Competitive differentiation with a software guarantee – and Legos

Tech marketers often speak about how their company’s solution improves the pace of digital transformation. But not many of them guarantee it. Appian is an exception.

Appian is so confident in its “low-code” software development platform that it recently launched the Appian Guarantee, a commitment to deliver a customer’s first development project in eight weeks.

“Too many companies struggle to build the applications they need for business transformation,” Kevin Spurway, Senior Vice President of Marketing at the 20-year-old company, said in a recent CMO Perspectives interview. “The guarantee is directly targeted at providing a level of assurance that we’re going to deliver. That gives us a very sharp level of differentiation in the market.”

For a nascent category such as low-code development, awareness and education are critical aspects of any marketing campaign. Spurway’s team maps content across all stages of the buyer journey, focusing top-of-funnel messaging around quality content “that actually educates [and] is of strong value to people who are trying to learn more about the space or an application,” Spurway says. “We put a lot of emphasis on making sure all the content we put out there is high quality, and consistent with our messaging.”

Spurway’s team also has built a deep library of customer video testimonials. “We’re using video to support a lot of messages we’re putting into market, both from a customer success standpoint but also to support particular things we see as competitive advantage from a feature or function perspective,” he says.

Customer testimonials are one example of how Appian’s marketing strategy doesn’t end when a customer makes a purchase. A dedicated post-sale customer marketing team is responsible for ensuring a consistent customer experience for customers after they buy the platform. This “land and expand” approach covers a variety of touch points, such as helping customers to articulate the value they’re achieving from the Appian platform within their own organization.

Appian also has some fun in helping customers celebrate their success. Low-code development is often explained as a Lego-like approach to building software. Appian has embraced that theme with a “Customer Go-Lives” program in which customers receive a custom Lego sculpture to commemorate a successful project. “It’s an opportunity for the customer to celebrate their success,” says Spurway, “and an opportunity for us to build on the relationship.”

To Spurway, quality in marketing means keeping it simple, which is more difficult than it sounds. “The hardest thing to do is to be simple,” he says. “There’s so much noise out there, so you have to distill everything to a clear, simple message and express it in a way that resonates with a target audience at both an intellectual and emotional level.”

Software guarantees and Lego sculptures seem to check both of those boxes.