Among tech vendors there can be a tendency to boil down outreach messaging to the good old fall back of:
“This app will save you time and money”
Here’s the thing. Nearly every bit of cloud tech out there will do that. And so, a sizable chunk of vendors choose to lead with it on their prospect messaging.
So, most apps do it and many of them say they do it. The result? The message doesn’t cut through. Your tech has just become part of the white noise that business owners and senior managers are looking to remove from their lives.
And, in turn, they probably got beaten down by a nervous C-suite who wanted something different, but hey… not that different.
Playing it safe
The outcome is a play it safe blandfest. Whether this decision is driven by fear, naivety or just plain laziness… well I’ll leave it up to the reader to make that judgement call.
Whatever the driver behind it, landing the messaging around ‘saves time and money’ is not going to make the desired impact.
Here’s the rub: it’s worse than that, playing it safe hurts the brand.
But saving time and money are the gains
What if underneath it all a given technology or app really does save time and money for the prospective user? What then? The good news is it is only a small jump forward to leave the herd and create brand standout.
Unsurprisingly, the first step is to understand what it is like to be part of the customer segment. It’s crucial to have real appreciation of what it is like to spend a day, a week and a month in the life of the prospect. Understanding their world and having empathy for their position is critically important. Find out answers to questions like:
- What are they trying to achieve?
- What do they care about?
- What are the problems that are really annoying for them?
As ever, having a grip on understanding the customer is key. This is a recurring theme within both this blog and the work we do here at Make the Break.
Know your customer, go beyond one size fits all
To really start to make an impact, it’s important to go one step further. Treating all your customers as one homogenous group is dangerous. It’s not by mistake that the first reference to the customer in this piece is ‘customer segment.’
For example, I spent many years in the FinTech space for accountants and SME’s. It is a veritable graveyard of ‘save time and money’ messaging. Place all accountants into one homogenous group at your peril.
The classic vendor mistake is to assume that every accountant wants to grow their practice. Of course they would, I mean, why wouldn’t they? And yes it is true that for some world domination is the name of the game.
But for many others it is different. I know an accountant who runs a practice down in Devon and any tech that lets the company run without him so he can go surfing more is what would catch his attention. I bet you no sales rep has opened an outreach with the wave conditions for next week, I guarantee if they did, he would reply.
I know others who see themselves as entrepreneurs and it just so happens that accountancy is their profession. They sweat the margins as they are looking to reinvest elsewhere. They would respond well to options which would introduce additional revenue streams to their practice or give their personal brand a platform to promote their coaching business. They do not want to hear about saving time so they can go home earlier. They’ve got stuff to do.
And then there are those who just want the quiet life. Margins are good, saving money doesn’t really cut through, saving time for the right reasons just might.
But to many tech-side, they are all founder-owned and run businesses between £500-£1mil revenue. A single mass of peeps who’ll all respond to the same ‘save time and money’ message, right? Throw enough mud…
Are you nodding along while reading this?
Change the product positioning
It’s not just in FinTech that this ‘save time and money’ disease exists, it’s rampant over many sectors. I see this more and more in the work I’m currently doing within renewables technology. It doesn’t need to be this way. Instead, take the narrative one step further.
Ask yourselves these questions:
- If it saves time, how does it save time, and what would this free up the customer to do?
- If it saves money, how much does it save and what consequent opportunities does it present the customer?
Once you have the answers, create a simple three point structure to repositioning the product messaging:
- What is the client’s challenge?
- What is your feature that meets that challenge?
- And what is the result for the client if they go with you.
Challenge, feature, result. Simple as that. If you are not sure of the answers to those questions then go straight to the source – ask the customers for their answers.
Aligning the message
As a next step, how can we align the marketing and sales messaging? Here is a process to help the BD person create messaging based on the same framework.
In the initial outreach, highlight a small number challenges that are top of the list for prospect’s pains. The more accurate the understanding of the prospect’s world, the more likely this is going to resonate. Bonus points are on the table if the founder back story involved them doing the role previously and coming up against the same frustrations. Done right this can be a conversation starter.
Touch oh so very briefly on the product in the early engagement. Only enough to position yourselves as the source of the technology that sets out to solve the very challenges which we now have agreed are painful and important to solve. Don’t underestimate FOMO. Often hearing that peers are already benefiting is a good message. Few people like to be the first buyer, that can feel risky and is a potential extra barrier.
Then make it clear what is possible, what the result could be, what the result has been for others who were stuck in a similar situation.
Now we have sales momentum and can look to a next step of suitable deeper engagement. It’s at this point that the more detail about the product can be unleashed. Why only then? Get this, now the prospect is actually interested – because they think this might just help them.
None of this is new thinking, it’s all along the lines of the likes of GAP and SPIN. If you are looking for down in the detail how to advice, here at Make the Break, a previous blog was dedicated to the art of the cold new business email.
The thing is though, so few are taking this kind of approach. Have a peer into the hell hole that is Linkedin Inmail to see just how not to do it.
Change the product?
Let’s be absolutely clear. All of this has been focused on the product positioning and not the product itself. This has been about a subtle repositioning of messaging to create better impact with the customer segment. It does not necessarily correlate that if the messaging is wrong, so there will necessarily be a problem with the product itself.
Of course, if there is, then forget the quick wins, there’s deeper work to be done.
Save time and money
Next time you get involved with a tech company homepage lead on ‘saves time and money,’ check in with the marketing team. My bet is that 90% of the time, they are under the shackles from someone higher up who thought this would do the trick. The marketing team may well be bursting inside to change things up and create campaigns that will have real impact and start putting deals on the bottom line.
Don’t just save time and money. Make a difference.
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