In the last decade, VC funding has accelerated quickly, creating extremely complex markets – visualized in a LUMAscape like this. This year, we expect to see the trend again, and it will become even more challenging for B2B Tech companies to stand out.
So how do these companies position themselves with distinction and create a compelling brand that generates more leads, closes leads faster, and shortens sales cycles? They get savvy about the way they talk about their company and products.
Sound simple? Yes, and no.
This means building a Brand Messaging framework, and it encompases a broad set of messaging and positioning activities to identify what makes them valuable to their audiences and different from their competitors. All this flows down to their brand and product marketing strategies and Go To Market planning (GTM). To be clear, it can also include visual identity or “branding.”
More often than not, the way a company talks about its brand and product evolves from investor decks, product descriptions, or sales pitches. But, when it’s time to take the message broader and see how it reacts “in the wild,” the company will see confusion, or worse, ambivalence. An end customer has different priorities than an investor, and rehashing the same messages does not necessarily convey how awesome that “thing” they built is. The WIIFM or “what’s in it for me?” is not clear.
When a company hits this point, it’s important to take a step back. If the corporate and product positioning and messaging haven’t been refreshed in a while — or ever — it’s time to use an evolved and pressure-tested framework to reset Brand Messaging. A messaging framework is the blueprint for the story and tone to describe a company, its products, people, and future. This can range from vision, mission, brand personality, and elevator pitch to unique value propositions, boilerplate, product messaging, launch messaging, and beyond. A compelling message, built on specific criteria, delivers real impact across the organization.
The implications of a well-executed brand message framework go beyond the elevator pitch. From websites, sales decks, search results, and infographics, to analyst briefings, product videos, corporate communications, and customer success training. There isn’t much in a company that isn’t impacted by the brand messaging framework.
However, companies often take shortcuts or don’t have a structured process to build one.Here’s an example:
Shifting Focus Through Messaging
Let’s start by picturing a fictional B2B technology Founder and CEO.
Her name is Eileen, and she’s the CEO of AutoTronic, a RaaS (Robots as a Service) sector rising star. After getting her Masters in Cognitive Robotics, she developed an automation solution for retailers. For the first two years, AutoTronic’s RaaS found rapid growth with large retailers who used the platform for just-in-time inventory checks for re-ordering. Eileen’s first clients were people she knew from her days in academia. She had a lot of things going for her — they had the relationship, trust, and they spoke the same language.
When Eileen decided to leverage the success her company saw in retail and position AutoTronic as a security solution for workplaces, she was baffled at how difficult it was to scale. Clearly, the product has proven its value, why isn’t this new segment responding in the same way?
All of the sudden, the Marketing team was missing KPI benchmarks, the sales team couldn’t close deals without senior sales support, and industry analysts weren’t interested in the company or its solution.
The company was struggling to communicate effectively with the audiences in the new marketplace.
Seeking a Solution
What our fictional CEO Eileen needs to do is stop for a moment and evaluate the communication architecture.Brand messaging and positioning are essentially the “translation” between what the company has built and why anyone should care (i.e. buy the product and/or service). But it isn’t just flowery words. The right process takes into consideration the critical elements of the competitors, the market, and industry trends. At this point, it can be essential to have a third party that can see Eileen’s brilliance without bias, challenge her company’s value, and ensure her message hits the right mark.
In our experience, CEOs and their product chiefs have the product that they’ve built as the “WHAT” that they’re going to sell. But that’s not how the customer sees it. They need to grasp “HOW” it makes their customers’ lives better, and that’s where experienced messaging comes in.
That’s the first thing we say to Founders: “You didn’t create a product that can do X. You created X that can solve Y — and we need to build a Messaging framework to extract that.”
If Eileen (wasn’t fictional, and) came to us at SalientMG, we’d research AutoTronic’s competitive set and ideal customer profile (ICP). Then, we would take the team through precise workshops to uncover brand personality and brand positioning, and hone in on the differentiators and UVPs that make AutoTronic stand out in its new market.
With careful crafting, the end result is a Brand Messaging framework for the company and brand, along with A/B testing to validate the message in market, and a content strategy activated across various channels.
We highlight the superpowers of our clients by constructing their Brand Messaging and proving that it works. That’s where we help Founders stand out — and succeed.