Messaging rarely gets credit or wins awards, but behind most top-performing B2B marketing programs is a messaging platform that was thoughtfully developed, carefully vetted and (probably) begrudgingly embraced. Still, many marketers see it as painful to develop, challenging to implement and difficult – if not impossible – to guarantee use and compliance.
We can’t promise that you’ll ever find message development fun (like we do) but we can help you drive value from the process and end up with a solid, defensible foundation for all of your marketing initiatives.
Let’s roll through how Red House overcame some of the messaging misconceptions our clients have shared with us over the last 20 years.
1. “I’ll never get my whole team to agree on messaging.”
You’re probably familiar with the parable of the blind men and the elephant. There are different versions of the story from different cultures, but here’s what they have in common: relying only on touch, the protagonists try to figure out what the prodigious pachyderm is. One is pricked by a tusk and thinks it’s a spear. Another feels a wriggling trunk and is sure it’s a snake. A third grabs a leg, and thinks it’s a tree trunk, and so on. Because each observer is only focused on part of the beast, they all get it wrong.
Sort of like a messaging exercise.
Each stakeholder – sales, marketing, product, executive, IT, customer support – has their own perspective based upon his or her own areas of focus and care-abouts. This puts the person in charge of the initiative in an unenviable position. From your boss to the intern, how do you balance all those conflicting points of view? How do you make sure everyone on your team feels that their input was valued and considered?
Consider engaging an objective, third-party consultant – someone outside your organization whose only mission is to get messaging right and isn’t restrained or limited by office politics, hurt feelings or personal agendas.
At Red House, not only do we carefully consider input from all of your team, we vet it with market and competitive research. Once we’re reasonably sure first-draft messaging is unique, ownable and differentiated, we share it with your stakeholders, identifying and attributing what did – and didn’t – make the cut and why. While you can’t make everyone happy, few can argue that our recommendations are uninformed or biased.
You should be able to draw a straight line from a
top-performing subject line, shared Tweet or landing page
conversion to carefully researched, developed and vetted
B2B marketing messages.
2. “Our messaging doesn’t resonate across all our audiences.”
It won’t. And it shouldn’t.
Internally, messaging should ensure consistency across your organization’s departments, functions and opportunities. It helps everyone with a stake in your solution’s success sing from the same songbook.
But externally, if your messaging is too broad, it won’t resonate with anyone.
Different audiences have different roles, goals, challenges and drivers. In general, CIOs are concerned about integration with existing technology and burdening their overworked staff. CFOs are focused on the financial impact and the potential for scope creep. Department owners want to minimize downtime or disruption.
The secret is segmentation. While you should have an overarching message to communicate your overall value proposition, you should personalize marketing to each decision maker and influencer with benefit-oriented messages that are tailored just to them. Personas can help you get there, but make sure you’ve tested your platform before launching it.
3. “I’m not sure how to validate messaging or measure its success.”
We typically conduct secondary research during message development, but after we’ve pulse-checked recommendations with our clients, we take proposed messaging directly to targets.
Ideally, validation includes a mix of keyword testing, email surveys and one-on-one interviews with client customers and prospects. Sometimes, this leads to slight modifications. Occasionally, we’re inspired to consider an entirely new approach. Regardless, it builds confidence and support among our customers’ stakeholders while minimizing dissenting voices.
As for measurement, you should be able to draw a straight line from a top-performing subject line, shared Tweet or landing page conversion to carefully researched, developed and vetted B2B marketing messages.
Ready to increase value, engagement and adoption of your next messaging exercise? Here are three things you can do to help ensure it’s successful:
- Get help: Don’t attempt to lead a messaging exercise in your organization. Even if it isn’t biased, you run the risk of your team thinking that their interests and opinions weren’t incorporated.
- Be realistic: Know you can’t please all internal stakeholders and you won’t reach all external decision makers.
- Test it: Ensure relevance – and quiet naysayers – by doing your due diligence.
And more importantly, use it—like one of our clients, whose messaging platform helped them blow past their initial objectives – and even put their stretch goals within reach.