I’ve focused a fair bit lately on how B2B messaging needs to be simple, differentiated and consistent. That applies at the highest level of your messaging and is the key to your framework. As you drill down and build content or start to promote on different media channels, one more factor needs to be taken into account: context.
While you can’t customize your message for every individual customer and circumstance, you can take steps to reflect your buyers’ different contexts. I’ll explore some of those steps in this blog.
Put yourself in the buyer’s shoes
I’ve talked in the past about the importance of defining your Ideal Customer Profile (ICP) — knowing which companies you’re targeting and what buyers within them care about. If your company targets multiple verticals, you will likely end up with more than one ICP, especially as you grow the business. Reflecting those different industry contexts is one of the first things you need to customize your messaging for.
Reflecting those different industry contexts is one of the first things you need to customize your messaging for.
Different verticals will have distinct challenges that your solution can solve. Some may use specific terminology you need to echo back in your marketing materials. Being too generic and broad can give the impression you’re not prepared to invest in solving their specific problems. Think of it this way: if you were in their shoes, would you engage with a company that doesn’t seem to understand your particular needs or speak your language?
To show you have a deep understanding of your customers’ problems and how to solve them, build out vertical-specific marketing campaigns with messaging and content specific to the target ICP. One easy way to do this is to build out a section of your website that talks specifically to each industry, with customized content that uses their language.
Don’t think one ‘buyer’, think ‘buying group’
Recent research from Gartner found that most complex B2B sales have a buying group of six to 10 people. Each of those individuals plays a different role in the decision process and is looking for information relevant to their specific area of concern, interest or responsibility. You need some way of addressing that full range of buyer perspectives.
Obviously, creating unique messages for each buyer isn’t practical. That’s why as you build out your buyer personas you want to look for commonalities between them. Even though two members of the buying group may have different titles and job responsibilities, if their challenges and goals are similar you can likely combine them as one persona for the purposes of your messaging and even content creation.
At the same time, you want to keep your eye out for critical differences between the personas that will impact how they hear your messages. In this case, you may need to add or tweak one of your messages for each of them so that they understand how you address their specific concern or answer a question that only they may ask.
The classic example is that the technical decision maker is very different from the financial one and you need messages that are clear and compelling for both. But within a single buying group, you may have more than one technical buyer who represent different parts of the business and may have different criteria or expectations. You will want to expand your messaging and add details that touch on points of concern or highlight a unique differentiator for each buyer. Prioritize the different decision makers to make sure you have messages for each of them and that you answer their questions so they can see the value in what you provide.
Develop different messages for each stage of the journey
Anyone who has read my blog posts previously will know that the buyer’s journey is a concept that I come back to frequently when I talk about strategy. That’s because it provides a framework to organize your campaign. While that journey isn’t always linear in the real world, mapping it out helps you identify gaps in your strategy and helps prioritize your activities. Each stage of the journey represents a slightly different context you need to take into account.
Each stage of the journey represents a slightly different context you need to take into account.
The same buyer will be looking for different information as they progress from Awareness to Engagement and Conversion. The message you need to communicate when you first “meet” your buyer is not the same as what you say when you are convincing them to buy.
By looking at your messages throughout the journey, you can cover each phase and move the buyer along, providing more detail every step of the way. The Awareness stage is all about showing you understand the buyer’s challenges. Engagement shifts the conversation to how you solve those challenges. And to convert, you usually need to start talking proof points, cementing your credibility.
Your messaging shouldn’t change across the journey — being consistent still matters — but rather it should deepen and get richer at each step.
Context doesn’t mean complexity
I don’t want anyone to think adding context to messaging means it can’t still be simple. Context is just another layer that needs to be factored in as you drill down and apply your framework in the real world. It’s not about changing your messages: it’s about applying them in context to grab and hold your buyers’ attention.
If you need help creating your messaging, register for our upcoming “Spell it out!” webinar on October 11 at 11am EDT. We’ll teach you the four steps to create clear and compelling messages.