Communicate with impact or risk being ignored
No matter how great your product or service, you must communicate its benefits clearly and package it in a consistent brand. Otherwise you risk having more potential than customers.
Many startup founders and small business owners underestimate the impact of clear, simple communication on attracting customers.
They believe that “If you build it, they will come.”
This couldn’t be further from the truth.
Clear communication is critical to getting the attention of your customers, investors or business partners and encouraging them to take action – to purchase, invest in or partner with you and your company.
A high-impact communication strategy is built on two pillars: your messaging and packaging.
Once you have these two pieces in place, you must apply them consistently across all channels and platforms where your target audience comes in contact with your product or service.
This includes your website, presentations, emails and sales materials.
Developing a communication strategy for your business is so important, I’ve made it Building Block #3 of The Launch Code, my unique business development framework that combines corporate planning methods with entrepreneurial execution to help you create a clear path to growth and profits.
Use a customer first communication approach
My action plan framework is built on four levels.
How many times have you seen a website or listened to a presentation that began with…
“Our company has 10 years of experience in providing our services. We have offices in five countries and over 100 customers in 20 different markets, and our technology is first class.”
Guess what. Nobody cares!
This is like going on a first date with a prospective mate and opening the conversation with “Let’s talk about me.”
That date won’t last very long, and neither will your audience’s attention span.
Yet so many business’s build their communication around ‘me, me, me.’
Whether you’re a B2C or B2B company, whether you sell a product or service, whether you are in one country or 10 countries, all your audience wants to hear is a clear answer to one question:
‘Which of my problems will you solve?’
This requires you to use a customer first communication approach.
This means, start with what is important to your customer and work your way back from there.
Communication begins with clear messaging
I’ve created a five-part messaging framework that captures the essence of customer first communication.
Just answer these sets of questions, in this order:
What core problem does your customer have? What do they want to fix? What questions are they asking themselves as they think about their problem?
What product or service are you offering that solves their problem?
3. Delivery & Competitive Advantage
What is your plan to help? How will your solution work? What makes your solution special?
4. Call to Action
What specific action do you want your customers to take to gain access to your solution?
What rational and emotional benefits will your customers experience if they use your solution?
Follow this messaging framework and you’ll have a powerful structure in place for any form of communication you use to reach your audience.
This includes your website’s home page, a sales one-sheet or even a cold email to a prospect.
Need proof that this structure works?
Consumer goods companies have been using this same messaging framework to sell their products for decades.
Think of the last laundry detergent TV commercial you saw.
It probably went something like this:
- Problem: Mom greets her kids as they arrive home from football practice. Their clothes are really dirty, and Mom needs to get them clean.
- Solution: Mom reaches for XYZ Washing Liquid Gel caps because she knows these will help her get the job done.
- Delivery & Competitive Advantage: Cut to visual of XYZ Washing Liquid Gel’s special “double cleaning action” as it cuts through the dirt. “Look how much brighter these clothes are compared to ones cleaned with the leading competitor,” says Mom.
- Call to Action: The voice over tells viewers to “Buy XYZ Washing Liquid Gel caps today and take advantage of our special low price or special offer.” For example, they can get 33% more free, or if you buy one, you get one free.
- Benefits: Cut to images of happy, clean kids running in the backyard, and Mom feeling proud and satisfied. The voice over says, “XYZ Washing Liquid Gel caps not only clean your kid’s clothes (rational benefit), but you’ll feel like a great Mom too (emotional benefit).”
You can use this same messaging structure to speak to potential customers, investors or business partners.
All you need to do is adjust the message content to suit your target audience.
The good news is, if you’ve completed my exercises on how to create a clear value proposition and identify the right business model, you’ll already have the answers to most of these questions at your fingertips.
Your value proposition statement includes the problem, solution, benefits, and competitive advantage, while your business model informs how you deliver your solution and determines your call to action.
Keep your communication simple
In the Oscar winning film, Philadelphia, Denzel Washington plays lawyer Joe Moller.
Joe uses a technique to understand his potential client’s problem.
He asks them to explain why they’ve come to see him, and after they start explaining, he interrupts them in mid-sentence with a simple request: “Explain this to me like I’m a six-year old’.
This is sound advice for entrepreneurs, as well.
Many founders I work with, especially those who come from a technology or scientific background, underestimate the importance of simple and clear messaging.
These entrepreneurs often use complex industry jargon in their communication, making it impossible for the average consumer to understand.
These founders overestimate people’s attention spans, and their ability to comprehend complex ideas.
Some of them also believe that it’s up to their customers to understand what benefits his product or service brings to their business or lives.
This is a dangerous and potentially fatal mistake.
Don’t expect your customer to figure out why what you’re offering if good for them.
If they need to spend more than a few seconds to understand what you do and why they should care, you’re asking them to do the work for you.
You will likely lose them as they will move onto another option or opportunity.
Limit the techno babble and buzzwords and speak in plain English.
A simple test: read your communication to an intelligent 12-year-old, and if they can’t understand it then revisit it and rewrite until they do.
Wrap your message in a consistent brand
Once you have a clear messaging structure, you need to package this message so that it reflects your company or product brand.
A brand is a set of distinctive perceptions, ideas and feelings that people have about your company, which set it apart from alternatives.
You’ll need to decide on two critical aspects of your brand:
1. Brand image
This is the idea your audience has of your brand in their heads and the way they think and talk about your business with others.
For example, when discussing luxury automobiles, if someone mentions the work ‘safety,’ most people think of the Swedish car brand Volvo.
If someone mentions ‘driving experience’ in this same conversation, most people think of the German automobile brand BMW. The same goes for ‘luxury’ and Mercedes, ‘speed’ and Porsche, and so on.
Consumers are unlikely to confuse these different automobiles because each one has its own distinctive brand image.
2. Brand identity
Your brand identity is your name, the logo, fonts, colors and icons and the overall ‘look ‘n feel’ of various marketing materials you use to interact with your customers.
All of these elements contribute to your brand identity.
Your brand image and brand identity should reflect your value proposition, that is your customer, your product or service and the solution you provide.
- Are you a premium service provider speaking to a premium audience?
- Are you a young, dynamic tech company that want to reach a community of young adults?
- Are you targeting young women interested in fashion and style?
Keep these scenarios is mind as you develop the building blocks of your brand.
Bring your brand to life online and offline
If you don’t have the expertise in-house, hire web developers, designers, and graphics artists to bring your business to life on communication platform and via marketing materials through which you interact with you customers and business partners.
Focus your efforts on the two most relevant communication tools for startups and small businesses: digital platforms and marketing materials.
1. Digital platforms
While these may feel like impersonal ways of reaching your potential audience, they are critical.
Why? The first thing a potential customer will do when they hear your or your company’s name is to conduct a search on Google.
You not only need to make sure they will find ‘something’, but what they find should be consistent with the messaging and brand that you want to convey.
- Social Media Profiles – Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram, Twitter, YouTube are the Big Five. Your business should have a meaningful presence on at least three, if not all of these platforms.
- Website – If you are a digital-based business then it’s likely you already have a webpage. If you do, makes sure it not only includes information about the product or service you’re selling, but about the company behind it.
If your webpage is more of a marketing tool and not ’how’ you deliver your service, it’s not as critical to have a website.
Just know that having your own webpage gives you instant credibility with your customers and business partners. It’s worth the effort to create one!
2. Sales and marketing materials
These materials support your efforts to connect directly with potential customers and business partners.
You should have four pieces of communication prepared:
- One-Pager – this is a concise introduction of your business and your value proposition. You can send it as an attachment to an email or offer it as a download on your website. Creating a one-pager is often a useful way to ‘test’ how your messaging framework works in real life.
- Pitch Deck – a 10-15 slide presentation that you can use to ‘pitch’ your business in personal or virtual meetings.
- Email Chain – a series of 3-4 emails that introduces you and your product or service to potential business partners and invites them to take an action. These are planned to be sent one after another depending on whether you get a response to the previous email.
- Elevator Pitch – a 30-second, 3-4 sentence monologue that you can use when you meet someone in an informal setting to introduce your business.
Keep it simple and consistent
As you’re putting together your messaging and packaging, keep in mind that these are only as strong as they are simple to understand and consistent in their use.
Make sure every form of communication uses the same messaging framework, key words and phrases and ‘look and feel’.
This will ensure that anytime your potential customer comes into contact with you or your company, they will get mental reinforcement for why they should do business with you.
Need help to structure and simplify your communication?
Imagine how much easier it would be if you had a global business builder by your side to help you fix your biggest challenges.
Schedule a 30-minute FREE CONSULTATION with me and learn how you can create a communication strategy that delivers results. I also share how I can help you find your focus and accelerate your business growth as your personal mentor.
Get in touch and I’ll help you and your business ‘Blast off!’