Here’s the easiest way to waste your marketing budget: spend money to promote your message… before you know what your message is.
Until you’ve developed a compelling and consistent value proposition, there’s no sense in broadcasting anything out to the world.
Unfortunately, I see this all the time: a beautifully designed website, a well-produced video, or a clever email campaign that doesn’t clearly convey the company’s message. They make the prospective customer work way too hard to figure out what’s being sold and why they might buy it.
And to make matters worse, often each of these marketing deliverable tells a different story. It’s tough enough to make an impression on a prospect; it’s almost impossible if you deliver a different message every time you get in front of them.
Without a consistent and compelling message, none of your marketing programs has any impact. The money spent on search engine optimization, paid search, email campaigns, webinars, events or whatever else you do to promote your company is wasted. And in the software-as-a-service (SaaS) world, wasting the sales and marketing budget is a quick ticket to failure. (See "Bad leads cost you money").
What should someone buy your product?
Here’s the good news: the problem is fixable. But it does require work.
For one thing, you need to think hard about what your value proposition really is. Who should buy your solution and why?
Hint: it is not just a list of features, no matter how long or technologically sophisticated.
The value proposition needs to clearly specify:
- The target market: The target audience should know “Is this solution designed for me?”
- The problem the solution is meant to solve. “Is this an urgent problem I need to solve?” (See "Your toughest competitor... inertia").
- The key features and benefits. “Does this solve my problem? Why would I spend money on it?”
- The advantages over alternatives. “Why should I buy this solution from you?”
Write it down!
But once you’ve thought through a compelling value proposition, you’re not finished yet. There’s an important second step: Write it down.
You should prepare a written document. When I work with clients, I call it a “Value Proposition and Messages” document. Sometimes they call it a “Messaging Bible.” It comprehensively addresses all the key issues: target market, key features, benefits, and advantages. And it’s all in a single place.
Depending on your market and solution, the full “Value Proposition and Messages” document could run more than a dozen pages. However, it should also include a one-page “boilerplate” description and a concise one paragraph version that can be added on to press releases or email signature lines.
Before anyone prepares any marketing material - website copy, white papers, videos, whatever - they should first consult this document. That way, they’ll know exactly what messages they are expected to convey. They won’t be making it up as they go along.
Of course, the value proposition can be adjusted over time as conditions in the market change. But it’s not something you want to be constantly tinkering with. Get the messages right, and then use them over and over and over. Consistency is a good thing.
Working from a single written document makes it easier to be consistent from one marketing deliverable to another. Everyone is working from the same script. The website, videos, and webinars, all sound like they’re from the same company, promoting the same solution. Wherever and whenever a prospective customer sees you, they get the same message every time.