Three Ways to Simplify Your Marketing Message

One challenge of marketing industrial products and services is that they tend to be complex. They have specialized uses. They’re packed with specifications. They lug around a long list of features and functions. But just because your products are complex doesn’t mean your message should be. In fact, your message can’t be complex if you want to engage customers and prospects.

But too many companies create complex messaging. It’s easy to understand why. You’re so close to your products, you know them so well, that they may seem simple to you. You can end up thinking that if you can understand the complexity, others can too. But they can’t. And they don’t want to. Even though you may be speaking to an engineering and technical audience, your customers and prospects are people, and people everywhere are burdened by too much complexity, too much noise, and not enough time to get everything done. Which means a complex marketing message is going to be ignored or rejected.

You need to simplify your message, especially early in the buy cycle when your goal is to create engagement opportunities with customers and prospects. Later in the buy cycle, when customer and prospects are comparing and evaluating products, is the more appropriate time to dive deeper in specifications and technical functions of your products.

Here are three ways to help you simplify.

1. Focus on customer problems
Rather than promoting detailed features and specs of your products, or their innovative design, or their quality manufacturing, talk about high-level benefits such as the problems your products solve. Keep in mind that the number-one and perhaps only reason a customer would be interested in your products and services is if they can help solve a problem. Talk about problems solved: such as circuit failure, valve leakage, or whatever is appropriate. That’s what will get their attention.

Also, when engineers begin their search for products and services, they may not know what type of product they need. Their search terms might be centered on words that relate to the problem they’re facing, not the products they’re looking for. Use those words, and your products will be easier to find.

2. Reduce the noise level
Noise is everywhere. Take a look at your own inbox and see all the irrelevant emails. Or the white papers, websites or articles that use three paragraphs when a sentence or two will make the point. Look at your own marketing materials.

Are you guilty?

This noise is blocking your message and needs to be eliminated. The best way to do this is to focus on a single message: the biggest problem your product solves or its number-one business benefit. Even if your product has more than one use, focus on its most important one. That gives you a chance to get noticed. If you try to make everything important, then nothing stands out, and no one will pay attention.

Keeping your message short is harder than making it long. Using fewer words (and images) to get your point across means that each word (or image) must be selected carefully and have a purpose. It might be wise to use professional copywriters who can communicate clearly and succinctly. There’s a famous quote from Mark Twain where he apologizes to a friend for writing him such a long letter, but he didn’t have the time to write a shorter one. So you’ll need to take that extra time; it will be worth it.

3. Communicate in stages
The biggest contributor leading to complexity of messaging is when you try to communicate everything at once, and in doing so end up communicating nothing. But if you start with the high-level message and remove noise, you’ll communicate clearly and can get the attention of your customers and prospects. Once you are engaged with them, you can communicate more detail as your prospect reaches the consideration stage of their buy cycle and wants more information. This is the key: you give them more when they want more, and not before.

As your prospect reaches the point where they are perhaps comparing your products against those of a competitor, it is time to offer detailed specifications, other uses for the product that your customer many not know about, the precision manufacturing process that ensures such high quality, the brand attributes that make your company the right choice, etc. Because now customers are ready for this information. Now they need it to make a decision.

These three guidelines can help you simplify and clarify your messaging. Apply them not only in marketing industrial products and services, but whenever you need to communicate.

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Do you market complex products or services? How have you simplified your message? Share your thoughts in the comments section below.

3 Comments

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  1. Ruth Winett
    25. May, 2013 at 4:02 pm #

    This blog is spot on. Tell prospects what they want to hear when they want to hear makes a great deal of sense. Don’t tell them everything at once (often a laundry list of features and benefits.

  2. Clare Husbands
    09. Jun, 2013 at 10:02 am #

    Spot on! I work with product managers who want to get it all – exactly in. :) I can see immediately how close they are to it and in a sense, “they know too much” for the marketing material, however, in casual conversation the benefits are talked about in a simple way and that is when I start taking notes. :)

  3. Kim Jones
    01. Jul, 2013 at 10:37 pm #

    I agree completely, very well written. Engineers (I am one) tend to want to market a product using the spec sheets (= technical features) and not the business benefits. Of course, there are different buyers at various levels of the customer structure for a high ticket B2B sale, so you need to satisfy all of them (the best you can) with a portfolio of messages. Also, I believe you must strike a balance, not too simple or your prospects may be insulted. If you decide to be simple, then you need to be clever. One I like from years ago is “safety is no accident”.

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