Say What You Want to Say?

There are many people who believe that you have to get your message out there, shout it from the rooftops.

While it’s true that saying something is better than saying nothing, what you want to say may not be what the customer wants to hear or needs to hear. When customers turn a deaf ear to what you’re saying, you might as well be saying nothing.

I’ve seen many companies that want to proclaim their latest whiz-bang ideas, showcase their latest technical achievements, feature their wonderful new enhancements.

Many companies get caught up in feature wars with other companies and their marketing materials become a competition against the competition.

All of this ignores the most important part of the equation: The Customer.

What you want to say may not be what the customer is prepared to listen to. It might be you’ve just invented the greatest thing since sliced bread and can’t wait to create the coolest marketing campaign extolling the virtues of your new creation. But if your customer doesn’t like bread or isn’t interested in bread or has no concept how great sliced bread is, you’re going to miss with your marketing.

You have to craft your marketing (and PR, for that matter) towards your customers.

This does NOT mean that you pander to your customers. This does NOT mean that you only create marketing materials that match your customers’ tastes and likes and desires.

If you’ve just invented sliced bread but your target market eats tortillas or pot pies, you’re going to have to educate your customers on the advantages of deli sandwiches and hamburgers. That educational marketing campaign has to be crafted to address the target audience’s reality of what the new product does.

If they have no awareness of the product, your marketing better start from that position. If your target market has a poor opinion of sliced bread, you have to overcome that with your marketing, and if you ignore that, your product launch is doomed to failure.

Your marketing has to take into account the attitudes and opinions of your market, your target public. You have to craft your message and marketing campaign so that your target public will receive and accept your message.

Here’s a real-world example. You’ve just created a breakthrough software package for accountants that is easy to use, and it’s actually easy. It cuts tax preparation time in half and improves the accuracy of the tax returns. You figure this is a sure-fire winner and accountants are going to eat this up in droves.

You prepare a whiz-bang marketing campaign that touts how easy your software is to use and how fast your accountant customers can prepare returns for their clients.

The software launch fizzles and flops. Sales are in the doldrums. Why? It’s obviously not the product.

In this example, accountants are skeptical. They’ve been promised easy and faster software for so long, bought it and tried it and found the claims were not true, that they don’t believe your message. Their reaction? “They’re lying. NOBODY can make an easier and faster tax prep program for accountants.” And they don’t buy.

Your marketing message ignored the widely held notion that easy and fast are not possible.

With the proper market research, a great marketing team would learn that accountants were cautiously optimistic that a better software package might be possible and a slight improvement in ease-of-use and tax preparation time was possible.

A marketing campaign crafted around, “Less complicated,” “Not as hard to use,” would land right in the epicenter of your target public’s thought process. They would listen to your pitch, read your marketing copy, because they hope that a better package would come along and that possibility is exactly what your marketing should focus on.

That is your entrance into the market. Once sales start moving, then you get customer testimonials that talk about how they hoped an improvement was possible but what they found was that it is easy and it is fast. But not until there’s enough substance behind those claims, like a couple of widely-respected and believed firms who report how it gives them a competitive advantage and provides better service to their customers.

The astute marketer will see how this approach falls right into the Crossing the Chasm and Inside the Tornado paradigms of focusing on a specific market vertical, servicing that market vertical for all it’s worth, then using that success as a springboard to conquer the whole market.

The next time you are struck with the, “Say What You Want to Say,” bug, counter that with the “Do market research to find out what the customers want and will accept and then tell them that,” antidote. Works every time.

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