7 ideas on how you can create better messaging
When you ask Sales what they want the most from Marketing, their answer may surprise you. More than anything else, Sales wants better messaging to help win more deals.
Better messaging beat out more qualified leads as Sales’ top need in a survey of 200 B2B sales people by Televerde, What Does Sales Need & Want From Marketing.
Almost half of sales people ranked better messaging ahead of 14 other things they want, as you see below.
But it’s not only sales people who are crying out for better messaging. So are buyers.
The lack of a message is the #1 reason buyers leave websites
That’s a finding from the B2B Web Usability Report. This survey of 262 CEOs, presidents, executives, VPs, directors, managers, and others was fielded by Huff Industrial Marketing, KoMarketing and BuyerZone.
With better messaging, Marketing gains support from Sales and from buyers — and helps the company win more business.
So how can marketers create better messaging? Here are 7 tips to help you succeed.
1. Better messaging answers buyers’ question “what’s in it for me?” (WIIFM?)
Too many messages, especially in B2B marketing, focus on the company, its brand and products rather than on buyers’ and customers’ needs.
If buyers don’t find a quick answer to WIIFM, you lose their attention fast. That’s why marketers need to walk miles in buyers’ moccasins to:
- Find out what buyers’ top questions are.
- Answer buyer questions directly and fully with digital, print and live content.
- Understand buyers’ problems and pain points.
- Focus on the benefits you provide, not on product features.
2. Better messaging hooks buyers’ attention in 7 seconds
People’s attention spans are as short as 8.25 seconds, so effective marketing messages must fit within that small window.
Use a Message Map to boil your message down to its essence. Make one main point in your home base, and support it with three positive points.
Why keep the message so short? The more you boil your message down, the more direct and potent it becomes.
Most marketers have some form of messaging, but often it consists of one to four pages of densely typed Excel spreadsheets.
On the other hand, Message Maps are on one page that helps you get to the gist of your message quickly – in 23 words or less. That’s about 7 seconds spoken out loud.
When you create a Message Map, you get a great elevator speech, headlines, quotes for news stories, tweets, social media posts and more.
Use the first 7 seconds to intrigue buyers. Quickly tell them what’s in it for them – so they ask to hear more.
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3. Better messaging is scalable
Once you capture a buyer’s interest, scale up your message gracefully to 2 minutes, 5 minutes, 20 minutes or more. Add proof points and examples to your Message Map.
You need different-sized messages to do different jobs, as this chart shows:
4. Better messaging is concise
Edit ruthlessly. Cut out every word you don’t need.
As Jerry Seinfeld says, “You’re always trying to trim everything down to absolute rock, solid rock. I will sit there for 15 minutes to make it one syllable shorter.”
5. Better messaging is crystal-clear
Make your message crystal-clear to buyers. Don’t talk over their heads.
Avoid using words, jargon and acronyms buyers don’t know. Expand your addressable audience by using global English.
Be careful to avoid the curse of knowledge, the inability to explain a topic in plain words to a layman. The more expert you are in your field, the harder it will be to overcome the curse of knowledge.
Imagine you’re sharing your message with a neighbor, parent or child. How simple and clear can you make it?
6. Better messaging builds credibility by staying consistent
Keep your message consistent over time. Don’t change it for each occasion, like a politician.
It’s crucial to keep the message consistent when anyone delivers it, anywhere in the world.
Consistent messages earn a spot in buyers' place cells, where people store only the information that stays completely consistent. Customers can’t act on your message if they don’t remember it.
"You have a message that people start to trust, because the brain equates consistency with credibility," says Dr. Carmen Simon, neuroscientist and author of Impossible to Ignore: Creating Memorable Content to Influence Decisions.
7. Better messaging is co-created by a group
Yes, you can create Message Maps by yourself or with a small team inside the marketing department. But your message will become much more powerful when it’s co-created together with everyone who has a stake in the message.
Convene executives, sales, R&D, marketing and customer service around the table. Give everyone have a say in shaping the message.
Get an objective facilitator to help you combine the best ideas from everyone. Make sure the message can withstand critical scrutiny by its creators and by customers.
When you co-create your better messaging, you gain strong buy-in from the get-go.
Your co-created, pre-approved message will save you an incredible amount of time that you’d otherwise waste getting approvals.
Don’t let approval processes hijack the marketing message. Once it’s approved, make people stay on the agreed message with a Message Map.
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Better messaging is what Sales and buyers want the most from you
Marketers, ask yourself: How often do Sales and buyers want exactly the same thing from Marketing?
Better messaging drives better marketing: both buyers and sellers need it. These 7 tips will help you make better messaging to address buyers' needs and help Sales win more deals. That's a win-win-win!
As a marketing change agent, I consult with clients, lead content marketing workshops for the Association of National Advertisers (ANA), and write the weekly Simplify Marketing blog.
With experience from Fortune 500 companies such as AT&T, RR Donnelley and Tellabs, I've been named:
- Content Marketer of the Year by the Content Marketing Institute.
- Best Marketer by BtoB magazine.
- A B-to-B CMO to watch by Fierce CMO.