Ever feel like everyone in your category is saying similar stuff in their messaging? Similar benefits, similar headlines, similar phrases – it’s hard to differentiate your product, even if it’s truly different.
So how do you rise above the noise with your messaging? It’s not about highlighting a unique feature or shouting louder than the other guys. Nope!
It’s about creating messaging that’s custom-fit for your ideal buyer, and speaks directly to their thoughts, motivations and aspirations.
When your messaging is written just for them – not the masses – it acts like a dog whistle, sending an invisible call that only your ideal prospects can hear.
You have to get closer to your customer than ever before. Once you see the world through their eyes, you can frame your product’s value in a way that stands out to them.
Here are four techniques to help you do just that and make your product messaging pop:
Meet your prospects where they’re at
Lots of messaging seeks to answer the question: “why us vs. other products.” It makes sense, because it’s crazy competitive out there. Companies are ultra-focused on outselling competitors and keeping an eye on new startups in the space.
But the “why us” approach might only speak to a portion of your ideal buyers. Some of them might not even be aware that a solution like yours exists and some might not even recognize they have a problem in the first place! These prospects aren’t ready for the “why us” message, so it goes completely over their heads.
Eugene Schwartz dubbed this concept “prospect awareness” in his classic book Breakthrough Advertising back in 1966. He outlined five different states of awareness and how they impact the focus of your copywriting. I’ve simplified his concept into three states of awareness to consider – the ones I see most.
Before making a purchase, prospects must go through three states of awareness:
- That they have a problem or desire.
- That there’s a solution for their problem or desire.
- That your solution is better than others.
If your prospects are in #1, they might be fine and dandy with the status quo. Sure, they have a problem, but they have no idea that their situation could be improved by anything, let alone your product. So your messaging must educate them and shed light on their pain, so they can see how life could be different and better.
If your prospects are in #2, they’re aware they have a problem and are thinking about how to solve it. But they may not know anything about you. At this stage, your messaging should connect the dots between their pain and your value proposition.
Prospects in #3 are ready for the “why us vs others” messaging. Go get ‘em!
State of awareness is super relevant to startups and companies launching new and disruptive technologies. As your company grows, different segments and verticals may have different states of awareness.
It’s important that you understand where your prospects are coming from, so you can meet them where they’re at. (Here’s a great article from Copyblogger that goes into the full five states of awareness and how it can drive your content strategy.)
Join the conversation happening inside your prospect’s mind
Have you ever read a great email or sales page that felt like it was written just for you? The copy brings up stuff you’ve actually thought about, it’s like they read your mind. Instead of bouncing in two nanoseconds, you actually keep reading – you feel like the company “gets it.”
Compare that experience to reading a long-winded web page that informs you about how great the product or company is.
Which one grabs you?
Legendary sales copywriter Robert Collier said: “always enter the conversation already taking place in the customer’s mind.”
It’s a powerful technique to make your messaging resonate.
Instead of talking AT your prospect, imagine having a conversation with them. Join their internal dialog and piggyback off their thoughts, questions and objections. Like Copper does in the headline here:
Instead of highlighting user experience, Copper joins the conversation happening inside the buyer’s mind: will adoption be a nightmare for me? Will this CRM be a pain-in-the-behind to use and we’ll have to abandon it?
Copper effectively stops people in their tracks by calling it out in the headline and easing your fears in the body copy.
Not only does it make their messaging more persuasive – it shows that Copper understands its prospect’s situation, which naturally builds trust and credibility.
Avoid one-sided messaging that’s all about your product. Instead, go for a two-way conversation that’s all about your reader — you know, the person who’s buyin’.
Steal your customer’s language
Authenticity is key to creating effective messaging that builds your brand. No one wants to read dry, corporate messaging or bravado, we crave realness - our favorite brands speak our language, they’re human.
That’s why more and more B2B companies are investing time and resources into brand voice development to strike the right tone with their customers. But there’s a quick, low-impact way to get started. Let your customer do the work for you – steal their language (in the nicest possible way, of course). It’s the ultimate shortcut to crafting messaging that resonates with your customer - a cheat code.
When you take the words right out of a customer’s mouth, you make it easy for other customers to understand why your product matters. For example, I had a client whose platform integrated several sales tools into (the ubiquitous phrase) 'one pane of glass.' But that’s not how their customers described the integration. Instead, they all said “now I don’t need multiple tabs open” – so we used that phrase instead, and it resonated.
So how do you find juicy, steal-worthy language? Simply run customer interviews. Here are some of my top questions to ask:
● How would you describe our product to a friend? This question is perfect for complex products – customers have a knack for keeping it simple, and may give you a new way to describe your product.
● What was happening in your world that made you seek out a solution in the first place? This gives you real insight into what motivated a customer to change. These offer meaningful challenges and pain points to mirror in your messaging.
● How did your life change, thanks to the product? This is a great way to capture new and meaningful benefits. I’ve worked with clients who discovered their new value proposition from this question.
If you don’t have time for customer interviews, head to product review sites like G2, TrustRadius and Capterra. Check out reviews for both you and your competitors and highlight any interesting phrases – especially repeated ones or you can listen to conversations on software like Gong, Chorus.ai or SalesLoft if you have it.
But, in my experience, nothing beats a good old one-to-one interview.
Connect to emotional aspirations
You’re not selling customers a platform, app or feature, you’re selling customers a better version of themselves, that’s the real value of any product.
Consumer brands fully exploit this concept L’Oreal doesn’t sell skin cream, it sells the potential of having wrinkle-free skin. Gillette doesn’t sell razors, it sells a smooth, chiseled jawline with a ripped body and washboard abs thrown in for good measure.
There’s a common saying that “people buy based on emotion, and then later justify with logic.”
No one wakes up at 3am in a cold sweat, desperate for more machine learning in their life.
Your prospects are motivated by their own challenges, desires and fears. Like performing better at work. Or feeling less stressed. Or looking good in front of their boss or team. Or having more fun. Or things getting easier.
Whenever possible, your messaging must speak to what your prospect TRULY cares about deep down.
For example, Outreach is a sales enablement platform that gives sales leaders insight to better coach their salespeople. But instead of talking about increasing performance, their headline taps into their desire to “be everyone’s favorite coach.”
It speaks to a deeper, more emotional aspiration – and it works. It also helps you stand out in the crowd of technical products.
The best product messaging is all about your customer
It’s easy to get swept up in all the things you want to say about your product. (Many companies do.)
Your customer’s point of view will help you stay focused on what’s important.
In The Ultimate Sales Letter, copywriting legend Dan Kennedy said:
“You must determine accurately, in advance, what [your customer’s] priorities are. And you must address their priorities, not yours.” From this place of empathy and understanding, you can connect the dots between your technology and your prospect’s world in a truly compelling way. And sidestep the noise in your market.