Mixed Messaging

If you want to delay sales and distort your brand, just mix a few messages.

This came to light recently when a client needed to recast their brand, desiring their prospects to simultaneously feel relieved and excited. Though not entirely mutually exclusive, they are on opposite ends of the adrenaline spectrum. One might feel excited about the prospect of being relieved, but that is as close as these two concepts come.

When a customer encounters you for the first time, they have to believe something about you. Even if they are skeptical, they must have in their hearts some notion about the value they would derive from giving you money. These value propositions, communicated in words, images, colors, videos and other modes can never be complicated (there isn’t enough time or customer patience) and they cannot be contradictory (“we will make you sexy and saintly”).

For B2B companies, this is a recurring problem. Products fit many market segments with different needs. They must be sold to many stakeholders/personae/genotypes, who all have different motivations. In an attempt to sell to everyone at once, some marketers clutter their messages and muddy their brands, which confuses every prospect trying to understand why they should care (because they don’t care until you tell them why they should).

Finding common motivations is your first step. Identify what drives everyone, across all segments, elevate these motivations to your headline value propositions and incorporate as key brand drivers. Once hooked on the unifying value, you can gracefully drag each segment buyer and every stakeholder down different paths toward their personal value propositions.

In rare cases, there is little or no common motivation across market segments and personae. One painful option is to clone your products and give each their own brand and functional extensions. Proctor and Gamble sells two different brands of toothpaste, nine different laundry detergents, several deodorants and a bunch of razor brands for the clean-shaven crowd. This is no accident as each product is marketed to different buyer groups with different motivations, though each product does basically the same thing.

Your take-away today is to not muddle your messages, poison your value propositions or becloud your brand. A confused customer is a non-customer.


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