A recent engagement started with a familiar problem – the client wanted a single value proposition for a proposed suite of solutions that includes four existing products. The messaging would drive the development of their content marketing assets and help the sales people cross-sell the underlying products.
You’ve probably seen the default solution-level messaging: “We are the market-leading supplier of enterprise-wide, best-of-breed, integrated solutions for high-growth companies.”
Fortunately, marketers who are willing to accept that answer don't seem to ask for my help. But the answer we did uncover was not what the client expected either.
How we approached the question
We talked to buyers who had recently evaluated each of the underlying products, including both wins and losses. Our agenda was to understand how the buyer evaluated each of the individual products, and how any single product purchase relates to the problems addressed by the other products.
As always, when we simply pick up the phone and have an agenda-driven, unscripted conversation with real buyers, we learn plenty. First, one of the four products was not even evaluated by the same buyer persona as the other three. And more critically, none of the buyers saw any meaningful connections or synergies among any of the products. In fact, buyers confirmed that they would never evaluate even two of the products as part of a single buying decision.
We now know that there simply isn't a suite value proposition that will resonate with buyers. I see this as a success story. Why, you may ask?
The marketing team was planning to present the solution message at an upcoming sales kick-off. They can now redirect that presentation, forewarned that a solution approach isn’t going to get the reps anywhere. Instead, they can present their new insights about how to influence buying decisions for the underlying products.
This reminds me of another project where the buyer research confirmed that a soon-to-be-launched product was so ill-conceived that the company decided to kill it outright. Incredibly, the client thought that the findings were good news, saving them the embarrassment and cost of launching a product that was destined to fail.
Before any launch…
Here are a few takeaways to apply to your own buyer persona research, messaging and product launches. Before you develop a message or introduce a new product, you need to:
1. Interview the target buyers to understand their definition of the problem and how they relate to the proposed approach.
3. Develop a messaging strategy that addresses the buyers’ needs and objections.
What do you think? Is it possible that bad news is actually good news? I also welcome your tips and comments about developing messaging and buyer personas.