5 tips to unscramble your B2B tech messaging
When you know your company better than anyone, it’s hard to explain what you do in a way that truly matters to someone else. It’s called the curse of knowledge – and it totally kills your B2B tech messaging.
You’re doing cool stuff, but even your ideal customer might not grasp it if you get stuck in the weeds. Try these 5 tips to create a clear message that really grabs your prospects’ attention.
Tip 1: Hook them with the heart of your story
Every founder I work with tells me it takes waaay too long to explain their business to people.
How do you turn something so big into a concise story that gets people interested?
Journalists face this challenge with every article they write: how to hook readers from the first sentence with a great lead.
A “lead” is the all-important first sentence in a news story that captures the core message in one simple line, like: “An 8-year-old Ohio boy is being called a hero after he saved himself and his older sister from a kidnapping attempt.”
The idea is to write the most important thing first, so if people stop reading, they get the gist.
It’s not easy. Even journalists don’t get it right every time. They call it “burying the lead” — losing the heart of the story inside a bunch of distracting, supporting details.
Burying the lead is the default setting in B2B tech messaging — we all tend to start there.
Don Wycliff, a prize-winning journalist, said: “If I’ve got two hours in which to write a story, the best investment I can make is to spend the first hour and 45 minutes of it getting a good lead, because after that everything will come easily.”
Tip 2: Think like a beginner
Always approach new messaging with a beginner’s mind. Why? Because when you know a lot about your customer, it’s easy to go on auto-pilot and make assumptions about what matters to them. It’s internal bias.
As a consultant, I work with clients across different industries, verticals and buyers. And I’m rarely an expert in the particular buyer I’m learning about and talking to. This forces me to approach customer research and messaging with a beginner’s mind.
I’m unafraid to ask customers seemingly obvious or unusual questions during interviews for messaging research. And THESE questions often reveal new insights that make the messaging better. A beginner’s mind is a great way to weed out internal bias and find new inspiration for your story.
Tip 3: Focus on the reader
A CEO of a growing SaaS company told me that he still gets blank stares from people during sales pitches.
He said: “I can tell they’re thinking: what the hell is this guy talking about?!”
This bothered him. But what REALLY kept him up at night was the thought of blank stares from visitors to their website.
He worried about ideal customers coming to their site, getting confused and bouncing. Without ever knowing how his company could help them.
“That’s the scary part you never really know,” he said. “Once you miss that opportunity to capture them, it’s gone.”
If you’re sensing blank stares on your site (or getting them in real life) chances are you’re focusing too much on “how it works” instead of “how your customer’s life will improve.”
The latter is way more important…and way easier to articulate.
Tip 4: Talk about just one thing
If you had the magical power to convince prospects of one thing about your product, what would it be?
This is one of my favorite questions to ask during team workshops and stakeholder interviews. Especially if their product is multi-faceted with different use cases and customer segments.
I’m usually met with sighs, long pauses and the half-joking request: “Can I make it TWO things?”
(I never budge on this one.)
It’s a tough question. But crafting a focused message ain’t supposed to be easy.
If you want to put a stake in the ground for your company and leave people with a distinct impression about your product, then you can’t talk about everything all the time.
Sacrifice is part of the process. And it works.
Once you have that clear and effective story, you’ll forget about the things you had to leave out in order to get there.
Tip 5: Take a look from the outside
I’m a big fan of Queer Eye on Netflix. (I love the deeply emotional angle on makeovers. I love the transformations. I love Jonathan and Tan and…anyway…)
There was an episode with a young doctor who was about to start her first job. She was smart, she was a mom, and she had successfully finished her residency.
Unfortunately, she also sported a childish hair bow atop her high ponytail which made her look like a teen, even though she was an accomplished adult.
To me (and of course the Fab Five), it stuck out like a sore thumb — it was obvious and clearly needed to go.
But why couldn’t she see that?
The bow-and-pony look was part of her former identity. She couldn’t see that she had outgrown it. She was just so used to seeing it there.
And the same thing can happen with B2B tech messaging. As your business evolves, it’s natural to outgrow things. What worked back then might not be supporting your goals today.
But these things can fly under the radar simply because you’re used to them.
Sometimes, all it takes is someone on the outside to help you truly see yourself.
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