Wander through a few B2B websites and you’ll see how much marketers are struggling to find the right message.
Most marketers face a messaging challenge. Sometimes they can’t find a marketing message at all. Do any of these symptoms of an ailing message sound familiar?
- Marketing with no message at all. “No message” is the #1 reason people leave your B2B website, cited by 46% of B2B website users in a survey. Ouch!
- The opposite problem can crop up: too many messages. That’s confusing to customers because they can’t answer their question, “What’s in it for me?”
- The message veers around, conflicted and confused as it tries to serve too many masters – such as customers, investors, news media and employees.
- The marketing message fails to address customers’ questions. The main reason customers use Google is to answer their questions . . . so take care to capture and answer key questions.
- The message gets too long or convoluted – too complex to share. In the U.S., the average person’s attention span is about 8 seconds. So you need an “elevator pitch” message that you can share in 7 seconds, 23 words or less.
- There’s no internal agreement about what the message should be. Instead, the message gets negotiated and renegotiated on the back end. That makes for a tortuously long review process in which marketing gets stuck again and again.
Many companies make the mistake of pushing messages that serve a different stakeholder group each time. For example, they tell customers why their product and service is the best, but they miss telling investors why they should buy the stock, and forget to tell employees why they should stick around.
Instead of concocting a separate message for each audience, marketing really needs to promote a single unified message.
The right marketing message does all three jobs at once. Because it addresses the needs of all your stakeholders, the right message hits the sweet spot. It’s where your message should be.
As marketers, it’s our job to find the sweet spot in our company’s message. That’s where:
- The interests of all your stakeholders converge around a single purpose and message.
- The right message not only gets your point across, but it also shows each of your key audiences what’s in it for them.
- You can simplify, clarify and amplify your message.
Inside the sweet spot, your message gains superpowers. The right message means you’re saying the right things consistently. By co-creating it to achieve buy-in and executing your marketing consistently, you’ll find that the right message holds immense power to compel attention.
It influences and embraces the needs of your customers, investors, employees, community and third parties such as the news media, industry analysts, bloggers and social media users.
While related functions often work in silos – separate teams for marketing, employee communications and investor relations – silos are not where your audiences really live.
Many audience members play more than one role. For example, your employees may also be customers and investors. That’s why the best messages transcend silos by communicating what’s in it for everyone.
You may choose, as some CEOs do, to sweet talk only your investors, and neglect the interests of customers and employees. You can do that, but there can be a high price to pay down the road.
Unfortunately, some executives have had to learn this lesson the hard way. By focusing their message solely on investors while ignoring customers, they found a way to lose customers – who weren’t so fond of hearing about how good the price increases were going to be. The result: a drop in revenue, earnings and the stock price. The triple whammy!
Ultimately, taking the approach of an investor-only message can hurt the very people the CEO was trying to help. Don’t let your company or CEO fall into that trap!
Marketers and communicators hold a great opportunity to help companies and CEOs discover the sweet spot for their unified message. Co-creating a message map is one way to discover that sweet spot.
Once you find your sweet spot, put all your marketing and communications resources behind your single powerful message. Your unified message gives you the power to change your world.
GEORGE STENITZER invents new answers for your marketing challenges. He brings decades of marketing and communications experience from S&P 500 companies – as vice president of marketing and communications at Tellabs, vice president of communications at RR Donnelley, and director of corporate positioning for Ameritech. The Content Marketing Institute named George Content Marketer of the Year for thought-provoking content, BtoB magazine twice named him a Best Marketer, and he founded the BMA Buzz newsletter for the Business Marketing Association. He writes the Marketing Upside column for Global Telecoms Business and blogs weekly on B2B content marketing.