(This article is cross-posted at onproductmanagement.net)
Go to your marketing collateral closet and pull a sales packet of information out. These are the same data/sell sheets, white papers and pretty pictures that you would pull if you are preparing to speak with a potential buyer. (You can leave the pretty folder in the closet – they cost extra money to produce.) If you don’t have a marketing closet, go to your Web site and print out the packet of material.
Now, go through each of the pieces you have pulled together and circle these words (a big red marker works best):
- if you work with a hardware product: reliable, scalable, “stronger performance”
- if you work with a software product: faster, easier, “more productive”
How many occurrences did you find? 5? 10? More? On every sheet or every other? Did you just offer a face palm because you see where this is going?
The sales collateral, marketing artifacts, you use need to speak to the buyer. Words like “reliable, scalable, stronger performance,” and “faster, easier, more productive” speak to your product. They are adjectives that are marketing-speak for how you are trying to illustrate why your product is “different, better, cheaper.” They, however, fail. These words speak to
descriptions of features, not the problems your market is trying to solve.
It’s not the words’ fault
Instead of pulling out a thesaurus and trying again with different words, it would be best if you step back and look at your whole product messaging. Stepping back to look at your messaging begins with stepping back to look at your market’s problems, and that begins with taking a look at your market. Do you really know them? How well do you know them?
If you know your buying market, really know them, you will know what words will matter to them when they read your marketing and sales material. A word like “reliable” don’t resonate the way they used to – in today’s technology world, we all expect and assume that the systems and software we buy are reliable. Software that says “more productive” often has no value to a buyer – doesn’t all business software make you more productive?
Go find out what the real problems are that your buying market is facing every day. Listen to how they describe their problems. Ask why they are seeking new solutions and what are the important elements for them to consider. Listen to their words. Write the specific words down.
When you return to your office, share the notes from the visit with your marketing communication team. Let them know the real words that matter to the buyer. Tell them the emotions you saw, the non-verbal body language that was displayed during your visit. Tell them about the person, and not in generic terms.
Changing the words you use may be subtle difference; but to the buyer, when you understand their problems and speak their language, that may be all the difference you need to gain the trust and credibility – to gain the sale.