If the last time you updated your corporate messaging, “Gangnam Style” was topping the charts, your customers may be turned off by what’s likely a stale message. Customer concerns, needs and attitudes are always evolving. And if you’re not keeping up then you’re falling behind.
For a memorable example, look no further than men’s grooming brand Old Spice. In 2006, the 80-year-old company saw upstart Axe beginning to steal market share. Confident in its product, Old Spice quickly identified its message as the problem. Within months, Old Spice had retooled its message on the back of hilariously memorable ads and YouTube videos. The company’s blunt message and creative delivery resonated with consumers, who increased purchases of a product they’d previously overlooked.
Turning back to B2B, we believe the same lesson applies: taking creative risks for a stronger message can pay off. Let’s take a page from the Old Spice playbook and better connect with our prospects and customers.
Many of us enter our office doors each day confident in our product or service. But there’s always the risk of losing market share – even to an inferior product. A new message allows you to retool your marketing arsenal while keeping your product intact.
A good message must explain what you do and why you do it better than anyone else; ideally it will also build an emotional connection with your target market. The message communicates who you are and what your values are, which becomes even more important when you consider this: according to Harvard Business Review, 64 percent of people cite shared values as the main reason they have a relationship with a brand.
A new message can help you build that emotional connection without pressing the reset button on product initiatives. But before you pick up the pen, research is called for.
Market research and persona analysis go a long way in ensuring you’re on the right track with your message. Even then, you have to be sure your message works. Take the draft and ask some current customers, and a few key prospects, what they think of it. It’s tempting to skip this step – especially if time and budget are limited – but there are ways to make the testing process quick and efficient.
For a message to truly resonate, it needs to be authentic and it needs to connect. And there’s no way to know this without testing it with prospects. Even if you love it, if your prospects don’t, it’s back to the drawing board.
As a B2B marketer, it’s easy to latch onto the same buzzwords time and again. Agility… security… flexibility, and so on. All too often the result is a safe, predictable, stale message that falls flat – especially compared to the creativity we see in B2C.
Meaning and creativity aren’t mutually exclusive. You may not want to go full Old Spice with inane YouTube videos, but we encourage you to take some risks in your message.
Next, it’s time to go beyond that initial tagline. Nike’s “Just Do It” works because it encapsulates all of their lower-level messaging in three simple words. Nike has specific messaging for each of its individual product lines, all of which aligns with the “Just Do It” mentality.
So go beyond the tagline. Develop your elevator pitch, boilerplate, supporting messages, etc. If your tagline is the chocolate frosting, these need to be chocolate cake. After all, if you just put chocolate frosting on vanilla cake, you still have vanilla cake.
Of course you want every facet of your brand to reflect the new message. Which means updating advertisements, imagery, website and so on. All consumer-facing platforms should be included – if your message is “intuitive software,” a clunky mobile app won’t build confidence with prospects.
Repetition and consistency will help hammer home your message – and avoid creating disjointed perceptions amongst your prospects and customers.
Customers’ attitudes and behaviors are constantly evolving, and a good message evolves with them. But just how frequently should you change your message?
The answer is, of course, it depends. As a rule of thumb, we recommend early-growth companies reevaluate their messaging every two years, while more established companies can hold off for every three to four. Market shifts, innovations, or business model pivots can force a faster timeline, but the point is you should never sit on your messaging. Constant adjustment remains key to creating a resonant message.
Think of refreshing your messaging as going to the doctor. An annual physical to head off any issues is preferable to letting them grow into larger problems.
Looking again at Old Spice, the year after the company refreshed its message, it reclaimed the largest share of the men’s grooming market and saw a 125 percent increase in annual sales.
It’s not as simple as flipping a switch. A message must be real and it must resonate, which grows from a foundation built on research and understanding the customer. It must be consistent, from the top-level tagline to the lowest level supporting message. And as it grows rusty over time, a little polish every few years will ensure it continues to connect to customers.
If you need help with your messaging – or just a second opinion – give Arketi a shout! Having developed messaging for more than 120 B2B companies, we’ve got some pointers, some pitfalls, and a tried-and-tested process.
WHERE MARKETING GENERATES REVENUE
When you work with Arketi Group, you collaborate with expert marketers, writers, designers and strategists to create transformative marketing programs that deliver real business value.
Let’s get started.