I plead guilty to enjoying a cold beer or two, and I’ve watched with amazement as the decade-long bull market in the craft beer industry shows no signs of abating.
Research from IDG, AMA and others say about half of customer communications, content and sales conversations are not relevant to customers' needs; over half of the content that marketing produces is not relevant to the field/channel sales teams. It’s exceedingly difficult to be successful, i.e., to launch, sell and manage products with great market share and profits with such a large ball and chain strapped around the marketing and sales teams’ proverbial ankle.
The problem starts with a typical product launch plan. It contains a list of content deliverables such as a presentation deck, product brochure, whitepaper, application notes, etc. While these are needed, what’s often absent are the categories, styles and types of messaging required for market success. The result, as the research indicates, is that most of the customer communications (content and conversations) are company/product-centric and descriptive. What’s missing is content that is customer-centric and persuasive.
The solution is to create the right messaging first, and then deploy it into your go-to-market content, such as collateral, campaigns, sales tools and sales/channel support training, and employ it in the conversations that sales has with customers.
This five-step process will help you implement more influential customer communications:
Establish messaging as a separate deliverable.
Messaging is a summary answer to the prospective customer’s primary and secondary buying questions, a.k.a. the key points that must be communicated in order to convince a person to engage/buy. Messaging is integrated into content via the copyrighting/creative process and integrated into sales conversations via the communicator. Content is the actual words you use, both written and oral, along with support visuals, to persuade a person to do business with your firm. Content can be delivered in the form of documents, audio, and video.
Determine the right categories, styles and types of customer messaging needed for market success.
The two messaging styles are descriptive and persuasive. The categories of messaging can include: company, solution, platform, product and market segment/role messaging.
As an example, descriptive product messaging is the typical “what and how” content in a product brochure. It answers the customer’s secondary buying questions, such as:
What does the product do?
How does it work?
What features are included/optional?
What are the key benefits?
Persuasive product messaging is the “why” content. It provides clear, relevant, differentiated, provable, business language answers to the customer’s primary buying questions, a.k.a. persuasive messaging types, such as:
“Why should I consider your product?” for demand creation
“Why should I meet with you?” for meeting creation
“Why should I change from the status quo to a new solution?” for opportunity creation
“Why should I buy this new solution from your company instead of your competitors?” for order creation
“Why should I buy now?” for urgency creation
These “why questions” are at the heart of every prospective customer conversation, be it online or off-line, that both Marketing and Sales must persuasively answer in order to convince a person to engage and buy.
Create persuasive messaging.
The top three customer business objectives are
Deploy messaging into content.
Once you have created your persuasive messaging, you’re ready to deploy it into your go-to-market content, such as collateral, campaigns, sales tools and sales/channel support training. For example:
Use each reason statement (customer business objective story line) separately in an advertising/demand-generation campaign. Then drive readers to a landing page with more information and proof that the messaging is true.
In collateral, create a section called “Three Great Reasons to Replace Your Current Solution or Select Us Over the Competition.”
Employ messaging in sales conversations.
To ensure consistent customer communication, show the field/channel sales teams how the new messaging and go-to-market content is different from what they normally get, and train them on how to effectively employ it in their sales conversations/process, e.g., create/win more deals by more effectively getting a meeting, qualifying a prospect, selling a solution, setting landmines for the competition, etc.
Yes, creating the right messaging first is more work and you already have too much on your plate. The question you have to ask yourself is: “Would I be more successful if I created less, more relevant and influential go-to-market content, using the ideas above?”
The collective answer from your peers is an unequivocal YES. What they found is that getting the messaging right is truly a silver bullet: It’s the only deliverable that instantly improves the effectiveness of all your customer communications – it enables you to engage customers with more influential content and sales conversations, more consistently, across more touch points.
Michael Cannon is an internationally renowned marketing and sales effectiveness expert, best-selling author, speaker and an authority on enabling B2B companies to engage customers with the most influential communications. For more information visit www.silverbulletgroup.com.