5 ways you can refine B2B tech messaging
It might sound easy to refine B2B tech messaging, but creating a clear message can be tougher than you think. It’s your company – your baby – and you’re ready to tell everyone everything about it.
But to reach busy B2B buyers, you have to focus your message. Zero in on the prospect’s challenges. Their pains. Their wishes. And then how your solution can help with all of it.
Next time you feel yourself drowning in the features and benefits of your solution and struggling to come up for air, try these approaches to get focused.
1. Sit with customers’ pain
My 5-year-old daughter’s fish died recently. It was her first experience with death (something I’d been dreading).
As she sobbed, I felt the parental urge to make her pain disappear. I wanted to offer an instant solution – a new, better fish!
But I know that it’s important to help your child sit with tough feelings, so they can build resilience. Rushing to a solution would rob her of an important lesson.
So instead, I just sat quietly with her and listened.
As marketers, we also have that urge to rush straight to the solution. You want to show customers how you can solve their pain points right away.
In doing so, you rush past your customer’s experience of that pain. You skip the nuances of their challenges and frustrations – and that’s your opportunity to make your messaging deeply resonant on an emotional level.
You know your solution. But how well do you know your customer’s pain?
2. Gut-check your messaging
Want a lighthearted sense check for your messaging? Give it the “Would-My-Customer-Seriously-Ever-Say-That?” Test.
Think of one of your customers. Now read your copy, line by line, and imagine those words coming out of their mouth. Ask yourself: “Would they seriously ever say that?”
If the answer is yes, give yourself a pat on the back.
If the answer is no, give yourself a pat on the back, because you’ve found an opportunity to strengthen your messaging.
3. Be cautious of “redefining”
When it comes to messaging, please don’t say you’re “redefining” anything…even if you are.
I know, it sounds SO good. Especially when your product is *actually* going to shake up the market. It feels like innovation personified.
But here’s the thing: That word doesn’t mean much to people.
First, it’s a tired phrase in our age of rapid innovation.
Second, it’s because “redefining” is a vague abstraction.
It puts the onus on the reader to guess what your redefined category or tech looks like because you haven’t shown them. It’s forcing them to picture what your reimagined future for ride-sharing or cyber security looks like. And that’s too much to ask of a prospect.
Chip and Dan Heath break it down in their book, Made to Stick:
“Abstraction is the luxury of experts. If you’ve got to teach an idea to a room full of people, and you aren’t certain what they know, concreteness is the only safe language.”
Assume nothing. Play it safe and get concrete about your product. What is your most unique feature? How does it answer your ideal customer’s needs and desires or motivations? Sum it up in a sentence a sixth grader could understand.
Communicating that value with concreteness is how you’ll truly redefine things.
4. See it from your customer’s perspective
Are you creating or launching a new product? Is it really new – has it never been seen before?
One of the toughest challenges when positioning and messaging a new product can be that your prospects don’t even know that a solution to their problem exists. Not even as a concept.
I experienced this recently and it was another good reminder that messaging has to meet people where they’re at.
I had a big trip abroad for work coming up, and I just started worrying about jet lag because I’m getting older and jet lag is killing me these days. It adds about five to seven days of misery to a major trip to a faraway timezone, and I just don’t have that time to spare.
“I just really wish there was something I can do about this jet lag but there’s probably not,” I thought. In my mind, the only options were taking an Ambien and possibly acting crazy and not remembering or drinking a ton of wine and passing out. Or maybe just drinking extra water. But I didn’t really believe that any of those things were gonna help me with my jet lag.
I started Googling around, and eventually I got directed to this app called Timeshifter. (This is not a paid plug for Timeshifter, but I’m obsessed with it.)
The app promises to help you get rid of your jet lag using this personalized plan that scientists and NASA astronauts use. “Hmm, sounds good,” I thought.
I still didn’t understand what the heck this thing was going to do, so I read all about their approach. Apparently, the key to getting over jet lag is adjusting your Circadian rhythms — changing how you see light and darkness in the days leading up to your trip is what decides how terrible (or easy) your jet lag is going to be.
A totally new concept to me. I didn’t even know if it was going to work. But I followed the plan and it worked – no jet lag whatsoever.
I couldn’t believe it. I thought “I wish I had this years ago! How many trips abroad have I suffered through jet lag for five to seven days when I could have just followed this simple plan and felt great?”
It’s because I didn’t think a solution existed. I was aware that I had a problem — jet lag — but I didn’t think there was anything I could do about it, and it’s really hard to figure out what a solution might be.
This is a situation that a lot of new startups are in. The world doesn’t know a solution like yours exists. Think about that – and realize that’s where people are coming from. And how your messaging needs to meet them there.
Understand that people might not even know the solution is a thing and help educate them. Help them understand. Connect with their problem and show how you can solve it. That’s a big step in the quest to refine B2B tech messaging.
5. Learn to land your message
You know how planes circle their destination waiting to get a slot to land? Well, the same thing is happening when we vacillate and go back and forth with our messaging.
We’re in a holding pattern because there’s something going on underneath the surface that’s stopping us from landing our message. And what I found is that a lot of times it’s something on a strategic level – a lack of clarity.
More often than not, it’s a lack of clarity around the customer.
A while back I was leading a messaging strategy session with a client and the VP of Marketing said “Emma, our product means so many different things to different people. How the hell are we gonna find the right message that works for everyone?”
It can be kind of daunting and it can seem really complex to try to solve this.
What I always say is, there is no one sentence that’s going to magically capture all these different audiences, so don’t waste your time and energy trying to find one. Instead, let’s dive deep into each one of those different audiences.
For each one, get very clear on the value proposition of the product for each audience. What’s the number one unique value they can expect out of your product? Do it for each of your different audiences.
Then the next question goes “Well, okay, great I have all these different value messages — what do I lead with? What do I put on my homepage? What’s the first thing that we’re going to talk about?”
There are actually two approaches you can take once you get those individual value propositions out.
The first is you can look at all the different value propositions and see if there’s a golden thread – something that runs through all of those statements.
Often there is something like that and you can pull it out into an overarching statement that really captures and encompasses all of those individual messages.
Then you can lead with this high-level promise and then your messaging can flow down and dive deeper into specifically how it comes to life for different audiences. That can work really well and set you up for future segments you might add or future verticals.
Another approach that works really well is to look at your different audiences and just lead with the one that you want to put more into.
So for example, maybe you have a platform with two sides, like a job search app. You’ve got job seekers on one side and employers on the other.
Now you would probably want to lean more heavily into the job seekers because they’re the ones coming back to your platform again and again. They’re the ones using it, and that proves the value to the employers. You would want to lead your messaging with them and then cascade down into secondary messaging for the employers.
Once you get really clear and specific on your audiences, that bigger message, that higher level direction might just become clear. You might see some themes come to life that you wouldn’t have come across if you were just starting at the top and trying to come up with some big magic sentence that works for everyone. When you want to refine B2B tech messaging, getting focused on your audiences is a good place to start.
Liked this post? Pack some punch into all your B2B messaging with the That’s Punchy! newsletter!