B2B Messaging Articulates Your Solution’s Value
Tell a Clear, Consistent, Sales-Driving Product Story
Do your potential customers recognize the value of your B2B solution?
The answer determines whether prospects become clients or simply ignore you; getting the positive results you want depends on how clearly, consistently, and compellingly you tell your product story.
Messaging – It’s Not Content. It’s Not Copy.
B2B messaging is a framework that summarizes your unique selling propositions (USPs) and key differentiators. It has the power to attract prospective clients to recognize your technology as the solution to their pain points and an enabler of their future success. It also gets your entire staff – marketing, sales, customer support, engineers – on the same page as far as what your solution does and its benefits. After all, you don’t want to confuse your customers. Clearly, B2B messaging is a critical component of your marketing toolbox. Just as clearly, it’s difficult to get it right.
According to HubSpot’s State of Marketing Report, consumers are most frustrated with inconsistent brand messaging. At the same time, a B2B marketing agency
When Should You Write or Revisit Your B2B Messaging?
Are you launching a new solution or making substantial improvements to existing ones? Are new competitors emerging, or are current competitors shifting their strategy? Do you see a change in buyer behavior, or want to enter new market segments? Does your company want to reposition your brand, alter your business model, or do an M&A? All these situations mean new messaging needs or a change in messaging direction.
Be sure to keep your messaging fresh.
Benefits of an Effective Messaging Framework
The B2B messaging process is time consuming, challenging, and will engage your creativity as you try to ensure every player in each vertical you’re attacking will be addressed. It is a crucial part of marketing. Done right, this structured framework describing your solution’s unique benefits for each title “touched” by the sales process smooths consistency across all your brand assets and guides your marketing and sales teams and other employees. It ensures that the entire organization “sells” your solution according to one correct vision, offering:
- Salespeople with key selling points
- PR teams with critical talking points for effective communications
- Bloggers and podcast/video producers with a variety of content ideas
- Marketers with value propositions on which to base campaigns
- HR managers with training and recruiting material
- And best of all, customers with reasons to prefer your solution over your competitor’s
Besides ensuring consistency, messaging leads to a more complete understanding of what really matters to your audiences beyond just the technical aspects of your solution. It helps to humanize your brand, make it easier for sales teams to connect with clients, opens the door to effective content, and animates your value proposition – driving brand awareness and pay-off.
B2B Messaging is More Challenging Than B2C
While both B2B and B2C messaging should both elicit trust, appeal to buyer personas, and present the product as the solution to the customer’s pain point, the former is simply more challenging because:
B2B purchasing is decided by a committee
Who you designate as your main target isn’t the only and final decision maker – multiple stakeholders need to review and approve the purchase.
Needless to say, the messaging has to appeal not only to your main target but also to the various members of the C-suite, IT, purchasing, and the end user – Purchasing software requires larger budgets, greater scrutiny, longer sales cycles.
B2B products are more complex
B2B marketers have to ensure that each person within the targeted role – CISO, CFO, CTO, end user, etc. – fully understands the benefits she will get out of the platform as well as how the technology works. All that techno-speak needs to be transformed into language any of the audience members will understand.
B2B messaging has to be researched and tested over time
A/B testing is always a good bet as well as targeted content per audience that can be tracked re: clicks, page views, etc.
B2B messaging must be backed by solid data
To create B2B messaging that serves as the foundation for social media, blogs, lead-converting websites, or sales-driving content marketing, marketers must develop personas. Personas should be built on a combination of insights – senior management’s perspective, sales teams input, LinkedIn research, customer interviews, focus groups, etc. It’s a key way to know potential customers’ pain points and how you address them.
What Customers Really Want to Hear…
In another survey, 30 percent of US B2B marketing decision makers said that addressing the buyer’s pain points was the most critical part of online messaging. That’s why savvy B2B marketers eschew product-feature-focused messaging and sales speak in favor of B2B messaging built around a business problem that needs solving.
How do you identify pain points?
First, ask the right questions to make sure you’re delivering the right message to the right people.
- Who are buying your solutions and why? Who isn’t buying and why not?
- Second, ask those questions. Survey your LinkedIn contacts; interview your best customers; see what the trade journals are writing. You’ll acquire customer insights about their current problems and what they’d want to see or not see in a solution.
- Third, track your buyers’ journey. Track the key points on their path to purchase, so you can better understand how to generate awareness, provide information that helps them choose your solution over your competitors’, and engage with them on their preferred channels at each point of the journey.
You’ll want to smooth the path from the time they recognize they have a problem to when they “meet” your brand to the moment they make the purchase decision – and ensure continuous communication every step of the way.
Time to Build Your B2B Messaging Framework
Building an effective B2B messaging framework requires research and so much more – from understanding customers and researching keywords, from drafting the messaging to vetting it with your product/sales/technical teams.
The process includes:
- Thoroughly understanding your buyer personas and their decision-making processes so you can customize your messaging accordingly
- Conducting thorough and intensive market/competitive analyses – including competitors’ terminology and tone, customer testimonials, and case studies. You’ll need all this to determine your advantages, your drawbacks, and how to stand apart
- Determining your unique value proposition/s – the reason prospective clients should choose your solution over your competitors’
- Developing your framework to include your messaging pillars (target audience, customer challenges, value proposition, brand positioning, product features, user benefits, main message, brand tone, keywords, etc. Tailor your core value to each buyer persona’s specific needs and stage in the customer journey
- Engaging with your product/engineering team so you can turn technical features into user-friendly benefits and ensure accuracy by vetting your messaging framework with them
- Testing the latest version of messaging with your sales team so they can provide customer feedback to further refine the messaging. Obtain final approval from your product team, legal department, and C suite
Basic Components of B2B Messaging
Not all B2B messaging frameworks look the same, but they all must contain these components:
Brand tone or voice – Give your messaging an overall tone. Use vocabulary and tone that denote light, informal, seriously efficient, friendly, optimistic, confident, authoritative, etc. – in any combination. Determine which tone to use by truly understanding your target audience, their level of knowledge, and how you want them to perceive your brand.
Main message – Build a concise and compelling message that will resonate with your customer, elicit trust, and propel action. Don’t overpromise or exaggerate – focus on the truth. Support your message with proof points – how you address their challenges.
Elevator pitch – Describe how you address your clients’ most pressing business problems.
Unique selling points, competitive advantages, and value propositions – Address your customers’ pain points and how your solution’s benefits can alleviate these issues, improve their operations, and help them reach their goals – all focused on turning leads into clients.
User benefits – Product features may be technical, such as Toyota’s Safety Sense (TSS). The User Benefit is to keep Toyota owners and their loved ones safe on the road. You need to be able to explain technical product features in plain language so it resonates with your target audiences.
Product features – You need to provide a list of product features that substantiate your benefits. This is especially important in B2B and technology sales.
Keywords – Always add a list of keywords that relate to your products. Keywords drive SEO.
Always keep this in mind when creating messaging – Your target B2B customer. Consider their details such as age, geography, industry, company title, position/earnings, salary, education, decision-making level, social media presence, career goals and challenges, how your product can help attain these.
You can psychographic information like motivators, lifestyle, attitude, interests, values, pain points, buying habits, preferred communication channels, etc. to help you complete the picture.
Worried your tech solutions will be drowned in the noise or ignored? These dos and don’ts will help you create B2B messaging that stands out, resonates with customers, aligns with their values, and drives them to action:
- Focus on your customers’ interests
- Know that people buy on emotion, not just logic
- Use research to drive your messaging
- Align tone and voice to your audience to connect with them
- Regularly test your messaging in “real-life” customer situations
- Consider your competitors’ messaging; highlight how your offering is different from theirs
- Talk about real client pain points, not product features, clearly showing how your solution can improve their processes, eliminate pain points, etc.
- Pretend to be the B2B buyer – what would you say to yourself?
- Ask execs, salespeople, technical teams, and other relevant groups for their input
- Make sure your product’s core value – or consumer promise – underlies your messaging
- Make it plain and simple – jargon-free
- Fine-tune your message to appeal to your various buyer personas
- Know that message consistency across customer touchpoints is key
- Include data for credibility
- Use CTA-oriented messaging to motivate customer action
- Be too broad and general. The more specific, the better
- Use buzzwords, hyperbole, or techno-jargon – they won’t disguise lack of substance
- Forget to do due diligence
- Separate your solution from your brand – your brand equity promotes credibility, customer recognition
- Underestimate the negative impact of weak grammar, poor punctuation, misspellings, awkward sentence structures, cliches, and jumbled vocabulary – if your marketing materials are substandard, it leads people to believe your products are substandard as well
- Be a copycat – you can’t cut through the noise by piggybacking on a competitor’s messaging
At K2, B2B is Our Business
Before you even start on your messaging framework, talk to K2. Our years of experience in the B2B arena – crafting messaging and related content materials for clients from AI and agriculture to cybersecurity and DevOps and more – ensure that we can translate your complex technical solution into clear messaging that’ll resonate with and motivate your audience.