Why building better marketing messaging is crucial

As I was sitting on the beach in Gulf Shores, Alabama over the weekend looking at several companies websites, I realized there are a few fundamental problems in today’s marketing organizations that are common across almost all companies.

Inconsistency - In a medium to large organizations, marketing content is created by marketing, sales engineering, product management and in some cases sales managers. Because there are no standard messaging frameworks and no centralized control of messaging, it leads to messaging is all over the place. If you conduct a simple inventory of your content, take a look at your white papers, presentations, email campaigns, and website. Is your value proposition the same across all of your pieces of content? Likely, they are not, why? Because different people on your team are creating them, including contractors and you most likely have no central messaging control.

Bloated Content - This is a common mistake with startup companies that are started by technical experts but can also be the case with existing firms. When you develop website copy, you need to use the best keywords, not every keyword that someone might search. I recently saw a website where each benefit of the product had over two-hundred word descriptions. This is what I call bloat. Your buyers won’t read two-hundred-word descriptions and most likely will leave your page before they even consider reading because you have way too many words on the page.

No Framework - I have worked with multiple companies with marketing teams of varying levels of experience. I can’t remember one marketing team that had a framework or process to develop marketing messaging. In most cases, the individual marketing professionals on the team brought tools and templates from training they received at one point in their career, or they created the templates on the spot. Why are marketing organizations not using a framework to develop messaging? Or are there none?

How can you solve these problems? It’s Simple….Simplify your messaging

Maybe simplifying your messaging is as simple as it sounds. I have found that most organizations know their messaging isn’t working or needs to be improved, but don’t know where to begin.

(Example) Remove the Bloat - In the below image 1.0, this snapshot came straight from ScheduleOnce’s solution page for Technology and Software companies. On this particular page, ScheduleOnce is attempting to demonstrate to their target audience (Technology and Software Companies) that by using ScheduleOnce you can boost lead conversion. The first issue I see on this page is that this particular benefit, “Boost Lead Conversion,” has 231 words in the description.

This is an excellent example of what I mean by “Bloat.” It is unnecessary to use 231 words in your description to try and get your point across. Don't require your audience to read hundreds of words to understand your value. In this example, ScheduleOnce has decent messaging, but just too much. Secondly, their call to action (For boosting their leads) gets lost at the bottom of this four-paragraph description.

 Image 1.0: ScheduleOnce Calendar Software

Image 1.0: ScheduleOnce Calendar Software

 

ScheduleOnce has good content, just too much. I took a quick stab at reducing the bloat, simplifying their messaging and adding their own CTA’s at the bottom of this section. Another change they could make it adding a free piece of content for people to sign-up for, such as a free guide on “How to eliminate no-shows and improve contact rates by 80%”. If they could producing a 5-10 page guide on how to use ScheduleOnce integrated into webforms, including a simple process of how to integrate into the most common webforms, they could generate more leads themselves.

Formula for converting leads on your website:

  1. Targeted to your dream client

  2. Simple and clear content (not paragraphs)

  3. Bait (reason for them to convert), such as a “How to Guide”

  4. Clear Call-to-Actions (Try Demo, Sign-Up, Contact Us, Download, etc.)

 Image 1.1: Simplified messaging and Call-to-Actions (CTA)

Image 1.1: Simplified messaging and Call-to-Actions (CTA)

 

How to improve inconsistencies in your messaging?

I find it a bit humorous that many moons ago when someone said “I work in marketing,” they immediately knew you were a salesperson, yet today marketing is not sales and sales is not marketing.

Sales and marketing teams have an interesting relationship. In today’s business environment, where every customer touch should be personalized, sales and marketing cannot exist without each other. The challenge that most organizations face is that everyone wants to create marketing messaging and content. In small organizations, founders and CEO’s although brilliant minds in their own space of building products and services, for the most part, have no clue how to create marketing messages.

The second problem we run into is when sales don’t feel like they have the content and collateral they think they need, they will create it themselves. This is where the inconsistency of sales and marketing messaging starts. In small organizations, there is no real structure to what should be developed (from a marketing perspective) when a product is launched. In most cases, sales are the last to know when a new release or product is released. Salespeople are paid to sell your product and services, and if they are not properly enabled, they will enable themselves.

There are several ways you can make sure your message is consistent:

  1. Utilize a messaging framework such as our Messaging Canvas to build your corporate, product and sales messages properly.

  2. You must implement centralize control of your messaging and track where the messages are used across your sales and marketing content.

  3. Involve your sales team in your message creation process using your framework. When you implement a framework to build messaging, it demonstrates to the entire organization that you have a process and methodology to construct clear and compelling messaging.

  4. Implement a content management system (CMS) to manage, distribute and control how your content is used throughout your brand.

Every time you launch a new release, product or service into the market, you should have a standard package of collateral and tools that you enable your sales organization. Your product marketing team should gather requirements from your sales team as to what is needed to close a deal. This requires your PMM’s to understand the entire buying cycle from lead to revenue and align every piece of content and collateral to the buying cycle. If there is a gap in having the proper tool or piece of collateral to keep the prospect moving along the buying cycle. The product marketing team should identify those gaps, better understand what is required and work with both sales and marketing to build the proper tool.

Why your marketing messaging sucks?

Your marketing messaging sucks because you act like its something that is a nice to have, that you create when you develop your companies website. You are not treating your marketing messaging, content collateral and sales enablement as a strategic initiative for your business. Marketing messaging should be core to business as much as the product or service itself. Without clear and compelling messaging you will either attract the wrong audience or no audience at all. Its time you implemented a framework, and evaluate your current marketing messages for consistency and clarity.

If you would like to learn more about our Messaging Canvas, Messaging Workshops or Product Marketing Services, contact us here.

Mistakes you are making in your marketing messaging

If you are a marketing professional with a technology firm and wonder why your product messaging is not connecting with your target audience, then I have a simple answer for you. You are focused on features and functions or you are focused on the external problem of the buyer persona.

Most marketing organizations selling products and services focus on features and functions, which no one is ever going to buy your features and functions.  The other mistake most organizations make with their product message is that they talk in very general, confusing terms. 

In my fifteen plus years working in product marketing, I made the same mistake as most technology-focused organizations are still making today. In a highly competitive landscape, organization's see their competitors talking about their product or service, and then they respond by saying we have that too. The problem with "comparative feature" messaging is that it doesn't differentiate your brand or product from your competitors. 

In this article, I will demonstrate how Samsung is using their message very differently than Whirlpool selling a similar, competitive product. I will describe how one company is using their message to tell a story, while the other is missing the mark. 

Kitchen Appliances that Inspire Beautiful Messages

Messaging should tell a story, one that includes a character (your buyer), not a story of how amazing you (the brand) are. One company that is telling a better narrative using storytelling is Samsung. Historically Samsung's marketing focused on features and functions, but recently they shifted their message to focus on the internal problem of the buyer. Samsung's website content for their kitchen appliances is perfect. The statement "A beautiful balance of performance and design, Chef Collection perfect blends advance, chef-inspired technology with contemporary, elegance, so you can enjoy living in your kitchen as much as you enjoy cooking." They could simplify their message a little bit, but the last statement about living in your kitchen goes right at the buyer's internal problem. When consumers buy appliances today, they buy them for their visual appeal and for beauty.  The Kitchen has almost become a status symbol and focal point of the modern kitchen. Appliances for the last fifty years were a tool to do a specific job, however today they are part of your living space. 

Screen Shot 2018-07-29 at 12.44.50 PM.png
 

When you compare Samsung messaging to Whirlpool, it is easy to see the difference between the two companies. Just like Samsung, Whirlpool has a section on their homepage for their kitchen appliances, yet their message is very different. Samsung focuses on the entire kitchen, showing what their entire suite of products would look like in a beautiful kitchen. Whirlpool offers only pictures of individual products, and the messaging around each product focuses on features, such as their Frozen Bake™ technology. Whirlpool uses visual images to connect with their buyer, such as the children eating pizza and the soccer balls in the kitchen, which are great, but the messages miss the mark just a bit. They are trying to create the connection between the soccer balls to the "When game time cuts into mealtime" statement and the Frozen Bake™ technology.  Whirlpool could restructure their messaging to "No more half-frozen pizza for the kids on game night. Whirlpool Ovens are designed so you can skip preheating, get the kids fed and off to the game on time."

  • Breaking down the message: The Whirlpool characters are soccer moms that have the task of getting kids to soccer games and making sure they have time to feed the kids before they have to run out the door. The internal problem is that mom's hate serving half-frozen food to their kids when they are rushing against the clock. The external problem is that ovens take too long to heat up. Unless the reader puts all the pieces together, which takes brain power, Whirlpool could adjust their messages so that they relate and connect to their buyer persona. 
  • Keep the feature out of the message: Like most technology brands, Whirlpool includes their Frozen Bake™ technology feature into their messaging. This isn't necessary as the soccer mom doesn't care about your cool new feature. What they care about is that the Whirlpool oven can cook her kids pizza, fast and without it being half-frozen when she puts it on the table for her kids. 
Screen Shot 2018-07-29 at 1.05.37 PM.png
 

Going back to the Samsung website, when you click on learn more, they continue their messaging using the same process. They stay away from talking about features and focus on how the appliances make the buyer feel or how it makes their home feel. They have a family spending time together in the kitchen, Dad and daughter are working together to make pasta, while mom watches with enjoyment while the youngest makes a mess. The messaging to the tight of the image says "Thoughtful design can absolutely affect the mood because it impacts the energy of the space." Samsung is describing how their products make you feel, and how having beautifully designed products impacts the energy, which in this space is positive energy. 

 

Screen Shot 2018-07-29 at 1.25.56 PM.png
 

.Whirlpool on the other side, once you click on "Shop Cooking", it takes you to a product page with more of the same. They jump into "The Whirlpool® line of ranges has the combination of capacity and flexibility that you need on the cooktop, to handle whatever the day brings. Innovative features give you accurate cooking control, whether you're baking, broiling or simmering. And you can choose from many layouts, including single or double oven, freestanding or slide-in, in both gas and electric—so you can meet your family’s needs, whatever they may be."

They focus on capacity and flexibility, which buyers don't care about. I am personally building a house right now, and when I was deciding on appliances, I could care less about capacity and flexibility, or cooking control, or baking, broiling or simmering. Come on Whirlpool, you can do better than this. All ovens bake, broil and simmer. As a consumer, I care about how the appliance will look next to my granite countertops and cabinets, how sleek and modern will the appliances look like in my open concept kitchen that can be seen from the living room and dining room.

Screen Shot 2018-07-29 at 1.34.48 PM.png
 

Call to Actions

Whirlpool provides ample call-to-actions (CTA) throughout their website and on every page to direct you to make a purchase of their product. Samsung, although their messaging is great at all levels, they provide a single "shop" button at the top right-hand side of every page. As you drill deeper into each product page, they start to talk about features, but they stay relatively high-level and tell the same story. But when you go to buy, it took me a minute to realize the only call-to-action is the "shop" button at the top. I am not sure if this is hurting Samsung or not, but having CTA's in other areas of the page would have prevented me from looking for a place to buy.  

Screen Shot 2018-07-29 at 1.49.12 PM.png

 

Conclusion:

I provided the two examples above in an effort for you to see the differences between one company telling a story about their product (Samsung) and another company telling a product-centric story focused on features and functions of their product (Whirlpool). When messaging your product and services, you want to try your best to tell a story that will engage with your audience. Your audience doesn't really care about features and functions, they want to know that your product or service will make their lives easier or better. Whirlpool could change their message to make soccer moms connect quickly with the idea that if they bought a whirlpool oven, they no longer have to serve half-frozen pizza to their kids on those rushed game and practice days. 

Samsung's page is super simple, whereas Whirlpool's page is quite complex and feels like they want to pack as many features into one page. When I selected explore ranges, it took me to another page that just had too much on the page, tons of information about features and capabilities. What you can learn from this comparison, keep your messaging simple and focus on the internal need of the buyer. Samsung focused on how their appliances would look as part of their home, while Whirlpool focused selling features. Neither are perfect in their execution, but Samsung stands out in the comparison as having told a better story about their product.