🔆 The mistakes made in search of defensible differentiation

As I was writing my essay about defensible differentation, a couple of people asked me: What are the typical mistakes SaaS companies make in search of Defensible Differentiation?

To answer that, let’s first define the term:

Defensible differentiation in SaaS refers to unique features, services, or other aspects that set a SaaS business apart from its competitors and that cannot be easily replicated. 

Although the definition is clear – still many mistakes are made. Here are the five I see most:

  1. Shiny objects: Many SaaS companies think their differentiation is in launching something in the “latest technology bucket” – just see all the ChatGPT announcements.
  2. Segmentation: Many aim too wide – thinking their SaaS suite fits customers large and small. They fail to identify the customers prepared to pay a premium for their differentiation.
  3. Positioning: The differentiation and focus is there but doesn’t give a competitive advantage, i.e., they fail to articulate in concrete terms what makes them incomparable to alternatives.
  4. Messaging: Many have defensible differentiation but forget to clearly communicate why the right customer should care (as if those organizations can connect the dots themselves)
  5. Resourcefulness: The differentiation weakens rapidly because too much time and resources are dedicated (and lost) to fixing unimportant weaknesses instead of strengthening the strengths.

As Jason Cohen, Founder of WPEngine, states in his long-form blog:

Leveraging strengths – not “fixing weaknesses” – is how to win. Better when differentiated. Best when durable.

Key takeaway: Defensible differentiation is only of value if you leverage it


Question for you to reflect upon:

Where’s the most significant opportunity in your SaaS business to leverage your strengths if you look at these mistakes honestly?


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About the author

Sales Pitch

Ton Dobbe is a former B2B software product marketer who's on a mission to save mission-driven SaaS CEOs from the stress of 'not enough' traction. He's the author of The Remarkable Effect, the host of the Tech-Entrepreneur on a Mission podcast, and writes a daily newsletter on the secrets to mastering predictable traction.