Connect the Dots in your messaging
A common challenge we see with growing companies is dogmatic need to stick to their core initial messaging. It’s understandable how this happens. After bringing a new product or service to the market and thirsty for revenue they offer to sell their offering to anyone who will pay. This results in selling the solution to different customers with different problems the customers are looking to solve (aka, “segments”). Each of those customers sees something in the solution that will or could meet their needs. And so, they implement the solution.
The vendor, trying to build its business, then tries to replicate the success by selling its solution to more customers “like that one.” However, it does so while continuing to operate under the assumption that each customer in that ‘segment’ chose and implemented their solution because of the value proposition they initially “pitched” to them. They never go back to the initial customer in the segment and explore “why did you choose our solution?” or “what is it doing for you?” This can stall the growth of the company, and confound marketing.
Your customer only buys and implements a solution because it addresses or solves a key problem they need addressed. They choose your solution because it purports to do so better than alternative ways of addressing the problem. That may include home-grown solutions, or other completely strategic approaches to addressing the problem, not just those you see as competitors. This means your messaging needs to directly link to the specific problem each customer is attempting to address, or it will miss the mark.
Despite what we think our solution is good for, we should more actively be asking our customers what they think the solution is good for. And then we need to adjust our messaging accordingly. And this means we likely need multiple messaging scenarios to address the myriad problems our potential customers face.
Unfortunately, to simplify messaging many companies regress to common themes in their messaging to address as many segments as possible with a single message, simultaneously. For example, the message may be “We improve patient engagement” or “We improve outcomes.” The challenge with this is that everyone’s solution does and says the same thing. This makes it difficult (or impossible) to differentiate your solution.
A second common pattern is reverting to messaging about our features, as we believe its those things that make us different and unique. Bear in mind, no customer wants your solution; they want what your solution does in terms of affecting their problem. They don’t necessarily care if its “blue” or “red” (both features). They care that it improves upon their problem. Put another way, customers want the value the solution delivers, not the solution.
When our messaging ‘regresses to the mean’ or begins to be about our features, it confuses potential customers and makes it more difficult to ascertain why they should want it. This is commonly where the “sales team” (should) takes over and will refine the messaging to a specific prospect in a very specific way. This is crucial, and the better the sales team does this, the more successful they will be. But they need support from Marketing to create the assets to support those specific messages. Then they need to effectively connect the right messages to the right customers with the right problems; connect the dots.
Unfortunately, we see far too often that companies stick to their original founder’s messaging as a rote approach to ‘pitching’ their solution, and then wonder why the message doesn’t resonate with prospects. When we see a company with a single “sales deck” presentation for all clients, it’s a potential signal that this may be the case. Even when that presentation includes a slide (or several) that show how the solution can address several problems, it’s not effective. I as a prospective customer have a specific problem. I’m not looking at your solution to see what problems it might solve; I’m looking to find a solution to my problem.
It’s far more powerful for marketing and sales to understand the needs and pain points of their prospective customers and craft messages that resonate with their target audience specifically. This will not only lead to more sales, but help differentiate themselves from their competitors, and build stronger relationships with their customers. By investing time and effort into developing tailored messaging, and then connecting those “message dots” together, businesses can improve their marketing and sales results and achieve long-term success.