Cut the Cutter! Successful Marketing Messaging Requires The Hard Work of Simplicity


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Happy New Year!

The New Year is a great time to get rid of clutter and start fresh! We do this with resolutions, with our financial portfolios, with our old clothes to name a few things. It’s also a great time to revisit your company’s messaging and see how it’s holding up.

It’s easy for messaging – the essence of how you make your clients’ lives better – to become convoluted, dry, and boring. This is especially true when your services are complex, and that happens a lot in technology, in medicine, and in the legal profession. We want to tell the world everything we do and how we do it. The reality is everyone is already on info overload. Thus, the only antidote for complexity that works is simplicity. And getting to messaging simplicity is hard work, though entirely worth it! It’s also important to remember that your messaging is not about your services. You are not about your services. Your business value is so much more than that!

That’s worth repeating. Your value is NOT your services. Don’t even mention them. Your value is the end result of working with you; your services are just vehicles to get to that end result! And your offerings will evolve over time.
Simple messaging makes it easier for your audience to recognize that they need you. Crisp messaging means a few really important things.

First, it means no jargon! Jargon is not human. If you throw buzzwords at me, I can decode it. That’s not the point. It’s not my responsibility as a prospect to figure out what you do and why I should care. Clarity is *your* burden.

What do you have to lose by not being clear? Well, lots of business, actually. If you can’t articulate with clarity, then how can I trust you to bring clarity and simplicity to my life after working with you? You can’t even bring clarity to your messaging. Clear messaging makes it possible for your audience to imagine what doing business with would be like and what results they could expect. Great businesses are in the market to simplify, not complicate, clients’ lives! Simplicity is a gift to your prospects and a credibility point. It’s not about “dumbing down” your message. Rather, simplicity is an important, elegant way to signal that you help reduce complexity for your prospects.

Second, simplicity means reducing everything you do to a key takeaway. It doesn’t mean that you don’t have other benefits. You need to focus on communicating one clear message to your audience. One of the biggest mistakes to be made is trying to communicate too much at once. Focus on communicating one central theme. For example, one thing I bring to my clients is that I help them succeed by simplifying and humanizing their messaging so it attracts the right prospects. Sure, there is a lot more to what I do; yet, simplicity works because it is memorable. Here’s a great exercise – try to communicate your message in 20 words or less. It’s not easy – and that’s precisely why getting to a crisp, clear, human message will give you a competitive advantage! If it were easy, your competition wouldn’t be stumbling. It takes a lot of work to get to a clear, compelling “story,” and the benefits are worth it.

Third, great messaging sells a vision of how life could be after working with you rather than selling facts, or services. In other words you are selling what could be – a story, not a set of cold hard “facts” that your competition can also claim. In other words, great messaging aims at your prospect’s guts and heart, not at their “rational” head, that, after all, isn’t as rational as we think. People remember how you make them feel, not a regurgitation of facts. People won’t remember a spew of your services; they will remember stories and how you made them feel. Concentrate on leaving them with a feeling that you “get” their issues and can simplify their lives.

Messaging is Evolutionary, Not Revolutionary

Great messaging will evolve. Simplicity takes hard work! How do you know if you have a messaging issue to begin with? Ask yourself the following questions:

• Is what I do clear to prospects and to current customers?
• Am I consistent in the way I explain what I do across groups?
• Do I get blank stares when I explain what I do?
• Can I explain my value in less than 30 seconds with confidence and clarity?
• Can other people articulate my value if *they* were to explain it?
• Are you referred frequently by others?
• Is my website and home page clear on my value (no flowery language; just human terms)?
• Do I avoid jargon as much as possible?
• Do people ask me for more information or seem genuinely interested when I tell my story?
• Are my marketing materials consistent, clear, and succinct?
• Do I tell a compelling, differentiated story (versus using generic terms such as, “customer service,” “trust,” etc.)?
• Do you hand out your business cards with gusto (or do you apologize for them)?
• Are you confident of “your story,” (or do you cringe because you know it’s not what it could be)?

If you answered “no” to most of these items, I don’t need to tell you that you have a messaging challenge. You can feel when prospects “don’t get it.” Your message isn’t doing you justice.

There is a hidden story in your business; let us help you find it, polish it, and be proud to tell the world!

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Kathy Klotz-Guest
For 20 years, Kathy has created successful products, marketing stories, and messaging for companies such as SGI, Gartner, Excite, Autodesk, and MediaMetrix. Kathy turns marketing "messages" into powerful human stories that get results. Her improvisation background helps marketing teams achieve better business outcomes. She is a founding fellow for the Society for New Communications Research, where she recently completed research on video storytelling. Kathy has an MLA from Stanford University, an MBA from UC Berkeley, and an MA in multimedia apps design.


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