Entrepreneur's everywhere are turning their ideas into tangible products and services. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, about 50% of small businesses fail in the first four years. The top reason why startups fail is that there is no market need for their product or service. Out of the top ten reasons startups are failing, according to this article, eight of those reasons fall under marketing. Let’s look at these reasons again, and I will expand a little further to my statement.
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.
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:
Targeted to your dream client
Simple and clear content (not paragraphs)
Bait (reason for them to convert), such as a “How to Guide”
Clear Call-to-Actions (Try Demo, Sign-Up, Contact Us, Download, etc.)
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:
Utilize a messaging framework such as our Messaging Canvas to build your corporate, product and sales messages properly.
You must implement centralize control of your messaging and track where the messages are used across your sales and marketing content.
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.
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.