5 Messaging Resolutions for B2B Companies

Happy New Year 2023

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The New Year is here, and it’s time to get serious about your messaging. With many sectors of the economy predicting or experiencing a downturn, you can’t afford a message that’s so-so. You have to hit the bullseye with every piece of content and communication. Messages that make prospects click, reach out or respond immediately because they understand and can identify with the problem you’re raising, or the solution you can provide.  Here are 5 Messaging resolutions to help you in the New Year:

1. DO NOT make efficiency the primary focus of your message.

Efficiency as your value prop will never generate leads.  I can’t say how much of a non-starter efficiency is as a message. Efficiency is the baseline for any tech purchase. Table stakes. Do you ever buy software to make you LESS efficient? You have to solve a problem that’s much more pressing than efficiency. Plus, In a slowing economy,  CFO’s are going to be especially dubious of this message. When a manager brings this to Finance for approval, the CFO will basically say “That 15 or 20% improvement in efficiency isn’t worth laying out cash in a downturn. End of story. Go back to using the spreadsheet you’ve used for the last 10 years.” While I’m on this rant, the absolute WORST efficiency argument is the “We will save you time” trope for those touting automation. It boils down to “Our product saves your team 2 minutes of tedious work every time they do x. Add that up over the course of a year and you’ve saved hundreds of hours for your team.” It’s just so absurd. Work doesn’t happen that way. Saving you 2 minutes 200 times doesn’t give you 400 minutes of productive time. It’s not like you save the 2 minutes and store it somewhere so you can come back to use it later. People can’t do much in 2 minutes. Nothing that’s so valuable or productive that it’s worth trying to save it. It’s pure BS and everyone knows it. But it’s still out there. I just hope it’s not your company saying it. 

2. DO NOT describe or explain your product as your positioning.

Ugh. This is simply lazy marketing. This positioning assumes anyone cares. Breaking news. They don’t. If you are starting with functionality you have failed to make a value proposition. As I’ve said a thousand times, no one is interested in what your product does. Only what your product does FOR THEM. This is table stakes for your message. For years, companies positioned themselves around “Cloud-based” to prospects. Cloud-based CRM. Cloud-based security. Cloud-based procurement. That’s describing your product and its function. It has nothing to do with your prospect and their world. There’s still a huge number of B2B companies that are so enamored with their products they talk about them like everyone else shares that enthusiasm. Find some humility! You have to assume people know nothing about your product, and care even less. Instead, you need to clarify how your product fits into YOUR PROSPECT’S WORLD. What role it plays in their position, how it aligns with their larger needs and how it helps them achieve THEIR GOALS. It’s not about you – it’s about them. Which leads to the next point…

“No one is interested in what your product does. Only what your product does FOR THEM.”

3. DO understand and dramatize your customer's problem.

This is a big one that many B2B companies struggle with. They are often selling a solution to a problem their prospect doesn’t have. Or doesn’t understand. Or thinks about through a different lens. As an example, our client Tipalti originally was focused on simplifying payments to vendors. And while there was pain associated with payments, the problem was actually much bigger than just getting money from companies to their vendors. There was tax compliance – did it require a 1099 or its equivalent in another country? Were they able to verify the identity of their vendor, to ensure they were not on terrorist or money-laundering lists globally? The issue extended well beyond the financial transaction – risk and compliance considerations that were at times bigger than the logistical issue of making the payment. The message had to focus on the entire payment and reporting cycle – and providing a single, comprehensive solution for all of the problems. This requires thinking like your prospect, and understanding the context in which they operate on a daily basis. And how your product impacts it. SO… 

4. DO articulate how your product improves their world.

Your product is a means to an end for your prospect. They are trying to change something about their world. What is it? What does their world look like once they have successfully implemented your offering? For example, many SAAS companies focus on Visibility as the key value of their product. You get greater visibility into your supply chain. Or financial close. For what? That’s not the end game prospects need. What does that visibility allow them to do? Reduce churn? Avoid surprises? Reduce risk? How does it feel to be them once they start using your product? Less stress? More focused? More confident? More human? More respected? How does their job function change? What can they now do that they couldn’t before? If you can answer these types of questions and position around them accordingly, your message is much more likely to resonate. Make a big promise, then use the features, functions and experience of your product to prove and support the big promise.

5. DO conduct an audit of your value prop.

How has your customer’s mindset shifted since things have slowed? Many companies have decided to focus more on retaining and upselling existing customers instead of acquiring new ones. If your message revolves around new business, is it still relevant? The same issue arises around messages that assume a fast growth economy. Scaling faster and winning the race to the top may be yesterday’s message. If companies are in a battle for survival, these kinds of themes look out of place, or worse, insensitive to their reality. Finally, some companies have decided to redouble their efforts on close rates vs. lead gen. Is your message for the bottom of the funnel as sharp as it needs to be? Does it still align with your top of funnel message? Consistency matters in a downturn more than ever. You can’t be focused on reducing churn at the top of the funnel and scaling up at the bottom, or vice versa.

Times have gotten tougher. Things are changing fast. Your message has to reflect that – or at least make a nod to it – on your web site, in social media, outbound campaigns and sales talk tracks and decks. Take a hard look today at whether you’re staying relevant and rising to the level of urgency that’s needed in tighter and uncertain markets.

How are you changing your messaging in the new year? What steps are you taking to improve its impact?  Tell us in the comments.

Are you stuck in the cycle of messaging mediocrity?