As the B2B landscape shifts and buyers do an increasing amount of research on their own, it’s more important than ever for tech execs to prioritize strong B2B messaging. Company messaging gets right to the heart of what customers need and how your company’s product/service/solution does a particularly good job of meeting those needs. Solid messaging shows that you know your stuff, and that you know exactly how your product/service will positively impact your customer.
It’s entirely possible, however, to know your stuff too well. In a time where customers are doing a lot more research on your company before they actually speak to you, being too technical, verbose or expansive in your messaging poses a real problem. When a sales person connects with a potential customer, they can adjust their talking points based on their particular needs and pain points and how they are responding to the conversation. However, with messaging on your website, marketing collateral and content, you are not offered the same opportunity to make adjustments in real-time based on customer reactions and needs.
What is the “jelly jar”?
If a product or service is like a jar with strawberry jelly, the executives who own them know every single ingredient in that jelly. Customers, however, might not even know what flavor jelly they like, or they may not know why they would like a different brand than the one they’ve always used. Customers know it’s jelly, but they don’t know exactly what they need or want.
This is why the jelly jar is so important—the information on the jar must tell such a compelling story that customers are drawn to pick out your company’s “jelly” (aka product or service) out of all the rest.
Execs and their team can get so immersed in their deep knowledge and understanding of the company/product/service that it can clutter the jelly jar label with excessive detail or information that isn’t directly meaningful to the client.
Execs must step outside the jelly jar and read the label the way a customer would. If there’s no meaningful way to communicate what your jelly is made of on the label, your company’s delicious, ethically-sourced, highly-refined, technically perfect jelly will stay on the shelf.
Escape the company echo chamber with interviews
If you want to ensure your messaging reflects the pain points and perspectives of your target audience, it’s imperative to listen to the people that work most directly with them. Assemble a stakeholder team that includes execs, marketers, product managers and anyone who may have direct interaction with the building, selling, implementing and/or servicing of the product and/or service. Additionally, if your company already has existing customers, pull in members of the customer experience team like account managers, customer service reps, etc.
Take time to interview or survey your current customers. Ask about the criteria that drew them to your company, what they perceive to be key strengths and weaknesses, what channels they use to engage with your company, etc. Don’t just reach out to happy customers—follow up with lost deals, too. While you don’t want to base messaging purely on what you hear from customers, especially if you are making a shift in company goals or strategy, it’s an essential part of building well-rounded messaging.
Prospects or other members of your target audience should also be part of your interview process. Identify and reach out to potential customers who align with your buyer personas and interview them with questions that reflect those you asked your current customers and lost deals. Where are the discrepancies, if any? How have pain points, values or perspectives shifted for new targets?
- Assemble stakeholder team
- Reach out to current customers with a survey to gather perspective
- Identify and reach out to potential customers who profile as target audience
Translate executive knowledge into benefits
While messaging shouldn’t solely reflect the ideas and perspectives of the executive team, they play an important role in forming your company’s messaging. Interview key execs, preferably one-on-one, to build a cohesive understanding of the process and vision that went into creating the company, product or service that is being brought to market.
Once you have insights into the why behind your product or service, you can create messaging that directly communicates those benefits. Tell prospects why they need your product or service, what benefits does it deliver to them and how will their business or life be improved.
Create a shared understanding of essential brand elements with a brand voice or corporate style guide. Creating cohesion between style, messaging and tone throughout all documents in your organization, and especially anything that is used for sales and marketing efforts, will improve brand recognition and credibility. Having a guide in place for all of your organization to reference will direct your initiatives and connect each component of your brand.
- Interview key execs to form understanding of motivation, process and vision
- Leverage detailed knowledge of features for benefits-driven statements
- Create a shared understanding of essential brand elements
Differentiate to stand out
Just like you want to identify the why behind your offerings, it is important to understand and communicate what makes your solution stand above other options.
Customer experience is a major differentiating factor that has launched organizations to the top. B2B executives can sometimes forget that there are many similarities between B2B and B2C customer experience, and at the end of the day your organization is still selling to people. Companies need to make the most out of every touch-point with a consumer and effectively communicate why they need your unique solution.
To stand above the rest, you need to know where the rest stand though. Completing thorough research of your competitors’ messaging and offerings will give you crucial benchmark information. First, identify who your competitors are. Then find out how their customer experience runs, what do they offer with their solution, what does their solution do that yours does not, what are their potential buying pain points that could keep customers from moving forward.
- Focus on you customer experience and the various touchpoints
- Research competitor messaging and offerings
- Analyze industry positioning
Develop and test messaging
“One size fits all” doesn’t work when you’re buying a suit and it certainly doesn’t work for an organization’s B2B messaging either. The needs of your target audiences may vary and capturing each audience requires variations of your messaging to address different pain points.
Simplicity is key when developing effective messaging, because it’s hard for people to remember complex ideas on the fly. Messaging should be consistent across collateral, your website, social media and other channels, but not repetitive. Getting to the heart of why your product or services are valuable rather than getting hung up in details, technical features and explanations is the core purpose of your messaging.
Overall, your messaging will follow a very similar outline, path or guideline. However, to address particular needs of different target audiences, your messaging should adapt accordingly.
Incorporate key terms and phrases that resonate with your industry and test, test, test. Industry tradeshows can be a great place to get real-time feedback from your target audience through leveraging surveys, lead generation and demos that engage with the people you are trying to reach.
- Develop key messages for different target audiences to hone in on specific needs
- Keep it simple and consistent to maximize “stickiness”
- Test messaging with A/B testing, industry events, etc.
Developing strong B2B messaging could be the difference between whether or not your target audience will choose your product/service or turn to competitors. Make sure your messaging is aligned across marketing channels and addresses your customers’ pain points. And lastly, don’t make your messaging overly complex and keep it simple and memorable for your audience.