Updated: Oct 5
When you have a vision for a product, or a service, or a new way of doing things, you want to jump right in, shout it from the rooftops, and do any number of other exciting actions to try to get the word out.
Here’s the thing, though. Before you put a product out there, you need a marketing strategy and you need to understand what makes something valuable. You need to know - is this product needed? Will anyone care if I make it? Will anyone pay what it’s worth?
If you’re a marketer helping businesses to grow, you can approach message development for them in the same way. You want to figure out how to communicate value and benefits, rather than just focusing on features.
When you’re planning to sell or market a product or offering, ask yourself these three questions as a way to build your messaging strategy and communicate what your potential buyers most need to hear in order to make a decision.
If you’re offering something that’s never been offered before, ask yourself why it matters.
Your customers - and this is the honest truth - don’t know what they want. Most people can’t envision the future or what could be; they just think they need a better version of what they have.
Before cars were invented, people would have said they needed a wagon they could hitch more horses to, so it could go faster. The average person didn’t envision that they needed a combustion engine in a metal contraption to get themselves driving at speeds they could never have previously imagined.
So, think for your customers. Think about what bothers you and how you can fix it. Look at your own business and industry, and look at theirs.
Different potential customers have different pain points. However, if you start examining a few, you can probably find some common threads between them, then develop a product offering that’s specific enough to address common issues but broad enough to be able to scale.
Instead of expecting to mention a brand offering then see potential customers jump in line, look for ways to fix a problem for consumers. Is there a gap that you see in their processes? Is there a place where you could hop in and create a niche for yourself?
When you’re trying to find a sweet spot for your business, talk with existing customers. Focus groups and surveys can be a great way to figure out what they’re missing and what they’d pay for. If you haven’t decided exactly what you’re selling yet, be a detective.
Look at what other people are using, or what they’re complaining about. Look Think about an action, hobby or industry that you’re passionate about and walk yourself through the process of using it - where do you see gaps? Where could you make a difference?
Think about ways you can complement a product that exists, or how you could disrupt a field. Sticky notes, for example, were created by accident.
The inventor was trying to create a super-sticky adhesive, accidentally created the low-grade adhesive used for Post-its and couldn’t find the right use for it. His friend suggested using it as a bookmark for his choir hymn book because multiple pages needed to be marked and secured during the course of a service.
In this case, there was a solution looking for a problem… can you apply the same process? What can you find to fix with your offering?
You’ve probably seen Venn diagrams that show something like “what you’re good at” and “what people will pay for” with a small overlap that signifies the sweet spot for growth. That kind of image is what you want to keep in mind as you start connecting with your target market.
Are you creating a connection?
There are very few truly and genuinely unique ideas out there. In many cases, you’re probably iterating on something someone else has created, or competing against a wide field of others with similar ideas.
How do you make sure you’re the one your ideal customers go to when they’re surrounded by choices?
You ensure there’s a deep connection forged between your target market and your brand. 73 percent of customers consider their relationship with a brand to be an important factor in their purchasing decisions.
If you don’t have that relationship in place, and if you’re not nurturing it, then your other programs - your discounts, BOGOs, digital ads and more, aren’t going to hit the same with your audience or have the same impact.
Are you showing them a problem (and a solution)?
When you’re looking at your target market, take a minute to think back to what they need and what gaps you’re filling for them. You need to show them that they’re not alone, that you’ve identified the same problems and that you want to work alongside them to fix it.
Address their problems head on, then show them what your product does to solve those problems.
This “showing” can take place across a wide variety of channels, from traditional demos to testimonials, white papers, how to guides and more. You can choose the platform that works best for you and can use more than one to drive your solutions home.
Customers are far more likely to believe messages from their peers than they are to believe advertising alone. Let your current customers tell their stories, then amplify them to help new/potential buyers in their decision making processes.
Are you showing them that you have an understanding of what they need?
When your buyer is shopping, they have questions. They’re looking for a way to get answers to their questions, and if you don’t answer them, your competitors will.
Try to get in their heads (buyer personas are a great way to do this) and figure out what might be impacting their ability to make a decision.
Is it a price/value question?
Are they shopping to resolve a specific pain point and need you to be clear about how you’ll alleviate their issues?
Is there something missing in what most other companies offer, something that you provide?
Will you help them save time, save money or earn money?
Once you’ve figured out what questions or objections might be getting in the way of their final purchase, answer those questions.
Instead of being broad and trying to address every objection, personalize your messaging to them and their very specific concerns. Show that you also see and understand the issues they’re facing, then show how you solve them.
When you show what you know, when you position yourself and your business as a leader with expertise to solve their problems, you’re showing your buyers and potential buyers that you have what it takes to meet their needs.
When you take a stand for what's not working or what could be fixed or what's just missing completely, you’re giving yourself a remarkable platform to address needs in your industry and for your customers. And, it’s golden because it shows your audiences that you’re a true leader, one that’s looking to build relationships and solve problems, not just to make a sale.
What problems are you looking to fix for your business, your customers or your industry? Do you have your messaging on point? If you want to strategize on the best ways to communicate, connect and persuade your customers, let’s talk.