. What will it really do for me or my business? Why should I pay good money for something like this? BENEFIT/S
  4. Why is it different and better than other options I could choose? DIFFERENTIATION
  5. Why should I believe their claims? CREDIBILITY
  6. Do they care about what I care about? PURPOSE (optional)

There are endless variations to communicate these six core elements. Take one away (or two), and your visitors will get very confused and leave.

I searched Google yesterday for “ski gear.” My first question was, “Is this a ski-focused shop or site, or just a generalist sporting goods store.” That’s category.

Then I evaluated the ones that were for stores serving people like me, serious skiers who don’t want starter gear and who care about performance and not fashion. That’s the target customer.

After reviewing a few results, I had to evaluate why they were different from each other and what was important to me. Cheaper, easier, closer, selection, brands? Differentiation.

Which one is most credible with irrefutable proof? Most selection, lowest prices (guaranteed?), millions served, highest-rated. Do I believe them?

Purpose is still optional these days, but it’s important to include now for many things than 20 years ago

Take one or two of those away and I don’t buy.

Make it hard for me to see it clearly right away, and I leave quickly.

Does your website clearly declare enough focus in each of these areas?

Check the websites for the products or services you have purchased lately. I bet they do.

Get the weekly Practical Founders email and podcast update.

Share Practical Founders


Win the Startup Game Without VC Funding

Learn how all 75 founders on the Practical Founders Podcast created an average founder equity value of $50 million.