Friday, August 5, 2011
8 Steps for Creating an Effective Main Message
It's time to hire a marketing exec and build a team. Founders emphasize leads and conversion rates. Good things like SEO, lead nurturing, online marketing get implemented. But one fundamental is often missing.
Sin #1. Positioning / Main message. Let's look at the main message from two companies web sites:
Are these accurate and good in the eyes of these companies? Probably.
Is this the way their customers think? Probably not.
Do these miss a chance to communicate the true value? Yes!
A strong main messages gives the best opportunity to grab prospect's attention... the right way. It also flows into the rest of messaging, impacting PPC, SEO and the conversion rate. In fact, vague main message results in wasted money and ineffectiveness of marketing campaigns. This is especially painful for startups with little brand recognition.
Here are examples of effective and clear messages from Pandora and AppAssure:
How do you develop a strong main message? Here are some key principles:
1. Grab attention. It has to be unique enough to grab visitors attention and encourage further browsing.
2. Differentiate. Has to communicate at least one unique angle or a customer benefit.
3. Specific. The benefit has to be specific. Statements like having "all-in-one," "complete," "best" are often subjective and indicate vendor's point of view. In the examples above, the word "complete" may have a very different meaning for target customers vs. the vendor. It can discredit the message. What I like about the message from AppAssure is that is specific. "Recover in Minutes" sets a pretty specific expectation.
4. Believable. It is important to keep the balance between reality and outrageous statements that prospects discount as zealous or exaggerated.
5. Language. The message has to be in the language used by target customers, which is often different from the vendor's language. If your target customer is CIO, too technical of a message may be a mistake. If you are targeting sysadmins, you may want to be fairly technical and specific.
6. Easily understandable. The prospect has to be able to quickly grasp the message. Don't make them think too long - often people don't have time or desire to do that. They will just leave the site.
7. Customer tested. It is critical to test the main message with a number of customers and prospects before going live. You can start with a qualitative test via customer conversations. Then, you can finish with an online survey.
8. Not Perfect. It doesn't have to be perfect. You don't have to spend months on this. It OK for some internal folks to struggle with it. It can be work in progress, however you don't want to change it very often. It just has to be effective.
To summarize, a strong main message could drastically increase the effectiveness of your marketing campaigns and ROI of your marketing spending. I will discuss the sin #2 in the next Hack Marketing blog entry.
Here is an example of a message that we developed about 6 months ago: www.forgetsecurity.com