What’s up with Drip’s new rebrand?

Drip’s rebrand is pretty, but its new product messaging is a dud.

Drip, the email automation tool I’ve used for years, just emerged with a bouncy new brand. It’s bold. It’s colorful. It integrates beautifully with its parent product, LeadPages.

It also came with a manifesto that should have excited its customer base. But it didn’t. In fact, even as a longtime user, I found it really confusing. I wasn’t the only one scratching my head either:

Drip is an exceptionally useful (and affordable!) tool that absolutely pays for itself. (It’s worth reading about how Drip-powered email onboarding helped fuel ProdPad’s customer acquisition.)

But product messaging is HARD.

Facing increased competition from overlapping products like Intercom, Drift, Salesmachine and Infusionsoft, Drip did the right thing by trying to sell a big new idea. An exciting new approach.

And since I’m a copywriter 🤓, I’ve marked up the whole thing to show you why a great strategic idea fell flat in execution.

First: Drip’s manifesto, annotated

Why did the Drip manifesto fall flat?

It doesn’t start with an airtight assumption

“We hold these truths to be self-evident…”

If you want to start a revolution, your manifesto must start with an airtight assumption. Start at a place that your audience 100% believes, a worldview that is obvious to everyone reading it.

Drip’s manifesto started off strong: “Marketing automation isn’t personal. We knew that when we started Drip in 2013.”

Yes! A hundred times, YES! This is a pain every marketer understands. Trying to make a mass email look casually personal (“Hey {{first_name}}, this exclusive sale is just for you!”) is what keeps marketers up at night.

But as you can see in my color-coded annotation above (green for good, orange for confused and red for panic), they start to lose me.

Artificial intelligence? Amazon? Big Box? Big Bad? Are we still talking about shitty emails or the modern dystopia created by surveillance capitalism? It isn’t clear.

My Amazon emails don’t bother me that much, actually. They’re pretty spot on.

It builds a case against itself

“Big tracks you. Big targets you. Big mass markets at you. Big lumps you in with a bunch of people it thinks are exactly like you.”

That’s an evil way put it, but this is what I use Drip for. Drip is actually very good at this. Doing the things listed above helped us grow a business.

Let’s take note of what Drip was trying to do here. It was trying to name the enemy, a pitching tactic in which you name the thing that’s getting in the way of your customer’s happiness, to set the stage for a more powerful introduction of your product or solution.

Except in this letter, it never becomes quite clear who the enemy is. Is it the automation? The Amazon-ification of business? The tracking and targeting?

Staying vague about what the problem is doesn’t help Drip. Instead, it reads as a criticism of email automation itself — an odd way to introduce your email automation product to an audience of potential buyers.

It doesn’t understand who it’s talking to

“At Drip, our focus is on driving consumer sales, not B2B sales teams. We’ll give you the tools Amazon has, but in a way that lets you listen, not track. Understand, not target. Market to, not market at. Energize, not manipulate.”

I’m more than halfway through this manifesto when Drip finally makes its big reveal: those Big Bad Amazon tools? Everything we demonized up to this point? That is what we’re selling.

This is followed by some incomprehensible qualifiers (“energize, not manipulate”) to soften the blow. It’s too late, the damage is done.

I also feel a slight sense of betrayal that Drip, which I’ve been using to grow B2B sales, has cast me away. Was Drip never even built for me? Did it ever even care?

It waits too long to get to the point

“The goal is to connect your order management system with your marketing system at the customer level in order to build better, more profitable and real relationships with your customers.”

In journalism, there’s a saying: “Don’t bury the lede.” Don’t leave the most central part of the story for the end. Drip didn’t get that memo. Drip waits until the end of the letter to tell us about its functionality.

The thing is, it’s really impressive functionality! As a marketer, my ears are all perked up now. I would love to know more. How can connecting my order management system with my marketing system save me time? How can it make me more money? How can it make me more effective at my job?

But instead, the manifesto comes to an abrupt end.

What could they have done differently?

Not try to change the world

Self-aggrandization is a common affliction among startups.

I know how tempting it is to weave one of those “We’re changing the world!” narratives. Come back down to Earth, my friend.

You’re just solving a problem that people have. You’re going to have a lot more luck stating the problem and why your approach or solution is the most effective way to solve it. Stick to the facts to get your target customers onboard.

Stick to core values and benefits (e.g. 💰)

As a person, I’m always up to crack open a bottle of wine and discuss the evils of big business. As a marketer, all I care about is money. Drip didn’t once mention that tailored and relevant emails enjoy higher clickthrough rates and result in higher revenues.

Money. Drip will make you more money. That should have been the message they drove home.

Kill the fluff

Hire a copywriter! A good copywriter (or copyeditor) will make sure the argument for your product is clearly defined, that objections are squared away and that prospects are ready to take action by the time they reach the end of the page.

Final Thoughts

The thing is, Drip is a mega useful tool and you should actually give it a try. However, this manifesto stuck out to me because I felt that it didn’t do the product justice.

Having worked on projects like this before, I know product messaging is not easy. It’s hard to weed out the really important stuff from what we would like to say. This didn’t manifesto didn’t really work for me — and imho, it’s worth examining so we can learn from it.