If messaging matters to your company, then it matters to your writers. How many different messages do you have? Have you shared them with your content marketing writers yet?
I was at lunch with three execs of a prospective client the other day. They want me to help them tell their story with new content, so we spent the first part of the hour talking about white papers, web content, case studies, brochures, blog posts and social media.
“Hold on,” I said. “That’s all about channel and format. We need to talk about messaging first. What is it that you want to say to people? How are you going to demonstrate to them what makes you unique?”
How messaging matters
I need to understand how their company is different from the competition, and messaging is a big part of that. If they don’t think that messaging matters, they’ll end up with a lot of me-too content.
This company operates in what you could call a commodity industry: the average customer buys on price and (if the company is lucky) grows to discover and value unique differentiators. So the goal of the marketing content is to describe those differentiators from the start so that the initial sale is about more than price.
Here’s what they said, and how it struck me:
- The business development manager said, “That’s easy. We’re quite simply the best at what we do.” Well, that’s pretty heartfelt, and it may even be true, but it makes for pretty lousy copy. I can’t go anywhere with it .
- The CEO said, “We’re small and we’re private, and we plan to stay that way. Some of our competitors are focused too much on being acquired, so they take their eye off the ball and quality suffers. We don’t have that problem.” That’s worth being proud of, and it may even add up to a message. But most customers don’t care who owns your stock. They care about their problems, and a vendor’s ownership structure rarely matters if you’re the person trying to solve those problems.
- The director of sales said, “We’re able to help our customers align our services with their business objectives.” It sounds pretty dull and hollow when you put it like that, but it’s better than the other two. It’s the kind of thing a customer might say after a few years of working with the company. We might be able to take it somewhere as a theme.
Get your messaging down and share it with your writers
I was hoping to hear something like “Our reach in the industry lets us pull together multi-vendor solutions that surprise our customers.” Or “Unlike our competitors, we invest in R&D and post-sales service.” But I haven’t. Yet.
This company needs content, but they have yet to decide on usable messaging. There’s no harm in using the three disparate ideas above as talking points, but:
- they need to add up to something;
- they need to add up to something that customers and prospects care about; and
- they need to make sense to content marketing writers to be useful.
photo credit: Franklin Hunting