Messaging Messes

“Blah blah bla blah blah blah!”

That pretty much reflects most B2B marketing messages. Precision is lacking, from headlines all the way down to often absent calls-to-action. The penalties for imprecise market messaging include high landing page bounce rates, no actions taken by prospects and leaking sales funnels. The pay-offs from precise market messaging include short sales cycles, brand biasing and rapid word-of-mouth market awareness.

So why does your web site say blah? Why is your collateral blah?

The goal of messaging is to move a prospect down the path of discovery, terminating in a sale. At each step in this path of discovery, they need to learn about your product in a way that makes sense in that specific moment of discovery, and to be led toward the next phase of discovery. All this requires knowing the phases of discovery then composing very succinct messages such that they achieve specific (re)actions in the prospect.

Value headlines: In our 5-second attention-span world, you have to provide prospects a reason to give a damn. This means having them understand the specific value they receive from your product at the headline level. If you cannot communicate value in a headline, it forces the prospect to search for meaning, which they might do for 15 seconds. Better to trip them instantly, make they believe you might be valuable and viable, then nudge them on to the next phase of discovery.

Confirmation: Everybody is a cynic, defined as a person who upon smelling flowers, looks for a casket. Claims of value need substantiation, otherwise they are written-off as mere marketing hype. Since the next discovery phase after grabbing their attention is for prospects to lightly research the offering, you need to prove your value proposition is real at that time. Measurements, stats and testimonials are but a few ways you can make prospects believe the headline that caused them to dig deeper. Presenting this while discussing the basic capabilities of your product is a common and viable practice.

Deep dive: Once they understand the basics of your product and believe the value proposition, their next phase of discovery is to delve deeper into product information. This is where you need to succinctly describe the functional aspects of the product (this is not quite to the data sheet level, but could be the bottom of the product page). It is here that prospect start asking themselves questions about why your product won’t work for them, so phrase features in ways that erase these doubts.

Calling: In these last two phases, clear calls to action must exist and guide prospects to desirable behaviors. Depending on product cost and complexity, actions that threaten telephone calls from salesmen are not wise but calls-to-action that guide prospects to the next level of discovery are. At the very latest, the deep dive phase is where you need to induce a tiny bit of friction and start gathering contact data. White paper registrations, webinar invitations and other devices that lead to more discovery are your check points.

Yet, all this is useless if you devolve into blah blah blah. Knowing what needs to be discovered will guide you into distilling your messages to an appropriate level. Flooding pages with buzzword laden text and meaningless graphics creates friction and reduces understanding. Sharp, precise and focused messages summarized to the appropriate level move prospects forwards fast. Knowing what needs to be communicated, when it needs communicating and distilling messages into the tightest, most accurate statements possible is your job.

The marketing lesson is don’t be lazy. Look for fluff and imprecise language and eliminate it. Distill, distill, distill. Good messaging is like great sculpture. Each chisel cut reduces an huge, ugly and blah-looking chunk of stone into a marketing message David.


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