4 Tips to Develop Effective Sales and Marketing Messaging [INFOGRAPHIC]

Businessman sitting in chair with thought bubble overhead that says I am your target buyer, and want my attention?Here are 4 tips for small or fast-moving companies that want to develop an effective sales and marketing messaging strategy.

1. Think insights and bottom-up vs. opinions and top-down

Get the effect you need, i.e., an impression from your listener/reader/visitor that: “This is a company that gets me” – by starting from a place of insight vs. opinion.

One of the biggest mistakes companies make when developing their messaging approach is for a group of executives to sit in a room and say: “What do we want to say about ourselves? What do we do? What are we all about? Wrong. The conversation you should start with is: “Who is our target audience? What do they care about most and how are we able to help?” If you start here you will likely land in a different place on how you talk about your value proposition.

For example, look at these two introduction messages about a company in the IT services space. One is derived from the executive team’s standard pitch; the other from interviews with its best and most profitable customers.

  1. Internally-focused intro: For businesses needing a high quality, robust IT infrastructure and better solutions to manage threats, security issues and network problems, ABC, Inc. is the best company to meet your needs.
  2. Customer-problem focused intro: If you have an outdated IT infrastructure that increases risk, overburdens you from a cost perspective, and prevents your employees from effectively serving clients and managing business priorities…ABC, Inc. can solve these problems.

Intro #2 speaks to reviews from top customers that ABC’s solutions and expertise helped them improve in two critical areas: 1) focusing on business priorities and 2) controlling costs. Knowing that, which message do you think will most likely get the attention of new prospects?

The point: The team may not have gotten to the 2nd concept if they had restricted the messaging-building process to the opinions of company employees. The more you can learn about your customer’s true problems (as well as how they talk about those problems in natural conversation), the better.

2. Think vision

Think ahead about what you hope people in the marketplace will say about you. Draw from customer insights + your unique value proposition, and write visionary statements of how you want people to feel about your brand. Also write about the impact you want from the content that you’ll likely distribute. Then, simply picture your best customers in a focus group.  Imagine a facilitator were to ask them, “What has been the single best part of your experience with ABC, Inc.?”.

  • How would you like the customer to answer? Perhaps your vision for their response is: “The best part of our experience with ABC was their attention to detail and phenomenal customer service.” Or, “The best part was that the training was hands-on and specific to our issues.”

The point: Back into your story and messaging (as well as your offering and brand experience) from the future and a place of vision.

Cartoon of man pondering at his computer with text to show what he's thinking about

3. Think frequently asked questions

I once overheard a CEO say to a sales rep: “As you think about your message for a sales call, consider the most frequently asked questions you get when first introducing what our product does. This shows what people care about most and what you should lead with or be prepared to talk about in a meaningful way.”

Key takeaway: Talk to frontline employees and add their insights to your research, because they often have a better understanding of customers’ FAQ, needs, and wants than executives do.

4. Think story first, then messaging

Use the insights you’ve gathered to confirm your brand’s narrative (aka story). Think like a journalist—they decide what their story is based on research and insights, i.e., they lay it all out and say: “What is all of this revealing? What is bubbling up as a theme? What’s really going on here?” From there, they work on angles and messaging to bring the story to life.

Helpful hint: Whiteboard everything you’ve learned in tips 1-3 and use that as the starting point for brainstorming. See what’s bubbling up as the ‘story’ and iterate from there. If you have a large team or a complicated business, you might want to use a facilitator for this exercise to help ensure that you stay focused and keep egos out of the equation.

To sum up

It’s not easy to develop a good messaging approach, but it’s not rocket science either. You’ll be on your way to successfully differentiating yourself if all of your conversations and decisions about messaging stay centered on customer insights. And don’t forget to get and use inputs from frontline staff, too.

Contact me if I can help.

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Updated Sept 22, 2022

By : Lydia Vogtner

Lydia Vogtner is an independent B2B marketing and communications consultant specializing in brand, messaging and content strategy.

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