Is your unique market value clear and relevant? Is your message being heard – and understood – to drive the results you and your stakeholders need?
A compelling story is at the heart of customer engagement. Content that reflects key customer concerns in the context of broader industry narratives will educate your audience, establish credibility and elevate topical authority. That translates to growing your business.
Getting it right can be tricky. Often, those tasked with bringing a new product or service to market think they already know what their customers believe and want. That might be based off of anecdotal evidence from just a couple of vocal sales people. It could be because they are so enamored with their idea that they’re convinced everyone else will be, too. Or it might be they believe that a prior success means they can foretell the future.
I recall once working with a Silicon Valley entrepreneur who hit it right on building a growing business. For her next Big Idea, she asked one just one person’s opinion, then was sure she had it all figured out and charged ahead. The new business never went anywhere. From the failure of “New Coke” to Twitter’s awkward Blue Checkmark $8 monthly verification fee, marketing can miss when businesses don’t ask their customers before acting.
Don’t Guess, Know
Investing in even some basic research can go a long way in turning gut feeling into facts. To get a meaningful return on that investment, keep a few things in mind:
- Inform your go-to-market messaging with some objective input from existing customers (that means it shouldn’t come only via their sales rep), as well as non-customers who fit your target customer personas (archetypical “customers” representing a larger group). Drill down on their perceptions of what makes an offering like yours unique and valuable – but also be sure to probe what doesn’t work or seems off base to them. It can be difficult to hear, but it’s far better to know up front. Then map their customer journey so your messaging and content aligns to its various stages.
Gather input from senior leaders who touch different facets of the offering – product development, business development, technical support, customer service and others across your organization. If your company uses a CRM system, that can also be a rich source of data to mine. Be sure to consider multiple scenarios that could affect your business – while it’s important to set strategic goals, none of can anticipate what might happen externally that is totally unexpected or outside of our control.
- Also be sure to assess your competitive landscape – yes, you do have competition even if you believe your idea is truly unique. That can include ways people get a need met now (good enough) or even doing nothing. Whatever might prevent someone from buying what you’re selling should be considered in developing messaging that will get them off the fence. When you have a good idea of what to say, search for keywords that reflect industry conversations and terms that help others in your space get noticed.
- Then, apply your research learnings to crafting thoughtful, differentiated messaging that speaks to what your market has told you it cares about. Once you have that, test it. Try it out in focus groups, with existing customers (does this sound like us?), with key stakeholders, through A/B testing for various ads – just get some feedback that either validates that you hit the mark or guides you on where to adjust.
Share your messaging platform with everyone across your organization and make sure they understand it. Ask anyone in an external-facing role to use the approved language so your business or offering is described consistently and your brand perception is not diluted.
No Time for All That?
This can sound like a lot for marketers who are already too busy with myriad other responsibilities – but in the long run, it pays off. Otherwise you may well be blowing your budget on marketing efforts that are falling flat.
If you need help, W2 Communications can work with you to define specific research goals that get to the heart of your critical business requirements, then tailor a research effort to your unique situation. With deep subject matter and market expertise, we analyze and organize complex information, conduct qualitative and quantitative studies, and use the learnings to develop targeted messaging and content that reflects your brand and resonates with what your key audiences care about.
Contact us when you need objective help for your next research effort.