Two cynical definitions of language neatly describe many marketing communications:
The music with which we charm the serpents guarding another’s treasure …
The source of misunderstandings.
Marketing’s job is to charm people out of their money, preferably by articulating the true value of necessary products. Yet many marketing managers slip straight to snake oil salesmanship and leverage a ton of text and bunkers filled with buzzwords to attempt recruiting prospects. Misuse of language is a chief cause of unhappy customers and board members.
The first task in marketing communications is to promote value. Here at Silicon Strategies Marketing, we defined (copyright alert) value as “the intersection of need and differentiation.” Value intersections tend to be precise, and the language used to describe a particular value must be as well. Generalized and buzzword-heavy statements like “the most cost-effective, easy-to-use, and universally accessible” detract from precise value articulation. The results are customers who see no specific value and thus have no specific motivation to further investigate a product.
The lure of easy buzzwords is obvious. Clear market messaging is both science and art, and few folks (outside of Silicon Strategies Marketing that is) have both skills. Marketers lean on what seem like obvious value points, which is the problem. If the “value” point is obvious, then it is likely (a) universal or (b) universally claimed. Either way it violates half of the value equation, namely that your product is somehow different. Weak messaging also has the negative habit of putting readers to sleep, which makes communications even more difficult.
When crafting your value propositions, and from those your value headlines, take four steps, none of which are fast or pain free:
Customer language: Customers have their own language for their needs. Use their language, not yours, to describe the value you provide. This creates instant cognition.
Explore your thesaurus: These books exist for a reason. The word you dream-up to describe value may be good, but not precise. Find the best words.
Compare competitors: Make sure you are not saying what your competitors are. Doing so eliminates perceived differentiation.
On that note, I have to end this blog and create alignment to establish clear goals that expand diversity and empowerment in order to leverage organic growth in our new paradigm and thus create a win-win scenario.