This is the third post in our new content series, No Fluffs Given. We’re tired of the fluffy content in our LinkedIn feeds, with no real substance or actionable takeaways. So we’re teaming up with some of the best B2B marketers we know. People who have ACTUALLY done this stuff before. And giving you new, actionable tactics to implement today.
Every millisecond, a digital marketing campaign dies a lonely, insignificant death.
If you close your eyes and listen closely, you can hear the sound of ads, landing pages and call-to-actions fading into obscurity.
Why does poor campaign performance happen to good people, godammit!?
Is it the noise in the market? Using the wrong button color? Is it the product’s fault?!
All of these things can play a role in poor performance. But they’re not the main culprit.
There’s a more powerful, omnipresent force quietly at play.
The reason most campaigns fail is because of a weak (or non-existent 😱) positioning and messaging strategy behind it.
It’s the silent killer of marketing success.
But here’s the good news: if you get your positioning and messaging down, you have a lot less to fear with campaign flops.
Because it’s the surefire way to make your marketing resonate with buyers.
Positioning and messaging is the strategic foundation of all marketing and sales. It connects the dots between your product and your prospect.
Done right, it’s like shining a spotlight on your product that says to your buyers: “TA-DAH! It’s the perfect solution to your problem!”
Done wrong (or not at all), is like throwing Harry Potter’s cloak of invisibility over your product. Your ideal buyer won’t even notice it — let alone see any value in it — in the crowd of other marketing messages.
Weak positioning and messaging is a serious problem. And unlike other marketing problems, you can’t just throw dollars at it to make it go away.
In fact, the more money you pour into campaigns without clear positioning and messaging behind it, the more money (and time and effort and morale) you’re likely to flush down the toilet.
On the flipside, the better your positioning and messaging, the better your marketing.
It makes ads jump out at your prospects with juicy relevance. It helps your product stand out from similar solutions. And it builds a consistent, credible image for your brand over time.
So why doesn’t every company do it?
Maybe it’s because people think tackling positioning and messaging is a massive undertaking that takes a ton of time and effort. And while that can be the case (and you should take all the time you need), it doesn’t have to be.
This article will take you through a punchy little process to nail your strategy before you launch that next campaign.
Ever read a SaaS landing page that left you wondering what the heck the product was…or did? (Me too.)
Positioning makes sure this doesn’t happen. It gives people the right context to get what your product is and why it matters. And it’s incredibly important in over-saturated, competitive markets awash with similar products.
The resident expert on the subject, April Dunford, describes positioning as: “the act of deliberately defining how you are the best at something that a defined market cares a lot about.”
The goal is to put a stake in the ground for what makes your product different — and resolving NOT to try and be everything to everyone. It helps you carve out a unique place in people’s minds for your product.
Your positioning is a statement that clarifies:
Here are some examples of different positioning statements:
To capture yours, fill in the blanks of this simple statement:
[Our product] is a [category or descriptor] that helps [target audience] [unique value].
Once you’ve decided on a clear positioning statement, it’s time to bring it to life with a messaging strategy.
A messaging strategy articulates the value of your product in a way that hits
home with your ideal customers. It boils down the awesomeness of your product into a simple, focused story that you retell across marketing and sales activities.
Messaging isn’t copywriting.
Messaging clarifies WHAT you’re going to say about your product. And copywriting is HOW you communicate that message across different mediums and channels.
Here’s all you need for a simple messaging strategy to guide your campaigns:
Your value proposition is hands-down the most important thing to nail in your messaging strategy. It’s a snappy sentence that sums up the unique value you offer customers.
Think of it as your pinky swear to prospects. Your unbreakable promise.
Your value proposition isn’t a tagline or slogan, like Nike’s “Just Do It” or Zoom’s “Meet Happy.” Taglines are meant to give people a general impression of your brand. A value proposition’s job is to communicate tangible value that your ideal customers really, really care about – which gives them a clear signal to choose you over your competitors.
Your value proposition should be three things:
Value propositions come in all shapes and sizes — there’s no rule about how to write one, as long as it achieves the above.
Here are some different examples of effective value propositions:
Your value proposition is closely related to your positioning statement — it should highlight that unique value your product offers that customers well and truly care about.
Value prop done, let’s break out some benefits.
Key benefits are the top reasons to choose your product. Together, they expand on the pinky promise you’re making to customers with your value proposition.
Benefits are about outcomes, not features, and do one of two things:
You might be tempted to write benefits that map neatly to your product’s best features. Try to resist this very natural impulse. Your key benefits should map to what your customer cares about the most.
Start by brainstorming your customer’s most pressing challenges. Choose the 3 most common ones that your product solves, and turn them into benefit statements.
Here are examples of pains turned into benefits:
For each benefit, craft a short headline and a supporting message to bring the concept to life.
Your company description gives a simple overview on what your company does – anyone should be able to read it and grasp what you do.
It should answer the basics – who you are, what you offer and the people you serve – in a clear and concise paragraph. It should include your product category, value proposition, a few key benefits and your target customers.
To create solid positioning and messaging, you have to be crystal clear on what matters to your customers. Otherwise, you’re just guessing.
Interview a few. Listen to sales calls. Mine review sites. Read RFPs you’ve received.
Already have some recent customer research to hand? Go through it again.
All it takes is a willingness to step into the shoes of your customers, and to see things from their
point of view.
What is the ultimate goal they’re trying to achieve? What are their most pressing challenges? How do these challenges make them feel? How did their situation improve after using your product?
Their answers are a goldmine for your strategy. Heck, you can even swipe their exact phrases for your messaging, because customers have a knack for describing complicated stuff in a simple way. And reflecting your customer’s language in messaging also proves that you understand their situation, which naturally builds trust.
Customer insights will give your messaging an edge, so make ‘em part of your process if you can.
Once you’ve worked through your positioning and messaging, bring it together into a simple framework to guide future marketing activities.
Here is an example of a messaging framework for an imaginary SaaS company, Pingo.
Just a simple framework like this offers a springboard for campaign copywriting.
It clarifies the key messages you need to deliver through your campaign concepts, ensuring the creative is grounded in strategy.
Your value proposition can drive awareness in display ads. You can expand on individual key benefits in social media. Or test different benefit headlines in search.
Positioning and messaging gives you the roadmap to tell a compelling and consistent story across different channels and touchpoints.
And over time, that drives demand.
Ultimately, a campaign will only be as successful as the message it delivers.
So why risk failure?
Get clear on the unique value your product offers. Make your ads jump out at prospects with juicy relevance. And build brand equity while picking up leads, too.
That’s the real power of positioning and messaging.
Founder & Chief Strategist, Punchy
Emma is an expert in messaging and positioning for B2B tech companies. Her customer-first approach helps marketers, founders, and leadership teams translate their company’s visionary technology into simple, compelling storytelling that resonates with audiences. Emma is passionate about new ideas that move the world in the right direction (which is why she founded Punchy). She’s also an award-winning copywriter, runs 7-miles a day, has 3 little kids and loves any kind of cake you’ve got 🙂
Connect with Emma on LinkedIn here.