In a crowded marketplace it can be extremely difficult to create and get across messaging that will get you noticed by prospects, whom are likely being pelted by hundreds of similar competitor messages.
We all know that there are similarities between you and your competitors and it can be tricky to communicate succinctly why your company’s product or service is a better solution. The key to creating strong, stand out messages isn’t in inventing wacky, over the top statements, it’s in seeking out and honing in on the things that make you different, whilst keeping your messaging true to your business.
1. Be authentic – As a starting point, aim for authentic, rather than unique, messaging. It’s almost impossible to be completely unique, but authenticity will make you stand out for the right reasons. Some companies make broad wishy-washy claims that in reality don’t stack up. Aim for sharply defined, verifiable-by-fact messaging wherever possible, and customers will respond positively to your honest and straightforward proposition.
2. Know your audience – Not only do you need to know who your target audience is, but also what drives them. What are their needs, what emotion do you need to evoke in them with your messaging in order to bring them on board? Make sure your messages focus on the solutions to their problems, this is what most people are looking for.
3. Be focussed – Choose one or two areas or qualities where you really excel, and focus your messaging around that. Don’t try to be all things to all men, it will just weaken your overall message and increase the risk of you getting lost amongst competitor messaging. Just consider which of your strengths will resonate most strongly with your target audience, and go from there.
4. Use your weaknesses, but only to your advantage – Customers appreciate honesty, if you’re honest about a weakness they’re more likely to trust your strengths. Sometimes you can use a weakness to leverage one of your strengths and gain trust from the reader. One example of this might be a car valeting service whose strength is in quality and weakness in speed: ‘We won’t sacrifice quality for speed, we will always make sure your car feels ‘brand new’, however long it takes us.’’
5. Review the competition and stand out where you can – You won’t be able to differentiate your messaging without intelligence on your competitors’ messaging. This will be available on their website, social media, press, and general marketing materials if you can get hold of them, by signing up to their email newsletter for example. Look at their straplines, strong or repeated themes, and any bio information. Once you’ve considered their messages, consider what makes you different to them. There’s bound to be some overlap so don’t necessarily strip out anything you have in common, but if there’s a lot of overlap perhaps choose to focus on two-three of the most important messages you have in common, and work out if there are any ways that you can express these messages differently in terms of style or tone. Then look at the strengths you have that you don’t have in common, and turn these into your key differentiator messages.
6. Don’t be afraid to get specific – Work out what’s important to your customers, and don’t worry about alienating others. Also, remember you can have different messages for different products and services. For example, a stationery company selling a variety of products may well compete on a product-by-product basis. They may not be able to compete on price for their paper so they could hone in on a message that endorses quality instead: “our printer paper thickness was rated 5* by customers”. They may also be very competitively priced for printer cartridges, so they could promote that with a price-based message.
7. Think about the other aesthetics – There are other ways to differentiate your messaging, also consider the style and tone, colour, shape and other aspects that might reflect your messaging and tie in with your existing branding. Don’t try and be different just for the sake of it, but do express your brand personality through your messages’ appearance and delivery, if you’re a creative business this might come easily for you, but others may find it difficult to channel their messages visually.
8. Get the message out there – There’s no point having incredible stand out messaging if you relegate it to your website. Make sure it’s reflected in your branding on every platform, and in every new prospect meeting. Get it into your elevator pitch, your sales teams’ collateral and all external marketing materials.
The eight steps listed above should get you thinking about different ways you can start to communicate your key differentiators to your audience.
Every message for the company or for a particular product or service should have buy-in from your major stakeholders. It should be something that the entire company believes, and not just for marketing. In our experience the best results are achieved by inviting the key people to participate in a structured focussed messaging session. That way everyone can agree on the most important factors as to why a customer should buy from you over your competitors. One particular question worth asking everyone is, does your message convey clearly what you do and why you are different?
If you are not sure WHY your customer buys from you, then perhaps you should consider a customer audit. This will give you insight into why and how people buy from you, and the entire customer lifecycle with your brand. You may be surprised by the results. Get in touch to find out more about our marketing audits and messaging workshops.