Many a small thing has been made large by the right kind of advertising, according to Mark Twain. Whether a company is going to market with a new service or launching a demand generation program for a legacy solution, campaign success always begins with a clear, succinct, defendable message that separates a company and its products and services from the competition.
While many BtoB marketers understand the importance of creating “sticky” messaging that resonates with customers and prospects, they may feel they don’t have sufficient time to develop solid messaging because of a real or perceived need to rush to market. Even with adequate time and budget, others struggle to use a message approach that best suits their company’s need to communicate effectively and drive sales.
The Right Formula vs. Formulaic
There is not a “one-size fits all” approach to messaging. However, there are key steps an organization can take to pinpoint their specific messaging needs or, in other words, determine the most effective messaging approach to use based on:
a) stage of the company’s lifecycle;
b) effectiveness of existing messaging and
c) market stability.
Considering these three areas will help an organization decide if they need exhaustive, comprehensive messaging, whether it can be absorbed into another marketing project, or if they should consider iterative messaging. Let’s look at each of these approaches in turn.
When Bigger Is Better
Size matters when it comes to messaging. Not all organizations need to execute a complete messaging process, which usually includes both quantitative and qualitative research. This extensive approach is often best used by organizations that acknowledge they are not positioned accurately or effectively.
For example, this level of messaging is necessary when a message, for whatever reason, is not resonating with target audiences and not helping an organization stand out from the competition.
Major market shifts also may create a need for comprehensive messaging. This includes organizations that are expanding its prospect base with an entirely new market segment or pursuing a vertical market they haven’t pursued before.
In these instances, quantitative research helps uncover what’s important to their market and stakeholders and, most importantly, what factors incite their audiences to buy from them rather than a competitor. Having research as part of the process is key.
Messaging Middle Ground
Established organizations with a proven message may need fine-tuning and refinement of their messages. This need may arise when organizations are targeting the same customer base that they have historically, but are expanding their offerings to include a product or service on which they have no brand awareness. As such, they may choose to refine their message as part of another project they are working on, such as a new website.
This mid-level messaging also can help an organization experiencing increased market competition as refreshed messaging will help them fine tune their organization from the pack, based on what is happening in the market.
This level of messaging can often be done successfully as a component of a branding project or website launch. Rather than an in-depth two to three month process that includes messaging, this can be done in a month. This approach also eases concerns about delaying market launches to complete a comprehensive messaging overhaul.
Baby Steps as a Best Practice
Finally, there are some instances when it is worthwhile to develop messaging that will not have a long shelf-life. In this case, you are simply testing the messaging as you go along, perhaps on a campaign-by-campaign basis.
Such an iterative approach often makes sense for start-up companies who still are discovering their audiences and overall market positioning. In these situations, organizations are best served by getting their products and services to market quickly. This initial, “smaller scale” messaging will help them determine which messages work best even as their customer base evolves.
Once certain factors are crystallized, such as primary target audience, an organization can revisit the process and determine when long-term messaging is necessary. Each campaign or project serves to help further refine the message, as they learn whether the messaging resonated or worked in the campaign.
The Bottom Line
While approaching a messaging engagement can appear daunting because of the time and budget commitment, executing the right size approach for your organization can remove some pain from the process. More importantly, it can deliver the sticky messaging necessary to best position your company for positive brand awareness and increased revenue.