Sunday, March 15, 2009

Make the Most of Your Messaging

Think about the last time you felt a strong pull toward a line on a web banner, on company signage, or in an email, a tweet, or a mailer that read, Industry-Leading, Best-of-Breed, Technologically Superior Widget… Riiiight. Doesn’t do it for me either.

Today, business-to-business marketers are living the dream. We have so many vehicles through which to interact with our customers, vehicles that enable information-sharing and collaboration with broad customer- and prospect communities.

At the same time, customers have all of the same vehicles at their fingertips, through which to learn and discuss with others. This leaves companies more exposed than ever, putting customers at a significant advantage.

This also puts companies who message authentically at an advantage. Making this a reality requires your messaging to be:

•Customer-focused. Isn’t messaging quality subjective? Sure. That’s precisely why it is so important to understand your audience and to prioritize not a cookie-cutter statement about your general greatness, but rather how you stand out relative to their interests, concerns, and challenges. Even if they aren’t ready to purchase today, your brand will be recalled when they issue that RFI/RFP or PO.

•Credible. With more ways than ever to share experiences, thoughts, and impressions about your company and products, credibility is key. Customers are savvy and will let one another know quickly if you are not what you claim to be. Don’t do this.

•Dynamic. Times change and so do markets. Keep your content fresh. Remind people about what’s new and how you’re addressing their problems in a way that is relevant today. Listen to your customers and to your non-customers so that you may uncover new problems that you can address, and ensure that your messaging resonates accordingly. They may not always be able to articulate the need. Ask probing questions to help fill in the blanks. Keep an open mind. You may hear something very different than you anticipate, which can lead to competitive advantage.

•Succinct. Customers and prospects are busier than ever and face the challenge of cutting through the noise to get to information that is relevant to them. Target your messages to the right people and get to the point.

Think about some of the messages you’ve seen and offers for which you’ve provided feedback. What sticks out the most for you?


Carole Gunst said...

Sarah - nice post. Every organization has to decide how they want to communicate online - website, blog, Twitter, etc. based on what they are trying to communicate and to who. The most important thing though is to have the right message packaged up for the right medium.

Sarah Hamilton said...

Well said, Carole. You've captured all of the main ingredients that need to be mixed correctly to achieve good messaging - content, media, and target audience.

Kate Arcieri said...

Sarah, your most important point is this: that messages must be authentic. You've given some great marching orders! Keep the interesting posts coming.