We work with a lot of great companies on messaging strategy, trying to help them find a market position that is as differentiated and compelling as possible.
Messaging isn’t easy, of course; many companies provide similar products and services. Most products today perform pretty much the same as their competition, especially in mature markets (that’s Gartner’s opinion, not just mine). Finding a message that stands out is hard work. It requires elbow grease, some soul searching and imagination.
Take the Peer Test
Getting started isn’t always easy. In our experience, stakeholders don’t get excited about working on messaging or understand how it affects the impression of their business. One way to get them engaged is to perform a little exercise, which I call the “sameness” test. Here’s how it works:
- Visit six to eight competitor/peer sites and review their Home and About Us pages.
- Pull the content they use to describe themselves.
- Copy some additional content they use to explain their value proposition.
- Find a statement that defines their desired market position.
- Once that’s done, compile these statements on a series of slides listed randomly, omitting customer names or obvious giveaways.
- Finally, see if the stakeholders can guess which company wrote which content. Don’t forget to include your own company too.
Your Company Doesn’t Sound Like This, Does It?
Here’s what that exercise looked like for six similar companies on a recent project. These were the actual summary statements that articulated their value propositions (with company and industry names redacted to protect the innocent):
“______ is known as the leading manufacturer in the ______ industry.”
“Trust the industry leader. Uncompromising product quality. Outstanding delivery dependability. Dedication to research. Commitment to innovation.”
“For years, our values have made ______ a trusted manufacturer of ______, and why customers depend on our efficient and reliable products.”
“______ has earned a reputation for adapting to the needs of industry and developing innovative solutions for the most demanding ______ challenges.”
“Quality products you can trust. Real value from our customer-focused capabilities. Total commitment to our served industries.”
“______ is the industry-leading designer and manufacturer of high-quality ______ products.”
Industry blather. No position. Nothing compelling. Certainly a lack of brand personality. When every company sounds the same, you can imagine their sales conversations leave a lot to be desired. Ultimately, each company suffers, slugging it out on hard-to-differentiate features and benefits, finally yielding on price.
If you’re messaging can’t pass the “sameness” test, get busy evaluating how you can tell your story, or you, too, might be paying a price. If you’re not sure how to do it, contact an agency to help.
Just make sure it’s not the one that is “…an industry-leading provider of innovative, strategic, customer-focused marketing solutions that drive superior results, always focused on the highest quality deliverables, delivered on time with exceptional customer service.”