As those that follow this blog know, I focus a lot on messaging–and ways to improve it. As I work with clients to enhance their messaging, we focus primarily on messaging for marketing purposes and moving from features focused messages to outcome-led storytelling.
During these discussions, as well as conversations I’ve had with John Holland (and reading his book) and others, I’ve come to realize that improving marketing messaging is not enough–far from it. What matters just as much, and possibly more, is messaging for direct conversations with customers.
Our research shows that direct interactions with customers are the most influential activity for technology buyers. So, clearly, those conversations need to be effective. But do we pay enough attention to the way we approach the messages for those key interactions?
John calls this “sales ready messaging.” I think of it as conversational messaging. This is not a FAQ document for a new product nor is it an elevator pitch. It is an effort to guide people who interact with buyers on paths toward open, authentic conversations that address key questions that,if not answered, slow the buying process.
What is the difference?
- Marketing messaging is for broad appeal to multiple audiences.
Conversational messaging is designed for 1 to 1 interactions (or a focused buying team).
- Marketing messaging focuses on segments and broad needs.
Conversational messaging focuses on the specific needs and concerns of specific buyers.
- Marketing messaging is designed to build interest and high level understanding.
Conversational messaging is about clarifying and guiding toward a decision.
I plan to focus some of my research efforts in the 2014 on Conversational Messaging, as it is another way to improve the relationship between marketing and sales.
In the mean time, as you work on your messaging–once you have your high level story complete and compelling–start thinking about how to turn the key ideas into stories and themes that would work well in conversations. Key issues to explore are:
- Guiding discussions so that the prospect will share with you what they have already decided in terms of requirements and expectations for a project.
- Exploring both acknowledged and “buried” needs and wants to introduce additional opportunities for value.
- Collaborating on a clearly defined set of steps that both sides will conduct to move toward a purchase.
- Using stories to make features/benefits/outcomes come alive–but extending these stories to make them personal–how a specific person in a similar role was helped by your company.
How many of you already make conversational messaging a part of your messaging efforts? Has it improved your sales outcomes?