Are you struggling to convert leads from social ads? Or spending too much time explaining to buyers what you offer (or how you’re different)? You may have a product messaging problem.
Product messaging can make or break your marketing efforts. You can reach all the right people, at the right time, but if your messaging doesn’t resonate with them, your efforts will have a negative impact on your conversion rates and – ultimately – a lower ROI.
Messaging is something I’m so passionate about. I often see organisations focusing so much on channels (which are very important, don’t get me wrong) that messaging is an after-thought. Or organisations don’t quite know how to develop messaging.
I’ll be speaking about this at Ignite USA – America’s leading conference on brand and B2B. But for now, here are three tips to get you started on improving your product messaging.
1. Position before developing messaging
Product positioning is when a company defines their target market and buyer personas – and this information is mission critical to successful messaging. So, before you start to develop messaging, make sure you have positioned your product.
Understanding who you’re selling to and,sometimes more importantly, who you’re not selling to, will help align all parts of your organisation from marketing to product to sales.
This often takes the form of an internal document or guide.
One of the most common frameworks for positioning is:
For (target customer) who (has a specific problem or a need), our product is a (product category) that (provides this key benefit/solves this problem/fulfils this need). Unlike (primary competitive alternative), our product (provides this unique value).
I could spend a whole blog post on positioning best practices, but the biggest tip for effective positioning is to leverage both sales and customer data (i.e. what types of customers buy faster or buy more and what customers have the highest CSAT score or renewal rates) plus anecdotal feedback from sales and customers to give your data more colour.
2. Define the problem(s) your product or feature solves
Your positioning outlines the problem your organisation solves from a high level, but for more complex products with multiple use cases or functionality – many problems could be solved.
Having a deep understanding of your buyers is critical to understanding the problem, and the more you understand the exact problem that a feature or product solves (and why solving that problem matters), the better your messaging will be.
Hot tip: market research and conversations with customers are incredibly helpful in understanding customer problems and needs, but a lesser-known avenue to better understand your buyers is by finding memes, jokes, or social media posts about the problem you solve – these help you understand the buyer’s feeling towards the problem and why solving it matters.
For example – if your company offers HR software, your positioning statement may state that the problem you solve is reducing HR paperwork and streamlining processes. But when you’re articulating the problem for a specific feature, like automated time-off requests, you also need to be more specific about the problem.
In this example, automated time-off requests reduce the amount of time managers need to spend reviewing the request, looking at their employee’s schedule, understanding if they’re eligible to take the time off, understanding if their staffing levels can accommodate the request, then replying to employee with their decision. This process is time-consuming, especially at scale. And solving this problem matters, because with this time back their day – managers can spend more time on more value-added tasks, like coaching their team, working on strategic projects, etc.
3. Understand competitor messaging
In crowded markets, many products sound very similar and this can be overwhelming for your buyers to understand what product may be best for them. So, before you start developing your messaging, it’s important to review your competitors’ messaging – with the goal of tailoring your messaging to your market while distinguishing it from your competitors.
But where to start? Start reviewing their public content, web copy, advertisements, data sheets, social media posts, etc. Do some digging, but not too much – your goal is to get a feel for what a potential buyer may think when they start consuming their content (and most buyers don’t spend that much time reading content).
Then start to map out your competitors’ messaging – understand what value, benefits, and problems they’re highlighting consistently.
For example, I often visually represent competitor messaging on a quick chart like the one below – each axis represents what value the competitor is highlighting in their content. And it’s easy to see that if this product would like to have their messaging stand out, they could lean their messaging more towards building confidence and optimising value.