While inbound marketing can be an incredibly effective strategy to generate leads for your business, there are many reasons that it doesn't work for some businesses. One of these reasons is poor messaging.
If you have been doing inbound marketing but aren't getting enough leads, or if you are getting the wrong kinds of leads, it may be because your messaging needs to be adjusted.
Think about it - messaging is the foundation of everything we do as marketers, from writing website copy, to developing marketing collateral, to creating email blasts and social media posts. It is also the basis for the conversations that your sales team has with prospects.
When your messaging is wrong, its like having too much space between the first and second dominos in a long line. When you mess this up, the rest of the dominos don't fall (and your marketing and sales efforts won't get the results you had hoped for).
In this week's video (about 6 minutes long), I explain why messaging is so important, and what goes into building a company's messaging strategy.
Why Your Messaging Strategy Might Be to Blame for Poor Marketing Results
We've worked with countless companies on building and executing inbound marketing strategies and many of the clients who come to us are ready to jump right in and begin creating content. I love the enthusiasm and it is always exciting to see them start to publish content such as blogs, case studies, or whitepapers, but in many cases, they get a few months down the road and find that they either aren't generating enough leads or they are getting the wrong kinds of leads.
When this happens, its usually a sign that their messaging needs work.
Consider the case of the company getting the wrong kinds of leads. We know that their message is resonating because people are converting on their content, but the message clearly isn't resonating with the right audience and therefore it needs to be adjusted.
Developing a Messaging Strategy
If your messaging needs work, you should start by determining your brand positioning. There are a couple of different positioning strategies you can use (hat tip to April Dunford, who came up with this taxonomy for brand positioning):
- Arm Wrestling: When you are playing in a clearly established market, the audience understands your product or service and there is a clear market leader, you can try to beat them at their own game. The advantage of this approach is that its easy to message because everyone already gets it, but you'll need a big budget to try and unseat the market leader and it may take some time.
- Big Fish, Smaller Pond: If your product is designed to serve a sub-segment of an existing market whose needs are currently not being met, you won't have to contend with a market leader unless and until they decide to match your offering.
- Reframe the Market: This is a great strategy to use when you have a breakthrough innovation or there is a sudden change in the market that provides an opportunity to reframe how things are being positioned. When companies do this effectively, it highlights their strengths and makes the leader's strengths irrelevant.
- Change the Game: Is what you're selling so amazing that there simple IS no category to describe it? If so, you might need to invent a new category. As the first mover, you'll be the leader, but its important to move fast or followers could quickly overtake you.
We use this positioning framework with our clients to determine whether and how they fit within the larger competitive landscape.
Once positioning is determined, you'll need to identify your audience personas. Most companies have several personas for each product or service. These typically include buyers (both technical buyers and economic buyers) and influencers, and building a robust profile for each is a critical part of the underpinnings of your messaging strategy.
When you've developed your personas, the next step is to understand how they make decisions. Are they emotional? Are they analytical? Do they like to take their time or do they prefer to make a quick decision?
If you've ever taken a DISC assessment, you're probably familiar with the different types of decision making styles. DISC isn't the only framework for decision making and its not important which approach - DISC or otherwise - you use. The key is to understand - for each audience persona - how they make decisions because this will strongly influence how you message to them.
What Does a Messaging Strategy Include?
When your messaging strategy is complete, it should include the following:
- A high level value proposition for your company or brand
- Individual value propositions for each product or service that you sell
- Key messages for each product/service broken down by audience persona AND by each person's stage in the buyer's journey
The larger the company and the greater the number of products/services and target personas, the more complex this messaging framework will be. We like to build this out in a table so that it is very easy for your marketing and sales teams to use.
What's beautiful about having a well-developed messaging framework is that it serves as the foundation for everything you do as a marketer or sales rep. But for that same reason, when your messaging is wrong, it can really hurt all of your marketing and sales efforts.
One Last Piece of Advice
If you think you need to revise your messaging, don't try and do it yourself. This is one of the hardest things to do when you are stuck in the day-to-day of your company. I know - I own a marketing agency and have used outside help to frame my own messaging.
Get help from an agency or a consultant who specializes in messaging. They will see things that you cannot and the result will be a stronger messaging framework that really resonates with your audience.