To say that an expansion is underway in the marketing technology industry would be a serious understatement. It’s been more like an explosion. The Chief Marketing Technologist blog reports that there were 100 marketing technologies available in 2011. By the end of 2014, the number had grown to 947.
The welter of new offerings has left many marketers wondering where to turn when it comes to selecting the best solutions. But lost amid the technology revolution is the notion that the solutions you use are only as potent as the messaging that lives inside them.
First-rate CRMs and automation platforms may help you iron out some wrinkles in your process, but they’re not going to solve the more important and often deeper-lying problems with your message. Make no mistake about it: if left unaddressed, lackluster messaging will be a major hindrance to your success.
While most marketers know this, a lack of structure around message development is nevertheless pervasive. A recent survey by my company, Corporate Visions, found that only 28% of marketing departments have a well-established messaging and content development process.
Your messaging shouldn’t impede your success; it should breed it. Here are three strategies that can bring your messaging closer to the latter:
#1. Message To The Problems Your Prospect Doesn't Know About
The purported best practice known as “voice of the customer” messaging — or messaging in response to your prospect’s stated needs — is a recipe for low differentiation and a lack of urgency to change. Because you’ve told your prospects nothing new, it can actually reinforce their perception that you are indistinguishable from the competition.
Here’s a better way: Try messaging to your prospect’s “unconsidered needs”— the needs that they may have overlooked or underestimated. This approach allows you to inject uncertainty into your conversations, which creates unexpected urgency and boosts decision processing. These are both crucial elements to moving prospects from the status quo.
#2. Anchor Your Messaging In The Decision-Making Sciences
You’re not messaging to get tepid click-throughs and virtual consumption; you’re messaging for a decision. It’s for this reason that you’ll want to employ techniques that speak to the decision-making part of the brain. Decades of research in fields such as neuroscience, social psychology and behavioral economics affirm that hidden forces shape the way buyers frame value. They’ve also revealed that the part of the brain that governs decision-making — sometimes called the “old brain” — is a fairly simple mechanism that’s more attuned to visuals and emotions than words and rationality.
When crafting a compelling “why change” story, make sure the crux of your message has a powerful visual touch that doesn’t just appeal to the hyper-analytical “new brain.”
#3. Take Your Provocative Message To The Field
The lead handoff between marketing and sales is a common trouble spot, mainly because the provocative elements of the “why change” story told in your campaigns fail to carry over to the first sales call.
You can solve this messaging alignment problem by equipping your salespeople with tools that help them connect the dots between your demand generation and sales enablement stories.
The best tools for this tricky stage will enable your reps to sustain your “why change” story in the field. This lays the groundwork for a persuasive “why you” story that visually leads prospects away from the status quo to your solution.
It’s an exciting time to be a marketer, and a major reason for that is the proliferation of solutions you have at your disposal. But no technology or revolution in process can paper over the ill effects of shoddy messaging. Marketers would do well to keep that idea front and center as the technology explosion continues.
Tim Riesterer is Chief Strategy and Marketing Officer of Corporate Visions, a marketing and sales messaging, tools and training company. He is responsible for leading the strategic direction of the company in thought leadership, positioning and product development. Prior to joining Corporate Visions, Riesterer co-founded Customer Message Management, LLC (CMM Group), where he was CEO until it was acquired by Corporate Visions in 2008.