Section 1: Product, Customer, & Message
In case you missed the Introduction and list of what I will cover, you may read Part I here.
There are four sub categories associated with Product, Customer, & Message you’ll want to ensure is shored up and ready before proceeding to Section 2 items. Those first four are:
- Minimum Viable Product
- Know Your Target Market
- A Reason to Believe – For Your Target Market
- A Strong Message to Support Your Positioning
1. Minimum Viable
Nothing’s worse than having a product that is hard to understand, hard to use, complicated to implement, is difficult to sell the value of, or is plagued with user or customer attrition. Is your product useful? Does it serve a need? Is it easy to understand, easy to buy, and add value to your customer from the start? If it doesn’t, you have some work to do because spending money to drive leads that won’t buy or won’t renew can get expensive. I went to work for an early stage startup many years ago (which is a risk in and of itself), and they had an incredibly sexy product in the MarTech industry. But, during my due diligence, I had no way of knowing that there were significant challenges with the product. Of course, I figured this out later, about 4 months in. For starters, the biggest clients with the potential to drive the most and significant revenue had gigantic log files to load and analyze. Unfortunately, the technology team, despite the most valiant efforts, kept running up against limitations in equipment. At one point, I believe one very large customer had been waiting a year for their logs to be loaded and analyzed. Secondly, the product was challenged with showing ongoing value. The program at first would surprise and delight the customer, but subsequent results were not as significant (because the product was doing what it was designed to do). It being a new concept had something to do with it, so helping customers get their heads around what it meant, and why, and the ongoing value of continuing the service was challenging. Therefore, most renewals were cancelled because the customer could not see the true ongoing value of the service. The company needed to do a much better job at educating the market.
2. Know Your Target Market and the Profile of your Best Customers
Understanding your target market is one of the most critical success factors. Who needs your product or service? Who will buy it? Why will they buy it? What do they get out of it? What problem does it solve? What are the benefits (not just features), what’s in it for them? What pain points does your product address? What is the competitive landscape? What differentiates your product from your competitors, as it relates to the solution for your market? Do you know their demographics? Psychographics? What are their social habits? Where, and how, are they looking for solutions, and where do they spend recreational Internet time? Is there seasonality to how the market buys your particular type of product? How long is the decision-making process? Is it a complex decision or sale from the customer perspective? What are the expectations of onboarding – is perception that it’s complex or simple? How will that impact the sales process? The goal is for your message to get in front of them where they are, when the need arises, and where they’re looking with the right message at the right time. You want your target market to find you when they need you and where they are looking for the solutions that your product delivers.
3. Give Your Target Market a Reason to Believe
Part of brand building is giving your target audience “a reason to believe.” What does that mean? “A reason to believe,” in a nutshell, is simply delivering on your brand or product promise, which develops The best way to give customers “a reason to believe” is to consistently deliver. Period. As the brand message, brand proposition, and brand value evolves, the greater the “reason to believe” through delivering on your promises, the more brand affinity you’ll drive with customers and prospects. As a result, you’ll have the reviews, testimonials, case studies, references, growing brand recognition, and growing revenues to prove it. When you deliver on your promises, your customers will continue to purchase and very likely tell or refer others. Your happy customers are your greatest asset and your greatest advocates, and delivering on your promises is the best social proof you can offer. Therefore, be prepared to deliver on your promises and give existing and new customers “a reason to believe,” consistently.
4. A Message that Resonates
Do you have a strong message that speaks to your audience and positions you as the answer to their prayers? Your message and positioning starts with developing a positioning statement. For small business owners without a lot of exposure to marketing terminology and/or brand building best practices, a positioning statement is very different from a tagline or slogan, and very commonly confound the two.
Not typically intended for public consumption, the positioning statement is sometimes succinct enough that it can pull double duty. However, the true intent of a positioning statement is to align the entire organization behind who the products are for, what they do, and how they do it. It is a guiding force for the organization to check against to ensure all messaging and the marketing plan is true to who the company, or product, is and why you do what you do.
From a strong positioning statement, the psychology behind the statement can sometimes be used to craft a badass tagline, in addition to marketing messaging that can be used across websites, brochures, in content, ads, etc. Don’t confuse tagline with positioning – they are not the same thing; and, be careful not to confuse the value proposition with positioning or slogan. Do a little research to understand what they are, and how they work together. Developing a brand is not a simple exercise, but it’s important to the very success of your business.