May 10, 2013

Faith, hope, and clarity

Some principles of enterprise IT messaging.

0. Decision makers are motivated by two emotions above all — fear and greed. In the case of enterprise IT, that equates roughly to saying they want to buy stuff that:

1. For a marketing message to succeed, whatever its goals are, the “confer benefits” part of the story needs to be:

2. The “safe” part needs to be believed too. Rational belief in the safety of doing business with you is good. Blind faith is even better, but usually is enjoyed only by the most established of vendors.

In some cases, that may be the greatest competitive strength they have.

3. To be believed, enterprise IT messaging generally needs to be:

A certain amount of exaggeration is expected, and easily shrugged off. It’s also possible to get away with a certain amount of vagueness, whether in a fear/safety story or when pitching something as new/innovative/exciting. But don’t overdo either.

One common way to overdo your exaggeration — make an obviously false claim of uniqueness.

4. Please note: Deficiencies in the consistency of your messages can undermine credibility and clarity alike.

5. Messaging can become distorted in many ways, both accidental and deliberate. For example:

Message transmission is lossy, or worse.

6. So how do you combat message loss? My top tactics are:

If enough parts get through accurately, then perhaps the target will correctly reassemble the overall message.

7. As one would hope, the layered messaging model performs well by these criteria:

8. To also help punch messages through the noise, I commonly emphasize that vendors should use multiple proof points.

Any one proof point can be dismissed or discounted. An impressive-sounding reference account could have gotten your product for free, or might have a CIO who’s buddies with your founder. A single impressive feature can be sort-of matched by a competitor’s kludgy alternative. But if you say that 10 Fortune 100 enterprises are using your product, that’s hard to ignore. Ditto if you can recite multiple impressive features the competition can’t match.

Yes, I believe you should use customers as proof points even when you’re not allowed to use their names. A blog is a great vehicle for doing that.

Related links

Comments

3 Responses to “Faith, hope, and clarity”

  1. Some principles of editing and content development | Strategic Messaging on August 7th, 2013 4:19 am

    [...] The most important thing I do in marcom is point out whether or not a claim is compelling. Then I try to focus press releases, slide decks, etc. on those claims that will actually [...]

  2. Short lists of concise claims | Strategic Messaging on July 27th, 2014 8:48 pm

    [...] year, I summarized some principles of enterprise messaging. This post builds on those, within the limitation that nothing concise is ever [...]

  3. Joanna on December 18th, 2014 12:58 pm

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