At a recent roundtable with CEOs, one large question kept popping up. One CEO asked how to combine B2B and B2C messaging. Another asked how to combine Millennials with Seniors as a target to speak to. Others had up to 20 industries they worked with and wanted to find messaging to serve them all. Here’s what I think about this very sticky and contentious issue:
What’s The Message
The number one way to become relevant and important to your prospects is to talk about a specific solution to a very costly and persistent problem your prospects have. After all, 70% of humans buy based on pain and only 30% buy to improve something. (source: Impact Communications). Even if the multiple diverse groups you’re trying to help have the same problem, often they don’t use the same words to talk about it. For example, a hotel targeting prospects calls them ‘guests‘ where a hospital targeting prospects calls them ‘patients‘. How can one message speak to the pain of each unique industry?
Diluting the Message
One way companies try to combine messaging to multiple targets is to dilute the message to make it more generic. As in the previous example of where a company has to target both hospitals and hotels with their marketing, the company often dilutes the message by saying something like ‘we help you get more business‘ instead of saying ‘we help you get more guests‘ etc. Incredibly, I’ve even seen companies create their own terminology around targets, making up words and phrases to help them hit all targets at once. For example, one company claimed “we help manufacturers with hard to carry products“. Forgetting the fact that this may not be the way the prospect thinks of themselves or uses these words to describe what they do for a living.
Why Is This A Problem?
Companies spend thousands of dollars every day in designing expensive websites, newsletters, printed brochures and training their sales reps with phone and email scripts to help them hook new prospects into their sales funnel. If the messaging is off and is too generic, it lacks relevance. For example, when a client changed her elevator pitch from “We are an ad agency who does strategy and design” to “We help get leads online for Food Service Manufacturers 10x faster than your Sales Staff” they grew their sales by 200%! If your sales are stagnant and the ROI of your sales and marketing isn’t what you’d like it to be, you can be sure that your messaging isn’t working for you.
Best Multiple Target Messaging
What’s the solution to this hairy and expensive problem of messaging to multiple targets? The first step is to do the strategic work to figure out who the top priority target industries or interest groups need to be for the company. Part of this process is assessing market demand, company skill set, capacity and profitability in each different segment of the market. It’s a critical step to deciding your entire sales and communication strategy and sadly most companies are guessing at this or doing only internal analysis to determine their direction. Instead, I recommend marrying that internal analysis with a robust external research of the needs of the market. Part of this strategic step is to take out the targets that can’t be supported with budgets, manpower and other resources. Only pick enough targets that you can give full steam ahead to grow. The next step is to find out what pain point you solve for this target and to message using their exact words and terminology in your marketing. The last step is to build a marketing plan around this target and specialty that solves their pain to penetrate their world. You need to either use sub-brands (see this example from National Brokers Insurance who created a sub-brand that targets women’s specific insurance needs) or design separate pages on a drop down menu for addressing each industry solution on your web page like Salesforce.
So stop trying to message multiple targets at once to save you money. You’ll only be talking to yourself and become less relevant to your target. And while you’re at it, stop trying to guess at your strategy and do the groundwork to get it right!
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