Two Peas in a Pod: Positioning and Segmentation
Welcome to this edition of Core, an industry newsletter with news, nuggets and best practices in business-to-business (B2B) technology marketing and public relations. With it, we hope to share vital information to organizations looking to generate revenue and accelerate growth through intelligent strategy, messaging, branding, public relations and demand generation.
In this issue, we’ll explore how to successfully integrate messaging and segmentation exercises to end up with effective results.
BtoB Messaging is hard
If you’ve spent much time in technology companies, you know high-level messaging can be tricky. You have complex, multi-dimensional products. You want to be sure your competitors aren’t saying anything about their products that you don’t say. And you must tailor your messages to multiple buyers.
If you’re not careful, you end up being “the reliable, easy, comprehensive, results-oriented, modular, ROI-based, high quality, (add a dozen more adjectives here) vendor of choice.” Moreover, B2B technology marketers have to sound really smart, so simple adjectives just won’t do. No… we opt for really long, clever phrases like “real-time, actionable decision support” and “dynamically-generated, collaborative throughput systems.”
Then we take this polysyllabic alphabet soup, and package it to suit the tastes of all our vertical markets, product lines and target buyers. We end up with more flavors of messages than Campbell’s has soups. While this all makes perfect sense to us marketers, the rest of the organization — especially the sales force — often has little understanding of what these messages mean, what the differences are between them, why they matter, and how to use them effectively.
How to get there from here
So what’s a message-hungry marketer to do? Determining a good top-level message for the organization is a task unto itself, so let’s assume you’ve got that far. With a powerful, relevant, benefit-oriented top-level message in hand, the next step is to express that message in an elevator pitch, boilerplate, and supporting messages.
When that is done, it’s time to create tailored versions of those same components that make them relevant to the specific concerns of different buyers and products – while still relating clearly to the top-level message.
When creating this more detailed messaging, organizations sometimes ignore the top-level message. Over time, this can cause two problems:
- the top-level message becomes increasingly irrelevant, being relegated to a catchy ”marketing” phrase that neither the organization nor its customers pay any heed to;
- every product line manager, vertical industry marketing manager or sales manager feels free (or feels the need) to create their own messages for their own products or markets, with no concern for the top-level message.
When either or both of these problems arise, the corporate brand becomes confused or watered down.
Seriously, we love (simple) messaging
We recently performed a messaging audit of a large company which, it turned out, had done a superb job of developing consistent but tailored messaging across its products and markets. This very large B2B services brand markets to 26 industries, across 37 functional practice lines, in dozens of geographies. And the entire company’s top-level message was articulated in three short words.
Even better, this top-level message was made relevant to every one of the company’s 63 vertical and functional practices. Digging deeper into the specifics of any of these offerings, the message was supported with concrete examples and real metrics that made it come to life. Prospects or customers might forget the details and the numbers, but the validation these data points provided ensured the message would resonate and be strongly tied to the brand.
Messaging and segmentation become one
Our premise is that messaging and segmentation should be part of the same exercise. Strong messaging requires clear segmentation, and in turn strong segmentation benefits from clear messaging. The key is a simple top-level message that aligns with the chosen segmentation. This provides the glue that unites product-level messaging and brings it to life in the prospect’s mind.
The result is a message that prospects will believe, care about, and ultimately which helps the organization sell more and faster.
We created Core with the goal of enhancing your marketing and PR practices. We hope you enjoyed this edition.