Why we rebranded two months after our launch

I think we've got our messaging wrong. Our wording could be interpreted to mean many things. I'm not sure who we are messaging, it feels like we're talking to everybody but not connecting with anyone.

These are the thoughts I recently found myself discussing with my co-founders.

We launched our beta product early in August 2016 and shared our website with as many of our friends, family and connections as we could possibly reach. We went with a core message of 'The best teams have happy humans' because that's what we truly, truly believe.

We were very happy with the results of the launch campaign and the volume of people that signed up from all corners of the world. New teams were being created daily and missions were being fired off in quick succession between team members. Things were going well for such early days.

Then we started to see some trends - Mixpanel made this super easy with their metrics and funnel views:

  1. Traffic to our website was slowing down
  2. The traffic that did arrive was seeing an increased bounce rate
  3. Re-use of our app was lower than anticipated

In conversations with our users, it started to dawn on us. We found users had built a lot of different expectations about what the app would do. In some cases we were meeting expectations but in others we were not coming close.

I started researching and reading lots of great blogs so we could do things better and two (yes I know very basic) marketing concepts, really struck a chord:

  1. Know who you are targeting, if you say "Everyone is a potential customer", save it for the bankruptcy judge (Sixteen Ventures
  2. People don't want to buy a drill, they want to buy a hole (Theodore Levitt)

I realized Crewmojo had slipped into both of these traps. We'd been telling ourselves that our product could be used by almost everyone and our market was enormous. We'd been building our marketing messages carefully ensuring we didn't exclude any potential customers, so we kept the messages broad (ie. The best teams have happy humans).

Secondly, in all our excitement, we were too quick to outline the features of Crewmojo (ie. create missions, auto follow-ups, share feedback, build a Mojoscore etc) - we were talking about the drill, not the hole.

Our marketing problems (or lessons):

We could now understand why we were seeing the three downward trends listed above:

  1. Our broad messaging wasn't connecting with individuals and this resulted in less overall traffic.
  2. The traffic that did arrive was a diverse audience which showed up in the high bounce rate.
  3. Those that did convert to Beta customers had varied expectations because we hadn't educated them properly about our app - this showed up as some users ditching us and some raving about us.

It feels like a few school boy errors but the big take-away for me is the importance of the right messaging and the knock-on effects that flow right through the funnel, onboarding and engagement process.

What have we done about it?

We got honest with ourselves about our target market. Our software is really designed for business leaders.  We even debated between the word leader vs manager for days because manager is more practical but the word leader is very much in vogue with all the cliched meme's going around LinkedIn.

Once we'd settled on this it was like a fog lifting from all around us, suddenly things became very clear. We now had a 'person' that we could address or talk to when we produce content. Our content is themed around anything that helps leaders to be better, rather than random content around our product. To us it feels like our new words are more than a new tagline, they represent clarity in how we think about our customers. It allows us to imagine an individual discussing their day to day challenges and for us to consider how we might be able to help that individual. We settled on the following words....for now!

Crewmojo equips leaders to get stuff done in their teams with a culture of buy-in and feedback.

No doubt we'll continue to iterate with the feedback and new knowledge we learn on this exciting startup journey.

Change of message equals change of purpose?

We might have changed our message but we haven't changed our purpose or values. We still believe in treating each other with respect, no matter where you appear in a hierarchy. We believe in valuing individuals, working with strengths, trusting teammates to do the right things and being accountable to each other. We believe leaders are uniquely positioned to make a positive impact in the lives of their teams.

We still believe the best teams really do have happy humans.

Why am I sharing this?

  1. In the hope it might help others on a growth journey to avoid the mistakes we made
  2. For anyone wondering why we changed our messageing after such a short time
  3. Our belief in transparency, even when we get it wrong

Mark Lewis, CEO