As a member of the leadership team and Executive Strategist here at Waypost, I do a lot of the Strategy and Discovery work. Much of my role consists of figuring out how to make those meaningful connections between my client’s business and their target consumer. We want to build a foundation that will lead to mutually beneficial relationships, and a key element of this work is to help my clients develop a brand that will speak in meaningful ways to those prospects who will be most helped by their product or service.
That brand should accurately reflect the heart of the company: their mission and the contribution they make into the lives of their customers. Unfortunately, without these guiding principles, companies make the mistake of talking too much about themselves or getting lost in features and benefits, and they miss the opportunity to connect with their target market on that elevated level.
In order to create a brand that connects with consumers in meaningful ways, we have to highlight those factors that will compel a user to choose our client.
When I sit down with a new client to do a Discovery Project, the first thing I’m going to ask about is why you’re doing the work you’re doing. I’ve met very few business owners who started their business just to make money. If they did, they would never have stuck with it through the hard times.
My favorite part of my job is to extract that story of why you started selling widgets out of your garage, or how, during the course of your day job, you listened to your customers complain of the same pain points every day whilst knowing that your current company was never going to solve that pain.
From the story of your business origins, we can extract and piece together what your mission is. Where is the heart of your business? What unique problem are you trying to solve and for whom? That mission which is the heart of your business is the foundation upon which we’re going to develop a better brand.
In this day and age where consumers have innumerable options for who will solve their problems, telling your story and letting your mission shine through your messaging is absolutely crucial. That authenticity is the only chance you have of cutting through the noise and getting your message in front of your target market.
One mistake that marketers often make is that they lose sight of why people spend money… or at least that understanding doesn’t come through in their marketing messaging.
Most people aren’t looking to spend money just because they have nothing better to do with their cash. This seems like a common-sense statement, but marketers often inadvertently position products and services as impulse buys or some form of luxury.
People spend money to solve problems. They spend money to stop pain. If you’re selling hiking boots, it’s important to distinguish that people don’t buy your hiking boots because they’re waterproof – they buy your waterproof hiking boots because they don’t want to hike with wet feet.
Once you’ve pinpointed exactly what pain points you solve, then you can shift your marketing positioning to be customer-centric, and you can start to build the framework for your marketing messaging. Get away from the type of marketing that only talks about you, your company history, your features and benefits, etc. First and foremost, you must talk to your target customer about the problem they’re experiencing.
Demonstrate to your target market that you understand their problem. Your marketing materials should reassure your users that they have found the solution they’re looking for to stop the pain, and that they will have a great experience with you.
Once you’ve thoroughly addressed your target’s pain, then – and only then – should you talk about you. This is where you can discuss your ‘differentiators’, features, and benefits.
You might be a bit surprised to see features and benefits incorporated so far down this priority list. Traditional sales training teaches us that features and benefits are what sell products, right?
This is simply not true anymore, and it hasn’t really been true for the better part of a decade. Getting carried away here makes your messaging all about you, where it should be all about your user. People are getting blasted with marketing messaging on literally every platform they can lay their eyes on. They do not care about you until you’ve shown them that you care about them.
This is the number one mistake I see on websites. How many times have you gone to a website and it takes you much too long to figure out what the company actually does? You’re on the home page and you’re already reading about this or that random feature of the company’s product, but you’re not even sure what pain the product is solving for yet!
That prime real estate should be used to talk to the user… about them. Once you’ve gotten them interested in your solution, then you can go about convincing them that you’re the most desirable provider of that solution.
Your differentiators are how you demonstrate that. These include those traits of your company, product, or service that are unique from your competitors (or even other solutions in your space). Do you provide unparalleled customer service? Money-back guarantees? Unique pricing structure or payment terms? Those are the kinds of things that set you apart from your competitors and work to convince your prospects to make a buying decision in your favor.
In order to develop a better brand, never lose sight of the fact that your company is built on the idea of people changing the lives of other people for the better. Whether you sell widgets, clean floors, or build buildings, your brand’s impact on your market will depend on how focused you are on that goal of making someone else happier than they were before they met you.