In the previous post in this series we highlighted four characteristics of great marketing messages and refined our definition of a marketing message to be: “A concise statement of why a product is the best choice for a specific audience.”
Now let’s look at some examples and discuss why they are effective.
Short and sweet
“We prevent zero-day attacks by detecting malware without signatures.”
This message is a very simple claim about a capability. Such a message can be extremely powerful if (a) the benefit is important and understood, and (b) not many other products have the capability. This particular message may be a cliché now, but early in its life it was a huge marketing tool for the first few companies that could make that claim and back it up.
Shouldn’t this message also explain why preventing zero-day attacks is important and who should use the product? Not if the target buyers already know why preventing zero-day attacks is important and are already looking for this capability. Compare our statement with this longer version:
“For organizations that need to protect data assets from web-based cybercriminals and state-sponsored hackers, we prevent zero-day attacks by detecting malware without signatures, which reduces the cost of data breaches and helps safeguard the reputation of the enterprise.”
This version conveys more information, but if that information isn’t needed, the extra detail obscures the central idea.
BORing! But to whom?
“We provide the industry’s most comprehensive services for reducing business risks related to supply chain partners.”
This message is a complete yawn for 99.9% of the world’s population. However, it would definitely catch your eye if you are in procurement or IT security and a big part of your job is managing third party risk.
This message includes what is called a “first-best-only” claim: an assertion that your product or company is the first to do something, or the best at it, or the only one with the capability. In this case the claim is “the industry’s most comprehensive services for…” A first-best-only claim almost always compels attention – providing it is credible and you can back it up.
What if your product has additional use cases, for example reducing business risks related to acquiring other companies and expanding into new markets? Should you come up with a broader marketing message that covers all of them? Maybe, if one group of people are interested in all the use cases. But if the target audiences are different, you would be better off having separate messages for each.
One urgent need beats a boatload of medium priorities
“Our solution provides critical visibility into how data is stored and shared in Google G Suite, Office 365, and other popular cloud applications.”
At first, this message appears to be awfully narrow. It only references one capability (visibility) in reference to two software applications. Wouldn’t it be better to cite lots of benefits, like this?
“Our solution makes the cloud safe for a wide range of SaaS applications that increase employee productivity, free IT administrators from routine management tasks, and enable enterprises to leverage the flexibility and scalability of cloud platforms.”
Probably not. Because thousands of organizations started to use Google G Suite and Office 365 last year, and thousands more are starting to use them this year, and all of them are really worried about confidential information leaking out through the cloud. They need a solution yesterday to improve visibility and control of data in SaaS applications.
The migration of critical applications to cloud platforms is an example of a “trigger event.” Trigger events, including technology transformations, major business initiatives, and new government regulations, change the status quo and force organizations to act quickly.
A concise marketing message that connects to a trigger event, or another urgent pain point, will get attention ahead of claims about increasing employee productivity, freeing IT administrators, and other goals that can wait until next year.
Secondary messages can be important too
“Our solution can be deployed in minutes, with no special training.”
Unlike the other three examples, this message won’t go at the top of your home page. It doesn’t even mention what the solution is for, or any of its features. Can it still be a compelling claim?
This certainly shouldn’t be your first or primary marketing message. But since you can have several marketing messages for each product, this might be a killer second or third message. If your buyers are small businesses with small technical staffs, and if all the competitive products are hard to deploy and learn, then this could really set you apart from the alternatives.
Next up in this series will be “A process for creating great marketing messages, part 1: Connecting product features to business objectives.”
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