Refining marketing and sales messaging is a little like pushing a rock up the hill. When are you sure you are done and it’s right? To start, let’s look at what we mean by “refining”. The definition is: improve something by making small changes, in particular, make an idea, theory, or method more accurate and clearer. Somehow, that seems rather subjective, but to deliver a great message, both large and subtle changes can make a big difference.
As you are looking at your 2020 messaging, here are five ways to kick it up a notch to really engage with your buyers.
1. Revisit Your Target Audience
Make sure that the targets you were aiming at last year are still the right ones. Assuming they are can be a potential mistake. How did those targets perform in engaging with your content and outreach? Are there any new players that may have emerged? For mid-market and enterprise companies, it’s always a buying team – and roles may shift over time. With small businesses, maybe the owner is the one you want but they may not be the one who responds to your outreach.
2. Steal their Language
Once you confirm your 2020 audience targets, then it’s time to refresh the language you use to engage with them to include their vernacular. How do they discuss their challenges/issues/objectives? What actual words do they use? Check out relevant association websites as a start. What are the top issues? Read some of the posts and articles. Are there any webinars you can attend that have your target audience speaking? The way we talk about the challenges our products and services solve isn’t automatically the way they talk about them. The best way to message in a compelling way is to steal the words right from their mouths.
3. Refresh Your Market Research
When was the last time you did market research on the markets your target buyers are in? Getting an update on the shifts and changes and trends is necessary to be sure that you are messaging relevant topics that your audience may be focused on. Consider doing a simple Google search on Top 2020 Trends in XYZ industry. There’s lots of content out there that nets this information out for you. I just Googled “Top 20 Trends in Technology”. Here is what I got:
What are the common trends across a sampling of this content, and then compare it to the themes and imperatives you have been using to message your offerings. What is emerging? What continues to be at the forefront? Most importantly, is the commentary on any of the trends you want to focus on relevant to what your buyers want or need to know? I talk about how a value proposition is a way to demonstrate your knowledge about your buyer’s situation. Including current trends is an easy way to show you are plugged in. Look outside of your offer to see the world that your buyers are facing and both marketing content and sales messaging will improve dramatically.
4. Add a Picture of the Buyers’ Market
Now that you have a refreshed and clear view of the market drivers, you need to expressly add that into your messaging. Start with your value propositions (note the “s” – you should have more than one if you are addressing multiple markets and buyers). Add 1 or 2 sentences about the market environment to the front end of your value proposition. Make sure that you include this in extended messaging to set the stage for why your offering is relevant to them. Relying on what they face, rather than what you have to sell is MUCH more engaging to a buyer. I think a value proposition needs to be a mirror – and your buyers need to see themselves and their landscape in it.
5. Narrow Your Focus
Resist the urge to cover a lot of ground across your messaging. Get narrow and specific so buyers can more easily recognize that your content is about and for them. I believe that the biggest problem with messaging at the outset is that we spend a lot of words trying to get them to understand us. What they are looking for are companies that understand them. You can’t go broad and generic and expect that response. So, narrow your focus and create a set of messages for each major industry and variations for each target buyer. Relevance, resonance and engagement will widen when your focus is narrower and more specific.
In closing, I’d like to offer you some additional content that can help you with message refinement. Here are two upcoming February webinars that I think you’ll enjoy.
Lisa Dennis is president and founder of ValueProposition.expert and Knowledgence® Associates. She is an international marketing and sales consultant, trainer, writer and strategist. Her forte is in helping organizations develop and integrate customer-focused value propositions into the marketing and sales mix of B2B companies across a broad range of industries.