Getting your messaging right is one of the hardest tasks facing any business owner/manager. Have you thought about asking your customers for their view? By Sheila Averbuch, ENNclick.
When I first started writing about the internet as a journalist in 1995, it wasn’t unusual for a corporate website to be a plain page with a door you could “click to enter”, leading you to a “welcome from our CEO”. Thankfully design styles have changed, but surprisingly, many companies still take this 1990s approach when developing their messaging.
Your messaging is the way you describe yourself; you use it in your sales presentation, website, brochure, LinkedIn profile – you get the idea. Have a quick look at your website homepage. If your messaging is focussed on you, rather than on the impact your services have on customers, your homepage probably emphasises things like how long you’ve been in business, or how comprehensive your services set is.
To describe yourself in a way that’s more relevant to your customers, here’s what we always recommend when we are helping companies with their messaging:
- Get an impartial third party to interview your customers. Ideally you’d like your customer’s agreement to take part in a case study – one which mentions your customer by name, describes your work for them and explains what they value about you. If you feel you can’t ask your customers for a case study, explain that you’re working on your marketing messages, and that you’d like those messages to be based in fact (you may even share an amusing back-and-forth in which you both ponder how insincere and fluffy most marketing bumf is). Most people like to be asked for their opinion; and if they’re a happy customer, chances are they’ll agree to take a call from a writer about your services.
- Focus the interview questions on value: What has been the impact on their organisation from working with your company? What do they value most about your company? These questions often tease out strengths that you should be emphasising in your messaging.
- How do you compare to the competition? It’s possible your customers have used other suppliers similar to you in the past. Could they describe what’s different about your service compared to other suppliers?
- Which of your services does the customer use now, and do they know about your other services? It’s shocking how frequently loyal customers may be unaware of all the services you offer. Be sure the writer captures the services your customer is aware of, and asks whether the customer would like to receive email updates about new services or other news from your company. The writer may even pick up some key language here that explains the vocabulary customers use when describing your services – this could be important as you develop the keywords you want to incorporate into your website’s page titles and website copy.
It’s hard to think of a compelling reason not to include your customers when you’re working on your messaging. Even if the service you offer is confidential — perhaps your customers consider you a “secret weapon” and want to keep you to themselves – it’s likely that satisfied customers will agree to help, as long as their names aren’t used.
What do your customers say about you? The answer to that question is the foundation for marketing messages that show your strengths, position you against the competition, and – best of all — are grounded in the truth.
Sheila Averbuch is the founder of ENNclick content services (http://ennclick.com/blog), which provides messaging workshops, social media training and professional writing services in Ireland and the UK.