5 Essential Steps to Updating Your B2B Tech Brand Messaging
Messaging for your products and solutions will evolve for many reasons. The development of an impactful brand messaging platform can help drive consistency in your communications and set your technology company apart in a highly competitive market.
Events that Could Trigger a Messaging Refresh
- A release of new products or services
- Changes in customer consumption models
- A competitor introduces new products / brand messaging
- A witnessed or anticipated demographic shift in your customer base
- After an acquisition or change of ownership
In order to create a strong brand-messaging platform, you should first have a clear understanding of several factors. While there’s no one right answer to determine the content of your messaging, there is a practical approach you can take.
Here are 5 steps you can follow in order to drill into the core of your organization to identify and define your brand message.
1. Start With Understanding The Market, Buyers, and Competitors
When you start working on a messaging project, you’ll want to research the trends and forecasts for your market. Scrutinize your existing messaging and ask yourself how it needs to adapt for the current state of the market as well as anticipated changes. You can use these aspects as inputs to reframe your messaging platform from the ground, up, and fortify your choices and decisions with fact-based evidence.
- Find Your Who
B2B technology purchases involve risk for the decision-makers who are choosing products or solutions. Your messaging is the key to making an emotional connection with your buyer so that they feel confident in their choice. Showing the features and benefits of your solution isn’t enough. You need to demonstrate, through messaging, that your organization understands their current and future needs, and that the products and services you offer can be trusted. Chances are, you’re already marketing from a list of personas who you think of as your core customers. With rapid advancements in the technology space, prospects and customers can change as quickly as the technology itself. It’s important to continually reassess your changing customer base, and to revisit their wants, needs, desires and habits so that you can write effectively toward them.
- Look to Your Competition
If your biggest competitor recently went through a re-messaging exercise, it was probably for a good reason. Take note of what they are saying, and how they are addressing the pain points and needs of their customers. If their tone has shifted, it could indicate a new market segment that they’re targeting. Its important to assess how competitors are articulating key messages about their companies and services to make sure your message stands out.
2. Talk to Stakeholders, Partners and Customers
You have a wealth of information within your organization, partner network and customer base that’s waiting to be shared. Talking to your executives, product experts, sales and marketing teams and even customer advocates can illuminate the differentiators that make your products and services unique and compelling. If you’re unsure of who would be the best to interview, talk to your leadership team. Ask them to recommend product experts and people who are known to be knowledgeable advocates who would be willing to contribute to your messaging project.
- Make a List of Questions
The purpose of your interviews is to get to the “why” of your products, services or company. Why should customers choose you? What is in it for them? You’ll want to ask each of your interviewees similar – if not the same – questions. Depending on your reasons for creating a new messaging platform, your questions may be more product-specific or more company-focused.
Your questions should drill into the impact that your products and services have on your customers, both from a positive and negative standpoint. You want to be able to speak to the impact of your products, and you also want your messaging to subtly combat exceptions whenever possible. Ask questions such as:
What is the greatest benefit of <product/service> to a typical customer?
What are some common objections customers might have to <product/service>?
Which companies represent our heaviest competition, and why would a customer choose us over them (or vice-versa)?
Where do you see our organization/this product in one year? Five years? How will it change and grow?
- Begin at the Top
If possible, start your interview process with the most senior members on your list. C-suite executives and business leaders can provide the vision for your company, and will typically deliver their message with a sense of passion that you can carry into subsequent interviews.
Tips for a Productive Messaging Interview
3. Review Your Inputs – Look For Themes
Each interview brings a different perspective to the messaging conversation. The CEO provides vision, strategy and passion. Sales and marketing understand the wants and needs of the customer, and can speak to the emotional impact your products and services have on the people who use them. Your product experts can talk to the key benefits of your products in-depth, providing proof points for your messaging. And your customers have first-hand experience with the benefits of your brand.
- Find the Overlap
When you’re conducting your interviews, chances are you’ll start to hear some of the same information repeatedly. Even if the angle is different, find those core bits about your offerings and bring them to the forefront. Make notes about how each of your stakeholders mentioned these key messages to determine how it drives value for your customers. These overlaps are going to become integral to your finished product.
- Discover Differences
Because you’re interviewing many people, who all have a different idea of “what’s important,” you’ll no doubt get different – even conflicting – information. Part of any messaging exercise entails a bit of detective work when it comes to these conflicting bits of information. In some cases, you may need to revisit some of your stakeholders to gain clarification. With other differences, you may be able to discard certain information as personal opinion.
Also keep in mind that some of these differences may point to misperceptions or misalignment in your organization. If you identify differences, be sure to raise awareness to your stakeholders to see if it’s something that needs to be addressed internally before moving forward. Its is NOT unusual for messaging projects to surface potential alignment issues with the team. This type of project will often become a catalyst for getting everyone on the same page.
4. Write Your Message
Once you’ve identified the information that will drive your message, it’s time to start putting words on paper. Be cognizant of the many parts of the company that you impact with message changes. For example, your message needs to work within brand guidelines, including voice and tone. You may also need to include your organization’s legal team to make sure your message isn’t violating trade secrets, agreements or copyrights.
- Think Ahead – And Behind
There’s a delicate balance that needs to be maintained between messaging to newly identified customer segments and maintaining existing customer relationships. Too much sudden change can startle existing customers or make them think that you’re drastically changing direction. Work in the parts of your existing messaging that still resonate while layering in new messaging for attracting buyers from your identified target markets.
You’ll also want to make sure that your messaging platform will stand up to the test of time. If you choose to use gimmicky or trendy messaging, you could find yourself repeating your messaging exercise sooner than anticipated. Even in a rapidly transforming industry, you’ll want to develop a platform that will provide you with enough legs that you can get the maximum benefit from your efforts.
- Provide Proof
When writing your messaging platform, you’ll want to include customer-centric statements followed by proof points. Start with brief, 25-word statements that encompass a single message. Make sure that your statements speak directly to a customer need, or that they offer a solution to a demonstrated pain point. Include proof points directly from your interviews and research to prove that your product or service meets the customer need or solves the problem.
When writing your final messaging, it can be helpful to expand your 25-word statements out to 50- and 100-word versions. Also, provide 3 bullet-point proof statements for each of your messages for quick, easy reference. These longer-form statements and corresponding bullets are useful when writing related content, such as blog posts, web pages, social posts, nurture emails or sales tools.
Before finalizing your messaging platform, allow the stakeholders you interviewed to weigh in with opinions and suggestions. If you’re using direct quotes from any of your stakeholders, be sure to get their approval before making those statements public.
Take the feedback that you receive and go through the exercise of comparing and contrasting their opinions to find the overlap and differences. If a similar critique is sounded by many of your stakeholders, it’s an area you should focus on for rework. And if there are strong negative opinions from a single source, be sure to ask other stakeholders to weigh in. Those opinions might be something you could discard, but could also be an area that was overlooked. Once brought to light, you might find agreement among your experts, and you’ll want to rework those areas.
Building a technology brand messaging platform takes a lot of legwork, follow-through and insight, and producing the final product takes a deft hand that’s practiced in the creation of concise, powerful prose. If your B2B technology organization needs a fresh message, be sure to dedicate adequate resources to the task, and give them the time and budget they need to produce the best messaging platform possible. Alternately, you can bring in a team of specialists who can provide expert messaging assistance. Either way, once you have your brand messaging platform in hand, you’ll be prepped and ready to take on the market of your future.
Make the Most of Your New Messaging Platform
Leverage customer success stories to build compelling content that offers proof points to your brand message
Get your sales partners involved by creating co-branded assets that reflect your messaging
Rework your website to reflect your new messaging
Reinvent your social feed with your new voice
Create infographics and blog content that expands on key messages in your platform
Create executive door openers (EDOs) that connect your message to your prospects’ leadership team
Generate an email nurture campaign to drive your message to new prospects
Make an Impact with a Powerful Messaging Platform