Stop doing Marketing by Accident. Why an Aligned Process is Key to Impact.
Like your sales interactions, your messaging and content are a huge part of your story—and you can’t afford to wing it.
We all know a deal can’t be closed without your salespeople earning meetings with prospects and customers and articulating your value in front of them. With this in mind, marketing teams recognize that it’s their job to ensure your reps consistently get the chance to deliver that great story.
But to help your reps earn those critical meetings, your messaging and content has to be developed with an eye to generating interest and activating intent. That requires a consistent, structured approach to messaging and content creation—one that creates urgency necessary to instigate change.
Unfortunately, that consistent, structured approach to these important demand generation efforts appears to be lacking. My company, Corporate Visions, recently surveyed more than 500 business-to-business companies and found that only 29 percent of marketing departments have a well-established messaging and development process that everybody follows.
What’s more, we found that only 27 percent believe their marketing campaigns and sales enablement content are mostly customer-centric, focused on their prospect’s story rather than their own.
A Marketing Methodology
We hear often in the business-to-business world about the value of sales methodologies and training programs, and how they can bolster your most important sales interactions.
What receives much less attention is its counterpart on the marketing side: a content and messaging program—think, a marketing methodology—that’s just as steeped in key principles, and just as rigorously applied.
Companies are recognizing that they need to move content further downstream to enable sales and convince buyers to leave their status quo situation. Without a robust marketing methodology in place, you risk generating leads that don’t convert and sending salespeople into the field with content that isn’t suited for the selling task at hand.
Here are some steps you can use to develop a marketing methodology to correct some persistent demand generation deficiencies:
- Anchor your message in the decision-making sciences. Did you know that people have a three-times-stronger preference for avoiding risk than for achieving gain? (That’s according to research from Daniel Kahneman). Knowing that, how might you refocus your messaging and content to create urgency around this powerful human motivation? Hidden forces shape the way buyers frame value and make decisions. You need to employ the findings of neuroscience, social psychology and behavioral economics to give them a compelling reason to leave their status quo.
- Find your “value wedge.” In other words, identify your prospect’s or customer’s unconsidered needs—problems they’re unaware of, or challenges they either overlooked or underestimated. Then, connect those new needs to your solution’s unique strengths. That will give you a distinct point of view that differentiates you from their current approach, and from your competitors.
- Create the buying vision. That means telling a “why change” story, not just a “why you” one. Usually, the majority of prospects and customers you’re communicating with haven’t yet committed to leaving their status quo. Make sure your content contains powerful “why change” messaging to defeat their status quo bias.
- Think Visually. By deploying your messaging in powerful visual storytelling tools, you allow your audience to see and feel the need to change, which is based on how behavioral economists have determined people actually commit to doing something different. Whiteboard-style presentations that dynamically assemble themselves in front of prospects (as opposed to static, prepackaged PowerPoint presentations) will help your team deliver more engaging and memorable stories.
Don’t risk winging it with your content and messaging. Your story is too important to leave to chance, or to simply hope your design or copy superstars get it right every time. A cross-functional marketing methodology that guides messengers across your organization with a common approach to message and content development will help you yield more quality leads and close more deals.
Tim Riesterer has dedicated his career to improving the conversations salespeople have with prospects and customers. He is the co-author of three books on the subject and has consulted and trained the top companies in the world. As chief strategy and marketing officer for Corporate Visions, he sets the direction and develops products for this leading marketing and sales messaging, tools and training company.