6 Ways To Evaluate Your Company Story


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6 Ways To Evaluate Your Company Story

  2. 2. Companies with sales forces who understand the messaging platform will outperform the market by a substantial margin, both in revenue, market share and profitability. - CMO Council Report Over 65% of sales leaders feel they’re losing business because they don’t have a compelling value proposition. - Miller Heiman, Sales Best Practice Study Conversations with employees make up 53% of the reason why customers choose a company over the competition. - CSO Insights Survey
  3. 3. AT onmessage... We believe … messaging is strategic and intrinsically linked to financial performance. We believe … messaging must be woven into the fabric of the organization and delivered consistently throughout the customer experience. We believe … messaging management is a journey that requires the unwavering support of leadership. There are no short cuts.
  4. 4. Messaging effectiveness can be measured along six key dimensions. In this executive brief we examine each of these dimensions and how you can improve the impact messaging has on the performance of your business.
  6. 6. 6 Ways to Evaluate your Corporate Story 6 As companies evolve and change, messaging often remains static or becomes fragmented and inconsistent with the desired direction of the business. When a gap exists between your go-to-market strategy and the way you describe your business (who you are, what you do and the value you deliver) — you have a messaging alignment issue. Most often, alignment issues happen gradually, over time, as elements of the business change, such as launching new products/services, expanding target markets or acquiring new companies. While the executive team may speak to these changes when communicating with specific audiences, the majority of oral and written communication across the organization does not follow suit. Even worse, messaging modifications are made in an ad hoc or sporadic fashion — not in a consistent, thorough manner. When this happens, your messaging no longer serves as a catalyst for growth but a deterrent. To assess your company’s messaging effectiveness along the Alignment Dimension, ask yourself (or better yet, your entire management team) the following questions: > Have we updated and documented our business goals/strategies to reflect our current/planned go-to-market strategy? If so, does our messaging accurately reflect these plans? > Do we know where we expect to grow and what areas of the business will decline? Is our messaging layered appropriately based on these plans? > Have specific roles in the buying process changed based on our current product/ service mix (economic decision maker, technical decision maker, influencers, sponsors, etc.)? Does our messaging reflect these changes? > Does our messaging address new products/ services or areas where we have expanded our capabilities? > Have we entered new markets, or do we plan to target new segments? Does our messaging speak to these markets/targets? Do we need to speak to these audiences differently? These are just a few, pointed questions that will quickly enable you to assess the alignment between your business strategy and your story. How closely aligned is our messaging with our business strategy? ALIGNMENT
  7. 7. 2nd DIMENSION OF MESSAGING Effectiveness: RElevance
  8. 8. 6 Ways to Evaluate your Corporate Story 8 Customers purchase your product or service because it solves a problem and helps their business grow. You capture their attention and interest when your message resonates with them and is relevant to their life or business. Too often messaging fails to connect with your audience because it doesn’t resonate at a fundamental level. The reasons can be many: it doesn’t quickly link your “solution” with the target audience’s pain points or needs; it is based on incorrect or faulty assumptions about what is most important to your audience; or it doesn’t utilize the language and terminology that are meaningful to your audience. The result is prospective customers who can’t identify with your proposed solution or are not convinced that your solution will solve their problem/challenge. Speaking to your target audience in a relevant and meaningful way requires a deep understanding of your prospective customer and what is most important to them. To assess your company’s messaging effectiveness in the Relevance Dimension, ask yourself the following questions: > Who are the decision makers and influencers we must connect with to close the sale? What do we know about their roles, pain points and priorities? > How clearly and consistently does our messaging speak to their needs and pain points? Have their needs evolved? Have business or market trends changed their view of the problem/situation they are trying to address? > Do we understand the decision-making process and criteria they use when purchasing a solution like ours? Does our messaging address key objections/barriers in the mind of our target audience? > What is the customers’ attitude and awareness of our company? What perception do they have about our company/product/ service? Does our messaging overcome negative perceptions that exist? > Have we captured a detailed profile of our target audience (demographic/ psychographic)? > Are we speaking in our target audience’s language (terminology/tone/voice)? Ensuring your messaging is relevant to your target market is one of the most critical dimensions of messaging effectiveness. So don’t assume your messaging resonates with them … ask them. Does our message resonate and connect with customer needs? RELEVANCE
  9. 9. 3rd DIMENSION OF MESSAGING Effectiveness: uniqueness
  10. 10. 6 Ways to Evaluate your Corporate Story 10 In the B2B world, it can be challenging to develop a message that illustrates your value, especially one that clearly shows how that value is distinct or different from your competitors. Yet it’s vital to illustrating how and why your business solution is better. Do you have more experience than your competitors, or a unique technology or process? Can you provide cost savings with greater economies of scale? Demonstrating the value you deliver begins with identifying and defining the points of differentiation that your company offers, then making sure these key differentiators are driving your messaging. Uniqueness is a dimension that highlights your company’s strengths and promotes your exclusive ability to deliver the optimal solution for your customers. When examining your message in the Uniqueness Dimension, assess the following: > How do we differ from the competition in terms of what we do and how we go about doing it? Identify and examine all nuances, from product and service mix to training and expertise, to unique delivery models or capabilities. What makes us stronger than other providers? > How do each of these differentiators actually benefit our customer? Can we distinguish ourselves in terms of the performance and results we deliver? Be specific and look deep here. Does it simply deliver the results our customers expect and demand, or does it do something even more significant? > What makes our differentiators valid and credible? Can we pinpoint specific examples, such as levels of inventory, quality standards, customer service ratings or specialized training to help illustrate our unique strengths? > Can we truly own these differences as a point of uniqueness? Or are there barriers to overcome in our customers’ perception of this uniqueness? It’s important that your potential customer base clearly understands how and why you are different, and how those differences make your offering better. In your messaging, these distinctions become your audience’s compelling reasons to choose your offering over the competitive product or service. Is our message ownable and truly different from our competitors? UNIQUENESS
  12. 12. 6 Ways to Evaluate your Corporate Story 12 Today’s messaging environment is more complex than ever. To be truly effective, messaging must be delivered consistently throughout the entire customer experience — from social media to sales presentations, industry events and customer service phone calls … even casual conversations in the hallway. Every interaction is an opportunity to strengthen your market position or lose market share. And every voice within your organization must be able to deliver your message in a consistent and compelling manner. The development and use of consistent messaging across all channels helps establish the value of your product/services in the marketplace and reinforces the position you want to own in the mind of your target audience. When executed properly, consistent messaging turns every connection into a building block for a cohesive and compelling customer experience. When evaluating your messaging in the Consistency Dimension, ask yourself the following questions: > Does our messaging demonstrate an unwavering commitment to how we describe who we are, what we do and the value we deliver? > Have we clearly documented our “approved” messaging in one place that everyone can access and that serves as our platform for all communication? > How consistently is our messaging being delivered within our organization? Have we provided any education or training to our employees in regard to our messaging? Do all of our employees understand our key points of difference and the value we deliver? > How consistent is the messaging in our core marketing communications vehicles — website, brochures, proposals, presentations, videos, social media profiles, etc.? > Do our broader advertising and marketing vehicles include a core set of messages that align with the day-to-day conversations, sales tools and marketing materials we use? > Do sales, customer service and support conversations include key messages that consistently support our story? Consistency exponentially increases the power of your messaging. When messaging is consistently infused into your company, culture and customers, it elicits optimal engagement across all communication channels and enables you to achieve the highest return on every connection you make. How consistently is our message delivered inside and outside of our organization? CONSISTENCY
  13. 13. 5th DIMENSION OF MESSAGING Effectiveness: RECALl
  14. 14. 6 Ways to Evaluate your Corporate Story 14 Recall is a critical factor in measuring messaging effectiveness and determining the success or failure of audience engagement. Each and every day individuals are exposed to 3,000 to 20,000 messages, making it more difficult than ever to break through the noise and ensure your audience remembers your story. To give yourself a fighting chance, you must be disciplined at infusing a clear, compelling and consistent message into every customer interaction. Effectiveness along the Recall Dimension can only be measured based on direct input from your target audience. So the first question you have to ask is, “What measures have we taken to evaluate the current perception of our company within our target market?” To monitor and improve recall effectiveness, you must conduct qualitative and/or quantitative surveys on a regular basis. By taking this step you can gather the insight you need to evaluate your messaging and determine where and how it can be improved. In the end, you’ll be able to answer questions like: > Does our target understand the core products/services we offer and what we do? > Do they clearly understand the value we provide? > How well-recognized is our brand? What are we most known for? How does that compare to the competition? > Where are the gaps between audience perceptions and the messaging we are using in the market? > How well have our employees absorbed our messaging? Are they able to quickly and easily “play back” our story in prospect and customer conversations? Just because you are sending messages into the marketplace does not mean that they are being heard. Determine what messages are breaking through, those that are not and, most importantly, the messages that your target audience remembers about what you do and the value you deliver. This is the key to maximizing recall effectiveness. Is the message we are sending really what our audience hears and remembers? RECALL
  15. 15. 6th DIMENSION OF MESSAGING Effectiveness: VALUE
  16. 16. 6 Ways to Evaluate your Corporate Story 16 Too often we see the same issue detracting from messaging effectiveness: features and benefits taking precedence over the deeper, more meaningful value that your product or service provides to customers. Value belongs at the forefront of nearly every client conversation, and needs to be absolutely clear and compelling to your target audience. When you only have seconds to make a connection, it’s essential that you highlight the real and overarching value that your solution provides in a way that resonates with your target. Speaking to the key issue that is most valuable to your target audience grabs their attention and keeps them engaged as you tell the rest of your story. Certainly features and benefits are important, but these aspects to your messaging are more appropriately conveyed later in the conversation and become the reasons your customers will believe in your ability to deliver the value promised. For example, a car manufacturer isn’t selling anti-lock brakes; they’re selling a safer driving experience. The inner workings of the anti-lock brakes substantiate the value: safety. To ensure messaging communicates value in a clear and compelling way, ask yourself these critical questions: > Have we fully inventoried our services, products, capabilities and all other aspects of what we do? Have we captured the supporting reasons to believe in each of these areas? > Based on this inventory, what is the “collective or most meaningful value” that we provide our customers? Have we captured and elevated that single, overarching value in the way we currently deliver our message? > Have we validated that this value is, in fact, “meaningful” to our customers? Is that value something that connects with our target audience in a personal way? Does it connect in a way that drives action? > Does our messaging then incorporate and substantiate that value through relevant features and proof points to ensure the target believes in our ability to deliver it? > When we engage a prospect or customer, do we put this value at the forefront of every conversation and interaction as a key driver within our messaging? > Have our employees been trained to make accurate distinctions between features, benefits and value, and to utilize them properly in delivering our messaging? > Can every employee articulate our value proposition in a clear and consistent manner? Value represents that deepest and most meaningful advantage that your customer will derive from your solution. Messaging that clearly communicates your value is the cornerstone to ensuring that you are making the most of every communication investment. Is the value we deliver clear and compelling to our target audience? VALUE
  17. 17. Corporate messaging is a strategic weapon and competitive advantage in the market place.Infact,itissuchapowerfulweaponthat when companies deploy effective messaging, theyoutpaceotherfirmsinquotaachievement by 25% and increase customer win rates by more than 20%.
  18. 18. 6 Ways to Evaluate your Corporate Story 18 So make sure you ask the hard questions and improve your messaging across all 6 dimensions: ALIGNMENT: How closely aligned is your messaging with your business strategy? Your messaging should not remain static, or become fragmented over time. All companies evolve and change; your message needs to keep pace with your go-to-market strategy, product mix and services. RELEVANCE: Does your message resonate and connect with customer needs? Cultivate a deep understanding of your prospective customer and what is most important to them. Then make sure your messaging links your “solution” with the target audience’s pain points or needs. UNIQUENESS: Is your message ownable and truly different from your competitors? Your message should clearly highlight your company’s strengths and promote your exclusive ability to deliver the optimal solution for your customers. CONSISTENCY: How consistently is your message delivered inside and outside of your organization? Ensure consistent application throughout the entire customer experience — from social media to sales presentations, industry events and customer service phone calls … even casual conversations in the hallway. RECALL: Is the message you are sending really what your audience hears? Continuously monitor your messaging recall factor by conducting customer surveys on a regular basis. Then use this insight to adjust your messaging for optimal comprehension and retention. VALUE: Is the value you deliver clear and compelling to your target audience? Use your message to highlight the real and overarching value that your solution provides in a way that resonates with your target. If you do — your message will stand out from the competition, you’ll engage your target audience at a higher level and increase the financial performance of your business.
  19. 19. About the Author and OnMessage James F. O’Gara is the president and founder of OnMessage. OnMessage is a messaging infusion company with a proven model for helping organizations develop a clear, compelling and consistent message. Our methodology aligns a company’s strengths and true point of difference with customer needs to create a messaging platform that elicits optimal engagement across all communication channels. This methodology, when combined with the company’s employee training programs and demand generation services, enables organizations to achieve the highest return on every connection they make by infusing effective messaging into their company, culture and customers. For more information To learn how OnMessage is helping companies change the way leaders infuse messaging into their company, culture and customers visit itsonmessage.com. Follow us on twitter.com/onmessage facebook.com/onmessage itsonmessage.com/blog © Copyright OnMessage, Inc. 2013 | All rights reserved.